Friday, October 06, 2006

"Therefore Any Connection Isn't Deep"

(Painting by Talko)

Rabbi Tal Zwecker continues his comments on The State Of Chassidus Today

This is from a Chabad sefer called Or haChasiduss by Rav Avraham Chanoch Glizenshtein published in 1965 by Kehot

Chapter 3 - Chabad and General Chassidus:

He begins with the following statement I am paraphrasing / free translation rather than direct quotes word for word:

Page 93

"The students of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch divided into two groups: Chabad and Polish Chassidus.

Polish shita or derech is based on reading the verse in Habakuk 2:4 "Tzadik be'emunoso yichyeh - a Tzadik lives by his faith" , as "Tzadik be'emunoso yichayeh - a Tzadik gives life [to others] by his faith." The Tzadik gives life to his followers and those attached to him. Those who are attached should only act, any deep intention and any inner meanings of Torah are only up to the Tzadik, he fulfills their obligation.

Chabad on the other hand says that everyone must toil in the deeper meanings of Torah."

Later on pages 98-99 he adds,

"The path of general Chassidus is Tzadik be'emunoso yichayeh - a Tzadik gives life [to others] by his faith so that one does not need to grasp anything with the intellect. Even connection to the Tzadik isn't through any intellectual means rather its through the sefiros of Chesed Gevurah Tiferes the Midos, only feelings and ecstatic arousal of emotion but his Mochin and intellect have nothing to do with this. Therefore any connection isn't deep. Chabad however demands depth connection by learning the Torah of the Nasi specifically with an intellectual grasp which is why the connection is deep."

UPDATE: Rabbi Zwecker adds:

"Chagas" is just Roshei Tevos an acrostic from Chessed-Gevura-Tiferes. Just as Chabad stands for Chochma-Bina-Daas, the approach of Mochin versus Midos. That's what Chabad emphasizes. While it may be true that "Polish" Chassidus emphasizes "Chagas" in the context of this discussion and from the Chabad perspective, it is a put down where Mochin avodah is seen as clearly deep and Midos avodah as shallow.

The sefer noted above is a collections of sichos from the previous Chabad Rebbe who just passed away, Rabbi Menachem Mendel. I heard these terms from a young 20-something-year-old Chabad meshulach from Canada who had learned and received his semicha in 770 in Crown Heights. He was the first I heard quote from the Rebbe these very ideas. This sefer I happened to get recently from someone a few weeks ago and I was looking through it I finally found these ideas in print. So if a young Chabad rabbi in his 20's knows it, I can safely assume its not just some old outdated idea. While this passage doesn't quote a specific sicha verbatim the sefer constantly quotes from the Rebbe.

Finally, my father in law is Chabad, and as I said before, I study it and enjoy it. I often daven in Chabad of the Five Towns when I am in the States. I think the truth is that every chassid believes his derech is the emes. Breslovers believe that Rebbe Nachman is was and will be the final Tzaddik haDor, Chabad believes their 7 Rebbes are the Nasi, and "Polish" or "Galicianers" believe in their derech.

I remember reading the Radziner sefer Introduction to Bais Yaakov (Its called something like Yesod haChassidus veShoresh haAvodah) there he traces the Talmid-Rebbe lineage of Izbitch Radzin as Baal Shem Tov to Maggid to Rebbe Melech of Lizansk to Chozeh of Lublin to Yid HaKadosh to Kotzk etc. untill he reaches the Radzin line. Notice he equates those as each being the star pupil of the other. But that's his take. Chabad would say that the Baal haTanya was the Maggid's star pupil not the Rebbe Reb Melech and Breslov here is not even on the map. The Chozeh had many great Talmidim and the Yid HaKadosh' break was so controversial at the famous Ostilla wedding, had the Apta Rav not embraced the Kotzker's student the Chiddushei Harim (later 1st Gerrer Rebbe) the other chassidim wanted to put Kotzk into cherem!

Bottom line every group thinks their derech is "the way", however Chabad seems to say that their is "the way" to the exclusion of others. Not elu ve'elu divrei Elokim Chaim. The Halacha has been poskened as Chabad. That's also from that sefer I quoted and a famous Chabad idea that since the Baal HaTanya was a posek he poskened Halacha that Chabad was the derech. As I said I espouse to the middle road the neutralish derech which I believe lets one learn from all the drachim. May we all learn the best of the Torah from all its sources.


At October 6, 2006 at 12:43:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I appreciate what you wrote, I think ALL groups trace their lineage back to Baal Shem-Maggid-Maggid's talmid [Baal tanya, RR Elimelech, etc.]-next talmid [Chozeh, etc.]--till their "line" begins. Modzitz does this too:
Baal Shem-Maggid-RRE-Chozeh-R. Chatzkel of Kuzmir-Zvolin-Modzitz.
I don't know if that means that they consider their way the "ikar" or Only way.

Bottom line every group thinks their derech is "the way", however Chabad seems to say that their is "the way" to the exclusion of others.

I think a indication of what they really think is to see what sefarim they learn, especially the Rebbes. I believe the Chabad Rebbes quoted from others, certainly they mentioned the Berditchever, but I think RR Elimelech & others as well. I've even seen a mention of the first Modzitzer Rebbe in one of the Rebbe's Sichos.

Certainly most "neutralish" Chassidic groups learn OTHER sefarim besides their "own." Breslov? I think they learn from the earlier sefarim [Baal Shem & his talmidim], I'm not so sure they learn from the later ones.

At October 6, 2006 at 4:01:00 PM EDT, Blogger Mottel said...

