Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"One Can't Be A Chassid Without A Rebbe!"

Rav Elazar Kenig in Uman
(Photo courtesy of a friend of Chabakuk Elisha)

Rabbi Dovid Sears commenting on Derech Baal Shem Tov:

I heard that Rav Gedaliah Kenig zatzal once remarked that the era of the "Rebbes" has passed, and that we are now living in the era of "manhigim."

That is, not only was this the case with Breslev when Reb Nachman was nistalek and Reb Noson continued to bear the torch as a manhig (or "mashpi'a"), but not as a second Rebbe; according to Reb Gedaliah's words, this has come to be true of other Chassidic communities, as well.

How is this different than the approach of simply learning the seforim of the Chassidishe tzaddikim and taking an eitzoh from here and there (which has become the derekh in some non-Chassidic circles)?

Through the manhig or mashpi'a there is still an 'inyan of hiskashrus to the Rebbe with a bittul -- afilu achar histalkuso. Thus the original Rebbe-Chassid relationship may continue via the manhig. Maybe the Lubavitcher Rebbe zatzal had this kavannah when he went to the tziyun of the RaYaTZ, and when he often answered those who wrote to him for help: "azkir 'al ha-tziyun."

In Breslev, Reb Noson explains this issue in detail in Likkutei Halakhos, Hilchos Shluchin, Halakha 5; and Reb Shmuel Horowitz explains it b'kitzur in Tzion Hametzuyenes, siman 78 (in the old printing, small format; I don't know about the new one).

Whatever the case, one can't be a Chassid without a Rebbe!

A Simple Jew comments:

In Parshas Pinchas, the Degel Machaneh Ephraim teaches that the Ribbono shel Olam sends each and every generation tzaddikim and leaders to address the specific needs of that generation.

I feel that my shoresh neshoma is bound with the Degel Machaneh Ephraim. Since there are many tzaddikim alive today who are descendants of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim and carry on the Degel's path, do I need to pick one specific tzaddik, or am I misguided to "take eitzoh from here and there" from each of these tzaddikim?


At October 17, 2006 at 11:51:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that if you chose the Degel as your Rebbe, then you are not without a Rebbe.
Ideally, it would be best to have one person that you go to - but if you can't find, or haven't yet found, that person, I would say continue to take an eitza here & there for ways to "be all [the Chossid of your Rebbe] that you can be"...

At October 17, 2006 at 12:30:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

chabakuk elisha: This is a view of Na-nachniks to some extant. They say - we don't need any manhigim - just learn sforim. But in reality they say it because they like anarchy, and not because we lack real manhigim. An opposite view is presented in Breslover mesoyro if one looks carefuly. Look for example in "Parporoys leChochmo" on Likutey Moharan, from the Cherniner Rov ztz"l. (On Likutey Moharan I:4 which speaks about hiskashrus letzadik). He addresses there the issue of hiskashrus to tzadik who isn't in the physical world. And he adds that one should be connected with Chaveyrim. In Breslover mesoyro this term denotes manhigim, who received a tradition straight from the Rebe, his talmidim and so on. These Chaveyrim were the key people in Breslov who transfered this mesoyro. The last of such who came from Ukrain was Reb Avrohom Shternhartz ztz"l. Other branches of Breslover Chaveyrim dissapeared with time as far as I understand. (There were several greatest talmidim of the Rebe, to whom he explicitly transferred certain responsibities which normally are the function of the Rebe - tikuney neshomoys, pidyoynoys, etc). This kind of knowledge and authority denotes these Chaveyrim. That's why I personally chosed Reb Elozer Kenig as such manhig. He is probably the only one who has such tradition and authority of Chaveyrim in our time.

At October 17, 2006 at 12:41:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

A Yid: So where does that leave someone attached to the Degel Machaneh Ephraim?

At October 17, 2006 at 12:44:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But I understand that you don't mean it lechatchilo - of course if one has hard time finding a teacher to whom he can relate to, the only resort for him is like you wrote above. Reb Noson writes how he had a period when he was looking for a Rebe visiting various tzadikim, and he really had a hard time with it.

At October 17, 2006 at 12:46:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Simple Jew: Tough question. I have no idea if there are any who possess this kind of a mesoyro coming from the Degel today.

At October 17, 2006 at 12:49:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But I did see quite a notable thing, from a talmid of the Degel - Reb Sholom Teumim tztz"l. Interestingly he is very critical of those, who after the ptiro of their Rebe (in a case where he didn't leave any leading talmidim as I understand) don't look for a new Rebe. He says - one must have a leaving teacher.

At October 17, 2006 at 12:54:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(I meant living teacher. It's a typo above).

At October 17, 2006 at 12:55:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

A Yid: The only people I know who have a mesora coming from the Degel today are the Melitzer Rebbe and the Sudilkover Rebbe (Rabbi Aryeh Wohl).

