Monday, May 18, 2009

"Dry" Chassidus

(Picture courtesy of

The other night, a friend who has recently become interested in Chassidus asked me about some Chassidishe seforim. He told me that he had recently purchased a number of the well-known early classics, tried learning some of them with his chavrusa, and quite honestly found some of them to be rather "dry".

I explained to my friend that a person cannot approach learning Chassidshe seforim in the same manner that he approaches running on treadmill. Although a person may see tangible and immediate results from routine physical exercise, learning Chassidishe seforim requires true humility, and depending on how accessible the sefer is, it may require years of perseverance, sometimes with little or no noticeable gain.

I advised my friend not to become discouraged by a perceived lack of progress since sometimes the progress remains hidden for a significant amount of time. I shared with him my experiences learning Degel Machaneh Ephraim and told him that his situation is analogous to a pregant woman in the early weeks of her pregnancy. A foolish person might say that she is absolutely no different than any other women around her since outwardly there is no sign that she is pregnant, yet inside her their is a life growing larger and larger with each passing day.


At May 18, 2009 at 1:44:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Talmid said...

Tell him to listen to what Rav Moshe Weinberger said on lag BaOmer. The link is here .

At May 18, 2009 at 7:30:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Space Cadet said...

I would ask him which seforim he has learned in the past that he did not find "dry." Then maybe it would be easier to suggest specific Chassidishe seforim that would be more on his wavelength.

No Chassidishe seform are inherently dry. It is like shidduchim -- there has to be some "chemistry," that's all!

At May 19, 2009 at 10:26:00 PM EDT, Blogger Menashe said...

I agree with Space Cadet. I seem to recall your interview with a shliach about where to begin learning Tanya. Even within such a small sefer there is such a multitude of approaches to begin with (a mussar background should begin with Iggeres Hateshuva, a haskala background should begin with Shaar Hayichud, and everyone else should begin with Likutei Amarim.) Surely there is something, nay, much out there that can ignite him very soon if only the proper material is presented.

At May 20, 2009 at 8:06:00 PM EDT, Anonymous yaakov said...

dry chassidus vs wet chassidus??
or, is "wet" chassidus filled with mayim chayim??

i think one of the best introductions to chassidus is stories of the tzadikim. even martin buber's collection is excellent. re sforim. maybe a person shouldn't just 'buy sforim', but spend some time looking through some books and find one or two he feels a connection or inspiration from.

someone bH gave me the tanya and i loved it, still do. i don't do it methodically..i move around in it. i also like 'torah on the line' daily tanya.

it took me years to be able to actually possess a vol. of likutey moharan. it was so intense i often couldn't even read more than a few words! now, bH!! i love it and am gradually learning.

chassidus is very precious, as is torah itself...if a person is bezH interested they should definitely go with what sparks them...these sparks will add up to a warm fire.


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