January 2012: At the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem
Photo: Miriam Woelke
Only chassidic teaching. The entire day Chassidut.
Isn't that the greatest desire of anyone interested in Chassidut ?
"Interested" in a sense that a Jew is becoming chassidic and wants to study.
At the beginning of my chassidic "career", I really thought that this would be true. Studying and diving into any chassidic concepts possible. Not that we don't need the Torah, the Talmud or Halachot anymore but getting up in the morning and already thinking about chassidic concepts. Wow.
For beginners / Ba'ale'i Teshuva, especially Chabad may give the impression that everything should be chassidic. One's lifestyle, thoughts, personal life, anything. I sometimes doubt whether it is right bombarding Jews who don't know too much about their own religion with TANYA. Of course, it all depends on the Jew himself, as each of us has a different way of learning. One is able to get to Halachot and Torah by studying TANYA and others simply seemed to be confused by all kinds of kabbalistic concepts mentioned in TANYA. "What ZADDIK and BENONI (Intermediate) ? What do I have to do with that ?"
When I spoke to someone from Mea Shearim I asked if the Chassidim really study Chassidut the whole day ? The answer I got was a bit disappointing: "Not even in the old chassidic Polishe days, the Rabbis only taught Chassidut but mainly Torah and Talmud. The same today although chassidic concepts always find their ways into Torah as well as halachic teachings".
So, the Vilna Gaon was definitely wrong claiming that Chassidim neglect Torah and Talmudic studies and replace it by praying and dancing wildly.