Avodah Mailing List

Volume 02 : Number 118

Sunday, January 10 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 9 Jan 1999 22:39:00 EST
From: EDTeitz@aol.com
Re: chabad: minhagim, not messianism

But he offered the following comment:

>Agreed, but Shulchan Aruch *HaRav*, and THAT is exactly the point everyone
>been trying to make.

Should I suspect my rav of avoda zara (hv"h)?  Shall I urge all his
talmidim to abandon the shi'ur?  Can I quote R' Teitz as an authority who
warns against such shi'urim?

I see I did not make my point clear on this one.  There were two discussions
going on about Lubavtich.  One about messianists.  My response was to the
other thread in the Chabad discussion, that being that Lubavitchers only
expound their perspective on minhagim and halacha.  To that, the poster to
whom I responded said that they follow Shulchan Aruch like all other frum
Jews.  To which I responded, yes, Shulchan Aruch *HaRav* and they do NOT
clarify such when they talk to people, and that THAT was the problem with
Lubavitchers, as far as minhagim and halacha.  My comment had nothing to do
with the other thread dealing with messianist trends in Lubavtich.

Eliyahu Teitz
Jewish Educational Center
Elizabeth, NJ

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Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 05:48:30 +0200
From: "Ira L. Jacobson" <laser@ieee.org>
Re: Re: quoting in context, Avodah V2 #117

EDTeitz@aol.com, in remarking on "quoting in context," notes that he did
indeed agree with the previous comment, 

>The following--comment and response--were posted by Rabbii [sic] Teitz:
>    <<
>     I don't want to burst your bubble by Lubavitchers are frum Jews, all of
>     that I know do their best to keep the halachas of Shulchon Aruch.
>     >>
>Agreed, but Shulchan Aruch *HaRav*, and THAT is exactly the point everyone
>has been trying to make.
>While the response is mine, the comment I was addressing is NOT mine,
>otherwise I would not have addressed it!
In other words, he agreed that the Lubavitchers are frum Jews who observe
Shulhan Arukh HaRav, but that their crime seems to be observing the mitzvot
in that halakhic work.

Does anyone else agree that this standard work of halakha is representative
of kefira?

Who is out of line?

Fact for today

The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the 
army for the General Purpose" vehicle, G.P.

Quotes for today:

"I may have faults, but being wrong isn't one 
of them," boasted the late union leader Jimmy Hoffa. 

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggie,' until you 
can find a rock," said cowboy pundit Will Rogers. 

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Date: Sat, 9 Jan 1999 22:54:02 EST
From: EDTeitz@aol.com
Re: Yitzchak's naivete

 The truth of Rivko's point is, "Listen here Yitzchok, do you see how Yaakov 
 succesfully impersonated Eisov, well Eisov has been succesfully impersonating
 tzaddik for decades.  Get it?" 

I was never much of a fan of painting Yitzchak to be a fool.  One point that
to me illustrates just how much Yitzchak really knew about Esav is the
seemingly unnecessary parsha inserted immediately before the story of the
brachos.  The Torah tells us that Esav married at 40 (possibly trying to
emulate his father) and that his choice of wives was a bitterness to BOTH
Yitzchak and Rivka.  In light of these last words, the Torah nonsequiters into
the story of the brachos, giving the strong impression that Yitzchak was fully
aware of what Esav was really about.

Eliyahu Teitz
Jewish Educational Center
Elizabeth, NJ

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Date: Sat, 9 Jan 1999 22:11:51 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Outstanding Schools

About a close personal relative's success, from this coming week's US News
& World Report, on the web (with pictures) at:

Gut Voch to All!


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

Cover Story 1/18/99


Strong Principals
Can a rigorous religious academy like Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov High School
be transformed into an excellent all-around school? Yes, but such dramatic
changes require . . .


Not long after sunrise one day last November, Shoshanah Bechhofer wheeled
her 1988 Chevy Nova into the parking lot of a kosher Dunkin' Donuts on
Chicago's North Side. She was running late for a meeting. The 34-year-old
principal of the Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov High School, seven months pregnant
with her sixth child, had already spent an hour at her desk at the Orthodox
Jewish girls' school. Shortly she'd be sipping tea with Deborah Garfin,
the school's psychologist, in the eatery because they needed to discuss
ways to help several students who were struggling with their schoolwork and
Bechhofer didn't want to be disturbed.

