Avodah Mailing List

Volume 02 : Number 106

Sunday, January 3 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 2 Jan 1999 20:26:34 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Neshamah Kllolis in the "Toldos"

To bring another source from "mainstream" Chassidus - the ever popular
"Ta'amei HaMinhagim" (I know it's mainstream because he does not quote the
Izhbitzer or R' Tzadok even once!) p. 514, that each Officer of 1000 in
the Midbar was the Neshama Kolleles of those 1000 and Moshe Rabbeinu wa
the Neshama Kolleles of all 600,000.

On Fri, 1 Jan 1999 Yzkd@aol.com wrote:

> just like the sin of the generation reaches a little to the head of the
> generation likewise with the Hirhur Tshuvoh of the head of the Dor the
> people of the generation will repent in action since they are one unit. 


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Sat, 2 Jan 1999 21:32:19 -0500 (EST)
From: "Jonathan J. Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Re: Chasidim/Mitnagdim

From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@IDT.NET>
> R' Dovid Eliezrie wrote:

> > As for Minhagim, and this is a differant discussion. Many people become
> > Chassidim, when they do this they observe Chassidshe Minhagim, be they
> > Sefardim, or Ashenazim. As for Chalov Yisroel and Reb Moshie, who was

> ===> No, it is NOT a different discussion.  Minhag Avos is VERY important.
> There is a MAJOR difference if a person carefully chooses to "become
> chassidishe" and adopt chassidishe minhagim (and even then, I think that
> there may be inyanim of neder involved) as opposed to a Tinok shenishba
> who does not know any better.  This is a simple matter of imtellectual

Are we rehashing the old 18th-century vikuchim?  This was a big arguments
against the chasidim: that they replaced the customs of their fathers with
strange new ones regarding prayer, shechitah, and other issues. 

The Yaavetz (remember him?), among others, castigates the Chasidim for
their strange innovations in prayer contrary to everything he can find
in halacha (Mitpachat Sefarim p. 31, cited in E. J. Schochet, "The
Hasidic Movement and the Gaon of Vilna")

> From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>

> > Both, viz. "V'da galusa revi'a de'dor d'resha'im, maleh nechashim
> > v'akrabim, rama'im k'nechashim v'akrabim, d'akrin milei d'rabbanan
> > v'dayanin l'shikra, alyhu itmar hayu tzareha l'rosh... b'ilein rish'aya
> > erev rav, v'da b'sof galusa." (Tikkunei Zohar 61a).
> ===> Again, there is little description of Tinok Shenishba types -- rather
> people who are in open rebellion ("d'akrin..").  Seems that the focus may
> extend to those who REBEL agaisnt Torah in an overt and calculated
> fashion.

Speaking of quotes, and to what they refer: I saw one in Haamek Davar
Bereshit 27:(7?), discussing the material-welfare bracha meant for Esav
due him for being a baal chesed, which guaranteed a reward in this world. 
He dropped a line in that "bchol dor yesh apikorsim baalei chesed" or
Could he have been referring to the Chasidim and/or the Reform?  Was the
Netziv known for any antipathy to Chasidut?
From: "Dovid Eliezrie" <tzedek@sprynet.com>
> As for the rest of the frum world-which is pursing this argument of erev rav
> on this list-let it pick its bachurim and young couples and send them out to
> the places we live in and let us see how well they do. Its davka the
> Chassidus and teachings of the Rebbe that gives us the internal conviction
> to do this. I don't see Meir, Telz Lakewood or anyone else doing anything of
> the kind. Nor for that matter the MO world.

Various Christianities and Islam are also successful in sending missions
all over the world.  Does that make them correct?  It's an argument from
an irrelevancy.  We know that Chabadniks are very strong in their faith.

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Date: Sat, 2 Jan 1999 20:33:10 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Erev Rav & Tinok She'Nishba

On Fri, 1 Jan 1999, Zvi Weiss wrote:

> ===> I do not understand the Kal VaChomer here.  One who is not a shomer
> mitzva can be a Tinok shenishba and need not have ANY of the middos
> ra'os identified. 

This requires opening a new thread. The concept of tinok she'nishba
pertaining to non-Orthodox, to the best of my knowledge - while something
I subscribe to personally - is a relatively recent "chiddush." I believe
the Chofetz Chayim and Chazon Ish were the chief promulgators of this
perspective in Misnagdic Orthodoxy. I am not sure where you will find this
idea elsewhere, i.e., in Chassidus (beyond, of course, the non-mainstream
:-) ).

> ===> Only if you can show that the "tzioni" in particular is in that
> type of rebellion -- otherwise, all the Eida is doing is circularly
> justifying its sin'a.  At best, I can see this applied to those in
> meretz and hadash who are doing their best to introduce non-frumkeit
> into the State under the guise of "pluralism" and/or "freedom". 

I am, of course, not interested in defending the Eida Chareidis. However,
again to play devil's advocate, they do not, to the best of my
understanding, believe in the tinok she'nishba concept relevant to


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Sat, 2 Jan 1999 22:31:17 -0500
From: raffyd@juno.com
Re: Outreach strategies and Chabad

>there can be only one honest approach -- that when a B"T returns to
>Torah, we encourage him/her to locate the minahgim from his family and
>background as much as possible.  Only AFTER a person is truly "invested"
>in shemirat hamitzvos is it proper to even CONSIDER advocating ChaBaD

Kindly look at T'shuvos V'Hanhagos by Rav Moshe Shterbuch, Vol. 1, Siman
354.  He discusses the issue of Ba'alei T'Shuva and their ancestors'
minhagim.  He records a machlokes poskim on the issue, but his last words
there clearly read that the ones who brought him back to the derech are
to be considered to be his "avos".  Surely Chabad cannot be blamed for
viewing their role in this light.  

I do admit that this is different from the case of the sephardi who went
of the derech and was brought back by Chabad.

Carry on.
Raffy Davidovich


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Date: Sat, 2 Jan 1999 22:12:44 -0500
From: raffyd@juno.com
Re: Bizui Talmidei Chachamim

On Fri, 1 Jan 1999 14:37:31 -0500 a poster writes:

>Dear Mr. Davidovich:
>I am not clear as to what my crime is with respect to what I intended 
>to be a clarifying statement respectful of gedolei Yisrael.  Kindly
>Good Shabbos.

I will kindly advise:    There is no way that these two statements quoted
below are respectful of gedolei Yisrael.  

"now that Rabbi Sherrer is no
longer among us, who tells the members of the Moetzes what to think and
and when?)"	

 "By their reputations, both in their lifetimes and afterwards, I am
certain they did not think they were puppets." 

