Anything about JUDAISM
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satinsword13 Posted - 16 June 2009 18:17
a question that bothered me for a while:

if the gra was the gadol hador at the time of the baal shem tov, and he came out so absolutely strongly against chassidus, so much so that he wanted ot put them in cherem, how come we can even consider going near it? i say this not out of spite, but out of a real sincere question?
many have told me that r chaim volozhin never signed the cherem- i dont now what that helps anything- its still clear the gra was against. I mean, If he was the leader of Torah Jewry, at least Ashkenazik, and along comes the Baal Sehm tov with his focuson different things, and the gra says "Out!" then there shouldnt be anytihng to talk about! Im actually scared to go against him?
and who are we to go ahead and explain the gra? "Well, really the gra was only scared because of the historical context, shabbtai tzvi and everytihng.." Thats a scary thing to do - to explain away the GR"A, no?

Ive seen a Chofetz chaim brought in kovetz maamarim, the second chelek thatw as printed, that says that the gra thought chassidus was krum because Hashem had to make it look krum so the sitra achra would let it down, but time had shwon that it was good for Klal Yisroel, but its mipi hashemua, and it makes me uneasy.

Am I asking a legitimate question here, do i hvae a legitimate concern, and are there e legitimate answers?

satinsword13 Posted - 29 June 2009 20:33
judt tryign to call attention to this post, noones responded
taon Posted - 29 June 2009 20:33
Of course your question is legitimate. I don't know the answer for then, but now, all the problems the Vina Gaon had with Chassidus have been explained or resolved. The students of the gra and of chassidus made peace. There is no question of a problem anymore, so it isn't going against anyone.


questions? go here:

MODERATOR Posted - 05 July 2009 22:42
First, the Baal Shem Tov and the GRA really werent precisely at the same time, though they did overlap. The GRA was around 40 when the Baal Shem Tov was nifter.

You have nothing to be concerned about for many reasons, the simplest being that the GRA's cherrem is completely ireelevant nowadays, because in order for you to be concerned about chasidim you need to define the term. Because someone wears a shtreimel and Bekishe certianly does not qualify him for anyone's cherem, and that certainly was not the GRA's intent. What did[/d] the GRA have against the Chasidim then, and who qualifies as possessing that charactetstic today? The name "chosid" certainly isnt the problem. But then..what is?

In other words, in whom do the characteristics of chasidim that disturbed the GRA exist today, if at all?

Today, chasidim arent what they were, and misnagdim arent what they were. The generations deteriorated so, that its all we can do to hopefully fulfill torah and mitzvos. As the moshol, attributed to various gedolim, goes, chasidim used to eat milchigs and misnagdim fleishigs - so they had to have seperate kitchens. Today neother can afford such luxuries and we're all eating bread and water.

There are no more chasidim or misnagdim. Not in the derech-of-the-baal-shem-tov sense. Youre confusing what we call chasidim today for what was called chasidus in those days. So the entire issue doesnt apply.

And even if it would, because you have no idea what chasidus is or what it wanted, you would have no way of identifying who is in cherem anyway.

But besides that, for the record:

1) How did you assess that the GRA was bigger than the Baal Shem Tov? (Chasidim were also ashkenazim)

2) The statement that you found in the name of the chofezt chaim is entirely reasonable and no need to be skeptical about it. You assume it is "explaining away" the GRA. It is not. It is simply "explaining" him. Many other similar explanations have been given by various Gedolim, in similar directions - such as the GRA saw the craziness that chasidus would lead to nowadays with his ruach hakodesh and wanted to stop the problem in its tracks before it leads to contemporary Lubavitch and Na-Nachers and Rebbes who give out shirayim yet have no idea how to learn a Tosfos.

And you have many similar instances where "historical context" as you call it motivated Gedolim to act in such ways - such as the opposition to Rav Yonason yebushitz and the Ramchal. The Chofetz Chaim is saying that is the case here and more: Worse than in the case of Rav Yonason and the Ramchal, there was a real danger of Chasidus evolving into, well, what in some circles it in fact evolved into today.

