By this time the quarrelsome mitnagdim were all but repudiated; at any rate the animosity was limited to the hard-core of bitter foes. The second group (see above ch. 4)—those who dispassionately questioned the principles of Chasidus, believing that they were doing so sincerely, not maliciously—became active. Nonetheless, though presented calmly and rationally, their questions were still deprecatory of Chasidus. All their questions and observations revolved on two points: 1) the objection to engaging in “esoterics,” and 2) the incapacity of the human mind to understand such subjects clearly, leading to the possibility of misconception and consequent calamitous results.

Thank G‑d, none of these objections made any impression, for there were always chasidim of stature who completely dispelled every doubt and objection.

But all these debates took place more than fifty years ago. Then questions were posed1 regarding the need for Chasidus and the benefits of the chasidic lifestyle. The past fifty years have proven conclusively that Chasidus is indispensable in Jewish life.

Analogously, the study of Musar in yeshivot had been strenuously opposed by contemporary gaonim. Late in 1895, I was present at a meeting of the leading scholars of the day, including most of the Lithuanian yeshiva deans. The question of formal Musar study arose. Out of respect, I will refrain from mentioning the names of the opponents to this program and their outspoken opposition. Experience has vindicated Musar study. It is a verifiable fact that every yeshiva with a program of Musar study, especially those headed by a menahel ruchni (spiritual mentor), produced more righteous and G‑d-fearing pupils than those yeshivot without such Musar sessions.

The proof is evident and alive. A generation ago the necessity for the study and practice of Musar principles was recognized and so, with G‑d’s help, they succeeded in training pious students. In our own day we see that the study of Chasidus is critically necessary for most yeshiva students. With His help we shall soon see the bright day when all truly upright yeshivot will institute the study and practice of Chasidus.