In the first quote, you suggest that such talmidei chachamim as Rabbi
Feinstein, Rabbi Kaminetzky, Rabbi Hutner and others were told what to

In the second quote, you imply (and there is no other way, using the
rules of English grammar, to understand the line differently) that while
they may not have thought they were puppets, they in fact were. 
Otherwise, the sentence would have read, "I am certain they were not

Although I am aware that there is a school of thought in the Jewish world
which believes that the members of the Moatzot in the USA and Eretz
Yisrael are puppets merely obeying the Agudah baalebatim, r"l, such an
opinion should not be posted in a forum which presumably is dedicated to
"Darchei Noam" and respect for others'  views, especially the views of
baalei mesorah.  

Raffy Davidovich

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Date: Sat, 2 Jan 1999 21:43:19 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Outreach

On Sat, 2 Jan 1999 raffyd@juno.com wrote:

> Kindly look at T'shuvos V'Hanhagos by Rav Moshe Shterbuch, Vol. 1, Siman
> 354.  He discusses the issue of Ba'alei T'Shuva and their ancestors'
> minhagim.  He records a machlokes poskim on the issue, but his last
> words there clearly read that the ones who brought him back to the
> derech are to be considered to be his "avos".  Surely Chabad cannot be
> blamed for viewing their role in this light. 

What is R' Sternbuch's basis for this stunning chiddush?


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Sat, 2 Jan 1999 11:40:58 -0800
From: "Dovid Eliezrie" <tzedek@sprynet.com>

"I would like to know where you received your stats... Maybe it is
because I was in contact with people who have been "mekurav" through NCSY
that I have a different perspective.  But, I can recognize the value of
any group engaged in kiruv without the sort of self-congrats that seems to
follow above.  In truth, how many B"T that are mekurav via ChaBaD actually
GO to non-ChaBaD Yeshivot?  If you could answer that, it would help to
understand how "exclusive" ChaBaD actually may be..."

I do not have any actual stats. My statement is based on over twenty years
in the field and my personal observations.
First you must understand that most we deal with do not go on to Yeshiva.
Most Chabad Centers are located in communities where we work with families.
They come to our Shuls, attend Adult Educationa, clebrate the holidays etc.
We educate the kids, some we are lucky to go to day schools and Yeshivas
others to our Hebrew Schools. We work with the families, some become frum.
Most mover closer to observance.
For instance on Friday I visited two families to put up Mezuzas. In one home
I tried to get the mother to move her child from the non orthodox day school
that has almost no Torah to our day school. In the other I spoke to the
second mother about moving her kids from the Reform Hebrew School to our
Hebrew School. The issue here is not minhagim its Jewish survival and
assimilation. Most families are three four generations removed from
observance. Its trying to save family by family. It is hard work.
On the other side every Schliach  B"H sends people to Yeshivas. I had a boy
I sent to Israel a year or so ago in my house Shabbos, he is Machon Meir in
Jerusalem. One of regular Minyan members, whose wife this Shabbos went to
the Conservative Temple where she "lains" on occasion has a daughter we sent
to Stern, but she spends many weekends in Crown Heights.
I never went into the Yeshivas and did a total but I think my information is
correct. Most Baalie Teshuva have had involvement with Lubavitch.I would say
that easily fifty percent of the young Baali Teshuva go to programs other
that ours.
The families who start coming to our Shuls move step by step to Shmiras
Hamitzvos. If they become really frum they have a tendency to move into LA
 I am in a suburb in Orange County) where there are more Frum people. What
is revolutionary is we are out there in neighborhood after neighborhood and
we are competing head on with the Conservative and Reform for people. The
fact that someone will come to us and not them is shift in the modern Jewish
community. In our neighborhood there is a Conservative Temple. While we are
finishing construction of a new building they are still in an office park.
Five miles away are two Reform Temples and a bit further two more
conservative. Still we are competing head on with these other places.
The area that we are weak in is where NCSY excels is high school programs.
We do not do mixed groups at that age. When your groups don't include boys
and girls most non frum are not to interested in you. We are much better in
the below teen, families, adult education,  and college students.
As for sending kids on. How many NCSYers go to Chabad Yeshivas. I think we
might be an bit more opened minded than they are ?
Dovid Eliezrie

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Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1999 14:48:47 +0200 (GMT+0200)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>

>> but the Ba'alei Machlokes are worse - they are from Amalek

On the other hand the machlokes bewteen mitnagdim and chassidim cost
countless harm to the Jewish community. I get this feeling that was
is permitted is my machlokes which is for heaven but your machlokes
is prohibited.

I justed finished reading some beautiful stories of the Bostoner Rebbe
and the work his does with college students in the Boston area.
Is he also just bringing back the Eruv Rav?

Eli Turkel

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Date: Fri, 1 Jan 1999 14:15:05 -0500
From: eandaferrell@juno.com (ALIZA FERRELL)
Re: Avodah V2 #103

David Glasner wrote:

>It is very
>nice to just sit back and say oh well Chazal said this was fine and that
>was okay and the Rishonim didn't make a fuss, so who am I to ask

That's right. Who are you?

Should one attribute wrong-doing where Chazal said it was just fine?
Shouldn't it set one back on his ear if he ascribes guilt where the
Rishonim didn't bat an eyelash?

Of course, one might--with requisite truckloads of scholarship and
humility--*perhaps* say, "I do not merit to understand the correctness of
Chazal's exculpation here because XYZ..."

Let's remember who we are and who they are.

Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell

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Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1999 13:52:34 EST
From: C1A1Brown@aol.com
GM'Ch shelo lishma for an Akum - Netziv

The Netziv (50:7) writes that although the servents of Pharoah escorted
Ya'akov's body to burial only out of respect for Yosef's position, not out of
kavod hameis, this was still a kiyum of gemilus chessed, as with all other
mitzvos done shelo lishma.  A few problems: (1) regarding tzedakah it is
mashma BB daf 10b that there is no kiyum for an akum if done she'lo lishma,
e.g. haomer sela zu l'tzedaka al minas sheyechye b'ni is a kiyum only for a
yisrael. (2) There is a difference between lishma and kavanah.  Even if a
mitzva counts shelo lishma, still mitzvos tzrichos kavanah.  (3) Is there any
mitzva for a B"N to do gemilus chessed?  Does a B"N need kavanah to fufill a

(Perhaps the mitzva of GM"Ch is different as Chovos HaLevavos writes all good
is ultimately motivated by personal gain - thus having personal benefit in
mind is not really a shelo lishma in this case.)


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Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1999 15:51:36 EST
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Outreach

Just for clarification,

Is it the custom of the Litvishe that when they are Mkareiv someone that comes
from chassidishe Upshtam to tell him and encourage him to follow the Minhag of
his parents regarding cutting of beard and Peios, Tzitzitz on the outside,
Davening with a Gartel, going to Mikveh Erev Shabbos, etc.

