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The Somewhat Litvshe Yid

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


So, why should I start blogging? What's the point? What can I add to the blogosphere in general and the Jewish, or more correctly, the frum Jewish blogosphere in particular?

I don't really have an answer to tell you the truth. I will say what I would like to do here.
1. Fight a losing battle or two.
2. Teach some Torah
3. Learn some Torah
4. Get various issues off my shoulders and into the public domain.

As a clarification about the losing battles...I'm referring to two things. One, the Chassidification of Judaism. Please, don't get me wrong. I'm not going to hold anything against Chassidishe Jews for being Chassidishe. More power to them. My problem is when Litvshe Jews start acting like Chassidishe Jews. The Rosh Yeshiva is now a Rebbe in all but name in most Yeshive circles. This is a very new development and goes against the traditions of Lithuainian Jews. Allow me bring illustrate this point with a true story.
When Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer ZT"L passed away, his son-in-law, Rav Ahron Kotler ZT"L was asked to come be the titular head of Yeshivas Aitz Chaim in Jerusalem, to take the place of his shver, as he did in Slutsk/Kletzk. So for several years R' Ahron came to Israel in the summers to give shiur in the Yeshiva. When he gave his first shiur the talmidim behaved in their usual fashion, arguing and yelling back and forth with the maggid shiur. One specific talmid set there with his feet up on the table listening to the shiur. R' Ahron started yelling at him about his lack of Kavod HaTorah. The talmid looked R' Ahron in the face and said "when the Kletzker Rosh Yeshivah is worthy of Kavod HaTorah, he'll get Kavod HaTorah". The talmid then proceeded to take R' Ahron's shiur apart. On the spot R' Ahron arranged a shidduch with his daughter.
That was a Litvshe gadol. That was a Litvshe talmid. You can't prove your svara all the way through? I don't have to accept a word you say. Just because you're the Rosh Yeshiva doesn't me you're holier. You're only holier if you can out learn me and there is no Chazakah. You have to prove it, all the time.
Today the frum world has become kol kulo Chassidishe. You can't disagree with the Rosh Yeshiva...when he speaks it's Da'as Torah and you're just a simple yid. It doesn't matter if what is being said is illogical.
The other issue is the monochromatic bent of the Yeshivshe crowd. Once more we'll take a look at Lakewood in the 50s. The only people wearing black hats and suits were the Rosh Yeshiva and top Rebbeim. Otherwise no two people were dressed alike. Look at the pictures of Mir from the Shanghai days. Maybe 3-4 black suits out there. Granted, all the pictures are in black and white, but you can see the gradiations of color amongst the dress of the talmidim. Everyone dressing alike is another in road of Chassidus into the Litvshe world. While this may seem like an issue of chitzonius, it's not. It's the willingness of the people to supress their individuality. From my point of view this is a complete negation of the Tzelem Elokim. To quote Brian..."You're all individuals!".

So those are my battles, trying to bring some sanity back into the frum world.


  • U gonna post on Daas Torah? For a shtarke litvishe yid this will be a big one, though there has been quite a bit of work on it in the modernish world recently.

    What conclusions do you draw about the growing conformity in dress and thought?


    By Blogger The Rabbi's Kid, at Wednesday, June 01, 2005 11:33:00 PM  

  • Of course I'm going to talk about Da'as Torah. The question is, of course, what is defined as Da'as Torah? Is it halachah? Is it hashkafah? Is it trying to mix the two together? I do think it's a problem when people are told what they have to think. As far as conformity goes, I'm on record saying that it is b'geder bitul HaTzelem Elokim sh'bo. The gemara (which I don't know off hand, but I will site the appropriate source when the time comes) says: Just as HaShem created people such that no two look alike, so he created them so no two think alike (or something to that effect). HaShem wants us to be different from one another. We should celebrate that.

    By Blogger Litvshe, at Thursday, June 02, 2005 9:29:00 AM  

  • great blog, just discovered it.

    you're right about this, keep it up!

    By Blogger anonymous, at Thursday, June 02, 2005 4:01:00 PM  

  • Great idea for a blog. Welcome to the bloggosphere.

    By Blogger LTF, at Friday, June 03, 2005 12:26:00 AM  

  • In re the point about RY being treated like rebbes: it was not long ago I was learning at the local community kollel, when one of the yungerleit rushed in with his 3yr old son wrapped in tallis, and took him over to the rosh kollel so the latter could snip a few locks for his upsherin!

    Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I'm under the impression this is a distinctively chassidishe minhag.

    By Blogger LTF, at Friday, June 03, 2005 12:37:00 AM  

  • The last poster is correct re the offshearing custom being a Hassidic thing. It was opposed by the Steipler (as reported in sefer Orchos Rabbeinu), the Brisker Rav (as reported in uvdos vihanhogos liveis Brisk) and other Ashkenazic gedolim, and is still opposed today by Ashkenazim who follow the Ashkenazic way. See Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz volume three for a comprehensive survey of the issue. Some ignorant Ashkenazim have forgotten or never knew their shita and mesora on this, lo oleinu, and have therefore blindly followed the Hassidic custom which is against their mesora. But such people who don't know it are not the arbiters of what our derech is and need to be properly educated and corrected.

    By Blogger OJ, at Monday, June 06, 2005 9:49:00 PM  

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