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FACTIONS-----chasidim litvish and the differences


Ani Yehudi Posted - 15 June 2001 2:24

It really annoys me that so often, 'Chareidi'/'Ultra-Orthodox'/etc. is considered synonymous with Chasidim. Even Shema Yisrael's 'Window into the Chariedi World' displays a picture of some Chasidim.

I don't know how popular the International edition of HaModia is in the US, but here in Britain it’s widely read and its weekly double-spread of pictures from the Jewish world is almost exclusively Chasidim. What I don't like is that many of them (especially my peers) have a 'holier-than-thou' approach. What I really need is some way to moderate my views.

eyshes chayil Posted - 10 July 2001 22:24

I also don't understand why a lot of people think that the Chassidim are frummer than the Litvishe? Why does it seem so? What do they do better?

MODERATOR Posted - 10 July 2001 22:54

Well, they aren't always, but often, many Chassidishe kehillos have clear cut rules about things like tznius and chukas akum that honestly reflect the ratzon hashem without compromises, a lot more than what is practiced in the non-chassidsh places.

This includes the separation of boys and girls, dress codes for girls that satisfy a much larger section of Halachic authorities, tznius issues such as not allowing girls to speak in public for men (like by High School graduations) which is Halachicly questionable at best, beards and payos are mandatory which is demanded by many halachic authorities, the insistence on not going to college, and numerous gedorim and siyagim, such as their mode of dress for men and their speaking yiddish.

Of course this is a generalization, and does not reflect on the frumkeit level of any particular individual.

Also, regarding things like learning in Kollel, or even the prohibition of chodosh in some circles, one can argue in the other direction.

But on a communal level, it is definitely often the case that there is reason for people to think that chasdim are simply more halachicly and religiously stringent.

Lynx Posted - 04 September 2001 18:10

Girls are not allowed to speak in front of men according to many poskim? Not even at a graduation?

I am not asking this as an "I don't believe it and will never listen to you" question, but rather as an "uh oh I never heard that halacha and I just want to make sure I got it right" question.

MODERATOR Posted - 04 September 2001 19:42

You probably have heard of this halachah in a different form: Women do not bench gomel in front of men.

They either say it from behind the Mechitza, or their husband does it for them, or they just say it at home to their husband. But whatever, they never say it in front of a group of men because it is not Tzniusdik.

bluejew Posted - 05 May 2002 19:24

Can someone please explain to me why Yiddish is a holier language than English?

MODERATOR Posted - 05 May 2002 20:55

Not intrinsically holier but it maintains Jewish identity (lo shinu es leshonam), and allows you to avoid the involvement in non-Jewish world that speaking English necessitates.

Afarseket Posted - 08 May 2002 17:08

Does modern Hebrew (as opposed to Lashon HaKodesh) fulfill the same concept?

MODERATOR Posted - 09 May 2002 19:49

Not at all. Modern Hebrew is not different than Turkish or Greek - it is the language of a secular culture complete with all those things that we want to stay away from.

The fact that some of those who speak MH are religious Jews is not diff than the language of any country Jews are in where they speak the language of the land.

The point is to stay away from the language of the land and only talk the language of the Jew.

WanderingSoul Posted - 20 May 2002 20:06

Absolutely NOT!

Modern Hebrew (Ivrit)is the language of the Zionist heretics and should only be used when absolutely necessary.

Ani Yehudi Posted - 21 May 2002 15:28

Whilst some may complain about the "modern" appellation of, MH, it is undeniably based very, very much in Hebrew, and it's got be as good as speaking 'Yeshivish' or 'Yinglish' - i.e. Yiddish with English mixed in.

Speaking MH could be considered speaking Loshon HaKodesh - a language which certainly "maintains Jewish identity" with words of 'another language' mixed in.

grend123 Posted - 21 May 2002 15:28

and yiddish bears no relation to, say, German??? Davka, yiddish shows how the Jews did NOT keep their own language but took the goyim's language and adapted it. Hebrew, on the other hand, is THE Jewish language.

The Jews in Mitzrayim were praised for keeping to Hebrew, not only because it was their own language, but because it was lashon hakodesh.

If, for example, the Jews has started speaking a corrupted form of Egyptian (call it mitzraymish if you will) they would not have been worthy of such praise.

And up until this century yiddish was a language spoken by many groups of European Jews, including the reform (they spoke the national language, but amongst themselves they used yiddish).

Yiddish papers in NY were often published on shabbos. Does that change the status of yiddish (as you imply that similar reasons change the status of Hebrew from lashon hakodesh to just another language)?

me? Posted - 21 May 2002 15:28

Wow moderator I don’t understand what you said above.

Why is yiddish more of a Jewish language than modern Hebrew, fact is that rarely do u find people that are not Jewish speaking Hebrew. So I think it identifies us as who we are just as much as yiddish does, especially now a days when yiddish is no longer spoken as much and the only ones trying to preserve it are the modern orthodox community.(b'nai akiva/young Israel type)

Look my first language was yiddish and I now speak English exclusively as do most pple whose first lingo was yiddish, so as much as you are right about the fact that it is a language like Greek and Italian it is still derived from lashon hakodesh and yiddish is a compilation of Hebrew both modern and lashon Kodesh and German.

So which one is more "Jewish identifying"? I think they are equal.

Just wondering I’d appreciate and answer

Beautman Posted - 21 May 2002 15:28

I don't understand the distinction you draw between Modern Hebrew and Yiddish.

Yiddish was spoken by thousands of the most anti-Torah Jews in history, and there was a movement in the 19th and early 20th century to develop a whole Yiddish secular literary culture.

Today, most so-called "Yiddishists" seem to be frye secular humanist types. Yiddish is offered as a foreign language at many universities.

Also, Yiddish comes primarily from Middle German (and, increasingly, from English) and only 10-15% from Hebrew. Modern Hebrew is much more closely connected to lashon ha'kodesh. In fact, one of the reasons I was told that some rebbeim were opposed to the Zionists revitalization of Hebrew was that it utilized lashon ha'kodesh for lower subjects.

So why is Yiddish "the language of the Jewish Jews" while Modern Hebrew equivalent to Greek? If once accepts the latter proposition about Hebrew, wouldn't it apply more so for Yiddish?

Moshe00 Posted - 21 May 2002 15:28

Moderator, I do not understand this point. How is it that Modern Hebrew, with its basis in Lashon HaKodesh, is not the "language of the Jew"?

In the Diaspora, I think it is quite clear that it IS NOT the language of the land and IS the language of the Jew.

Not everyone who speaks Yiddish is "religious," seems to me that both languages can serve very well to make a distinction between Jewish culture and the culture of the goyim.

her Posted - 21 May 2002 15:28

Mod, didn't yiddish begin when the German language seeped into the shtetle?

How is it special for preserving the Jewish i.d. if the whole basis of it is in assimilation?

MODERATOR Posted - 21 May 2002 16:08

The point is not that Yiddish or Hebrew is intrinsically "holy", but that Modern Hebrew is the language of a secular society - Israel - complete with everything that every other secular society and language has.

Pornography, movies, anti-religious and non-religious masses, etc etc.

So if a person lives in Israel he will also want to protect himself from that culture by using the tool of "lo shinu es shemom".

Obviously he cant do that by speaking Hebrew, which is the language of that culture.

As far as the language itself, while it is true that MH is obviously based on Loshon HaKodesh, that itself is a reason not to use it as our "speaking" language.

The Chasam Sofer writes that the reason Jews do not speak Loshon HaKodesh as a speaking language is because it is inappropriate to use a holy language while enveloped in Tumah, which is our current status.

The Rambam writes that a love song in Hebrew is more repulsive to G-d than the same song in Arabic, for instance, because the pollution of the Holy language is an additional crime.

If someone wants to store pornography in his house, that’s bad enough. But to store it in the Aron HaKodesh is unspeakably worse.

So to cause Loshon HaKodesh to be used as a street language, complete with all the disgusting ways it is used today in Israel, is just more of a reason why we should make sure it never gets into the streets.