Also, where did you see the information about Reb Sholom Teumim? It is very interesting?

At October 17, 2006 at 1:00:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think we disagree.

This is all I'm saying:

A Chossid cannot be a generic Chossid of all Rebbes. We need to have one Rebbe - but that does not mean that the said Rebbe must be a living Rebbe in the physical sense.
I do think one can be, for example, a Chossid of the Degel, and follow the Degel's path to the best of his ability. And again, ideally, he should find one mashpia/manhig - but until he has, it is appropriate to have multiple people that he goes to.

I wasnt speaking of any specific situation (Breslov for example). But I do think that one may be Breslover and (obviously bidieved)go to more than one of the manhigim if he is unable to connect to one specific manhig... The one complication here is that for a Breslover he must be loyal to Breslover meseyro, which I agree should push him to chose one manhig (at a time ;-)

At October 17, 2006 at 1:04:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, let's be clear that we can differentiate between a living "Rebbe" and a living teacher.

At October 17, 2006 at 1:05:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ASJ: In his seyfer - Oyr Toyro. (Reprinted recently). He has another very unusual seyfer - "Avoydas Yom haKipurim" which is a pirush on seyfer Bris Menucho. There he says very fascinating things about the essence of chasidus and traditions coming from the Baal Shem Tov. But the last seyfer I coulnd't find. It seems to be out of print for quite a while (I only saw quotes from it).

At October 17, 2006 at 1:10:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

chabakuk elisha: The issue is like this. If the Rebe leaves a talmid (talmidim) to be his successor(s) - even if they aren't Rebbes themselves, they do have certain authority. This is the case in Breslov with Chaveyrim as I wrote above. In different case these would be Rebbes mamash (like in many other chasidic groups). But if Rebe doesn't leave anyone like that - this is I think is the situation about which Reb Sholom Teumim writes, that one one should look for a new Rebe, even though some even in such case wouldn't do it. Living teacher of such stature, not just any teacher - this what we a talking about.

At October 17, 2006 at 1:10:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

A Yid: Where can I find a copy of Ohr Torah? Also, is there information about the Degel in this sefer?

At October 17, 2006 at 1:15:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any big sforim store should have it.

I didn't learn the whole seyfer. Just looked in few places there. It is pretty big. He was also a talmid of Rebe Reb Boruchl miMezhbuzh zy"o (in addition to the Degel). He doesn't quotes his teachers by name, only (moyri etc.). The fact that his teachers wer Rebe Reb Boruchl and the Degel is concluded by deduction (look in introduction to his seyfer written by the publishers).

At October 17, 2006 at 1:27:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

A Yid: I just got off the phone with Heichal Menachem and ordered a copy. Thank you very much!

Also, do you know of any other talmidim of the Degel?

I am still looking for this but it is out of print HERE

At October 17, 2006 at 1:28:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Yid,
I know that this was a commonly held view. In earlier generations it was quite common for Chassidim to choose a new Rebbe - it seems that the personal relationship superseded specific philosophy. I recall reading that when the Sfas Emes became Rebbe in Ger, many Chassidim felt unable to relate to him (because of his young age), and they became Chassidim of other groups - one group ended up becoming Chassidim of the Tzemach Tzeddek. This also struck me as the case with (I think it was) R’ T.A. Rosenfeld in Breslov who became a talmid of his Manhig’s (R’ Avrohom Shternhartz’s) ideological opposition upon his passing.

Today, however, there may be far fewer real “rebbe” figures, creating a problem that – in my opinion – makes Reb Sholom Teumim’s statement less applicable in this generation. Moreover, we have considerably more sforim to connect to today than we did in those times. I think the problem then may have been that if the Rebbe was not living anymore it may have been harder to connect to him – leaving one without a Rebbe altogether…

At October 17, 2006 at 1:48:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Situation with R’ T.A. Rosenfeld isn't the same. Reb Avrohom ztz"l did leave talidim after him - namely Reb Gedalya ztz"l. Reb Tzvi Arye may had felt, that he can't become a follower of someone around his age, so he even went so far as to go to misnagdim of Reb Avrohom and becoming an apponent of Reb Gedalya for quite a long time.

Some chasidim of the Baal haTania refused to accept any new Rebe after his ptiro, and chasidim of Reb Arn Strasheler ztz"l after his ptiro went to Reb Yisroel Doyv miVilednik ztz"l.

And about our time - you are right, it is much harder than before. Rebe Reb Zusha miAnipoly zy"o spoke about such situation before Moshiach, saying that emuno will be the only thing to cling to.

At October 17, 2006 at 1:58:00 PM EDT, Blogger FrumWithQuestions said...

