Monday, June 20, 2016

Chassidim, Baalei Mussar, and All of Jewry.

Chassidim, Baalei Mussar, and All of Jewry: What do you think?

Chassidus:  In the early to mid 1700's, the great Rebbe Yisrael Baal Shem Tov zt"l started the Chassidus Movement.  Over the years, it has grown and thrived, there now being Chassidim almost all over the world.  Chassidim have a different kind of thought in Avodas Hashem than many others.  Some people disagree with them, but others follow in the ways of Chassidus.  Chassidishe thought emphasizes:  Serving Hashem with joy, good middos, the importance of a Rebbe, and spirituality.  Also, the heritage of inspiring stories, the learning of more Chassidus and Torah in Yeshivos, etc.  Very important things in serving Hashem.  In fact, if you read stories about Chassidishe Rebbes, you can see that they were, and are, extremely spiritual and righteous people.  Many flock to receive a Rebbe's blessing, or just to see him, as a lot of times, Hashem fulfills Rebbe's Berachos. Actually, a lot of people have, Baruch Hashem, become Baalei Teshuvah after having some kind of interaction with Chassidim.  In fact, my esteemed father shlita told me that one time, a Chassidishe Rebbe hired some gentile to build the Aron Kodesh for a Shul.  The man did a very good job, and when he was leaving, the Rebbe wished to give him a Bracha.  He blessed him that he should one day become a good Jew.  The warmth of this Rebbe inspired the gentile, and he eventually converted to being a Frum Jew!  Hashem, Blessed is He, fulfilled the Rebbe's Bracha!  Chassidishe Rebbes tend to be very, very warm, and inspiring.  A story that I once heard can maybe emphasize the importance of Chassidus:  The Baal Shem Tov zt"l once told his brother-in-law in a letter that his Neshama (Soul) had ascended to Heaven, and to the chamber of the Moshioch.  He asked the Moshioch; "When will you come?" And the Moshioch answered "When your wellsprings of Chassidus spread throughout the world."  We do not know exactly what time this will be, but hopefully, it will be soon, B'Eizer Hashem Yisbarach (With the Help of Hashem, He is Blessed).  The Chassidim nearly all dress in special coats and hats, called Bekishes (coat), Shtreimels (hat), Spodiks (hat), Kolpiks (hat), Kashkets (hat), Rekels (coat), Gartels (special belt), etc.  These are just some of the many things about Chassidus, and there is much more to it. 

Chabad Lubavitch:  In 1775, Rebbe Shnuer Zalman  of Liadi zt"l founded Chabad Chassidus.  Though Lubavitch is a form of Chassidus, it has almost grown to it's very own sect of Judaism.  'Chabad' is an acronym for 'Chochmah (wisdom), Binah (understanding), and Daas (knowledge).'  One of the huge foundations of Chabad, is Kiruv (helping people become Frum).  They travel all over the world, and send Rebbes out to strengthen Judaism, and help people come close to Hashem.  This is a very, very important thing.  In fact, my esteemed father shlita told me that in the Chabad Yeshiva, they take off part of the learning day of Yom Shishi (Friday), and go out to try to do Kiruv.  Another thing that is very stressed in Chabad Lubavitch, is trying to bring Moshioch, (may Hashem send him speedily in our days).  They try to do lots of things to help the Jews be worthy of Hashem sending Moshioch.  The Lubavitch Movement started to become bigger beginning with the third Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek (Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l, not to be confused with the seventh Rebbe zt"l), and by now, has likely over 1,000,000 followers all around the world.  They indeed spread Chassidus.  The Movement's headquarters is at the 770 Eastern Parkway, Crown Heights, NY Yeshiva.  The seven Rebbes of Chabad Lubavitch were:  1) Rebbe Shnuer Zalman of Liadi zt"l (Der Alter Rebbe).  2) Rebbe DovBer Shnueri zt"l (Der Mitteler Rebbe).  3) Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l (The Tzemach Tzedek).  4) Rebbe Shmuel Schneerson zt"l (The Rebbe Maharash).  5) Rebbe Shalom DovBer Schneerson zt"l (The Rebbe Rashab).  6) Rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson zt"l (Der Frierdiker Rebbe).  7) Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l (The Lubavitcher Rebbe, or 'The Rebbe'). 

Baalei Mussar:  The Mussar Movement was started in the 1800's, by HaRav Yisroel Salanter zt"l.  It stresses acting properly, keeping the Commandments to high levels, treating others well, having good middos, etc.  All extremely great things.  Reb Yisroel was inspired to go into Mussar by his teacher, HaRav Zundel Salant zt"l.1  Many Mussar works were published way before the Movement started, but Reb Yisroel officially began it.  He once said "It is worthwhile for a person to learn Mussar throughout their entire life, even if its only benefit is to stop him from saying one remark of Lashon Hara" (evil speech).2  He also said "Even in our day, there are people on whom Hashem has bestowed marvelous abilities such as the Geonim had, but bad middos dull their abilities."3  The Mussar Movement attracted many followers.  After all, Mussar is a very important thing, literally meaning 'self-discipline'.  As the Chofetz Chaim zt"l rules in Mishnah Berurah "A person must set aside times each day to learn Mussar."  Unfortunately, a lot of the Mussar Movement was killed out during the Shoah (Holocaust), however, it, Baruch Hashem, began to grow again, and now it has members in Israel and the USA.4  It was a great kindness from Hashem that the Mussar Movement was started. 

Charedi Jews:  This is a general term of Jews, which people a lot of times refer to as 'Ultra-Orthodox' or 'Black-Hat', talking about the Black Hats which they wear.  'Charedi Jews' includes all 'Black-Hatters' and Chassidim.  They have a certain dress code, like to stay separate from gentiles, and hold laws strictly.  There tend to be a lot of Yeshivos among 'Charedi Jews', and there are many of them all around the world. 

Though there are many different sects of Judaism, many of which I did not even list here, we are all part of one people, with a single goal:  That is, to serve Hashem well.  And we must never forget that being from different sects does not separate us, and we are all brothers and sisters.  We all must stay together as one people no matter what.  We are all Jews!  Remember this!  And may Hashem help the entire Jewish People to always have very good Achdus (unity), Amein, so may it be His Will. 

Please, please post your thoughts on this in 'comments'.  I would really, really like to see what everybody has to say, and how you look at these things.  Thanks everyone! 

Have a great day!

Refoel Berel

1 Wikipedia - The Mussar Movement.
2 Sparks of Mussar, pages 11-12.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications©
3 Sparks of Mussar, page 12.  By HaRav Chaim Ephraim Zaitchik zt"l.  Feldheim Publications©
4 Wikipedia - The Mussar Movement. 

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