"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ahavas chassidim

Some (usually beginners to the path of Chassidus) question the concept of ahavas chassidim, love of chassidim, i.e., for chassidim to feel and express an extra love and affection for fellow chassidim than for non-chassidim. Isn’t it contrary to the principle of Ahavas Yisrael to so discriminate?

To this I respond: Do you love your father more than the fathers of other Jews? Do you love your siblings more than the siblings of other Jews? What about your children?

Is this discrimination contrary to the principle of
Ahavas Yisrael? Not really. When there is a deeper connection, there is deeper love. That doesn’t imply that there’s can’t be genuine love without it; there can be and there should be. It simply means that there are levels in love. For example, I can love someone who is not my close relative, and we can even become very close friends, but it will simply be a different, far closer relationship if it is a relative.

To base this in

chassidim, the Rebbe is like a father, according to the ma’amarei Chazal[1]:

  • Kol hamelamed es ben chaveiro Toiro, maaleh olov hakosuv k’ilu yoldoi” (anyone who teaches Torah to the son of his fellow, the verse considers it as if he begot him);
  • Veshinantom levonecho: eilu ha’talmidim” (‘Teach them (the words of Torah) to your sons’: this refers to one’s students.”)

So it’s natural that there is a different feeling to the Rebbe, who is like one’s spiritual father, and to his chassidim, who are like one’s spiritual siblings, than to others. Since there is a deeper bond between the Rebbe and the chassidim, and between the chassidim, there is naturally a deeper level of love.

[1] See the expression of the Sifri:

לבניך - אלו התלמידים. מצינו בכל מקום שהתלמידים קרויים "בנים", שנאמר (דברים יד, א): "בנים אתם לה' אלקיכם", ואומר (מלכים-ב, ב, ג) : "בני הנביאים אשר בבית אל", וכן בחזקיהו שלימד תורה לכל ישראל וקראם "בנים", שנאמר (דברי הימים-ב, כט, יא) : "בני, אל תשלו". וכשם שהתלמידים קרויים בנים, כך הרב קרוי אב.


  1. But to say that the Rebbe is our father more than theirs...
    Or to say that we are not all siblings in the same way....
    Somehow it doesn't fit.
    Kol Yisrael- not just chassidim- nikr'i'u achim mamash...

  2. See my next post on ahavas Chassidim here: http://a-farbrengen.blogspot.com/2008/09/ahavas-chassidim-2.html The relationship between the Rebbe and Chassidim, and the relationship with fellow Chassidim, is simply much deeper.

  3. I did read the other post- first, since it was posted later. I still find it difficult to accept that the love between chassidim should be greater than the love between a chassid and any other Yid.
    All Yidden are equally brothers.
    And having a 'favorite' brother is not true A"Y.

  4. So why do we distinguish between immediate blood family and other Jews, if the feeling one has should be completely equal? Is it expected that we relate to all Jews literally equally?

  5. Perhaps not. But then again, is this something to be encouraged? It is one thing to feel it naturally. It is a totally different ballpark to be saying that this is ideal. Which, if I understood correctly, is what you are saying.

    This is not to say that I don't feel an extra affinity towards my family, or towards chassidim in general. It just means that l"d is this ideal.

  6. So the ideal is not to feel an extra affinity with your family? Al pi Torah one has a different relationship with one's parents, with one's wife, with one's siblings, and with one's children than with others, as is evident from many halochos (e.g., obligation of financial support, tzedaka, mourning lo aleinu, etc.). If one feels literally the same to one's family as one does to non-family, there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. So too with one's "Chassidic family."


Thank you for your comment! :)