Friday, February 22, 2008

Question & Answer With Yirmeyahu - Sanzer Chassidus

A Simple Jew asks:

How does the Sanzer approach to Chassidus differ from the approach of other groups?

Yirmeyahu answers:

I must preface my answer with the unequivocal fact that I cannot claim to speak of Sanz Chassidus, or any Chassidus, but I’ll share my thoughts as an observer.

The question of what is unique about each Chassidus is a bit ambiguous, much as the question of what is different about Chassidus from non-Chassidic Orthodoxy. It can be easier to perceive the difference than to articulate them. The differences that aren't "superficial" are generally those of emphasizing common values differently.

Nevertheless it seems to me that there is a clear focus, Sanz Chassidus emphasizes the unequivocal primacy of traditional Torah learning.

I am not certain that, had you asked this to the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe zy'a, that he would have conceded that there is a difference. While the Besht extended opened arms to the uneducated this was not meant in the slightest to depreciate the value of traditional Torah study. "The disciples of the Besht expended much effort to do "kiruv" by teaching all Jews to return to Teshuvah and educate their children with proper Chinuk. However, the inner circle of the disciples of the Besht were Gaonim in learning. Most held important positions and disseminated Torah learning amongst the masses." (Derech Chaim, end of chapter 11). Compare this to the words of the Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim 5, 24, 6).

The Rebbe zy'a continued discussing the importance of classical Torah study in chapter twelve of Derech Chaim. There he cites one of the earliest Chassidic authorities, the Rebbe Reb Elimelech who says, "First and foremost, a person must study Gemara with Rashi, Tosafos, and other commentaries, each person according to his abilities. This should be followed by the study of Poskim, beginning with the study of Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim." (Seder Hanhagos HaAdam).

Baruch Hashem, today there are many great classical works on Chassidus that can help us draw closer to Hashem. The Chassidic world has also produced some important Sheilos u'Teshuvos, Responsa literature. One very important work is the sh'ut Divrei Chaim by the Admor from Sanz. In it contains a very important psak on adopting Nusach Sefard. It also has noteworthy teshuvos in connection with constructing Mikvaos and other topics. The Divrei Chaim's son, HaRav Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam zy'a also has a number of Teshuvos which have been attached to his work the "Divrei Yechezkel". The Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe zy'a published seven volumes of teshuvos under the title "Divrei Yotziv". Another work of responsa called "Yashiv Yitzchak" has been published by HaRav Yitzchak Shechter shlita, a Rosh Yeshiva in Kiryat Sanz. "Divrei Moshe" is a work of Responsa by the prominent Posek and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Divrei Chaim in Yerushalayim, HaRav Moshe Halberstam zt'l, who passed away recently. The "Divrei Yoel" and the "Minchas Eliezer" also have ties to Sanz.

The first Admor of Bobov, HaRav Shlomo Halberstam zy'a,who had been raised by his grandfather the Divrei Chaim of Sanz founded the first Yeshiva in Galacia. Prior to then students learned in small groups in the shteiblach. While the Divrei Chaim noted and supported this phenomenon, the first Rebbe of Bobov recognized that with the rise of the haskala the structure provided by a traditional Yeshiva was necessary.

The Klausenberger Rebbe zy"a founded Mifal HaShas, a program where men would study 20, 30, or seventy blatt of Gemara a month on which they are tested. The stipends are tied to test performance. Shortly after my conversion, when my wife was pregnant with our son whom we planned to name after the Rebbe zy"a, we spent several months in Beitar Illit. At one point I asked some friends we had make what they knew about the Rebbe zy'a since at the time finding such information was much more difficult than even now. My friend pointed out the street we both lived on was named "Mifal Hashas" after the Rebbe's program. Although I had read of the program I hadn't been familiar enough with the term to make the connection.

I think Sanz-Klausenberg has been very successful in maintaining focus on traditional Torah learning as a prerequisite for Chassidus. But I do not think anyone in Sanz would claim that this is the exclusive domain of Sanz Chassidus but rather essential to Chassidus.


At February 22, 2008 at 11:03:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you elaborate a bit further concerning why there were problems between Sanz and Ruzhin and Sanz and Belz?

Why do Munkatch and Satmar see themselves continuing the Sanzer derech?

