Monday, December 12, 2011

Lubavitcher Rebbe: We Must Show Great Respect to Those with a Different Derech

Below, see a quote from a letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe that relates to (though it is not the same as) our discussion of the various types of avodah/Torah which are appropriate for different people (see HERE and HERE) depending on their individual nature/shoresh neshama. ([Update] See also this related discussion about whether it is the Chabad belief that Chabad is the only true form of Yiddishkeit.)

In the last line, he says "It is necessary and one is obligated to look positively on every observant person and to treat them with great respect even if his way is not ones own way since his is a servant of Hashem."

(אגרות קודש > כרך כו > ט'תתצג)

כיון שהגמרא מעידה שהם "תלמידי רבי עקיבא", הרי מובן שהיו ראויים לתואר זה, היינו שלמדו באופן שהורה להם התנא הגדול והחכם הדגול,בהתמדה ושקידה וקיימו מצוותי' במסירת-נפש.

מזה מובן שמה שלא נהגו כבוד זה לזה, לא הי' זה מחמת דברים של מה בכך, ח"ו, אלא הי' להם יסוד וטעם בזה בהתאם לערך "תלמידי רבי עקיבא".

והביאור בזה הוא על פי מה שאמרו חכמינו זכרונם לברכה שאין דיעותיהם של בני אדם שוות, שמזה מובן שגם בעבודת השם יתברך, בלימוד התורה וקיום המצוות, אינם שווים: אצל האחד כל זה בא בעיקר מתוך אהבת השם, אצל השני הוא בעיקר מתוך יראת השם, ואצל השלישי הוא בעיקר מתוך קבלת עול, וכו'. – אף שכמובן ופשוט בנוגע למעשה אין חילוק ביניהם וקיימו התומ"צ במילואם ובשלימותם. – ובהיותם תלמידי רבי עקיבא, הרי בודאי שהיו אנשי אמת, שעבודתם היתה באמיתיות ובפנימיות שהחדירה כל תוך-תוכם, באופן שדוקא דרכם נראתה להם הנכונה באמת, ומי שלא הגיע למדריגה זו הרי, לפי דעתם, חסר הוא בשלימות. והיות שהיו תלמידי ר' עקיבא שאמר "ואהבת לרעך כמוך – זה כלל גדול בתורה", לא הסתפקו בזה שכל אחד בעצמו הלך מחיל אל חיל בדרכו העולה בית א-ל, אלא השתדלו גם כן להשפיע על חבריהם שגם הם יעבדו את השם באופן זה דוקא, ואלה שלא קיבלו הדבר – לא יכלו לנהוג בהם כבוד ככל הדרוש מתלמידי רבי עקיבא.

מהאמור מובן שסיפור הגמרא בנוגע לל"ג בעומר מלמדנו איך צריכה להיות הנהגת כל אחד ואחד מאתנו, וההוראה היא בשלשה ענינים:

א) עבודת השם, לימוד התורה וקיום המצוות, מצוות שבין אדם למקום ומצוות שבין אדם לחברו, צריכה להיות עבודה תמה ואמיתית ובחיות המחי' את כל האדם והנהגתו היום-יומית.

ב) זה כולל כמובן ופשוט מצות ואהבת לרעך כמוך, שגם אותה צריך לקיים בחיות ובשלימות הכי גדולה.

ג) ויחד עם האמור צריך וחייב אדם להביט בעין יפה על כל שומר תורה ומצוה ולנהוג בו כבוד גדול, אם אפילו דרכו היא לא דרכו הוא; כיון שעובד ה' הוא

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micha berger said...

While they believe in showing respect to other Jews, Lub does not believe in eilu va'eilu -- that other derakhim may be more right for other kinds of people, or even that they are valid.

Chabad concluded that only theology from the generation's Yechidah Kelalis, the highest (yechidah) aspect of Benei Yisrael's national soul, is capable of avoiding this problem.