For our Creator to look down at the world and see His holy language - or even elements of it - used in magazines such as are sold in Kiosks on Yaffo or Dizengoff street, or spoken by prostitutes trying to make a sale, is not something that he or we are happy about.

The Kuzari writes that Avrohom Avinu, therefore, spoke 2 different languages. One for holy speech - that was Loshon HaKodesh, and the other for mundane speech - that, the Kuzari says was some non-Jewish language that Avrohom Avinu took and changed around a little on his own.

And that’s the idea behind Yiddish. It is a non-Jewish language that we took and twisted a bit in order to make it exclusive among us. Today, you will not be able to communicate with a German by speaking Yiddish - I've tried - they will understand you barely, and with great difficulty, only if you speak very slow, and edit what you say so that you do not use and Hebrew or Aramaic-originated words. And even then, the German has to be bright enough to decipher the "code".

Even though there are Yiddishistin who speak Yiddish, they took it from us, not vice-versa (as is the case of Modern Hebrew), and since we do not live in a country or society dominated by Yiddish-speaking shkotzim, there is no benefit of Lo shinu es leshonam by not speaking Yiddish.

But there is such a benefit by not speaking Hebrew.

Other reasons why MH is not the "language of the Jew" are:

(a) Its origin is actually anti-Jewish. The creators of MH did so because "it is not possible to be a nation without a national language" (see Eisentein's encyclopedia, 'Ivrit'). This of course is Apikursos, because Jews are a nation not like other nations - whereas other nations need a common spoken language, we only need the Torah to make us a "nation".

We are no more or less an "am" if we have or do not have a common language, common food, or common geographic boundaries.

The idea was that MH will make us into a "nation like all nations", in the same way that some fool may say that all Jews should eat bagels and lox because without doing so, we will be less of an "am".

And even though those who speak MH in Bnei Brak today do not subscribe to this heresy, we do not consider this language the "Jewish language" because it was created to actually change the definition of what "Jewish" means.

In The gilyon Maharsha, quoted by Rav Reuven Grozovsky in "Bayos HaZeman", there is brought a responsa of Rav Yaakov Sasportes, a great combatant in the fight against the Shabse Tzvi y"s. He says that Shabse Tzvi actually introduced some positive, even obligatory [practices into Judaism. Performing Birkas Kohanim daily, even in Chutz La'aretz, was foremost among them. But, says the Ohel Yaakov, even though this is a good and positive practice, and perhaps even obligatory according to Halachha, since its origins came through Shabse Tzvi, we should not do it.

The same applies, all the more to making MH our "national language."

(b) The changes in Loshon HaKodesh that were made, both in accent and content, are unacceptable. The changing of accents from Ashkenaz to Sefard for Ashkenaz Jews is wrong.

Rabbeinu Bachye writes that if you change even a komatz to a Pasach in the language, it will lead to heresy.

Also, certain words in Hebrew are definitely against the spirit if the Torah (Ben Yehuda once said that he designed the language specifically to attack "shtoch" the religious).

Example: "Chashmal", which means electricity in MH, comes from the Loshon HaKodesh word found at the beginning of Yechizkel which is the name of the Angel of Fire.

The idea of taking the name of the Malach of AIsh and using it to mean "electricity" was the implication that whereas in the olden days we believed in angels as explanations for things, today we believe in technology.

It would be the same as calling penicillin, for instance, "Rephoel."

The Debreciner Rav ZTL actually discusses if it is permitted to use this word (he points out that the Chazon Ish did - a strong precedence to permit).

MH does have its roots in Loshon HaKodesh, but its adjustments of it make it the worst of both worlds - since it has Loshon HaKodesh elements we don’t want to use it for our mundane purposes - and since it has non-Loshon HaKodesh elements, we do not want to accept it as our national language.

So to speak MH is one thing, but to say it is the "language of the Jew" is just not so.

Neither is Yiddish the "language of the Jew", any more than a black hat is the "clothing of a Jew." But just as the purpose of the hat is "lo shinu es malbushayhen" - we want to dress differently than the seculars - the purpose of Yiddish is "lo shinu es shemom" - we want to talk differently than the seculars.

Askenazadox Posted - 21 May 2002 17:48

While I have a genuine profound respect for the Chasidish community and their holy rebbes, I feel that I must respond to the moderators comments that Chassidim (or the modern day Charedim) are much closer to doing the ratzon hashem that the rest of us.

Tell me, do you think that when Moshe Rabbienu got married, they celebrated with the men and the women in different catering halls? The chasidish community is clearly much more machmir than the general frum community but that does not mean that they are "frummer" than us. In fact, one can argue that they are too machmir within the confines of torah true Judaism.

MODERATOR Posted - 21 May 2002 18:11

First, I never said such a thing. I have no idea where you got it from. I was talking about Yiddish, which I said is a good thing, but that is only one aspect of a lifestyle and a shita.

Second, the separation of men and women is mandated in the Halachah. The Bach (as per sefer chasidim without attribution) writes that if there is mixed seating at a wedding, one may not say "shehasimcha b'meono", since it is not a simcha, but a tragedy.

Separate catering halls are not mandated by anybody.

In ancient times, in the days of Moshe Rabbeinu too, men and women celebrated separately. By Moshe you see this at Krias Yam Suf, where Miriam had a separate group for Shira than did Moshe, and in Tehillim, "Bachurim v'gam besulos", an extra word stuck in there which means that boys and girls do not praise Hashem together (as do the other entities mentioned), rather concomitant but separate.

Also, it is normative halachic practice for siyagim and gedorim to be added as time goes by, since the generations get worse and worse. That includes rabbinically enacted gezeiros, self-imposed restrictions (such as many minhagim as cheromim), and certain halachic practices (such as the preference of Chalitzah over Yibum, where Yibum used to be preferable, due to the later generations' tendency to perform Yibum with ulterior motives).

The behavior of Chasidim, like their non-Chasidic counterparts, are rooted in the instructions of their Gedolim in their communities. Under the supervision of these Gedolim, there can be no enactments that are inappropriately machmir, or maikel.

Moshe00 Posted - 28 May 2002 2:08


Thank you for your response--I found it very interesting.

Your point about Modern Hebrew being the language of a secular society (Israel), I still don't quite accept, because even though that is true, its role in chutz la'aretz is different, I still think. For example, if a group of Jews in country X moved to country Y and, while there, spoke the language of country X while the goyim there spoke the language of country Y, would that not be an effective distinction between Jewish culture and goyishe culture--"lo shinu es shomam" etc. Yiddish is not immune to the perverse secular elements either.

That doesn't mean it has to be used that way.

Your points about the problems of Modern Hebrew originating in Lashon haKodesh I do understand.

I found it especially interesting that Avraham Avinu spoke a secular language in addition to lashon hakodesh. But is it really the case that lashon hakodesh was never the spoken language of the Jews? (I would be very surprised, if so.) In any case I can see your point that Modern Hebrew as it is used today is in many ways a perversion of lashon hakodesh--but does that mean we shouldn't use it (its non-perverse elements, of course) in chutz la'aretz to keep our culture distinct?

MODERATOR Posted - 28 May 2002 2:47

There’s no Mitzvah to speak in Loshon HaKodesh so whets the point of "filtering" out the bad, especially since without the modernizations, its not much of a speakable language (we don’t have that many words) and if you do add in a bunch of words and tweak it, you’ll just end up with another Yiddish, but based on Loshon HaKodesh, which is only a bad thing, not good, as per above.

Plus, the Responsa Chavtzeles HaSharon (I:OH:10) writes that Loshon HaKodesh is only Kodesh if its used exclusively for holy things.

Once you start using it to speak mundane things, its not holy anymore.

It's like an Aron HaKodesh - once you use it to hold your model racing car collection and not Sifrei Torah, its not an Aron HaKodesh anymore.

So there’s really no point.

