With the bitter conflict between Mitnagdim and Chasidim
long behind us, there is no good reason to perpetuate the Gra's polemical interpretation of the Haggadah and no justification to spread the erroneous belief that the Haggadah makes not a single mention of Moses.
My father--who himself had strong affinities for chasidim
dating back to his childhood in the Ukraine--was sympathetic to Mr.
Reb Yankele was a Chasid, one of the Chasidim of Reb Nachman of Bratslav.
After the light of my eyes had been taken from me, my fellow Chasidim came to console me.
It is customary among our Chasidim that when one feels dejected and his deeds are not what they are supposed to be, he goes to a friend and pours out his heart until the other strengthens him with words and helps him emerge from his perplexed state.
The rise of the Chasidic Movement in the 17th century was welcomed with excommunication by leading Rabbis of the era; today, the Chasidim
are considered "ultra-Orthodox" in the spectrum of Judaism.
Of all the schisms in Judaism Christianity is but one example--Cabbalah is one of a few that gained full acceptance in the Jewish mainstream, from Chasidim
, who are the next link in the mystical chain, to the proudly rational Reform, who use rituals and liturgy developed by the Safed mystics.
The leaders of the Chasidim
address their communities and say: "Yidn (fellow Jews), let us do teshuvah and repent from our sins, and let us be prepared for the great Day of Judgment, at which time we will appear in the presence of the Court on High.
Clearly, conflicting identifies emerged, as Ashkenazic Zionists, Sephardic Jews, and Chasidim
all tried to "build" differing pasts in the land of Israel.
Berger lists seven different reasons, usually given by others, why he now believes that support for his view has been so slow in coming: 1) to avoid community strife; 2) Lubavitcher Chasidim live an exemplary Orthodox life; 3) Orthodoxy is already "Balkanized," so it is used to different Orthodoxies; 4) Lubavitch is a small movement, intertwined with other Orthodox groups in many ways; 5) Lubavitch is a very large, successful movement, of international, global reach and influence; 6) the messianism in Lubavitch is a "transient insanity"; 7) "they do so many good things.
Berger mentions four other reasons for the lack of Orthodox support for his position, which he readily answers: 1) this messianic belief is not so terrible; Chasidism would be threatened if Chasidim were told not to believe what their Rebbe told them; 3) the fight against Chabad will be difficult.
Before this, however, early in his career he had written Reb Yosele and the Bratslav Chasidim
, later published in 1932.
There I was, strolling through Crown Heights, Brooklyn -- an area nearly equally divided between blacks and Lubavitcher Chasidim -- when what should I spy but a New York City parking ticket tucked under the wiper blade of an oversized vehicle affectionately known as the "Mitzvah tank.
After all, he said (the he being Zalman Shmotkin, public relations director for Lubavitch), our Chasidim are more involved with the world than most -- and not only in terms of selling state of the art electronic equipment or diamonds.
To lump them, as is often the case, with other ultra-Orthodox Jews is simultaneously correct (so far as generalizations go) and rather off the mark -- for what distinguishes the Lubavitcher Chasidim is a commitment to spiritual outreach that now literally circles the globe.