Sunday, April 25, 2010
HaRav Eliezer Wenger, z"l
Everybody (almost everybody) in the frum world has "his" Lubavitcher, like, lehavdil, every goy had/has his Moshke, who was a good Jew, unlike all other Jews who were part of the International Jewish Conspiracy, or whatever they called in the centuries before the last one. His Lubavitcher was good, not like the others. The good Lubavitcher may be family ("it happens in the shenste mishpoches") a former classmate, or a neighbor or acquaintance from work/business. In my blogging career I have become the good Lubavitcher to several people, some of whom really never knew Lubavitchers close up and personal before; all they knew was what they thought they saw or heard in Yeshivah. If I may say so myself: when they got to know me they realized that we have no horns and we practice the same religion than them, maybe even more fervently than them, and it's not as bad as they thought! That's not to say that with some people getting to know Lubavitchers is not the cure-all; they may meet the wrong type, or have negative experiences, depending on the situation.
People like to have their Lubavitcher be a good one. It makes them feel good and that they're in the company of good people. Many of the old timers will tell you about the old days in cities like New York, Yerushalayim, or Montreal, where all frum yidden lived together in peace and harmony, and there was no animosity between groups. They'll say that they have only fond memories of those days and wish they could have them back. When asked why the feelings towards Lubavitch changed they'll probably point the finger at Lubavitch and blame them for moving out of the neighborhood, becoming more "moderen," going off the deep end, or all of the above. I'm not here to argue those points, only to tell you what the situation was like. When you had yidden like Reb Peretz Mochkin in Montreal at the helm in Lubavitch in Montreal, and you saw his davening and avodas hashem you put up with his strange behavior - what you found strange, and you respected him and were in awe of him. The same goes for Reb Sadyeh Liberow in Antwerp and many others. Today we lack Reb Peretzs so others can sit and point fingers and turn their noses at Lubavitch. I know I had more in this paragraph, but my browser closed on me and three hours of intermittent writing was lost. חבל על דאבדין.
Which brings us to Reb Lazer Wenger, z"l. He was what you called a "good Lubavitcher" and was zocheh to an obituary from the American Yated for several reasons. (Not before they made it very clear as to why they were even writing about him, if you know what I mean.) One: he was the son of a Kletzker Talmid. (That doesn't always work for you if you leave that fold, but it dis work for him) Two: he was a sheiner talmid chochom. (It's tough to negate accomplishments in Torah, even if they come from a Lubavitcher - it's done, the negating, never mind, but it's still not so easy) Three: he taught and was fondly remembered by thousands of talmidim and talmidos in several different cities. Four: He was a Rov in a semi-Lubavitcher/veltishe shul and was on good terms with all Rabbonim in Montreal. I say whatever it takes. Even though we know that we're in "galus" and need to please people who are terribly biased and prejudiced, we still need to work hard and aim to please those cannot easily be pleased, so that the name of Lubavitch is held in esteem. Rabbi Wenger may not have needed to work very hard at it, but he sure did accomplish that in Montreal, and that's not avek tzumachen.
We need more of these so-called good Lubavitchers, despite the fact that it's degrading and maybe even dishonest to work hard to please those who will not be pleased. Not that I'm advocating doing it solely for the purpose of PR, but we need any incentive we can get. It's no different than the chassidim/yeshivaleit trying to please the MO, or the charedim trying to please the chilonim in Israel, you can try hard but one idiot can ruin it for all of you. But as long as you know that you're not one of the trouble makers you know you're on the right path. If those who have it in for you have no reason to knock you, then you're an asset to your community. From what I understand Rabbi Wenger didn't need to try to please, he didn't need ulterior motives, but some of us may need them, and if that's what it takes then so be it. Others do it for their own koved and reward, if you do it for the greater good you're still way ahead of them!
I know there was more that I had to say, but alas, it was lost in a Firefox crash!