Tuesday, September 28, 2004

On Erev Rosh Hashanah and Erev Yom Kippur, I do my ritual ablutions at a fresh spring on the outskirts of a neo-chassidish baal teshuvah village near My Little Town. The difference between Jewish soul music and Shiny Shoe music is very roughly analogous to the difference between a natural spring in the forest and a grimy subterranean mikveh. It can't be a coincidence that this village is a center of neo-Carlebach soul music and that a new spring seems to appear in its vicinity every other month.

I love these guys. They harken back to something authentic in early chassidus that got lost in transition and at the same time are profoundly funky in a way that FFBs are simply incapable of achieving. This can be a risky combination for child-rearing, but I'm envious nevertheless.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was NOTHING authentic about early hasidus. Haven't you ever heard of the Vilna Gaon? Did he hate them for his health?

You appologists have got to realize that in the very begining hasidus was a wrong turn, and a bad mistake. It was well on its way off the derech until the Alter Rebba took it by the horns and pulled it back, reminding the oh so enthusiastic early hasidim that, hey, halacha matters.

2:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously Bat Ayin. I drive there all the way from Jerusalem to use the maayan there. If prophecy returns to Israel it will probably start with kids raised there. The Avoda Ivrit conciousness is also incredibly impressive.

5:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of a little eatery they have there called Gavne. Great food & great setting!

David (treppenwitz)

12:21 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

I love that place. If they'd serve pastrami, I'd have a regular table.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Eman said...

First comment: I assume that's you, Dope. You're like a disease. Leave Ben alone.

Ben: Funny story about the village of which you so fondly speak. We had a young BT living in our home for about six months. She was the ultimate refuge-from-the-60's-artsy-flower-child. She really needed to get to Israel and we arranged for her to study at the girls school at the village. We assumed it would be a perfect place for her.

After a couple of months she transferred to a mainstream BT seminary in J'lem because the seminary in the village was too 'out-there' even for her!

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps Ben will deign to explain why he used the word "authentic" to describe a radical movement that was fiercely and mightly opposed by the leading halachic authorities of the time.

It isn't an impertinent question. I'd like Ben's view.

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uh, he wrote "authentic in early chassidus" not "authentic."

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, I don't know who you are, but I'm pleased to see you. I thought *I* was a misnagid, but I see that I have a ways to go.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just stating the facts. I had no intention of starting a controversy. Ben called early hasidus "authentic" ("authentic in early chassidus" suggesting that the first hasidim tapped into something genuine.)

If this is true, what was radical about their movement? Why did the Vilna Gaon move heaven and earth attempting to stamp them out? Is Ben suggesting that the Gaon was wrong to oppose them? Is ben suggesting that whatever the Hasidim had that was "authentic" was unknown to the Gaon? Does he think these first Hasidim had something to teach the great leader of European Judaism? Had HE lost something authentic?

I'd like to know.

10:57 PM  
Blogger MoChassid said...


It seems that you have inherited 'Dope' now that i am on sabbatical. aren't you lucky.

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My questions aren't rude. MoChassid just refuses to think deeply about Hasidus and refuse to recognizes the movement's internal paradox.

Ben, please: Why did the Vilna Gaon go to war with people who had discovered something "authentic" about Judaism?

12:18 AM  
Blogger lev bar natan said...

maybe the gaon was actually wrong? like rabbi akiva was about bar kochva, as reported extensively in the gemara, which still considers him one of the greatest figures of torah sheba'al peh)? like he and his spiritual descendandts have been wrong about alomost every important issue since (eg the holocaust, secular studies,the jewish state, and yes, hassidus (how many chassidim survived the haskalah religiously intact, relative to the misnagdim?)

gut erev yom tov to all

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Gaon was wrong. Interesting. Is that you view Ben? Was the authority of Europe wrong? The implications here are staggering.

Perhaps, the Gaon was right and Hasidim did teshuvah in subsequent generations?

Or perhaps the Gaon was right, the hasidim did not do teshuvah, and, therefore, we are doomed, as the hasidim continue to conquer Judaism.

