Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bits of it

Last night we had a farbrengen here at RCA with Rabbi Aaron Gancz. Due to a variety of factors I was only able get down a few of the things he said. Oh well.

Misnagdim like to tell a mashal about two brothers who were very rich, and did everything together. One of them developed an ulcer, and his doctors told him he couldn't eat meat anymore, only milchigs. A little while later the other brother found out that he was lactose intolerant, and be could only eat meat products. Since they were very rich they made two separate kitchens, with two separate wait staffs and everything, one serving exclusively meat, the other milk.
Eventually the economy turned south, and the brother's fortunes too declined. Neither could afford their previous luxuries, and they both cut down in their food consumption. The one had to stop eating meat and went to chicken. Eventually he couldn't even afford that, and he was reduced to chicken, thence chicken wings, and then at the end he could only afford potatoes. So too the other brother lost his money, and he went from pizza to mai challav to...potatoes.
The brothers realized the situation, and figured, why are we keeping two separate kitchens? It's so expensive, such a waste. We'll combine them!

The misnagdim say, back in the day, the misnagdim were real misnagdim, the chassidim were real chassidim. Look at the Gra, the Baal haTanya, the many other great leaders of yesteryear. And now? What do we have? We're both eating potatoes! Let's combine our kitchens.

When R' Yoel Kahn heard this he wasn't impressed. He explained that in reality chassidus has spread so far that the misnagdim have become chassidim! All their theology has become chassidus, even if they don't know it, even if they don't want to know it, facts are...
-----
When Rabbi Gancz was a kid in Satmar his teacher brought in a Russian Jew who told them his story. He grew up frum, keeping kosher, davening three times a day, learning Torah, etc. The only thing was, in Soviet Russia it was impossible to go to shul, especially if you were a kid.
This kid grew up into a young man, as frum as anyone, but he had never gone to shul, never davened with a minyan. Came shavuos, and he had a huge taavah to hear the aseres hadibros. The only thing stopping him was the knowledge that if he went bad things would happen to him. A taavah is a taavah, he went to shul. And as he had known, he was arrested for two weeks, lost his job, and generally was made miserable.
After the man finished the story Rabbi Gancz's teacher said, "You see the kinds of trouble you'll get into if you give into your taavos?"
-------
A woman came to Rabbi Gancz when he worked in the diamond business many years ago, and told him a story. Her parents didn't raise her frum or anything, and she was quite surprised when she came home and found out what her mother had to say to the question, "What would you do if I came home with a goy?" Her mother, sensing that this was more than just a theoretical question, answered, "Simple. I'd kill you."
The girl was not only surprised but she was also perturbed, and she packed her bags and prepared to leave forever. Just as she was dragging her suitcases out of the house she figured she'd ask her father what he thought. So up she went to him, and asked her father the question. He took some time to respond, but eventually he answered. "I'd get a gun with two bullets. With one I'd shoot you, because you can't live with a goy. With the other I'd shoot myself, because I can't live without you."
For the first time in her life she understood that Judaism meant something to someone. Not only in a negative way, but in a positive way. Something worth getting worked up about. Or something like that.
-------
One of R' Mendel Futerfas' daughters passed away, and by the funeral he was seen to be mumbling through his tears. A guy walked over and heard what he was saying, "Fifty years and you still haven't gotten that everything is for the good?" A little while later his niece passed away, and he was really crying this time. His wife asked him, "You cry more for your niece than your own daughter?"

84 comments:

zalmy said...

beautiful words! i have been to several farbrengens with rabbi gancz and he always say the most nicest of things.

zalmy said...

i dont get the punch line of the last story about r' mendel futerfas.

The Real Shliach said...

A friend of mine had an argument about this. He said that the punchline is what R' Mendel was mumbling, while I say that's it's what his wife said.

zalmy said...

sorry, still dont get it.

Crawling Axe said...

I think he was mumbling, “Where are the fifty years of the perek yud-alef of Iggeres HaKoidesh?”

Never heard the second part of the story.

But there is a similar story about when the first rebbetzin of the Rebbe Maharash passed away. Her father was crying. Her mother said: “You liked the candle for the wedding, but you don’t like the candle for the yortzeit?” (Meaning, both candles come from the same source.)

The Real Shliach said...

You get what my friend thinks the punchline is, yeah? Good.
I taanah that at the end R' Mendel realized that religion or no religion, 50 years of work or no 50 years of work, there's a thing called life which you've got to deal with.

zalmy said...

so why did he cry for his niece and not his daughter?

The Real Shliach said...

CA: never hears that one. Nice. Btw, funny, isn't it, how she's been excised from history.

yossi said...

hey, i agree with Zalmy. (about Gancz's stories.)

The Real Shliach said...

Zalmy: you get it now?

Yossi: nice to hear from you.

yossi said...

hey, no prob. send regards to michael.

Zalmy said...

no.

The Real Shliach said...

Yossi: will do.

Zalmy: so why did he cry more by the niece? I'd like to think he did so because he understood that life happens, and no matter how much you prepare it still hurts pretty bad. I'm not sure were that ends up though.

