The question of Schneerson's rabbinic learning, his beard, and the couple's years in Berlin and Paris have been the subject of a furious dispute between Samuel Heilman and Chaim Rapoport on a popular Orthodox blog site, Seforim. Although somewhat self-righteous and bombastic, Rapoport has gotten the better of the exchange. Even on Heilman and Friedman's account, for instance, it emerges that during the period when Schneerson is supposed to have avoided Hasidic shtiblekh, he was piously fasting every day until the afternoon. Heilman and Friedman hypothesize that this was because he and Moussia were childless, but as Rapoport points out, he began the practice immediately after marriage. The fact that the Schneersons never had children is of extraordinary biographical and historical importance (if they had, the possibility of an eighth Lubavitcher Rebbe might have seemed more thinkable), but Schneerson would have had to be a prophet to begin worrying about this in 1929.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
A new edition of the Jewish review of books is out. I especially like their discussion on Chabad as well as the description of the Seforim blog discussion: