Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rabbi Zvi Leshem: What is a Chassid?

From Nishmat (via Yitz):

What is a Chassid?
by Rabbi Zvi Leshem (Blobstein)

1) Rav Hillel Zeitlein, Safran Shel Yichidim, page 43: "And what is the main essence of the Chassidut of the Besht? The main essence is in the 'three loves' that the Besht taught; Love of God, Love of Israel, and Love of the Torah."

2) Rav Menachem Eckstein, Tanai HaNefesh leHasagat HaChasiddut, p.86: "All that we have written is included in three short statements of the Besht; 1. One must always contemplate the greatness of the Creator and the insignificance of himself. 2. One must cause his intellect to rule over his physicality. 3. One must achieve purity of thought and holiness in character traits."

3) Rav Kolonymos Kalmish Shapira, Bnai Machshava Tova, p.43-44: "This is the way of the chasid, he occasionally cries during a happy tune, and while dancing, and he sometimes dances to the tune of 'Kol Nidrei'."

4) Rav K. K. Shapira, Mavo HaShaarim, p.18b: "The drawing down (of spiritual light) until then, was only into the vessels. But the drawing down of the Besht and his disciples was new, drawing even into the walls of the vessels themselves, so that they also were transformed into light. However, they were not actually transformed, rather their light was revealed."

5) Rav K. K. Shapira, Chovat HaTalmidim, p.21: "The essence of the Torah of Chassidut is not to be satisfied with having one's intellect absorbed in divine service...he must rather serve haShem with all aspects of his thought, speech, and action."

6) Rav K. K. Shapira, Chovat HaTalmidim, p.24: "This is the basis of Chassidut, that one become animated and excited. Starting with his lowly aspects and physical emotions that he should arouse himself to holiness."

7) Rav K. K. Shapira, Derech HaMelech, p.166: "The essence of Chassidut is not to fulfill the Torah and the mitzvot only with the body. Nor to pray only with the mouth, or even with thought, but rather with the soul, with love and excitement....Only then can he reveal and elevate (his soul), and become a chasid."

8) Rav Shalom Noach Brazavski, Netivot Shalom, vol.1, p.296: "The Ari spoke of matters pertaining to the upper worlds and the holy Sefirot. The Besht added explanations showing how it all pertains also to the divine service of the Jew in the lower world, since man was created in the image of the Divine."

9) Rav Shalom Noach Brazavski, Kovetz Sichot LaMishmeret HaRishona,p.26: "In order to be a chasid, you first have to know what Chassidut is....A chasid is one for whom the way of 'Is it pleasing in the sight of God', is the guiding principle."


At August 29, 2006 at 2:23:00 PM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

It's good to point out, that chasidim never call Baal Shem Tov haKodoysh as "Besht" pronouncing it like this - B-e-sh-t. Even though his acronym is written Bash"t, but it is not red like this. Rather Baal Shem haKodoysh, or Baal Shem Tov. However many mascilim use prononciaton Besh"t in their texts in other languages, but it is incorrect.

At August 29, 2006 at 11:27:00 PM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

Also this inyan (what IS Chasidus, from deep and systematic perspective) is discussed in Chabad of course, as mentioned in Pyasetchno and Slonim, and also in Izhbitzer and Radziner sforim.

At August 29, 2006 at 11:54:00 PM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Rabbi Leshem is a big fan of Rav Rav Kolonymos Kalman Shapira zt'l (aka the Piazeczna Rebbe). I know this because I asked him several years ago.

I believe, as I heard from Rav Moshe Weinberger (Aish Kodesh Institue, Woodmere, NY) that the quote from B'nai Machshava Tova: "Bnai Machshava Tova, p.43-44: "This is the way of the chasid, he occasionally cries during a happy tune, and while dancing, and he sometimes dances to the tune of 'Kol Nidrei' is a reference to a Zohar. The heart of a Yid can laugh and cry at the same time. That's the greatness of being a Jew.

Great posting.

At August 30, 2006 at 3:50:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

A Yid: I don't know if Rav Leshem used that reference to the Baal Shem as a shorthand [to save typing strokes] or as an appelation. I can ask him if you wish. I have heard him referred to as the Besht, and not by 'maskilim'. I don't know how "incorrect" it is these days, to use this term.
As to your 2nd point, I don't think R. Leshem meant his listing to be comprehensive by any means. If you have quotes from Chabad, Ishbitz or Radzin to add, please do!
Neil - Glad you like the post, and ASJ, thanks for posting it!