And that's enough to try to slam the breaks on it back then.

Remember - Yaakov Avinu refused to bless his two of his own grandchildren because he saw that Yehu and Menashe were going to be descended from them.

It's not explaining away the GRA - it's actually a fine pshat.

But never mind all that. The thing that youre missing most here is simply that whatever you know about the greatness of the GRA, the Divrei Chaim (for example) knew better; and whatever Yiras Shamayim you have to stay away from bad things, the Sfas Emes (for example) had more of.

And so, if these great Tzadikim and Geonim saw the same thing you see and decided there is not anything to be concerned about, it is clear that it makes no sense that you do.

At the very least, there's two shitos here.

Or were. Today there are zero.

As Rav Shach used to say, "someone who is more machmir than the chazon Ish, you have to be concerned about such a person."

So too someone who is more worried about bad hashkofos than the Satmar Rebbe, you should have to be concerned about such a person as well.

In short, leave the paskening to the poskim. And if so many great poskim poaskened here differently than the GRA, you dont need be concerned about those who follow them.

MODERATOR Posted - 05 July 2009 22:43
PS - The Baal Shem did not "focus on different things." Not at all.
satinsword13 Posted - 07 July 2009 17:42
can you elaborate with specifics? what do u mean the students of the gra and chassidus made peace? and the objections have bee worked out? where can i look up about this?
MODERATOR Posted - 10 July 2009 22:14
made peace? no. i didnt say that. i said there are no more combatants left to fight, because nobody has anything to fight over.

taon Posted - 15 July 2009 16:52
See here:

Artscroll's Chofetz Chaim biography, byRabbi Moshe Yoshor, talks about it if you can find it. Among the sources are the Chofetz Chaim, Rav Wasserman (no sources specified), Mikor Baruch vol 3 p.619, and many others, particularly around that time.
Rav Schwab also mentions it in his speech posted by the end

I'm sure many books written by Frum Jews on the Gra or Chassidus mention it as well.


questions? go here:

satinsword13 Posted - 20 July 2009 16:27
to the moderator, and taon thanks for your responses.

to the moderator: the note i asked about aking peace int he last post was sent before your post went up, it was addressed to taon who said that.

as far as your post, i can greatly appreciate the points you made. and i do agree with them. However, i just have cetain blocks, questions which hold me back for some reason (i think its because i would get a lot out of chassidus if i wasnt hesitant, and the yetzer hora is working hard) and i would appreciate it if you would handle any further or more detailed questions with patience.
yes? please?

MODERATOR Posted - 21 July 2009 2:36
yes, sure. what kind of questions? and how do u think yu'd gain from chasidus?
hocking613 Posted - 12 August 2009 18:07
mod - can you answer something for me?
im in shidduchim, and ive said that chassidish/litvish doesn't really matter to me (im a baalat teshuva in the unconventional sense of the word; my home is technically frum but does not look like a frum home should, and ive grown beyond that, this is to explain my next sentence). my father told me that there are numerous HALACHIC problems with chassidus, he brought up a couple of examples, like zman tefilla, my mother brought up women shaving their hair, etc. in the end, i conceded and now tell shadchanim that i won't consider chassidim (happens to be, i found my own reason for that - i really want a full-time learner and most american chassidim aren't, if there were a chassid that wants to learn forever, then that's a different story according to me, but not according to my parents), so i want to know two things.
one, are there really halachic problems with chassidus?
two, am i really immature as my parents say, being so open about who i want to marry? i must say, i don't think im so open; i have very important principles that i stick to; im just not particular about affiliation or personality. the personality will work when it's the right one, and so will style of avodas hashem. i've always slanted a little chassidish, i have chassidish friends, and as crazy as it sounds, my little sister goes to a chassidish high school! anyway, can you help me here? thanks so much.

my chelek is my chelek; your chelek is your chelek; no one can take away anyone else's chelek. ezehu ashir hasameach bechelko.

satinsword13 Posted - 12 August 2009 18:07
one question that i had is exactly what you brought up: what WAS the gra oposed to about chassidus? how do we know? did he write it? and how do we know that those things, whatever they are DONT exist today still? if it was something they were teaching, well then, arent all the major chassiduses based on that? IM just asking, im not accusing, but im ignorant and therefore need answers.

