March 9, 2013
I am proud to be Litvish
This is a phenomenal book. Since I began my journey back to Judaism, I have been blessed to learn from so many Chassidic masters that I often joke I'm a Litvak who's not so Litvish. Perhaps I should I've realized I'm pretty Litvish when I "accidentally" encountered the Talmud on day one of Daf Yomi, embarked on the voyage, and stayed with it for 7.5 years.
Litvaks are basically Jews descended from the vibrant and influential Jewish community that existed in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania until the 20th Century. Litvaks and Chassids often held opposing viewpoints on the finer points of Torah and Talmud, much like the students of Hillel and Shammai, but they agree on the basics.
Now, at last, I'm starting to understand what a Litvak is. The wisdom of our tribe was almost wiped out in the Shoah. Stalin multiplied the carnage. 90% of our leaders and teachers were lost. This book, The Legacy, by Rabbis Warren Goldstein and Berel Wein, captures the essence of our tribe's teachings, and I'll be sharing some highlights here on the Accidental Talmudist blog. Here's the first...
We must seek the ways of pleasantness. Actions and thoughts that lead to anger, abruptness, sharpness of tongue, dismissiveness, or Heaven forbid, humiliation of another individual, are wrong. Those are the ways of evil. Actions and thoughts that lead to serenity and simcha in the company of others are the ways of Torah. And so the Lithuanian master always taught. Shavuah Tov.
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Salvador Litvak wrote & directed the Passover comedy and cult hit, When Do We Eat? His new film, Saving Lincoln, explores Abraham Lincoln's fiery trial as Commander-in-Chief through the eyes of his closest friend and bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon.