Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Litvaks, Nit Chassidim, and Misnagdim: Various Terms for the non Chassidic

What do you call a non Chassid?

Some people use the term Litvak. However, that leaves something to be desired, as there are Chassidim that are of Litvak roots. Chassidic groups such as Karlin, Slonim, and Lubavitch, are of such background. And there are misnagdim that are of non Litvish background as well. On the other hand, some prefer it, as it sounds sort of neutral, non-threatening, and non confrontational. It just means that the person comes from Lita, where the standard form of Judaism was not Chassidic. Some people use Litvish instead of Litvak, Litvish meaning that they follow the way of Lita, even if not from there or that background.

The late Lubavitcher Rebbe, stated that there are no Misnagdim today, just ניט חסידים (non Chassidim, in Yiddish). What he meant with that claim was that some non Chassidim today don't really actively oppose Chassidism, or know why they are not part of it. They just know that that is not their background.

Although that is incorrect (Misnagdim still exist and they cannot be wished away, even if a Chassid would like to imagine that they don't exist), there is something to that.

The last term, Misnaged, clearly indicates that a person is opposed to Chassidism. It is more 'in your face' than the others.

1 comment:

  1. When I speak about the topic, I use "Chassidim" and "traditional Jews".