It is well appreciated that until about 50 years ago, the Litvishe Yeshiva world and Chabad were not antagonistic to one another, whereas now they are. Decades ago, not only did the Rebbes of Chabad attend rabbinic conferences, they had a close relationship and worked together on community issues with the leaders of Lithuanian Jewry. There may have been some tension but no more than between misnagdim and any other chassidic group. Yet, in the USA , those who know, know that the mistrust and suspicion go back many decades, and they intensified in the past thirty years. R. Hillel Goldberg, for example, reports scathing criticism of the messianic tendencies in Lubavitch by R. Hutner already more than four decades ago and I remember hearing remarks as well from another godol about the tendency of Lubavitch to duplicate communal institutions instead of joining in community wide institutions decades ago as well. There was the Shanghai controversy. It seems to me, though, that the antagonism in the USA is different than it was in R. Shach's camp in Eretz Isroel, where it was still drawing on the two hundreds year-old ideological opposition to chassidus in general. Was there a precipitating event in the USA after which everything went downhill?
R. N. Kaminetzky in his controversial, "Making of a Godol",reports such an event. Now, I attempted to check some of the facts that he reports and was not able to do so. I spoke to some people who asked good questions but had no independent knowledge of this issue. I would appreciate if someone who does know more can respond in the comments sections. I attach the relevant pages form R. Kaminetzky's book and the relevant issue of Hekeriah V'Hakedusha.
In brief, the journal Hakeriah V'Hakedusha, a new Lubavitch periodical in Yiddish, that was supposedly under the direct supervision of the Friedeker Rebbe, published an editorial by Y. Segal on October 13, 1940 (the journal, unfortunately sans the relevant first volume is available on HebrewBooks.org), which asserted that studying talmudic passages like the one about, "ox which gored a cow", important as it may be , is completely physical (kulo gashmi), is a meagerly inspiring subject even from a worldly perspective... and one will gain nothing spiritual from studying it...Certainly, the superficial study (of this mishna) has no connection with G-d and reminds a student very little of Him: No spark of Divine light is beheld in the revealed part of the Torah. But when Chassidus takes on the same mishna and begins to unravel from it the depths of the Torah, the hidden part, a new light arises which reminds the Jew about the Giver of the Torah and which leaves the student and participant with a deep moral lesson of tremendous spiritual worth".
This may have been just an unfortunate choice of words because standard Chabad teaching does not denigrate the study of Nigleh or relegate it to a secondary status. Perhaps the writer was simply not familiar with Nefesh Hachaim's approach to this topic. This is a summary of what the Yeshiva World considers axiomatic:
Nefesh HaChaim Shaar 4 Chapter 2:
First I will set my words, on the subject of torah study 'lishma'. What is 'lishma'? This is a stumbling block for many who think 'lishma' means with great and constant 'dveikus' (emotionally cleaving to G-d).
And even worse than this, they think learning torah without dveikus is worth nothing and has no purpose, chas v'shalom. So when they see themselves, that their heart is not going in this level, that their learning is not with constant dveikus, they won't even start to learn and therefore (in our times) the torah has fallen....
To learn torah 'lishma' , the truth is 'lishma' does not mean 'dvekus' like most people think... the truth is learning torah 'lishma' means - for the sake of the torah... as the Rosh explains:
to know and to understand, and to increase lekach (knowledge) and pilpul (sharp analysis) and not to be insolent (l'kanter) and to show off (l'hitgaos)...
Nevertheless, certainly we cannot say that you don't need any purity of thought and yiras Hashem in learning torah. As it says 'if there's no yira, theres no torah' (mishna)...(see the text for an explanation of the purpose of Yira as a 'warehourse' for the torah learned)
Thus the true path, which He chose... (Rabbi Normal Lamm wrote a book devoted to this subject.
With this in mind, one could have predicted that the nascent American Yeshiva World would strongly react and it did. It was surely not meant to provoke it, but it did.
This poorly thought out piece in the Lubavitch flagship publication brought on a firestorm of criticism in the Yeshiva World, since it attacked its raison d'etre and its bedrock of legitimacy - Talmudic study for its own sake. R. Kaminetsky informs us about how much it upset R. A. Kotler and others and how R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik was recruited to write a response, which he did.