Until recently, Hanna Sacks did not have a school psychologist. Nor did it
have Advanced Placement English, college-level calculus, or a competitive
National Honor Society. Founded in 1965 as a gender-segregated annex of the
Orthodox, coed Ida Crown Academy, Hanna Sacks until recently steeped its
students in religious preparation, while doing little more than fulfilling
the state requirements in secular academic subjects. Within Orthodoxy,
there is a wide spectrum of belief about the value of secular studies, and
those associated with Hanna Sacks represent many points of view. While the
mission of the school theoretically was to promote excellence in all areas,
it wasn't happening.

Building consensus. Over several years, Bechhofer, a teacher of biblical
studies, the wife of a rabbi, and a doctoral candidate in education at
Northwestern University, was able to build consensus around the notion of
high standards as both a religious and an educational goal. Beyond that,
with the help of a supportive board and a core of committed parents, she
was able to turn her hopes into reality.

Her independent school is very different in many ways from a typical public
high school. But her struggle to raise standards is a challenge confronted
by principals everywhere. And the strategies she employs at Hanna Sacks are
used by outstanding school leaders in public and private schools alike. Just
as many resist higher standards in some urban schools because pessimists
don't think poor kids can handle a demanding academic education, some in the
Orthodox Jewish community were skeptical that girls could manage a rigorous
secular education on top of their religious studies. Schools that battle those
expectations to push students to achieve regardless of their backgrounds must
have strong leaders like Bechhofer. "Good principals have high expectations
for all children and continually work to compare where students are with
the goals that they are capable of achieving," says Willis D. Hawley,
a professor of education and public affairs at the University of Maryland.

Bechhofer's crusade at Hanna Sacks, a school of just 155 students housed in
a former public elementary school, was born of educational philosophy and
strategic necessity. When a competing Orthodox girls' school with a very
traditional curriculum opened only miles away in 1994, Hanna Sacks marketed
itself as a school consistent with Jewish tradition that stressed all-around
excellence. Bechhofer, the daughter of a mathematician, also wanted to
give students the rich options and variety in secular education and Jewish
tradition that the tiny Orthodox school she attended could not provide.

However, she faced tough obstacles. There was plenty of rigor in Jewish
studies at the school: Each day, students took Hebrew, two Bible classes,
and courses in Jewish law, philosophy, and history. But the only required
science courses were physical science and biology. Some faculty and parents
protested that more secular studies would overburden students, some of
whom already had a school day that ran from 8:15 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. Raising
standards for admission to the National Honor Society would promote unseemly
student competition, parents argued. Teachers doubted they were up to the
task of instructing Advanced Placement courses.

Bechhofer discussed the objections with parents, students, and the school's lay
and rabbinical leadership. She gently sought to remind different groups that
expanding the school's secular studies would honor the Orthodox tradition of
doing well in all aspects of life. "The more there is to a person, the better
she is able to serve God," she would say during the sometimes tense gatherings.

Those discussions won over skeptics. "It is important to make the
decision-making process transparent," says Bechhofer, "so there's no
mystery about how things happen." She also demonstrated by personal example
the possibilities of hard work and the prospect of being professionally
successful yet deeply observant. Despite her large family, she's at Hanna
Sacks early and late-often very late. Once, a sleepless student called the
school to leave a message at 3 a.m. To the girl's shock, Bechhofer picked
up the phone. She was going through prospective teachers' résumés.

Unorthodox tales. After Bechhofer and the rabbinic board cleared
the philosophical hurdle, Bechhofer began transforming Hanna Sacks's
curriculum. She started with English, because English department head Dinah
Rubinoff had raised the prospect of teaching AP English literature several
years earlier (only to be told the girls were probably not up to it and that
some of the curriculum, like The Scarlet Letter, was off limits to Orthodox
teens). Bechhofer endorsed Rubinoff's Advanced Placement plan, encouraged
her to contact another Orthodox school that offered AP, sent her a draft
of state and local curriculum models, and gave teachers funds to travel to
national conferences.

In the fall of 1996, Rubinoff tried teaching AP English composition (rather
than the controversial lit course) to a select handful of seniors. It quickly
became clear that the teachers needed to do more in earlier grades to prepare
students for this challenging course. To ensure that more students could pass
the AP test the next year, Rubinoff began working with Bechhofer and the
other instructors to revamp the school's entire English curriculum. Today,
three years after the rocky start, there are 12 students in Rubinoff's class.

In her pursuit of a more rigorous and varied curriculum, Bechhofer has had
to think imaginatively about staffing and other administrative tasks. Hanna
Sacks has long relied on part-time teachers, who make it possible to offer
so many courses to this small student population. Bechhofer embraced that
tradition, working tirelessly at recruiting part-time specialists. Today,
38 of the school's 42 instructors work part time, including English teacher
Susan Albert, who earned a master's degree in humanities at the University
of Chicago and who also teaches at a local community college.