At August 30, 2006 at 9:58:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Michoel said...

Rav Kalonimus Kalman was, of course, not a chasid in the common sense of the word these days, but he was certainly a chasid. I once asked Rav Amram Taub shlit"a what sefer to learn as a p'sicha into Chasidus and he told me to learn Yesod V'shoresh Haavodah.

At August 30, 2006 at 12:36:00 PM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

yitz: Obviously I didn't mean the auther when I referred to maskilim. I pointed out, that academics (goyim and maskilim) use name Besht as it is. So it caught somewhat even in normal Jewish books, but it is still incorrect now, as it was before.

At August 30, 2006 at 12:44:00 PM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

Michoel said...
> Rav Kalonimus Kalman was, of course, not
> a chasid in the common sense of the word
> these days, but he was certainly a chasid.

I didn't quite understand your remark. He was a tzadik and chosid in a TRUE meaning of this word, and he wanted his talmidim to be real chasidim as well. Many consider his "Choyvas haTalmidim" as great psicho to Chasidus, and I think it's definetly so. While Yesoyd veShoresh hoAvoydo is a great seyfer and teaches avoydo besimcho atzumo, it has somewhat different and unique feeling than sifrey Chasidus. Some say, that sifrey musar are psicho leChasidus (i.e. Reyshis Chochmo, Toymer Dvoyro, Shaarey Kdusho etc.). Also very great is "Yoysher Divrey Emes" because it summarizes most inyonim of Toyras haBaal Shem Tov in a short and digestable form, which is great for beginner. But there are obviously many gates and you have to find yours, that fits you, and not someone else.

At August 30, 2006 at 1:29:00 PM EDT, Anonymous A Yid said...

Yitz: The best thing is to look inside the originals, if you are interested. These inyonim are spread in them in many places and contexts. Rasha"b has a number sfroim on this. Interesting, that the development of this issue - what exactly Chasidus is, (and what differs chasidim from earlier mekubolim) in sforim started in later period of Chasidus may be 100 ago or a bit more. Before that it was either obvious or there was no need to explain that as a more clear "philosophical" and structured view. Even though you can find this issue briefly and in earlier sforim, for example in wondrous seyfer "Sheeiris Yisroel" form Reb Yisroel Viledniker zy"o (talmid of Reb Motel Chernobyler zy"o). He says for exmple in Shaar haZmanim (Shovues, maymor 3):

Baal Shem Tov z"l nbg"m and his talmidim hakdoyshim revealed the secret of yichudim, and from him started the behino of hischadshus. As it says: "New Toyro will come forth from me". But really chas vesholom that Toyro would be new, because we beleive that Toyro is not "renewable", but it means that garments of Toyro became new, [as it says] Every day they should be in your eyes like new. I.e. - great tzadikim like Baal Shem Tov z"l and his talmidim hakdoyshim were making yichudim in all their words and speach, while talking in La"z (Yiddish). True and wondrous yichudim, that contain rozin iloin [and ginzey Oyrayso], but with new "garments". And even though they are in the aspect of "new", they still have to be in the aspect of Toyro herself, and not renewed, because all garments are included and nullified in their source - in Toyro herself...

And this is what is said "Aase loy eyzer kenegdoy". Eyzer is behinas "Oyr zorua letzadik", that they [i.e. chasidim - those who follow the ways of Baal Shem Tov] help the Shkhino to raise her from the dust with yichudim and including themselves with yichudim of tzadikim and their avoydo in the way of light. But "people of the world" [i.e. those who don't follow these ways] are behinas "kenegdoy", and [this way] is in shiflus and nemichas ruach, only with kabolas oyl of the Toyro with great effort, and effort of the flesh with sigufim atzumim (great self mortifications) on every thing. But the behino of chasidim, who follow in the way of Baal Shem Tov z"l doesn't need the sigufim so much, but rather the light of "lemaaney lemaaney aasey"...

Look there further wondrous things about how these two drochim will get closer to each other before the coming of Moshiach.

At September 5, 2006 at 1:17:00 PM EDT, Blogger MC Aryeh said...

"This is the way of the chasid, he occasionally cries during a happy tune, and while dancing, and he sometimes dances to the tune of 'Kol Nidrei'."

Beautiful. Just confirms to me that my neshama is much more chassid than Litvak...


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