Monday, November 10, 2008
Breslov, Lubavitch and the Politics of Ownership
Rav Luzer Kenig of Tzfas
Word in the online forums is that the old guard of Breslov has called on its adherents not to participate in the Jerusalem municipal elections about to take place. The elections featuring Meir Porush running for mayor. Why, you ask? simple. They belong to the Kanoim faction that is part of the Edah HaCharedis and the Yishuv HaYoshon; that membership bars anyone from participating in any election in the State of Israel, even municipal ones. I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point the Breslover Manhigim like Reb Yankev Meir Schechter and others decided that Breslov and Kanoyus are one, and that they need to adhere to the laws of the Kano'im in Israel. I don't think Breslov has been organized in Israel as long as some other groups like Chabad, Slonim and Karlin have been, so it's difficult to put a time on that "transformation," if you will. You also don't have that tendency to zealousness like you do with the Hungarians and the Talmidei HaGro, so I don't know how they picked it up even after living in Meah Shearim for all those years.
Reb Yisroel Dov Odesser
Others like Rav Lazer Berland from the far-right Shuvu Bonim, whose HQ is deep in the so-called Muslim Quarter of Yerushalayim, have encouraged their ever-growing group of followers to vote, I believe, for Meir Porush. The point is that whom to vote for is irrelevant, the mere fact that they split with the old guard in Breslov says volumes about the current state of the famed Chassidus. The old-timers believe that for some reason they're the ones who know how Reb Nachman would dictate policy regarding the State, and that what they're doing follows in the footsteps of their Rebbe 200 years after his passing. The same goes for other issues; many in Breslov have decided that Kiruv is not their thing, that despite the great amounts of Baalei Tshuvah you see in Breslov that they'd like to stick to themselves just like other groups. We discussed this away back in 5766, back when the "Anti"in Anti-Tzemach still meant something. The other manhigim like Berland, Liebermansh, Kenig and Arush beg to differ, and claim to understand Reb Nachman just as much as Schechter does. Needless to say that they don't get along very well with the Old Guard...
In Lubavitch too there are young people that claim to understand what the Rebbe said just as much as the old Mashpi'im. Despite not having learned in Tomchei Tmimim they open the seforim and claim to understand just as well as the ones who've been studying the Rebbe's works for over close to 60 years. They claim that nobody is Baal HaBoss of Lubavitch but the Rebbe, and that they can just as well speak on behalf of Lubavitch as the old folks. Within both groups things have gotten totally out of hand, with splinters and offshoots ruining good names for the others, despite all the damage control efforts. Breslov proves to Lubavitch's adversaries that it's not the "Moshiach Issue" that drives the splinter groups, and Lubavitch can learn a lesson from Breslov as to how a group can both grow and fester all kinds of unwanted elements 200 years after the Rebbe's passing. Breslov has also shown how little they are able to do about all those weird groups that claim to represent Breslov; no matter how much you protest, once they put on the garb and learn the seforim and travel to Uman they're in. No amount of closing the barn door after the fact will keep the horse from running.