Thus, they believe in a chain of mesorah, one person per generation, who was the Yechidah Kelalis. Moshe, Yehoshua.... Rashb"y.... Besh"t... down to RMMS. Hashem "spoke from within the throat of Moshe" and "Yiftach in his generation was like Shemu'el in his generation". This notion that every generation has only one soul whose root is from yechidah, and thus only one rebbe who is the "intermediary who connects" was first taught by the Rebbe Rasha"b.

This conduit nature is taught by Chabad to be true of every rav in this chain. Of course, RMMS dying with no successor then poses a fundamental theological problem. But it also gives a unique status to their derekh.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

You are right, and this is a topic I posted on in this highly commented post from 2009:

At least he says people following other derachim should be shown "kavod gadol" because they serve Hashem.

Anonymous said...

please back up your statments with quotes.

Also its important to realize (and if you read the quote carefully you'll see) that this does not mean one shouldnt believe ones own derech is the right one. On should believe that the derech one has is 100% correct, and the best, but still realize that others believe the same and respect them for that.

micha berger said...

I don't think anyone honest with themselves can question the respect and ahavas Yisrael demonstrated by Lubavitchers to all Jews.

Giving respect to people for being close enough to (what they think of as) emes to being shomerei Shabbos and other mitzvos is unsurprising.

I was just pointing out the difference between respecting someone in their error and accepting their position. The L rebbe's words do not reflect on your "discussion of the various types of avodah/Torah which are appropriate for different people". According to L, their derekh is appropriate for all.

Just as their version of Nusach Ari is the 13th Gate, the one nusach that works for all Jews.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Anon, I appreciate your clarification. But please look at the post again. The quote is there in the English and the Hebrew.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Micha, point taken with respect to other recent posts. I'll revise the language.

micha berger said...

"Anonymous"... Believing your derekh is a right one doesn't require believing it is the right one -- IOW that it alone is "100% correct" and others are wrong. That's the whole tradition of "these and those are the words of the G-d of Life" and "there are 70 facets to the Torah". And our host's opening comments about how different people with different temperaments, abilities and proclivities have different best derakhim. Or as Shelomo put it -- "educate the youth according to his derekh." Not "best" but "best for me".

Anonymous said...

In every derech there are some aspects that are appropriate for only some and some that are considered appropriate for all. I dont why you particularly single out L.

For example take Breslov. A Breslover who learns in Kolel could easily agree that learning fulltime is his derech and someone who works is following an equally true path for the working persons situation. But no Breslover who is worth his beans will tell you that Hisbodedus is not a necessity for every single person. According to Rebbe Nachman it is IMPOSSIBLE to be a kosher Jew without hisbodedus.

I don't believe Rav Kook would hold that rabid (or even tame) anti zionism is a valid path for some people.

Believing that there is no standard of truth and that everything is valid for someone is liberalism. But I myself dont know of any source for that in the Torah. Elu VElu doesnt preclude that there are REAL CONTRADICTORY views of the truth.

Believing that there are some (not everything but some) absolute truths that apply to everyone does not mean that I respect other people less. Its easy to respect another if I take a liberal approach of: this is good for me and nothing I believe needs to apply to you. That make life easy. What makes life challenging is what the Rebbe demands: Believe your derech and follow it to the extreme. But NONE THE LESS repect the next person NOT in spite of his beliefs (just because he also keeps Torah) but BECAUSE of his conviction in his beliefs that are different than your.

micha berger said...

I thought I was clear why I singled out Chabad... because the Rebbe Rashab understood the notion of yechidah kelalis to mean there is only one rebbe for all Jews in each generation, and only that rebbe's derekh is the derekh that connects one to G-d. I presume he would say that all other derakhim are only effective to the extent that their beliefs overlap with those of Chabad.

Chabad theology insists on Chabad exclusivity.

So, while I believe you are right that "In every derech there are some aspects that are appropriate for only some and some that are considered appropriate for all", it is not true that every derekh teaches this.