Kol Tuv
Yitzchok Zirkind 

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Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1999 16:04:25 EST
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Neshamah Kllolis in the "Toldos"

In a message dated 99-01-02 21:26:44 EST, you write:

<< (I know it's mainstream because he does not quote the
 Izhbitzer or R' Tzadok even once! >>

But he mentions Chabad :-)

Kol Tuv
Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Sun, 03 Jan 1999 23:17:02 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@netmedia.net.il>
Re: Outreach

Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer wrote:

> On Sat, 2 Jan 1999 raffyd@juno.com wrote:
> > Kindly look at T'shuvos V'Hanhagos by Rav Moshe Shterbuch, Vol. 1, Siman
> > 354.  He discusses the issue of Ba'alei T'Shuva and their ancestors'
> > minhagim.  He records a machlokes poskim on the issue, but his last
> > words there clearly read that the ones who brought him back to the
> > derech are to be considered to be his "avos"
> >
> What is R' Sternbuch's basis for this stunning chiddush?

The basis for this "stunning chiddush" is Rav Sternbuch's simple sevora that
if you want to keep a recent bal tshuva stable and healthy - he needs to fit
into the surroundings which provide him with his major support. Thus if a
person does not have direct experience in his family of any minhag - to make
him look and act differently than his present frum environment is a solid
recipe to destroy his yiddishkeit.
I think the focus of this discussion has to be on the next phase. Once someone
expresses a preference for another approach - is he actively discouraged. I
don't think anyone has  - so far - presented any evidence that people are
being deliberately misled as to options or is being held on to when he or she
would function better in a different environment. A friend in kiruv at one of
the big name kiruv yeshivos here told me of a case where someone found out
that he was from a chassidishe background (several generations before) - had
no interest in being a chassid but wanted to put on his tefillin in accord
with his family tradition. The rosh yeshiva discouraged it - that it would
make him stand out too much and reduce chances for a shidduch - since he would
be perceived as half chassid half litvak ie. confused. The decision was based
on the danger being different would bring about - not because of an anti
chassidic bias..

                                                     Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Sun, 3 Jan 1999 15:51:11 -0600 (CST)
From: micha@aishdas.org (Micha Berger)
R' YGB's "Forks", version 2

So many people inundated the author and me with requests for a copy of the
latest version of his article, we decided to just post it to the list.


Forks in the Road: Old Divisions, Modern Ramifications
R. Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer

We Might Be a Little Late!

This essay is some one hundred and fifty years late. Events since, some
fortunate, most unfortunate, have blurred the differences between the
great schools of thought that developed in the late eighteenth and early
nineteenth century.

Doubtless, the Satmar Rebbe (R. Yoel Teitelbaum) had this blurring in mind
when he is said to have remarked that he himself was the last true Chasid,
and that the Brisker Rav (R. Yitzchak Ze'ev Soloveischik) had been the last
true Misnaged.[1] It is said that the Satmar Rebbe explained the devolution
of both Chassidus and Misnagdus with the following parable:[2]

Once there was a woman whose husband would only eat fleishig (meat dishes),
which she dusifully prepared for him. Their daughter came to marry a man
who would only eat milchig (dairy dishes). Not wanting to deprive her son
in law, the mosher in law prepared for him, as well, the food he craved. For
several years this practice continued, with father and son in law eating in
separate rooms.

Now, it came to pass that the family became impoverished and could afford
neisher fleishig nor milchig. The woman was compelled to cook potatoes for
both her husband and son in law. Nevertheless, the two continued their custom
to eat in separate rooms. After several years elapsed in this manner, the two
realized that there was, indeed, no point in their remaining separated and
finally came to dine together. Nevertheless, as we all strive to enhance our
individual and collective Avodas Hashem (divine service), it is worthwhile -
perhaps essential - to know what we might choose as our goal or aspiration.

The Great Divide

The nature of that goal has been the subject of a debate that has raged since
the middle of the eighteenth century, when Eastern European Jewry erupted into
the controversy surrounding Chassidus. Henceforth, the Ashkenazic Jewish
world divided along the lines of Chassidus vs. Misnagdus. To be sure, there
are other, significant trends in Judaism, including the (Hirschian) Torah im
Derech Eretz school and, of course, many rich variations of Sephardic Avodas
Hashem. The most blatant divide, however, is along the Chassidic/Misnagdic
fault line. It is this line that we will attempt here to delineate.

But before we really begin: Caveat emptor! It would be the epitome
of presumptuousness to purport that a short (or even long) essay might
succinctly and precisely capture the distinctions between these schools
of Avodas Hashem. We intend to examine a relatively narrow bandwidth of the
differences, focussing more on exemplary thinkers and Ovdei Hashem (paragons of
Avodas Hashem) who grappled with these distinctions in their personal struggles
to formulate their own pathways in the hope that the reader will use these
distinctions as a springboard for contemplation and understanding. In this
effort, we follow in the footsteps of R. Dessler, the Michtav Me'Eliyahu,
(in a recently published essay[3]) and others who pursued a simplified
definition of differences, for reasons R. Dessler eloquently expresses.

We must begin our conversation with a definition of the "newer" Chassidic
model of Avodas Hashem. The reason for this is simple: Existing philosophies
are often forced to articulate their defining characteristics only when faced
by a new challenge. This seems to be the case with Misnagdus. Despite its
earlier origin, it was only forced to define itself as a philosophy when it
came to battle the revolutionary Chassidic movement. The very term Misnaged
can only be understood if one knows the context of Chassidus. Its meaning,
"Opponent," is only intelligible if one realizes toward what the opposition
was directed.

"Mainstream" Chassidus and Chabad

Chassidus itself divided into two significant camps, that of "mainstream"
Chassidus, and that of Chabad. Each side argued that its respective derech
(pathway in Judaism) was the most accurate reflection of the Ba'al Shem Tov's
(R. Yisrael, the founder of Chassidus, also known as the Besht - an acronym
for Ba'al Shem Tov) novel approach to Avodas Hashem. What was that approach
and what did each side represent as the means of implementing that approach?

These points are discussed at length by the Piascezner Rebbe, R. Klonymus
Kalmish Shapiro (author of the Chovat HaTalmidim) in his work, the Mevo
HaShe'arim (Chap. 5).[4] The Piascezner writes that the Besht radically
changed the world by affording much wider access to dveykus - a strong
awareness of connection - with G-d.

