ORTHODOX ANSWERS to REFORMED JUDAISM #5


CONTINUING  with  Professor  Cherry's  lecture:


AS  WE  MOVE  FARTHER  EAST  TO  THE  AREA  OF  THE  "PALE  OF  SETTLEMENT"  WHERE  MOST  OF  THE  VAST  MAJORITY  OF  AMERICAN  JEWS  TRACE  THEIR  ORIGIN  TO,  WE'RE  TALKING  ABOUT  WHITE  RUSSIA,  THE  UKRAINE,  THE  AREA  AROUND  ODESSA,  THEN  ALSO  RUSSIA.  THERE  IS  A  NEW  KIND  OF  JUDAISM  THAT  IS  EMERGING,  THAT'S  ALSO  A  REFORM  MOVEMENT  OR  JEWISH  RENEWAL  MOVEMENT.  AND  I  AM  TALKING  ABOUT  "HASSIDISM."


I  EXPLAIN  HASSIDISM  AS  EASTERN  EUROPE'S  REFORM  MOVEMENT.  AND  THE  BIGGEST  DIFFERENCE  BETWEEN  EASTERN  EUROPE'S  REFORM  MOVEMENT  AND WESTERN  EUROPE'S  REFORM  MOVEMENT,  IS  THAT  IN  EATERN  EUROPE  THE  HASSIDISM  REMAIN  COMMITTED  TO  HALAHA.


BUT  IN  BOTH  RENEWAL  MOVEMENTS  THERE  IS  CONCERN  WITH  TRYING  TO  DEVOTE  INDIVIDUAL  PIETY,  AND  WHAT  MY  TEACHER  ART  GREEN,  ONE  OF  THE  LEADING  SCHOLARS  IN  HASSIDISM,  CALLS  "DEVOTIONAL  POSTURE."  WHEREBY  EVERY  ACTION  A  JEW  MAKES  THROUGHOUT  THE  DAY,  IS  A  WAY  OF  CONNECTING  WITH  GOD,  AND  WORSHIPPING  GOD.  IT'S  NO  LONGER  ABOUT  WHAT  TRADITIONALLY  HAS  BEEN  THE  MODE  OF  PIETY,  WHICH  WAS  STUDY [NOTHING  WRONG  WITH  STUDY]  BUT  THERE  ARE  WAYS  IN  ADDITION  TO  STUDY  THAT  ONE  CAN  EXPRESS  ONES  PIETY,  ONES  DEVOTIONAL  COMMITMENT,  TO  GOD,  AND  THROUGH  RAISING  OUR  CONSCIENCE,  THAT  GOD  IS  TO  BE  FOUND  OUTSIDE  OF  THE  TALMUD,  AND  OUTSIDE  OF  TALMUDIC  COMMENTARIES.


THIS  NEW  RENEWAL  MOVEMENT  THAT  SWEPT  OVER  EASTERN  EUROPE,  ALLOWED  PEOPLE  WHO  WERE  NOT  SCHOLARS  TO  FEEL  AS  THEY  WERE  ENGAGING  IN  PIOUS  ACTIVITY,  LIKE  THE  SCHOLARS  OF  THE  COMMUNITY.


HASSIDISM  SWEPT  EASTERN  EUROPE;  IT  WAS  A  MAS  MOVEMENT.  THE  CABBALA   AND  JEWISH  PHILOSOPHY  WAS  OF  THE  ELITIST  MOVEMENT.  SO  WHAT  HASSIDISM  DOES  IS  TO  GREATLY  SIMPLIFY  THE  CABBALA  AND  TO  SPREAD  THESE  TEACHINGS  ON  THE  POPULAR  LEVEL,  THROUGH  INDIVIDUAL  TEACHERS  WHO  WERE  REALLY  SENT  OUT  ON  FOOT,  OR  BY  CARRIAGE,  ALL  OVER  EASTERN  EUROPE,  TO  PREACH  THESE  NEW  UNDERSTANDINGS  OF  HASSIDISM.


THE  FIGURE  WHO  IS  ASSOCIATED  WITH  THE  FOUNDING  OF  HASSIDISM  IS  ISRAEL  BAAL  SHEM  TOV [1700-1760]  "THE  GOOD  MASTER  OF  THE  NAME."  HE,  ACCORDING  TO  LEGEND,  DID  NOT  HAVE  A  TRADITIONAL  JEWISH  EDUCATION,  IN  THE  SENSE  OF  GOING  TO  A  PLACE  OF  INTENSE  TALMUDIC  TRAINING.  HE  WAS  NOT  ILLITERATE,  HE  WAS,  UNCHAINED  BY  TRADITIONAL  STUDY,  AND  HE  FOUND  HIS  WAY-OUT-SIDE  OF  THE  BIG  MIDROSH  -  THE  TRADITIONAL  HOUSE  OF  STUDY,  TO  HIS  APPRECIATION  OF  GOD,  THROUGH  NATURE.  AND  INDEED,  ACCORDING  TO  LEGEND,  LIVE  FOR  YEARS  AND  YEARS  IN  THE  CARPATHIAN  MOUNTAINS.  AND  IT  WAS  ONLY  AS  A  MATURE  MAN  IN  HIS  40s  THAT  HE  REVEALED  HIMSELF  TO  THE  GREAT  JEWISH  TEACHERS.