I wouldn't be so quick to assume what R' Kook would hold. You would need to analyze his relationship with the yishuv hayashan. But even if a derekh teaches that some other derakhim contain errors, Lub is unique in teaching that there is only one right answer and all other derakhim are flawed. Only Lub teaches that their rebbe is the generation's sole Moshe or Yehoshua.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Anon 4:22,

I agree with some of your points and disagree with others.

For the points of disagreement:

As for Rav Kook, it is said that one of Rav Yosef Chaim Sonenfeld's children had to go to Rav Kook to help with some matter probably because of his relationship with the British government (although Rav Sonenfeld was a bitter opponent of Rav Kook) and Rav Kook told the son to tell his father that "If you weren't doing what you do, I wouldn't be able to do what I do."

Also, the fact that "real contradictory" views are both Torah truth is *exactly* what Elu V'elu means according to many explanations. Because both were arrived at within the Torah/halacha framework, both are true even if only one can be halacha l'maaseh.

Anonymous said...

What you said about Rav kook, Dixie yid, does not prove to my mind that he agreed that there is any truth to the anti Zionist position - just that there is some practical utility to it being defended by some people. But I'll be the first to admit that I am not an expert in Rav kooks philosophy, I just HIGHLY doubt that he would agree that there is actual truth in antizionism for some people from his stand point. And stories don't carry as much weight with me as actual writings.

I agree with your explanation of ELU VELU I am not arguing with that.

Micha, when you say it's not true that every derech teaches this please provide sources to back yourself up.

Only lub teaches that there rebbe is the generations sole Moshe or yehoshua - simply not true. breslov believes the exact same thing. Most breslovers will tell you that rebbe nachman is the moshe-moshiach of the generation as its called in likutei maran. Thats why they never appointed a new rebbe. And I'm sure there are others too.

I don't consider myself a either like micha does. But I know that Rav Chaim sholom deitsch is such an expert. He is a well known and respected Chabad Mashpia and rosh kollel of kollel tzemach tzedek in the old city. You can watch the first 11 minutes of this video and see that he clearly interprets the rebbe as demanding open-mindedness (his words in Hebrew) and total respect for other derachim in avodas Hashem. Check it out for yourself but it's in Hebrew.

micha berger said...


Chabad's position runs counter to the Maharal, R' Tzadoq, R' Hirsch, and numerous others who wrote on the subject of eilu va'eilu. To actually prove no one else thinks that they have the monopoly on Torah, despite shiv'im panim laTorah and yeish shishim ribo osios baTorah, would require posting everything everyone ever wrote, and you failing to find the concept. In other words, you are demanding proof of an absence, which in general can't be done.

Anonymous said...

My main point which I hope didn't get misunderstood is just this:

one can be dedicated to ones own derech 100% even to the point of believing some aspects of it apply to everyone. Yet one can TOTALY respect and VALUE other derachim as well since one realizes that they also have a source in kedusha and are considered totally true by other tzadikim.

micha berger said...

Sure one can be. But Chabad theology excludes it. Thus, this igeres by RMMS is about getting along, and about respecting people for being very close to the truth. But note he doesn't actually endorse a literal version of eilu va'eilu / 70 panim.

Anonymous said...

Micha I still don't know we're you get your ideas about chabad and why you specifically pick on them. It may be your opinion and you are entitled to that but i totally disagree. And I do not agree AT ALL that they run contrary to Rav hirsch in this matter( I can tell you that in regards to Rav hirsch I have learned his entire pirush on chumash, all the collected writings translated into English and more than half of his pirush on tehilim as well as 19 letters and horeb) or the maharal. R. Tzadok I have not seen.

Anonymous said...

Micha 602. That may be your opinion. Again I TOTALY disagree. And while there is no official chabad voice nowadays Rav Chaim sholom is a very well respected and widely followed chabad Mashpia and he disagrees. Did you watch the video?

micha berger said...

See the Rebbe Rasha"b's Hemshech Samech Vav, and Liqutei Sichos vol 4, pp 113-119. Or, for that matter, the maamar on Atzmus (how the rebbe is the substance and essence of G-d clothed in a body, which is where the whole Yechidah Kelalis concept is tied to the one teacher per generation interpretation of the Rambam's haqdamah), Liqutei Sichos vol 2, pg 509.

