Monday, April 24, 2006

''Magical'' Afternoon of Izbicer Study in Chicago

An interview with Rabbi Hershy Worch, following his Sunday study session with Rabb Mordechai Gafni( much publicized by the enemies of both participants).

USAJ: So, how did it go? What's the No Exit Cafe like?

Hershy Worch: It's a performance, exhibition, artsy, trendy place in an area of Chicago where the arts and poorer housing live side by side

USAJ: Rogers Park?

Worch: East Rogers Park. Well away from the Orthodox neighborhood.

USAJ: It's an international neighborhood, a lot like Brooklyn's Atlantic Ave.

Worch: Yes. not on such a big scale, but yes.

USAJ: How many people showed?

Worch: Fewer than 20.

USAJ: More than 15?

Worch: Yes, about

USAJ: All of them Izbicer aficionados?

Worch: Not all – all of them connected either to me or to Mordechai or to both and to Izbicy Torah. All members of congregations of the searching spirit. People who study Torah, who study Jewish meditation

USAJ: What's the difference between the Izbicer and the rest of the hasidic scholars?

Worch: He is about three or four hundred years ahead of them.

USAJ: Wait -- I'm doing the math...

Worch: He was active about 175 years to 150 years ago, and he's still at least 150 years ahead of any contemporary thinkers.

USAJ: What's the 20-word essence of his methodology?

Worch: The goal it to reach intimacy with one's own personal truth.

USAJ: Inside the context of Mitzvot?

Worch: Everyone has their own personal truth which is the divine originality in the person.

USAJ: Sans commandments?

Worch: Once a person is in touch with it, he teaches that it is not absolutely necessary to be bound to the entirety of the Divrei Torah.

USAJ: Wow.

Worch: Because the p’rat (individual) becomes more important. The p’rat is the individual Torah of each person. An example we talked about was Mordechai, whom the Izbicer uses as an example. Mordechai had an understanding of his individual truth which, by the way, sprang from his relationship to Saul and the story with Agag, King of Amalek.

Mordechai knew he had to provoke and needle and act as the catalytic incendiary to Haman, even though he jeopardized all of Israel for no good purpose. He put us all in mortal danger for a non halachich whim of his. But, you see, when a person follows his truth he brings Ge'ula (redemption) to the world, because he reveals the divine in a new way

USAJ: Did you get the sense Gafni has a satisfying grasp on the Izbicer?

Worch: He has an encyclopedic grasp of Izbicy. Astonishing. He knows it backwards and forwards. We share many insights, we disagree on much, but that is because Izbicy is so deep, not because either of us is necessarily wrong.

USAJ: For instance?

Worch: In the concept of Desire and desire of Desire I think Gafni and I have different ideas because my derech (methodology) in Izbicy is very emotive, Gafni is very scholarly: The empty space, the idea of tzimtzum as Desire. Mordechai may have seen Izbicy as the natural outgrowth of the Torah of the Arizal, but I see a total rejection of the same. We didn’t really have time to pursue it. I think the Izbicy rejects the Ari in subtle ways. Natural catastrophe does not dominate Izbicy thinking. Not even as the backdrop.

USAJ: In your version, the Izbicer is both completely ascetic and at the same time seeing desire as the natural plateau on which God and Man correspond.

Worch: I think Mordechai sees Desire in Izbicy as the lens through which we look at the Torah God and the World, while I see Desire as God. Desire is the Shechina. But, as I said, we did not have time to pursue this thought.

USAJ: Which introduces the conflict of how can the Deity have wants.

Worch: Right. the Zohar talks of Shabbes Mincha as being ra'ava d'ra'avin, Desire for Desire. it precedes Creation.

USAJ: V'ani tefilati -- et ratzon…

Worch: Precisely. And also the death of Moses is Shabbes Mincha, because Moshe is the ultimate desire, min hamayim m'shitihu, from desire he is drawn. So Moshe's death is desire of desire, which is the place between the end of the Torah and its beginning, the burial place of Moshe. We did not talk of this though.

USAJ: Did the audience follow?

Worch: The audience is very knowledgeable and intuitive. They know a good thing when they hear it. Between Mordechai Gafni and me we have about 60 years of Izbicy study.

USAJ: No brawls?

Worch: We did not argue except about one concept, about chauvinism in Izbicy. The Izbicy contrasts the nefesh Israel with the nefesh of the goy. There is no comparison in Izbicy where the Israel has a shoresh (root) in chayim amiti (true life) while the goy does not, no real life force. Gafni's interpretation is that Izbicy is a product of his epoch. He is enlightened but his enlightenment can only be expressed through the zeitgeist at the stage of human development and evolution that was then.

USAJ: It's a bit insulting to the old master.

Worch: Yes, but the mystical experience can continue to be reexamined and mined for nuggets as human consciousness evolves beyond parochial ethnocentrism.

USAJ: Future plans?

Worch: We talked of the importance of having a yearly symposium of Izbicy scholars who can meet and present papers. It was a magical afternoon. Everyone who attended could feel it in the atmosphere sparking huge thoughts that could have started conversations lasting weeks. We were hurrying to finish thoughts so we could move on and cover the main material but everyone got the impression we were swimming on the surface of an ocean.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Gafni, nee Marc Winiarz, who reportedly fled the United States for Israel to avoid either prosecution for previous charges of sexual assault or the social repercussions of such allegations, has been oustered from his position at Bayit Chadash, the spiritual community in Tel Aviv-Yaffo, amidst five distinct allegations of sexual harrassment and one charge of rape."

5:57 AM, May 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good one seems jwb was right all along...

7:15 PM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger Yori Yanover said...

It appears that Gafni lied to a lot of people who trusted him. I hope he takes a break from teaching for a while and maybe spends more time learning. I see a difference, still, between his having sex with his students outside a university setup, and having sex with employees, which is a no-no. As to JWB, I also hope he takes some time to heal his own sorrows. I cannot imagine anyone being that hateful for so long and not receiving help.

8:24 PM, May 14, 2006  

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