Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Big Men And Little Moons


Reader Elie Lederman sent me a fascinating approbation provided by the third Gerrer Rebbe, R. Avraham Mordechai Alter (1866-1948). This was written to a chassid of his, R. Yosef Pacanovski, better known as the Pardes Yosef. The Gerrer Rebbe explains that he is particularly fond of R. Pacanovski because he not only busies himself with Torah, but also works for a living!


The Gerrer Rebbe explains that his approval of R. Pacanovski reflects the advantage that Eisav had over Yaakov. Yaakov was called "little" and Eisav "big" because Eisav was superior in being self-supportive (he knew how to hunt his own food), whereas Yaakov relied on his father Yitzchak to feed him. The Gerrer Rebbe also refers to a comment later in Pardes Yosef, in which it is explained that the moon is called the "Small Luminary" not because of its smaller size or lesser light, but because instead of being able to produce its own light, it only uses that of the sun. It is a sign of inferiority to have to rely on others.

Incidentally, this Gerrer Rebbe was was one of the founders of Agudas Yisrael in Poland. Wouldn't it be great if the Moetzes of the Agudah today likewise said that it's better to work for a living than to study and rely on others for support?

(Note to readers in Johannesburg: If you have any time to drive me to some wildlife encounters when I come in two weeks, please be in touch. Unfortunately I am not able to make the Gerrer Rebbe proud by being big enough to drive in South Africa on my own!)

15 comments:

  1. The fact is, a pretty large number of Gerrer Chassidim do work. I heard that in Yeshiva they ask the guys if they want to go to Kollel after marriage or not, and based on the answer they are given an appropriate learning program.

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  2. Nice find.
    Rav Menashe Klein writes similarly:
    והנה בגמ׳ (סנהדרין כ״ו ע״ב) אמר רב נחמן אוכלי דבר אחר פסולין לעדות... ופרש״י ותוס׳ אוכלי דבר אחר מקבלי צדקה מן הנכרים דהו חילול השם מחמת ממון והו״ל כרשע מחמת חמס, והרמב״ם (פי״א מהל׳ מתנות עניים ה״ה) כתב כי ת״ח שסומכים על צדקה מבזים את עצמן. ולכן הי׳ ס״ל ליצחק דיעקב איש תם יושב אהלים ואינו מפרנס את עצמו אינו ראוי לו להיות מקבל הברכה, כי לומדי התורה צריכים ליהנות מיגיע כפם דוקא ולא כיעקב שמצפה אל שלחן אחרים. וזה שאמר ״ויאהב יצחק את עשו כי ציד בפיו״ ־ כלומר בפיו של עשו עצמו, שמפרנס עצמו מצידו, ואינו סומך עצמו על שלחן אחרים, וקאי ״בפיו״ אפיו של עשו עצמו, כלומר מפרנס עצמו ומביא לפיו, לא כן יעקב שאוכל משל אביו

    ורבקה אהבת את יעקב, כי ידעה והכירה את עשו כי שבע תועבות בלבו ושהוא עומד ומלסטם את הבריות ואינו אוכל משלו מיגיע כפו, ואדרבה יעקב הוא הצדיק, והקרא מעיד עליו שלא בקש אלא לחם לאכול ותו לא כי הסתפק במועט לחם לאכול ובגד ללבוש, וג״ז עשה ביושר ובנאמנות כמו שאמרו חז״ל שחזר על פכים קטנים שממונם של צדיקים חביב עליהם יותר מגופם כיון שאין פושטין ידיהם בגזל, (חולין צ״א) ובבית לבן ביום אכלני חורב וקרח בלילה וחדר שנתי מעיני, בעבודתו לפרנס בניו וביתו, וכששאל לבן ויאמר מה אתן לך ויאמר יעקב לא תתן לי מאומה אם תעשה לי את הדבר הזה וגו׳ ארעה צאנך אשמור וגו׳ והיה שכרי ולא בחנם, והבוטח בה׳ חסד יסובבנו

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  3. It also explains Zhe hakaton... gadol yiheye

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  4. My father went to the Gerer Mesivta in Warsaw. 1/2 a day limudai kodesh, 1/2 a day limudai chol.
    The Sefas Emes opened a snuff store because he didn't want to depend on others for his living.