R' Chaim Sholom is saying that every person has a different tafqid, a different avodah, and one must not try to make all people alike. To do so was R' Aqiva's talmidim's sin of "lo nahagu kavod zeh lazeh." He doesn't speak about Chabad in relation to other hashkafos.

As for "picking on Chabad"... I started out by pointing out the difference between what RMMS wrote, and the conclusion our host originally drew from it. This only became a long back-and-forth making me insist on their position because you (or some other anonymous people) insist Chabad believes something other than what their own primary sources say.

Anonymous said...

Rav Chaim sholom says SPECIFICALY different drochim SUCH AS comparing Kotzk to chabad "for example Kotzk says you can't change ones midos without yira while kuntes avoda(chabad Sefer ) says you can't change ones midos without ahava" he is NOT talking about different drochim only in chabad AT ALL .

Also quote " one person is this type of chosid another is another type of chosid and he try's to convince another to be his type of chosid"

Please see the video again! Hear what he says not what you want him to say.

Anonymous said...

The sources you quote have nothing to do with the issue at hand.

Here are quotes from likutei dibburim of the prior rebbe (son of the rebbe rashab): see online

1) "Now the chassidim of Vohlynia-Poland-Galicia were in the habit of comparing pedigrees. Each of these chassidim was always prepared to state that his own Rebbe was superior to someone else's. The practice of Chabad Chassidim is different: we do not dismiss what others consider holy; we simply hold our own to be dear and precious. We maintain friendly relations, even as we remain conscious of our own qualities."

2) "To us, all the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov are 'all of them... beloved, all are pure, all are mighty....'[16] They all possess the power to speak the word of G-d, blessed be He, so that Jews may become aware of G-dliness."

3) so how exactly should chabad chassidim deal and think about other streams? The following story illustrates. (this sentence paraphrased by me):
When Reb Shlomo departed, the Alter Rebbe instructed three of his young disciples to accompany him on the road until they reached a certain point near Vitebsk. There, chassidim from Vitebsk would come to receive him.

One of these young scholars was the chassid Reb Binyamin Kletzker. The tzaddik Reb Shlomo greatly desired to have him for his own disciple. He proposed this to him, and during the journey he even performed a miracle for him (exactly what this miracle was is recorded somewhere in my diary).[13]

When they arrived at their destination, the young men went in to take their leave. Reb Shlomo then detained the young Reb Binyamin and tried to persuade him to go with him; he promised that if he did so, he would elevate him to such stature of holiness, that he would remain head-and-shoulders above the rest.

The tzaddik Reb Shlomo occasionally preferred to speak in Polish. No doubt, the reason for this was as is explained in Chassidus: speaking of a holy topic while using a vernacular tongue refines and elevates the letters of that language.[14] The holy tzaddik Reb Shlomo's every gesture was made with the holiest of intentions. Thus, the young chassid Reb Binyamin answered him in Polish:

Pan to pan, to nie mòj;
Chlopiec to chlopiec, to nie twòj.
"The master is a master, but not for me;
the servant is a servant, but not for thee."

micha berger said...

RCS says that one idea can be taken from Kotzk, if that is what resonates with that person's temperament. Notice the discussion of tafqid and avodah, only mentioning derekh within that. Notice there is no statement praising the existence of Ger and Izhbitz (the offspring of Kotzk) as alternatives for those for whom it fits better, or even the more popular alternatives to Chabad like being Yeshivish.

Saying he actually recommends that some people ought to embrace Kotzk defies what RMMS wrote, and therefore isn't likely his intent.

The other anonymous declares "The sources you quote have nothing to do with the issue at hand.", without saying how. Chabad teaches that only their rebbe is the Moshe bedoro, Hashem is only medaber mitoch gerono, there is only one Yechidah Kelalis, only one memutza hamechaber at all times and it is their rebbe, only his hashkafah avoids the conflict between emunah peshutah and machashavah amuqah, and yet other derakhim are eilu va'eilu? How?