You say the Hasidim came out of the holocaust religiously intact. This supposes that they were "religiously intact" before the holocaust. One wonders.

Also, you forget that the hasidim had geography on their side. The misnagdim were in Poland, in Lithuania, in France, and in Germany. Those areas were detroyed first. (and yes, Russian hasidim were brutalized here, too)

The hasidim who "came out of the holocaust" were in hungary and in romania. These areas were hit last, at the very end of the churban.

6:15 PM  
Blogger MoChassid said...


He said they came out of the HASKALAH more intact, not the Holocaust. That's a fact.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are assuming the Haskala, was in fact, something to be avoided. This is by no means clear. Intelligent people can and have argued both sides. But, you wouldn't be a fancy-pants lawyer in a nice big house without the haskala. Ben wouldn't be living in Israel or applying probability to halacha without the haskala. We wouldn't be communicating in English without the Haskala. And if the real, hard-core hasidim in williamsburg and monsey would lower their holy selves to acknowledge the haskala, perhaps they would not be cheating the government in order to survive,* but that's a discussion for another morning. Today, I wish to hear from Ben on Hasidus

* Please don't tell me it isnt true. It is true, and in very large numbers. Section 8, welfare, medicaid, and medicare fraud is rampant in both places, and without this fraud there would be large-scale homelessnees and starvation in both places. (or there would be a tremendous tzedaka burdon on us, the corrupt sinners who did profit from the Haskala and its lessons. They won't marry our daughters or let us daven for their amud, but our money is green enough for them, isn't it?)

6:53 PM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

Ben won't be answering you today because it's already yom tov and since he's the ancestor of good Chassidishe Yidden, he has not been corrupted by the haskalah and still keeps shabbos and yom tov.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's a decendant, not an ancestor, and the fact that he (1) speaks english (2) studiess history (3) knows math among (4) many others things about him, tells me that somewhere, sometime, he or his ancestors encountered the haskala. Keep talking. We'll see you know even less about the haskala than you know about hasidim - if that was possible.

And now playing in MoChassid's brain: This... does ... not... compute. Was.... taught haskala = bad and hasidim = good. Can't... understand... other view.... Must... not... open... mind. Must... not... study... history... Must ... not... think. Me.... Jew!! Must... have... kugel.... ahhh.... kugel... good. Me... happy... now.

9:41 PM  
Blogger MoChassid said...


Don't forget chicken soup and carlebach niggunim.

BTW, how can I be a "fancy pants lawyer living in a big house" and a simpleton at the same time? Help me, I'm too simple to figure it out.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could probably be a good lawyer without knowing too much. Nobody said all lawyers had brains.

Likely you went to law school and paid attention. We can tell from all your scribling though that if you ever went to Jewish history school you spent the whole time dreaming of kugel.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He said they came out of the HASKALAH more intact"

This is tiresome. Once you take the numbers who converted or identified as Reform and Neologen into account and the relative numbers killed in the Holocaust into account, you see that chassidus conferred no special protection against the holocaust. How long are chassidim going to dine out on the fact that a) conversion, Reform and Neologen were not options in Lite and b) that 85-90% of litvakes died in the Holocaust?

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, above, I meant to write that it conferred no special protection against HASKALAH. The notion that misnagdim were specially susceptible is myth based on cultural differences in how the Haskalah effected groups in different countries.

Hassidim didn't do any better fighting irreligion in preWWII US than misnagdim did, either.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To spell this out. People ignore the large numbers who converted in Hungary, and those who joined nonOrthodox movements and were essentially lost, and look at what is most visible: a large group of observant Hungarian chassidic survivors. So they conclude "chassidus worked against the haskala."

People then look at Lite, and speak of the large numbers of atheists etc in preWWII Lite, and conclude that hisnagdus didn't work. They forget that there were no converts to speak of in Lite, and no Reform movement there, so - unlike in Hungary - all the irreligious get counted. Once you take Hungarian irreligious into account, there is no difference in preWWII Lite and elsewhere in numbers who abandoned Orthodoxy due to the haskala.

