Friday, November 11, 2011

Toldot Aharon versus Gur


Most Mea Shearim visitors are fascinated and sometimes even overwhelmed by the ultra - Orthodox neighbourhood. By the way, Mea Shearim is not the only haredi neighbourhood in Jerusalem but probably the most famous one. 

Especially one chassidic group is getting the most attention: The TOLDOT AHARON (although their spilt - off, the Toldot Avraham Yitzchak, is not less popular and famous).   

The Toldot Aharon

One of the reasons why almost all visitors are anxious to see the Toldot Aharon may be their way of life. Furthermore, the Toldot Aharon have been in the media with positive and negative headlines. Nevertheless, they are not the most extreme in Mea Shearim !

It may be the old "Yerushalmi" dress of the Toldot Aharon causing lots of attraction. Maybe their strict internal laws "Takanot" or their way of sticking together and supporting each other in any way. The Toldot Aharon erected a kind of a shield around their yard (Chatzer) and everything external has to remain outside. According to their Takanot, members are not allowed to have friends from the outside but only from the group itself. 

This kind of "isolation" does cause the attention of the outside world and manyy people are being fascinated by that. Many among those fascinated are Ba'alei Teshuva. On the other hand, students or even university professors get the feeling to investigate and research the Toldot Aharon in order to write a publication and thus earn a reputation and money.

People think that uncovering the Toldot Aharon will get them some level of fame but they are mistaken. Women shaving their heads are not that interesting anymore and even the Belzer or other chassidic women have a bald head. 

If someone really intends to research secret chassidic groups he shouldn't choose the Toldot Aharon but Chassidut GUR. The Gerrer Chassidim are the chassidic majority in Israel and it is basically impossible to get any detailed information about what is going on inside the group. Let alone getting hold of their Takanot. Chassidut Gur has money and the Gerrer Rebbe is one of the richest people in Israel. The Gerrer Chassid, Yaakov Litzman, is a minister in Netanyahu's cabinet or generally speaking, Gur has power in Israel but, at the same time, remains a secret society.


  1. who do you think is the most extreme of all hasidic groups ?

    kol tuv

  2. B"H

    I think it depends on different ways of life and opinions. Gur may be extreme but in other ways more open than the Toldot Aharon.

    To me, the Toldot Aharon are one of the most extemes because it says in their Takanot that the members are not allowed to have friends from the outside. I think that this is a kind of controlling the members and even their way of thinking.

  3. B'H

    Every chasidic community is "extreme" on its own on certain specific points. For instance, Satmar Hasidim are extremists on many points (as on anti-zionism, shaving women's hair, etc.), but they are very kind people and do a lot of chesed to Klal Yisroel and not only for their own members (which many people don't realise as they only focus on the "extreme" side of Satmar). Each chasidic community has its "extremism" but also its good side. What I think, and it's my opinion, is that outsiders are portraying Chasidim in a more extremist fashion than they really are. You need to know them from the inside to trully appreciate them and see their good side. As a Lubavitcher, I used to think bad about Satmar untill I spend some years among them and with them. I discovered that we had much more in common than in differences. The outsiders should analyze the Chasidic communities from the inside and not base their opinion on what they read or hear about us!

  4. B"H

    I am not so much interested in the extremism in every chassidic group. This is why I don't refer to any single act of the Sikarikim in Mea Shearim. I am also not too much interested in the gossip of every group but what I am doing is researching the groups for their history, customs and politics. You are right, one has to get to know a group from the inside in order to undertsnad its policy and ideology.

  5. what about shomer emunim, dushinsky, or mishkenos haroim ? or tosh ?

  6. B"H

    Whoever is joining groups like Dushinsky, Mishkenot HaRoim etc. should know himself what is is dealing with and what kind of life is waiting for him.

    If someone likes it and is okay with all demands that's fine with me.

    Some Haredim see all kinds of restrictions as part of their life and even a Mitzvah, others don't.

  7. B"H

    Moshe made some valid points.

    I'm sure many are curious about those of us whom live within a chassidic community.

    But it seems we are constantly portrayed by numerous media outlets as extreme and oppressive which is the furthest thing from the truth.