The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Monday, February 05, 2007

Why Misnagdim Just Don't Get It . . .

[T]he [story] about the kids in summer camp who built a massive Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple) model . . . only to have it torched on Tisha B'av, was the one that got to me the most. The clincher was the note that the kid who wanted to know if they would rebuild it for visiting day didn't 'get it' -how depressing can you be?

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Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I'm not getting it. What's the story of the Rebbe that he altered?

Anonymous said...

Also, I think you might have misunderstood what he writes about visiting the three kevarim. I took it to mean not that it was going to take time to get to the cemetery in the first place, not from one kever to the other.

Toby Katz said...

What annoys me is how Lubavitchers use the word "chassidish" and "Lubavitch" interchangeably, and then lump all non-Lubavitchers together in a catch-all category -- "misnagdim."

My father was a Gerrer chossid and I grew up hearing many amazing stories of hashgacha pratis, most involving various chassidishe rebbeim (especially the Sfas Emes and Chidushei Harim but also many others) in addition to stories about various non-Chassidishe gedolim.

But in the world of Chabad there are no chassidim and no rebbeim other than Chabad and the Lubavitcher rebbe.

As an adult, I taught in Bais Rivkah HS in Melbourne Australia (we lived there for three years in the '80s -- we now live in Miami). I was the only non-Lubavitcher limudei kodesh teacher -- today they would not hire a non-Lub but then they were short-staffed and couldn't import teachers as readily as they can now.

Anyway, it was an eye-opening time for me. Every single famous story I'd heard -- R' Yisrael Salanter coming late to Kol Nidre because he stopped to stay with a crying baby whose mother had gone to shul, or the Chofetz Chaim saying, "My furniture? This is not my permanent home, I'm just travelling through" etc etc -- they had all the same stories but in their version, every single one had happened to one or another of the shiva ro'im.

My students had been taught that the Rebezten Chana was the first person who had the idea of schools for girls and that there were Bais Rivka schools all over the world, but had never heard of Sarah Schenirer or the Bais Yakov school movement.

Other than Rebbes of Chabad they had no other gedolim at all, post 1800. Not only had my students never heard of the great yeshivos -- never heard of Lakewood, Ponevezh, Chevron or Mir! - but they had never heard of any other chassidim either, except for Satmar (who have a large community in Melbourne).

Australia was so far away from the rest of the world that they could get away with it -- teaching a totally Lub-centered and distorted version of Jewish history.

Mottel said...

The story is the famous one of the Rosh Yeshivah in Eretz Yisroel who tells over at his granddaughter's (?) wedding why he can not walk -that as a bochur in Kovno (Eichet a Chabad Shtot) he hadn't helped a person by taking his wagon out of the mud therefor brought the curse of a tzaddik nistar upon himself. Krohn concludes that miraculously this Rosh Yeshivah got better after telling over the story -he leaves ought that a Lubavitcher had been at the wedding and had convinced the Rosh Yeshivah to speak to the Rebbe. The Rebbe told him to learn chitas and to teach it in his yeshivah.

Your right about the Kevarim, but the language is slightly ambiguous and therefore I wanted to make it clear.

Mottel said...

I can not speak for all Lubavitchers, but I can speak from my experiences with out group as a whole that:
Anyone who is educated (yes we have our ignorant, but they exist amongst other groups as well)
will view the (Ashkenazi) world as:
Olamish (Yekkas can be put in there as true ones have become exceedingly rare these days), Litvish (A Litvak or Olamisher that is against Chabad would be a 'Misnagid'), and Chassidish.
Of the Chassidisher there are the Chasseedish (Yes, we all too often lump the Hungarian, Ukrainian and Polish Chassidim together, but this is not the place to go into that) and Chabad.
Being that we are also Chassidim, a city that is run in the spirit of Chabad would be a "Chassidish".

As for what you noticed while in Beis Rivka:
The fact that the same stories happened to many Gedolie Yisroel is not a stirah, especially when speaking about how a tzadik views the world etc. (If it's a propper outlook it will be repeated).
That being said, there is a trend to take Chassidic stories and change them to 'litvishe' gedolim, others might be able to bring a few examples.
As to the ignorance of those girls -the fact that they didn't know of Beis Ya'akov and thought that the Rebbetzin Chanah started Jewish schools is a problem, especially since I don't know of the Rebbetzin Chanah even starting Jewish schools.
The other ignorances I would chalk up to the separation of the community from the rest of the world, the background of the girls, and the fact that though we often do paint the world in our own image, others do it too and in a far worse manner. (I'm not saying that it's right but . . .)

Anonymous said...

In fairness to R' Paysach, though, it's possible that he heard the story second- or third-hand, with the Rebbe's involvement already omitted by the time it reached him.

