Monday, April 27, 2009
3am on a Shabeisenacht
In the world of blogging anonymity is key. Nobody wants some crazy to take revenge and start spreading lies and misinformation about himself. So we try and keep our identities secret, at least from those who we don't know nor trust. There are exceptions, of course, but those people live in another galaxy. The blogger Maybe a Litvak was someone - who despite our stark differences of opinion - was someone I thought I could trust. He's not like the idiot anonymous guy who repeats the same mantra about the Rebbe hating frum Jews. He argues - somewhat disrespectfully, as can be expected of someone who was raised to laugh at Lubavitch - but never gets personal, like some of you do. So when he asked, impulsively, if I'd meet him, I tiptoed out of the house at 1:10 am and drove the few minutes to out meeting place. I remembered that I had some warm beer in the pantry that I sold with the chometz, and thought about taking it along, but judging from his macho demeanor I didn't think think he'd appreciate the warm aspect of the beer, and might even make a very bad first impression.
I arrived at the shul and turned on some lights, cautiously making sure that nobody was there already, waiting in the dark to jump me. After securing the premises I walked outside and waited for the car to show up. I doubted he was walking, nobody walks in Monsey if they could help it. Soon enough, about 4 minutes late, a small import turns the corner and pulls into the parking lot, right alongside my white Porsche. In the dim light, I walk down the hill and greet with what ends up being a very non-firm, almost mushy handshake. I guess he never got the handshake memo, where they tell you tell you to make it firm and look the other guy straight in the eye. After walking inside, MAL tells me that he was pleasantly surprised; he imagined I was some kind of psychopath, an old bachur or divorced man perhaps, and was impressed by my calm demeanor and Chassidic (Lubavitch) dress. I showed up with hat and kapote, him white shirt only. I wasn't sure what to expect and wanted to make a good impression, especially as sort of a Lubavitch representative at that meeting; he was comfortable as he was and had nothing to prove.
Not having brought any beer with me I did the next best thing, I offered him some of the shul's free instant coffee, Monsey's finest I might add, with milk. He graciously accepted, but asked that we step outside since he wanted to me maktir ketores, if you get my drift. Of the legal variety. He then proceeded to fill me in on some of the Yeshivishe velt's deepest and darkest secrets, some of which I had no idea were ever and issue. Topics covered include: The older Mirrer Bachurim, Reb Chaim Wysoker and "Reb Lazer Hagodol" who would travel around together to Yeshivos, Reb Shmuel Charkover, The two Reb Lazer's of Ponovizh (Shach and Platchinski) and the possible confusion when the more famous Reb Lazer was hired in the above-mentioned Yeshivah. Reb Zelig Epstein and the last shmuess with the Brisker Rov before the latter passed away. Reb Shlomo Harcavi, The Grodner Mashgiach, hy"d, and the fact that most Litvishe bachurim never heard of him. Reb Leib Malin, and much, much more. I was duly impressed with this man's deep knowledge of the yeshivishe Velt, no wonder he thought everybody knows of Reb Chaim Wysoker, he thinks they're all like him! I also appreciated his honesty when it came to people from "his own side" he didn't like; he let them have it too, using pretty unflattering terms!
All in all it was a very good and beneficial meeting for the both of us. Besides for starting a lasting friendship with a man who now has a name, it also teaches us both that behind those biting attacks are human beings with feelings. We can vehemently disagree with each other, yet respect one another just as well. We can discuss history and even current events objectively and maybe pick up a good story here and there, maybe even learn something from each other. I never tried to convert him, and I don't think he tried to "convert" me either, despite him wanting to know how exactly I got involved with Lubavitch. Were it not for the fact that it was after 3am we could've swapped stories for hours more. So if you think you'd like to meet me, and you're a half-normal guy, drop me a line and tell me when and where, and I'll try and accommodate you in the near future. I can't promise you beer and pretzels, but we can try and have something on hand to quench your thirst. Until then enjoy the blog and shteig away!