AND  WHAT'S  SO  INTERESTING,  IS  THAT  AMONGST  HIS  FIRST  STUDENTS  WERE GREAT  TALMUDIC  GIANTS.  SO  ONE  WONDERS  WHAT  THOSE  GREAT  TALMUDIC  FIGURES,  WHAT  THEY  COULD  LEARN  FROM  THE  BAAL  SHEM  TOV.


CLEARLY  IT'S  A  WAY  OF  BEING  IN  THE  WORLD  THAT  ENHANCES  YOUR  ABILITY,  RAISES  YOUR  CONSCIENCENESS  TO  PERCEIVE  GOD  IN  ALL  OF  CREATION,  AND  NOT  BE  SO  NARROWLY  CONFINED  TO  THE  TRADITIONAL  MODE  OF  JEWISH  PIETY,  WHICH  IS  TALMUDIC  STUDY.


ALTHOUGH  FOR  THE  FIRST  3  GENERATIONS  OF  HASSIDISM,  LEADERSHIP  WAS  IN  THE  HANDS  OF  THE  CHARISMATIC  INDIVIDUALS.  BY  THE  END  OF  THE  3RD  GENERATION,  LEADERSHIP  WITHIN  THE  HASSIDIC  WORLD  LARGELY  BECAME  DYNASTIC.  SO  ONE  OF  THE  SONS  WOULD  TAKE  OVER  FROM  THE  FATHER,  AND  SEVERAL  OF  THE  SONS,  ALTHOUGH  THEY  WOULD  HAVE  TO  GO  TO  THE  CITIES  AROUND  EASTERN  EUROPE.


EACH  TZADDIK  -  THE  TZADDIK  IS  THE  LEADER  OF  A  HASSIDIC  GROUP.  AND  EACH  TZADDIK  IMPRINTED  HIS  OWN  PERSONALITY  ON  HIS  HASSIDISM.  SOME  LIKE  THE  BAAL  SHIM  TOV  EMPHASIZED  DIVINE  SERVICE  THROUGH  JOY,  SONG,  AND  DANCE.  AND  OTHERS  LIKE  THE  KUTSGAR REBI  DEMANDED  SOUL-SEARCHING  AND  PURITY  OF  INTENTION.


ONE  SCHOLAR  OF  HASSIDISM  ONCE  SAID,  "THE  ONLY  COMMONALITY  BETWEEN  HASSIDISM,  DIFFERENT  LEADERS,  IS  THAT  EVERY  HASSID  HAS  ITS  TZADDIK  -  LEADER,  THAT'S  THE  ONLY  COMMONALITY."


SO  WHAT  ONE  TZADDIK  DEMANDS  OF  HIS  HASSIDEM,  COULD  BE  TOTALLY  DIFFERENT  WITH  WHAT  ANOTHER  TZADDIK  REQUIRED  OF  HIS  HASSID.


LET  ME  TAKE  A  SECOND  AND  TALK  ABOUT  THE  TERMS  -  TZADDIK  AND  HASSID.


TZADDIK  LITERALLY  MEANS  "RIGHTEOUS  ONES"  -  HASSID  MEANS  "PIETY"  OR  "PIOUS  ONE."  THERE  IS  ONE  TZADDIK  FOR  EVERY  GROUP  OF  HASSIDEM.  BUT  REMEMBER  I  TOLD  YOU  THAT  WHAT  HASSIDEK  DOES  IS  TO  GREATLY  SIMPLIFY  THE  KABBALA.  SO  WITH  THE  HASSIDIK  RE-READING  OF  THE  FEROT, THE  TZODDIK  BECOMES  LINKED  TO  THE  COMMUNITY  OF  ISRAEL,  WHICH  IS  REPRESENTED  BY  THE  HASSIDEM  AND  THEY  NEED  TO  BE  CONNECTED.  SO  NO  LONGER  WILL  THE  INDIVIDUAL  HASSID  TRY  TO  HAVE  A  RELATIONSHIP  WITH  GOD  THAT  TRANSCENDS  THE  TZADDIK.  I  CALL  THIS  "VICARIOUS  COMMUNION"  OR  "VICARIOUS  CLEAVING."


THE  INDIVIDUAL  HASSID  CAN  CLEAVE  TO  THE  TZADDIK  AND  THEN  THE  TZADDIK  CLEAVES  TO  GOD.  AND  IT  IS  THROUGH  THAT  WAY,  IT  IS  THROUGH THAT  MECHANISM  THAT  THE  INDIVIDUAL  HASSID  HAS   HIS  RELIGIOUS  EXPERIENCE.


THE  TZODDIK  ALSO  BECOMES  THE  OBJECT,  NOT  OF  ADORATION,  BUT  THE  OBJECT  OF  PILGRIMAGE.  IT  USED  TO  BE  IN  BIBLICAL  TIMES,  YOU  WOULD  MAKE  A  PILGRIMAGE  TO  THE  TEMPLE  IN  JERUSALEM,  BUT  NOW  IN  THE  19TH CENTURY,  THE  INDIVIDUAL  HASSID  WOULD  MAKE  A  PILGRIMAGE  TO  THE  COURT  OF  THIS  TZADDIK. 


SO  WE  SEE  THAT  WITHIN  THE  HASSID  COMMUNITY  ANYWAY,  THE  IMPORTANCE  OF  JERUSALEM  BEING  DISPLACED  BY  THE  CENTRALITY  OF  THE  INDIVIDUAL  CHARISMATIC  FIGURE  AT  THE  BEGINNING  OF  HASSIDISM  -  THE  TZADDIK.


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TO  BE  CONTINUED