When I was researching my familys heritage in Europe I found that they followed the Stefaneshti Rebbe in the town of Stefanesht in Romania. He was a Rebbe from Rizhin and the last Rebbe did not have any children. I was able to meet with the current Boyaner Rebbe Shlita and discuss these things with him and connected with him immediately. It is important for people to have a Rav as well as a Rebbe but if the Rebbe is not alive then their needs to be something to take the Rebbes place.

At October 17, 2006 at 2:25:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you speak with Skulener Rebe too?

At October 17, 2006 at 3:01:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ASJ: No, I don't know other talmidim of the Degel, it seems that his son was the one who printed his seyfer, and he probably was his talmid as well. But I don't know anything about him.

At October 17, 2006 at 3:02:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also - if you'll find anywhere extra "Avoydas Yoym haKipurim" - please let me know. I'm looking for it for a while already.

At October 17, 2006 at 3:04:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

A Yid: I certainly will.

At October 17, 2006 at 5:19:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a very basic question. How do the concepts of bittul to a Rebbe, Emuna B'Tsadikim etc, even Chabad's sod haibbur work in a time when even teh texture of our relationships has changed. At one time evewry person was in in one plane in a relational web with others and on the other axis in a hierarchical structure with everyone knowing his place and those above and below, Now we are atomized, disconnected and largely alienated. Now everyone is equal and no one is presumed to be better than another. Whether on the psychological or existential level, it makes old patterns not very authentic and certainly not as productive as in the past.

I just blogged something about this at avakesh.com "Self-respect".

Perhaps, learning from seforim does work in this time and age.

At October 17, 2006 at 5:32:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> Now everyone is equal and no one is presumed to be better than another.

Sounds like Na-nachniks almost. They say - today since we have no chaveyrim, so every one can be a "chaver" however he wants to. In Russian there is a saying - anacrchy is the mother of the order (it was a slogan of anarchists there). But usually this theory doesn't lead to anything good.

> learning from seforim does work in this time and age.

Learning from sforim always worked, but it didn't substitute a direct talmid <-> Rebe connection, even though it does reflect it (seeing the face of the tzadik is equal in some degree to learning his seyfer).

At October 17, 2006 at 7:07:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who exactly did T A Rosenfeld ztz'l go to after Reb Avrohom ztz'l? It certainly doesn't strike me as being due to some issue with Reb Avrohom, as Rabbi Rosenfeld describes Reb Avrohom as a tzaddik emes in his shiurim.

Perhaps his switch had more to do with finding a qualified teacher than someone who had different philosophies

At October 17, 2006 at 9:37:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fedora black: R' Eli Chaim Roysen and R' Leyvi Yitzchok Bender. Whatever was the reason, since R' Tzvi Arye went to R' Avrohom's misnagdim he became opposed to his talmidim, but who knows what the real reasons were.

At October 17, 2006 at 11:28:00 PM EDT, Blogger FrumWithQuestions said...

A Yid - I did meet with the Skulener Rebbe but he does not give a brocha to someone with a TV

At October 17, 2006 at 11:56:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a yid:

Thanks for the info. I was not aware of that. Both R' Eli Chaim Rosen, zal, and R' Leyvi Yitzchok Bender, zal, are considered central figures with in Breslov, with at laest R' Leyvi Yitzchok being an important link in the chain of mosoroh that goes back to Rebbe Nachman, zal, himself, just as Reb Avrohom ,zal, was, although R'Levi Yitzchok and Reb Avrohom often seemed to disagree on certain aspects of the mosoroh, as far as I am aware.

So perhaps one should view the situation not as Rabbi Rosenfeld, zal, joining his teacher's misnagdim, but instead as finding surviving teachers who are the closest "decendants" of Rebbenu,zal, regardless of whether they opposed his former teacher or not.

I am going out on a limb here, but perhaps one can learn important lessons about what a manhig is within Brelov by observing Rabbi Rosenfeld's actions.

At October 18, 2006 at 12:04:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a chance to read Rebbenu zal's Sefer HaMiddos (the alef-bet book) and found two interesting and relevant quotes:

"Those who were followers of the Tzaddik during his lifetime will be followers even his death or theirs"
(Tzaddik A 74)

"When a person was close to one Tzaddik during, and then becomes a follower of a second Tzaddik, the Torah taught him by the first Tzaddik troubles him"
(Tzaddik A 75)

Interestingly, these follow one after another.

At October 18, 2006 at 12:09:00 AM EDT, Blogger Mehallel said...

