Friday, May 16, 2008

"Don't Be Surprised Every Other Group Claims Something Similar"

(Illustration courtesy of

TZ commenting on "Consider What We Are All Doing Here":

While it is true that the Lubavitcher Rebbe who was much greater than me in all ways said all these things in this Kuntres, we have to remember two things he was the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the leader of Chabad.

That said, off course he is going to say that only Chabad Chassidus teaches you in this special way and that only Chabad Chassidus nourishes the soul etc. He is the leader and representative of Chabad!

In many sichos the Rebbe breaks Chassidus up into two parts: Chabad Chassidus and what he calls Chassidus Polin. This misnomer seems to group all other forms of Chassidus as eclectic and different as they are under one umbrella.

Again with all respect to the Rebbe Z"L anyone who studies Chassidus knows that Noam Elimelech, Likutei Moharan, Kotzk Izbitz Radzin, Ziditshov Komarna, Hungarian/Romanian Chassidus etc. are not the same.

The Rebbe himself must have known this, so why the grouping?

I would assume its as follows.

Chabad claims, and has always claimed, that their Chassidus is the real authentic continuation in the chain of Baal Shem Tov - Maggid - Ba'al HaTanya, etc. (Don't be surprised every other group claims something similar, for example in the introduction to Bais Yakkov Radzin it says the same idea switching the Rebbe Reb Melech for the Baal HaTanya and keeping it going through the Chozeh to the Yid HaKodesh to Izbitz but you get the idea).

In Chabad you have the story told how the Baal Shem Tov and Maggid visited the Alter Rebbe in prison and heard him say over a Ma'amar and said that he says Torah just like they did.

Anyway, Chabad also calls their leaders Nasi something no other Chassidus does, and most Chabad chassidim I have met when they said it says in Chassidus X or Y and Chassidim do X or Y they mean Chabad.

So lets not beat around the bush, Chabad philosophy is clear that Chabad Chassidus is superior, the Lubavitcher says it in his sichos comparing it to Polin and its clear in the Kuntres as well.

However that's Chabad's opinion.

I was not mekabel that this derech is the superior or better one.

Its as valid as any other.

The bottom line follow your Rebbe and your derech.


At May 16, 2008 at 7:21:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Discussing the differences in the approaches of Breslov and Chabad, a Breslover rabbi once told me, "While Chabad seeks to mikarev (bring you close) you to Chabad, Breslov seeks to mikarev you to the Ribbono shel Olam".

While I know that ultimately Chabad is also seeking to bring people close to the Ribbono shel Olam, from my experiences it seems to me that Lubavitchers are often unwilling to accept the fact that Chabad Chassidus is but one path to Him and not the only path. When I juxtapose my experiences with Chabad to my experiences with Breslov, I have never had a Breslover dissuade me from learning the seforim of other tzaddikim.

At May 16, 2008 at 9:08:00 AM EDT, Blogger Akiva said...

ASJ - while I agree with your comment, as a Lubavitcher who has spent some time with friends in a Breslev yeshiva, I can say that (in general) they are no more familiar with another chassidus than your average Lubavitcher.

Instead of learning the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch, they're learning Likkutei Halachos (Reb Nosson I think?) Instead of learning Tanya, they're learning Likuttei Mohoran, etc.

Recently, my co-blogger, who has learned both Chabad, Viznitz, and Breslev, was bringing a section of Tanya to explain a concept presented in Likutei Mohoran, and the rosh yeshiva himself stopped to listen, saying he'd never known that such seforim could support each other (and had never looked at Tanya himself).

It's a pervasive standard, our path is The Path. And all others are probably ok, I guess, maybe, but are definitely secondary to ours. I submit that most groups, whether chassidic or not, follow that.

At May 16, 2008 at 9:19:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thank you for your interesting comment, Akiva.

I encourage others to read more on this topic in my Q&A with Akiva from last September here

At May 16, 2008 at 9:47:00 AM EDT, Blogger Hirshel Tzig said...

maybe it's me, but I see that all Baalei Tshuvah by Breslov become Breslovers! whether it's from Arush, or Shuvu Bonim, or Odesser's crowd, they all become Breslovers very quickly. So maybe that Rabbi was being a bit disingenuous.

At May 16, 2008 at 1:03:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will we stop playing the game called "My Rebbe is better yours ? "

As far as I'm concerned, we have to completely erradicate these types of discussions becuase they stem from wanting to prove our own derech is Emet. I believe the emet is the derech that your following at the moment for you and only you.

