Monday, January 14, 2008
Learning Torah from All Sources - The Sudilkover Rebbe
Based on on a comment that the Sudilkover made in our first converation, I asked him to explain it more in our conversation last week. We were discussing sifrei Chassidus, and he said that one should learn from all of the seforim.
Based on some disagreement regarding this point by some (See HERE and HERE), I was very interested in hearing a fuller clarification of what he was saying. I think that with his explanation, which I think lines up very well with what Rav Weinberger said in the conversation I referred to in the other post I just linked to, it will be very difficult for anyone outside of the most my-chassidus-or-the-highway types to take issue with.
He said that one should learn all of the sifrei Chassidus, whether it be Toldos Yaakov Yosef, Meor Einayim, Degel Machaneh Ephfraim, Tanya, or Likutei Moharan or others. This is, of course, in addition to having a seder in learning to know Chumash, Gemara, and Halacha. And he said this regardless of which group a Jew comes from. He said this with a couple of clarifications/tenaim (conditions).
You must have a Rebbe and a primary derech. It cannot be just a mishmash of learning whatever you feel like on whatever day, regardless of how things may or may not shtim. There will be things that seem to contradict and you will be confused. You need to be able to go to your rebbe ans ask him about it, so that he will be able to clarify for you, "No, this is meant to be applied in this situation, and that is meant to be applied in that situation."
You need a Rebbe to help you set up a seder in learning these things. Also, the Rebbe is needed to tell you what is ochel and what is psoles, what should be taken from the seforim and what should not be taken from them. Much confusion will come to you if you do not have this kind of guidance.
Also, you need a Rebbe who can tell you when a certain type of avoda is too great for you and too high above your level. Or when you are ready to being using a new derech avodah and that you are ready for it.
I would add that fortunate is the one who has a Rebbe and a primary derech. The next question for many of us is: "Great. I understand what you're saying. But I don't have one clear derech or Rebbe that I can follow! How can I do this? I don't want to be a big mishkababel! How do I do this?!" If you're a Chassid of a living Rebbe, or you have a good mashpia, this is great. But for those of us with a modern orthodox background, Ba'alei Teshuva, or Gerim, who haven't been able to latch onto one clear derech and Rebbe, what do we do?!
I can't give the answer to that in this post because it's something that I've been thinking about and struggling with for many years, but I would encourage you to comment with your thoughts on how to address this problem.
(Picture courtesy of antiqueseforim.com)
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