I believe that this was the incident which set the unfortunate pattern of animosity and suspicion between the two groups. In the highly tradition centered environment of the yeshivos, in which the mesorah was paramount, students absorbed a certain view of this incident from their teachers and it became invested with the authenticity and holiness of mesorah, and so it expanded and grew to our own day. Chabad messianism came later and was another icing on the cake. May Hashem soon bring peace, respect and reconciliation between all Jews.
|יג יְהַלְלוּ, אֶת-שֵׁם יְהוָה-- כִּי-נִשְׂגָּב שְׁמוֹ לְבַדּוֹ:
|13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted...(Tehillim 148).|
The following is an explanation of a Rashi.. but really much more than that.
We start with the first Rashi on Shemos.
These are the names of the B'nei Yisrael.
Though [Scripture] has previously enumerated them during their lifetime by their names, it again enumerates them by their names at their deaths. [This is] to show how dear they are [to G-d], because they are compared to the stars which He brings out and brings in by number and by their [individual] names; as it is said: "Who brings out their host by number, and calls each by its name."
What is exactly about names that shows endearment?
It may be that repetition of the name itself shows endearment, as the verse clearly states, "Is Ephraim my dear son, is he a darling child? for as often as I speak against him, I do mention and mention him: therefore my heart yearneth for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, says Hashem( Yirmiah 31:20)". On the other hand, a person who does not like another, attempts to avoid his name by the use of euphemisms, such as when Shaul avoids using David's actual name, thus betraying Saul's anger: "Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan. He said to him, 'You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness?'"[(Sam.I:20:30).
Lehavdil, we know of this from Western Literature as well. A person who loves another loves repeating his or her name (for example, Romeo, Romeo in Romeo And Juliet Act 2, scene 2, 33–49 or Maria, Maria in West Side Story).
Rashi also says in Bareishis 46:2 that a repetition of a name shows endearment, "the repetition of Yakov, Yakov is a term of affection". This is based on a number of midrashic passage, for example, Bareishis Rabba 56:9. In Shemos Rabbah , end of chapter 2, Eitz Yosef explains: "..the repetition of a name is a language of edearment; because he likes this person, he brings his name twice to his lips". This explanations assumes that repeating the names of the tribes is a form of endearment because Hashem, who had already counted them at the end of Genesis, now counts them again, and this is the same as repeating a name twice.
However this explanation has difficulties. First, in other passages, it is the use of the name itself that indicates endearment and not its repetition. For example, Rashi in the beginning of Bamidbar sees endearment in the fact that the Children of Israel were counted and does not mention "names". Second, repeating the name twice in the same sentence is quite different than using it twice diachronically.
This is what Rashi says in Bamidbar:
Because they (the Israelites) are precious before Him (Hashem), He counts them all the time; when they went out of Egypt He counted them [Shemos, 12:37], and when they fell because of [the sin of] the golden calf He counted them to know the number of those who remained, when He came to cause His Presence to rest upon them He counted them. On the first day of Nisan the Mishkon was set up, and on the first day of Iyar He counted them(1).
(1) Although I am assuming that Rashi to Shemos 1 uses the words "by their name", the version of that Rashi in the Ramban ( and a number of the mansucripts) does not have the words "by their names". On the other hand, Mizrachi strongly defends the version with the words "by their name" in it. In Tanchuma, the "names" are not mentioned either: "..just as stars are brought out by name, so whent they come in, they come in with a counting". The counting itself is the sign of endearment, not the names. It is interesting that Rashi starts his commentary to each of the five books of the Chumash with some praise of Israel. In Genesis it is that the Land of Israel was given to the Jews and that Israel is called "Chosen of his produce (reishis tvuoso)", in Vayikra that Moshe was shown endearment, in Devarim the term is "Honor of Israel". It may this fact that led to Lubavitcher's Rebbe's question about why is that Hashem chose to express endearment through "names" rather through other means, such as giving a gift.
To understand what "name" signifies, we will take a detour into kabbalistic sources and come back by the way of philosophic inquiry.
There exists a difficult and influential passage in Pirke D'Rabbi Eliezer(PRDRE). It states(Ch.3):
Before the world was created, there was only He and His name alone (some versions say Hakadosh Baruch Hu, not He.., see Sefer Hoemunos 4:7. Another version in the printed version of PRDRE says, "His great name...).
At first glance, this is very philosophically problematic, for if His name eternally existed before the world was created, His name possesses some of G-d's divine nature, at least its eternity, and this seems to violate the core Jewish principle that here is only one G-d.
