Friday, June 16, 2006

Rebbes, Rabbonim & Maggiddim

Written for CIRCUS TENT by Mikushor
in response to Whatever happened to Yiddishkeit?

I found a letter in אגרות קודש אדה"ז אדמו"ר האמצעי אדמו"ר הצ"צ, Vol# 1 -- צמח צדק letter # 9, Page# 335). It is dated circa 5603-1743, apparently as a response to questions by the Russian government. Very quickly, this was the thrust of the letter:

Jewish communities need multiple places of worship due to variant versions of נוסח התפלה & מנהגים, and each shul is essentially a different community. Then the letter discusses the need for Jewish communities to have two rabbinical roles to fill:

1) Rav / Moreh Tzeddek to answer questions of איסור והיתר and specifics of הלכה & מצוות.
2) A Maggid to preach words of מוסר, etc.

The reason for this: People may know the Halochoh, but because of their Yetzer HaRah, etc, they need to be strengthened and awakened by someone. Also, there are מצוות התלויות בלב(אהבת ויראת השם, ethical behavior, righteousness, recognition of הקב"ה, etc.) that require a Maggid to teach, inspire, encourage, etc, to elevate his community.

It is also for this reason that Chazal established the סדר התפלה, where we praise and speak of Hashem’s greatness (and to bring one to love & fear Him). But since many people don’t understand לשון הקודש, or they don’t pay attention to the words, we need Maggidim to bring this home to people.

Now, there are different schools of thought as to how this should be done, even though all Jews have the same Torah, both from a practical standpoint (נוגע למעשה) as well as from an internal standpoint (חובות הלבבות):

The approach of the Non-Chassidim is that every community needs a Rov and a Maggid, even sometimes 2 or 3 maggidim. Chassidim have a Rov in a town, but only one Maggid for an entire region. Both approaches are legitimate – having one Maggid per region creates a hardship (since people have to travel to him, or he must travel to the people in all communities under his jurisdiction), and people cannot possibly hear him steadily.

On the other hand, to succeed, this Maggid must be a paragon of virtue, and there are not many men of such perfection. So, rather than to take people who are not truly virtuous, Chassidim find it far better to find the greatest man around, and even if one cannot hear him constantly it is still far better, and accomplishes more, than listening to a far lesser man on a steady basis.

And this reflects the difference of opinion as to Tadir תדיר ומקודש איזה קדם. Chassidim hold Kodesh Kodom, while Non-Chassidim hold Tadir Kodom. And this is also why Chassidim emphasize matters of the heart (such as prayer) while Non-Chassidim emphasize the practical applications and details of practical mitzvos.

Then the letter goes on to discuss the patriotism of the Rabbeyim, etc, based on the Halochos of דינא דמלכותא דינא, and the Halochoh להתפלל לשלומה של מלכות

Note: This was a summary based on what I read last night, and some notes that I wrote down. Please read the letter for yourselves!


Anonymous said...

Nu, the letter's nice, but אן ענטפער אויף צמחן ביטע!
It's nice to see you go back and forth with him, but Khal Chasidim need an article by you. And maybe berl will respond with the reason he thinks the Rebbe stopped as well. Perhaps he can share the names of those who claimed the Shemtov influence as well.

What I think: I noticed in the latest volume of Igros Kodesh that the Rebbe explains why at one point he stopped talking about a specific issue within Shleimus Haaretz. He writes that as the issue has gone so far as to be impossible to resolve (I think the reason was that America had by then threatened to withdraw arms support), it is no longer for public discussion, but for private diplomacy.

When I read that, I assumed that the same had happened with Mihu Yehudi - once the frume parties refused to participate, and refused to follow the order of their Rabbonim to withdraw from the government, all hopes for resolving this issue disappeared.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the letter!

Please correct me if I'm wrong - The letter is sayng that the role of Rebbe is not anything different or new (as it compares with the general non-chadssidic community),
And essentially, the Rebbe fills the role of the Maggid that was common at the time - correct?

Which brings 2 questions to mind:
1. Is that generally still the case?
2. Isn't the old-fashioned maggid a thing of the past? When did the Maggidim cease to be functional part of our society?

Anonymous said...

You people have to stop imagining that I am some kind of a Shemtov-hater. They are large family ka"h that counts many fine people as its members (including the public figures I mention sometimes). But they are public figures and their shiteis are fair game. And I believe many of those shiteis are not good for Lubavitch. Period, nothing personal. So I use the name “shemtov” as short-hand for these shiteis and I thought that my intention was clear. Guess not. Guess you people imagine I want to hang them, burn their houses and shoot their dogs...

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


well, you wouldn't be the first in CH to wanna do that. It seems like they're there for people to hate, just because. For no reason.

Anonymous said...

What does this have to do with the post? Maybe we should be talking here about the price of tea in china?

Anonymous said...

OK, this should teach me a lesson. Given that there are people who hate them, I will try to avoid using their name for this purpose and refer to this phenomenon as "corporate Lubavitch". On the other hand, no; I will only use the holy word "Lubavitch" in a positive sense. Got any better ideas?

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


ווער ניט אזוי צוקראצט

Anonymous said...

Now would be a good time for the 'tzorichiyun' moron to tell me that על פי דין there is no גדר של קדושה in the word 'Lubavitch'... :)

Anonymous said...

I'll be your moron now Berl

excuse me. maybe I missed something in Cheder, but when exactly did the word "Lubavitch", a WhiteRussian town named by peasant Goyim, inherit Kedushah?

Anonymous said...

berl, you got your wish. Tzig already expressed my issue, Shemtov is an overused term for all evils wrapped as Chasidus in Lubavitch.

Why not just use corporate Shluchim? Better yet, Corn Dogs? Shlichus is a holy word as well.

ayid, there is the possibility Lubavitch was named by Yidden. It was a Yiddishe yishuv, not mixed.

Anonymous said...

a yid, they do not teach this in cheder. this is something that is has to be כתוב וחרוש על לוח הלב .

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


as far as the Maggid being extinct, I would say that's definitely the case, save for Reb Yankele Galinsky and one or 2 more, simply because you need to be a performer like Reb Sholom SChwadron to succeed in Magiddus.

The first Talmidei HaBesht and HaMaggid were Maggidim, the Tchernobler, Zlotchover, Liozhner, Kozhnitzer and so on, it was their approach that was so different, what they said to the people. Unlike the Eylimisher who came and lambasted the simple but pious people, the Baal Shem Tov taught them to speak gently and encourage them.

The Rebbe obviously took on much more of a persona than even the Chassidic predecessor.

Anonymous said...

By the way, the secular year for 5603 is 1843, not 1743 as written in the translation of the letter by the Tzemach Tzedek.

MEKUSHOR said...

I can't believe I did that! Thanks...