Saturday, January 17, 2009
!תניא איז אמונה
I hesitate to bring this page as proof of anything, being that there are stories in this book that I very much doubt, but hey! why not? It suits me, so I might as well... Zalman Levin, son of Reb Avrohom Dov HaCohen Levin, tells how his father hired a melamed - a Litvak - for him so that he could get some extra learning in. Young Zalman had a strong desire to learn Tanya and he asked the melamed to learn with him. (I'm not sure why he would ask the Litvak melamed and not his father, after all, his mekushorim would tell you that he was the greatest authority on chassidus since the Tzemach Tzedek, and even the MahaRash was not enough of a Tzaddik for him, but so goes the story) The melamed said that "Tanya is Kabboloh, and we don't teach Kabboloh to young children," or even older children, for that matter. Again, we can wonder what young Zalman was thinking; that the Litvak would learn Tanya with a young child? Besides, I thought only dor hashvi'i Lubavitch got crazy and started learning chassidus with young kids, no?
שער חלק א' של הספר
The story - as supposedly told by young Zalman - continues: So I went to Rav Yonason Steif, zt"l, and told what happened, that the melamed says it's Kabboloh and he won't teach it to young children. So he answered "my son, Tanya is NOT Kabboloh, Tanya is EMUNAH, and it's never too early to teach young children abut belief in Hashem and all that he does. If the melamed doesn't understand it send him to me and I'll explain it to him. From then on the melamed would learn Tanya with me too. The story is wonderful, and really suits me, but being that there are lots of stories that are told in his name that NEVER could have happened, being that the times don't shtim, I foresee a problem with this one too. IIRC Rav Yonasan Steif arrived on these shores in 1946, soon after the Holocaust. Gershon Tannenbaum's article tells us that he was the last RB"D of Budapest. I thought he arrived in 1938, I must've confused him with the Tzaylemer and Mattersdorfer Rabbonim. Zalman's father died on Shavuous of 1938, and Zalman was already a young man then, probably in his 30s. So when and where did this story happen? He was in Budapest as a child? s'leigt zich nit affen seychel bichlal!
When sitting here and trying to figure out how the compiler of this story book could have made such a grobben to'us, I realized that it's like the kashe "vee azouy hut noach gekent boyen di teyveh ven er iz geven blind," so too here. For those of you who remember, the answer to that kashe is : Noach iz gornit geven blind! The story was not told by ZL, I confused it with other stories in the book that were told by him. It was told by another Rov, one who remains a mystery to me until one of my good friends will get a hold of the book and look for the mesaper haMayseh themselves. אויבIt does seem like a "malach," since he said that he davened in Nesivos Oylem, the last bastion of "old Chabad".......... אזוי the story can be 100% accurate, and we Hungarians - at least those identify with RYS and the Budapest/Adas Yereim approach to life - need to start learning Tanya with out young children forthwith! Otherwise they could have serious deficiencies in their Emunah and be of questionable Jewish character, something that would easily affect their status regarding acceptance to yeshivos, and - gasp! - shidduchim!