The Uniqueness of Chabad Chassidus?

An Individual asks: 
> To tell you the honest truth: no.  As long as Chassidus is seen by
> Lubavitcher Chassidim as a fifth way of understanding Torah, apart from
> the traditional Parde"s [plain meaning, allegorical meaning, halakhic
> meaning and mystical meaning] and as long as Chassidus is considered in
> some sense a superior way to, say, the yekkishe derekh [the approach to
> Torah Judaism exemplified by mainly German-Jewish authors, foremost
> among whom is the Rabbiner Hirsch], I cannot say that my concerns that
> in Lubavitch we see a growing danger of sectarianism are alleviated.
> Do you *understand* these concerns, even though you may not agree to
> them?
> --

I think one can appreciate someone else's concern and understand the distress that is within it - and yet, with all due respect for the validity of someone elses feelings - still disagree that this concern is valid.

I have seen you attempt to tackle the concept of the "yechida" several times in this forum. And although it is a lofty concept, that requires a good deal of study to ascertain properly, I can confidently state that when it is understood completely and thoroughly, one will not have any concern of "sectarianism". Adarabah, that a full grasp of the concept of Yechida, reveals the unity of all Jews at their most essential level. Something that is much more extensive than external philosophical schools.

As I have stated in the past. The best source for starting to learn about the Yechida, is a text called "Inyonai Shel Torat Chassidut", which is available also in English:

Merkos Publications
291 Kingston Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11213
1-718- 778-0226
fax: 1-718-778-4148

However, if you will bear with me, I will attempt to give moshel of my own which might give a brief glimpse as to what the concept is about.

HH01461A.gif (2388 bytes)I was recently married. My wife, is new to wearing jewelry on her hands. So she was quite surprised to discover something quite interesting about her engagement ring (diamond). That is, that it sparkles and shines out all sorts of different hues in different lights. That is, depending on the light source shone on the ring, the ring will sparkle in completely different patterns, and with different colorations. In some light, e.g. halogen, it looks like a piece of ice, completely colorless, in the right kind of incandescent light, it is stunning.

The properties of the diamond are obviously the same in all lights. That is, the packing of the carbon atoms and the basic structure of the crystal is obviously unchanged. So are the unique properties of diamond: it's tensile strength, melting point, hardness, etc.

It's the same diamond. It just gives off a different radiance.

Mitzvot are universal. The same physical act is the same regardless of setting or who does it. Moshe Rabbanu putting on a pair of tefillin is doing the same mitzvot as Amos Wittenberg or any other Jew. This relates to the physical level of the mitzvot. Just like the physical structure of the diamond, which remains the same regardless of environment, so do the mitzvot regardless of who does it.

Then there are the properties of the diamond and the "properties" of the mitzvot. In diamonds we have hardness, transparency, refractive index, melting point etc. These are not the "essence" of the diamond, they are not what applies uniquely to diamond, but they are closely related to what a diamond is. For only a diamond will have such unique properties.

One could say that the PARDES of mitzvot are the properties of mitzvot. Each mitzvot can be characterized by how its "dimensions" that it carries in the Pshat, Remez, Drush, and Sod. Certain Pshutim apply to certain mitzvot. Different lessons, hashkafa, etc, are revealed by each mitzvot, and at each level of PARDES, different properties make themselves manifest.

diamond2.gif (14529 bytes)Then there is the "sparkle" of the diamond and mitzvot. The sparkle of the diamond does not negate or diminish the structure or the properties of the diamond. All the properties are there as they always have been. It's only that a certain light can give a completely different appearance to the stone. It can change "ice" into a spectacular diamond.

Now, a diamond and it's sparkle are still only physical analogies for yechidah. So obviously, sparkle can be understood as a physical phenomenon. But that is not the point.

The point is to give an analogy, albeit a physical analogy, and leave it to the reader to abstract from this the spiritual core.

Yechidah is thus more than just a sparkle that reflected from the stone. It actually brings out and makes shine all the inherent structural and other properties of the mitzvot. One sees the mitzvot in "a new light" - BUT they are the same mitzvot. The same physical mitzvot, intact with the same PARDES. You don't change the stone or its properties in other lights nor does one change the mitzvot.

Thus, everything that the Mussar School, the Hirsch School, etc. etc. and the other Torah - True lessons that have been taught by definition must still apply and still carry deep and important meaning. It is only that a appreciation for the Chassidic dimension will cause these lessons to carry an additional sparkle, and one will perceive deeper insights into the same texts that one used to read. One sees a little less "ice" when one opens one's sefer, and a little more sparkle.

Author: Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund