Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Question & Answer With Dixie Yid - "My" Sefer

A Simple Jew asks:

More than a year before I returned to my family's shtetl, I called a seforim store in Brooklyn and ordered a copy of the sefer. The sefer than sat on my book shelf untouched until one day I sat down with a local rabbi and we began to learn it a little bit here and a little bit there.

The sefer then returned to my shelf again until one day I decided that I would go through every page. And that is exactly what I did; never letting a day go by without learning from it. Day after day, month after month, year after year, I return to it and bring a copy along with me wherever I go.

With the determination of a miner who is convinced that he will discover gold, I seek to deepen my understanding of this sefer. I continually search for locksmiths who can teach me how to unlock this tzaddik's teachings.

Sometimes a locksmith may become discouraged at the daunting task and suggest we work on a lock he has previously picked. However, I have no interest in the locks that he is overly familiar with. They are his locks and not mine.

Do you have a sefer that you consider to be your sefer? If so, which sefer is it and why do feel such a personal attachment to it?

Dixie Yid answers:

My favorite sefer right now is the Meor Einayim by Reb Nachum Chernobyler. I don't think that my connection to this sefer is as strong as yours is with your sefer, but I do feel very attached to it.

It all started several years ago when I was living in a (Jewishly) small town working in klei kodesh, doing G-d's work. I felt that I lacked any center in my avodas Hashem. It was just a mitzva here and a mitzva there, with no real mesorah or derech avoda, path in serving Hashem, behind it. I sought out the advice of a Rav I consulted with periodically and he suggested that I start a phone chevrusa with someone to reconnect to the Yeshiva system again.

At that time I was going through over 100 tapes I had bought of drashos in Chassidus by Rav Moshe Weinberger and so I thought that since I had never learned Chassidus before, I would like to try that. So I called up a Chassidshe Rav that I had met while in Kollel and asked him to learn something with me. He suggested Meor Einayim. I had to call about 7 or 8 seforim stores, but I finally found one that let me pay by credit card and would ship it to me. By the following week I had it and we learned a few pieces in it.

The phone chevrusa did not work out long-term, but about two years ago, I picked up the sefer and just started learning various pieces on that week's parsha. The feeling was unbelievable.

I felt like I was in a Batman cartoon. SLAM! WHAM! BANG! Every few lines, Reb Nachum Chernobyler was hitting me with mind-bending revelations about the deeper truth and meaning in the universe. After every half-paragraph I felt like I needed to take a break just to digest what I'd just read. My head was spinning. I love it when a sefer takes me down the rabbit hole into a new perspective on how to see the world that I never would have imagined existed.

There are some things that I see in the Meor Einayim that I have great difficulty coming to terms with, and though I have no personal or family connection that I know of with Chernobyl, the Twerskys or New Square, I relish that feeling of going deeper and deeper into things that the Meor Einayim gives over.

Because I'm a Meor Einayim pusher, a few friends have been exposed to it and one particular friend has started a chaburah in which we're learning it. So B"H, besides learning it on my own, I have ongoing opportunities to learn this great sefer. Anyone else have a favorite sefer? If so, which sefer and why?


At November 13, 2007 at 5:47:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel quite the same with LM and Likutey Halakhot fro, R. Natan of Breslov...
In spite of a social proximity with chabad, and despite all my best efforts, I couldn't and can not feel such connected to tha Tanya or maamarim from the Chabad rebeim... Even the wonderful sihos from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, that are very interesting and full of chidushim yafim, do not attract me such as Rabbi Nahman and R. Natan's books...

At November 13, 2007 at 6:12:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz said...

I think for myself, if the Baal Shem Tov had written a sefer, that would be my sefer. (the existing compilations don't count for me---they seem mixed up to me. (insignificant flea that I am!))

Because that sefer doesn't exist, I feel like I'm spending all my time trying to hunt down pieces of that sefer in all the other Hassidic works.

I spoke with a friend once about taking all of the major Hassidic teachings and creating a fusion of Hassidut equivalent (in scope and style) to the midrash, the mishna, or the zohar..

