Monday, November 24, 2008

All by the book, None by the heart


Schneur commenting on Circus Tent 2 worlds mamesh:

Tzig. This has little to do with Chassidim and Misnagdim in a philosophic manner. Today in the US we have a whole range of people under 60, American born, whose knowledge of Judaism is based exclusively on books , and those books are the Shulchan Aruch and Gemora. Most of these people had parents whom I am sure were fine people but left behind the emotional attachment to echte Yiddishkayt in Europe. Here they belonged to Young Israel synagogues and became very acculturated and lost that special hergesh. In America, Judaism was reduced to learning and doing Mitzvos by rote. These people include most MO Jews, the so called Yeshiva community, and even some "Amerikane Chasidim".

On the other side we have people whose view of Judaism was shaped by seeing how their parents acted, felt, laughed, cried, talked and walked. These people tended to have a genuine Mesorah. They saw Judaism as more than just book learning, and the book learning included Midrash, Chassidus, Sifrei Mussar vechulu. This people tend to be Chassidic and a few Misnagdim who come from European homes. And in the background of all of this loomed the Holocaust, not Coney Island! To the first category Rabbonim are "machinove," automated people who act in a mathematical way, and have no emotions.

The second category knows that Judaism is more than the dry letter of the law. The Minchas Elozor was a gadol in book learning, but you can see in his writings the high regard he had for minhogim and the folk. As a rav and rebbe, life was more than "farstein another teysefes." He saw the tzores of Klal Yisroel. He wanted Moshiach more than anything, and like the gedolei hachassidus, he had a vareme hartz even though in klal inyonim he was kashe kebarzel. (see Weingarten's book about the Munkatcher and how he was so different in private). But if we agree to this, then the Lubavitcher Rebbe was just following in the footsteps of another gadol like the Munkatcher (and may I add the Chafetz Chaim too) and the Shinover Rebbe and others.. See Heschel's book on Kotzk in Yiddish where he discussed in detail the "du" familiar relationship that the European Jew enjoyed with G-D. Rebbeim davened with "Zisser Tatte" interspersed into their tefillos. As Heschel so aptly wrote learning is G-d speaking to us, WE talk to G-d when we daven.

28 comments:

Hirshel Tzig said...

Tzig. This has little to do with Chassidim and Mitnagdim in a philosophic manner.
Todayin the US we have a whole range of people under 60 American born whose knowledge of Judaism is based exclusively on books , and those books are the Shulchan Aruch and gemora. Most of these people had parents whom I am sure were fine people but left behind the emotional attachement to echte Yiddishkayt in Europe.Here they belonged to Young Israel synagogues and became very acculturated and lost that special hergesh. In America Judaism was reduced to learning and doing Mitzvoth by rote. These people include most MO Jews the so called Yeshiva community and even some "Americane Chasidim".
On the other side we have people whose view of Judiasm was shaped by seeing how their parents acted, felt , laughed cried talked walked etc.These people tended to ahve a genuine Massorah. They saw Judaism as more than just book learning, and the book learning included Midrash, Chassidus, Sifre Mussar vechul. This people tend to be Chassidic and a few Misnagdim who come from European homes.And in the background of all of this loomed the Holocaust not Coney island !
To the first category -Rabbonim are "machinove" automated people who act in mathematical way, have no emotions etc.
The second category knows that Judaism is more than the dry letter of the law . The Minchas Elezar was a gadol in book learning , but you can see in his writings the high regard he had for minhogim and the folk.
As a rav and rebbe life was more than "farstein another teysefes", he saw the zaros of Yisroel. He wanted Mashiach more than anything and like the gedolei hachassiduth he had a varme hartz even though in klal Inyonim he was kashe kebarzel. (see Weingarten's book about the munkatcher and how he was so different in private).
But if we agree to this then the Lubavitcher Rebbe was just follwoing in the foot steps of another gadol like the mUnkatcher (and may I add the Chafetz Chaim too) and the Shinover rebbe and others.. See Heschel's book on Kotzk in Yiddish where he discussed in detail the "du" familiar relationship that the European Jew enjoyed with G-D.Rebbeim davened with Zisser Tate interspersed int their tefillos. As Heschel so aptly wrote learning is G-D speaking to us, we talk to G-D when we daven.

