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Yeshivish vs hasidic hareidim


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#1 starwolf

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 11:04 PM

The Ashkenazi hareidi world is (somewhat) divided between the litvish and the hasidic strains. This is obviously both philosophical and historical. It seems to this RZMO person that the distinctions are lessening, and the lines are becoming more blurred. Hasidic customs, beliefs, and practices are making huge inroads into nonhasidic communities.

For example, a major defining characteristic of hasidic communitues is the rloe of the rebbe. These days, I don't see too much of a difference between hasidic rebbes and litvish roshei yeshivot in their role in the community-- or at the very least, that difference is becoming less.

I see yeshivish communities becoming more insular. I see hasidic beliefs becoming standard in the yeshiva world in ways that were not true a few decades ago. We can start with beliefs in segulot, in gilgul neshamot, etc. We can continue with customs like the increased demand for a uniform mode of dress within the community.

Will the distinctions between hasidic and nonhasidic Ashkenazi communities continue? Or will the meld together, mostly at the expense of the nonhasidic customs and beliefs?

Or am I just imagining things?

הַתְקַשֵּׁר מַעֲדַנּוֹת כִּימָה אוֹ-מֹשְׁכוֹת כְּסִיל תְּפַתֵּחַ

doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs, and the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.

#2 Snag

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 11:12 PM

I think much of what you said to be true. I take issue, however, with your grouping of gilgul neshamos together with the increased reliance on and practice of segulos. While the latter is, indeed, something the chassidim "borrowed" from sefardic (sic) custom, and only later made inroads into the Lithuanian community, the former, as a belief, is a cornerstone of Lurianic Kabbalah, and, as such, standard fare in the Lithuanian community. Evidence, for instance, the heavy usage of such concepts in such works as Seder Hadoros, which preceded chassidus itself, more or less, let alone the blurring of the lines.

(and because someone will indubitably post evidence of assorted segulah-based practices being found in prewar Lithuanian communities, let me make clear that such practices were found even among the rishonim, and Amoraim, and Tannaim. What starwolf is referring to, according to my understanding, is the incredible increase of segulah usage among chassidim, which has only relatively recently began making its way into the Litvishe communities.)
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#3 starwolf

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 11:40 PM

While I am aware that belief in gilgul neshamot is a legitimate one in Jewish thought, I maintain that it was not as universally accepted in the yeshiva world (a few decades ago) as it is today.

הַתְקַשֵּׁר מַעֲדַנּוֹת כִּימָה אוֹ-מֹשְׁכוֹת כְּסִיל תְּפַתֵּחַ

doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs, and the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.

#4 Snag

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 05:54 AM

While I am aware that belief in gilgul neshamot is a legitimate one in Jewish thought, I maintain that it was not as universally accepted in the yeshiva world (a few decades ago) as it is today.

Do you have any evidence for this assertion? Because it seems to me that , on the contrary, it is the growth of the "rationalist" approach among certain sectors of Ashkenazic Jewry that has spawned the renaissance of the weltanschauung of the Rambam and Rav Saadiah Gaon in these matters.
" All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind."

#5 Indigo

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 06:11 AM

I think the chassidim and other neokabbalists popularized the gilgul theories. The problem is that nonchassidim like the GRA also were into esoteric stuff like the zohar. But that just means that there is a lot of overlap between chassidim and more authentic Jews.

As for the OP, I think it is a two way street bc in some ways as the yeshivish slide into chassidut the chassidim have also slid into yeshivism.

Just like the slide to the right and the concomitant slide to the left.

That said, yeah, from my vantage point, the yeshivish are looking more and more chassidic. Maybe to insiders the differences are vast but to an outsider the differences are inconsequential with the emphasis on torah study by the chassidim and the increasing emphasis on rabbi worship by the yeshivish.

But it is probably because there are few distinct and isolated communities with minhag hamakom anymore.

#6 Chiloni

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 08:33 AM

And even those who wish to isolate themselves are subject the greater tendency towards uniformity, as one can see from sefarim like Piskei Teshuvos, which introduces chassidish practices to Litvakers at the same time as 'smoothing the rough edges' off of the more 'out-there' chassidish minhagim (such as restricting making kiddush on a small becher/only eating a small amount of 'minei targima' for shalosh seudos as per minhag Chabad to 'those who have a mesora from their fathers to do so' or totally disallowing things that lots of chassidim do, such as davening late or eating before davening).

#7 Master Zed

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 02:24 PM

First of all it needs to be pointed out that the two choices are NOT "Chassidish or Litvish" (not that even those two groups are anywhere near homogenous). There were many NON "litivsh" Ashkenazim that were not by any means "chassidish". If anything until, recently they were the majority.