Crawling Axe said...

I like Reb Yoyel’s comment. A good response to the conversation here.

Crawling Axe said...

I just think there wasn’t much of history there. She got sick after or during sheva brochos. But because of this, Rebbe Rashab became the Rebbe (I’m not saying it wouldn’t happen otherwise, just this was the way it happened).

LE7 said...

Wow, I think I'm going to try the shooting trick on my sisters.

The Real Shliach said...

CA: I noticed you didn't say much in that discussion-what happened, tongue tied? Bichlal, unless it's very entertaining, I find such discussions to be a waste of time.

Re: Rebbitzen: whatever. If your grandmother had wheels she'd be a bus.

LE7: knowing you, they should be scared.

LE7 said...

I'm a decent shot, but I don't have a gun or a license. Maybe I'll just threaten them by offering to drive them somewhere.

Crawling Axe said...

I discovered it after it already happened. Wrote the whole post about it yesterday, though (called “You’re wrong”). I agree that they are waste of time, since nobody agrees on anything. But for people like me, they are entertaining to read.

The Real Shliach said...

LE7: sounds dangerous.

CA: for people like me they're bad-they increase our blood pressure.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

LE7: saying or doing?

It's true. The chasidim won. THink about it, the whole debate is couched in terms of the chassidim (winners) and misnagdim (marginalized "opponents") And the misnagdim, by banning theology and grammar (two pet peeves) today's misnagdim are utterly ignorant of both placing them at the mercy of chassidim for their theology. Today's RYs give havtochos, take pidyoines and kvitlach, promote hiskashrus and in some cases even fir tish.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

LE7: In the immortal words of Jews and Italians everywhere -- "for that I know a guy for me he'll give you a good price too"

LE7 said...

MBM - Huh?

Crawling Axe said...

Re: goyishe husband. Rabbi Shusterman from Delaware once told me a story about a guy who came to him crying. His sister was dating a goy, who was a drug dealer (my rabbi’s father says: eating treif is not enought, gotta go for the chazar), his mother had a weak heart, the whole thing was causing a lot of tzuros. So, Rabbi Shusterman said: “Look, I am going to NY next week, I’ll be at the ohel; write a letter to the Rebbe.”

The guy wrote a letter to the Rebbe, asking that “the situation will be resolved”. Rabbi S. read it at the ohel. In a month, the guy comes back and crying even worse. Rabbi asks him what’s up. The guy says: the drug dealer died. He felt it was his responsibility and was wondering how to tell his sister. Rabbi told him not to tell the sister and just calm down about it.

Anyway, point being: be careful what you wish for.

Re: grandmother — how many of those are out there? (Not grandmothers, but these lines; I must have heard a dozen; the famous being, if grandmother had mustache, she’d be a grandfather, which is not true of course, since a lot of Russian grandmothers have mustache.)

LE7 said...

Eek you're right. I just want my sisters to dump their nit yidden.

Crawling Axe said...

Re: blood pressure. I am sure it’s those bagels. If you are angry, you know you are alive. Or at least that you care.

The Real Shliach said...

Yup.

MHO said...

What me thinks R'Mendel's story is, is that for YOUR OWN tzoros, you have to look and say, "This is for the good". Whatever the One Above does is good.
However, his niece which is not so close to him, he can cry, for that is not HIS tzoro, so to speak, maybe he was crying for his brother/sister who lost their child.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

LE7: about the license. As for getting your sisters to dump their boyfriends, don't you know conventional wisdom is that getting involved will turn everything into a clusterf? Don't you watch any vapid television?

Sorry to make light of it, but I thought a little humor would help. None of my first cousins on my mother's side are Jewish, you see.

Hatzlocha.

LE7 said...

Sorry I'm a bit dense.

Hey I stayed out so far. My dad's whole family isn't Jewish...

The Real Shliach said...

MHO: I sincerely hope that's not pshat.
Modeh: clusterf?

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

Ouch. And I was joking about taking hashkofa from 90210. You know them, you judge what to say. Alternatively if you are as socially hopeless as I am consult a rabbi who knows all parties concerned except the boyfriends who are last on your list of priorities. I know that's harsh but family first.

PS if you are ever tempted to give up take a look here
and ask yourself if you could read any one of these ksubos without crack up and tearing kria in that order.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

TRS: trying to avoid nevala vd"l

The Real Shliach said...

Those are some pretty messed kesubos.
Nevala: eh?

David said...

TRS- Admit it, even you don't get that story with Reb Mendel.

The Real Shliach said...

Maybe.

LE7 said...

Clusterf is short for Clusterf*** I believe.

Cheerio said...

chabad's not perfect... yet i hear these stories and think: yeah, but we're SO much better than that!

sarabonne said...

Poor rich/poor brothers, they should have just eaten bagels...or join the dark side and become vegan.
Good stories though.

Nemo said...

Besides for the overt racism in the first Moshol, I think the punchline is a good punchline.

