Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Photo by Roman Vishniac
I was asked a question that I often think about, despite it being unrealistic and very hard to compare fairly. The questions were respectful, and it seems like he REALLY wants to know the answers. I'll try and answer to the best of my ability.
Q. Did you or your family "shteig" in ruchniyus by making the switch to Lubavitch?
A. I know I did. I was wandering with very little TRUE direction, which is spiritually dangerous for a young bachur. If you want to be honest and sincere about it you might say that I shteiged tenfold since joining Lubavitch. I made a quality shidduch by any standard. Ten times better than had I stayed as neutral, "international" chossid in Boro Park. If I had to guess I'd say that I'd be one of the numerous shtraymel/trimmed beards you see around town. You know, the ones with the little jackets and the weird glasses during the week? that would be me. Or, you might say that I would've gone much further than that. Or you might say that somewhere along the way I would've found a Rosh Yeshive somewhere who would've convinced me that the Litvisher Derech HaLimud VeHaChayim is the absolute best. Can one ever decide for sure what would've happened? Can one know for sure what WILL happen? I don't think so. Not that it's not a question one could ask; it's just that the answers are hard to come by.
Q. Is your family in a more Yiddisher environment because of your switch to Lubavitch?
A. This question depends on the question above, I would think. If I'm in a more Yiddishe environment then so are my kids, right? Then again, sometimes being in a chassidisher environment may sometimes have good repercussions on its own. The kid's home can be terrible, yet he's influenced for the better by the outside, and he comes out looking like a million bucks! I often wonder how that's fair to some parents; that they work so hard on raising their kids and aren't successful, and the ones that live it up and have a grand old time have the good kids.... We can play the game of percentages and make assumptions, but those stats are very quickly becoming worthless in these the days of the internet and text messaging. So to answer your question: There is no clear answer, unless you look only at appearances.
Q. How is your family's level in Yiddishkeit in comparison to other grandchildren of your great zeide ?(if there is any GC)
A. That again is very difficult to properly gauge. We each have different things that we stress. Some of us may stress longer peyos and no stripe white shirts, while other may stress loud brochos, negel vasser, and Krias Shma BiZmano. Compare that if you will, I won't tell you who stresses what, but you could probably figure it out if you tried. I can see that your question is a loaded one, that you basically have an answer in mind, but it's hardly the case with me and family. You must have a wrong impression of me and of Lubavitch in general, some it based on experience and some based on misconception. We run a very tight ship at home.
Q. How would you compare the level of avoides hashem of any Rav Toifes Yeshiva in pre war Hungary to the ReYatz or ReMaSh?
Again with the comparing? Why the need to compare all the time?
Q. Would you as passive as you zeida if one of your children switched to a different kehila outside of Lubavitch?
A. I was asked that question here before. Hypothetical questions are always very difficult to answer, but I can try. Since I only joined Lubavitch myself as a bachur, and maintain close contact with the "outside world" on a daily basis, I can only imagine that I'd be quite fine with that happening. I wouldn't prefer it, but it would go over well. I would wish that he joined a kehilla that didn't hate Lubavitch - become a misnaged - but then again, if he remains a frum Jew I'd be happy that it was the worst thing that happened to my kid. Try and remember that my family is not hardcore Satmar, we didn't have a strict code that we needed to follow, like some of the Wiliamsburgers who joined Lubavitch in the 70s and 80s had. For them it was devastating, since they were fed a pack of the lies about Lubavitch. My zeide z"l was not part of that camp. You didn't become an apikores in his eyes if looked, sounded, or thought a little diferent than him. He respected every erliche yid, whether he looked or sounded just like him or not. That's why he had no problem with me going over there.
Q. I will learn a whole perek mishnayos L"EN your zeida if you answer some of the above.
A. Learn a long and difficult perek, like Keylim or Negoyim. With RO"B and TY"T, please.