web analytics
March 27, 2015 / 7 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


The Winds of Mysticism

"Na, nach, Nachman me'Uman" is a mantra used by some sub-groups of the Breslov Hasidic Jews, and written on all kinds of places around Israel.

"Na, nach, Nachman me'Uman" is a mantra used by some sub-groups of the Breslov Hasidic Jews, and written on all kinds of places around Israel.
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat / Flash 90.

As I was browsing through some of the news media, blogs, and other social network media that I frequent (as source material from my blog), I came across a number of articles that seemed to have a common theme. There seems to be an increase in the number of ads for mysterious Segulos as well as announcements about getting Brachos from rabbis. So too are there all kinds of spiritual messages being ‘seen’ in various events of the day – like blaming a tragedy on a defect in Klal Yisroel that needs to be ‘repaired.’

While there may be sources for all of these things, it seems like there is much greater focus on them than ever. The message is that no matter how much we try and fulfill the word of God, it isn’t enough. That we must seek some sort of ‘magic’ bullet to grant our heavenly requests, whether for Parnassa or the health of a loved one who has fallen ill, or praying for fertility… what have you.There is an increasing number of cryptic avenues of this type being touted for successful resolution of one’s needs.

This used to be more the province of Sephardim and Chasidim. But lately it has affected the non Chasidic Ashkenazic Yeshiva world as well.

One e-mail I received contained a picture of a poster hung in a Shul with the announcement that Rav Shach’s grandson, R’ Yissochar Bergman, is collecting “Kvitlech”(written prayer requests – usually accompanied by a donation) for Rav Chaim Kanievsky. This used to be only a Chasidic custom. But now it is ‘catching on’ in the Yeshiva world. You can’t get more Yeshivish than Rav Shach.

There is also the custom of going to Uman on Rosh HaShana. This used to be reserved for Breslover Chasdidm since their Rebbe is buried there. Now there are hundreds of non Chasidim going there too. That has in fact been sharply criticized in the past. It is one thing for a Breslover Chasid to do that – although I question even that. It is another thing for others to do it. The idea of leaving your family behind and going to Uman for Rosh HaShana is perverse to my way of thinking. But now a venerated sage, R’ Aharon Leib Steinman seems to be giving his blessing to it. As pointed out in a post on Rafi’s blog:

This year Rav Shteinman was asked his opinion on the matter. His answer was, reportedly, along with a backhanded compliment, “What’s so bad about them going to Uman? It wont do any harm. Just the opposite – with such a large crowd, there will definitely be a minyan of people davening properly…”

In another post in that same blog is the following:

According to Bechadrei, Rav Birnzweig, a rav in the Mirrer Yeshiva, claimed during his mussar shiur, that Rav Elyashiv was murdered. He said:

Recently we have heard of gedolei yisroel who have passed from this world, everybody must arouse themselves [to teshuva]. Rav Elyashiv and the Admor of Shomrei Emunim were murdered due to the yeshiva bochurim and kollel avreichim who use smartphones.

Right! Rav Eyashiv’s “untimlely” death at age 102 was actually murder due to smartphone use. And who is making this wild speculation? A Rosh Yeshiva in the Mir!

These people are not fringe people. These are respected, serious, mainstream Yeshiva world people. And they are beginning to sound like charlatans and snake oil salesman!

Is this the direction the Charedi world is going in? Is this the unity we should be looking for? A melding of the Chasidic and Yeshiva world that encompasses the entirety of all Asheknaz Charedim? Is the focus becoming mysticsm over rationalism? I know that there is more of a focus on mysticism among Sephardim. But Ashekanzim in the Yeshiva world have never focused on that. Until now.

I realize that not all Charedim buy in to this stuff. Most moderate Charedim do not. But there are so many indicators of this kind of thinking permeating the Charedi world it that I am beginning to wonder if it is the wave of the future? Will it become more mainstream? Is Judaism becoming a religion of mystical Segulos, and Rebbeshe Brachos, blaming every tragedy on the perceived communal ill of the day? Or will we instead be of a religion of merit based on rationality, personal behavior, adherence to Halacha, and direct prayer to God? It would seem that the former is becoming more of a possibility based on these reports.

