Time to Think about Ourselves

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9 Responses

  1. Yoinoson Schreiber says:

    I lived in Antwerp in the ’70’s and early ’80’s. Several people I knew including close relations had lived in Antwerp before the war and had survived the camps. To suggest that they wouuldn’t smile during the three weeks is ridiculous. They were chassidish inclined ballei battim, staunchly chareidi, but not in the way you wish to suggest.

  2. Edvallace says:

    Yoinoson,

    I would suggest that the attitude that YR discusses probably was not descriptive of the Chassidic community in general who were more into Simcha. Rather it typified the Litvishe Yeshivah communities and their ilk. In places like Telshe, Kelm, Slabodka and the like, this attitude was the norm. The saying in Lita was that “during Elul even the fish trembled in the water.”

  3. sarah elias says:

    Not only the Litvish world. There is a description of the Jewish community of Nitra, Slovakia (Oberlander, minhag Chasam Sofer Jews, far from Litvish) written by someone who visited in the 1930s during the Nine Days. He arrived at noon, and found all the Jewish shops closed and not a Jewish soul on the street. Upon visiting the shul, he encountered the entire population sitting on the floor and sobbing as if they had just received a telegram from Jerusalem informing them of the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash. We are not talking the yeshiva bochurim, we’re talking “simple” baalei-batim and storekeepers. These were “amoliger Yidden” and we are so far from their madreiga that we can’t even imagine someone being on that level.

  4. Joshua says:

    Jonathan,
    You are very correct in what you said about people asking forgiveness before Yom Kippur. People ask people who they really didn’t do anything to or they know they will forgive
    them. My father use to say the people that we really had a fight with or a dispute those are the people we should be calling to ask forgiveness but how many of us do this? I think the one thing that needs to be done is a way to prevent machlokes many things that are written unfortunately create disputes. I think we must all work together to create harmony. In the sefer Prach Mateh Arhon written by Hagaon Rav Ahron Soloveichik writes about how Rav Chaim his gerandfather went to ask forgiveness of people. The story I am sure is wriiten elsewhere and everyone should read it before Yom Kippur. A Gmar Chasima Tova to everyone.

    Sincerely,

    Joshua Nathan

  5. DovBear says:

    I hate to rain on the nostalgia parade, but it wasn’t so great in the old days. Remember the wars? The sickness? The early deaths? Moreover, if people could abandon their jobs to spend a whole month in Kelm, it only means that they were unemployed.

  6. Manny says:

    sarah elias: “a description of the Jewish community of Nitra, Slovakia… in the 1930s… Upon visiting the shul, he encountered the entire population sitting on the floor and sobbing as if they had just received a telegram from Jerusalem informing them of the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash. We are not talking the yeshiva bochurim, we’re talking “simple” baalei-batim and storekeepers. These were “amoliger Yidden” and we are so far from their madreiga that we can’t even imagine someone being on that level.”

    I would argue that this behavior among the “simple baalei-batim” is likely due in large part to the experience of living in 1930’s Eastern Europe, with rampant anti-semitism and the rise of the Nazi party…

  7. Yaakov Menken says:

    Unlike DovBear, I don’t see R’ Yonason admiring wars, sickness or early deaths. They also had all of those during the era of the Tanaim and Amoraim — should we not admire the level of learning that the Tanaim and Amoraim achieved?

    As for those who left their jobs… it’s funny, people leave their jobs for several weeks at a time in our day, and many of them are hardly unemployed. On the contrary, they head off on a cruise or to lay out in Cancun. It all depends upon what they consider more important than their jobs. It’s a great pity that even some Orthodox people can’t even imagine putting Elul in that category, much less doing it.

    Manny could be right, but was Nitra under Nazi control “in the 1930’s”? Until late in that decade, did people in Slovakia imagine what would happen to Europe? [The Czech portions of Czechoslovakia were taken by the Nazis in 1939, and only later that year, after the last Three Weeks of the 1930’s, did Slovakia become a Nazi puppet state under Jozef Tiso.]

  8. ksh says:

    “he was energetically advancing the theory that the average yeshiva student today is a more accomplished lamdan (scholar) than was the average yeshiva student in pre-War Europe.”

    Students in prewar yeshivas in Europe were a selected elite; i find this hard to believe. From a sum total of several thousand prewar yeshiva bochurim, I think I could name from personal knowledge 100 gaonim, and I have no special knowledge of this sort of thing. Of course the style of learning has changed, esp when compared to Poland (but this is not necessarily an umitigated blessing or a blessing at all).

    “Yes, Rabbi Yerucham replied, but it should at least bother you that you cannot say thank you, and I don’t see on your face that it bothers you.”

    With some trepidation, I’ll say that a) I’ve always disliked this story and b) disliked even more that people repeat it so happily. What is the lesson that one is supposed to draw from this story? To me, it illustrates that mashigichim had fairly intrusive and somewhat manipulative relationships with their students, which they may well have used to good effect most often, but which is a serious drawback both of the mussar movement as it was practiced, and one that haunts our society to this day. I suspect, further, that what was intended was a personal lesson to a relatively yekkish personality, and not a lesson for general consumption, and these type of stories were almost always geared to the individual student, personally, not meant as general lessons to apply equally to all.

  9. Mordechai says:

    For the record, R. Joshua Geldzahler is not of Litvish background, rather Hassidic (even if his Rebbetzin is Litvish). Also the fact is that Antwerp was/is not a Litvish city. There were/are many Galicianer Yidden living there.

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