Limits and rewards. As dedicated as Bechhofer is in pushing her students
academically, she knows she has to ease up at times on her hard-working
charges. When students protested last fall that they were overwhelmed by
their workloads, she put a student committee on the problem and backed its
recommendations that no more than 20 minutes of homework be assigned per
night per class and that no student face more than one test per day. (She and
her colleagues spent hours creating a complex testing schedule to enforce
this.) She rewards the school's 40 or so seniors for sticking with the
school's tough science curriculum by letting them select among three courses
for their final year's focus-AP biology, AP psychology, or child development.

Bechhofer's steadfastness has paid off. Hanna Sacks now has 35 of 37 seniors
enrolled in AP courses in English composition, calculus, biology, psychology,
or American history. Two thirds of its students take four years of math,
and the entire school takes four years of science. "We raised expectations
and found doing so wasn't beyond their capabilities," says math teacher Dan
Mix, who has 26 students preparing for an Advanced Placement test in calculus.

Short, soft-spoken, and driven by a commitment to each and every child,
Bechhofer couldn't be more different from Joe Clark, the bat-wielding former
principal of Eastside High School in Paterson, N.J., who was hailed a decade
ago as a get-tough savior of urban schools for hounding troublemakers out
of his hallways. Bechhofer, to be sure, is running a school where chewing
gum, wearing nonregulation socks, and plopping a head on the desk during
class are considered discipline problems. But if Clark established order in
Eastside High-undeniably a prerequisite for education to take place-it is
Bechhofer's vision, drive, and savvy that get students to reach their full
academic potential.

Dale Mezzacappa is an education writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Examples of excellence

Includes all or part of the following counties: Cook, De Kalb, DuPage,
Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will

URBAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS Hyde Park Academy (S), Chicago Kenwood Academy, Chicago
Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center, Chicago Whitney M. Young Magnet
(S), Chicago

SUBURBAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS Adlai E. Stevenson, Lincolnshire Buffalo Grove,
Buffalo Grove Elk Grove, Elk Grove Village Glenbrook North, Northbrook
Glenbrook South, Glenview Maine West, Des Plaines Niles North, Skokie Palatine,
Palatine Prospect, Mount Prospect Rolling Meadows, Rolling Meadows Schaumburg,
Schaumburg William Fremd, Palatine

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary, Chicago Benet
Academy, Lisle Fenwick, Oak Park Marian Catholic, Chicago Heights Resurrection,
Chicago St. Rita of Cascia, Chicago

INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov, Chicago Northridge Preparatory,
Niles Timothy Christian, Elmhurst

SUCCESS RATIO: Ratio of actual to expected performance. When this equals
1.0 (at the PERFORMANCE THRESHOLD line), actual performance equals
expected performance. Above the line, schools are performing better than
expected. Below the line, schools are not performing as well as expected. AP
TEST TAKING: Number of Advanced Placement tests taken divided by number of
seniors. SAT/ACT TEST TAKING: Percent of students taking college-admissions
tests. STATE TEST SCORES: Average scores on the math and reading sections of
the Illinois Goal Assessment Program. SAT/ACT TEST SCORES: Average college
admissions test scores. S: A public school (a magnet, in some cases) that
has selective admissions for at least half its students.

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Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 03:58:20 +0000 (GMT)
From: Michael Frankel <FRANKEL@hq.dswa.mil>
Chasidic Leardership yerusha II-reply

Warning: those uninterested in chassidic history trivia are well advised to
skip the following.

To Levi Reisman. Thank you for your note.  You write; < Please let me quibble
with you history>  Quibble away.  I've been wrong before.  There was that time
in '78 for instance :-.