I would like to say this in a delicate manner but I am not sure I can. The physical world reflects the spiritual. The Rebbe Chasid relationship is one of Mashpia -giver and Mikabel-receiver. Just as the Torahs views on marriage so to on a more refined level in the Rebbe Chasid relationship. One cannot be a mekabel from more than one.
In times gone past when a Chasid felt his time had come to move on he would move on. They would not keep a foot in two camps that would be the spiritual equivalent to infidelity or if their was no commitment it would be a spiritual looseness.
You cannot be afraid of commitment.
The search for the right one is legitimate. After physical passing of the Tzadik some chassidim were not able to create a new "hiskashrus" to a new Rebbe.

Here is a story of Reb Issac Homiler on the crossroads.

At October 18, 2006 at 1:12:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> Both R' Eli Chaim Rosen, zal, and R' Leyvi Yitzchok Bender, zal,
> are considered central figures with in Breslov, with at laest
> R' Leyvi Yitzchok being an important link in the chain of mosoroh

Considered by their followers to some extant. Not really by talmidim of Reb Avrohom because of obvious reasons. Reb Avrohom's talmidim considered them as mashpiim, but not with an authority of Reb Avrohom's level. It is not clear, how anyone would dare to start with Reb Avrohom who was the oldest in Breslov in that generation and quite noticibly - the greatest, but this is what happened unfortunately. I conclude that anyone else's mesoyro at that time was not anywhere close to Reb Avrohom's, but they had leading positions in kehilo in Yerusholaim, being in charge of what should be done and how. Reb Avrohom on the other hand didn't assume such position (or wasn't able to), being more a teacher, rather than a leader of the kehilo. His talmidim already became practical leaders. But Reb Avrohom was very strong when it came to inyonim of Chasidus, which his oponnents wanted to drop for some unknown reasons. For example he was adamant, that if one can't go to Uman, he should be in Meron for Roysh haShone, because one has to strive to be near the tzaddik, and not just in any kibbutz (with what his opponents didn't want to agree). There were other issues as well. This dichotomy in Breslov wasn't a very new thing, it started somewhat earlier in Ukraine, but in Eretz Yisroel it became more intense unfortunately. Today this arguments are gone, but these groups are still different in their approach and other things (i.e. those who have traditions from Reb Avrohom, and followers of his opponents). The more subtle differences are still present also, and this is not the time to talk about them.

Reasons for decision of Reb Tzvi Arye za"l are unknown to me, so it's better not to speculate why he did this or that. Towards the end of his life he made up for his pirud with Reb Gedalya, and they again became close.

At October 23, 2006 at 6:18:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for a link to the shiur from Reb Luzer: http://www.simplytsfat.com/music/roshchodeshcheshvan.wav

I personally prefer when he gives shiurim in Yiddish. I think he does it more naturally.

At October 23, 2006 at 6:18:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was my posting above.

At August 17, 2008 at 10:15:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is interesting to note that one of Reb Levi Yitzchak Bender's talmidim, Reb Yiztchak Tcharnogol, chose to move to Tzfat and study under Reb Luzer Kenig after Reb levi Yitzchack's passing. Also, if we can assume that Reb Luzer Kenigs mesoret and shitas are in keeping with Reb Avroham's, It is clare that he was most likely opposed to all forms of machlokes within Breslov. And that he would have supported learning from any Breslov Manhig that truely has a mesorah from Rabbeinu. But there must be a Mesorah, as Reb Luzer has stated on many occasions. That is the job of a Manhig Breslov, to pass on the mesorah they received to us, so that we can serve Hashem and be m'kusher to Rabeinu. So that we can become true Breslover chasidim like them. Very different from the Rebbe/Chassid relationship of today. In breslov, searching is not only permitted but it is encouraged. Reb Gedaliah Kenig himself learned from many Tzadikim, as did his son Reb Luzer. Rebbeinu himself insisted on this in Torah #1 of Likutei Mohoran Tinyana. Reb Nosson also bore witness to himself that even after finding Rebeinu, he never held back from traveling to all the tzadikim of his generation, and sitting b'afar ragleihem. Yet all this was done to understand better the teachings they learned from there rebbe muvhak, Rabbeinu/Reb Avraham/Reb Gedaliah.
I feel that Reb Tzvi Aryeh's choice was totally legitimate, according to the mesoret he received from Reb Avrohom. sometimes a person has to learn from who he feels most comfortable with, as long as he meets the criteria.

At August 18, 2008 at 1:48:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(from A Yid): Dovid Shaffier: This is true in case when one learns from someone who isn't a “misnaged”. Reb Gedalya even said I think, that one can go to other tzadikim, as far as they aren't misnagdim of the Rebbe.

In case of Reb Tzvi Arye we see, that Reb Gedalya didn't find it reasonable and didn't approve that at all, so I'm not really judging for myself here, I just bring what Reb Gedalya held about it. May be it was caused by that reason, that Reb Tzvi Arye went not just to someone else, but to misnagdim of Reb Avrohom, who represented “der Rebbe's zach” for Reb Gedayla on all 100%.


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