Prior to the advent of Chassidus, accomplishing dveykus required an individual
to access the secret world of the Mekubbalim (Kabbalistic masters). The
prerequisites for initiation into those secrets and that society were harsh
and demanding. Fasting, self affliction, separation from general society, and
other forms of ascetic behavior were required. Only those who had undergone
such preliminaries, and had then been accepted as the select students of
the Masters of each generation, could access the body of wisdom and practice
that allowed one to relate to G-d in a powerful and direct manner.

The Ari (the great 16th century Kabbalist, R. Yitzchak Luria) and the Or
HaChaim HaKadosh (the great 17th century commentator, R. Chaim b. Attar)
began to ease access to this body of knowledge and practice, a point not
lost on the Chassidim, who cherish the works of these individuals. It was
the Besht, however, who completed the revolution.

From the perspective of the Chassidim, the Besht was the first to introduce
the means and tools for even the most common, simple Jew to experience dveykus
to G-d. (An integral feature of Chassidus is the Chassidic tale. One of the
focal themes of those tales is the capacity of even the most ignorant Jew,
who is but sincere and pure hearted, to connect to G-d and stir the Heavens
to a greater extent than the most accomplished scholar and saint.)

The salient internal issue in Chassidus became how best to achieve that
dveykus. The mainstream of Chassidus stressed fervor and emosion in Avoda and
Emuna Peshuta - simple, pure, experiential faith in G-d - as the best tools
for this endeavor. It posited that the sanctity of a Jewish neshama (soul) and
its potential to connect to G-d is far too great for man's intellect to grasp
or perceive. G-d, rather, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, provided that the
toil of simple, yet powerful Avodas Hashem would afford a Jew the possibility
of tapping into lofty, uplifting kedusha (sanctity). In a pithy statement that
captures the essence of this derech, the Beis Aharon of Karlin wrote that he
envied the galloping horses upon which participants travel to a Bris Mila
(circumcision ceremony). This approach viewed the study of Kabbala per se
as significant only to the extent that it aroused Emuna Peshuta. In short,
the mainstream of Chassidus emphasized Avodas Hashem with heart and deed.

Chabad Chassidus, on the other hand, stressed the mind and thought. The Ba'al
HaTanya (R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad, author of its basic
tract, the Tanya) demanded of his followers that they attempt to perceive
and grasp G-d's greatness with their intellects. The Ba'al HaTanya saw this
direction inherent in the Besht's revolution. The Besht had revealed that
even the "vessels" - the revealed, "simple" levels of the Torah, possessed
the same illumination as the esoteric regions of Hashem's wisdom. While
the previous Kabbalistic perspective had denigrated the revealed Torah as a
"sackcloth", the Besht revealed the sanctity inherent in that sack.

In the Ba'al HaTanya's famous analogy, there is little difference between one
who merits to embrace the king while the monarch is dressed in few garments
(the study of Kabbala) and one who merits to embrace a king clothed in more
layers (the study of the revealed Torah, i.e., Shas and Poskim). Thus, even
the study of "The Ox that Gored the Cow" (a well-known Talmudic subject
in Bava Kamma) could now serve to enhance one's dveykus with G-d. (The
Chabad acronym, representing Chochma, Bina, Da'as (Knowledge, Understanding,
Wisdom) evoked this idea. Da'as (...), the result of the intellectual process
(amassed knowledge, subjected to understanding leads to wisdom) also connotes
connection, as in: "And the man knew [yada, ...] Chava, his wife."[5] From
Chabad's perspective, since the soul rests in the mind and from there impacts
on the heart, love and awe of G-d can only follow from complete intellectual
awareness of Him.

The Piascezner sums it up: The Ba'al HaTanya's derech was to bring the
intellectual world of Kabbala and its mystical properties down into this
world. The mainstream's derech was to bring this world's inhabitants into
the higher spheres via experiential Avodas Hashem.

Practical Implications

The Piascezner then describes several important distinctions that flow from
this dichosomy. Both schools of thought sought to define what it would be
like to experience a taste of Gan Eden in this world. Chabad held that it
could be experienced in the pleasure of knowing and understanding Hashem's
illumination, while the mainstream of Chassidus defined it as the pleasure
of experiencing fervor and emotion in Avodas Hashem.

Chabad, with its emphasis on bringing illumination down to our realms, feels
compelled to deal with reality and existence - even if only to clarify its
illusory and temporal nature. The mainstream, on the other hand denied any
validity to contemplation of reality - after all, its entire goal was to get
its adherents to transcend that reality, to break through the barriers between
us and our Creator. In this vein, Chabad saw most people (the "beinonim" -
"average people") as grounded in this world (in the Kabbalistic realm of
"kelipas noga"[6]), while the mainstream of Chassidus regarded each and
every Jew as potentially transcendent and utterly holy.

Chabad, with its emphasis on the intellect, bore some resemblance to the
old Kabbalistic schools. The Ba'al HaTanya still saw some value in perishus
(abstinence) - fasting and asceticism - the old modalities. The mainstream,
with its emphasis on fervent, experiential Avodas Hashem, represented
an almost complete break with the past. It saw little or no value in
perishut. Abstinence, by its very nature a lack of experiences, contributed
practically nothing to the pursuit of experiential proxiMisy to G-d.

(A brief Chassidic tale captures the essential divide between the two schools
of thought. R. Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev's grandchild married the grandchild
of the Ba'al HaTanya. When the grandfathers arrived at the wedding, they
found that the doorway through which they were both to enter the hall was too
narrow for both to walk through simultaneously. After futilely importuning
each other to go first, the Berditchever proposed: "Let's break through the
wall." The Ba'al HaTanya responded: "No, let us widen the doorway.")

R. Moshe Dovber Rivkin[7] discusses the centrality of the "Rebbe" in the
respective derachim. Since the mainstream attempted to bring this world's
inhabitants into the loftier realms via experiential Avoda, it was essential
that someone - a Rebbe - orchestrate and direct those experiences. The Rebbe
would provide the inspiration, elevation and kedusha for the Chassidim. The
Rebbe's tools, in this system, consisted of both material means, such as
shirayim (literally: "leftovers" - the practice in which the Rebbe partakes
of a morsel of food from a dish and then distributes the remainder among
those assembled at the "Tisch" - the Rebbe's table), and spiritual means,
such as the Rebbe's discourses. Precisely because the goal was to inspire the
heart and stimulate the deed, the means were often material. (In Hachsharas
HaAvreichim 61b, the Piascezner explains the significance of mashke - the
partaking of alcoholic beverages - in Chassidus as an additional means of
achieving dveykus. Higher states of consciousness - reached for the sake
of Avodas Hashem - are helpful in this quest.) Even the nature of a Rebbe's
discourses and writings (the Rebbe's "Torah") was affected by its purpose. The
Torah was meant to inspire. Often it was an integral part of the overall
experience of powerful experiences such as the Tisch. That Torah, therefore,
generally took the form of vertlach - snippets of insight, sparks of a divine
fire. Rarely does one find the mainstream of Chassidus involved in formulating
comprehensive theologies and Weltanschauungen. They were unessential.[9]
The Rebbe provided the devek, the glue, of his Chassidim's dveykus.