Then people turn to post Holocaust situation, and say "where are the surviving Orthodox misnagdim"? They forget that there are so many fewer misnadische and Orthodox unaffiliated survivors of the war - they were there before the war, but they lived in areas that were hit first and harder.

The area where misnagdim survived was the US, and there they appear to be mostly irreligious -- this is because in every group, chassidic and nonchassidic, in preWWII US, people abandoned orthodoxy. There were just more litvakes and nonchassidim here than in Hungary in the first place.

The only real thing you can say is that when Chassidim came to the US en masse postWWII, they were able to form communities, institutions and etc more easily than others b/c they functioned as kehillas, and this gave them a real advantage in the postWWII environment. Nonchassidim owe them a debt. None of this has much to do with chassidus, as an ideology, surviving haskala. It has to do with the ability of a kehilla to pick up and reroot itself in a new country.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was right, Mochassid was wrong. Thanks, rabbi doctor anon.

Also, in important ways, the hasidim were affected by the haskala in the way all of us were. It got through the door cracks and once it came in, there was no beating it back. And look at the results. Real-Hasidim now educate their girls, speak english and more. In lubovitch they are virtually indistiguishable from non-hasidim - most go to university, and study Judaism and TOrah using modern methods. Meanwhile, soft-core-phony-hassidim like moochassid dip into both worlds and take whatever they like, all the while paying lip service to the glories of hasidism.

None of that could have happened without the influence of the haskalah.

11:10 PM  
Blogger MoChassid said...


In my experience, the BEST lawyers know nothing. That's why I'm so good. All I do is sit around all week thinking of Friday night kugel and chicken soup. When my clients ask me questions, I just make stuff up and sound authoritative and for some strange reason they believe me. Sort of like a blog.

And, I only listened the bare minimum in law school. I just figured out how to take tests, kicked butt and got a good job. I actually made fun of the losers who studied all night.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All that matters is that I was right and you were wrong. Haskala wasn't evil, and it didn't save the hasidim. If the question is Jewish history you don't go to a lawyer for the answer, I can see.

That was a funny post you just wrote, by the way. Probably because it was mostly true. I can just see you like Homer Simpson going, hmmmmm, kugel.

2:22 AM  
Blogger MoChassid said...


I'm glad it makes you happy to think you are right on the basis of an anonymous blogger who sounds like I do when instructing clients.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That "anonymous blogger" made perfect sense. It is stupidity in the extreme to believe that hasidut afforded special protection against the haskala. If the Nazis had charged into Hungary and Romania first and left Lithuania and Germany for the end (allowing the residents of those areas to survive in large numbers) would you be saying that being a msinagid protected them?

Using your specious and rediculous logic you'd be forced to take that position.

Also, it's the hight of absurdity for an (1) english speaking (2) lawyer who lives in a (3) big house, (4) participates in Ohel, (5) sends his girls to school and (6) and his kids to learn in Israel (7) and who went to college and (8) will send his kids to college and (9) more to insist his holy life was untouched and unifluenced by the haskala. I mean come on.

True you know nothing about history and the haskala did encourage Jews to learn history, so you do have that on your side. But otherwise you, sir, are a product of the haskala like every other Jew alive today.

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Using your specious and rediculous logic you'd be forced to take that position."

Because the only reason you think that hasidut protected from the HASKALA is because you see all these hasidim and think: hmmmm, kugel, I mean, hmmmm, lots of frum hasidim, must be that the haskala couldn't touch them and make them not frum.

When really you see all those hasidim simply because they survived the holocaoust in bigger numbers, and they only managed to do that because of who Hitler attacked first and last. So thank Hitler for all the hasidim. His choice is what protected them. Not their hasidut.

Had Hitler wiped out the haisidm instead, you'd see all the frum misnagdim instead and you would think: hmmmm kugel, I mean, hmmm lots of frum misnagdim, must be the haskala couldn't touch them.

