Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Question & Answer With Moshe David Tokayer - Hiskashrus

A Simple Jew asks:

Can a person who feels an attachment to the sefer Sfas Emes but whose family does not come from the shtetl of Ger, or who does not come from a family of Gerrer Chassidim, attain the same level of hiskashrus to this tzaddik as someone who already has this ancestral attachment? Simply put, can a person whose family comes from the same place as a tzaddik attain a higher level of hiskashrus than a person born in another location?

Moshe David Tokayer answers:

The hiskashrus a person has with a tzadik, or with anyone for that matter, is a spiritual connection that has little to do with the family he comes from or the place he was born.

Reb Chaim Volozhiner explains that our souls are a part of a spiritual hierarchy. People's souls are not equal. There are souls whose roots are higher in the spiritual hierarchy and those that are lower. This allegory views the souls and shefa as top down, the highest being on top. Chazal also use an allegory which views the level of souls from innermost to outermost with the holiest souls being the innermost. In this view, just like each of us has a soul which is enclothed in a body, lower souls can be considered the "body" of higher souls. In this view the holier soul is viewed as being "inside" the lower soul. The highest or most innermost soul is that of Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe Rabbeinu, therefore is included in all of us. This is the reason Chazal tell us that Yocheved gave birth to 600,000.

The important point is that the lower souls receive shefa from the higher souls. We all receive shefa from the soul of Moshe Rabbeinu. In fact, the Vilna Gaon says that in every generation the soul of Moshe Rabbeinu is enclothed by the tzadikim and ba'alei Torah.

If a person feels a special connection to a specific tzadik, therefore, it is because he is receiving shefa from that tzadik's soul.

Personally, my family has no connection that I am aware of, with the Sfas Emes, Ger or Gerrer Chassidim and there are certainly others who give the same underlying messages as the Sfas Emes. Yet the Sfas Emes resonates with me to an extent I cannot explain other than this spiritual explanation.

Historically, too, people were drawn to Chassidishe Rebbes regardless of the towns they lived in. My great grandfather, for example, lived in Transylvania yet he was a Belzer Chassid who would make the trip to Belz for Rosh HaShanah. I'm not 100% sure but I strongly suspect that there were plenty of others who were drawn to various Chassidic Rebbes even though they were not from the Rebbe's home town.


At October 16, 2007 at 6:26:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how might this work, with one actually being a chossid of chassidus A and feeling a deep conection to a sefer from Chassidus B?

At October 16, 2007 at 8:23:00 AM EDT, Blogger Moshe David Tokayer said...

I am far from an expert on the various streams of Chassidus, where they agree and where they do not. However, for two Chassidus which is relatively close in ideology there should not be a problem. For example, the Sfas Emes quotes the Tanya and Likutei Torah often. So, a Gerrer Chassid who feels a connection to Lebavitcher seforim should not have a problem.

If Chassidus A and Chassidus B clash and a chassid of A feels a deep connection to B, he probably has bigger issues to deal with than whether to learn B's seforim.

The bottom line is, each person needs to figure out the path that's best for him to come close to the Rebono shel Olam. This is absolutely key. And someone who is honest with himself will draw the proper conlusions and act on them.

At October 16, 2007 at 9:11:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz said...

i've come to a realization lately that a lot of pashtanim/litvaks really connect to the sefer Sfat Emet. (many people who don't want to know from chassidut still appreciate and learn the Sfat Emet)

At October 16, 2007 at 9:26:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add to that the same kind of people's fascination with R Tzodok HK.

At October 16, 2007 at 9:46:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Besht did teach that nothing happens by accidents and that veryone and everything we meet is in some way connected to some root on one's neshomo. If so, if one had come from a particular place, it is possible to be more connected to a rebbe who also comes from that place.


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