You are right about the chozeh. The yismach moshe was indeed a talmid of the
chozeh rather than r. elimelech, whom he never actually met since he was still
a misnaged at the time.  That's what i get for writing off the top of my head. 
Anyway.  I'm afraid I have to disagree with just about every other quibble in
your letter.  To wit: you write:  <But it was my impression that the Yismach
Moshe's sons left Hungary, and when his grandson, the Yetev Lev, came to
Sighet, he basically started the dynasty>  First of all the yismach moshe
didn't have sons.  He had a single son, R. eliezer nissin,  whose first job was
actually in Sighet itself (my father a"h used to say this should be referenced
as Sighet Geefeh, to distinguish it from a suburban shtelle of people who used
to like to use the sighet name. Guess you had to be there) in the 1830s. 
However he was forced out after a brief tenure as part of a power play between
the Kossover chassidim  - who were the majority - and forces backing the Kahans
(also relatives of mine - a prominent sigheter family of the era, all  stemming
from the Quntiros hasifeiqos who lived in Sighet at beginning of century. He
was the lesser known brother of the more famous Qitzos Hachoshen).  R. Eliezer
nissin then took up a shtelle in Drobshitz (in Galicia) and finally in Gorlitz,
but by this time his son, the Yeitiv leiv was installed in Sighet in the1850s.
the Yeitiv Leiv's brother, R. Shimuel (another great great grandfather of mine
since the two brother's children married)  took his father's job in gorlitz. 
The suggestion that somehow the dynasty should be accounted to start with the
yeitiv leiv because of this to and fro would sound strange to any member of the
teitlebaum family or any of their chassidim whose self identification is as the
direct inheritors of the yismach moshe (notice that when the satmar-sigheter
chevra wanted to build a kifar in eretz yisroel some time ago, they named it
kifar yismach moshe). 

You write: <With regard to the splitting of Satmar and Sighet, Israel Rubin, in
his book "Satmar, an Island in the City" writes that when the Atzei Chaim died
in 1926, Reb Yoel, who was then in Kruleh, was the leader of a small band of
chasidim, miniscule in comparison to the large following of his older brother. 
Within ten years, the vast majority of Sigheter chasidim did, in fact, "vote
with their feet" by defecting to Reb Yoel.>
I've never seen the book by rubin that you refer to and thus can't comment
directly, but when the atzei chaim got his father's job back in 1904 or
thereabout, his younger brother R. Yoel -who was about 18 and faced with a
filled position in Sighet, did indeed, as I said, decamp directly  to Satmar,
not Karoli, where he lived for some time and started to build a following -
however he was not the Rov there at this time (that was R. Yehuda Grunwald who
also ran a yeshiva where my father a"h was a talmid ).   R. Yoel  did indeed
later become rov of karoli, though only after having already served first as
rov in ushuvoh, befor moving back to satmar as the official rov in 1925.  (I
had mercifully condensed all this in my one liner description in the original
post). When the atzei chaim's son, zalman leib, got the Sighet job in 1926, he
was barely past bar mitzvoh, and my uncle R. zalman Leib Gross took charge of
his education.  Thus there was never any real competition between the 40 year
old R. Yoel, who had built a large and independent following by this time, and
the child R. zalman leib, who was not really yet acting as the tzadiq at this
time, and talk of voting with their feet is not very appropriate. 

You write:< With regard to Vishnitz, you write "Vishnitz itself started in
precisely the same way, as a second son taking part of the chassidim. i think
five of the Ryzhiner's (arguably the most powerful/important tzadiq of all
during the first half of the century, and, I think, a great granson of the
maggid -but I might be off by one generation either way) sons became tzadiqim."
 The Ryzhiner's
sons became rebbes after him, but the first Vishnizer was not one of them.>
I apologize if my segue from Rhyzin to Vishnitz was too abrupt and thus
unclear.  I never meant to imply that Vishnitz stemmed from Rhyzin,  Rhyzin was
merely interposed as another (perhaps the most prominent ) example of how all
the sons of a tzadiq may split his yerusha setting up independent shops, as
also happened in Vishnitz (the first vishnitzer of course being the second son
of the kossover rebbe.)  BTW in a very shrewd move, the yeitiv leiv paid a
respectful visit to the first vishnitzer, r. menachem mendel, shortly after
coming to sighet, thus favorably coopting many of the large population of
kossover chasidim resident in sighet, who had run his father out of town one
generation earlier.  Of Vishnitz you also write: <

    You write, referring to the sanzer that  <..1876, but it did not really
become a hereditary dynasty until then, since that is when his son, the
Shinover, took his place.   In any case, the hereditary kesher was pretty weak;
when he died in 1898, most of the Shinover's chasidim did not follow his son, 
but to the extent they stayed in Sanz they followed his nephews in Bobov and
Gorlitz.>.  This may be only a semantic difference in that you seem to want to
start counting dynasties only when the second generation takes over. But I, and
I think the more common convention would count these things from the originator
generation.  I think it would sound peculiar for instance if one were to
suggest that, following the battle of hastings in 1066 we ought to date the
norman kings from Rufus, rather than william the conqueror.