In the Sefer B'Tuv Yerushalayim it relates that the Maharil Diskin refused to speak to a certain Talmid Chacham of Jerusalem because he used to speak only Loshon HaKodesh.

Said the Maharil Diskin, "For generations we are accustomed to speaking Yiddish, not Loshon HaKodesh." He saw in the speaking of Loshon HaKodesh a contradiction to historical precedent, which originated based on the ideas in the previous post.

The Chasam Sofer is in his comments on Shulchan Aruch, OH #65 - the reason we do not speak Loshon HaKodesh is to prevent undesirable people from speaking it, plus to prevent its being used in Tameh places.

Ani Yehudi Posted - 29 May 2002 18:09

Wouldn't it still be most appropriate to speak Loshon HaKodesh as opposed to Yiddish for saying a Shiur or D'var Torah. (Even if this were to necessitate a few 'modern' Hebrew words)

MODERATOR Posted - 29 May 2002 18:22

The reason that was never done (except like by Avrohom Avinu) is because Loshon HaKodesh is very hard to use in a speaking manner - its much more suited to writing. Like, would you start a sentence with "hinei"?

And even when Divre Torah are written in Seforim, they add in many Aramaic words and expression, to the point where someone who only know Hebrew but not Gemora language would have a hard time understanding it.

There simply aren’t enough words or expressions in Loshon HaKodesh to do that. Its awkward even when it can be done.

So since there’s really no reason to do it - there is no Mitzvah to speak Loshon HaKodesh - but there is a Mitzvah to understand your learning as best as you can, it was deemed by Klall Yisroel better to use foreign language - or at least a combination of Loshon HaKodesh and foreign language, which is really what is needed to get a complex Torah idea across.

Remember - the Gemora itself was done in Aramaic - a foreign language, and not Loshon HaKodesh. And that’s because it was more easily understood. Foreign languages still are.

I once heard from a Rosh Yeshiva in YU who didn’t speak English well, and whose students didn’t speak Yiddish well, and so he gave Shiurim in Loshon HaKodesh (not Ivrit, and with an ashkenaz accent). He said it was very hard, and he wishes he and the students would have had a common "foreign" language in which to communicate.

Moshe00 Posted - 02 June 2002 19:04

Moderator, you said that there is no mitzvah of speaking Lashon Kodesh, so there is no point in using for mundane things, because then it is not holy anymore.

But what I've been saying all along is that even if it's not holy and it's not a mitzvah to speak it (both of which also apply to Yiddish), it can still serve to create a distinction between Jewish and goyish culture when used in CHutz La'aretz. I don't think using MH in non-perverse ways means "filtering out all the modernizations"--every language except Lashon HaKodesh itself has inappropriate words and expressions. It doesn't make the whole language assur.

So it's another Yiddish, if you like, which isn't any more pointless than Yiddish itself.

So still, the problem is whether or not it is appropriate or permissible to use a language based on Lashon HaKodesh in this way.

Obviously there have been Torah leaders who felt it was not. Were there any who felt that it was? I don't have the Chasam Sofer on the Shulchan Aruch in any seforim I have here right now, so I can't look up exactly what he says...could there be any other Achronim who held differently--any views that something like Modern Hebrew is OK?

Moshe00 Posted - 02 June 2002 19:04

Also, you said speaking MH instead of Yiddish is a contradictory to historical precedent. Could you explain this more fully?

The phrase "contradictory to historical precedent," it seems to me, could be used for almost anything, like driving cars or using computers. That doesn't make them wrong to use.

Ani Yehudi Posted - 02 June 2002 19:04

Talmud Yerushalmi is in Lashon HaKodesh isn't it?

yideleh Posted - 02 June 2002 19:04

if there's no real value to speaking in ivrit then, then how come so many seforim are put out in ivrit over English? Obviously ppl think Hebrew is better than English. But you're saying it's not?

MODERATOR Posted - 02 June 2002 19:54


Using it a Jewish language that would be counter-productive when landing or moving to Eretz Yisroel is not efficient. And filtering out the bad stuff is not an easy task - its like nivul peh words but regular words stuck in with meaning hostile to Torah (such as Chashmal). Its much easier to just use Yiddish.

And the point of the Chavttzeles HaSharon by saying that Loshon HaKodesh loses its holiness when spoken for mundane matters was that doing so is a Bizayon for the Holy language and it therefore should not be done.

And no, there were no Torah leaders who held that we specifically should speak Ivrit.


Historical precedent is valid only when the past generations could have done something but clearly chose not to. Speaking Loshon HaKodesh was an available option fort them just as it is for us - and they could have created a "speaking language" out of it if they wanted just like they did recently. The fact that they didn’t shows that they chose not to. We should, too.

As opposed to a car or plane, which did not exist in the olden days, and therefore there was no choice not to use them. If they had cars and planes, we have no reason to believe they would not have used them.

No, it's not.

Seforim are words of Torah discussion and the language most widely understood, most efficient, most flexible to describe Torah thoughts with already-known phrases, is Loshon HaKodesh. Hebrew is much easier and more accurately expressive for Torah thoughts. Much more, than any other language.

But Loshon HaKodesh - with the Aramaic and foreign words mixed in, which is what is used for Torah - is not really speakable. But it woks best from the written Torah word.

Moshe00 Posted - 03 June 2002 22:50

“Using it a Jewish language that would be counter-productive when landing or moving to Eretz Yisroel is not efficient.”

I understand this point.

“And filtering out the bad stuff is not an easy task - its like nivul peh words but regular words stuck in with meaning hostile to Torah (such as Chashmal).”

But before you said that the Chazon Ish used the word Chashmal, and that it (and presumably others like it) are probably permitted.

“Its much easier to just use Yiddish. “

Well, not for me, because I don't know Yiddish. But basically any Jew with some connection to Yiddishkeit knows some Hebrew. Also Hebrew is more "universal" while Yiddish is used by Ashkenazim only.

“And the point of the Chavttzeles HaSharon by saying that Loshon HaKodesh loses its holiness when spoken for mundane matters was that doing so is a Bizayon for the Holy language and it therefore should not be done. And no, there were no Torah leaders who held that we specifically should speak Ivrit.”

All right. I have no argument here.

“Historical precedent is valid only when the past generations could have done something but clearly chose not to. Speaking Loshon HaKodesh was an available option fort them just as it is for us - and they could have created a "speaking language" out of it if they wanted just like they did recently. The fact that they didn’t shows that they chose not to. We should, too.

As opposed to a car or plane, which did not exist in the olden days, and therefore there was no choice not to use them. If they had cars and planes, we have no reason to believe they would not have used them.”

I guess I somewhat understand, but Modern Hebrew wasn't in existence back then either.

Couldn't you say (based on historical precedent only) that they chose
not to because it didn't occur to them, it wasn't necessary, there was no reason to change the status quo? But now Modern Hebrew is in existence, and the issue is, b'diavad, what are the good and bad points of the situation?

And how far does "historical precedent" go? There are certain things which are completely d'var reshus and which we can make decisions about based on the situation which we are in.

(Note: I'm NOT saying this particular Modern Hebrew issue is one of them, it's not, I'm just thinking about the concept of historical precedent.)

For example, I once heard a story about a shul where all the people davening had a 'historical precedent' to turn to face the left wall while saying "b'rich shmei". When visitors asked why, no one knew, but it had been done in that shul for generations, so they did it also.

Then one day the wall was being repainted or something like that and the old paint was stripped off, and they found that the text of "B'rich shmei" had at one time been painted on the wall. There must be more to the definition of historical precedent, because sometimes people do things for a REASON which no longer exists.

MODERATOR Posted - 03 June 2002 23:00

Modern Hebrew could surely have existed then too. Its unreasonable to think nobody ever thought of speaking Hebrew - especially since the Poskim do give reasons why we don’t, and discuss whether it was or wasn’t done in ancient times. So even though the option was there, it was clearly avoided.