Instead you bring quotes from the Alter Rebbe in which he says that we are on target, but they have value too. Notable are things you choose not to quote. E.g. "Now, we come to the crossroads, where the path of Chabad Chassidus and the path of Vohlynian-Polish-Galician Chassidus diverge. The body follows the head, but every river follows its own course." Chabad maintains the head, the lineage of the Maggid miMezritch, but nahar nahir upashit and so the body is provided with other organs. While really following the head, of course.

To continue:
The five generations of chassidim and men of good deeds who followed the light of Toras Chassidus Chabad, traveled the chassidic path that accords with Toras HaChassidus taught by each holy Rebbe [of Chabad] in his respective generation.

And the chassidim of Vohlynia-Poland-Galicia - among whom there were geonim, tzaddikim, and men of good deeds - each generally recorded in his seforim what he heard from his own Rebbe, and events he witnessed. There are whole libraries, filled with interpretations of Scripture, teachings of the Sages, and stories of various miracles.

The followers of Chabad follow toras hachassidus, the other chassidim are inspired by miracle stories -- but no mention of having toras hachassidus.

But I'm more interested in your reasoning that divorces their belief in a single nasi hador from the conclusion that gives a privileged status to their leader's position.

Anonymous said...

I think you are really reading things into what people are saying, instead of letting them speak for themselves.

As far as my reasoning:

One can believe my leader is the one nasi hador. Thats what I believe. Someone else can believe in a different Nasi HaDor. These are two contradictory things. But Elu V'Elu says two contradictory truths can be valid. So I have my derech/truth you have yours and I respect that your beliefs are true for you according to that principle. I dont see the problem and what Nasi HaDor has to do with anything.

We can actually easily settle the argument by asking RCS himself. I have the email of the guy who runs that website and Im sure he can ask him directly for me. What exactly do you want me to ask him?

micha berger said...

"One can believe my leader is the one nasi hador. Thats what I believe. Someone else can believe in a different Nasi HaDor."

My point could be summed up as: But no other school of thought actually teaches that. Lub alone teaches their rebbe is unique in the generation. Ger, Belz, YU and Lakewood do not believe their rebbe is deep down the generation's rebbe.

There isn't an eilu va'eilu to get into.

There is also a logical problem with applying eilu va'eilu from a position of "we are unique". It's difficult enough applying it to contradictory positions, or to my accepting positions that find mine wrong beyond eilu va'eilu (as Mod-O Jews are expected to do WRT many chareidi derakhim). Or to accept someone else who says they're unique as being within my eilu va'eilu. Here, you're saying that someone who holds they're unique also accepts that they aren't.

But again, regardless of the logic pretzel, since the whole topic is about coexisting opposites...

My entire point is that to L, their rebbe is nasi hador, and this is a lack of pluralism no one else expresses.

Anonymous said...

OK. I see now. We are understanding Elu VElu in two different ways. You advocate what I would like to call 'soft' Eilu VEilu. I'm willing to say that in some cases we can apply 'hard' Elu VEilu.

However the point is one can still value and respect the others derech NOT INSPITE of it but because it is a Torah derech and falls under Elu V'Elu even though it contradicts ones own.

You say :"My entire point is that to L, their rebbe is nasi hador, and this is a lack of pluralism no one else expresses."

Again I fail to see the lack of pluralism inherent in this as I explained. I'm not a big expert in Ger, Belz, YU, lakewood. But I know that:

1) Breslov holds the same about their Rebbe, Rebbe Nachman. He is the Tzadik HaEmes and only those connected to him and follow him can be Tzadikei Emes.

2) Rav Schach holds the same against Torah Im Derech Eretz see his letter against the book "torah study" by Leo Levi (in fact it doesnt even seem he would apply the concept of Elu VElu at all to it)

3) Im sure there are others.

I would like to ask RCS which version of Elu VElu he holds of.

micha berger said...

I don't think you understand me or my position on eilu va'eilu. FWIW, I believe the Maharal's version. That's a different discussion, not necessarily for here, but I have blog entries on the subject. Most notably EvE part I and part II.

