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Author:  Rager
E-mail:  Rage@themachine.aol
Date:  7/21/2004 10:20:00 AM
Subject:  My answer to Lazer
Message:  Second posting...

I'd like to answer Lazar's slanders, errors, and complaints.

Lazar wrote:
::Rav Moshe, in his teshuva (OC 2:24), specifically states that we can't criticize the Chasidim who changed their nusach for they certainly had reason to permit doing so.::

This is wrong. Look it up. In his Teshuva Rav Moshe says specifically that he does not beleive that the first hasidim had a source or an authority for changing the nusach (though people who daven this way today may follow the minhag of their families) Anyway, use your head, and apply some logic. Does it make sense to you that the Hasidim had the authority to (a) throw out an 800 year old nusach and (b) replace it with a new nusach that borrows heavily from authentic nusach sefard, but is in fact a corruption of that nusach, too? I remind you again that the Hebrew in hasidic sefard is redundant, inelegant, and not nearly so concise as nusach ashkenaz. There are also errors of gramamr. I can give examples of all this.

Some other points that must be addressed:

:: This fellow basically repeats all of the standard anti-Torah garbage::

Anti torah? Iis it really anti-torah to remind people that the Spanish Rishonim opposed superstition, valued secular wisdom, and had views on kabbalah that, to put it gently, would be considered left wing Conservative, in our day? (Some example: The Rambam wrote that there was no kabbala, and Yitzchak of Acco considered the Zohar to be at best, the work of Moshe De Leon, and at worst a fraud) Is it your opinion that the Spanish rishonim were anti-Torah? Do you realize what you are saying?

:: (the reference to Spain is very deliberate, as it leaves out the purportedly "anti-rationalist" Baalei Tosafos and their "ilk").::

Of course it was deliberate. Twenty-first century Orthodoxy can trace a direct line to the rishonim of ashkenaz, and of course this line, and this heritage is authentic, genuine Judaism. But the Spanish Rishonim were also authentic and genuine. I would like to know why the line to Spain has been broken and ignored -- to such an extent that you, in your fit of self-righteousness, can call someone “anti-torah” simply for mentioning them!! Though you accuse me of revising history, I sense in your post a troubling, ahistorical strain. It may surprise you to learn that there were once many “flavors” of authentic Judaism. This idea that all "real" "torah" Jews look, think, and act the same is very new. It’s a “Brooklynization” of Judaism that the sages would neither have recognized nor respected.

:: The accusations regarding the new customs from "idol worship and paganism" is a standard canard of the secularists in their attack on the mesorah and kabbala.::

Please do your own research. The red string has origins in North Africa, where it was used to ward off demons. Bonfires were used by European Christians to honor their saints 400 years before the Hasidim came into existence, and upshirins were performed by Muslims (who brought the hair of their sons as sacrifices) at the tomb of Samuel Hanavi at least 200 years before the Sefad achronim decided that this custom had kabbalsitic origins. And there are many other examples.

:: The absolute confidence that "rager" has that blaming the Holocaust on Reform (or any group) is "most foul" and "foolish" runs in the face of the entire concept that God controls events and that evil only befalls the Jewish people when they sin.::

Hanistorot l’hashem elokenu… anyone who blames the holocaust on a particular group is either God, or carrying an agenda. Lazar, unless you are God himself, I must conclude that you fall into the latter group. You have no right to blame Reofrm – or anyone else – for the holocaust.

:: Moreover, the equation between Reform and Chassidus is absolutely absurd::

There was no equation. I was simply pointing out that if those who blame the holocaust on Reform were interested in honesty (and not their agenda) they would see that their smug arguments could easily be applied to Hasidut.

It’s important to recall, that Hasidut did teshuva, so to speak. The first two generations, as has been shown by many scholars were not focused on halacha (and the peasant people who were the very first Hasidim cared little about halacha, anyway) Until the Alter Rebba, Hasidut was about amulets and cures and dancing and joy… or to put a positive spin on it, hasidut was about finding ways for the ignorant, peasant masses to connect with Judaism. It was not until the Alter Rebba that halacha began to be emphasized, and it was not until the Alter Rebba that true halachists (rather than Ball Shems and Maggids) became involved in the movement. The Vilna Gaon did not rage against this later incarnation. He raged against the first generation, a generation that had more in common with Reform than you seem to realize. But again, by the third generation Hasidut recognized the authority of halacha; reform never came back. This is an essential difference.

:: Nevertheless, despite the heated rhetoric, the Chasidim were totally committed to the beliefs and practices of Judaism, and the matters of dispute were generally on relatively subtle issues (permissibility of changing nusach and some esoteric Kabbalistic issues).::

Incorrect. Among the issues of dispute during the first two generations were: the role and uses of kabbalah; zemanim; the introduction of new customs; including dancing and acrobatics during davening; the role and authority of a “rebbe;” the centrality of Torah-study; the centrality of respecting your community and the leaders of your communities (the Hasidim created break away minyanim, and house shuls. Though this is accepted today, at that time it was a very contentious issue. The Hasidim won on this point obviously, but it is important to remember that at this time, the mainstream authorities were opposed to this practice.) I’ll add that a Talmid of the Gaon (Pinchas of Plotzk) wrote a long polemic in which he accused the Hasidic leaders of everything from drunkness and lewdness to ignorance and debauchery.

Lazar writes well, but he thinks like a Brooklyner. He’s swallowed whole several senseless arguments about hasidut, and Jewish history, arguments he’d never accept if they were made about irreligious subjects. He romanticizes Hasidut to the point of absurdity, and his claim that a Judaism that looks for guidance the Spanish Rishonim is “anti-Torah” is offensive in the extreme. I thank the abadis for publishing his words; and I hope others will follow my lead and join me in explaining why Lazar’s argument is riddled with errors and absurdities.

Reply:  Nobody on this planet says that Chassidim and Reform are on the same level. You can eat in a Chassidishe person's house, but you cannot eat in a Reform person's house. Simply, because they are not shomer Torah U'mitzvos and are therefore not trusted to use only kosher food. Chassidim are shomer Torah U'mitzvos and therefore you can eat by them. They may confuse issues, may follow the wrong leaders, may do strange things, may hang out in bad places, may waste alot of time in the Mikva, may look down at you, etc.. But, they never said the Torah changes with the times.
Please, don't post a bunch of examples of .....
Take my point at face value without tearing it apart becasue I am commenting on the overall issue not the deatils.
[FYI - The fact that someone "davens" in a reforn place (I will not use the word Synagogue) does not automatically unkosher his home.]

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