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Oct 24, 2012

The Rebbe That Was Whisked Away

I am sometimes amazed, while being shocked, at things I see and in comparison to how I thought these things work. I always thought that hassidim were much more obedient to their leaders, their hassidic rebbes, than us non-hassidic (Litvishe, yekkishe, whatever other ashkenazi non-hassidic groups there might be). The hassidim (the ones I know, at least) ask their rebbes everything about their lives, in a way that others dont. They dont move without asking the rebbe.

That is why I get surprised when I see stories like these...

According to Kikar, the kids of the Seret Vishnitzer Rebbe are fighting over who will take over (eventually, until 120), and in the process they and their followers push the rebbe around.

Now, I am sure there are far more details and intricacies than what is reported in the article, but it still seems awfully disrespectful for a community that is normally so obedient and so subservient to suddenly be making such weighty decisions and take such strong action, without asking first.

The Rebbe's son-in-law came to visit from the USA. When he got to the Rebbe's house, he found it empty and was told the Rebbe is in Tzfat for a short period of time. According to Rav Shpitz, the son-in-law, the family had been invited by the Rebbe for a visit, but some in the sect don't want him here. They had to pay their visit with security guards, because they were threatened (so they claim), and they say that the Rebbe was whisked away to Tzfat by the gabbai so that they would not be able to visit him.

The hassidim claim that he always spends time during this period of the year in tzfat, and the Shpitz family has only come, uninvited, to create a provocation.

What's the provocation? The kids are fighting over the inheritance. While inheritance fights usually happen after death, sometimes they happen while the parent is still alive as well. The Rebbe's son is fighting with the son-in-law. The son more or less controls the hassidus right now, while the son-in-law wants to open his own hassidic court.

Right or wrong, I dont know and dont offer an opinion. Who deserves it, who is supported by the Rebbe, I have no idea, and I dont care. Whoever is right or wrong in this story, whichever side it might be, someone is acting on his own in a serious way and going against the Rebbe.

This reminds me of the story with the Bostoner Rebbe in RBS not too long ago. There was also a fight there in the family as to who owns the property and who has a right to talk to the Rebbe. Police were called in, property was locked up, and people, who are normally so obedient to the Rebbe, were fighting and ignoring the Rebbe himself and even pushing him around.

Do they only ask and listen when it is convenient? When nothing major is on the line? Is it a facade? Are these stories the anomalies?

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  1. This is very common, it goes all the way back to the 1800s.

    This was the main criticism of Hasiduth by the Haskalah. The regular chasidim know nothing about these things and obey the rebbe. The Chasidic leadership is all in it for power control and fight like this all the time. In fact, I believe this was always the problem with Monarchies in general.

  2. And in the New York area, no one tops the Satmars for these fights. They are constantly in and out of court and have a reputation for getting physical.

    (Bobov, at least, quieted down their succession fight after the initial flareups.)

  3. did you see this:



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