In Chabad, however, shirayim were an anathema. They were derided as "nahama
d'kesufa" (literally, "bread of shame," or, colloquially, "something for
nothing.") The Rebbe's task was not to inspire and provide kedusha but rather
to educate, to provide the Chochma and Bina that the Chassidim would learn,
internalize and utilize to achieve their own, personal Da'as. In this system,
it was imperative to spread the most profound intellectual concepts in a
systematic fashion, thus allowing all adherents to achieve the intellectual
devek that, by definition, each Chasid had to possess on his own.[9]
We should note that Chabad Chassidim would refer, somewhat derisively, to
other Chassidim as adherents of "Chagas Chassidus." Chagas is an acronym for
Chesed, Gevura, Tiferes, the three sefiros (Kabbalistic attributes of G-d)
immediately below Chabad in the Kabbalistic system. While the sefiros of
Chabad describe the intellect, the sefirot of Chagas describe character
- middos - and emosional drives. Chabad Chassidim defined themselves as
focused on intellect; Chagas Chassidim as focused on emosion. Furthermore,
Chabad Chassidim saw themselves as educated to a certain independence from the
Rebbe, rooted in their individual comprehension of the Chabad system. Chagas
Chassidim, to their minds, were liMised by a dependency on the Rebbe to
be their collective Da'as. The reader is certainly able to deduce how a
"Chagas Chasid" might respond to these assertions!

Before we proceed to define Misnagdus, let us repeat the statement with which
we began: This essay is late. Cross-pollination has blurred distinctions. The
wholesale slaughter of some of the greatest paragons of every school has
deprived us of their respective role models in true Avodas Hashem.

In Chabad, in particular, unfortunate new developments have influenced
perspectives.[10] It is the two schools that we have discussed and their
principles, however, that inform modern Chassidic pathways in Avodas Hashem.

Prioritizing Values in Avodas Hashem

At the core of both Chassidic schools is the supreme value of dveykus.
The fissure that developed between Misnagdus and Chassidus concerns this
value. In most Misnagdic systems, dveykus is a value, not the supreme value. In
some schools of thought, it may not be a value at all. This point was clarified
to me in a personal conversation with a distinguished representative of
a great Misnagdic perspective. When I queried, were it possible to attain
prophecy in our day and age, would it be advantageous to aspire to attain it,
he responded in the negative. When I asked him to define kedusha, he replied
that it means greater dikduk (meticulousness) in fulfilling Mitzvos. Finally,
in answering a question as to what more intensive kavana in davening might
consist of, he said that it meant a greater (intellectual) understanding of
the words of our prayers.

While these positions may seem extreme in their dismissal of dveykus, they
enable us to sharpen our focus.[11] If one were to subscribe to these views,
what might be one's supreme value?

A Misnaged's supreme value is shleymus - perfection. G-d endowed each and
every Jew with a rich reservoir of unique strengths and talents, a vast and
great potential to realize. It is the development and accomplishment of as
much of that potential as possible that should be the goal, aspiration and
supreme value of anyone truly focused on his or her Avodas Hashem.

The mid-nineteenth century saw the development in Misnagdus of two distinct
schools of thought. The Lithuanian yeshiva world, the bastion of Misnagdic
Avodas Hashem, divided into two camps: Mussar and non- even anti-Mussar. While
both camps valued shleymus above all else, the pathway to shleymus, perhaps
even the definition thereof, was the subject of their dispute. Everyone agreed
that perfection entails accomplishment in intellectual development and Halachic
observance. It was also universally accepted that awe and love of G-d are
essential to shleymus. Disagreement centered on the priority to be accorded
to specific and focused Avodas Hashem in the development of Ahavas (love of)
Hashem, Yiras (awe of) Hashem and one's ethical personality in general.

Contrasting a Chasid and a Misnaged

But let us return for a moment to the divide between Chassidus and
Misnagdus. The distinction has many ramifications. We will note three.
The first concerns the issue of Emuna Peshuta. To a Chasid, analysis of
theology is a foreign, even dangerous, concept. Such analysis detracts from the
powerful, simple, experiential Emuna and Avodas Hashem that are at the core
of Chassidus. Intellectual analysis detracts from emosional dveykus. Even in
Chabad, where understanding is key, independent exploration, as opposed to
receiving and understanding, is questionable. To a Misnaged, however,[12]
the more profound the intellectual perception, the greater the extent to
which one has developed one's potential, the more perfect one's shleymus.

A more important example is manifest in one of the core disputes between
Chassidus and Misnagdus. We ask G-d every morning to grant us the opportunity
to learn His Torah "lishma." What do we mean by that request?

The interpretation of lishma is the subject of a great debate between the Besht
and R. Chaim of Volozhin. The Besht[13] held that Torah lishma means the study
of Torah with the purpose of achieving dveykus to G-d. The Besht, therefore,
advised his followers to interrupt their studies at regular intervals in
order to meditate on the dveykus that the studies allowed one to achieve. A
radical illustration of this approach is provided by the story that one of
the early great Chassidic leaders, the Rebbe R.Zushya of Hanipoli, once spent
an entire night staring at the first line of the first mishna in Bava Metzia,
so awed was he at the prospect of dveykus to G-d inherent in the Torah.

To the Besht, the study itself was almost a b'di'eved (reluctant obligation):
"Although during the time one is studying it is not possible to involved in
dveykus to G-d, nevertheless, one must learn, for the Torah polishes one's
soul and is a tree of life to those who grasp it. If one does not learn,
therefore, he cannot achieve dveykus. One's attitude must be that just as
when one is asleep he cannot be involved in dveykus [but, nevertheless,
one must sleep]... the time allotted for learning is no worse." The goal
was the focus on G-d that study facilitated, not the focus on the study per se.

R.Chaim[14] expends a great deal of effort rejecting this approach. R.Chaim
defines Torah lishma as Torah for its own sake, as complete and total
immersion in study for no other purpose but the study itself. For R.Chaim,
interruption of any sort - even for thoughts of dveykus - was Bittul Torah
(a waste of time that might otherwise have been spent in Torah study),
pure and simple. Only by studying with the greatest possible concentration,
depth and breadth, could one approach shleymus.