At the same time i'm also feeling a tremendous connection with the Torah of Yisrael and Yerushalayim. (Talmud Yerushalmi, Rav Kook, Pri Haaretz, etc)

I feel like I'm connecting to a Torah that hasn't been fully revealed yet, (to me, maybe everyone else already knows about it) and it reminds me about what Dixie Yid posted regarding the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh and the light of Moshiah unifying diverse streams of Torah.

At November 13, 2007 at 7:53:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yitz, i feel so close to what you're saying... Rav Levy Saadia Nahmani, zatsal, wrote a few years ago a book about the needs to unify all the parts of our people in order to bring Mashiah. He also wrote that Hashem "doesn't understand" the meaning of "litai", "chabad", "knitted" or so, but only "shema ysrael, Hashem...1 Ehad"...

At November 13, 2007 at 9:57:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Would you share with us the identity of your sefer?

At November 13, 2007 at 10:03:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...


I thought it was understood and obvious to most people who read my blog, that is why I did not mention its name.

At November 13, 2007 at 11:19:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry. I have just recently become a regular attendee.

At November 13, 2007 at 11:20:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Degel Machaneh Ephraim

At November 13, 2007 at 1:08:00 PM EST, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Great post and question.
For me, the sefer(seforim set) that I feel most close to would be Michtav M'Eliyahu (R Dessler). I was fortunate enough to learn the 1st volume w/ my Rebbe in E"Y, and both the 2nd and 3rd vols with my Rebbe's father, who learned bei R Dessler himself. Only after we had gone through the evrit was I even allowed to look into R Carmel's beautiful translation, STRIVE FOR TRUTH. These seforim set me on fire and very much helped shape my outlook and aproach.

Mesillas Yesharim, when I first opened it, was also mindblowing, but that discussion is for another time.

At November 13, 2007 at 1:21:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil, on page 78 of the book "Warmed by Their Fire", I noticed this story:

"Rav Dessler speaks a lot about philosophy. Today's bachurim need to hear only about emunah!"

I asked Rav Chatzkel [Levenstein] if I could share his feelings with Rav Dessler. "Of course," he replied.

A few days later I visited Ponevezh and met Rav Dessler. He immediately invited me to eat lunch in his home, an invitation that I accepted.

We spoke a bit, and I and I mentioned that I was a talmid of Rav Chatzkel. When he expressed reverence for my Rebbe, I asked him if I could share words of critique besheim my Rebbe.

"From Rav Chatzkel?" he asked, "For sure!"

He leaned forward eagerly to hear what Rav Chatzkel had said about him. I explained that Rav Chatzkel felt that the new generation had to hear more talk about emunah, and less philosophy.

Rav Dessler listened.

Then he spoke. "Of course Rav Chatzkel is right; today one should only speak about emunah. But to be able to speak only about emunah and still make a roshem, an impression, one must be a Rav Chatzkel!"

At November 13, 2007 at 1:26:00 PM EST, Blogger Neil Harris said...

R Dessler, I've been told by several people, also kept a Tanya by his shtender. :)

At November 13, 2007 at 10:01:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I would like to learn this sefer with you as i learned it many times and still finding Chidushim.

At November 13, 2007 at 10:03:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Meoyr Einam too, and I too miss a seyfer from Baal Shem Tov himslef.

At November 13, 2007 at 10:18:00 PM EST, Blogger rabbi ehrlich said...

well the baal shem tov was way abov us all. and the talmidim of his split in diferent ways in bring his teachings to us. so one can choose to go Tshernobyl way (Meor Einayim) or Tanya Lubavitch or many other ways. but one cant at the same time mix these ways because they are so diferent.

At November 13, 2007 at 10:23:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ways may be not, but learning sforim of all Baal Shem Tov's talmidim - surely yes.

At November 13, 2007 at 10:26:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also note, that many ways don't exist today anymore (in a form of certain groups I mean), while sforim - are still here. Except few which exist even today as a way in Chasidus and a group that pursues it, and not just in external form.


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