Now what to do with contradictory statements from Tzadiqim concerning Chassidus ? I inspire myslef from Rabbi Nachman and he says that if you heard or read it then somewhere Hashem is telling you something that you have to chouva on and guess what, since we are all involved in this disucssion - we all have to do chouva!

At May 16, 2008 at 1:11:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Just as I wrote that Chabad Chassidus is but one path to Hashem and not the only path, this could equally be applied to Breslov or any other form of Chassidus.

At May 16, 2008 at 1:11:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saying that when the Rebbe said something it was because he was the leader of Chabad is ridiculous and insulting. What he said was not just his opinion; it was Torah.

People are not playing the game "my rebbe is better than yours". Stop for a second, cool down your political correctness-inspired emotions and actually read what the Rebbe is saying. Stop thinking emotional in a way of knee-jerk reflexes; start thinking intellectually. The importance of learning Chabad Chassidus has been explained in detail in many places. Yes, it was explained by Chabad Rebbeim, but they were Chabad Rebbeim because they understood this importance, not vice versa.

At May 16, 2008 at 1:19:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Menatzpach said...

If everything the Lubavitcher Rebbe said was Torah, can one infer that if a person did something contrary to what the Rebbe said, that the person was going against the Torah and thus committing an aveira? (e.x. buying a stuffed teddy bear for his child)

At May 16, 2008 at 1:27:00 PM EDT, OpenID bahaltener said...

I can say that (in general) they are no more familiar with another chassidus than your average Lubavitcher.

This is because they aren't familiar enough with real Breslover mesoyro and approach.

Reb Michl Dorfman za"l (you can find out about who he was) used to say, that even Breslover bochurim in Ukraine used to have regular sdorim for learning sforim of talmidey Baal Shem Tov and talmidey hoMaggid, (this goes without saying that this was in addition to their regular sdorim for sifrey Breslov).

At May 16, 2008 at 1:39:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Jertain in the Curtain said...

I'm confused! Did the Baal Shem Tov and Maggid teach CHAGAS Chassidus?

At May 16, 2008 at 1:54:00 PM EDT, Anonymous R' Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel said...

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 judgement 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 belive 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 whatsover 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 16, 2008 at 2:02:00 PM EDT, Anonymous zezmir said...

A Chabad Mashpia once told me:

The Baal Shem & Maggaid are Toros D’Kesser; the Vitebsker, Baal HaTanya (and his heirs) are Toros D'Chabad and Chassidus "Poland" is Toros D'Chagas.

I asked him about Breslov - and with a smile he said, "If I was a Breslover over I would say higher than all the above, but since I'm not I'll tell you that we consider it like the Baal Shem & Maggid as Toros D’Keser."

At May 16, 2008 at 2:27:00 PM EDT, Blogger Adam said...

Behaltener, you may have a bit of a point.

There are various flavors of Breslov, ranging from the kehillah of Rav Schick, shlita, to Nach-Nachers. I think that anyone who is drawn to the derech of Rebbenu Nachman, zal, would place a lot of emphasis on his works. The question is to what degree this would lead to the exclusion of other Chassidic works, or other Jewish works in general.

The various Breslov groups, and one could even say individual members of these groups, have different views of how to approach this question. Some areas of study, such as the daily study of Shulchan Auruch and Halacha, and avoiding philosophic works, are clear in the writings of Rebbenu zal. Apart from that, he placed an emphasis on a broad level of knowledge within Judaism, essentially covering everything from the Tora, Mishna, Talmud, commentaries, legal codes, kabbalah, and mussar.

As such it seem that one could (and should) study the works of other Tzaddikim as a Breslover. Certainly it is hard to imagine that the first generation of Breslover Chassidim would be unfamiliar with earlier Chassidic works and the works of other rebbes of that generation. Contemporary Breslover Chassidim I have heard speak or met have often quoted from the works of other rebbes and, interestingly, quoted from nussar sources even more.

I guess much depends on the individual. For a Breslover with limited time and/or limited abilities, he may be better of sticking to Breslov works for Chassidus. After all, he has all the rest of Jewish learning to cover! But for the rest of us, it seems that having a familiarity with other works would be a good thing.

At May 16, 2008 at 2:33:00 PM EDT, Anonymous zezmir said...

Anon 1:11,

You must be kidding me. The only place that I have heard more warped logic than your comment above was from Christian missionaries...

Wow, ASJ, there is so much insanity out there!

(And I'm a Lubavicther, not that it matters)


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