It is opportune here to highlight one of the many major departures from our
neat categorization. Several Polish branches of Chassidus, spiritual heirs
of R.Bunim of Parshischa,[15] produced scholars of epic magnitude. Now, this
is not to say that other branches of Chassidus were bereft of scholars and
decisors of epic magnitude. But there is a subtle difference between these
Polish schools on the one hand and the mainstream and Chabad schools on
the other. While the Kotzker said that a Chasid is in awe of G-d, while the
Misnaged is in awe of the Shulchan Aruch,[16] he also said that true pshat
(simple understanding of a text) is the most profound secret in the Torah,
and that while others might expound discourses intended to facilitate ascent
to the seventh Heaven, he himself was of the opinion that one must convey
discourses in a fashion that will penetrate the innards of the listener.[17]
These schools stressed the pursuit of shleymus to a far greater extent than
other branches of Chassidus.

This difference is best expressed in the example presently under discussion
here, Torah lishma. The Sochatchover Rebbe[18] explores the issue in the
introduction to his Eglei Tal. He writes: "The essence of the Miszvah of Torah
study is to be happy, rejoice and take pleasure in one's studies. Then the
words of the Torah become absorbed into his blood. Since he derives enjoyment
from the words of the Torah he achieves dveykus to the Torah." He goes on
to explain that the simcha in one's Torah study also enhances Torah's other
purpose, the reinforcement of one's yeitzer tov (good inclination). Dveykus,
yes - but in the Torah itself, and in the pursuit of spiritual perfection,
not as a means of facilitating dveykus to G-d.[19]


Perhaps the most apparent distinction may be found in the relative attitudes
toward Halachic standards. Chassidus occasionally stresses values that
are downplayed in the more general Halachic process. This phenomenon is
manifest most famously in the area of zmanei tefilla - the time frames
for prayer. Chassidus tolerated minor deviations in the pursuit of greater
dveykus. Misnagdus is completely intolerant of such liberties. The pursuit
of perfection demands meticulous attention to Halachic parameters.

As with all neat and simple definitions, this is an over-generalization. Many
great Rebbes observed zmanei tefilla meticulously. R. Levi Yitzchok of
Berditchev warned not to delay the fulfillment of Miszvot because one
feels a lack of fervor (hislahavus), lest the time frame of the Mitzvah
pass.[20] Yet other outstanding Rebbes justified their not abiding by the
clock. R. Yisroel of Ruzhin said that time frames for Miszvot are a result
of the sins of Adam, Chava and the golden calf. Tzaddikim were not involved
in those sins, and are therefore not restricted by time.[21]

Other examples include the issue of dancing and clapping on Shabbos and Yom
Tov, that seems to be forbidden by the Gemara in Beisza 36b. The Minchas
Elazar[22] allows the practice, basing his conclusion, in part, on the
rationale that Chazal only forbade these practices for those who do not
utilize it for the purpose of hislahavus. In forbidding the same practices,
R. Ovadia Yosef[23] notes that almost all non-Chassidic sources take no such
distinction into account.[24]

R. Yitzchok Weiss[25] issued several rulings that reflect unique issues
stemming from Chassidic values, including a responsum on whether the custom
of offering a tikkun (a drink of whiskey) in Shul on a yahrzeit supersedes
the potential problem of chametz she'avar alav haPesach (chametz that was
owned by a Jew over Pesach). He rules that the value of a tikkun does not
override the potential prohibitions - but not until after some discussion
on the holiness of the custom to drink l'chayim. A similar thread may be
discerned in a responsum[26] concerning whether an individual may leave his
Shul in order to spend yom tov with his Rebbe even if as a result no minyan
will remain.

Where does Mussar Fit in this Picture?

Mussar's relationship with Chassidus is more complex. Mussar arose because
R. Yisroel Salanter perceived that perfection in observance and scholarship
did not suffice to make an individual an Adam HaShalem (a perfected
individual).[27] Precisely because Mussar placed value on perfection across
a broader spectrum of traits and characteristics, it might have made room for
dveykus to its system of Avoda as well. Indeed, the tract that was to become
Mussar's fundamental guidebook, the Mesillas Yesharim, states unequivocally
(Chap. 1) that dveykus is shleymus (Chap. 26 identifies the highest level of
accomplishment, kedusha with dveykus). Mussar's unique critique of Chassidus
is expressed by a passage in an essay by R. Avrohom Eliyahu Kaplan contrasting
the Chassidus of the Rebbe Maharash of Lubavitch and R.Yisroel's Mussar:

    Mussar does not disagree with Chassidus. Mussar is often satisfied
    with the Jewish strength of Chassidus: its capacity not to submit to the
    environment; its heartfelt openness between man and fellow man that pierces
    petty superficial European etiquette; its readiness to dedicate itself to
    a lofty purpose, and so easily sacrifice for that purpose normal conditions
    of life; its youthful fervor in Mitzvos, which extends well into old age.

    Mussar, however, has a significant criticism of Chassidus: It sees
    Chassidus as too external, too theoretical and abstract. The Chasid deludes
    himself into thinking that he is getting more out of Chassidus than he
    actually is. Chassidus deals with profound thoughts and great deeds,
    but it remains outside the essence of the Chasid. Chassidus penetrates
    the depths of the greatest Torah problems - both between Man and G-d and
    between Man and Man - but it penetrates too little the self of a person,
    so that he might engage in a reckoning as to where he stands in relation to
    his world and in relation to his obligations in his world... The average
    Chasid deludes himself into thinking that a nigun [melody] that he sings
    wells up from his heart, and that the dveykus that he experiences has
    its source in his soul, even though it is entirely possible that these
    are transient moods not associated with his true essence.

    One should not judge hastily. We cannot say even to the simplest Chasid,
    when he experiences dveykus, that he does not truly cleave to G-d. But
    that constant self-critique: "Perhaps I am deluding myself;" the query
    that should accompany every step in life: "Have I not strayed in this
    instance from the path?"; and, finally, all that is encompassed in the
    thought that serves as a necessary precondition for Shivisi Hashem l'negdi
    tamid ["I have placed G-d before me always"],[28] namely, the thought,
    "I have placed my 'self' before me always," - all this is more prevalent
    in Mussar than in Chassidus...[29]

R. Dessler (in the aforementioned essay) expands considerably on this
contrast. He also makes another fascinating and controversial point: The
extraordinarily rigorous demands of self critique and unrelenting Emes [Truth]
imposed by Mussar on its adherents made it irrelevant for common folk. They
were not equipped to engage in ongoing Mussar-type Avodas Hashem. At most
they could realize a peripheral sense of Kavod HaTorah [the honor of Torah]
upon coming into contact with great individuals.[30] This was not enough
to sustain these simpler people when confronted with the temptations of the
contempoarary "American, Australian and South African" milieus. Chassidus
speaks much more to the common folk. Hislahavus, dancing and drinking do
not require intense soul searching. They are therefore better suited for the
masses, and helped insulate the masses engaged therein against the onslaught
of twentieth century temptations.

