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, April 20, 2009

Chassidic Anachronisms - The Angry Uncle of Don't Read the Fine Print

I realize I'm going out on a limb here - kvetching over inaccuracies in a children's Magazine . . . but perhaps, then, it's just been one of those days.

To the point of the discussion: Before Mincha I sat down in the Yeshivah and opened up last fall's edition of Hachayal, a Chassidic children's magazine. One of the articles was a series of brief journal entries, written from the perspective of a Yeshivah student during the establishment of the Lubavitcher Yeshivah network. Obviously fictitious, it served the purpose of educating the younger generation.

Something caught my eye - the entries referred to the Rebbe at the time of the Yeshiva's founding as the "Rashab", and his son - the dean of the school, and destined successor of his father in the year 1920 - as the Frierdike Rebbe (the Previous Rebbe).

Now I'm sure my convoluted rantings on a blurry photo taken with my cell phone make no sense to those not versed in Lubavitch lore . . . so let me attempt to explain, and thus make clear what bothered me so.

I understand I'm dealing with a kid's magazine, and thus besides the general issue of poorer quality work, exceptions must be made in style and fact to facilitate the understanding of the youth; hence Hachayal's use of the more prevalent titles for the esteemed Rabbis.
However. . .

If the article were to attempt a credulous style, it would never have referred to the Rebbe Rashab by said acronym for his name . . . any chossid worth his beard would have referred to the then current Rebbe strictly as 'the Rebbe'. And the Previous Rebbe, would have been known at most as the Rayyatz, but most certainly not as the Frierdike (Previous) Rebbe - a title that references his place in the dynasty relative to his successor and son-in-law . . . the Lubavitcher Rebbe (someone who wasn't even born at the time the journal speaks of!)  

What, dear reader, do my inane rantings have to do with you (besides the fact that for some reason the wrong titles annoyed the Hecht out of me)? I open up the discussion: To what extent do we change things around to simplify them for the purposes of youthful consumptions?

Others in the series:
Don't read the fine print,
Return of Don't Read the fine print,
Don't Read The Fine Print -Partie Trois
More of Don't Read the Fine Print
and Revenge of the Don't Read the Fine Print.

Oh . . . and for those of use waiting, all the photos from Ukraine are on my computer - so stay tuned for the Lubavitcher Pesach in Uman posts!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Der Shygetz said...


These mistakes really can be a problem. Certain parties of the Berger persuasion will find anything wrong or suspicious in a Chabad publication (even if it is read by 10 people all under the age of 12) and use it against us.

That crowd loves to find old camp songs, for instance (never mind that no one even knows the tune for them and no one knows how they made it into our songbooks), and use them as proof that we are all yellow flaggers or worse yet Tzikkers/elokists.

And something like this would be proof of our ignorance (amaratzus) as far as those great and eloquent scholars are concerned.

They need to get lives (or get koreis) but we need to be more professional.

Dovid said...

I'm leaning more towards the side of it's a kid's magazine and it doesn't have to be so meticulously realistic. If they wrote "the Rebbe", the average kid would not know he is refering to the Rebbe Rashab. Kind of like in Hayom Yom when it says "my father" (the Rashab) or "the Rebbe" (the Rayatz). But I understand your issue with this.
Perhaps the bochur wrote his diary when he was 80 years old retrospectively.

Dovid said...

And I don't see the connection with berger

Mottel said...

-Dovid: I understand the room for confusion . . . but in such a case they need only write in brackets who is who, and then continue with the more accurate names! If anything, it would give the children a clearer picture of the Lubavitcher history.
The journal was not written by an eltere chossid: Besides the fact that had it been real, there would have been a name associated with it [which in my opinion would have made the article far cooler - and more educational!], the content is overly simplified and vague, I doubt anyone experienced things to that level. In addition, and chossid who attended the yeshivah at even the incredibly early 15 years old, would have been born in 1882, which means he would have been 80 in the chofs ('60's)! Speaking to most ziknei anash b'chlal, they tend to refer to any Rebbe they were m'kusher to as 'Rebbe'
[I recall Rabbi Gerlitzky in Montreal speaking about Tishrei in Otwock - "This Rebbe [Rayyatz] sat here and that Rebbe [nasi doreinu] sat next to him".

Mottel said...

I also don't entirely get the Berger connection - I doubt things like this will bother them.

Der Shygetz said...


You cannot imagine the depth (in all senses of the world) of the Berger crowd; they have a subculture of their own now both online and off. I have blocked most of their online hangouts so as not to be drawn into debate with them but they also have a (bh dwindling) coterie in real life.

They once caught an error in Talks and Tales (something about the Ohr haChayim having physically met a tzaddik from Europe who lived a generation or so later) and had fun with that.

Sick people who are ridiculous to us but a potential mekurav who is not yet firm in his knowledge could be swayed by their bubbamaises and sinas chinom.

And the bottom line is that the Rebbe was always meticulous and publications (except of course the Creedmoorer blog) should not present questionable information especially to kids.

Dovid said...

Mottel- I meant to say, they could be pretending that this imaginary bochur is writting retrospectively. But you're totally right about the way eltere chassidim speak of the Rebbeim. That was a nice story about Rabbi Gerlitzky, he's very cute in a yoda-ish kind of way.

Dovid said...

One time he said after a farbrengen "morgen vel zayn guuuur andersh", and it is etched in my memory forever.

Mottel said...

-Der Sheyfetz: true. But Talks and Tales have fictitious stories in it! There is a story about the Maharal there (with the gems stolen from the London Museum) that is obviously a work of fiction - and known to be based on a Sherlock Holmes story!

-Dovid: Gerlitzky is Yoda-ish . . . but Greenglass is Yoda himself.

Dovid said...

Re Greenglass: oh so true.

Please add a sentence on basementblogging

Cheerio said...

give some credence to childrens' intelligence. there could easily have been an introductory paragraph explaining who exactly was who, and the kids would have gotten it just fine.
things shouldn't be oversimplified for children. think about it: the things we learn as kids, from stories or school or anywhere, stick in our minds. what we learn as children is our first impression of anything, and some remnant of it stays there, no matter how much else we learn.
if there's something complex, and a child doesn't understand, he or she should have someone who is willing to take the time to explain it. a parent, a teacher - someone.
that's how people learn.

Mottel said...

Cheerio, I'm with you 100% on this one!

Chana Langman said...

nice post. and for what it's worth, i'm equally irked by this.

Mottel said...

Hey Chana, thanks for posting and welcome to th blog :P
I'm glad to see we're on the same page here.
Stop by more often . . .

Anonymous said...

I agree with you and Cheerio 100%, my friend. The things I remember from childhood were not over-simplified - they were explained to me properly, so that I didn't spend the rest of my life in a constant state of thinking 'but I thought that...'.

Children really are more intelligent than some give them credit for being. Unless of course they've been the recipient of over-simplified explanations for their entire lives....


Dovid said...

I guess I'm alone on this, but I just think its not so bad to simplify things a bit.

e said...

yeah, they fired me, and look where they ended up.

Mottel said...

-e: You wrote for Hachayal? Then again, look were you ended up :P - becoming a blogger.

The Real Shliach said...

e: there were still mistakes of this nature when you were there-I remember a "poster" announcing a seudas hodaa for the first anniversary of Yud Kislev that referenced the "Mitteler Rebbe".