At February 22, 2008 at 11:29:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Rebbes of Munkatch and Sighet were chasidim of the Sanzer Rebbe and subsequently of his son the Shiniver Rebbe. The Halberstams and Teitelbaums were extensively intermarried. The Shiniver Rebbe, in his first marriage, married the granddaughter of the Yismach Moshe - and he lived in the home of the Yismach Moshe for many years. The previous Satmar Rebbe (R' Moshe Teitelbaum) was the grandson of R'Sholom Eliezer Halberstam - second to the youngest of the Divrei Chaim's sons. What is amazing is that R' Yechezkiel Shraga of Shiniva - saw 5 generations of the Teitelbaum family - the Yismach Moshe and his son, the Yetev Lev, the Kedushas Yom Tov and the Satmar Rebbe R' Yoel ZY"A.
If you study the Sifrei Minhogim of Sighet / Satmar and Munkatch, you will see they all considered themselves ongoing Sanzer Chasidim.
From Simcha

At February 22, 2008 at 11:53:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Could you elaborate a bit further concerning why there were problems between Sanz and Ruzhin and Sanz and Belz?"

Baruch Hashem I'm not a baki on such things. I recall the Divrei Chaim having issues with a certain Rebbe, but I don't recall the details enough to be of much use.

I do know that the Shefa Chaim makes relatively frequent references to the Sar Shalom of Belz zy'a.

"If you study the Sifrei Minhogim of Sighet / Satmar and Munkatch, you will see they all considered themselves ongoing Sanzer Chasidim"

I didn't realize that they would actually identify as such. I was once purchasing some seforim and one of the sets which I intended to get was unavailable. At the last moment I decided to get the Divrei Yechezkel and Sh'uT Minchas Eliezer (Munkatch) instead. As I began skimming the supplemental material which is included in the Divrei Yechezkel I found that there was a significant connection. The Minchas Eliezer refers to the Divrei Yechezkel as the "Rebbe's Rebbe". Later I read "Klausenberger Rebbe: Rebuilding" (Thanks to both ASJ and DixieYid who made sure I caught it) which noted, as I recall, that the Klausenberger Rebbe zy'a learned under the Minchas Eliezer for a while.

At February 22, 2008 at 12:41:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frequent references to Sar Sholom of Belz - The Divrei Yechezkel - although son of the Divrei Chaim - considered himself a Belzer Chosid and R' Sar Sholom to be his Rebbe.

There is a two-volume set of seforim solely about the Divrei Yechezkiel and his decendents published in E"Y in loshon hakodesh. There is much interesting material and extensive footnotes. I will come back to this site on Sunday and post the name and details B"N.

The Satmar Rebbe R' Yoel, when asked, often attributed his minhogim to Sanz. He also had a bekeshir b'yerusha from the Shiniver which he wore Ever Y"K.

The importance of learning in Sanz cannot be over-emphasized. The Sanzer Rebbe, when placing tefilin on a bar-mitzvoh bochur - would tell him to go home - to fill himself with Sha's and poskim - and not to return till his chasuna.

From Simcha

At February 23, 2008 at 5:00:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think there's a connection between what you wrote and the fact that these branches of Chassidus have essentially lost what chassidus is (they themselves udmit it, the Satmar Rebbe said it himself, that the Baal Shem Tov's derech is forgotten)? Perhaps, because they lost chassidus, they had no choice but to essentially become litvaks...?

What disturbs me about it is that now they make it seem as if that was the Baal Shem Tov's derech... Many stories, such as this one, seem to indicate that that was not his derech:

At February 23, 2008 at 10:03:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a long discussion, but in general I got an impression, that Tzanzer Rebbe was disappointed with development of Chassidus, and probably out of concern of profanation, he "trimmed" many mystical aspects of Chassidus, moving them back to pre-chasidic views. You can ask experts in that, I'm not so thoroughly familiar with Tzanzer history.

In this sence Munkatch is pretty different, coming from the Bney Yissoschor (who was the talmid of Reb Tzvi Hersh Zhiditchover ztz"l) Munkatch has a big focus on Kabolo and inner aspects of Chasidus (at least historically. Today Munkatch probably can't be compared to pre war one).

There was a fierce conflict between Tzanz and Rizhin, that led even to charomim and etc. (I'm not exactly sure what was the cause, some said it was a negative view from Tzanz concerning Rizhiner royal style. If so - today everything is in reverse - i.e. Tzanzer/Bobover etc. style is very royal today).

At February 23, 2008 at 11:33:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Perhaps, because they lost chassidus, they had no choice but to essentially become litvaks...? "

Nu? The Rebbe Reb Elimelech is a Litvak?

Or the Ba'al Shem Tov?

"When you study, pause briefly every hour to attach yourself unto [God], may He be blessed. Even so, you must study. In the midst of study it is impossible to cleave unto God, blessed be He. Nonetheless one must study because the Torah furbishes the soul and is “a Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it.” (Proverbs 3:18) If you do not study, your deveikut will cease.Tzava'at HaRivash

Study is four hours, breaks are brief.

"You must always be occupied with Torah, for it is “a Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it” (Proverbs 3:18). When but conversing and relying on the deveikut, however, be very careful not to lapse occasionally from the deveikut. " Tzava'at HaRivash

An Am HaAretz cannot be a Chasid. The Ba'al Shem Tov did not come to start a new religion. Yoreh Deah 264:4 isn't overridden by ideology.