Conclusion: What Does All this Mean to Us?

In conclusion, a loose translate R. Dessler:

    In our times: The qualities of "Emet" that personified the Ba'alei Mussar
    [Mussar Masters] are already extinct. We no longer find individuals
    whose hearts are full with profound truth, with a strong and true sense
    of Cheshbon HaNefesh [complete and rigorous reckoning of one's spiritual
    status and progress]. We have reached the era of Ikvasa d'Mashicha [the
    final generations before the coming of Moshaich], generations that Chazal
    described as superficial. If we find an individual who does learn Mussar,
    we find that he is primarily interested in the intellect of Mussar,
    the profound philosophy and psychology that are linked to Mussar. Even
    if he learns Mussar b'hispa'alus [with the emotional impact of nigun -
    melody - and shinun - repetition - that R.Yisroel prescribed], rarely
    does this activity lead to Cheshbon HaNefesh.

    Contemporary Chassidus lacks the component that was once at its core:
    Avodas Hashem with dveykus. All that remains is the external form of
    Chassidus, something that appears like hislahavus. There is nigun, but
    the soul of nigun is no longer. Hitlahavus in davening is almost a thing
    of the past.

    For today's era, there remain only one alternative: To take up everything
    and anything that can be of aid to Yahadus; the wisdom of both Mussar
    and Chassidus together. Perhaps together they can inspire us to great
    understandings and illuminations. Perhaps together they might open within
    us reverence and appreciation of our holy Torah. Perhaps the arousal of
    Mussar can bring us to a little Chassidic hislahavus. And perhaps the
    hislahavus will somewhat fortify one for a Cheshbon HaNefesh. Perhaps
    through all these means together we may merit to ascend in spirituality
    and strengthen our position as Bnei Torah [adherents of a Torah centered
    lifestyle] with an intensified Judaism. May G-d assist us to attain
    all this!

As we have mentioned, cross-pollination has brought all of these pathways
into contact with each other - and with us. Many great thinkers of the last
century combined elements of all these schools in forging their own unique
and extraordinary pathways.[31] We must understand them - and, of course,
others - in our quest to understand where we have come from and where we
should be going.


[1] For the sake of technical accuracy we should note that Chabad Chassidim
reserved the term "Misnaged" for their most virulent opponents. "Run of the
mill" non-Chassidim were called "Olamshe".

[2] Personal communication with R. Shaul Weinreb.

[3] Vol. 5 pp. 35-39.

[4] Instead of footnoting every assertion in the next few paragraphs, it
suffices to say that they are all taken from the Piascezner's discussion there.

[5] Bereishit 4:1.

[6] While a full definition of this term is beyond the scope of our essay,
a brief definition is given in R. Nissan Mindel's Glossary, in the English
edition of the Tanya, p. 777:

    Kelipah, "bark," or "shell," the symbol frequently used in Kabbalah to
    denote "evil" and the source of sensual desires in human nature...

    Kelipas nogah, "translucent shell," contains some good, and distinguished
    from the three completely "dark" kelipos containing no good at all. The
    term is based on an interpretation of the "brightness" (nogah) in
    Ezekiel's vision (1:4). The animal soul (nefesh ha-bahaMis) in the
    Jew is derived from kelipas nogah, by contrast to his "divine soul"
    (nefesh elokis) which is "part" of G-dliness...

[7] At the beginning of R. Rivkin's (a Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva Torah VoDa'ath)
Ashkavta d'Rebbi. It should be noted that the Piascezner was a representative
of the Chassidic mainstream. In contrast, R. Rivkin was a Chasid Chabad. Our
previous comment as to detailed references applies here as well.

[8] Somewhat ironically, the Piascezner stands out as an exception in this
regard. His works were systematic and comprehensive. Their focus, however,
was not on theology, but on the understanding and codification of the derech
of Avoda with heart and in deed.

[9] A remarkable passage in the Tanya (Iggeres HaKodesh Chap. 23) warns the
Chassidim against seeking counsel from Rebbes, such as himself, in material
matters. He regarded himself as an educator, not an oracle.

[10] Lest one make the mistake of assuming that Chabad has always stirred
the kind of controversies that surround it today, one has only to recall
universally accepted giants of the Jewish world such as the Rogatchover Gaon
and R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin who were firmly rooted in Chabad.

[11] In attempting to define a classic Misnagdic philosophy, R. Yosef
B. Soloveichik in his Ish HaHalacha posits that if G-d created the universe
via the process of tzimtzum - hiding His presence and barring us from its
comprehension - it follows that He does not expect us to make it a goal to
reverse that process. We must note, however, that experts on R. Soloveischik's
personal perspective state that the less extreme position he takes in
U'vikkashtem Mesham is truer to his own outlook.

I would venture that a more "mainstream" Misnagdic approach would find
value, were it possible, in striving for prophecy, or any lesser form of
communication with G-d. A more mainstream approach might define kedusha as
R. Shimon Shkop does in the introduction to Sha'arei Yosher: "G-d created
everything to fulfill His desire to benefit his creatures. G-d's will is
that we follow in His path, as it is written: 'vehalachta bidirachav.' Each
of us, His chosen people should, therefore, constantly strive to devote all
our physical and spiritual strengths to the greater good of society... This
is the definition of the Miszvah of Kedoshim Teeheyu.... that we constantly
direct all our toil and effort toward the benefit of the Klal. We should
not use any deed, movement, pleasure or enjoyment for any purpose that
does not ultimately benefit another. We then resemble Hekdesh, something
uniquely designated for some lofty purpose." It would seem that even staunch
Misnagdim would regard prayer as Avoda b'Lev (service with the heart) and
value emosional engagement in its dialogue with G-d.

Chassidus, on the other hand, certainly values aspiration to prophecy. Much
of the Chovat HaTalmidim discusses the essential relevancy of that aspiration
to our times. Chassidus would probably identify kedusha with dveykus. Kavana
in tefilla would be measured by the dveykus achieved as well.

[12] Within the limitations of the admonition in 11b that we refrain from
exploring that which is beyond our capacity to comprehend.

[13] Tzava'as HaRivash simanim 29-30 and the nuscha'os acheirim there. Rivash
= R. Yisroel Ba'al Shem.

[14] Nefesh HaChaim Sha'ar 4:1-2.

[15] Kotzk, Izhbitz, Gur, Lublin, Radzhin, Sochatchov, and others as well.

[16] Pitgamei Chassidim p. 99.