You write:    <You write that "Ger is started as an independent chasidus by R.
meier (the Chidushei haRim), a talmid-choveir of the Kotzke- who broke with
the Chozeh (to follow the Yid and then R.S. Bunim) and should thus be
assigned to the first half of the century."  Sorry, old boy.  First of all, the
Chiddushei HaRim basically
took over the Kotzer's chasidim when the Kotzker died in 1858; when the
Chiddushei HaRim died in 1867 or 1867, it was not at all settled that the
Gerer chasidim would follow his grandson and oldest surviving male
descendant, the Sfas Emes.  In time, they did, but for a while, Reb Henoch
of Alexander was a rival for the loyalties of the Gerer Chasidim.>
hmm. Afraid not.   While it is true that many of the Kotzker chassidim (and
there weren't huge numbers, the kotzker had done his best to alienate his
chassidim. The rebellion of R. Mordechai Yosef Leiner severely depleted their
modest ranks, though they did build up again during the many years of his odd
seclusion) followed the Chidushei haRim after R. Menachem Mendel's death,  and
its also true that the Chidushei haRim in some sense was a follower of the
Kotzker, he had physically moved away long ago and was clearly an independent
force with his own following well before the Kotzker's death.  I.e. before mid
century, as I originally stated.  Perhaps the clearest evidence of such (and
we're talking to some degree of states of mind here which is hard to pin down) 
is the reaction to the Czar's decree banning wearing of traditional jewish
dress.  The Kotzker was not too bothered by all this whereas the Chidushei
haRim issued a yeihoreig vi'al ya'avor pisaq attacking it, and then engaged in
vigorous shtadlonus to get it reversed.  The Kotzker meanwhile questioned where
the Chidushei haRim came up with such a pisaq.  Now, the open break on a
communal divar halochoh would simply be unimaginable if the Chidushei haRim
were still in some sort of tzadiq-chosid relationship with Kotzk.  As for the
Sifas Emes, he was essentially raised by his grandfather, as his father died
quite young, and was clearly the successor to a dynasty that dates to R.
Yitzchoq meier in (almost) everybody's common perception - unless you are pulling that trick of only counting dynastic origins with the second
generation, in which case we'll agree on the facts and simply disagree on the
semantics.  R. henoch was an important follower of Kotzk and then of the
Chidushei haRim who eventually started his own shop. Again as a mature rebbe,
he naturally attracted some followers of Ger who preferred him to the young
sifas emes - but again so what.  Ger continues quite nicely.

You write:    <You wonder why I picked 1812 as the start of the Lubavitch
dynasty; that
is when the Alter Rebbe died and was followed by his son. Until a son
actually takes over, the dynasty does become hereditary.>  there's that second
generation count again.  I guess we'll just have to disagree. It still sounds
peculiar to me.
Finally you write:  <Vishnitz was started by Reb Menachem Mendel Hager of
Kossov, who was a
student of Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk.  (The Rizhiner family name was
Friedman)  By the way, even though the Ryzhiner was a great-grandson of the
Maggid, his following was not inherited but acquired through his own
abilities and his status as a talmid of Reb Moshe Leib of Sassov.>
I would generally date vishnitz from r. Menachem mendel of vishnitz, who broke
away to vishnitz as the second son while his brother became rov in Kossov
following his father, R. Chaim of kossov's death.  But that just a quibble. 
However, to turn the r. elimelech tables a bit, I was under the impression that
R. moshe of Sassov was R. Menachem's teacher, but not R. elimelech.  Finally, I
would strongly disagree that R. yisroel friedman got his status because of the
r. moshe connection.  I would strongly agree that he got it on his own ability
along with his status as the direct descendent of the maggid. 
You write:   <One last quibble:  My last name is Reisman, not Riceman.> can't
argue with that.  

Best wishes. I'm trivia'd out.

Mechy Frankel		frankel@hq.dswa.mil  	

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Date: Sat, 9 Jan 1999 22:54:37 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Avodah V2 #116

On Sat, 9 Jan 1999 mpress@ix.netcom.com wrote:

> There are nafka minas both in Halacha and hashkafa.  A mumar is a
> deliberate sinner while a tinok shenishba is not.  A tinok shenishba
> will attain forgiveness when the mikdash is rebuilt by bringing a chatos
> for relevant aveiros; a mumar will not.  A tinok shenishba does not have

I'm sorry, but I would have to differ. Neither can be considered a "shav
me'yedi'aso" (would have refrained had he known it was forbidden - te
prereqquisite for being allowed to bring a korbon). Both "know" something
is forbidden, but have been persuaded by their education/environment to
ignore that prohibition.