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  5. I dunno, these are droshos, not substantive explanations of the text, meaning this is not what truly took place. Gerer rebate is one of the richest rabbis in Israel and not from selling snuff. In Warsaw any job was better then no job, if conditions today were the same in Israel everybody would work, just like they do in China.

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    Replies
    1. The current Gerrer Rebbe's father bought a lot of real estate in the 20s - that is where his money came from.

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    2. I know, but that money is not likely to have come from selling snuff or havdolah candles.

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  6. Could it be that in terms of working & learning, the Chasidish world takes a more pragmatic position and the Litvish world a more mystical one?

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    1. The Litvish world is not the same thing as the kollel world. The kollel world we have today is mostly an Eretz Yisroel invention, with people of various backgrounds. In Lithuania of old there was no such thing as kollel for the masses. The assumption that all Litvaks are kollelniks is not accurate.

      The Yeshivish world and kollel world is just one segment that is partially descended of Litvish roots, but does not totally encompass and define the frum Lithuanian Jewish heritage.

      Additionally, nowadays there are quite a large number of Chasidim learning in kollel. Satmar has the largest kollel I was told. Kiryas Joel has a mivtzar hakollelim. New Square has a merkaz hakollelim (both names indicating multiple kollelim). Even though the old Satmar Rebbe at one time took a position against kollel, he later changed it, and Satmar kollelim were established, which other Chasidic groups did as well.

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  7. Completely consistent with Gerrer culture then and now

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  8. Is this not the same Imrei Emes that went against the majority of Gedolim at an early (1920's) Agudah convention by saying as many Jews as possible should go to Eretz Yisroel??

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  9. I opened up Mishpacha today, and on page 39 is a large quote accompanied by a small blurb.

    "'It will be open for yungeleit and bochurim only.' - The surprising announcement in the central Gur beis medrash on Motzaei Shavuos. The customary gezegenen, in which the thousands of visiting chassidim pass the by Rebbe to receive a farewell brachah, was limited to bochurim and yungeleit who learn two sedorim in kollel. Some speculate that this was the Rebbe's way of strengthening the bochurim and the yungeleit who continue to learn with dedication despite the recent cutbacks."

    Obviously, you must have misread the previous Gerrer Rebbe's comments, as no one is more committed to tradition than our modern Chassidim. ;)

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  10. A friend here in Flatbush is Jose Pacanowski (born in Cuba). He thinks the Pardes Yosef may be related, but he's not sure how.

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  11. Here's another one for you:
    כלי יקר על שמות כג ה
    עמו - ומכאן תשובה לקצת עניים בני עמנו המטילים עצמם על הצבור ואינם רוצים לעשות בשום מלאכה שבה יכולים להביא שבר רעבון ביתם, וקוראים תגר אם אין נותנים להם די מחסורם. דבר זה לא ציוה ה' כי אם 'עזב תעזב עמו' 'הקם תקים עמו' (דברים כ"ב), כי העני יעשה כל אשר ימצא בכוחו לעשות ואם בכל זאת לא תשיג ידו, אז חייב כל איש מישראל לסעדו ולחזקו וליתן לו די מחסורו אשר יחסר לו ו'עזב תעזב' אפילו מאה פעמים

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  12. Interesting, but it should be noted that significant meforshim say that the yoshev ohalim description of Yaakov Avinu means that he took care of sheep (shepherding), residing in tents while doing so. As we know he did at other times of his life, where it is very explicitly so stated.

    See e.g. http://tora.us.fm/tnk1/tora/brejit/br-25-27.html

    http://www.biu.ac.il/jh/parasha/toldot/reg1.html

    http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/177/470.html

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