To be sure, this argument, which depends on the introduction of an" innovation, was criticized already in the days of the Baal Shem Tov:" "Our ancestors and predecessors did not study Pnimiyut haTorah, and" therefore we do not need it either. If the status quo ante of getting" along without it was good enough for them, it is also good enough" for us.". This critique, however, is inherently inconsistent and" fallacious.

The inconsistency is readily seen in our very own human reality." "A lover of kessef (silver; money) is never satisfied with kessef." (Ecclesiastes 5:9). Thus it is human nature that "He who has a" hundred, wants to turn them into two hundred; and if has two hundred," he wants to turn them into four hundred." On the physical level none" of us turns to the past to satisfy himself with the lifestyle of our" predecessors. In the physical realm we do not say "if it was good" enough for our ancestors it is good enough for us," but we seek out" the latest inventions and discoveries in medicine and technology.

In the physical realm we do not say "if it was good enough for our" ancestors it is good enough for us," but we seek out the latest" inventions and discoveries in medicine and technology.

The same must then apply to the spiritual realm as well. Indeed, our" sages state that the word kessef is also used to designate mitzvot;" thus they interpret the above-cited verse of Ecclesiastes to mean that" he who truly loves Torah and mitzvot will never be satisfied with what" he has: he will continually seek to add to these and to enhance them" ever more. As new challenges confront us every day, we cannot suffice" with the religious lifestyle of yesteryear.

R. Ya'akov Yosef of Polnoy thus comments on the Mishnah,. "Be a tail" to lions rather than a head to foxes": the difference between a lion" and a fox is that the former looks ahead while the latter keeps" turning backward! And in this vein he expounds the Scriptural verse" that the prophet Elijah, the precursor of Mashiach, "will turn the" heart of the fathers to the children" (Malachi 3:24), quoting a" trenchant comment by R. Nachman of Kossov: "Do not turn to the ovot"" (the mediums in necromancy; Leviticus 19:31) can also be read, by" changing but one vowel, "Do not turn to the avot (ancestors);"" that is, when people criticize your additional, and seemingly" excessive, acts of piety, saying that these were not practiced by your" ancestors, the retort is simply - al tifnu el ha'avot! R. Nachman" still added the rhetorical question: "In practical terms, did your" parents and grandparents succeed in bringing Mashiach?!"

(This interpretation bederech mussar is to be found already earlier," in the Foreword of R. Israel Yaffe, Or Yisrael, attributed to R." Mosheh ben David of Vilna, also Ecclesiastes 7:10, as interpreted by" R. Chaim of Tchernovitz, Sha'ar Hatefilah, She'eilah Uteshuvah (a" responsum to refute a critique in Noda Biyehudah against alleged" innovations by the mystics; in recent edition, Jerusalem 1989, p." 395.)

R. Ya'akov Yosef concludes that this is the meaning of the verse in" Malachi: in the days of the prophet Elijah, the parents will" acknowledge that their ways were insufficient. Thus they will adopt" the ways of their children who chose better by accepting upon" themselves additional acts of piety and restrictions that go beyond" the requirements of the law.

The adoption of additional acts of piety and supplementary" restrictions does not stand in violation of the principles of "Do not" forsake the instruction of your mother" (Proverbs 1:8) and "Give" heed to the customs of your ancestors that have come down to you."" On the contrary, it is part of the Biblical precept "Guard My" charge" (Leviticus 18:30) which means the obligation to take" precautionary measures for the preservation and guarding of the Divine" instructions of the Torah. If this applies in all times, how much more" so nowadays when there is a spiritual deterioration of the" generations. (See the comment of the Vilna Gaon quoted in Even" Shelemah XI:7, explicitly applying this principle to the present" deteriorating conditions of the galut. Precisely these conditions make" it imperative to study Pnimiyut haTorah, the esoteric dimension of the" Torah. See also R. Simchah Bunim of Pshizcha, Torat Simchah, p. 57.)

This, indeed, is the classical definition that our sages give for" the terms chassid and chassidut, and that is what Chassidism seeks to" instill in all Jews: a sense of holiness, a sense of piety, that takes" us beyond minimal requirements and customary norms; a taste and" consciousness of G‑dliness that whets the appetite for ever more and" will not be satisfied until the experience of the ultimate" manifestation of the Messianic age when the whole earth shall be" filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover the sea, for" "the glory of G‑d shall be revealed (to the point) that all flesh" shall see...." (Isaiah 40:5) - in a truly empirical way.