Due in part to Rav Itamar Shwartz, Shlita's visit to the United States this week and my lively discussion with "A Yid," in the comments section at A Simple Jew, I have been thinking about the role of the eclectic drawing of light from different streams within authentic Yiddishkeit versus strictly sticking to one mesorah for the sake of authentic maintenence of that mesorah. This prompted me to call Rav Moshe Weinberger, from congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY to get his perspective on the issue. I made some observations, which he shared, and to which he added specificity, regarding the sources from which Rav Shwartz, in the Bilvavi seforim, draws his message. I also shared with him the gist of "A Yid's" perspective on the issues.
Anyone who is familiar with Rav Weinberger's shiurim knows that Rav Weinberger also draws his teachings from widely "divergent" sources. In a single shiur he may quote the Ponevicher Rav, the Kedushas Levi, Rav Aharon from Belz, Rav Kook, the Lubavitcher rebbe, the Alter rebbe, and Rav Yoshe Ber Soleveichik. He told me that he primarily sees a lot of Ramchal, Tanya, and some Breslov (and many others as well to a lesser extent) in the initial Bilvavi seforim. Since I was bothered by the question, I directly asked him what the role of firmly sticking to one mesorah should be visa vis such an eclectic approach, which draws light from such a multitude of sources.
He said that he believes, and I feel sure Rav Shwartz would agree, that though they often seem mutually exclusive, all of these paths come from one unified source. And therefore, b'emes b'emes, they are one. The ability to see the oneness in the ostensibly polar opposite teachings of the Satmar Rav, R' Yoel Teilbaum, zt"l, and Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, zt"l, for example, requires a wonderous and hafladik higher perspective on all of Yiddishkeit. He said that the light that is emerging today that has the ability to show the deeper unity within such different streams of Torah is called the "Oro Shel Moshiach."
In the sefer Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh al HaTorah (which I have recently purchased and started learning on Shabbos), the one theme that pervades Rav Shwartz's teachings in every parsha is this idea of "Oro shel Moshiach." Rav Shwartz repeatedly shows how the elevated light of Moshiach is above and inclusive of all opposites. In each parsha, he amplifies on the theme that the light of Moshiach is koleil "davar v'hifucho," a thing and its opposite. This was shown in last week's parsha, Parshas Vayetze (5766), in an amazing way. Ayin Sham. The emerging revelation of the Oro shel Moshiach today gives us, with the help of big tzadikim and talmidei chachamim like Rav Weinberger and Rav Shwartz, the ability to get a higher unified perspective, which allows us to see the oneness in the seemily contradictory teachings of many different mesoros.
He said that there is a preciousness and a certain chein in the approach of those who fervently stick to one derech and one mesorah and do not let the waters of other mesoros touch their little daled amos of ground inYiddishkeit. The advantage of this is that they perfect and understand those little daled amos of mesorah ground in a way that no one else can. However, this comes at at very high cost. Without the water of other emesdikeh paths irrigating their daled amos of ground, much potential growth and blossoming even within their tradition will never be realized.
Perhaps some of the proponents of the "Only One Derech" approach will not be pleased to hear this perspective. But after speaking with Rav Weinberger it is even more clear to me that for me, and for our generation preceeding the coming of the full revelation of the light of Moshiach, this approach of unification and "cross-pollination" between different chochmei emes is vital. (I should clarify that for an individual whose soul is simply not drawn to anything but his own personal derech and mesorah, Rav Weinberger is not suggesting that he must or should force himself to broaden his horizons by studying and learning from other paths. For that person, his shoresh neshama is intimately connected to that path, and thus he must stick with and perfect his role in that mesorah.)
I spoke about other things and questions with Rav Weinberger as well, but I'll save that for another post. Tizku l'mitzvos!
Update: Follow-up post here.