Friday, October 26, 2007

"What Works For One Will Not Work For Another"

(Picture by Letizia Ribechini)

Moshe David Tokayer commenting on Me'am Lo'ez:

Ok, now that I've had a chance to calm down, Shneur Zalman has actually provided us with the opportunity to cull something positive out of his post.

As I and others have commented, Shneur Zalman's post contains obvious inaccuracies. That being said, it is also obvious that the Litvishe Yeshiva world stresses different things that the Chassidishe world. Within the Chassidishe world there are different stresses and, for that matter, the Yeshiva world is not homogeneous either.

Ultimately, we are all here to come close to G-d. Since each of us has a unique neshama, whose roots are in differently spiritual places, it follows that what each of us needs to do to come close to G-d differs.

One person may need to effect a tikkun through learning Torah his entire life. Another person's tikkun may involve spending an entire life immersed in works of chessed. What works for one will not work for another simply because his spiritual needs differ.

Stated simply, there are many different paths leading to closeness with G-d. What this means in practical terms is that Chassidus A may be the best thing for Reuven but Shimon will gravitate towards Chassidus B and Levi will only find happiness in a Litvishe Yeshiva environment.

Neither is better than the other. Notwithstanding the views of certain Chassidus and Roshei Yeshiva, Klal Yisrael needs all of it.

Nothing in this world is perfect. There are obviously problems in the Yeshiva world as well as in the Chassidishe world. Nevertheless, the best thing for Klal Yisrael is to focus on the good that each has to offer. (Doesn't Rebbe Nachman of Breslev say to focus on the good point within each person?) In my experience, serious people tend to gravitate to that which is good for them spiritually.

On a personal note, I had a decidedly Litvishe upbringing and raised my children that way. Nevertheless, one of my sons left the Litvishe Yeshiva he was learning in for a Breslever Yeshiva. Another one of my sons is very happy in a Litvishe Yeshiva. This son went to Uman last Rosh HaShana. It was an experience but he was happy to return to his Litvishe Yeshiva. I encourage them to do what makes them happy and fills their inner needs.

I sincerely believe that the geula will come not when all Jews become ____________ (fill in the blank with your favorite segment of Klal Yisrael.) Rather the geula will come when we all recognize that the Ribbono shel Olam loves each part. When there is shalom between us, there will be shalom between us and the Ribbono shel Olam.


At October 26, 2007 at 6:57:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen said...

Reb Moshe David has written a wise, warm, and beautiful response - one which conributes to healing and unity. Yasher Koach for highlighting it by alo making it into a separate article on the blog. Please convey to him my blessings for the big mitzvah that he did with this response.

At October 26, 2007 at 8:57:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Rabbi Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel said...

This discussion of the Meam Loez has overlooked three major points:

First, it is a relatively late work. Rav Culi began compiling it in 1730 yet died before it was completed (he only finished Bereshis and part of Shmos). A number of other rabbonim continued to work on it throughout the 18th Century until it was finished by Rabbis Yitzhock Arguiti and Shmuel Yerushalmi.

Secondly, it was published and disseminated almost entirely in Turkey, North Africa, Spain, and Egypt.

Thirdly, it was written in Ladino - A language that was not spoken by the Ashkenazi world (hence the title "Meam Loez"). The work was not translated into other languages (i.e. Yiddish, and even a modern Spanish printing by the University of Granada in 1964) until after the Holocaust. The book never existed in a Hebrew version until 1967!

For these reasons the work was not well known in the Ashkenazi/Chassidic world until fairly recently - There was no shitto historially to aviod the work; the book was either simply unknown or inaccessable in the European world.


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