> the status of a mechalel Shabbos b'farhesia, a mumar does, etc. If you

I grant you this distinction. I have to. It's a b'feirishe "The
Contemporary Eruv", note 221! Nevertheless, it's not that pashut, ayain


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: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 01:22:43 -0500
From: Isser Zalman Weisberg <izw@cpol.com>
Chabad & Moshiach

Its been a long time since I was able to follow the discussions. I see
Lubavitch has come up again. Perhaps I can help clarify some things. I am
confused as to who in this group says what and who answers and who comments
on that answer etc. etc. so I will not address my remarks to anyone in
I think it is very important to differentiate between the "derech" of
Chabad, the views of the Rebbeim of Chabad, and the view of those who call
themselves Lubavitchers, as they are not synonymous.
For example:
1) The Rebbe spoke so many times about the importance of being a lamdan in
"nigleh". (He wrote that the absolute minimum even for a simple baal Habos
is to finish at least one mesechta a year.) Although Chabad has its share
of Talmidei Chachomim. I feel in general the importance of learning is not
nearly stressed as much as the Rebbe wanted.
2) The Rebbe spoke all the time about chesed and Ahavas Yisroel. Although
there are hundreds of shluchim who are moiser nefesh to bring Yiddishkeit
to non frum Jews, as far as simple concern and sensitivity for other frum
Jews, fellow Lubavitchers as well as non Lubavitchers, I don't see that
Chabad excels in this more then other frum Jews. Sure there are chesed
organizations, bikkur cholims, gemachs etc. as there are in other places
but surly not more then you will find in Satmer, Ger or Lakewood, (and
probably less). And they did not have a Rebbe who spoke non stop about
Ahavas Yisroel. We have let down the Rebbe. Witness the silly machlokes and
lashon hara and power struggles going on all over Lubavitch. We have let
down the Rebbe big time.
3) The Rebbe spoke so much about avodas haTfillah, to daven slowly with
extreme concentration and meditation etc. This was the core of the derech
of Chabad since inception. Go to any Lubavitch shul and tell me if more
then 2 or 3 percent daven al pi derech Chabad.
4) Learning Chassidus is unquestionable what defines the derech of Chabad.
Yet I don't think the majority of those who call themselves Chabad
Chassidim learn it even an hour a week.
5) The Rebbe had enormous respect for all the different derachim in
Yiddishkeit as well as for all Talmidei Chachomim, regardless of their
affiliation. This is so apparent in his writings and hanhagah. Rabbi Groner
said that no matter how busy the Rebbe was with important issues facing
Klal Yisroel, whenever a new sefer came in the mail from ANY talmid
chachom, the Rebbe could not resist looking through the sefer. The Ahavas
HaTorah of the Rebbe and Kavod HaTorah he displayed did not filter down to
most of Lubavitch. Lubavitchers are very xenophobic and have very limited
respect for non Lubavitchers.
6) The entire Mashiach issue is a complete distortion of the Rebbe's own
views, as I will elaborate next time, as well as the reason I think most
Lubavitchers have strayed from the Rebbe's true intent in many areas.
Although I must stress that the main mandate of the Rebbe, i.e. to spread
Torah, Yiddishkeit and Chassidus to every corner of the world, has been
(and continues to be) executed with amazing success and devotion by his
army of Shluchim. However they are a minority amongst Lubavitchers.
(By "main mandate" I do not mean that Torah scholarship, avodas haTfillah,
limud chassidus etc. were less important to him then shlichus. However
those are part of either general Yiddishkeit or the mesorah of Chabad, and
as a godol b'Yisroel and a Rebbe of Chabad the Rebbe stressed these issues
as well, however they are not uniquely the Rebbe's specific mission.)

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Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 00:28:14 -0600 (CST)
From: mshulman@ix.netcom.com (Moshe Shulman)
Re: Chabad, EDTeitz@aol.com in Avodah V2 #112

>R' Eliahu D. Teitz accepted in Avodah V2 #112 that "Lubavitchers are frum
>Jews, all of them
>>that I know do their best to keep the halachas of Shulchon Aruch."
>>Agreed, but Shulchan Aruch *HaRav*, and THAT is exactly the point everyone has
>>been trying to make.
>This creates a problem for _me_, in that I participate in a shi'ur given by
>a poseq who is a hassid of a non-Habad hassidut, but this poseq brings
>Shulhan Arukh HaRav in nearly every shi'ur.
>Should I suspect my rav of avoda zara (hv"h)?  Shall I urge all his
>talmidim to abandon the shi'ur?  Can I quote R' Teitz as an authority who
>warns against such shi'urim?
>Or perhaps R' Teitz errs when he states "THAT is exactly the point
>_everyone_ has been trying to make."?