[17] Ibid., pp. 183, 184.

[18] The Kotzker's son in law, R. Avraham Borenstein, the Avnei Nezer.

[19] We must note that these brief paragraphs cannot do justice to the rich
breadth and depth of Polish Chassidus. The similarities and differences between
Polish and other forms of Chassidus are many, complex and profound. One
cannot hope to capture and define every principle (even most principles)
in one essay. In passing, however, we should note that R.Tzadok HaKohen of
Lublin, arguably the greatest mind in the annals of Chassidus, does define
lishma as dveykus (Tzidkat HaTzaddik, 167).

See also R. Avraham Y. Kook's discussion of the change in course that Polish
Chassidus reflects, in Ma'amarei HaRe"iyah.

[20] Ta'amei HaMinhagim U'Mekorei haDinim p. 518.

[21] Ibid., p. 519 (see also p. 27 there). R. Leibele Eiger of Lublin asked
R. Tzadok HaKohen if he was justified in forsaking the hiddur Mitzvah of
zrizin makdimin l'Mitzvos (those who are meticulous perform a Mitzvah as soon
as possible) in order to muster greater kavana and tahara. R.Tzadok (end of
Levushei Tzedaka and the Yad Eliyahu Kitov ed. of Tzidkat HaTzaddik p. 16)
was firm in stating that this is indeed the case. Many Misnagdic sources
agree, although others disagree. See Encyclopedia Talmudit vol.12 pp. 416-421.

[22] (Munkatch) 1:29.

[23] Yechaveh Da'at 2:58.

[24] Although beyond the scope of our discussion, it should be noted that
R. Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe 2:100) allows clapping and dancing for other,
fascinating, reasons.

[25] Minchat Yitzchak 6:136.

[26] Ibid., 9:12.

[27] I heard from one of my Rabbeim, that one impetus for R.Yisroel to found
the Mussar movement was a "test" he ran once on one of the Yomim Nora'im
in Vilna. He stood during the Shemone Esrei next to an illustrious scholar,
pretended that he had forgotten to bring a Machzor, and mosioned a request
to be allowed to look into his neighbor's Machzor. The scholar's "response"
was a shove. R.Yisroel learned from this incident that great scholarship does
not necessarily refine an individual's character. The movement he started
posited that character, ethics and personality all required distinct,
systematic study and treatment. (An eloquent case for in depth, profound
treatment of middos and one's relationship with G-d is made by the Mesillas
Yesharim in his introduction as well.) Those who opposed him held, in broad
terms, that meticulous and exacting study of Halacha in and of itself was
the best method by which to bring oneself to higher levels of refinement
(a case made by the Chazon Ish in his Emuna u'Bitachon, 4).

[28] Psalms 16:8.

[29] B'Ikvot HaYirah p. 22. R.Avrohom Elya noted that the founders of
Chassidus did know and impart the need for Mussar-like introspection to
their followers, but sufficient stress was not placed on this component,
and over time it was forsaken (ibid., p. 136). The Netziv, R. Naftlai Zvi
Yehuda Berlin, the last Rosh Yeshiva of the great 19th century Yeshiva in
Volozhin founded by R. Chaim of Volozhin, (Harcheiv Davar Shemos 5:3) does
view dveykus as the supreme expression of shleymus, but seems to be skeptical
as to whether the Chassidic model actually leads to its attainment. (I am
indebted to Mr. Louis Bernson for the source in the Netziv.)

[30] A la the contemporary genre of "Gedolim Stories," that seem all too
often to comprise a vicarious alternative to personal Avodas Hashem.

[31] R. Yosef Leib Bloch of Telshe made significant use of the Tanya in his
system of thought. My grandfather, R. Dov Yehuda Schochet, was a close student
of R.Yosef Leib and Telshe Yeshiva who later became a Chassid Chabad. In
a 1941 letter to R. Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson of Lubavitch, my grandfather
proposed an objective perspective from which our generation might consider
the disputes between the disciples of the Gr"a and the disciples of the Ba'al
Shem Tov. This approach is based on an insight my grandfather had heard from
R.Yosef Leib that to the best of my knowledge is not to be found elsewhere.

The Gemara in Berachos 28b recounts that R. Gamliel was removed from
the leadership of the Yeshiva in Yavne and R. Elazar ben Azarya took his
place. R. Gamliel had placed a guard at the gate of the Beis Medrash in
order to bar students who were not already of the highest ethical caliber
from the Yeshiva. After R. Gamliel was deposed, the guard was removed, and
it became necessary to add four hundred benches to the Beis Medrash. Seeing
this, R. Gamliel worried lest he be held accountable for having prevented
so many from Torah. He was then shown a bucket full of ashes in a dream (a
sign that the new students were essentially worthless). The Gemara concludes,
however, that this was not really the case, but the Heavens showed him this
to appease him. R.Yosef Leib asked: How can it be permissible to utilize
untruth just to appease R. Gamliel? Furthermore, why didn't R. Gamliel
himself realize that the consolation was false?

R.Yosef Leib offered a wonderfully profound explanation: There is a question as
to which is the proper pathway through which to attain both ultimate shleymus
as the nation of Hashem and ultimate success in bringing the world closer to
Malchus Shomayim (the reign of Heaven on Earth). Are these to be achieved
by devoting one's influence toward the broadest possible cross-section of
the nation in order to uplift it to a loftier plane - even if as a result
some outstanding unique individuals will be impeded from achieving their
respective capacities? Or are these best achieved by devotion with all might
and strength to the nurturing of those of the highest caliber until they
become the luminaries of the Jewish people?

It is impossible for any person to resolve this issue. To do so entails
taking into account ultimate ramifications for eternity, until the end of
days. G-d deliberately placed the issue beyond resolution. Each great Torah
sage has no choice, therefore, but to follow his particular inclination
and perception that in this or that specific manner he will fulfill his
obligation to improve the world.

R. Gamliel, according to his characteristics, perceived his responsibility as
one of educating the giants of the nation, its leaders and trailblazers. That
is why he barred those who were, in his opinion, not candidates for greatness,
from the Beis Medrash. When R. Gamliel later beheld the splendid sight of
a multitude studying Torah, doubt entered his heart. The dream was meant to
assuage his worries. The Gemara's subsequent conclusion is not that the dream
was untruthful, rather, that we should not draw from here a conclusion as
to how all generations should conduct themselves. R. Gamliel had to conduct
himself according to his understanding - and so do we. There can be no one
decisive, conclusive Halachic ruling in such areas. My grandfather theorized
that the debate between Chassidus and Misnagdus must be viewed - by us -
in a similar vein.

Converted by Andrew Scriven (reconverted to plain text by Micha Berger)

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