Sunday, June 15, 2008
Big Man Good Book
Yisroel Besser seems to have another hit on his hands with his biography of Brooklyn-born Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld, founder of Sho'or Yoshuv Yeshiva. We discussed RSF and his relationship to Lubavitch here, and IIRC the conversation was an interesting one. The fact that it was published by Judaica Press and not one of the big mainstream houses, tells us something, I'm not quite sure what. Yet. I've read about 200 pages and the book, to me, has sort of a mixed message. It tends to be more open and truthful than your typical Artscroll biography, but it still gives you half a story, it picks and chooses when to be all "open." It makes mention of his connection to Rabbi Telushkin, but chooses to hide Rabbi T's identity as a Lubavitcher for the most part. Other times Besser goes the "extra mile" and mentions Lubavitch, but in that "Old Lubavitch was good, New Lubavitch is Bad" kind of way - Freifeld liked old Lubavitcher Chassidim and was proud that he shtammed from that "Old Lubavitcher" town - Nevel, but no mention of his connection to the Rebbe himself. It still makes mountains out of stories, mountains that just aren't there. Meaning: yes, the story is nice, but it doesn't make him great, just a mentsch. I guess that's Artscroll's gift to the world, or is the Hebrew Books on Gedolim that started it all? I forget.