As I noted before, this particular topic leaves EvE into logical knots, because we are looking at statements that are themselves about other derakhim.

EvE isn't carte blanche. No one Orthodox would say O and Conservative are "eilu va'eilu". R' Shach's red line is to the right of that, excluding Torah uMadda. I mentioned this at 11:20am, when I wrote about "positions that find mine wrong beyond eilu va'eilu (as Mod-O Jews are expected to do WRT many chareidi derakhim)."

It's clear Lub does not subscribe to EvE in the same sense as the rest of us. I will concede that the same can be said of Breslov.
Both make claims about their own derekh that makes it unique. Not that they limit the range of possible derakhim for different people in ways in which I disagree, they limit the ideal to 1. Or in RCS's, case, to one narrow range (flavors within Chabad), and thus he needs to emphasize that the range does exist.

(BTW, I picked Ger simply to continue the mention of Kotzk. There is no Kotzk today; Ger is currently Kotzk's biggest legacy, with the communities of Radzhin and Izhbitz being distant second and third in size.)

Anonymous said...

OK. I thought I understood. But I guess I have no idea what your talking about.

Yehoishophot Oliver said...

Dixie Yid, WADR, I don't think you're understanding the letter correctly. It seems to be talking about different derachim in terms of individual personalities, whether the focus is on chessed, gevurah, or the like. I don't see any implication that it's talking about derachim in the sense of following a particular tradition and school of thought within Judaism. Not that it comes to exclude that; that's just not what it's talking about.

Anonymous said...

That's the way RCS was using the letter since different derachim themselves are rooted in either chessed, gevura etc. Obviously I see others have a different take on that. I will ask RCS if he can clarify his remarks.

What I think Dixie yid meant was that in terms of showing kovod this definitely applies to any other shomer Torah umitzvos obviously not excluding other derachim as well ( as you point out).

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

R. Oliver,

The language of "because he's also shomer Torah u'Mitzvos" does imply that he's refering to other derachim outside of Chabad, not just derachim within Chabad.

Yehoishophot Oliver said...

Maybe, but that comes in continuation to the words:

והביאור בזה הוא על פי מה שאמרו חכמינו זכרונם לברכה שאין דיעותיהם של בני אדם שוות, שמזה מובן שגם בעבודת השם יתברך, בלימוד התורה וקיום המצוות, אינם שווים: אצל האחד כל זה בא בעיקר מתוך אהבת השם, אצל השני הוא בעיקר מתוך יראת השם, ואצל השלישי הוא בעיקר מתוך קבלת עול, וכו'.

... which implies the understanding that I write, IMHO.

micha said...

RYO and I agree. Mashiach tzeitn!

Yehoishophot Oliver said...

Huh? I didn't refer at all to anything you wrote. I was just explaining what the letter is talking about as I understand it. Also, there are a number of sichos in which the Rebbe repeats this message, with the same common theme. The interpretation that DY wants to make is not there, though it could very legitimately be extrapolated.

As for the issue of how Chabad views other Chassidic groups etc., the quote above from Likutei Dibburim dispels any confusion on this matter, and so I see nothing further to discuss.

Anonymous said...

I don’t understand the purpose of all the nit-picking. The point is that this letter contains a very important lesson for all of us, either explicitly (as I understand it) or very legitimately extrapolated (as you call it). Lets all take it to heart, and not obscure the point with extraneous pilpulim.

Chosid said...

The only point I find some fault with is that it limits this quality (re. Eilu vEilu) to Chabad. As far as I know, Breslov has the same position. I would be quite surprised if it was limited to these two groups.

I certainly respect every frum yid. I just feel that everyone could benefit by adding Chassidus (Chabad) to their limud and derech.

Yehoishophot Oliver said...

Menashe, where in this letter, or anywhere else in the Rebbe's teachings, is such a thing implied?

Chosid said...

R' Oliver,

Not sure what I said which is sparking such curiosity. That chasidus is shove lchol nefesh?