It is the same problem that is presented by the Problem of Divine Attributes, but sharper. Rambam in the Guide (I;50-60) describes this problem very well. If we say that G-d is merciful, and since any change in G-d is impossilbe, he being always perfect, Mercy is an attribute of G-d that is eternally coexistent with him, and if so, you have multiple divinities and not One G-d. If He is one in the sense of being simple, how can a multiplicity of attributes be ascribed to Him? One answer was offered (by thinkers such as R. Saadiah Gaon) via a distinction between attributes that are essential and those which are accidental. Essential attributes are those that are closely connected with the essence, such as existence or life; accidental attributes are those that are independent of the essence and that may be changed without affecting the essence, such as anger or mercifulness. Medieval logicians generally agreed that accidental attributes introduce a multiplicity into that which they describe, while they disagreed concerning essential attributes. Some, such as Maimonides' contemporary Averroes, held that essential attributes are implicitly contained in the essence and, hence, do not introduce multiplicity; others held that they provide new information and, hence, produce multiplicity. Avicenna was an exponent of the latter view, holding that essential attributes, particularly existence, are superadded to the essence. Aquinas held that we can speak of G-d's attributes as long as we remeber that they are essentially distinct form attributes taht we know, especially in their property of not being separate from G-d's oneness. Rambam accepted Avicenna's position on this point. He came to the conclusion that accidental attributes applied to God must be interpreted as attributes of action, that is, if it is said that God is merciful, it means that God acts mercifully; and essential attributes must be interpreted as negations (or more precisely, negations of privations), that is, if God is said to be existing, it means that he is not nonexistent.
Rambam himself says in 1:61 that what R. Eliezer in PRDRE means is that Hashem was unique before as after Creation, name being another word for uniqueness.
A number of early Kabbalists had a tradition that the first sefira of Kesser is what Pirke D/Rabbi Eliezer meant whan it said that G-d's Name existed before the Creation. This is also found in the end of Tikkunei Zohar (10), "He and His name were one in kesser before the world was created" (see Radal's commentary for the many early kabbalists who expressed this view). This view is ascribed to Raavad by Sefer Hoemunos quoted in Pardes, Gate 3, a chapter devoted entirely to the question of whether Kesser is a part of Ein Sof or not. There, a full paragraph stating this view is quoted from Sefer Hoemunos Shaar 4, chapter 1, which I do not find in this location in our printed editions. Pardes himself strongly negates this view.
Nefesh Hachaim(4:2, in a note) explains that when Pirke DR'Eliezer says, "before the world was created", it is talking solely about the World of Beriah (Creation). This takes the sting and the novelty out of this statement because it is now speaking about the middle of the process of Creation and not its beginning and the "Name" is also now a created entity and not co-eternal with G-d. This is a very reasonable approach, considering that PDRE goes on to speak about seven things (Torah, Gehenna, Garden of Eden, Divine Throne, Temple, Repentance and the Name of Maschiach) that were created before the world was created.
A very astute and interesting approach is offered by the Rebbe Rashab in Hemshech Reish Samech Vav, Vayelech Hashem, p.165.He points out that Kesser is also called Ain, or Nothing. There are many reasons why it is called so, which he does not explain. A common explanation which is often offered is that it is called Ain because to us it is ungraspable, therefore as far as we are concerned it can be said that it does not exist. We can understand or say nothing about it; R. Arye Kaplan explained(Commentary to Sefer Yetzirah) that this is why the color of Kesser is black (see Pardes Shaar Hagavvanim), for when we try to understand Kesser we see only blacknes, an utter absence of light. Its brightness is so great that we cannot see it at all.
The transition from Kesser to the next adjacent sefira, Chochma, is called 'yesh miayin", or, "something from nothing". So when PRDE speaks of the Name, that is Kesser, existing before the world is created, it means only that stage in the Creation of the World that we call, "something from nothing", the point of transition from Kesser to Chochma. This is also what those who hold that Kesser is a part of the Ain Sof mean. Ain Sof is "no end". If it referred the the Essence of G-d, it whould have called G-d, "No beginning", or perhaps, "No end, no Beginning", but it does not. It does not because by Ain Sof it refers to Kesser which we cannot understand and which to us has no end ( or as Sefer Hoemunos says somewhere, we can speak about it endlessly), but in the process of Creation it does have a beginning. This is why it is called Ain Sof rather than "Ain techillah".
Ari himself in Eitz Chaim Shaar 42 takes a compromise position that Kesser is in an intermediary position between Ain Sof and other sefiros, containing properties of both infinity and finititude, but this is not our topic here.
