Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This is scholarship...

"Mr. Heilman maintained that Lubavitcher accounts can’t be trusted because they are hagiographies and said that he and Mr. Friedman did not examine the rebbe’s extensive writings on scripture because they were interested in his personal history, not his scholarship."

(Review - here)

An idiotic statement to put it mildly. Personal biography can hardly be divorced from scholarly writings. Many biographies are largely based on scholarly writings. It is largely in such writings that we can see the thought process of the subject and track their interests, ideals and beliefs.

PS - An interesting thread concerning one of the topics under debate (the Rebbe's Semicha from the Rogatchover) can be found here.


Anonymous said...

"Many biographies are largely based on scholarly writings."

Indeed, RR Margolios wrote a biography of the Marharsha that great portions of it were based on things he wrote in his commentary.

But maybe we can distinguish between biographies. The Nefesh Harav was an intelectual portrait of the Rav. Perhaps the Heileman book is the exact opposite. Dont know, I merely propose.


Chanokh said...

Except you can't build your whole analysis on the idea that the late Rebbe wasn't interested in chasidus in his Paris years when you have Torah writings written by him during that period and then just say "Oh, yeah, we didn't take that into account".
Worse yet, the review implies that not only did they dismiss his Torah writings, they also dismissed his correspondence.
How idiotic indeed. But hardly surprising. I know many a scholar who claims to study religious groups from a sociological point of view but adamantly refuse to have a look into their texts so as to "not compromise the purity of their analyses". O tempora, o mores...

Yitzhak said...

I know very little about the issues and personalities here, but to be fair, journalists are notorious for misquoting their subjects and quoting them out of context, especially on topics that are (for them) arcane and esoteric. In this particular case, there's not even a quote, so it's obviously a paraphrase. Who knows what Heilman actually said, and in what context?

Creative Commons License
Ishim V' Shittos by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at