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Misnagdim Website


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What do Misnagdim find objectionable about Hassidism?

1) Misuse of the the title 'Hassid' -

Classically in Judaism, the title Hassid was reserved for a small number of extraordinarily pious people - people that were holy and went beyond the letter of the law in their behavior. Nowadays, thanks to the hassidic movement, the title has lost almost all it's value, as it can be acquired just by donning a specific costume on occasion.

2) Hassidim split the Jewish community by breaking away and forming their own groups, prayer houses, etc. At times one encounters eateries advertising that they use only 'Chassidishe shechita'. One wonders what the point of such things is. Do hassidim not eat meat slaughtered by a proper Orthodox or frum / Ultra-Orthodox schochet just because he doesn't belong to their sect?

3) Hassidim changed various age-old minhogim (customs) when they founded their movement.

4) Hassidim abandoned the use of 'Nusach Ashkenaz' in tefilloh (prayer), the tradition of Ashkenazic Jews (including their ancestors) for many generations, something that goes back to gedolei olam such as Rashi, the baalei Tosefos, Rabbeinu Asher (Rosh), etc., and instead adopted something they refer to as 'nusach sefard' (though it is not the same as the nusach of the Sefardic Jews).

It is not normally permitted to change minhogim. We are supposed to follow in the ways of our holy ancestors, who are considered to have been greater than us.

5) Questionable practices - Many (although not all) Hassidim engage in practices that are in opposition to the halacha as given in the Shulchan Aruch - e.g. routinely praying after prescribed prayer times, not eating in the Sukkah on Shemini Atzeres, etc.

6) Hassidim - to be a completed jew, one must be a Hassid.
Misnagdim - to be a completed Jew one must follow the Torah.

7) Hassidim - Moshiach will come when Hassidism spreads all over the world (a famous Hassidic tale states that the founder of the movement ascended to heaven, where he saw Moshiach. He asked him 'eimosai ko'osi mar' [when are you coming Sir ?], to which Moshiach allegedly responded 'licheshiyofutzu maynosecho chutza' [when your wellsprings {Hassidism} spread forth outside]).
Misnagdim - Moshiach will come when the Jewish people merit it by their good deeds or at the appointed time designated by G-d (as traditionally taught - beitoh or achishenoh).

Theological differences

A problem with many of the common misconceptions and myths about the divide between hassidim and misnagdim is that they ignore serious theological differences and problems with certain hassidic beliefs. Maybe some such things are too embarrassing for hassidim to admit, so instead they claim that hisnagdus is just one big mistake based on misconceptions (although one would wonder why it has persisted so long, and among very intelligent people, if it is based on such). Unfortunately, such wishful thinking will not solve problems. Honest examination of issues and being 'modeh al hoEmes' (admitting the truth / being intellectually honest), on the other hand, may go a long way.