Your moshol is definitely true in an applicable context. So if you can find a reason that the Gedolim for the past 2,000 years - and more! - avoided speaking Hebrew that would not apply today, you would indeed be able to counter the argument of historic precedent. But alas, there is none.

Its not a coincidence that after thousands of years, those who finally came up with the idea to speak Hebrew were atheist Apikorsim who did it specifically for heretical reasons - because in order to be a "nation" you need a language (see Eisenstein, "Ivrit").

I didn’t say speaking Ivrit is assur (re the Chazon Ish) although there are those who hold that it is - but rather that it is not our choice for a national language.

Ani Yehudi Posted - 10 June 2002 0:30

So what did the Jews speak before Yiddish?

MODERATOR Posted - 10 June 2002 0:50

The Chasam Sofer EH 2:11 says that in ancient times Jews used to use a bastardized version of the non-Jewish languages. Kind of like what Yiddish is to German.

yw Posted - 10 June 2002 1:46

The Kav Hayashar in the third perek says that it is good for the neshama to speak Lashon Kodesh.

MODERATOR Posted - 10 June 2002 1:49

He says to be fluent in it, and your mouth should be "used to" speaking it, but its clear he’s talking about speaking holy things, and not plain Devorim Beteilim.

MODERATOR Posted - 10 June 2002 1:55

The Rambam writes that even in the days of Ezra they had a translator to explain the Torah readings to the people - clearly, they did not speak Loshon HaKodesh, even before the Churban.

The Radak (Sefer HaMichlol, intro) writes that Loshon HaKodesh is all but forgotten to us, and all we have left is what is in Tanach.

However, the Rav Shulchan Aruch at the beginning of Hilchos Talmud Torah writes that in the olden days most ppl used to speak Loshon HaKodesh.

Ani Yehudi Posted - 12 June 2002 14:55

If Lashon HaKodesh wasn't spoken in general speech, I would expect less of Nach to be written in it - not all of Nach is people speaking Devarim SheB'Kedusha. Dani'el is the only Sefer which contains significant amounts of a language other than Lashon HaKodesh.

MODERATOR Posted - 12 June 2002 15:16

Not really. Megillas Esther, for instance, records conversations of Persians, though it is written is Loshon HaKodesh. Haman and Achashveirosh surely spoke to each other in Persian, yet the torah translated it into LHK.

In Chumash you have this as well. Just because the Torah records it in Hebrew does not mean it was originally said in that language.

jj Posted - 24 June 2002 17:56

by some chasidim its very easy to see the difference in their Hashkofos, limoshil you could see the difference between the poylisher chasidim and the rusish and even there you can see there’s a diff between chabad and karlin etc.

But is there really a difference between the mihalech of ingerishers, galitzinaishers, and the diff parts in them.

I mean, there’s a machloykes between satmar and klosenberg( just a example), but besides for the machloykes in halachik shitos there’s no real diff in their mihalech hachayim is there?

Is the only diff between them that they have diff rebbes?

MODERATOR Posted - 24 June 2002 18:14

There are many differences, too many to list. They include derech halimud, and many shitos in hashkofo.

me? Posted - 30 June 2002 23:19

thanks for the explanation moderator I get it now!

imstuck Posted - 02 July 2002 18:22

moderator I would really like to understand something! we are all Jews are we not? well what in heavens name is going on between the chassidim???

Look I come from chassidish background and unfortunately I have heard such unfortunate things going on in the chassidish world! how can we explain that?? is this what chassidus is all about? We all know that it is not!!!

So what exactly does one do when all they hear is politics surrounding the rebbes who are usually not in control of everything going on around them!! please explain, thanks!

MODERATOR Posted - 02 July 2002 18:48

Can you be a bit specific please? What type of "things" are you referring to? ?

me? Posted - 07 July 2002 18:36

sorry moderator about being so vague in the previous post, ok here is the situation, as you know in all areas of Judaism there is unfortunately many disagreements between one sect (as I call them) and another, the argument between the Baal Shem Tov and the Vilna Gaon was a respectable and justifiable argument for the sake of torah, however is it possible to say that about the fights and feuds that are going on between chassidim. one throws the other out or one wont talk to the other!!

Is this what chassidus is all about? Surely this is not what all rebbes are all about!! So what exactly is going on??? I definitely would not want my children to hear this!!! But is this what chassidish is all about? Is this what my children will be raised on?? How can one understand this??
Waiting for an answer

MODERATOR Posted - 07 July 2002 19:17

Well, this isn’t Chasidus, but it is expected, and explained, in Chasidus:

The Bnei Yissaschar writes that before Moshiach comes, Hashem will give us great Tzadikim, but the masses will not choose them as their leaders.

Rather, the leaders will be chosen by the masses will not be those great Tzadikim.

"..this refers to the fake Rebbes, [someone] who makes himself like a Tzadik, is meyached yichudim, wears the Talis of a Rebbe, and with all the clothing of a Rav and a Rebbe, but in reality he is the work of the S"M, in order to mislead the masses . . . G-d should save us form them and from the likes of them" (Munkatcher Rebbe ZTL, Divrei Torah #82).

The Kotzker Rebbe ZTL said (Emes VEmunah) that before Moshiach comes, there will be "white jupitzes" (Bekisches, i.e. Rebbes) who are apikorsim."

The Satmar Rebbe ZTL (Vayoel Moshe, end of ch. 2) writes that the Derech of the Baal Shem Tov is already totally forgotten from our generation.

I am not talking about nay individuals, but simply stated, the above and other Chasidishe Tzadikim have told us not to be surprised when, in these generations, there are Rebbes who are not what we would expect them to be.

It says nowhere that just because someone's father or uncle was niftar and left him a Kehilla of Chasidim, that that makes him a Tzadik.

In fact, if this wouldn’t be happening we would have a big "kasha" on Chasidus, because this was predicted and expected, as per above.

But don’t worry - or maybe this is reason to worry more - its not only by the Chasidim. The world is problematic today in all segments of Orthodoxy.

There are still Tzadikim, and there are Bainonim, and there are others. Just because someone has a big straimel doesn’t make him a Tzadik and just because someone has no big Yeshiva doesn’t mean he’s not a Godol Hador - e.g. the Chazon Ish, the Steipler, the Vilna Gaon, just to name a few.

So the fact that people in high "positions" aren’t what you expect them to be doesn’t conflict with Chasidus - or the rest of Torah - in fact, Chasidishe tzadikim have said this themselves. But it does NOT leave us leaderless, for there are real Gedolim and Tzadikim out there. You just have to judge them by real Torah standards - Torah knowledge and righteousness - and not by a popularity contest.

BaronPhilip Posted - 29 July 2002 17:00


I wanted to ask you about your understanding of that famous Chasam Sofer piece. Is it your position that the real reason Yiddish differs from German is that the Jewish people who started speaking it CONSCIOUSLY decided to change it a little so it would be a Jewish language?

If this is what happened, then how did it happen? We know that new towns and settlements across Ashkenazi Europe were founded usually by merchants who settled there because trade was good. (They would later bring in rabbonim when there was enough community to support them.)

Were these traders the ones who made these changes in the German language?

Did they send shailos to rabbonim asking how they should change this or that word?

And if this was the conscious psak of the gedolim of the early Middle Ages, in which teshuvos or seforim can we find it?

Moreover, from reading the Jewish sources, all the seforim and teshuvos from the Middle Ages and early modern Europe, it seems that everyone--from the rabbonim down to the common folk--simply thought they were speaking German, or whatever they called the language of the people around them.

This would be consistent with the way Jews in France in the time of the Rishonim spoke French, which necessitated Rashi's translations in Judeo-French, la'az. "La'az" was simply French written in Hebrew letters, just as Yiddish started off as German written in Hebrew letters, and Ladino was Spanish written in Hebrew letters. (And Judezmo, the language of the Moreh Nevuchim, was Arabic written in Hebrew letters.)

And of course, the Jews in Bavel spoke Aramaic.

