Monday, November 24, 2008
All by the book, None by the heart
Schneur commenting on Circus Tent 2 worlds mamesh:
Tzig. This has little to do with Chassidim and Misnagdim in a philosophic manner. Today in the US we have a whole range of people under 60, American born, whose knowledge of Judaism is based exclusively on books , and those books are the Shulchan Aruch and Gemora. Most of these people had parents whom I am sure were fine people but left behind the emotional attachment to echte Yiddishkayt in Europe. Here they belonged to Young Israel synagogues and became very acculturated and lost that special hergesh. In America, Judaism was reduced to learning and doing Mitzvos by rote. These people include most MO Jews, the so called Yeshiva community, and even some "Amerikane Chasidim".
On the other side we have people whose view of Judaism was shaped by seeing how their parents acted, felt, laughed, cried, talked and walked. These people tended to have a genuine Mesorah. They saw Judaism as more than just book learning, and the book learning included Midrash, Chassidus, Sifrei Mussar vechulu. This people tend to be Chassidic and a few Misnagdim who come from European homes. And in the background of all of this loomed the Holocaust, not Coney Island! To the first category Rabbonim are "machinove," automated people who act in a mathematical way, and have no emotions.
The second category knows that Judaism is more than the dry letter of the law. The Minchas Elozor was a gadol in book learning, but you can see in his writings the high regard he had for minhogim and the folk. As a rav and rebbe, life was more than "farstein another teysefes." He saw the tzores of Klal Yisroel. He wanted Moshiach more than anything, and like the gedolei hachassidus, he had a vareme hartz even though in klal inyonim he was kashe kebarzel. (see Weingarten's book about the Munkatcher and how he was so different in private). But if we agree to this, then the Lubavitcher Rebbe was just following in the footsteps of another gadol like the Munkatcher (and may I add the Chafetz Chaim too) and the Shinover Rebbe and others.. See Heschel's book on Kotzk in Yiddish where he discussed in detail the "du" familiar relationship that the European Jew enjoyed with G-D. Rebbeim davened with "Zisser Tatte" interspersed into their tefillos. As Heschel so aptly wrote learning is G-d speaking to us, WE talk to G-d when we daven.