Friday, May 16, 2008

"And It Is A Bigger Endorsement For Me, A Breslover To Say That..."

Rabbi Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel commenting on Anonymous's comment:

Anonymous -

I think that you have missed the point - any member of a Chassidus who endorses their own Chassidus hasn't really endorsed anything. If some one is an X chossid, then they are such because that Chassidus offers what they feel has the greatest personal value.

The idea that the Rebbe is a Gadol who saw Chabad objectively and then chose it from all other drachim as his own derech is proof of the greatness of Chabad is an easily refutable: There are many gadolim who have studied Chabad and then rejected it completely.

Now, the only way to counter this fact is to state that the Lubavitcher rebbe was greater than all other non-Lubavitcher gadolim who rejected Chabad. The only person who can realistically make that judgment call is one who is greater even than the Lubavitcher Rebbe! Surely, no one alive now can prove, based upon limud, that the Lubavitcher rebbe is greater than all non-Lubavitcher gadolim. So why are there people (gadolim and non-gadolim) who believe that he is the greatest gadol ever? Easy answer: the Torah of Chabad, the Rebbe's derech, carries the greatest personal value to them.

For example - I am a Breslover because I have looked at Lubavitch, Breslov and other chassiduses and felt that Breslov was better than them all. There - I said it. I think Breslov is better. I am not a Breslover by default! I am not Breslov because I never learned Chabad Chassidus and, therefore, never "saw the light." I have sat in shiurim and learned Chassidus amongst the Gadolim of Lubavitch and, without any doubt, can say that I got zero from it. I have no interest whatsoever in Chabad. Objectively, I see the importance of Chabad Torah scholarship and can appreciate its brilliance. Do I think that people should learn Tanya? Yes - absolutely. It is one of the most important of all the sifrei Chassidus! And it is a bigger endorsement for me, a Breslover to say that, than anyone else in Chabad - even the Rebbe.


At May 18, 2008 at 11:44:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rebbe encourged all chassidic groups to publish and study their own works as part of spreading the well springs of chassidus there are numerous videos of the rebbe pushing descendents to publish there ancestors seforim...
Here is a quote from the freideiker rebbe to the rebbe in a letter responding to the seeming chabad divergence from the path of the baal shem tov....

It is not proper - nor do I have any desire - to compare one society to the other. We do not possess the proper yardstick with which to measure and compare the two lofty mountains, the G-dly princes, my saintly ancestor the Mitteler Rebbe, with his in-law, my saintly ancestor the Rebbe of Chernobyl[31] of blessed memory; nor can we make such comparisons regarding succeeding generations.

Let us rather give praise to the Master of All, and recognize the kindness done to us by Al-mighty G-d. For today, we have (thank G-d) a complete set of teachings, the teachings of Chassidus, a G-dly edifice. "Fortunate are we! How good is our portion, how pleasant our lot!"[32]

At May 18, 2008 at 8:03:00 PM EDT, Anonymous AF said...

So, the fact that Shammai studied Hillel and rejected his opinion (obviously) means that Hillel's words are not part of Torah? That's ridiculous.

Nobody is saying that Chabad is the only teaching which is good and is the only path to Hashem. Stop repeating the same "all paths lead to Hashem" etc., etc. That is obviously true. And non-Chabad tzaddikim are exactly that -- tzaddikim. The question is: which way in our generation will give more strength and more depth on a path towards becoming a beinoni and bringing geulah (yes, I know, very Chabad-influenced language... use whatever alternative you want)?

Chabad Rebbeim argue in their works that a Jew's service must have in itself a component of intellectual study of Hashem's relationship with the world, intellectual understanding of this, meditation on this (preferable before prayer) and incorporation of the intellectual understanding on it in one's everyday avoidah (how to do it is also explained by the Rebbeim). If a Jew does not contemplate upon Hashem, His Unity (Higher Unity within Hashem's Light and Lower Unity of Hashem with the worlds), the spiritual dimension of mitzvos, the role of mitzvos in Seider Hishtalshelus (and in revelation of Hashem's light), on topics of dira be'tachtoinim and ein od milvado -- if a Jew does not study all these topics in a structured manner (just how he, iy"H, studies nigleh), does not think about them, does not discuss them with his fellow Jews, does not incorporate them in his everyday avoidah, then yes, according to the opinion of Rebbeim (from Tanya to the Rebbe's sichos and ma'amorim), there is something missing (despite the fact that obviously everything else that such a Jew does is still connecting him to Hashem, albeit not in the greatest possible manner). Not only that, but according to Reb Chayim Vital's opinion (repeated by the Rebbe Rashab and the Frierdiker Rebbe), he is delaying the coming of Mashiach.

In addition to actually bringing light in, there is a question of dispelling darkness. Some people feel like some non-Chabad Rebbeim are more "in the trenches" with their audience through their teachings than Chabad Rebbeim. It is an argument of Chabad Rebbeim that one needs to cure a source of disease, not run around curing symptoms. One needs to reveal the greatest amount of light of Hashem in one's neshama in a pnimiyusdike way, and the light will dispell all darkness automatically.

It is as simple as that. It's not about the Chabad Rebbe's shape of hat, shape of his beard, whether his miracles were greater or whether his ahavas yisroel was greater. It's not about labels and "my rabbi is greater than yours". It is a question of belief that all of what I listed in the previous paragraph must be present in one's yiddishkeit. If you find it to such an extent and depth in the teachings of other Chassidic rebbeim, gezunter heit. If you don't agree that a Jew needs to have all those things in his yiddishkeit (and many Gedoilim did not believe that -- but it is a question of whether their opinion is the most appropriate "psak" in our generation), gezunter heit, as long as you have an intellectual reason for disagreeing.

Pluralism in Judaism and Torah is a beautiful thing. One needs not lose a sight of the reason why it is there to begin with, however. Too much focus on pluralism can be a detriment. It is not about you or your "group"; it is not about me or my "group" -- it is about Eibeshter and some people's (logical) arguments about the best way to connect to the Eibeshter.

As to the comment of studying Chabad Chassidus with "gedoilim" and not appreciating it, all I can say, I am sorry to hear that. It is my firm believe that whenever somebody tells me that he was taught Math or, lehavdil, Gemara, and did not like it, it means that he did not have good teachers, or that his teachers did not find a key to his seichel. Chabad Chassidus is not about liking some derech emotionally and connecting to it. It is about understanding intellectually, in a cold and calculated way the truth. Vedal.

Finally: as Ludwig Wittgenstein said, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent". Whenever anybody says things like "Chabad's focus on the ma'alos of Chabad Chassidus is connected to mishichism", he is revealing his complete ignorance of Chabad Chassidim, Chabad Chassidus, Chabad meta-Chassidus (Chassidus about Chassidus), and mishichism. Just stop spreading labels around and stop making assumptions without further investigation.


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