It is also unanimous among linguists and historians that Yiddish started simply as the southeastern "Bavarian" German dialect, which it can be traced to resemble exactly as it was in the Middle Ages. As Jews moved away from this area, they failed to completely pick up the "shprach" of the goyim in the new places they went because they were being more and more forced into ghettos, and being prohibited from engaging in commerce and mixing with the gentiles the way they did hundreds of years before.

If the Chasam Sofer is actually claiming, as an historical fact, that throughout history Jews have deliberately "bastardized" languages in accordance with this psak in order to stay separate and maintain a distinct linguistic profile, where is the evidence for it? How did he know this? And why aren't we still doing this, and tampering with our English? Why stick with Yiddish? And, for that matter, why did all the Jews in the Middle Ages modify German, why couldn't they stick with Aramaic, the way today's chassidim stick with Yiddish?

So, in conclusion, are you really saying that the languages and jargons the Jews have spoken over the course of history were determined by Torah guidance? You don't think historical and economic realities were the main factors?

MODERATOR Posted - 29 July 2002 17:24

I once asked the Debreciner Rav ZTL your question about English and he told me that our "Yeshivishizing" English suffices to fulfill what the Chasam Sofer wanted.

We borrow many expressions from Yiddish, Aramaic (as in l'chorah, memaileh etc) and Hebrew (like mamsh), as well as changing the usage and syntax (The usage of the word "by" in "I was by so-and-so for Shabbos" does not happen in the English language).

I would imagine that is how German changed to Yiddish. Today, if you speak Yiddish to a German he will have no idea what you are talking about (I tried this) unless you speak very, very slow, and he concentrates very very hard, and he happens to be very very bright. Some phrases in Yiddish mean the very opposite in German ("nisht kein" in Yiddish is a double negative in German - nisht and kein both mean "none", and when you put them together make no sense as opposed to its meaning "none at all" in Yiddish).

As far as the Laaz goes, the Jews certainly understood the foreign language, or at least much of it, which is why Rashi's translations help even if the Jews spoke a messed up version of it.

How the Chasam Sofer knows this, he does not say. Perhaps it was a Mesorah.

The Kuzari says that Avrohom Avinu did this, but that the Jews in Europe did, the Chasam Sofer is the earliest source I know of.

Moshe00 Posted - 30 July 2002 3:45

I would think that German changed to Yiddish in the same ways and for the same reasons that standard English changes to Yeshivish.... The words that a Jewish person needs (to learn Torah, discuss Jewish religious/cultural matters, etc.) do not exist in Goyishe languages.

Therefore Jews take the language of their country and adapt it to our culture. So the answer to BaronPhilip's question would be, like the Moderator implied, that we ARE still doing it.

And although economic and political realities could well have played a role, the fact that we are still doing it implies (at least to me) that the biggest reason for the unique languages of the Jews was the fact that the uniqueness of the Yidden as a nation and Yiddishkeit as a culture creates a linguistic need that cannot be satisfied by a Goyishe language.

BaronPhilip Posted - 30 July 2002 17:40

Something that may be of interest: The Moderator mentioned the interesting fact that Yiddish sometimes uses double negatives, like "nisht kein", to express a negative, even though this is definitely incorrect in the German language.

The reason that Yiddish does this, according to linguists and other scholars, is because of the heavy Slavic influence on Yiddish in its later years. Polish, Russian, Czech, and other Slavic languages regularly use double negatives to intensify negatives. (And this is also the reason that Modern Hebrew uses double negatives, since many of Yiddish's syntactic structures passed over to Modern Hebrew when the Ashkenazim switched over.)

Regarding the issue with the Chasam Sofer: Are you saying that, according to the Debriciner Rav, if I don't speak in a "yeshivishe" way when I speak English that I am transgressing a prohibition? (And if that is the case, shouldn't we be deliberately teaching children in yeshivos to speak English incorrectly?)

Also, didn't Rav S. R. Hirsch strive to speak a perfect secular High German in his speeches? And isn't the "Jewish Observer" (Agudath Israel's magazine), for instance, written in perfect, standard, American English? (Or is that muttar only because it's in writing and not spoken?)

green Posted - 30 July 2002 22:11

moshe, that's really smart- I never thought of it that way.

BaronPhilip Posted - 31 July 2002 4:40

Moshe, that was actually my point exactly. The point is that the reason there is such a thing as "Yiddish" has to do with what the practical and convenient needs of the Ashkenazi Jews, and NOT with some psak from gedolei Torah in early Ashkenaz saying that they should alter German a little to make a uniquely Jewish language.

There is simply no evidence in any shailos or teshuvos or other seforim that it was ever the opinion of Daas Torah to speak Gentile languages in a changed way in order to do what the Chasam Sofer seems to be claiming they did.

One of the most striking indications that Jews never thought they were speaking anything other than the language of the Gentiles is the word for "translation" in Yiddish: "Taitsh". The word "Taitsh" is simply "Deutsch". (Yiddish sometimes substitutes the letter "t" for "d" {it's called "de-voicing"} and the vowel "ai" for "eu" {like "fire" for "feuer"}.)

_And all "Deutsch" means is "German"._

Something of interest: Remember that Jewish populations that spoke Yiddish only ORIGINALLY lived in countries where German was spoken.

(And the German they learned was a different type of German, a Bavarian German, which was somewhat different from the medieval German that eventually became Modern German.)

Then the Jews moved east, into Slavic countries, so a lot of Yiddish derives from Slavic languages. (See my post above for an example.)

And this part is the most interesting: BEFORE the Ashkenazi Jews moved into Germanic countries, they lived in places where people spoke languages that derived from Latin, like Italian, French or Spanish, and there are plenty of leftovers from those very ancient days! (way over a thousand years ago)

For instance, take "CHULENT", the word for the famous Jewish Shabbos stew. Well, it comes from the word "CALENTUM", the LATIN word for stew!

Another example: The word "BENTSH", to say a bracha, comes from the Latin compound root that ended up becoming "BENEDICTION" in English!

And some Yiddish names, especially girls' names, come from Latin-derived languages:

Shprintza<--"Esperantza" ("hope" in Spanish) Yenta<--"Gentille" (French) Shneyor<--"Senior" (Spanish)

In general, Jews always spoke the language of the country they were living in, but as the medieval period was ending, Ashkenazi Jews were losing their rights and freedom more and more, and were being forced to live in ghettos and prevented from having extensive contact with the gentiles around them. As a result, the particular dialect of German that the Jews spoke started to evolve independently. Basically, Yiddish "broke off" from other types of German many centuries ago, and eventually evolved to become so different that when the Moderator spoke to a German in Yiddish, that German had great difficulty understanding him.

Another interesting thing: Scholars of Yiddish have not been able to figure out where the word "daven", "to pray", comes from. It isn't Hebrew. It isn't Aramaic. It isn't Greek. It isn't Latin or any Latin-derived language (i.e. French, Italian, Spanish, etc.). And it isn't Slavic (Russian, Polish, Czech, etc.).

So where does the word "daven" come from?! If you can answer this question, maybe you will get a Nobel Prize.

MODERATOR Posted - 31 July 2002 5:10


Rav SR Hirsch did not follow the derech of the Chasam Sofer, but besides that, the reason he wanted to speak a good German was not because its important to speak a good German but because in those days it was important to show that rabbis are not unable to speak a good German.

The Agudah also does not follow the derech of the Chasam Sofer, and the Jewish Observer is not put out by the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah.

When the laypeople in the Agudah do something it is not the same as when a Godol does it.

According to the Chasam Sofer according to the Debreciner Rav, unless necessary, you would have to speak some kind of changed version of the vernacular. Besides the Chasam Sofer, the Kuzari says that Avrohom Avinu did that as well.

The fact that the Jews considered their language German is not a problem, not any more than the fact that Yeshivish-speaking Americans consider their language English, but since it is spoken with a bit of an accent or diff syntax, its OK.

