Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Kherson Genizah

For those of us who refrain from listening to music during the 3 weeks, I highly recommend R' Alan Brill's classes on Modern Orthodoxy at yutorah.org. Aside from the serious discussions of the thought of major orthodox jewish figures of the last 300 years, you will hear such delectable hock such as, whether the Rav z"l ate redi-whip with his ice cream or R' Hershel Schachter's position regarding the halkhik propriety of doing headstands at weddings (I am serious).

The last class covers Chabad, which Rabbi Brill argues is a form of Modern Orthodoxy. Chabad was the first hasidic movement to systematically publish seforim that set out its system of thought in an organized manner. Chabad also invented kiruv over a hundred years ago. R' Shalom DovBer (three Rebbes ago) visited Freud and incorporated psychological concepts into Chabad philosophy.

Chabad also published history books. The "friedike" rebbe (hint: in Chabad-speak, this refers to the rebbe before R' Menachem Mendel z'l). wrote a number of history books based largely on a set of documents found in the Kherson Genizah. These documents included such gems as:

1. Chabad preexisted the Baal Shem Tov
2. Hidden lamed vavniks would meet regularly in the forest and determined that Chabad would be the one "true" chassidus
3. The Haskala movement was directed by a "Haskala Rebbe" who would give secret orders to misnadgim

Sure enough, these documents were revealed as forgeries and no one today, other then Chabad, accepts them as genuine. To name just a few of the problems, the letters were written in the wrong style of Yiddish, utilized modern Hebrew, included dates that actually fell out on yom tov (when writing is forbidden) and referred to people who have already died as contemporaries with those who hadn't yet been born.

If only they had Google...