There is indeed at least one other case I know of where he failed to check his sources: the story about the researcher at the Hebrew University, the antagonistic librarian, and "velo nikashel" - which turns out to be not a true story, but is based on one of S.Y. Agnon's tales. (See for an interesting discussion.)

Mottel said...

We'll take your limud zechus -though he ought to have checked it out, but anyhow . . .
It should be noted that Chenoch Teller has also perverted stories.

Joe in Australia said...

R' Katz, the story about the rabbi who lived in poverty and said "I'm just passing through" is told about the Maggid of Mezritch, not one of the Chabad rebbeim. Isn't it more likely that a story about the Maggid was applied to R' Yisroel Salanter, or that R' Yisroel applied the same phrase to himself and the listener didn't realise that s/he was hearing a quotation? The same goes for the story of the Chofetz Chaim. I've never heard the story about the sick woman told about him, but he lived a lot more recently than the Baal HaTanya and I find it hard to believe that an account about someone who died within living memory has been applied to a different rabbi who died two hundred years ago. Someone once said that all stories are eventually told about the Chofetz Chaim. I know that I've heard a story about Oso HaIsh told approvingly, as if ithad happened to the Chofetz Chaim. People aren't careful when they retell stories and I suggest that you check your sources for your allegation.

Mottel said...

As a note, Joe you switched who each story was about in the 'Litvishe' version.
An example of blatant changes: Someone once told me that it was said that the GRA was zoche to special Roach Hakodesh by virtue of his shmiras einayim -taking the details to the 't' from how the Choze M'lublin became the 'Choze'.

PSoL said...

Since when is Chabad's Judaism "unadulterated"?

Chaim said...

Vilnius will always be associated with Misnagdim although it contained a large chassidic community.
I believe you are being too critical of a book attempting to dramatize a trip to our eastern european roots. Almost any book or article on that topic reads like a visit to a remote village in the african jungle. Once you spend more than a month in any of these "magical", "peasant filled", "third world countries", you see how life is normal in Vilna (in its own way) like New York.
I'll agree with you on two points.
1) All orthodox jews visiting eastern europe assume all gentiles are anti semites. If a non-jew says something it will be taken in spite. The fact that Vilnius might be called by that name for anit jewish reasons (if indeed that is a quote from the book) is an example.
2) Publishing companies are capable of printing books containing distorted stories and selling them knowing they are offending people. An example would be a book printed by Feldheim entitled Comrade. The book was supposed to be a translation of a Rabbi Lifshitz's earlier work detailing his experiences in Russia. Instead the translator, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, changed the entire story warping many details and events and created a new (to quote him) "better selling" story. This caused an uproar from Lifshitz's family and friends forcing them to print a new authentic translation.

Mottel said...

I know I'm being critical . . . and perhaps I should clarify that I don't mean to attack R' Krohn as a person, Ch"V, but rather I am annoyed by the 'kleinkepeld' view that is so often found 1.Amongst Jews 2. Amongst Orthodox Jews. 3. Amongst the Litvishe crowd (each one on an increasingly greater level)
I am not shocked that Krohn didn't find a third world country (though it is the poorest one in the EU), I am that he was disappointed to find out that Vilnius wasn't a shtetle like in the times of the GRA . . . When it was in truth a 'mordern' city before the war!
I don't know why you doubt my quotes, you can look at the link I provide . . .
As well, Chabad is the only Truely Orthodox community there -the other side makes no claims on Orthodoxy -except to garner support from Bnei Brak

Joe in Australia said...

Thanks for the correction, Mottel. That makes the question even stronger - it's inconceivable that a story about the Chofetz Chaim (who died in 1933) could have been applied to the Maggid of Mezritch, who died in 1772. I know the story of the Maggid from an account written by the the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, R' Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn. I have no idea if they ever met, but their lifespans overlapped by half a century. I just can't imagine that the late Rebbe could have been confused in this way.

I also find it ironic that this allegation about Chabad is demonstrated by reference to the Chofetz Chaim. Of all possible Jewish figures, to invoke this rabbi in a verbal attack on other Jews!

Mottel said...

I see it the other way around, if the story of the Magid had been so famous the Chofetz Chaim could have based his own life etc on it . . . as well it would give more room for others to hear of the famous story and change it to their own, litvisher, gadol.
The Chofetz Chaim worked closely with the Rebbe Rahsab and Frierdiker Rebbe on various matters . . .
As well, the Rebbe mentioned stories of the Chofetz Chaim several times in various sichos and spoke highly of him -why would this one story be changed . . . This besides the fact that I believe FR is a far more accurate source then a story with no source (i.e. from where did you hear this story of the CC)

Yankel said...

Wasn't there some controversy some time go about the Frierdike rebbe's memoirs? Something about them not in accordance with known facts etc?