Apr 25, 2010

Combining Different Pathways

Yeshiva X is a synthesis of the Litvish and Chassidish approach.

At Rabbi Y's shul they integrate different derachim (pathways) in avodas Hashem.

That sefer combines the fervor of ... the intellectualism of ... and the warmth of ...

Whether it's a biography about a Torah great, a description of a shul with a rabbi who has a great appeal to different kinds of people, or an advertisment to raise money for a yeshiva, you often see words like "synthesis" and "integrate" in praise of someone or some place that "combines the best of all worlds."

Sounds good.
"The best of ..."
If you can take the best of what each approach has to offer, presumably you will end up with a superior product.

But is there not a touch of condescension there?

The one with the fire lacked analytical acuity, and the one with the rationalistic approach lacked simcha, did they not? For if their approach wasn't lacking, why combine them and describe it as gleaning the best from each?


  1. I think that people today are looking for achdus. The community day school that takes in students from every walk of Judaism will have greater donor appeal than the cheder that only teaches one derech and only accepts a specific type of talmid. To many people today, there is greater appeal in looking into a shul or other gathering of Yidden and seeing everything from knitted yarmulkas to shtreimlach, than there is to shuls that only cater to specific types.
    In books of stories of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, there are numerous stories of how Jews of all types came to the Rebbe. Some who came into Lubavitch from Moroccan, Yemenite, and Persian backgrounds had to integrate their religious practices and at the same time, some of their foods and niggunim became standard fare in mainstream Lubavitcher homes. The outcome for many was a superior product where borsht was traded in for matbucha, hatzililm, chummus, and other spicy salads.
    Isn't the reason that we count sefira is because we must combine all of the various midos and therefore we are combining approaches? Wouldn't using only one approach such as chessed, or gevurah be unbalanced? Isn't each approach in and of itself lacking?

  2. There are two separate issues: 1) welcoming all kinds of people 2) various approaches to Torah

    Yes, people from all walks of life visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe and yet, the Lubavitcher Rebbe continued to teach and promote Chabad Chassidus and not Hirschian philosophy plus Rav Kook's teachings plus Rav Nachman's teachings! Reb Arale chassidim in Yerushalayim are known to be warm and welcoming and yet they aren't eclectic in their teachings and outlook!

    The point I was bringing out had to do with the teachings.

  3. I often wonder, what would be wrong with understanding different philosophies within Torah? One example is mussar, which differs greatly from Chabad Chassidus. It is not the Chabad approach but it is a valid Torah approach; apparently one of many.
    On the one hand, it might be confusing to someone new to the study of Torah to examine it from various perspectives, but to one who is experienced in learning, I would think that one could gain from understanding a wide scope of perspectives.
    Each new generation has challenges that have been addressed in earlier generations but possibly from a different perspective than what one came from. Should we cut ourselves off from the vast array of wisdom that might aid us in our understanding of the path to take now?