Friday, February 1, 2008

R' Chaim Hirschenson on the Besht

חידושי רח"ה חלק ג דף כא
הזכרתו את שיטת הבעש"ט זצ"ל, נראה אשר כתר"ה שליט"א נמשך אחר שטת הסופרים החדשים המיחסים שיטה להבעד"ט , אך אין דעתי נוטה לזה, כי הבעש"ט אפ' אם נעשה נפש מכל ההגדות עליו, הנפש הזה לא היה פילוסוף אגם לא חוקר, רק איש האלהים מלא רגשי קדש, רגשי אלקות, ואם נסכים לדעת הרלב"ג ז"ל כי הנביאים היה להם גם בטבעם תכונה לנביאה והכנה בנפשם שתתגלה נבואתו יתברך עליהם, נוכל לומר שאם היה הבעש"ט חי בעת אשר נבואה היתה בישראל ובא"י היתה אולי שורה גם עליו, כי תכונה זו היתה ברגשותיו הקדושים אבל לא שיטה, שיטה יכולים ליחס לתלתידיו הגאון רש"ז ז"ל ולהגר"א ז"ל, לא להבעש"ט כי דבריו המה רגשי לב והארה אלקית רגעי, ודבריהם המה חקר שדי ובכלל לכל שיטה צריך להיות הליכה לשיטתו ואין כזה בהגדות הסותרות לרוב האחת את השניה

An attempt at a rough translation:

You mentioned the "Shita" (philosophical system) of the Besht. It would seem you take the position of the modern writers who attribute to the Besht a specific system. I do not agree with this. Even if we were to try to gather together an understanding of the personality of the Besht from various tales, this personality was not an analytical philosopher. The Besht was a "man of God", suffused with emotions of the ineffable, of holiness. If we were to agree with the Ralbag that certain people have certain natural qualities that enable them to attain prophecy from God, then we can say that certainly if the Besht had lived in the times of the Prophets, in the Land of Israel, He would have been a prophet. Because this quality [of a sense for the ineffable] was within him, not a system. His student the "Baal HaTanya" and the Gr"a, had a Shita. For the Besht 's attributes was of the emotional, of flashes of spiritual inspiration whereas theirs [The Gra and the Tanya] consisted of an religious system. In any event, a system requires a consistent text, not conflicting and contradictory tales.


Chanokh said...

I would tend to agree with the nafka mina, but then what would we say about the Arizal? He was the same kind of mystic with flashes of inspiration, as per his own testimony, and at the same time his whole Torah is a work of systematization. The same could be said about the Ramchal, with the exception that in the latter case the mystical and the systamatic works are somewhat differenciated.

Wolf2191 said...

You can really say that R' Chaim Vital was responsible for creating a "system" out of the Ari's theology but this isn't necesary.

Hirschenson wasn't saying that inspiration and system are mutually exclusive but rather that in the case of the Besht the emphasis was solely on inspiration and not on a "system".

for your info said...

1) The Baal Hatanya was a talmid of the Mezricther Magid

2) You wrote 'Gr"a'. The common use refers to the Vilna Gaon who was not a student of the Besht.

Wolf2191 said...

You are right in every count. The second problem is a result of a typo that I will try to fix later.

The Tanya was a Talmud of the Besht through the Maggid.

Ha-historion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ha-historion said...

This may be a negligble observation but I noticed he referred to the Besht as Zatzal whereas to the Gra as Zal.

I am a bit surprised at this find, since I was under the notion that he originated from a Misnagdic mileu-or at least one with misnagdic leanings.

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