The etymology of those yiddish words is speculation, and there are many other interpretations - CHULENT from the French word for "hot"; or from the German Schul ent - "after shul", which is when they ate chulent.

SHNAYOR, the seforim say comes from shnei ohr - two lights - the Ohr Hagonuz and the Ohr Hanigleh. Or, even more simply, a combination of two other Hebrew names - Meir and Yair becomes Shnayor - the "two ohr" names.

YENTEH, it is said, comes when you have a little baby who peeks about as if she is, well, a Yenteh.

As far as "daven" goes, there are tons of theories, none more sure than the next.

It may be Aramaic - D'avuhon - "from the Avos" - who originated the davening.

It may be Judaeo-German, from the word "daf" (page) as in the pages of the siddur, which is why Germans used to pronounce it "Dafen" (pages).

It may be Turkish - there’s a word in Turkish that means to "pray" that is very similar to "daven."

It may be French, from divin(e).

If you want more speculation, see The Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry, Volume III: "The Eastern Yiddish--Western Yiddish Continuum", Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tuebingen 2000.

There was probably no need for an official psak to change the language, since, like we do in America, the Jews ended up changing the language themselves without any directives.

e Posted - 31 July 2002 21:00

okay so if I am getting the drift right say hypothetically 200 years ago most Jews lived in Zimbabwe and everyone spoke Zulu and so to differentiate themselves they all got together and created what we call today MODERN Hebrew and now in 2002 living in Israel it would not be "wrong" to speak MH in fact it would be like speaking yiddish.

Is the point not the language but why the language MH was created?
hope its not too complicated!

MODERATOR Posted - 31 July 2002 21:08

MH was created not to separate us form the Goyim, but to make us more like them.

It was not religious Jews that created but rather non-religious, Zionists, who said that just like the Italians have Italian and the Spanish have Spanish so too the Jews need a common language otherwise we are not a nation like all nations.

Of course, unlike the Italians or the Spanish, Jews are a nation not because of common language but because of a common Torah. But these people didn’t believe in the Torah and they tried to re-structure out national identity by us having a language, a land, an army, etc.

Elsewhere on the boards this was discussed. MH does NOT help you separate yourself from the secular culture you are in since in Israel, where MH is spoken, it is the language of the secular culture there, complete with pornography, newspapers, and all secular societal elements.

So if you want to separate yourself from secular society in Israel, MH will not work.

Regarding speaking MH in general, that was discussed already elsewhere.

Flower Posted - 05 September 2002 15:30

Until the year 1996, only one language existed - Lashon HaKodesh. Apparently, they used it for everything, not only learning Torah. And somehow, I don't think Dor HaMabul spent much time doing that. In that case, why can't we use it today as the "Jewish language"?

MODERATOR Posted - 05 September 2002 15:55

That’s a good question. I would imagine that since there were not Jews in those days, and also no other languages, so there really were no options.

And it could also be that those who did learn Torah - such as Noach, or Shem etc did indeed use a "dialect" of loshon hoakodesh, like an Aramaic type thing (the meforshim say that Aramaic is repulsive to the angels since it is a corruption of LH"K) when speaking chol.

And this would not be a contradiction to the fact that there was no other language then, although it would be enough to create a chol-appropriate language. But this is all speculation.

But whatever the reason, it is still clear in the seforim that we do not use Loshon HaKodesh nowadays for mundane speech.

agirl Posted - 05 September 2002 20:49

Moderator could I know what you think about chassidim? (not only lubavitch)
the reason I am asking is because, most ppl here seem to be very against them.

I mean what’s wrong with them? They are wonderful ppl
btw I am chassidish (not lubavitz)

MODERATOR Posted - 05 September 2002 21:26

I don’t see that people here have anything against Chasidim - where are you finding that? And with Lubavitch its the opposite - they are accused by the Gedolim of falsifying the ways of Chasidus. Rav Shach ZTL wrote to his Talmidim that the problem with Lubavitch is that they veered off from the ways of the old Chabad Chasidus.

The Satmar Rebbe ZTL said the same thing. There you have two of the most outspoken opponents of Chabad from two different ends of the world both with the same idea.

There was, in the olden days, opposition to Chasidim from the GRA and his Talmidim on several grounds:

First, the Kabbalistic concept of "tzimtzum" was, they claimed, misrepresented by Chasidim (this concept explains how a materialistic world can exists if G-d encompasses the whole universe.

If G-d is not material, and He is all over, then how can a gashmiyus universe exist?)

2) The Chasidim changed established Minhagim (such as the nusach of tefilah), and they were accused of violating certain halachos (such as the time of davening).

3) There were Chasidim who did weird things - like bizarre gyrations and movements during davening, and things like that. Also their seeming frivolous attitude would violate "Ashrei Adam mefachad tamid" - Fortunate is he who is always scared (of doing an aveirah), and their emphasis on happiness unrelated to happiness from a mitzvah would fly in the face of the general attitude of awe and seriousness that a Yorei Shamayim should have.

4) Their seeming minimizing of the important of learning Torah, in favor of other Mitzvos, and sometimes even "Chasidishe tishin".

The Chasidim countered the above claims either by defending their position based on torah (such as their understanding of Tzimtzum, which is explicit in the Ramak), or that the GRA was misinformed about their philosophy or behavior. But in any case, it was a machlokes between two great Torah schools.

Today, however, these issues are really non-issues. There was a good moshol given by the Kamarna Rebbe ZTL, about today’s Chasidim and Misnagdim:

There was once a rich man who married off his daughter, and was willing - as was the custom in those days - to support the new couple by having them move in to his house.

He told him that he would give him his own wing in his mansion, but on one condition - that he (the son in law) only eat fleishigs. The son-in-law agreed.

Some time later, the rich man married off his next daughter, and made the new son-in-law the same deal, but this time, he was only allowed to eat milchigs. Agreed.

So he had his fleishig son-in-law on one side of the house, and his milchig one on the other side, supporting them both.

Until one day, when the wealthy man unfortunately lost all his money. Now he could no longer support his sons-in-law the way he used to. So he went to the fleishig son-in-law and said "Sorry, fleishiger son-in-law. Until now, you’ve been eating steak and lamb chop. I cant afford that anymore. Now you will have to subsist on potatoes".

Then he went to the milchig son-in-law and said "Until now you were eating ice cream and tiramisu. Now you will have to eat only potatoes."

And so it was.

One day shortly thereafter, the two sons in law went to their father in law and said when one of us was eating fleishig and the other milchigs, it made sense that we had to have separate rooms. But now that all of us are eating potatoes, we can just live together in one apartment.

The nimshal is, there used to be chasidim, and misnagdim. Fleishigs and milchigs. And there was two separate camps, that would not mix. But today, we have all gone bankrupt - our madreigah has dropped so that the chasidim are not chasidim and the misnagdim are not misnagdim.

Never mind tzimtzum, never mind supremacy of learning as opposed to other types of Avodah - halvai we should all keep the basic torah and mitzvos.

Today, we are all eating potatoes.

And so there is no longer much difference between the chasidim and the misnagdim, both are living on a bare and basics level, and so there is really no reason to have separate camps anymore.

Today, we're all eating potatoes anyway, so why have separate kitchens.

agirl Posted - 05 September 2002 22:27

And do you consider us having separate kitchens so to say?

I mean I'm starting to feel foolish being chasidish...

MODERATOR Posted - 05 September 2002 22:45

No, I mean to say those who are against chasidim, or against misnagdim are the ones making separate kitchens.

Being chasidish today means following the minhagim and sometimes the hashkofos of your rebbe and/or his dynasty. Its like a kehilla with its own derech, or a yeshiva with its own derech - but its not the opposed philosophy of 150 years ago.

If the Baal Shem Tov would be here today, would he be bale to recognize who are the chasidim? Maybe, maybe not. Chasidim were criticized because they used to spend so much time on davening, for instance, as opposed to learning, and davening was one of the main emphases of chassidus.

