30 January 2011

The rebbe & the rosh yeshiva

In the absence of political leadership the Chassidic rebbe became the center of the Jewish social order. 
The Chassidic rebbe shifted the vector of leadership among the Jewish people from the civic and geographical to the ideological and charismatic. When the Chassidic rebbe model passed over to the rosh yeshiva two things were lost: 
  1. the connection between the leader and the people was replaced by a connection between the leader and the teachings; and 
  2. the right hemisphere vision of the rebbe was replaced by the left hemisphere rigor of the masmid
The rebbe took care of his chassidim; the rosh yeshiva had to be taken care of by his talmidim. The rosh yeshiva is guided not by common sense but by the purity of his theoretical (and often fictive) conception of how things in principle ought to run. He resembles the ideological extremism of the totalitarian leader sitting at the center of his institutional spider's web of evil as policy. 

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