Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Us and ritual

Last night Morristown Smicha had a very nice farbrengen in honor of the birthday's of two of our number. After the farbie I was asked by a number of people if I was going to blog about it. At first I thought not to, because it wasn't one of those farbies that one blogs about.
After a little reflection I realized that on fact there was a lot I could write about.
In the big wide world there is a custom of certain people to follow the doings of other people. The center of this universe is Hollywood, but it has branches all over the big wide world. Shmuelie Chazanow says that there is a certain population of lubavitchers who do the same thing, if the subject of their attention is a bit different. Instead of watching Entertainment Tonight these Lubavitchers read COL. Instead of reading People magazine they read Shturem. Instead of following celebrities they follow Shluchim. Now, far be it from me to dissuade anyone from pleasuring themselves in whatever which way they choose to do so; this free license, guaranteed by our glorious Constitution, does not however mean that people have a right to inflict their passions on the rest of us. Why exactly do I have to sit and listen, by a supposedly spiritually uplifting chassidic gathering, to prattle about this head shliach's fight with this head shliach, or the amazing wonder, that this macher in Lubavitch sat next to this guy's son in law, or various other permutations of the same? Who cares? I understand when someone obsessively follows the Rebbe. The Rebbe is someone who is worthy of being obsessively followed. His shluchim on the other hand, while undoubtedly being truly incredible fellows, are not worthy of this attention. You think it makes you chassidish to wear silk socks? Go knock yourself out. You think it makes you chassidish to have a shirt that was vomited on by Berel Shemtov? Not so much.

In other news, I was privileged to hear a classic debate between Rabbi Chaim Schapiro and a bochur who threatened to sue if I didn't preserve his anonymity. He came up to the great rabbinic scholar and asked, "Which is more important, mikveh or davening with a minyan?" the great Rabbi answered, "I'm not going to answer that question, but I will say what I personally do; if I'm very careful to go to mikveh everyday, like obsessively careful, then yes, I would put that before communal prayer. Why? Very simple. There's a possibility that I will be breaking an issur d'oraisa if I break my hachlata to go to mikveh everyday, whereas davening with a minyan is only a recommended practice, not an absolute obligation. However, if I wasn't very careful to go to mikveh everyday, then I would daven with the minyan and go to mikveh later. " The bochur said, "Does that mean that mikveh is more important than davening with a minyan?" Our faithful leader said, "No, I didn't say that. All I said was what I would do. Look, it's like if the only bread you had for lechem mishne was pas palter. Would you use it? No. Would a misnaged use it? Of course. Would he think you crazy for not using it? Of course. So why wouldn't you use it? After all, lechem mishne is a din in shulchan oruch, and pas palter is only a chumra. But...you wouldn't use it for a very simple reason. You don't eat pas palter! That's all that matters! You want halachic backing? Fine, so it would be a mitzvah sheba al yedei aveirah."
My bochur friend didn't quite understand that, and continued to argue for, I kid you not, two hours, but the rabbi have up no ground. Which makes sense to me.

14 comments:

Nemo said...

If I may put words in the bochur's mouth, I believe that what he meant to say, but couldn't figure out how to articulate in his two hour argument, was:

What if you have a hachlata to go to minyan every day? Shouldn't that hachlata counter the minyan hachlata because it not only is a hachlata, but also a "recommended practice?"

The Real Shliach said...

I think you mistyped here, but what I believe you're trying to say, what I they're equally muchrach by him? So, the answer is, you'll find a way to do it. Either you'll get up on time, or find a later minyan, or something. If you allow this situation to develop, that it's one or the other, then obviously you don't really care that much.

Nemo said...

Poor, poor answer. Don't go to law school. Don't pass go. Don't collect your $200.

What if it does happen? Then what do you do?

What should you do IF, by occasion or misadventure, you find yourself at 9:29 unsure of whether to go to the Mikveh or catch a minyan?

Nemo said...

According to your logic, you should never have a question of what to do when milk falls in your chicken soup. If it was that important to you, you should have prevented it from happening in the first place.

But the issue at hand is not what you should have done, or even how you resolve to conduct yourself in the future. No you have to respond, and indeed act, on the exigency of the case.

Here before you lies a dillema: a pot of questionably tainted soup, or the option to daven or dunk. You must make a conscious decisions about what to do.

SZB said...

I'll reserve comment on your first item for now.

My great respect and reverence [bordering on the type you described above] for the esteemed Rabbi is well know i therefore find it hard to believe that he would say something even remotely resembling "minyan is only a recommended practice" when 'kol bar bei rav' knows Reb Moshe's famous Teshuvah where he elucidates the SA phraseology, i therefore attribute the erroneous transmission of the Rabbi's holy words to his unworthy disciple i.e. you.

The Real Shliach said...

Nemo: nu, if it's really important to you, you'll find a way to do both. For example, here in motown, if you missed the minyan, then you could drive to crown heights.

SZB: correct you are.

Nemo said...

Thus resulting in further issues/hachlatas. What about coming to seder on-time?

The Real Shliach said...

Listen, nemo, ain l'davar sof. You'll always be able to find different scenarios; the point here was what R' Chaim said about this specific question.

Nemo said...

Which is the worse evil?

The Real Shliach said...

Mikveh or minyan? Listen, that answer was just R' Shapiro's own feeling on the matter, not a psak Halacha.

SZB said...

I believe that R' Chaim in his great wit answered the questioner not the question. v'dal.

The Real Shliach said...

Yup.

hey babes said...

You think it makes you chassidish to have a shirt that was vomited on by Berel Shemtov? i dono bout' you but i think it does

The Real Shliach said...

Who would've thought?