Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Rebbes and the Fur


Is it true that more and more chassidic Rebbes have been wearing fur ?
Why ? Because it is so terribly cold in New York (see above Chassidut Skver) ? Or is it more like a "I am Important" fashion ?

I am probably too much of a socialist in order to appreciate a honorable looking Admor but, as usual, I am asking who is paying for this and if the Rebbe could not rather donate the money to the needy in his group.


  1. Among certain Rebbes, there is are various garments, the fur "Peltz" is one of the various garments which some wear.Some wear elaborately colored "tisch Bekeshes" some wear black pants that are cut off and have strings to tie them under their white socks, some wear grey and white pants called "gefefferte", others have velvet strips on their collar and sleeves, others have a velvet strip down the front and have hooks instead of buttons on their beketche as well (these are called strokess). Each according to the custom of their fathers. As for where the money comes from, one of the marks of a true Chosid is that they take part in the Rebbe's household with a monthly amount which is called Maamodos. This connects the Chosid to the Rebbe in a financial way, the chassidim sustain the Rebbe's material needs.
    So this distinguishes a true chossid from a "generic chosid" one who has no connection to one Rebbe. One can only be a true chosid if he he binds himself to his Rebbe by giving maamodos and his Kvitel to one Rebbe only. Those who dress in the dress, and even adopt "chassidic customs" are not true chassidim if there are not bound to one Rebbe.

  2. B"H

    I would not give anything but I am also not really chassidic. :-)
    So far, I just saw the Toldot Avraham Yitzchak Rebbitzen in a coat with some fur as a collar. She came back from New York with it last winter and wore it proudly. Posh, posh, I have to say.

    A week after, her women's clan (like three women of the group) also wore a similar coat but a cheaper edition. Wallmart like.:-)))

    Being a Chassid is not easy. Kvitlach, money to the Rebbe, the Toldot Aharon also ask for a fee for using their Beit Midrash and now even for money to support the "abusive" or whatever she is mother. My salary wouldn't even last for a wekk, if I was participating in all this.

  3. So if one is poor then he cannot have a true connection to the Rebbe you are saying Yitz?

    Is it only in Toldos Aharon, or other chassidim too in which they button there coats in the reverse manner?

    What is the difference between a regular bekishe and a tish bekishe for the ordinary chosid?

  4. B"H

    I suppose the Tish Bekishe may be seen as a real piece of Shabbat clothing. Something special you wear on SHABBAT for the REBBE.
    When I heard all those statements about giving money to the Rebbe in order to support him and bring a Chassid on a higher level, I am asking myself where Chassidut is going. It looks like that if I want to joing a group, I have to be wealthy. Buying all those new clothes (incl. the Tish Bekishe), new books, Sidurim, Machzorim, support the Rebbe and, somehow, myself. Donate money to the poor, let alone the schools for the kids and food. How do Chassidim do all this ?

  5. Even the poor give tzedaka, we are not talking large amounts and there is no pressure to give more, each gives according to his/her ability. Don't forget some Rebbes have some very wealthy chassidim and wealthy admirers who are more than happy to forgo an extra car or yacht or other luxury to show gratitude to their Rebbe. Funny how people always find a few extra coins to buy cigarettes etc. yet can never find any tzedaka money
    The Shulchan Aruch says that the proper Jewish way to wear clothing is right over left, so all chassidic clothing is made that way.
    A regular Beketche is made of smooth black satin or polyester/satin and has buttons in the back on the sides a tisch beketche is made of fabric with a design on it, sometimes teh material is colored and comes with a belt

  6. B"H

    Well, I don't smoke but do find other ways to waste my money.:-)))

    However, why should it be me supporting a fur coat ?

    Yes, I know this sounds either naive or too socialist and I admit that I am selfish. But why should I support the Rebbe when he is flying first class and staying in a fancy hotel ?
    The Baal Shem Tov didn't.

  7. This wasn't the case with the early Rebbes, was it? Like you said Miriam, not with the Ba'al Shem Tov, but when did it start? I know that in Rizhin the Rebbes accepted very large gifts. Is this where it began?

  8. B"H

    This is a great question for Ruzhin - Boyan.:-)))

    I am not into the wealth of a Rebbe and Rebbe Israel of Ruzhin had more than a villa.:-)

  9. The extravagant living of today's Rebbes is not a new phenomenon. While the Baal Shem Tov and his disciples probably lived more simply, the tradition of chasidim providing their Rebbes with handsome stipends goes back pretty early. The Ruzhiner was an extreme example of such behavior, but he was most likely influenced by other "courts" in Volhynia and Podolia (less so in Poland/Galicia/Hungary), specifically those of R' Mordechai of Chernobyl (the Ruzhiner's uncle) and his eight sons.

    As to whether its right or wrong, you have to see it from the chasidim's perspective. The tradition has philosophical underpinnings that stress the importance of allowing a Rebbe to be free of the stresses of day to day life in order to serve God more freely and to be a better conduit for his Chasidim. Chasidut also teaches that proper Hitkashrut to a Rebbe is done through boundless love and devotion to the tzaddik, which implies making sure he lives as comfortably as possible.

    Palatable in this age of egalitarianism? Probably not. A bit cultish? Certainly. But then again, frum Jews never cared much about contemporary mores and values, so it's hard to see why they should start with this issue.

  10. B"H

    One of the most important points in Judaism (or in Chassidut) is that we are only temporarily in this world. There is the famous saying about the Chafetz Chaim who once was asked why he doesn't have so many comfortable furniture in his house. "It looks like you are traveling", someone said to him.

    "This is exactly what I am and what we all do. We are just travelers in this world having a short trip".

    It looks like collecting wealth has a longer Rebbe tradition. I recently published some pictures of Rebbes in Marienbad. And I don't think that Marienbad or Karlsbad were that cheap.

    I don't care too much about a Rebbe receiving money, as long as all his followers have enough for their livelyhoods. It cannot be that someone in the group is starving and the Rebbe lives in a castlelike house like the Rizhiner Rebbe Israel.