4:56 PM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

I no longer can determine which one of you is Dope:

In any event, (without reference to whether it is true or not historically), please explain logically why it is 'stupidity in the extreme' to believe that chassidus could have afforded special protection against the haskalah. Would you agree that fewer chassidim as a percentage go 'off the derech' than, say, MO yeshiva kids? Why isn't that stupid in the extreme? You may disagree that it actually happened that way with the haskalah but that does not follow that it is stupid in the extreme to believe that it did.

I am not disputing the results of the Holocaust; that was never the issue. But YOUR logic is all screwed up. The results of the holocaust prove nothing (either way) about the haskalah and its relative effects on chassidim/Litvish.

Also, you have read into one simple statement an entire megilah of my beliefs. Show me where I said I wasn't influenced by the Haskalah?

Finally, why are you guys taking me seriously? Nobody takes me seriously. I'm just doing this to annoy you.

11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MOChossid, the relevant comparison is not Chossid to MO, because MO is by definition already influenced by haskolo. It's how many from the right-wing nonChassidic world were influenced by haskala vs how many Chassidim were.

Comparison with the contemporary situation in the US is not very helpful (but fwiw, the group with the most dramatic attrition is probably Satmar).

The other mistaken premise here is that in Europe those who weren't chassidim were misnagdim or "litvish." The vast majority of Jews were unaffiliated with either chassidus or hisnagdus/litvishkeit.

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am not disputing the results of the Holocaust; that was never the issue. But YOUR logic is all screwed up. The results of the holocaust prove nothing (either way) about the haskalah and its relative effects on chassidim/Litvish."

You miss the point. The facts contradict your position - in fact, chassidim were lost to the haskala in droves. The reason this is news to you is due to the Holocaust - the most prominent survivors were Hungarian, and religious Hungarian Jews were primarily Chassidic or became Chassidim in the US. Therefore, it looks to you and other chassidic triumphalists as though, before the holocaust, the Jews who stayed religious were more likely to be chassidic. In fact, Hungarians have an affinity for chassidus (probably it's more an affinity for kano'us).

12:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We kicked his butt, so now he says he was only joking. What a cop-out. (Meanwhile, on Hirhurim he takes credit for everything.)

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will Reb Ben explain why he called Hasidism "authentic."

1:12 AM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

You guys think that if you repeat your arguments enough times it makes them correct. You may be correct about the Haskalah. You may not. (I actually couldn't care less about this issue because it's so irrelevant. In fact your question to Ben is so irrelevant) All I said in my last comment is that your logic is totally faulty in terms of PROVING the point.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MOChossid, we take you seriously because we know that inside every Jew there is a pintele litvak that needs to be encouraged.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We love you Mo. We worry about you Mo. We wish you a speedy refuah shlayma from your hasidism. Also, you lost on the logic points, so maybe you could have listened in law school? I'll explain

You say:
a - Hasidim beat the haskala b/
b - we see them.

b - we see them
c - because hitler didnt kill them

d - Hitler not killed the misnagdim, you would
e - see them, and be forced to argue
f - Misnagdim beat the haskala

Anyway -
g - many many more hasidim esp in Russis became not frum thanks to the haskala. These are incontrovertable facts.

Ben - tell us why you called the hasidim authentic, when in fact they were a reform.

7:15 PM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

YOUR logic might be correct HAD I said chassidim beat the haskala BECAUSE we see them. I never said anything of the sort. I said chassidim had better success against the haskalah than the misnagdim. That may be correct or it may be incorrect. The holocaust has absolutely nothing to do with my statement and obviously had nothing to do with the impact or the haskalah (and won't even if you repeat the argument 1000 times).

And, your stating that your point 'g' is incontrovertible doesn't make it incontrovertible.

And, thanks for the refuah sh'leimah bracha. It makes me feel so good to know that you guys worry about me.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

::I said chassidim had better success against the haskalah than the misnagdim::

I think you pulled that out of your nose. Where's the evidence to back up the claim? Don't lawyers hold from evidence? Because you said it, I should beleive it? No way. We want some proof. Or at least someone (NOT BERYL WEIN WHO IS AN IDIOT) with credentials who can back you up!

