Rabbis Talk Differently To Other Rabbis

In his fourth lecture on Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin, history professor Marc B. Shapiro says:

Wikipedia has everything you need.

In the rabbinic world, you don’t have book reviews [like what Rav Zevin did in Sofrim U’Sefarim]. It’s not part of the culture.

I have this whole theory that the Talmud is a document designed for rabbis by other rabbis and it never occurred to them that the masses would be studying it. Certain things said, criticisms, rebuke, insulting comments about other rabbinic figures, I can’t imagine that they would want the masses to know this. The same goes for Rishonim. The way they criticize other rishonim, they would never use this language if they were speaking to the masses.

There’s a new book out about Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (a Hungarian rav), who says:

At weddings, we tell the bride and groom to rejoice like they’re in the Garden of Eden.

We don’t have long rabbinic speeches at weddings any more. We give our rabbis may be two minutes. In Hungary, the rabbi often gave long speeches instead of the leaving the married couple alone and the rabbis destroy the whole simcha. That’s why we wish the couple to rejoice like in the Garden of Eden where there are no rabbis around to ruin the party.

Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk calls the Hasidim in his village “ignoramuses and troublemakers. It was difficult for me as a rabbi to have anything to do with them, to sit with these ignorant uncouth people.”

Meir Simcha complained about when Hasidic rebbes would come to town and the davening would go on and on. He’d have to sit at a meal with them and it would go on for hours and he’d have to listen to the songs and the banging on the table and the dancing without any Torah talks. And that’s not to mention the pushing. At the end of the singing, the Hasidim would turn into “animals and would jump on the food.”

“The Hasidim would speak to me and I would try to teach them Torah and they had no interest.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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