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On Studying Chassidus: Chapter Seven

On Studying Chassidus: Chapter Seven

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Inevitably, the Napoleonic War disrupted the studies disastrously and gave many reason for worry. With the arrival of the Mitteler Rebbe, however, his settling in Lubavitch and the issuance of his instructions described above (ch. 5), Anash was again aroused, and the glory of Chasidus and chasidim uplifted.

Under the leadership of the Mitteler Rebbe the number of chasidim doubled and tripled. His young disciples possessed scholarly qualities—many were also proficient orators—and the Rebbe’s discourses themselves contained broad explana­tions to facilitate understanding by the average layman. Elder chasidim related, that during his first year of leadership, an additional fifteen thousand Jews became chasidim in White Russia alone, and during his second year (1815) all of Chernigev province embraced Chabad.

Throughout his leadership, the Rabbi DovBer strove to avoid encounters between chasidim and mitnagdim. He cautioned his disciples to maintain peace. If ever a conflict did erupt, he censured the chasidim and punished them by forbidding visits to Lubavitch for appropriate periods of time. As a result, debates rarely occurred. The mitnagdim persisted in denouncing chasidim, but they were ignored, since the chasidim were forbidden to resort to counter-arguments and justification.

In all of his communal activities, governmental or general, the Mitteler Rebbe did have contact with the mitnagdim, but only on communal matters relating to the improvement of the material welfare of the Jewish people. No word was ever uttered concerning Torah or Chasidus.

Translated by Zalman I. Posner. Rabbi Posner (1927-2014) was a noted author and lecturer. He was rabbi of Congregation Sherith Israel of Nashville, Tennessee, for 53 years and co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Nashville.
A Chassidic discourse by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of Lubavitch.
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