Except that a couple Yeshivish guys pissed me off yesterday while I was enjoying my Philly falafel. They were visiting Center City Philadelphia from NYC and they happened upon me in the falafel joint. So they started asking me all the typical questions that make material for Frum Satire: what do you mean there are no other kosher restaurants? Where do you take a shidduch around here? Why doesn't this falafel owner move to New York or Lakewood? Do you know 'Falafel Uri' in Yerushalayim? etc. etc.

But then they started insulting Philadelphia, and for the first time, I found some deep-seated civic pride in my adopted home, and got really annoyed. There we are in the middle of a bunch of skyscrapers and office buildings, and this guy asks me where the downtown is. I told him he's right in the middle of it and he responds that it's so small he wouldn't have even noticed.

Ouch. FU2 buddy.

fakewood inc. said...

i think the moral of that story was as i remember. for his pain he didnt feel right crying but for someone elses pain its ok to cry. you have to accept what goes does to you but you can complain for someone else.

LE7 said...

That's the most sensible answer I've heard so far.

fakewood inc. said...

the beauty of a chasidishe story is that it talks to everyone on their level.

The Real Shliach said...

I don't know-I still don't like that answer.

fakewood inc. said...

why not?

The Real Shliach said...

There's such a difference between a niece and a daughter?

fakewood inc. said...

yes. but my point was that he was crying for the parents of the kid that past away

Dovid said...

Fakewood's answer doesn't explain the part about the guy that criticized Reb Mendel for not seeing that everything is for the good.

fakewood inc. said...

reb mendel was talking to himself. he was saying i learned in tanya for 50 years that everything is for the good. why cant i apply it now to my personal life

The Real Shliach said...

I don't like the answer because it takes away from the humanity of the guy. I'd prefer to think that in fact he learned his lesson.

fakewood inc. said...

thats the whole point of tanya to dehumanize and be one with your gdly soul

The Real Shliach said...

The point of tanya is not to dehumanize, but rather to channel your human nature and make it G-dly. There's a big difference.

mho said...

Hey! That is WHAT I SAID!
Thank you Mr.Fakewood!

Crawling Axe said...

I agree with Fakewood. It’s not point of Tanya to dehumanize — that’s the point of mussar. The point of Tanya is to degoyize. Or to denefesh’habahamisize.

I think A"R is clear regarding sorrow and depression. But to accept (or try to accept) our own sorrow is one thing. Others’ sorrow is different. We find Rebbeim to be pretty calm about themselves, but crying bitterly about others’ tzuros. E.g., FR in Warshah.

fakewood inc. said...

Ca- when I used dehumanize I meant it in the goy n"bh sort of way not the nefesh hasichlis kind of a way

fakewood inc. said...

I just thought of this wouldn't ur humanes tell u to be sad for your own sorrow?

Crawling Axe said...

No idea.

The Real Shliach said...

Exactly.

Dovid said...

Maybe the story is saying that even though "everything is for the good", you still need to be human and have feeling.

TRS won't you just ask Rabbi Gancz?

The Real Shliach said...

I know what he'll say, because he said it by the farbrengen-the main part is the first part. I happen to disagree

Crawling Axe said...

Sounds to me like some sort of R’ Akiva vs. R’ Yishmoel argument.

Some people want to see real life in Torah. Others want to see Torah in real life.

mm said...

Perek 11 -lihaskilcha vina....

Tis not that you don't experience pain- but that you realize that pain is also good.

The Real Shliach said...

Nice. Actually, that's what Gancz said R' Mendel said-haskel bina. I just couldn't remember the loshon.

chanie said...

The reason he cried more for his neice was because his daughter, m'eila, he'll deal. His sister/brother, it hurts more to think of them having to deal.

The Real Shliach said...

What's his wife, chopped liver?

chanie said...

Yep. :)

The Real Shliach said...

Oh man, I hate to have to take the position of feminist here.

chanie said...

Why do you have to be feminist? Is it possible that he knew his wife was dealing with it better than his brother was?

The Real Shliach said...

Possible. I still like my interpretation better.

chanie said...

But your interpretation is disgusting.

The Real Shliach said...

No, mine is humane. Yours is sick.

chanie said...

Mine is not sick, yours lacks dan l'chaf z'chut on a chassid.

Crawling Axe said...

When I hear the word “humane”, I reach for my gun.

Crawling Axe said...

The point is, FR was still crying in Warsaw. Yet he was calm. Why (crying)?

The Real Shliach said...

Chanie: mine shows the power of human growth. Yours shows a callous disregard for human emotion.

CA: baishanim, rachmanin, gomlei chasadim.

The mind is strong but the body is weak.

chanie said...

Mine shows an appreciation for the wide range of human emotions, and sensitivity towards appropriate reactions. Yours shows lack of understanding towards those same reactions.

Sometimes human emotions differ from what you think they are.

The Real Shliach said...

Like, whatever. We're just arguing semantics now. Regardless, you're wrong. Why? Why not?

chanie said...

No, you're wrong.

The Real Shliach said...

Like, whatever.

chanie said...

No comment.

The Real Shliach said...

Typical.

chanie said...

Glad you think so.

The Real Shliach said...

Uh huh.

chanie said...

Whatever.