Hirshel Tzig said...

and that my friends is why Schneur is the sage of Circus Tent.




Most of the time....


fakewood inc. said...

i must say that was a great piece

Anonymous said...

Shneur
Well put
It reminds me also an article of Shloma Shamir in A J years ago about all the brisker and Chazon Ish minhagim by the seder that kids coming back from Israel are bullying their parents as if they are a Mispachas Geirim with no Mesorah

Anonymous said...

I suppose the Chofetz Chaim was also guilty of "crude hagshomoh" when demanding (SIC!!!) Moshiach; see ChCh al hatorah, parshas Behar (and elsewheres there are even more daring, sharp words in his demands).

Anonymous said...



That reminds me also of a piece in HaPardes I believe, from Rav Simcha Elberg z"l (Ed. of H, and Nasi Agudas Harabbonim of America) - regarding the Bnei Brak-er's having "far'chmuriteh" hanhagos, even when the Chazon Ish etc. - were makil. The ikar was they should be "hamechunah 'Bnei Brakers'/Chazon Ish'niks"..

I remember reading this article once, b'moi einei.

Anyone can find the article?
(possibly on HebrewBooks.org, where they have [all?] HaPardes articles).


Baby Boomer said...

Schneur,

Always thought provoking! And, as suggested, the main drivers of this "uprooting" were the post-war yeshivos that "remade" their talmidim in their image. Witness the large, LARGE percentage of smooth faced, Nusach Ashkenaz davening "Yeshive Lait" (with a Breita YisgaDEIL Ve'YikaDEISH thrown in for good measure to seal their credentials..) who Leig Tefilin K'Minhag Sefard and whose zeides wore Shtreimelch. It can't all be blamed on the Holocaust! Their was some premeditation involved.

BTW, could have done without the sourcing from Heschel...the same ideas (the personalization and familiarity towards G-d) are found in many, many Ma'sois of the B"ESHT.

yoshe kalb said...

Baby Boomer,
But then on the other hand you have the many descendants of Yekkes ( especially Viennese ) and Oiberlander Yiden who fill the parentches of just any Rebbe.
But I think this phenomenon was discussed some months ago on this blog. Let everyone just go where he thinks he can serve the eibershter in the best possible manner.

Rafi said...

BabyBoomer,
Very few people changed their nusach to Ashkenaz from Sfard, the focus in the Yeshiva World was never on that.
Also very few people before the war wore shtreimels.In fact if you see pictures from pre war Poland many people did not have beards!I'm talking about frum people obviously.In many pics of chasidishe rabunnim from that period you''ll see shaven people standing
around them.
There has been a lot of rewriting of history to fit into todays right wing agenda in both the Yeshiva and Chasidic worlds.
I found it funny that Baby Boomer "accuses" the Yeshiva World in "forcing" people to change their customs, something that is not true , while Chabad are very active in this exact point, making sure people, even Sephardim change to Nusach Ari and the other Lubavitcher customs.
Why not check Lakewood out before you state incorrect facts?There are hundreds of Chassidishe bucherim and Yingerlait, ,representative shuls and shtiebelach of almost every chasidic group plus many Sephardim with their shuls.
What does Crown Heights have besides Lubavitchers?How many non Lubavitch boys study in Lubavitch yeshivas?
Why is inaccurate talk so cheap?

Anonymous said...

The cause for the Yekkes migrating to Chassidus is basically because of all the fun made of them for doing what they should - following Halacha - without looking for the easy way out - whether for themselves or for others!

It is easy to help a Baal Tshuvah when he follows your Mesorah. Try to teach a BT to follow his ancestral Mesorah & you'll see the sparks fly! People refuse to realize the importance of what Horav Breuer Z"tl once told the Shoproner Rov - Horav S. Posen, son of one of the Dayonim of Frankfurt where the Zman Mauzoei Shabbos was 35 minutes - Z"tl, who was pressuring that the Rav should sign a Kol Korei setting the Rabbeonu Tam Zman for Mauzoei Shabbos as the standard for NYC. The Rav told Rav Posen, "ich vill nischt ein Mechallel Schabbos von dein fater machen!" (I don't want to make your father a Mechallel Shabbos).

schneur said...

