Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Wonder Rabbi of Sadagora

I am reading short stories by Sholom Aleichem. I am reading them in English, which breaks my heart because I would give anything to read them in Yiddish, because anyone who speaks Yiddish will tell you that these stories cannot be translated.

I came upon a mention of Sadagora Chasidim in one of the stories. It is a dynasty I was not familiar with, and so I went to my friend Google to find out more about them.

It turns out that the Rabbi who founded the dynasty, Rabbi Israel Friedman, was quite a controversial figure. You see, he seemed to be quite fond of material things. Visitors to his court were likely to find him sitting on a throne dressed in a gold-embroidered hat and the fine outfits of a nobleman. Here are some pictures of his residence.

This really bothers me because it seems so removed from the feel of Chasidism, the original message that the Baal Shem Tov was spreading. One of the key points in the Torah deals with the fact that the Israelites insist on building idols to worship. What I can't figure out is who is more at fault, the people for setting a "false god" or the Rabbi for allowing them to do it.


Anonymous non-Hassid said...

It's not necessarily so simple. There are a number of books on the Ruzhin (aka Rizhin) dynasty, in English and Hebrew, which could give you a different angle on it and him.

In English, Artscroll has one, and there is also one by David Assaf called 'The Regal Way'(Stanford U. Press).

January 27, 2006 1:51 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...


I probably won't have time to look into it. Can you give me a quick summary of what I may be misinterpreting?

January 27, 2006 6:48 AM  
Blogger turquoiseblue said...

Well actually, about the Rizhiner (who lived in royal splendor) - it is told that he would wear handsome, expensive boots - but without soles (that is, he was basically walking barefoot..) and I think it is he who said before his death that "Heaven is witness that I did NOT enjoy a single materialistic thing for the sake of materialism" - I just don't recall at the moment what/why he lived in such royal splendor...

January 28, 2006 10:24 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

OK, so your telling me that I've found yet another thing that is neither black or white and will need to be looked into? I'll try to do some more research on the web; meanwhile if anyone has more information they want to post here, please feel free.

January 29, 2006 8:01 AM  

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