So if the Baal Shem Tov would walk in to a chasidieh shtieble on a Wednesday, and see that shachris maybe takes 20 minutes, with people walking and talking, sometimes there are a dozen or more minyanim in a room, like a minyan factory and its hard to know which minyan you’re davening with - would he say "This is my derech?" And then he walks into a Yeshiva where a weekday davening takes maybe 45 minutes or more sometimes, with zero talking.

Then you ask the Baal SHem Tov: Which one are the Chasidim?

On the other hand, you show the Vilna Gaon or Rav Chaim Volozhen, who criticized Chasidim for leniencies in halachah, about the higher standards of tznius in Chasidic circles, and meticulousness in keeping their beard and payos, and secular studies, and dressing and looking like a Yid at all times, then ask, would you put this group in cherem today and not the other?

So you should definitely keep your mesorah - your hashkofos, your minhagim, and your derech, and cherish it. But that doesn’t yet mean that we are on the level to criticize others for their kabalistic/philosophical interpretation of G-d' Constriction, or that we are so different from the "other camp" that they can draw clear line of distinction, religion-wise, between us and them.

agirl Posted - 09 September 2002 20:29

thanks mod.
if you mean that we feel bigger than others. I must say otherwise. It's just that chassidim are looked at like as if they are narrow minded & know nothing of this world.

I must say that’s a stereotypical way of thinking.

Yes a lot of our teens are more innocent maybe...but most are deep thinkers and ask why.

It came across as if the ppl on this board looked down on chassidim. I don’t know what gave me that feeling. Maybe its the way lubavs were described here and spoken about.

Thanks again for your answer. its food for thought.

BaronPhilip Posted - 10 September 2002 21:24

The theory of the French origin of the word "chulent" is very interesting; I have to look into it. But I can't imagine it comes from "after shul" in German, since the word "shul" always had a "sh" sound in German but the word "chulent" was a "k" originally" and then a "tsh" (which it remains in most Yiddish dialects, like ours) and only then became a "sh" in the western German form of Yiddish. But I could be wrong.

All those speculations for "daven" sound plausible except for one: the idea that it is from Aramaic and means "d'avuhon", "from the avos", that seems crazy far-fetched, to me at least.

I'm not sure, but I think the reason that the name "Yenta" has that connotation has to do with a Yiddish novel (by Peretz I think) in which there was a character named Yenta, who was, well, a Yenta.

As far as the name "Shnayor", I had a feeling you were going to say that. I know full well that there are many rabbinic sources who relate the name to "two lights", and I admit that it is undeniable that most Jews who use the name today understand the name to mean "two lights". (I think there is a famous tshuva that mentions a couple where the husband and wife wanted to name their son after both of their grandparents, and one was Meir and one was Yair.

The pshara reached was to name to boy "Shnayor".)

But any connection between the name Shnayor and "two lights" can only be _al derech drush_ (or merely a description of how the name came to be understood).

It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that the name ORIGINATED as "Senior", a common Spanish name during the time of the rishonim.

This is attested to by mountains of evidence. By looking at medieval tombstones, synagogue inscriptions, and community records we clearly see that the name FIRST appeared among Jews at precisely the time when--and in precisely the parts of Spain where--the surrounding gentiles were using the name "Senior". And then the name slowly spread from Spain in the Middle Ages to other parts of the Jewish world in later generations.

(And, besides, if the real etymology of Shnayor is "two lights", shouldn't it then be spelled "Shnayoros" or something like that?)

This would certainly be no worse or any different than saying that "Mordechai" is simply the Persian/Babylonian name "Marduke" and that "Esther" is simply the name "Ishtar" (from the Indo-European root meaning "star")

And when Chazal trace the name Esther to the shoresh "seiser", "hidden", this is CLEARLY being intended only al pi drush. The proof is that if Esther had been a Hebrew name, Achashverosh would have known she was Jewish right away. The whole point of her changing her name from Haddasah to Esther was to confuse Achashverosh and his servants, remember? Chazal certainly knew this obvious point, and did not mean that--al pi pshat--the name Esther actually derived in an etymological sense from "seiser".

So too here, don't confuse the "DRUSH" of the name Shnayor with its "PSHAT", i.e. its historical origin.

Another example: The name "Moshe" means simply "the young man" or "the son" in Egyptian, as we know now that the hieroglyphs have been deciphered. (Since Moshe Rabbeinu was the Pharoah's adopted grandson, he was named "the son" in the same way that, lehavdil elef alfei havdalos, Chelsea Clinton was the "First Daughter" when her father was president.) "Moshe" was clearly NOT a Hebrew name, because Bas Paro wouldn't have given him one.

And regarding why S. R. Hirsch spoke perfect German: The simple historical fact is that he did NOT do it JUST to prove that Orthodox rabbis could speak well.

Anyone who has spent any time studying Rav Hirsch's writings realizes that the man had an extremely high opinion of the very best that Western culture had to offer, and felt that--al pi mussar--it improved a person a made him a better eved Hashem to be highly cultured and highly literate.

This attitude of Rav Hirsch's has been explained at length in many serious books, studies, and lectures, many of them written by illustrious descendants of his who were also Torah leaders, like his son-in-law, Rav Shlomo Breuer, his grandsons, Rav Yosef Breuer and Rav Dr. Isaac Bruer, and his great-grandsons today in Israel, the world renowned historians and Tanach scholars (and also talmidei chachamim) the two cousins both named Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Breuer.

One last word: Moderator, I am totally blown away and impressed that you have seen and used the "Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry" put out by YIVO. You certainly know your stuff! And that is one very interesting book, isn't it?!

MODERATOR Posted - 10 September 2002 23:20

Etymology of words like these is a very unpredictable science. Cholent could have come from a word with an sh sound and gotten changed time and time again afterwards.

The name Shenur, too, doesn’t have to come from "senior". It is very possible that the Jews in those days started calling kids Shneur because it sounded like the Spanish name, so it "fit in" but their intention was a total Jewish name.

As far as Rav Hirsch goes, the problem is that you have to study Rav Hirsch's writings in the context of being written by an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who is as committed to shas and poskim as anyone else. And in Shulchan Aruch it rules - source form Yerushalmi, says the GRA - that one cannot learn secular studies as a course except for parnasa reasons etc. If it were true that secular studies are what Rav Hirsch says they are according to those who understand him the way you do, we surely would have heard of this way before Rav Hirsch came along. It makes no sense that in our tradition-based religion, a lone Godol in the 19th century should have a position that flies in the face of everything else.

And of course, it then becomes a "coincidence" that this Godol lived in the hotbed of Haskala territory, in the exact time and place that this Hashkofo was fashionable.

And that it was needed precisely in that time and place to save the Jews from the fashionable heretical haskalah right then and there.

If Rav Hirsh really believed that then he should provide us with some evidence that Chazal or Rishonim believed it too, which he does not do (the popular but mistaken finger-pointing at the Rambam on this issue is done by Rav Hirsch in just the opposite direction.

He rejects the derech of the Moreh Nevuchim in very strong terms.)

And if he did believe that, we would dismiss him as a daas yochid, unfathomable from a Halachic perspective, and life goes on. (Of course, that would not detract a drop form his stature).

Especially since his hashkafa is not quantifiable - how much secular knowledge is good? A HS diploma? BA? MA? PhD?

What exactly does this mean to us in the real world?

Rav Hirsch was talking in a time when those of the Torah-only camp did not even speak the language of the land. Today, everyone speaks English - we all get HS diplomas (for the most part), we all are computer literate and can function in society.

Is that not enough to fulfill Rav Hirsch's TIDE philosophy?

If Rav Hirsch was talking "bderech mussar" then by definition that means its value is contingent on the needs of the time and place.

In Navardok they rolled around in the snow and laid down in graves, "al derech mussar" - but what would the Alter of Navardok say today to our Yeshiva bochurim?

Even if it is true that all the "secular world" has to offer has "value", it still does not justify pursuing it in a time and place where such pursuit is spiritually costly.

