For an enlarged, easier to read index click here . To "google search" this site, scroll to the bottom of this page. (This site is best viewed with "Firefox")

(Tips: F11 key enables full screen viewing & Ctrl-F to search the index)


FACTIONS-----chasidus 2

okdok Posted - 06 February 2004 8:31


“And by the way, your idea of chasidus is a folklore version of it, not the real thing”

Ok, could you explain to me then what Chasidus is all about according to your understanding?

MODERATOR Posted - 06 February 2004 9:52

In the Different Types of Orthodoxy forum, Chasidus is discussed. In short, it was teachings that enable its students to reach higher levels. It was spread in the generation of the Baal Shem Tov because the time came where those particular types of teachings were what the Jews needed.

Nothing in Chasidus is "new", in the same sense that nothing in Mussar or Kabbalah is "new." The Satmar Rav ZTL once said that all the approaches of all the Talmidei HaBaal Shem Tov are contained in the Chovos Halevovos.

How these teachings worked and what they were about is a long topic. First, see the "Internalizing your learning" topic in the "Learning" forum (which hasn’t gone up yet -- iy"h and bli neder this Sunday it will be there).

Most people look at reality in the way that, well, in the way that it looks. But materialistic reality - the reality that we see, is only a shell. There is a lot going on behind the scenes. Chasidus was an approach to Avodas hashem that allows the vision of the Talmid to pierce the materialistic shell and see what the world really is, what is really going on "behind the scenes".

It was kind of like the Chofetz Chaim's story about Hashem having a map of the world, in which Radin, a small nothing of a town, is larger than Paris, because on Hashem's map, it’s Torah that counts, not population. So too the entire world is not the way it seems. Chasidus let a person see reality for what it is, as per its pnimius as taught in Kabbalah. This would totally change a person's entire Avodas Hashem (you’ll have to wait until Sunday to read the Internalizing forum).

That was the roots. There stemmed from that many effects, such as the idea that every person has a soul with its own specific roots, and its own specific spiritual needs, responsibilities, abilities, and mission. This is part of what you are able to see if your vision takes you past the outer shell of a human, and deep into his soul.

Some people - great Tzadikim - are the conduit of G-d's blessing in this world. As the Gemora says, the world is sustained by the merit of the Tzadikim. We all know this, but a Chosid would look at a Tzadik and see not only a righteous person, but he would see a conduit for all blessing in this world - the pipe through which Hashem's shefa flowed.

And the Tzadik himself would be able to see into the student, to see the inner needs of their souls and teach them according to those needs. This is why you have so many different approaches in Chasidus. Each Rebbe was teaching according to the needs of his specific students. And which type of students were addressed by the Rebbe depended on the roots of the Rebbe’s particular soul as well. A Rebbe-talmid relationship was kind of like two people with the same soul-roots, one being taught the specific teachings that would nurture his soul to the maximum, by someone who has already done that.

Chasidim looked at the world as one big spiritual arena, and the idea of Ain od Milvado and Yichud Hashem - G-d's Oneness, was not merely something they focused on, but something they were aware of and saw constantly. So when they were tempted by the Yetzer Horah, they looked at it as a rebel trying to tempt them to rebel against the King, but rather as an undercover agent of the King trying to get them to rebel against the King.

Once you identify the drug dealer trying to sell to you as an undercover cop, there is no longer any temptation to buy the drugs. Ands so Chasidim would look at the world the way it really is -- all an expression of Hashem's will -- and the Yetzer Horah as what it really is: an agent of Hashem, working "undercover" to catch lawbreakers.

That is the basic idea what it means when you see the Chasidic teaching that even "evil" is "good".

Once you learn the "inside" of the world, of the things going on behind the scenes, you realize that every physical object has a purpose in this world, and when you learn that making a Brachah on an apple activates the spiritual "sparks" that are contained in that apple - because the apple, too, is merely the Will of G-d shaped in a way that looks like an apple - and by doing so, you have facilitated the sanctification of the world. So when a Chosid made a Brachah, he was cognizant of what was happening, not only in his mouth, but in the "real" world as well.

And the better a Brachah you make - the more kavanah, the more halachicly precise, uttered by a more righteous person, and this is very important - the more the person making the Brachah is aware of what is happening - the more that food upon which the Brachah was made was fulfilled. And so if a Tzadik makes a brachah on a plate of food, the chosid will want to eat some of it. This is kind of the way Korbonos work - where an act upon a physical morsel of food fulfills the food in a spiritual way.

Now here's where people get messed up: None of this means that it is a Mitzvah to eat an apple. And none of this means that if you eat more apples you will get more Gan Eden, because even though it may be the apple's "spiritual destiny" to get a brachah made on it, it is not our "spiritual destiny" to be busy with apples. We have Torah and Mitzvos as our job. Rather, when you DO make a brachah on the apple, you are cognizant of what is happening "behind the scenes."

This is where the folklore version of chasidus - they that "serve hashem through Gashmiyus" originated. When Jews are involved in Gashmiyus, the Jew isn’t serving Hashem - the Gashmiyus is, kind of. It’s doing its mission in the world. So if you’re an apple, then the folklore version of Chasidus applies to you. If you’re a person, you’re got it backwards.

Chasidus - its teachings, its minhagim, its hashkofos - is driven by a natural reaction to knowing what is going on "inside" the shell of Gashmiyus.

So if you and I are walking down the street, and we see a drug deal going down, and I recognize the dealer as an undercover cop, and you don’t know how undercover cops look, so you think its a real drug deal, then I will pass by and smile at the cop, wishing him good morning and thanking him for protecting my neighborhood, and you will look at me like I am nuts, and you will say that my Hashkafa is to have a positive attitude toward drug dealers, and when I tell you that the dealer and the bag of heroine he is carrying really serve a very important moral purpose, you will either

(a) think I’m off the derech, or

(b) think that my derech is to be pro-drugs.

And so it is with Chasidus. Chasidim never "served Hashem through Gashmiyus." Rather, they saw Hashem in the Gashmiyus, the way you see law enforcement in an undercover drug dealer. But "seeing Hashem in the Gashmiyus" does not mean

(a) that we should involve ourselves in the Gashmiyus, the same way that recognizing a drug dealer as an undercover cop doesn’t mean you are involved in drugs,

(b) that there is no difference between Gashmiyus and ruchniyus: our job in this world is fulfilled by NOT buying the drugs, by AVOIDING getting busted - our job is to pursue ruchniyus, to run away from the undercover drugs, and to do Torah and Mitzvos. Eating apples is NOT part of our job. Nobody ever said it was.

I suggest you also see the "hester ponim" post in the "G-d" forum, where this "undercover" idea is explained more fully.

No comments: