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

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More on love for fellow chassidim

In the HaYom Yom of 24 Teves, the Yom Hillula of the Alter Rebbe, it is written:
אאזמו"ר שאל את הצ"צ: וואס האט דער זיידע געוואלט מיט דרכי החסידות ...
... ויענהו הצ"צ: דרכי החסידות איז, אז אלע חסידים זאלען זיין ווי איין משפחה ע"פ התורה באהבה
היום יום כד טבת
[The Previous Rebbe related:] My grandfather (the Rebbe Maharash] asked the Tzemach Tzedek: What did grandfather [the Alter Rebbe] intend with the “ways of Chassidus” ... ?

The Tzemach Tzedek answered: The “ways of Chassidus” are in order that all chassidim be like one family, with affection, as Torah teaches.

HaYom Yom, 24 Teves.
In my own words with some explanation:

What are “the ways of Chassidus”? This is a broad term that refers to various practices other than study of Chassidus emphasized as appropriate Chassidic conduct. In particular, the Previous Rebbe says (Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. 3, pp. 848-850) that the ways of Chassidus include Avodas HaTefillah, attending regular farbrengens, singing Niggunim, and telling stories of chassidim and of Rebbeim. It would seem to me that minhogei (customs of) Chabad also fall under this rubric.

The Rebbe Maharash says in the above HaYom Yom that the Alter Rebbe’s intent in establishing the various ways of Chassidus was a yet deeper goal, namely to unite chassidim through these practices, bringing them to a deep love for one another, “like one family.” The analogy with a family appears clear: All chassidim are like children of the Rebbe, their father.

In more practical terms:

1. It is not remarkable that a farbrengen is related to developing ahavas Yisrael and ahavas chassidim, for a farbrengen necessarily involves relating to others. The chiddush here appears to be that Avodah according to Chassidus should not be exclusively self-focused. There should be a sense that engaging in this activity, although it may not directly involve others, should bring one to a deeper identification with all fellow chassidim. Similarly, the act of becoming inspired from a chassidishe niggun and the like or story should be permeated with this feeling of community.

2. When one meets a fellow
chossid one should immediately feel a special affinity, a bond, a warmth, because “we are all the children of one father.” This is comparable to relating to fellow family members, where one feels a natural closeness and not a feeling one needs to consciously evoke. 

Granted, the relationship with family can and should be further enhanced through proper reflection on the nature of one’s shared bond, and the same applies to one’s relationship with fellow chassidim. Still, that is a later stage. The core of the relationship to the community of chassidei Chabad (the statement in the HaYom Yom above was said specifically regarding the Alter Rebbe, so it would seem that one cannot extrapolate that this principle is necessarily applicable when relating to members of other Chassidic circles as well) is that a natural affinity ought to exist between fellow chassidim. If this feeling is missing, G–d forbid, this is a cause for serious concern.


  1. Although, according to this, Breslover chassidim would feel added affinity towards other Breslov chassidim. No?

  2. Indeed they would, and that would be perfectly appropriate, although as I pointed out in my post, that doesn't necessarily mean (though it may, I don't know, that's something that they would need to clarify from their own texts) that the deeper purpose of their customs is to bring a sense of love and affection among members of their community. This is a concept that the Rebbe Maharash said specifically concerning the intentions of the Alter Rebbe in establishing the uniquely Chabad "ways of Chassidus".

  3. So the A"R changed/ created minhagim in order to create a feeling of love and affection within Chabad?

  4. That was the Alter Rebbe's deeper intention, yes. It's not my chiddush; it's written clearly in HaYom Yom. (Note that the Alter Rebbe didn't "innovate" minhogim in the sense of pulling them out of nowhere ch"v; they all had and have a basis in earlier sources.)


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