At February 24, 2008 at 6:51:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok Yirmiyahu, you got me here with your mekoros... I was under impression that al pi derech haBaal Shem Tov, Limud haTorah must always be with dvekus... Are there other sourses that say it?

What about the Baal Shem Tov's letter, where he sais: "...your way shall ever be in the presence of G-d and never leave your consciousness in the time of your prayer and study. Every word of your lips intend to unite: for in every letter there are Worlds, Souls and Divinity..."

A Yid, do you have anything to say about this?

At February 24, 2008 at 11:32:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am unfamiliar with the citation you have given, but at any rate I am not the right person to try to reconcile them. I'm sure there are others here who are much better equipped to do so.

What I can say with confidence is that we cannot accept a caricature of the Ba'al Shem Tov as some sort of Robin Hood who takes spirituality from the Talmidei Chachamim and gives it to the Amei haAretzim. According to the quotes I brought, or to those you brought, Torah Study is necessary.

I'm not sure where to find it but I recall that Sudilkover Rebbe instructed ASJ to include Ein Yakov to his daily learning seder because a Jew has to learn Gemara.

At February 24, 2008 at 1:59:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My citation is from here:

Of course learning is nessecery. Sanzer derech sais: go learn, without emphasizing the spirituality/dvekus that must accompany it. (Do they even encourage taking brakes "every hour or so" to attach oneself to Hashem?)

From the citation I brought, it even seems that the Baal Shem Tov wants us to ALWAYS be in dvekus when learning...

-"...some sort of Robin Hood who takes spirituality from the Talmidei Chachamim and gives it to the Amei haAretzim..." - The Baal Shem Tov never meant to take spirituality away from anyone - he just showed us that true spirituality can be found even in an uneducated shepperd who blows his whistle in shul on Yom Kippur... And yes, his sincere blowing can be more effective than davening of the whole kehilla of talmidei chachamim (I'm sure you know the famous story). Of course one has to learn. I think the Baal Shem Tov did want to show us that one's learning has to be sincere, otherwise it's not worth much... (Dvekus is somehing else however...)

At February 24, 2008 at 7:13:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the issue is not learning vs not learning. The issue is, should be the mystical chasidic practices taught and practiced by masses. Talmidey Baal Shem Tov held that yes. It was the integral part of chassidus. After the inner crisis of Chassidus developed, some tzadikim (like the Rebbe) held that it has to be struggled with, while others (like Tzanz) decided to drop those things out of concern. But this is just a guess, as I said again - someone who is an expert in Tzanzer history can explain it better.

At February 25, 2008 at 8:23:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Yirmeyahu: This is the posting you are referring to.

At February 25, 2008 at 12:23:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sanzer derech sais: go learn, without emphasizing the spirituality/dvekus that must accompany it."

I would like to remind you that the post was about the focus on traditional Torah learning in Sanz and it was to that which you challenged Sanz as being off the derech of the Ba'al Shem Tov. It was only after I cited the Ba'al Shem Tov that the topic of devekius became involved. I get the impression that this is more about marginalizing Sanz than anything else. If you take a look in the index of Divrei Chaim you will find that discussion of devekius is not at all infrequent. The Shefa Chaim explains that the reason we have so few Gedolei HaTorah today despite so many spending fifteen to eighteen hours a day learning is because they are weak in their tefillos.

You say, "Of course learning is nessecery" and the truth is I'm sure you believe it and more than likely you are much more successful in your learning than I. In that phrase, however, I hear a platitude. Perhaps not from you but maybe its the same language you've absorbed from those you've absorbed such a dismissive attitude about another Chassidus. Learning is not just "necessary". No "of course" is goes without saying. No ifs ands or buts. When the importance of learning Torah because a platitude, such "deveikius" is suspect. I sincerely hope that I am correct in assuming that the tone I hear is only that, a tone.

ASJ, you know that this type of response was one of the reasons I was very hesitant to answer you publicly. Please feel free to remove my comments if you feel I'm getting too...whatever.

At February 25, 2008 at 12:32:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You should post that link to the "Sudilkover Rebbe's Advice" section

At February 26, 2008 at 8:01:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yirmiyahu (if you're still following this post): If anything, it's my comments that may be getting too... whatever... I don't think your comments are offensive in any way.

Few disclaimers: First of all, I really have nothing against Sanz and no intention of marginalizing it whatsoever. What I was trying to do is try to understand the truth of it, what's going on behind the surface...

"... focus on traditional Torah learning in Sanz and it was to that which you challenged Sanz as being off the derech of the Ba'al Shem Tov."

