Sunday, October 12, 2008

One of the main differences between the path of Chabad and of other Chassidic groups (also known as Chassidus Chagas), is in the way that they relate to their Tzaddikim in terms of the divine service expected of the chossid. The Chabad path says that a Rebbe is a boost and an aid, but not a substitute for striving to reach high levels of connection to Hashem through lengthy study of divine greatness and prayer, while for other groups the focus on belief in the Tzaddik is the main requirement and means of reaching inspiration in serving Hashem.

The philosophy of Chabad is that every Jew should exert himself to understand G–dliness, while the philosophy of Chassidus Polin[1] is (according to the well-known aphorism of the holy Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin), “And the righteous will live by his faith”: do not read “live,” but “give life.” In other words, there is the Tzaddik who exerts effort [to serve Hashem on a lofty level], and everyone else is enlivened [i.e., inspired to serve Hashem] by the Tzaddik through, and by virtue of, their faith in the Tzaddik. These two philosophies can only exist now. However, concerning the future [i.e., the Messianic age], everyone agrees that then we will see the fulfillment of the prophecy, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of G–d as the waters cover the ocean,”[2] such that the entire Jewish people will reach through understanding of G–dliness, as it is written, “for they will all know Me.”[3]

[1] Lit., “Polish Chassidus”; this refers to an approach, not a location, as many groups associated with this path were not based in Poland, although not all were. This is perhaps similar to the way that all European Jews are called Ashkenazim when compared to Sefardim, although of course they did not all live in Germany. Thus, this expression is not intended to be derogatory, G–d forbid.

[2] Isaiah, 11:9.

[3] Ibid., 31:33.


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