Thanks for posting my comments.
Just for the record thats not me in the picture accompanying the comment. I am much older and less frum....

havemeyer said...

I think that is a picture of a yisrael campbell. he has an interesting life story and is a very funny man.

a short doco about his life was made and screened at the jewish film festival in the city that i live in. i saw it and it had me rolling.... it was very funny. the doco is called curcumsize me!

Anonymous said...

Baby Boomer
Its all nonsense
Crown Heights was full of all kind of Kehilos Ashkenaz and Chassidish the Rebbe begged and cried they should stay, so the only ones that had the courage to stay was the Chabad community,

Reb Aron Kotler tried very hard that the yeshiva should be pure Mitnagdig, he prohibited the Nadvorner Rebbe (Berels father)and Twersky the Milwaukee Rebbe wear shtriemlech, for years he was against a mikva Legvorim, Cholov yisroel etc.. it was all to build a rien misnagdig Yeshiva even tough he himself was from Chasidic heritage

mee too said...

babyboomer,
yisgaDEIL just so happens to be the correct pronunciation.
"gadol" is a hebrew word, not an aramaic one.
if it were aramaic the word would be yisrabeh.
since the word is hebrew and not aramaic, the nekudah under the daled is a tzeirey.
hence yisgaDEIL.
so why don't you throw it in for good measures too.
after all, its the righ thing to do!

Anonymous said...

me too, I'm glad you know better than all the achronim that paskened to say yisgadal, do what ever your minhag is and shutup.

Arthur said...

"Chabad are very active in this exact point, making sure people, even Sephardim change to Nusach Ari and the other Lubavitcher customs."
Nothing could be further from the truth.The Rebbe always insisted that those that came from backgrounds other then Chabad maintain the levush and minhagim of their original background.

Isaac Balbin said...

This is a generalisation in my view.

There was arguably nobody who exemplified the fusion of a mimetic tradition and pure learning than the Rav. This is what he taught his talmidim. One difference though: he encouraged them to also use their individual creativity, in context.

In my view, what is missing today is kvoid talmidei chachomim at the level of yesteryear. I'll leave others to discuss why that is the case.

Arthur said...

Iassc Balbin said
"In my view, what is missing today is kvoid talmidei chachomim at the level of yesteryear. I'll leave others to discuss why that is the case."
I beg to differ.Roshei Hayishivos have been elevated to a level of veneration and infallibilty now days, never seen in the previous generations.Some to a level that Chassidim accord to Rebbes.

Baby Boomer said...

"Reb Aron Kotler tried very hard that the yeshiva should be pure Mitnagdig, he prohibited the Nadvorner Rebbe (Berels father)and Twersky the Milwaukee Rebbe wear shtriemlech, for years he was against a mikva Legvorim, Cholov yisroel etc.. it was all to build a rien misnagdig Yeshiva even tough he himself was from Chasidic heritage"

Although he did his best to recruit Itche Reitport!

Hirshel Tzig said...

Reitport was actively recruited by Lakewood?

Is this on the level?

Anonymous said...

Me To Said

"babyboomer,
yisgaDEIL just so happens to be the correct pronunciation.
"gadol" is a hebrew word, not an aramaic one.
if it were aramaic the word would be yisrabeh.
since the word is hebrew and not aramaic, the nekudah under the daled is a tzeirey.
hence yisgaDEIL."
so why don't you throw it in for good measures too.
after all, its the righ thing to do!

Did you read the posting by Hirhurim. Here is the link

http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2008/11/first-two-words-of-kaddish.html

Anonymous said...

"Is this on the level?"

Nisht in nigleh, un nisht in nister

Baby Boomer said...