No. What I challenged was the seeming exclusivity of it. Saying to a bochur "Fill yourself with Shas and Poskim and don't come back till your chassuna" implies a departure from the Baal Shem Tov's derech. If I understand correctly, it means only Shas and Poskim till your chassuna, no sifrei chassidus, no Zohar, no hisbodedus (not that it's assur, but no encouragement, and definitelly no instruction on such...) Well, that's a LITVISHE derech... till the chassuna... But after the chassuna, with the bochur set in his ways, will he really come running to the Rebbe to learn the Baal Shem Tov's derech...? So after a few generations, the Satmar Rebbe himself admitted that the Baal Shem Tov's derech was forgotten...

The Sanzer Rebbe may have done it out of concern of profination, like Behaltener suggested... Contrast that with the famous story of the Alter Rebbe and his mashal of the kings son who got sick, so they had to crush the kings crown into medicine, and then pour it into his shot mouth (with most of it getting spilled to the floor) in the hope that a few drops will get through...

Not looking to marginalize anyone. Just some things to think about...

At February 26, 2008 at 1:40:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sandzer oppossed what he saw as the modern fashions of the Ruzhiner women. The men too were influenced by contemporary Western fashions and styles. This was the outward reason for the fight. From a Marxist view the Sanzer saw the Ruzhiner as a potential threat to his hegemony over Galicia. The Ruzhiner were also opposed to the Austrit mentality while the Zanser supported this separatist mentality.

I beleive the real reason was that the Zandzer based his chassidiuth on learning on Nigle. The Ruzhiner based his chassidus on the cult of the zaddik on hishkashrus. saying Chassidus and certainly Nigle played little role in that chassidus until after WW1 and then only in the case of Reb Moshele Boyaner.In many ways I think Ruzhin is Chabad lite, the chassidus is just roshe perokim of Chabad and the hiskashrus is all important. The Ruzhiner and his children practiced the Russian brand of Zaddikism the zaddik was ALL and hishkashrus was the goal. The Sandzer and his followers were learners and to them the zaddik was important but learning also played a role. No Ruzhiner was ever a rabbi (not the Sadigerer, Husyatner, Czortkover, vasluier, Bhusher, Rimonover,Stefaneshtisher, Spikover etc) while almost all Zandzer kinder were rabbonim (with the notable exception of the kadsoh rav Sholom Leizer halberstam of rRazfert the second youngest son of the Divre Chaim who was never a rav.). This in itself says a lot. Of course in our times distinctions are lsot. there are Zandser branches that act sort of like Ruzhin and some Ruzhiner pretenders who would like to be zandzers.

At February 26, 2008 at 3:58:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. The correct name of the Munkacser ZT"L was Chaim Elazar and his famous sefer was Minchas Elazar, not Eliezer.

2. The idea of Sanz vs. Ruzhin as a turf war was not substantiated by the commenter who speculated about it. The founders of Sanz and Ruzhin got along very well. Reports of off-derech behavior by at least one later Ruzhin/Sadigora family member alarmed the Sanzer Rav ZT"L and escalated into a major conflict.

3. As far as I know, Austritt in the sense of withdrawal from a formally sanctioned, government-supported general community was not a concept relevant to Galicia. The situation was different in Prussia/Germany (where the term arose) and Hungary.

At February 26, 2008 at 5:26:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If one reads Yitzchok Eben's sefer about the machlokes ( in Hebrew) and Shia Rocker's reponse " Rav Chaim Halberstam " ( another Yiddish monograph) , one will note that although the sandzer had the greatest personal regard for the Heilike Rizhiner , the same may not have been true about the second generation of dynastic leaders and people about these 2 zaddikim. And these people were worried about inroads made by Rizhin in the Chasidic community in Galicia.
While the Austrit philosophy was never put into place in Galicia , Reb Cahim and his children stood 100% behind the orthodox Community in Hungray ( an Empire of which galicia was also part
of). The Rizhiner dynasty was much more open minded, sympathetic to Zionism , in certain areas like Bukowina its leaders supported attempts at Tora Im Derech Eretz yeshivas and in general was more of an Amcha Big tent inclusive Chassidius. In the inter war years in MOldavia many if not a mjority of Rizhiner chassidim were not that frum, but firmly beleived in the rebbes like the Bhusher, Spikover and the Holy Stefaneshtisher rebbe.
The story of the Liover was used as a smoke screen by many of the Sanzer chevra to fight the Royal lifestyle of Rizhin. In fact the Liover returned "home" and shalom al Isael.

At February 26, 2008 at 8:16:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Galicia in the period under discussion was administered by the Austrian portion of the Austro- Hungarian empire, while Hungary (including areas in today's Slovakia and Romania) had its own parliament, bureaucracy, etc.


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