Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Year Between - A Story For 7 Teves

Degel Machaneh Ephraim (Satmar, 1942)

Excerpt from
The Great Maggid by Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Schochet:

The succession had to be resolved by itself to preserve the structure and propagation of Chassidism. The disciples thus appointed Rabbi Tzvi, the only son of the Baal Shem Tov, to succeed his father even while assigning certain organizational tasks unto different members of their group. This appointment was as much a temporary compromise as an act of piety and posthumous respect to the great master. Rabbi Tzvi was an interim leader only. His leadership was not a reign but a regency. In spite of his personal merits, Rabbi Tzvi was not the right man. He did not have the personality and qualifications required for that taxing office in those crucial times when the very life of the movement hung in the balance. Moreover, he could not possibly overlook the strict advice of his father who two years earlier cautioned him:

"For G-d's sake, Heaven forbid that you should occupy yourself with leadership; pursue but business and therein you shall thrive and succeed. Remember, just remember, how I told you already that ever since that bitter day in which I was revealed I have cried daily over my bitter lot. If I had not been pressed from Heaven..."

Rabbi Tzvi's term in office lasted for one year. For Shavuous 5521 (1761) the Baal Shem Tov's senior disciples gathered in Mezhibuz to observe together the first anniversary of their master's passing. On the second day of the festival Rabbi Tzvi sat as usual at the head of the table and delivered a Torah discourse. Immediately upon concluding he rose and said:

"Today my father appeared to me and informed me that the Shechinah and Heavenly Assembly that used to be with him have gone over this day to Rabbi Dov Ber; therefore my son, transfer to him the leadership in the presence of the Chevraya Kadisha (Holy Society). Let him sit in my place at the head of the table and you, my son, sit in his place."

Rabbi Tzvi then removed his white robe, the robe which had belonged to his father and symbolized the office of leadership, and he placed it upon the shoulders of Rabbi Dov Bear, while wishing him success in his new task.

19 Comments:

At December 28, 2006 at 6:12:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

You neglected to mention that today is R. Tzvi's yahrzeit, although you did hint at it!
More details on this can be found here.

 
At December 28, 2006 at 6:41:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Yitz: You are right, I hinted to it and wanted to see if anyone picked up on that fact.

The link you sent is very interesting and I found it noteworthy that it mentions that the account above is based on "the Chabad tradition"

The alternate story is quoted as:

"One tradition records that on his deathbed, the Baal Shem chose the Maggid as his successor. Sensing R. Yaakov Yosef's disappointment and dejection, the Baal Shem turned to him and said cheerfully, I know this 'bear' has no feet, but he has broad hands with which to attract hearts, and he is well-qualified to unite all those faithful to Chassidus under his leadership."

Finally, do any readers know whether there is an ohel at the kever of R. Tzvi Hirsh in Pinsk, Belarus today?

 
At December 28, 2006 at 7:12:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

it mentions that the account above is based on "the Chabad tradition"
In case you didn't know, the author of the book you cited is a Chabad Chassid, and it was published by Kehos, if I'm not mistaken.

 
At December 28, 2006 at 7:15:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Yes, I was aware of that, however I find it interesting that there are multiple accounts of the succession story.

Also, one time I mentioned to a Lubavitcher that R. Tzvi Hirsh was actually the leader of the movement for a year after the Baal Shem Tov and he just stared at me in disbelief. I then told him that I got the information from HIS book.

 
At December 28, 2006 at 2:21:00 PM EST, Blogger Fedora Black said...

Wonderful post, ASJ. I was not aware that the son of the BESHT had such a possition.

As for it being a Chabad tradition, it is interesting that Chabad usually views the "nesius" (however one wishes to define it) as going from the Baal Shem Tov, to the Maggid, to the Baal HaTanya, and down the rest of the Chabad line. I assume that this is why Rabbi Shochet writes that "his leadership was not a reign but a regency."

 
At December 28, 2006 at 2:29:00 PM EST, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

In Chabad, since it wasn't a lasting nesius it isn't part of the chain, like the Malach and the Vitebsker as well.

Gen 1 - Baal Shem Tov

Gen 2 - Maggid
(since it was one generation, R' Tzvi isn't included)

Gen 3 - Baal HaTanya
(since teh Malach & R' Mendel were contemeraries of the Alter Rebbe, they are considered to have has a talmud-chaver relationship, and thus they aren't in the chain.)

Had R' Tzvi, or let's say the Vitebsker, maintained leadership until their passing, they would have been included.

 
At December 28, 2006 at 2:36:00 PM EST, Anonymous A Yid said...

Chabad is particularly busy with the issue of nosi etc. Others aren't so involved in articulating this.

 
At December 28, 2006 at 2:38:00 PM EST, Anonymous A Yid said...

> Finally, do any readers know whether
> there is an ohel at the kever of R.
> Tzvi Hirsh in Pinsk, Belarus today?

I'm not sure. Many kvorim were destroyed there. The keyver of Reb Aharon haGodol miKarlin zy"o for example is non existant. But I'll try to find out exactly. bli neder.

 
At December 28, 2006 at 2:40:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thanks, A Yid!

 
At December 28, 2006 at 2:59:00 PM EST, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

A Yid,
That's for sure. Actually is ANYONE else so involved in the shalsheles hanesiim like Chabad is?

 
At December 28, 2006 at 3:19:00 PM EST, Blogger yitz said...

Actually is ANYONE else so involved in the shalsheles [hanesiim] like Chabad is?
If you take out the word I've put into brackets, yes. Many groups trace themselves back to the Baal Shem, but the chain often looks like this:
Baal Shem Tov - Maggid - Rebbe Reb Elimelech - Chozeh
and then branches off...
Modzitz would continue like this:
Rebbe Chatzkel of Kuzmir - Rebbe Shmuel Elya of Zvolin - Rebbe Yisrael of Modzitz [and then the next 4 Modzitzer Rebbes].

 
At December 28, 2006 at 5:08:00 PM EST, Blogger avakesh said...

The American Yated had an article abotu R. Tsvi last week.

 
At December 28, 2006 at 5:10:00 PM EST, Anonymous A Mile Down the Road said...

CE

I think you are onto something. There may be a different "buzz" when it comes to nesiyus in Chabad. But you would have to ask members of other groups if they, too, have such gefihlen.

Once Avromi, one of the kids in Modzitzer Shtibel where I daven on Shabbos, asked me
a question about the history of Chassidus. When I mentioned the name of the Baal Shem Tov, he exclaimed, "The Baal Shem Tov! The Baal Shem Tov! He was the first Modzitzer Rebbe!""

So there you have it...

 
At December 29, 2006 at 6:46:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Avakesh: What details did it mention?

 
At December 31, 2006 at 4:44:00 PM EST, Anonymous mjr said...

R' Yisroel Meir Gabai is actively seeking donors to sponsor the rebuilding of R' Hirechele Baal Shem's Ohel in Pinsk.

Everyone should participate, think of the Zchus.

 
At December 31, 2006 at 6:19:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

MJR: Could you please provide more details about this? Thanks!

 
At January 3, 2007 at 7:40:00 PM EST, Anonymous MJR said...

R' Gabai says that anyone interested in helping with this cause should please contact Rav Dovid Goldstein, son of the Skulyer Rebbe. He is active in Gabai's office in the US.

Tizku L'mitzvos.

 
At January 4, 2007 at 4:38:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thanks again. Perhaps you could provide a phone number for the benefit of the readers.

 
At January 4, 2007 at 7:14:00 AM EST, Anonymous MJR said...

Sorry, I meant to post the number:

R' Dovid Goldstein- 718-854-1222

 

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