I'm with Snag on the gilgul issue, as well as other Kaballah. Kaballah is NOT a chassidic innovation, and it is very foolish and ignorant to see people (even in the Litvish world) try to rid itself of all vestiges of kaballistic practice. Now maybe the inclusion of kabbalistic inyanim to standard everyday practice is a result of Sefardi and Chassidic influence.

As for the Rebbe issue, I agree that there has been some crossover there, but I would NOT say that the function of a litvish Rosh Yeshiva even approaches that of a Rebbe. What IS clearly a foreign influence is the concept of "Daas Teirah" in its current incarnation, but I think it is more generally spread out to "the gedolim" and not a specific personality. It's more of a collective "Rebbe" instead of an individual.

Uniform dress code is not a new thing AFAIK, though in Europe dress codes were regional and all but irrelevant.
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#8 Dr. Mojo Risen

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 09:15 PM

Im reading One Nation by Rabbi Sacks and he often equates the rise of the chassidish rebbe with the rosh yeshivah. I think he sees that parallel going back 100s of years. Great book by the way.

#9 Indigo

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 09:22 PM

My kid came home with this Friday. This is evidence of the insidious influence of chassidut. Authentic Jews daven mitoch koved rosh and are kalt and miserable.

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#10 starwolf

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 09:25 PM

First of all it needs to be pointed out that the two choices are NOT "Chassidish or Litvish" (not that even those two groups are anywhere near homogenous). There were many NON "litivsh" Ashkenazim that were not by any means "chassidish". If anything until, recently they were the majority.

Keep in mind that I am discussing the hareidi community. this would leave out the western ashkenazic populations; the ones that were more willing to accept and make accommodations with secular thought.

I'm with Snag on the gilgul issue, as well as other Kaballah. Kaballah is NOT a chassidic innovation, and it is very foolish and ignorant to see people (even in the Litvish world) try to rid itself of all vestiges of kaballistic practice. Now maybe the inclusion of kabbalistic inyanim to standard everyday practice is a result of Sefardi and Chassidic influence.

that is all I'm saying. Not that the idea of gilgul neshamot was not legit--but it is now much more widely accepted than it was a few decades ago in the nonhasidic community, IME.


As for the Rebbe issue, I agree that there has been some crossover there, but I would NOT say that the function of a litvish Rosh Yeshiva even approaches that of a Rebbe. What IS clearly a foreign influence is the concept of "Daas Teirah" in its current incarnation, but I think it is more generally spread out to "the gedolim" and not a specific personality. It's more of a collective "Rebbe" instead of an individual.

I did not really mean the function of the Rosh Yeshiva--rather how he is regarded by his community. And that does have to do with daas toireh.

הַתְקַשֵּׁר מַעֲדַנּוֹת כִּימָה אוֹ-מֹשְׁכוֹת כְּסִיל תְּפַתֵּחַ

doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs, and the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.

#11 Snag

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 10:04 PM

that is all I'm saying. Not that the idea of gilgul neshamot was not legit--but it is now much more widely accepted than it was a few decades ago in the nonhasidic community, IME.

What I - and I believe zed - are saying id that the increase in widespread kabbalah based /practice/ may be attributed to chassidic influence, but the kabbalistic belief system is not
" All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind."

#12 starwolf

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 10:28 PM

What I - and I believe zed - are saying id that the increase in widespread kabbalah based /practice/ may be attributed to chassidic influence, but the kabbalistic belief system is not


I don't think that there is any controversy about that. I have a rather extensive library of kabbalistic works, and a great many of them precede the modern Chasidic movement.

הַתְקַשֵּׁר מַעֲדַנּוֹת כִּימָה אוֹ-מֹשְׁכוֹת כְּסִיל תְּפַתֵּחַ

doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs, and the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.

#13 Snag

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 07:03 AM

I don't think that there is any controversy about that. I have a rather extensive library of kabbalistic works, and a great many of them precede the modern Chasidic movement.

Right. So belief in gilgul is not something modem day chareidim adopted from chassidim.
" All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind."

#14 Indigo

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 07:20 AM

Maybe but maybe not. Obviously we adopted the concept of gilgulim from the goyim prior to the rise of chassidut. Chassidim don't own gilgul nor simcha nor kabbalah nor the zohar. But how certain concepts got popularized is complicated.

It is like inventions. When Marconi invented the radio and the claim is we got tge radio from him, there will be competing claims. Bc it is usually not a sudden revelation but rather a development building gradually on the works of orhers.