-"Bottom line every group thinks their derech is "the way", however Chabad seems to say that their is "the way" to the exclusion of others."
I take issue with that statement, to quote the Frierdiker Rebbe:

"The chassidim of Vohlynia-Poland-Galicia were in the habit of comparing pedigrees. Each of these chassidim was always prepared to state that his own Rebbe was superior to someone else's. The practice of Chabad Chassidim is different: we do not dismiss what others consider holy; we simply hold our own to be dear and precious. We maintain friendly relations, even as we remain conscious of our own qualities....

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 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!""
The above is taken from 'Branches of the Chassidic Menorah' -a response to the Rebbe's question, "What is the relationship between the path and teachings of Chassidus taught by the Alter Rebbe and the other Holy Rebbeim, the Nesi'im of Chabad, and the path and teachings of Chassidus taught by our Master the Baal Shem Tov?"
It's two volumes can be found in their entirety on

As well please see the Rebbe's words in from Shabbos Parshas Vayak'hel-Pehudei 5742, and I translate:

"A Polisher Jew once complained to me that in a conversation
he once had with a Lubavitcher, the Lubavitcher made a dismissive sign
when hearing about a concept brought in Polisher Chassidus books -saying
that the main thing is the study of Chabad Chassidus, and not Chagas Chassidus (that of Poland).

I [the Rebbe] said to him, "Ask this Jew that made this remark if he
only has a head, G-d forbid, or does he have hands as well? Just the
opposite, when the hands function properly it is a sign that the head
is well . . . So to when it comes to the relationship between Chabad (the head) and Chagas (the hands) -therefore it is not prudent to dismiss the idea of Chassidus Chagas at all."

At October 8, 2006 at 10:27:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always had a feeling that Chabad overemphasizes this division of Chabad / Chagas, and tends to igonre any other types of Chasidus (whatever the reasons are, chabadniks very often tend to call "poylishers" anyone outside Chabad). I only confirm that this is a common approach from above posts. But it is pretty deficient, because it doesn't describe everithing there is or were in the world of Chasidus. As a Breslover this division doesn't bother me though, because Breslov isn't Chagas, nor it is a Chabad as well.

I remember reading the Radziner sefer Introduction to Bais Yaakov (Its called something like Yesod haChassidus veShoresh haAvodah) there he traces the Talmid-Rebbe lineage of Izbitch Radzin as Baal Shem Tov to Maggid to Rebbe Melech of Lizansk to Chozeh of Lublin to Yid HaKadosh to Kotzk etc. untill he reaches the Radzin line.

As I wrote before, the issue here is not who is superior or etc. but rather it is connected to the problem mentioned earlier (about a spiritual crisis of Chasidus). It seems that Radzin namely, also claimed that they possesed the inner light of Chasidus (in spite of this mentioned crisis).

Yitz: The reason why Breslov learn early sforim is obvious - that's where the teachings of Baal Shem Tov and his talmidim are! Those sforim are the base of anything written later (to a big degree). And it is not that Breslovers don't learn later sforim. Those who have enough time - do. But even the sea of early sifrey Chasidus will keep you busy for a long time.

If sforim of Talmidey Baal Shem Tov are already a lot (All sforim of the Toldoys zy"o: "Toldoys Yakoyv Yoysef", "Ben Poyras Yoysef", "Tzafnas Panech", "Kisoynes Passim", all Toyroys of the Mezhiritcher Maggid zy"o - "Maggid Dvorov leYakoyv" (Redaction of Reb Sloymo miLutzk zy"o), "Likutim Yekorim", "Toyro Oyr", "Oyr hoEmes (Imrey Tzadikim - Redaction of Reb Yosef miYampol ztz"l)", "Likutey Amorim" (redaction of Reb Menachem Mendl miVitebsk zy"o), "Shmuo Toyvo" (redaction of Reb Leyvi Yitzchok miBerdichev zy"o), "Kisvey Koydesh" (redaction of the Reb Yisroel miKozhnitz zy"o) and even more!), than all maymorim of Reb Pinchos Koritzer (this is quire a lot by the way look in new edition of "Imrey Pinchos"), Reb Moyshe Chaim Efraim miSudilkov zy"o "Degel Machane Efraim", Reb Moyshe miDolina zy"o "Divrey Moyshe", and others.

Than talmidey talmidov is already much more - talmidey hoMaggid (I wouldn't even count, you can try yourself!), talmidey Reb Pinchos Koritzer and etc. And a number of sforim of their talmidim is already a vast sea.

And as was mentioned before - something happened to Chasidus, that even sforim changed. What was found in earlier sforim is absent in later. So obviously - earlier sforim are of a special interest, because there you can see this light shining bright. For Breslovers also there is a special interest in sforim which were prior to Likutey Moharan for obvious reasons. But it doesn't mean that later sforim are considered non important. For example Reb Arn Strasheler is popular to some degree amongst Breslovers and sforim of other tzadikim of that generation.

At October 10, 2006 at 1:57:00 PM EDT, Blogger FrumWithQuestions said...

I agree with what Yitz said. I have been to many of the different Chassidic Rebbes as well as learning stuff from Chabad and Breslov. Rabbi Zev Reichman recently came out with a Sefer explaining the different fundamentals of Chassidus based upon what he learned from Rav Wolfson Shlita as well as The Stichiner Rebbe Shlita. Evertime I have heard any of these Rebbes speak or learned any of their Seforim they have always mentioned other sources and well as stories from other Rebbes. Everything from my experience regarding Chassidus has all been intergrated regarding what we should learn from the Torah.


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