Like all poorly-educated Jewish men, you are just repeating the mumbo-jumbo you overheard at sholosh seudot without stopping to think about it even for a second. Examine your received wisdom, or stop repeating it!!


11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

::I said chassidim had better success against the haskalah than the misnagdim::

I think you pulled that out of your nose. Where's the evidence to back up the claim? Don't lawyers hold from evidence? Because you said it, I should beleive it? No way. We want some proof. Or at least someone (NOT BERYL WEIN WHO IS AN IDIOT) with credentials who can back you up!

Like all poorly-educated Jewish men, you are just repeating the mumbo-jumbo you overheard at sholosh seudot without stopping to think about it even for a second. Examine your received wisdom, or stop repeating it!!


11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does the MoShmo have time to write all these comments? Isn't he busy riding his bike (and telling us about it) and taking care of his foster kid (and telling us about it?)

How will he ride his bike in Israel,if his shoulder is out of joint from all the back patting?

12:02 AM  
Blogger Eman said...

Last Anonymous comment:

Not that I have to justify myself to an anonymous cretin like you, but I've raised more than $10,000 for Alyn Hospital in Israel through my ride (and, yes, publicizing it).

And, if anyone who understands English can suggest that fosterboy is about patting myself on the back, he's dumber than dumb.

Besides, I CAN ride with my shoulder out of joint.

12:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Foster Boy, starring my amazing family, by MoChassid, with occasional guest appearences by the boy himself.

the Cretin.

12:18 AM  
Blogger MoChassid said...


You must be very insecure to have to resort to personal attacks when you fail to make a persuasive argument. Perhaps I should recommend some esteem building professionals.

1:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MOChossid, we take you seriously because we know that there is a pintele litvak inside every Jew that needs to be encouraged.

Re : "That may be correct or it may be incorrect."
It's incorrect. The effects of the Holocaust may or may not be influencing your views; what certainly is influencing you is that those lost to the Haskala in chassidic areas were lost to conversion, Reform, etc. and you aren't taking those numbers into account. When you do, the notion that Haskala had a worse impact on misnagdim is refuted. Get some history books and do the math.

6:37 AM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

I don't do math. Haven't done math since college statistics. Maybe Ben can do math. I think math is his thing.

Wishing everyone a gutten kvittel, a gutten Yom Tov and a Gutten Shabbos, or if you prefer, Chag sameach and Shabbat Shalom.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hag Someach, MO

Please tell us your evidence for statintg that the Haskala had a worse affect on Misnagdim. If you saw it in a book, which book? If you heard it from a noted historian, which historian? This idea is plainly in your head. From where did it come?

Also, Ben authentic = hasidic you said, but why?

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is ben moshe koppel?

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is some real ignorance here.Firstly-german Jews might have been 'hit' by the holocaust first-but they were by far the group that suffered most-more survived than died.
Most Hasidim did die in the holocaust-almost the entire polish hasidic community was wiped out.
Hungarian hasidim were far far less numerous than Polish hasidim- pre war Polish hasidic community estimated at 700 000 souls-Hungarian 70 000 souls.
Nonetheless-the predominance of hungarian hasidim today is not merely the result of the fact that they died less than polish hasidim.
Hungarian hasidim were in fact known as Kanaim prior to the war. The hungarian hasidim were in fact the descendants of Polish hasidim who had moved to hungary to avoid legislation requiring children to learn secular subjects.
lastly there are today numerous litvish jews.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one disputed any of what you add, including the main point - I wrote:
"In fact, Hungarians have an affinity for chassidus (probably it's more an affinity for kano'us)."

No one was discussing German Jews, or pretending that Polish Jewry wasn't decimated -- Polish chassidic Jewry and Polish unaffiliated.

Still, Hungarian chassidim are overrepresented among survivors. You can't conclude that their chasssidus or their kanu'os was effective against haskala, because apart from their location/circumstances during the war, there were large numbers of Hungarians who converted or joined various reformist/Neologen groups. There was nothing similar in Lite.

5:31 AM  

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