You missed his point. What he was trying to say is that Lubavitch ONLY learns
it's own things and has no contact with others. For example I learn Shulchan
Aruch HaRav, and Mishnah Brura, in addition to SA and the noseah keilim. That
is what is common with non-Chabad chassidim.

Moshe Shulman mshulman@ix.netcom.com    718-436-7705
http://www.pobox.com/~chassidus         Chassidus Website

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Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 00:29:26 -0600 (CST)
From: mshulman@ix.netcom.com (Moshe Shulman)
Re: Avodah V2 #115

>> >> Date: Wed, 6 Jan 1999 19:09:48 -0600 (CST)
>> >> From: mshulman@ix.netcom.com (Moshe Shulman)
>> >> Subject: Re: Avodah V2 #110
>> >> >====> It is not that I do or don't "like" your answer -- it is that the
>> >> >answer appears -- to a certain extent -- to be self-serving.  Rebbes
>> >> >choose what they want to learn (and, hence what their disciples will
>> >> >learn) based upon a "derech" -- which is sort of left unexplained.  EXCEPT
>> >> The problem here is that you look upon Chassidus as ONLY being some type of
>> >> intellectual exercise. It is not. It is a method of serving HaShem.
>> >===> It has always been my impression that one serves Hashem with their
>> >intellect and understanding.  Are you now claiming that Avodas Hashem is
>> >irrational (C"V)??  I see no error in asserting that one's approach to
>> ? One serves HaShem will everything, both with ones intellect and with ones
>> physical nature. (If someone says he has only Torah learning, even Torah
>> learning he doesn't have.) (BTW can you give me a rational explaination for
>> chukim?)
>===> Please note that you did not in any manner, shape, or form answer the
>objection above.  that one serves the Boreh with all capabilities does NOT
>seem to support the fact that there is (or should be) an anti-intellectual
>element or that the Avoda is irrational.  citing chukim has noting to do
>with the issue.  though the chukim are "irrational" from our perspective,
>their *observance* is within a very rational framework.

Zvi, sometimes your questions just don't seem to make sense. I addressed two
points that seemed to come out form your questions: 1. HaShem is served ONLY
through the intellect. To which I amswered that this is not true. He is served
in many ways. 2. That there is nothing irrational in Torah or avodus HaShem,
to which I answered look at chukim.

That chassidus cannot be learned from a sefer, does not make it 'irrational'.
Was Torah sh'baal peh 'irrational' because there was no sefer one could learn
that would teach him what it was? In fact, every sefer that tries to give some
idea, will always point out that one has to become part of a group around a

>> >===> That misses the point.  If you are willing to accept any literature
>> >simply because it is in a "preferred class", there is an inconsistency.
>> The problem is that you thing 'liturature' = 'chassidus'. That just is not
>> true.
>===> Works by a great Talmid Chacham who appears to have had a pretty
>strong knowledge of Chassidus (or are you going to now assert that those
>who were not "accepted" are shown "l'mafrei'a" to have been ignorant of
>Chassidus, as well) -- seem to be more than just "literature".  Again, you
>appear to develop a self-serving formulation that allows you to
>arbitrarily "classify" items without a strong basis.

Again you seem to be arguing that any specific sefer can define what is
chassidus. Or that by learning sefer X one can then discuss intellegant
what Chassidus is about. Just not true.  The FACT is, that if we take R.
Tzudok as an example, his life PROVES the error.  He was NOT born in a
chassidic family.  What happened is that at some time in his life he needed to
travel to Rabbanum to get a heter meah Rabbonim.  He ended up in Izbitze, and
became a chasid.  From his life we see that one cannot be a chasid unless one
has a Rebbe, and learns from him. Unless you go to a Rebbe and are part of the
'group' there are things you won't get from looking in seforim. (there are two
Torah's in m'or v'shamash on this inyan. One in Parshas Kadoshim and the other
in Reah.)