I guess that is one of the differences between Modern Orthodoxy and the Charedi world. Modern Orthodox Jews tend to shy away from these kinds of things – if not outright reject them. This not to say that Modern Orthodox Jews are perfect. Far from it. But in this one area at least, I think they are on a better track than Charedim.

I have been saying for some time now that the majority of Orthodox Jewry in the future will consist of the “New Centrists” – a melding of Moderate Charedim with right wing Modern Orthodox Jews. I still believe that. But the mysticism of Sephardim and Chasidus seems to be making in-roads. Especially with mainstream rabbinic figures supporting it. I sure hope this is only a passing fad.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “The Winds of Mysticism”

  1. Uri DeYoung says:

    Very good article. Just one point: I'm not sure why you seem to maintain that this retreat into mysticism is to be "expected" from the Sepharadim, and is therefore "OK for them" — but not for "us." We are all one people, and what's bad for one group of Jews is bad for all groups. Our flight into mysticism was picked up by various communities in the dark exile as a response to our suffering and feelings of powerlessness. Many of the practices are clearly not in accordance with normative halakha, and they are certainly inappropriate in today's Jewish reality.

  2. Yosef Shomron says:

    I remember when my school aged children use to bring home "hamsas" from their religious zionists schools and simchas – I made them throw them away with the admonition that we only believe in the G-d of Israel. kol hakavod for highlighting a problem in today's Jewish world.

  3. Shalom Dym says:

    I don't think this is a passing phase. Also, contrary to what you write, it seems that non-charedim are even more interested in hassidut kabbalah and mysticism, including R' Nachman, than charedim.

Comments are closed.

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
The Dimona nuclear reactor dome. Iran has been using Israel's reluctance to join the NPT to escape criticism of its own program.
So, hey, yeah…we have nuclear weapons
Latest Blogs Stories
The Dimona nuclear reactor dome. Iran has been using Israel's reluctance to join the NPT to escape criticism of its own program.

“Israel has nuclear weapons & it isn’t afraid to use them if necessary-Does that frighten you? Good”

JB Flag

American Jews think they know what’s best for Israel-better than Israelis. Here’s my take…

HarHabayitwDome.jpg

An old Arab man yelled at me “You’re stupid!” I returned the compliment; He had murder in his eyes.

Doug Goldstein

Why do people feel the need to check their email 50X a day, constantly dipping in & out of Facebook?

Betar is the world-wide Zionist youth movement that refuses to be silent, and as our founder Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote: “Silence is despicable.”

Life in Europe’s pre-War Yeshiva world makes today’s rulings look like the Taliban has taken over.

Moshe’s the 1st family member in thousands of years to have the honor of serving in a Jewish army

Often wig wearers become more attractive after marriage. Doesn’t this turn the intent on its head?

US official interference in Israel’s Elections is not only immoral but may be illegal under US law.

The greatest thing about leaving Israel is the joy in returning, hearing/seeing/smelling coming home

I never felt an election resonate so much; I had true existential fear that my candidate might lose

It appears that Agudah has joined with those choosing to erase women from the public sphere.

How can you turn your passion into your business? How can you build your business around your life?

Politicians have their own egos as priority, not the good of the country nor the will of the people

I might have to “reassess” my position on President Obama if his “new positions and comments” on Israel don’t match his pre-election statements.

Find out about peak oil and how the production & sale of cheap oil has affected other oil sources

More Articles from Harry Maryles
Rabbi Shneur Kotler

Life in Europe’s pre-War Yeshiva world makes today’s rulings look like the Taliban has taken over.

Reiss-062912-Sheitels

Often wig wearers become more attractive after marriage. Doesn’t this turn the intent on its head?

It appears that Agudah has joined with those choosing to erase women from the public sphere.

As long as radical Islam exists it would be irresponsible for Israel to give up an inch of land

This very bright Chareidi young man was unable to earn a decent living because he had NO education

We must convince Jewish billionaires to support Jewish education in ways they support other projects

When evil threatens to conquer the world, it’s the duty of free nations to endeavor to prevent it.

Mentioning genocide in the same breath as Susan Rice crosses a redline about Obama’s foreign policy

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/the-winds-of-mysticism/2012/08/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: