May 14, 2017

the non-chassidishe Lag bOmer

I have been to many bonfires, including Litvishe, Israeli, American,. dati, chassidic, sefardic, etc. and it seems to me that pretty much the chassidim have their tradition of what to do and everyone else just stands around looking at the bonfire, talk with their friends sings for a few minutes and then roast marshmallows. For most non-hassidic communities, the bonfire is really just a nice social event.

I have found that the only people who seem to "know what to do" around a Lag b'Omer bonfire are chassidim, and that is probably because the Lag bOmer bonfire is really a chassidishe minhag that was started, or at least made popular, by the "Arizal". We don't find any serious discussion in Chazal or halacha about the bonfire until the Ari, and even after there is very little about it.

My question is, how did what is so clearly a chassidishe minhag become so prevalent among all sectors of Judaism today?

In general I am all for more social events in the frum community. We have very few times to interact with our friends. Most shuls don't make regular kiddushes on Shabbos, except for a simcha. General social interaction is frowned upon as people are encouraged to spend their free time going to shiurim and learning torah, along with dissuading situations that are mixed gender. "Going out" in the frum community is also difficult because of limitations, such as not going to movies or kol isha at theater shows, mixed swimming and the like. So the bonfire seems to be a relatively low-key social interaction event and I think that is fine - but that is not really the intention when the shuls or communities plan such an event - it just happens that way because people don't really know what else to do, or feel uncomfortable doing it.

So, how did such a clearly chassidishe minhag become so prevalent among the non-chaasidishe communities?

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9 comments:

  1. This is hardly the only one. Upsherin, for another common example. I think it's because people think Jews dressed as 17th and 18th century Polish Goyim are more Frum than they are.

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  2. Avi,

    You seem to think that writing lashon hara about anybody who might be what is commonly called "haredi" is a wonderful thing. It's not.

    comment elsewhere please..

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    1. I did not realize that expressing an opinion could be Lashon Hara. Do people take on Chassidishe Minhagim because they like parties? The more-frum-than-thou syndrome is hardly limited to taking on foreign Minhagim, but I think that's a good example.

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  3. Simple. It's because Chassidut "won" the philosophical/religious struggle vs. the Mitnagdim. When you see an announcment for a "hilula" for Rav Shach zt"l, I think we can safely say that.

    Prof. Chaim Soloveitchik (ben Harav Yosef Dov) wrote a paper years ago noting how the Litvishe have for the most part become Chasidim who daven "Ashkenaz" and worship the Rosh Yeshiva instead of the Admor.

    I personally believe there's a fundamental cosmic process involved, but that's worth an entire paper on its own.

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    Replies
    1. I've noted that too but the level of Uman and Meron have taken it way further than with anything else

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  4. Once in a class with Professor Yaakov Elman, he said, "The fight with the Karaites was more serious than you're taught. For a while it wasn't clear who would win, although now we know who did. Like the fight between the Chassidim and Misnagdim."

    A student asked, "So who won that one?"

    Prof. Elman looked surprised and said, "The Chassidim, of course."

    I'd never thought of it that way before. I thought that might be the chassid in him speaking, but now I see how right he was. They won just by surviving and staying a "kosher" option, but they did so much more than that. As R' Rakeffet says, any yeshiva student wearing black and white proves it.

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  5. I once had a Bnei Noach family as guests on Shabbat. They said that one of the challenges of raising children to follow the Noachide laws, is that there is no ritual. It makes it hard to teach your kids without the framework as a messorah. Bnei Noach would keep the chagim that were applicable to them (ie Shavuot) as one way to address this issue.


    Tu B'Shvat and Lag B'Omer are very halachically significant days about don't have any mitzvot to mark these days. The Tu B'Shvat seder and the Lag B'Omer fires have mazel in establishing themselves to almost the level of a mitzvah.

    As my Rabbi says, imagine what the world would be like if the Aseret HaDibrot had been just a remez in the Arizal instead of in the Aseret HaDibrot.


    I think Chasidut has the same attraction that originally attracted the Baal Shem Tov followers. It is easier to shun the chasidim and then adopt the minhagim that one likes rather than adopting a completely different set of minhagim.

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    Replies
    1. "remez in the arizal" -- I love it!

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