>> I do follow the derech of my Rebbe and no other. I wil however learn seforim
>> that I enjoy learning (in addition to those my Rebbe has told ME to learn.)
>> Another point. A Rebbe will not instruct two people to do the exact same
>> thing. For example, both my closest friend and I went to my Rebbe about a
>> particular inyan in avodah. He was told to do one thing, and I was told a
>> different thing. I am sure anyone who has been a mashpiah understands this
>> idea.
>===> Of course you follow a derech based upon your Rebbe's instruction.
>But, now you raise an entirely different point.  Is it that the Rebbe
>*instructs* his Talmidim what they should learn?  If so, that provides a
>vastly different perspective.  In that case, the point is NOT whether a
>particular author had a "big following" or not.  Instead, the reason that
>a given sefer is "popular" is because the rebbe has made a "value
>judgement" as to what is best for a given Talmid (or group of Talmidim) to
>learn.  Given that the Rebbe is (a) a Talmid Chacham, himself, and (b)
>attuned to the needs of his Talmidim, and (c) familiar [himself] with the
>various different Sefarim (I hope) -- it makes a lot of sense that the
>Rebbe would provide guidance in that manner.  And, at a LATER date, the
>Talmid could do as you have done....  but, you do realize that this is a
>bit different from how this got started.

As with much of what you write it is neither wholly correct, nor totally off
the mark. There are various factors which will effect what is learned, and
also how much of it will be accepted BECAUSE IT APPEARS THERE. These are: 1.
Sometimes a Rebbe will tell someone to learn specific seforim. I was told by
my Rebbe seforim that I should learn, when I asked about it. (I was also told
what I should not learn.) Sometimes it is known that certain seforim are
recommended often enough that it is known that it is the Rebbe's choice. 2.
Seforim from a Rebbe's ancestors. 3. Seforim that are in Beis Medrash. (Many
of these are just donated, and may not all be accepted to the same degree, but
some seforim would not even appear in the Beis Medrash for various reasons.
For example in my shul you will not find seforim from Kotsk or Sadagura for a
number of historical reasons that I will not discuss at this time.)

>> To see chassidus as only an intellectual exercise of learning seforim, then
>> you are wrong. It is a method of serving HaShem, with learning, and
>> performing mitzvos. The Rebbe Reb Boruchel, the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov
>> relates that his grandfather was asked that since he was against fasting what
>> is the main purpose of his derech. He answered; 'Ahavos HaShem, Ahavos
>> HaTorah, Ahavos Yisroel.' Is that so irrational?
>===> I have never thought that chassidus is "only" an intellectual
>exercise.  However, I have thought that a *part* of chassidus is the
>learning of such sefarim.  As I recall, this began with a discussion about
>hwo to understand "shirayim" and citations from various Chassidic sources.
>To state that ONE source is not really "chassidus" is not really relevant
>ot the remark cited above.

What I stated is that the sefer in question is not taken as athoratative in
that just because it appears there does not mean that it is accepted outside
of whatever chassidim there may be (which I understand that there are no
chassidim of that Rebbe in the world.) Let me give a clearer example. If in a
Chabad sefer it says that method X is to be used in Avodus HaShem, that does
not mean that it would be accepted by non-Chabad chassidim.

>===> In essence, though, it appears that there is nothing specific in
>other works (at best, there are common elemements).  I thought that -- at

That is true. But there are likewise some serious differences.

>some level -- within chassidus, each person has to develop their own
>"avodas hashem" (unless you subscribe to the concept that a person rises

I do not know what you mean by 'develop your own avodus hashem.'

>dispute, I believe).  Seems to me that if the goal is an individulalized
>Avodas Hashem, one just might find some "element" in those other works and
>not just "common stuff"....

OK Here is your error. While each person has in essense his own avodus hashem,
but it's source is from the Rebbe's instruction. He is the guide.

>> >===> In the case of Haskafa: yes.  And, to so assert that it "just is"
>> >seems to represent intellectual laziness...
>> You do not believe that there is anything in Judaism that is true and we must
>> believe that you cannot intellectually understand?
>===> that is not what I said.  In matters of overall HASHKAFA, I think
>that it is not such a good idea to assert that matters are "just so" since
>that can end up being nothing more than intellectual sloth.  Of course,
>there are areas of Yahadus that are "incomprehensible".

I would contend that an insistance on alway shaving to 'know' brings two
serious problems: 1. Gava -  the belief that one knows more then is possible.
2. apikorsus -  one assumes that the reason one has is in fact the correct
one, and rejects it. With regards to this the Baal Shem Tov was quite clear
and stated: noch alla madregos ich varf es avek en ich bin a nar en ich gleib.

>> >> just like looking at the instruments of an orchestra. There is more
>> >> to music
>> >> then just instruments.
>> >===> Certainly -- but we also find that there are those who are skilled
>> >with MULTIPLE instruments when making music....
>> But there are very few, and even less who can play two intruments at once.
>===> Not at once -- but be aware and understanding of both....

And avoid confusion? Not so easy. 

Moshe Shulman mshulman@ix.netcom.com    718-436-7705
http://www.pobox.com/~chassidus         Chassidus Website

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