Absolutely on the level...AK even offered to pay for the taxi fare to NY so IR could spend Shabbosim Mittt'n Rebbe'n.

americanishepoyer said...

a story comes to mind which i thinks illustrates that this "neo-textual centric" yiddishkeit is not limited to the mo's, bt's or even the americanske chocaltnikers. a certain rebbe came by the Rebbe and when the subject of russian Jewry came up the Rebbe wished to illustrate to the visiting rebbe the mesirus nefesh of the rusiyshe yidden. the Rebbe told of a letter he received from a russian chossid who being forced to work on shabbos wished to know if he is allowed to pour his own wine for kiddish. the Rebbe waited for the point to sink in but instead the visitor replied "nee vus hot der rebbe getfert?" to which the Rebbe waived his hand.

The Bray of Fundie said...

Urban Yeshivasha legend has it that the Brisker Rov once said "דער משנה ברורה איז געשריבן געווארען פאר יתומים-מיר האבען ב"ה א טאטע"

Hirshel Tzig said...

אבער די טאטע האט ניט געשריבען א ספר הלכה פאר די המון עם

וואס זאל טאן די אלע אנדערע מיליאנע אידען?

Anonymous said...

If IR would've went to CH for shabbes, when would've he heard RAK shiurim?

Anonymous said...

The BR was talking about the Minhagim in the MB.

The Bray of Fundie said...

The Chofetz Chaim wa sthe avi yesomim

Anonymous said...

Bray of Fundie, that is not a legend but an actual statement made by the chofetz Chaim himself when asked by his family members why he failed to follow a ruling of the Mishna Brurah but following his OWN FATHER's custom

Anonymous said...

i think schneur should at least credit chaim soloveichik somewhat for htis thought and not pass it off as his own.

Anonymous said...

BH

Chevre, please say Tehillim for the Shluchim to Mumbai and all involved, Gavriel Noach ben Freida Bluma
Rivkah bas Yehudis and their son
Moshe Tzvi Ben Rivkah

snag said...

While there is definitely something to what Schneur wrote, it is not that simple. There are plenty of Chassidim whose Yiddishkeit is rote to a great degree, and there are Litvishe who are hartzige mentsen even if their parents were born in the USA.

It's time to put to rest the stereotype that rote observance is a problem that Chassidim are immune to and only exists among others.

Joe said...

[The] visitor replied "nee vus hot der rebbe getfert?" to which the Rebbe waved his hand.

That's a heartbreaking story twice over. Anyone involved in kiruv work has had (or ought to have had, if they're doing a good job) their own experience where they gave advice to people but they wouldn't repeat their advice for general distribution. What can you do? Things happen, and someone needs to try to pick up the pieces.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

OF course it isn't black and white either. When I read that story I thought "what did the rebbe answer" was a perfectly legitimate question. On the other hand I am writing this after coming back from a seder in chasidus with a shliach (humming niggunim during the walk too). It is quite possible to be hartzig and 'by the book' at the same time, especially since 'the book' demands we be hartzig.

schneur said...

anonymous: Credit Dr. Soloveitchik.
1. Since when are blogs scholarly forums with notes and bibliographies attached to each comment.
2. Did I plagarize anything the good professor wrote ? Did I lift any passages from him? Others gave written similiar articles like Dr. menachem Friedman and Mr. Koppel from Bar Ilan , perhaps I should reference them all ?
3. I am not talking solely about the distinction of book vs. mimetic knowledge but about a hergesh in Judaism that is lacking in many.
4. Finally I am confident to say that the fact that 2 plus 2 is 4 is not a conclusion exclusive to 1 person or scholar. By the way maybe the term Lubavitch can be copyrighted by certain people, but scholarly ideas and concepts are not copyrighted , just subject to plagerism, and friend I did not plagerize DR. HS.

Anonymous said...

i'll start out by saying i B.H. learned i Lubavitch,from ocean pkwy-Chovivai Torah...
Someone,(i think R.Zevin) wrote/brought down an interesting moshol to explain Chasidim & misnagdim:There was once a king who entrusted his crown to his subjects telling them he was going away, but would be returning-heated arguments broke out amongst the subjects regarding the best way to safeguard it...
May HKB"H grant that Achdus become the rule amongst Klal Yisroel,B.B.A.