We are now equipped to understand why mentioning the names of the sons of Yakov who are coming into Egypt is a term of endearment. There is nothing closer to the very being a person than his or her name. The name of each person is unique and essential. In Hebrew, unlike in Spanish and some other tongues ("The Donald" in English, nothwdstanding) one cannot apply "the" participle to a name. One cannot say, "the Moshe", because this Moshe is by definition different than any other Moshe in the world. Your name is so central to who you are that only G-d truly knows it. This is why there is nothing more precious than calling a person by his or her name, and this is why Hashem calling the sons of Yakov, each one by his name, is the most precious form of expressing love and endearment.
I plan to post more on how our names shape us.
Shemos 4:13 with Rashi's commentary.
But he said, "I beseech You, O Lord, send now [Your message] with whom You would send."
יג. וַיֹּאמֶר בִּי אֲדֹנָי שְׁלַח נָא בְּיַד תִּשְׁלָח:
with whom You would send: With whom You are accustomed to sending, and this is Aaron. Another explanation: With someone else, with whom You wish to send, for I am not destined to bring them into the land [of Israel] and to be their redeemer in the future. You have many messengers.
ביד תשלח: ביד מי שאתה רגיל לשלוח, והוא אהרן. דבר אחר ביד אחר שתרצה לשלוח, שאין סופי להכניסם לארץ ולהיות גואלם לעתיד, יש לך שלוחים הרבה:
Moshe is the reluctant redeemer who in this passuk strives to have HaShem send someone else. Whom!? Rashi brings two opinions: Aaron and Moshiach. See the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Likutei Sichos volume 31 and 11, especially the latter where the avodah of the gematria Moshe + Echad = Moshiach is elaborated upon. The simple meaning of the text leads one to conclude he is asking for his brother or for Moshiach to replace him in this role.
An alternative answer that is "proven" using allusions by gematrias, tzirufim and other textural mathematical operations is that Moshe wishes that Hashem send Pinchas/Eliyahu, who is, of course, associated with a penultimate stage in the geula (See Yalkut Reuveni,Targum Yonason, Pirke D'Rebbe Eliezer, also here. The Maharal (Netzach Yisrael ca. Perek 54) interestingly points out that all redeemers in Jewish history came as a pair of Aleph and Mem... Aaron and Moshe, Esther and Mordechai, Eliyahu and Moshiach.
An interesting candidate for the who Moshe wanted Hashem to send in his stead is.... Rebbe Akiva (see Midrash Pliah, the CHIDA's Haggadah, Imre Pinchas (of Koritz), Pardes Yosef, Mishkan Betzalel [Rudinsky]), also here , and comment brought here which can be supported by the many connections between Moshe and R. Akiva, as for example in Menachos 29 where Moshe wonders why the Torah was not given via Rebbe Akiva.
Was Moshe just being humble or was he expressing a justified doubt about his qualifications for the role of the Redeemer? Was his speech impediment perhaps a physical expression of an imperfection, perhaps an inability to bridge physical and spiritual worlds? The Alter Rebbe (Torah Ohr 52b) discusses this in depth and concludes that Moshe wanted Hashem to choose someone who lived in both "worlds", deemed Tohu and Tikkun by the Arizal. Moshe, who lived wholley in Tohu, thought himself to be too transcendent to accomplish the task.
Yet another view is given by a contemporary commentary Likutei Mamarim Shvili Pinchas. He brings an elaborate expansion of a vort of the Chiddushei HaRim relating Moshe's apparently "stuttering" speech to his internal conflict on his position on the machlokes between Shammai and Hillel. Moshe being an acronym (roshei teivos) of "Moshe Shammai Hillel" contains the potential of both within himself. Moshe wanted the view of Shammai to prevail at that time so that al pi Arizal the final redemption would be realized ( since the views of Beis Shammai will be halacha after the Moschiach comes) and he did not want to settle just for the Exodus from Egypt which would be only a partail redemption, followed by four exiles.
Thus Moshe is asking HaShem to resolve his inner turmoil. However, HaShem tells Moshe that he is to go to redeem on His terms in accordance with the opinion of Hillel. Hashem's plan for Moshe was toactualize the views of Beis Hillel within Moshe.
We had seen that there are a number of candidates for who Moshe proposed as alternatives to himself. Oddly missing is Dovid. This candidate is mentioned in the collection of sources of Yalkut Moshiach and Geulah that בְּיַד in the verse is an abbreviation for (King) Dovid ben Yishai and that Moshe was requesting that David HaMelech should take his place and take the jews out of Egypt.
Further comments to follow.