Ask The Rabbi

For the week ending 25 January 2014 / 24 Shevat 5774

Rav Shach on Chasidism

by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman - www.rabbiullman.com
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

From: Barbara

Dear Rabbi,

Are the statements from the late Rav Shach which sound anti-Chasidic in fact an expression of his opposition to Chasidism, or were they separate comments having nothing to do with the earlier, historical contentions of Mitnagdim and Chasidim which I thought had been resolved and were over?

Dear Barbara,

It is my understanding that Rav Shach reportedly expressed on several occasions that he did not oppose Chasidism in general, whose ranks are replete with G-d-fearing, observant and learned adherents. Apparently, he also expressed that he did not oppose any specific Chasidic group in what he considered to be its original form.

So it would seem that Rav Shach's opposition was not against Chasidism in general, or against any particular Chasidic group per se, but rather that he disagreed with the approach or leadership of some of those groups.

That being said, personally, I've always avoided getting into the details of that type of discussion, as I try to avoid all such divisiveness among Orthodox groups.

My take is that there's little we can do individually to resolve such tensions, but we can certainly avoid increasing them. Anyway, there's enough antagonism against Judaism from without that we don't need to stir it up from within.

Nowadays, all the mainstream movements (i.e., Litvish, Chasidic, Sefardi) and their relevant subgroups are relatively accepted or at least tolerated by the others. They're all G-d-fearing and observant, and it would behoove us to be even more accepting and inclusive — not divisive.

Let's focus on correcting ourselves, not others, and promoting similarities instead of differences.

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