So simultaneously, just like the radio was being developed in multiple locations due to various needs and influences so too was Hewish thought on gilgulim being developed simultaneousky. The question remains the provenance. And I would argue that we today accept gilgul concepts as legitimate more bc the chassidim popularized the zohar than bc of the gra's esoteric writings.

But een hachi nami, the chassidim don't own kabbalah although they serm to own the discussion. In spite of towering personalities like the Gra, R. Elyashiv the senior and R. Kook.

#15 Indigo

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 07:36 AM

Sort of like bat mitzvah celebrations. Feminists will claim there is a long tradition of such celebrations and will cite the Ben Ish Chai and Italian traditions. But who are we kidding? The provenance is back to the C movement and back to Judith bat Mordechai Kaplan.

And now frummies too have some sort of celebration even if it just a dvar torah at home or friends at a restaurant -- a "kosher" bat mitzvah. But the development still goes back to Mordechai Kaplan, apologetics about the ben ish chai notwithstanding.

And dont forget that chassidim didnt invent very much. Rather it was a change in values and emphasis. So you can almost find a prechassidic source for the aberrations and innovations of the chassidim. But the reason why we do things is because of the force and influence of chassidut.

Take grave visitations for instance. Sure you can cite Lurianic kabbalah. And sure there are chazal'dik sources (which you can count on one hand and have fingers left over) but we do it bc the chassidim popularized the practice.

#16 starwolf

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 07:37 AM

Right. So belief in gilgul is not something modem day chareidim adopted from chassidim.


The question is if the prevalence of the belief is because of chasidic influence.

הַתְקַשֵּׁר מַעֲדַנּוֹת כִּימָה אוֹ-מֹשְׁכוֹת כְּסִיל תְּפַתֵּחַ

doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs, and the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.

#17 Indigo

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 07:53 AM

Right. That is what I meant by the chassidim popularizing certain concepts.

Just like chassidim didn't invent avodah be simchah.

In the absence of the growth of chassidut would these concepts be popular today?

Hard to say. Writers like the Shelah were already spreading Lurianic kabbalah. Maybe they would have spread beyond the elite even without chasdidut. I don't know. It was a progression.

It is like asking if we would have a state without the shoah. I don't know. But the Jewish Agrncy was already well on the way to creating a de facto state before WWII.

So too would we be singing and dancing during kabbalat shabbat without the Besht? Without Shlomo Carlebach?

There is an argument about the inevitability of history cersus the roles individuals play. Would WWI have happened without the assasin of the grand duke? Would WWII have had the same outcome without Churchill? Roosevelt? Einstein?

But given the influences of the goyim during our long exile, if anything I would look to how the wider society deceloped concepts such as transmigration of souls and perhaps there are clues there how Judaism adopted and adapted those concepts.

To force an analogy the state may have been created post WWII simply bc of worldwide dissolution of the colonial powers and the rise of nationalism.

And the rise of touchy feely chassidic groups like Bresliv and Carlebachian minyanim probably had more to do with societal flower power than anything else.

#18 David

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 05:24 PM

I'm reading One Nation by Rabbi Sacks and he often equates the rise of the chassidish rebbe with the rosh yeshivah. I think he sees that parallel going back 100s of years. Great book by the way.


I couldn't find a book by Rabbi Sacks titled "One Nation". Is this the one?

"One People?: Tradition, Modernity, and Jewish Unity", Jonathan Sacks, Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1993, ISBN-13:978-1874774013

#19 lambda

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Posted 09 January 2015 - 03:27 AM

While I am aware that belief in gilgul neshamot is a legitimate one in Jewish thought, I maintain that it was not as universally accepted in the yeshiva world (a few decades ago) as it is today.

 

Is this really true? The yeshiva world claims to base itself on the Gr"a and R' Chaim of Volozhin. The Gr"a and his talmidim were probably more involved in kabbalah than any of the chassidim besides Ziditchov / Komarno (and Chabad, depending on how you count in it).

 

What I'm not so clear on is the prevalence of kabbalah in the later yeshivos. While R' Yisroel Salantar seemingly avoided it, most of his major talmidim learned it. Brisk appears to have not been involved in kabbalah at all. Perhaps Snag knows more about the distribution here?

 

A probable influence on the rise of prominence of Kabbalah in Ashkenazic yeshivos is the increased importance of the community in Eretz Yisroel. Most of the early resettlers of Eretz Yisroel moved there for messianic reasons that were strongly influenced by kabbalah, e.g. the early chassidim and the talmidei haGr"a. When they moved there, they made ties with existing communities that were heavily involved in kabbalah, e.g. the Beit El community in Yerushalayim.

 

When did the Ramchal's seforim rise to their current popularity? IIRC, both Derekh Hashem and Daas Tevunos discuss gilgul.






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