If you take Rav Hirsch's writings in context of being bound to shas and poskim, and traditional torah hashkofo, I really only see two mathematical options here:

1) Rav Hirsch was responding to the needs of his time (this does not mean horaas shoah);

2) Rav Hirsch was influenced by the Hashkofos of his times (as Rav Elchonon Wasserman maybe hints at in his teshuva to Rav Schwab)

3) Rav Hirsch is some halachicly mysterious and inexplicable daas yochid that we have no idea why he said what he said or how to defend it form a Torah perspective

I prefer, because I know of the greatness of Rav Hirsch, the interpretation of Rav Schwab ZTL, i.e. #1 above.

PS - The YIVO book is interesting, but dripping with the usual secularist agendas.

Truth Seeker Posted - 20 March 2003 3:57


“And so there is no longer much difference between the chasidim and the misnagdim, both are living on a bare and basics level, and so there is really no reason to have separate camps anymore.

Today, we're all eating potatoes anyway, so why have separate kitchens.”

I had heard someone tell this moshol in the name of R' Yaakov Kaminetsky, ZT'L. Do you have a source for it being from the Komarna? (the author of 'Shulchan HaTahor'- a "Shulchan Aruch al pi Kabbala")

While I can appreciate the point of the moshol to a large degree, it nonetheless is an oversimplification that overlooks certain key facts.

First of all, there were _always_ exceptional individuals who could be said to be truly following the path of their respective "founding fathers", whether Chassidish or Litvish. On the Chassidishe side start with the Komarna himself!

And to skip all the way to our time, I don't think anyone who's opinion counts for anything who is familiar with the Skulener Rebbes, both the previous one, ZT'L and yb'l, the current one, shlita, doubts this about them. And about the Satmarar Rov, ZT'L's maamar 'nishtakach derech Ha Baal Shem Tov', you yourself said elsewhere that the SR was saying that people inaccurately and illegitimately claimed to follow said derech, _not_ that _no one_ is being true to it.

And I think few people familiar with R' Moshe Wolfson, shlita, ( former Mashgiach Ruchni of Torah VoDaas and Rav of Emunas Yisroel in Boro Park) would doubt that if anyone today could be said to be 'Chassidish' in the true sense of the word, he is right up there at the top of the list.

On the Litvisher side, does anyone doubt that such recent gedolim as say R' Aharon Kotler, R' Shach (both ZT'L) or yb'l, R' Chaim P. Scheinberg, followed the true, pure Litvishe derech? ( I deliberately left out certain other renowned names who while unquestionably being true gedolei Yisroel might nonetheless be seen, in varying degrees, as having incorporated certain other (such as Chassidish) elements and aspects into their ideology and approach)

Furthermore the moshol seems to completely overlook the fact that over time the actual Chassidic _ideologies_ and _drochim_ became increasingly recognized and respected as merely different but nonetheless kosher and legitimate paths in Yiddishkeit.

We need not look any farther than your comments elsewhere on this very site to find cases-in-point.

You described the sefer HaTanya as a masterpiece of Torah and Chassidus that _all_ respect. Yet, surely you know that R' Chaim Volohzner wrote the Sefer Nefesh HaChaim specifically to counter and provide a Misnagdisshe substitute for, the Tanya. Even more fundamentally, you wrote that the Baal Shem Tov's derech was what was needed and suited for the people he influenced.

“If the Baal Shem Tov would be here today, would he be able to recognize who are the chasidim? Maybe, maybe not. Chasidim were criticized because they used to spend so much time on davening, for instance, as opposed to learning, and davening was one of the main emphases of chasidus. So if the Baal Shem Tov would walk in to a chasidieh shtieble on a Wednesday, and see that shachris maybe takes 20 minutes, with people walking and talking, sometimes there are a dozen or more minyanim in a room, like a minyan factory and its hard to know which minyan you’re davening with - would he say "This is my derech?" “

Yes, the example you cite is all too typical and prevalent but what about if the Baal Shem Tov HaKodosh walked into Emunas Yisroel (see above) where a reg. weekday shacharis takes close to an hour-and-a-half, they daven with great enthusiasm and there is absolutely no talking tolerated whatsoever? Other exceptional chassidishe minyanim include Karlin-Stolin, R' Chaim Leib Katz's Sardeheli, Toldos Aharon and the Satmarar minyan in Boro Park that shares the building with a Klausenberger cheder and the Lubavitcher library 'Heichal Menachem'.

“And then he walks into a Yeshiva where a weekday davening takes maybe 45 minutes or more sometimes, with zero talking. Then you ask the Baal SHem Tov: Which one are the Chasidim?”

1. From my experiences with quite a few, really "yeshivishe" minyanim tend to take closer to a full-hour for a reg. weekday shacharis (without korbanos as most of them omit them).

2. What about the davening in Chassidishe _yeshivos_ and that in _Baalabatishe_ Litvishe minyanim?

You chose the worst of one and the best of the other.

Nonetheless, I can certainly appreciate the main point being made here and in fact even before reading this I myself had thought about how ( to take but one example out of many) the best people in Satmar are actually, in effect, following R' Aharon Kotler more than the worse people in Lakewood and best people in Lakewood are actually following the Satmarar Rov more than the worse people in Satmar!.

I heard R' Avigdor Miller, ZT'L, say that we should appreciate and learn from the specific _strengths_ and _good qualities_ of each kehila while rejecting and disregarding the _weaknesses_ and negative qualities.

NOTE: I highly suggest using a spell-checker.

MODERATOR Posted - 20 March 2003 4:20

I don’t have a spell checker on this site. You’ll have to forgive me, please.

The Nishtakach derech habbal shem tov statement was made with sweeping intent.

He says "the derech of the baal shem tov has been completely forgotten from the generation."

He didn’t mean just individuals forgot it.

There is a difference between being a righteous Jew and following the derech of the Baal Shem Tov. He is saying that today, yes, even righteous individuals may be righteous, but that doesn’t mean its the Baal Shem Tov's Chasidus.

I don’t see your point when you say that SOME chasidim daven properly - I was saying that what we perceive the Baal Shem Tov's derech to be today is shared by righteous individuals in all facets of Jewry. That wasn’t always so.

So today, if the righteous of all camps equally follow the Baal SHem Tov's derech and the unrighteous equally don’t, then the Baal SHem Tov didn’t really have a derech beyond simple righteousness.

And since that is false, then the conclusion we must draw is that the derech was nishtakach.

wanttoknowmore Posted - 24 June 2003 20:19

what does a person looking for a path go for. does he choose litvish or chassidish?

MODERATOR Posted - 24 June 2003 20:24

(a) You do what's best for you, but

(b) there’s very little difference nowadays anyway, except for the outside trappings. So it doesn’t make much of a diff.

Lchapes emes Posted - 06 August 2003 12:18

(b) isn't true according to the Lubavitcher propaganda I've been fed, which is that yiddishkeit is lifeless, cold and dull if you're not 'learning chassidus'.

Which effectively means that all litvish and chaga"s chassidim are living unfulfilled lives. [sarcasm intended]

MODERATOR Posted - 10 September 2003 14:20

Yes, that is true according to today's Lubavitch propaganda. And when they say "chasidus" they of course do not mean chasidus but rather chabad chasidus, and not even chabad chasidus in general, but chabad chasidus as interpreted, adapted and changed by the past Rebbe.

Forget that nonsense. Judaism is "lifeless" outside of Chabad, huh? I guess, then, that according to them, the measure of life in your Judaism is inversely proportionate to the measure of life in your current Rebbe.

molkas Posted - 02 November 2004 21:37

“I guess, then, that according to them, the measure of life in your Judaism is inversely proportionate to the measure of life in your current Rebbe.”

omigosh mod, I have been sitting here for an hour trying to figure out what this meant and it finally hit me. haha. lubavitchers say that Judaism is lifeless without Lubavitch chasidus, so then if your rebbe is dead, your Judaism has life and if your rebbe is alive then your Judaism is lifeless. awesome!

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