I feel like until i can now for sure that is IS irrelevant today, i should err on the side of safety. i am open to hearing that it is not- i would love that. but i just need more clarification. Is that wrong? everything on this site encourages us to ask questions, not just go with the flow.

if chassidus was not focusing on different things, how could it have caused such a major rift? it had t have been different enough for the nefesh hachaim to have been written? no?

i never said the gra was greater than the baal shem tov. i was coming from a feeling of status quo. meaning the gra WAS the gadol hador, f that i dnt tihnk there is question, (i could be wrong), and like you said, the baal shem tov came after the gra was already a gadol, and if the gra expreses hisnagdus agaisnt this new gadol, the besht, who just made his appearance so to speak, then it makes a safek in my head. not that the gra was greater, just the he was ndisputed as great, and the besht came after and i have no idea how big he was, because he came out of nowhere? was he a talmid of soemone great, where did he kearn in yeshiva? he just appears and the gra says no, so in my head that should be the end of it.

taon Posted - 16 September 2009 15:22
1 no. Changing zman tefillah, for example, was one Rabbi who no one agrees with.

2 I dont know, but it sounds like you have the right ideas. Maybe your parents are just worried due to something that factors into it, like thinking you're easily influenced becuase you became more religious.


<<what WAS the gra oposed to about chassidus?>>
To quote Rav Moderator:
"First, the Kabbalistic concept of "tzimtzum" was, they claimed, misrepresented by Chasidim (this concept explains how a materialistic world can exists if G-d encompasses the whole universe. If G-d is not material, and He is all over, then how can a gashmiyus universe exist?)

2) The Chasidim changed established Minhagim (such as the nusach of tefilah), and they were accused of violating certina halachos (such as the time of davneing).

3) There were Chasidim who did weird things - like bizarre gyrations and movements during davening, and things like that. Also their seeming frivolous attitude would violate "Ashrei Adam mefachad tamid" - Fortunate is he who is always scared (of doign an aveirah), and their emphasis on happiness unrelated to happiness from a mitzvah would fly in the face of the general attitude of awe and seriousness that a Yorei Shamayim should have.

4) Their seeming minimizing of the important of learning Torah, in favor of other Mitzvos, and sometimes even "Chasidishe tishin"."

<<how do we know?>>
He probably wrote it, he definitely made proclomations about it and it was recorded by his talmidim and opponents.

<<and how do we know that those things, whatever they are DONT exist today still?>>
To review the above 4 reasons

1 They found explicit support for their position. It's likely things got lost in the telling when the Gra found out about it.
I don't know what the Vilan gaon had to say about their supporting proof, this is all beyond me, but Rav Chaim Volozhin supposedly went with a similar approach to theirs on this, so it must;ve been settled.

2 like i said to Hocking, some of this was individual, some of this if misinformation.

3 & 4 Looking at chassidim today, I would say these def9nitely dont apply anymore.

<<but im ignorant and therefore need answers.>> yo aren't ignorant. And not knowing something wouldn't make you ignorant. Someone ignorant, for one thing, would not ask.

May the Geulah have come before this post goes up.

questions? go here:

satinsword13 Posted - 22 September 2009 13:57
thanks taon, this is what i was looking for. ps. sorry about the geula thing, my fault
taon Posted - 24 September 2009 15:35
What geulah thing? And how is it your fault?
torahtemima Posted - 27 October 2009 19:07
Which type of CHassidus do you feel drawn to?

There are many valid ways to serve Hashem.

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