Should Young Boys Write Chidushei Torah?



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    Should Young Boys Write Chidushei Torah?

    Question: My son is learning in a Chabad Mesivta. He recently called me to say that he thought of a “Chidush” — a novel Torah insight and would be printing it in a Torah journal that the Yeshiva publishes. I didn’t want to discourage him, but It doesn’t feel right to me. I always heard that Chassidim refrained from publishing “chiddushim” (as we don’t really know if it is the truth of Torah) and it seems to have the potential to add in arrogance. Rabbi Gershon Avtzon answers in this week’s Chinuch and Moshiach column • Full Article

    By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon

    Question: My son is learning in a Chabad Mesivta. He recently called me to say that he thought of a “Chidush” — a novel Torah insight, and would be printing it in a Torah journal that the Yeshiva publishes. I didn’t want to discourage him, but It doesn’t feel right to me. I always heard that Chassidim refrained from publishing “chiddushim” (as we don’t really know if it is the truth of Torah) and it seems to have the potential to add in arrogance. Please advise.

    Answer: There is much truth to that fact that historically Chassidim refrained from publishing their Torah thoughts. Even the Alter Rebbe had to (so to speak) “apologize” and explain his reasoning for agreeing to publish the Tanya in print! At the same time, it is very clear that the Rebbe encouraged and advocated for the printing of Chiddushei Torah in our generation. 

    The following are some of the sichos and letters from the Rebbe on this important subject:

    “I’m more optimistic about the situation”

    (1) In 5719 (1959), the Rebbe asks Rabbi Ephraim Wolf, director of the Chabad Yeshiva in Lod, to get people involved in publishing a Torah journal with the insights of the students (Igros, Vol. 18 p. 463; #6943) and pushed the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yisroel Grossman as well (ibid p. 486; #6964). The Mashpia of the Yeshiva, the famous Reb Shlomo Chaim Kesselman, was very hesitant of the concept and expressed his concerns to the Rebbe. The Rebbe responded thus:

    “In response to what you write — concerning the Torah journal — that the talmidim are not shayach (capable) to write chiddushim: I am not sure why you are taking as a foundation that they must print novel insights. I am sure that you saw how in the journal published by the Yeshiva here in NY, the content was mainly explanations and less focus on novel insights. Halevai (=I wish) that this should be the approach in the printed material on the revealed parts of Torah and not just on Chassidus. 

    To the point that you raise, that they are not on a level that they can be demanded more than just the simple understanding of the material: If what you are saying is correct, that would be a very painful situation. Yet, I am more optimistic about the situation and I feel that you can demand more of the students…” (Ibid p. 525; #6997).

    Even after the correspondence above, due to certain hindrances, the journal was not published. On the 20th of Teves 5720 (1960), the Rebbe wrote a long letter to the administration of the Yeshiva in Lod about the topic and begins with the following: 

    “It is very very painful that nothing has come from it”

    “I reiterate again that it is very very painful that I have pushed for the publishing of the Torah journal with the writing of the students and nothing has come from it… 

    The Rebbe continues to address the concerns of the hanahla, mainly that such things were not done in the past. The Rebbe gives a two-pointed answer: 

    (1) The Rebbe Rayatz authorized such a concept by printing the Torah journal Hatamim which contained insights of the students. 

    (2) The facts have proven that this has added a chayus and involvement in the learning of the students. 

    To the members of the Hanhalla that were worried that if the students write insights in Chassidus it would make them haughty, the Rebbe responded: 

    (1) The same worry could be said about insights into Gemara, and (2), this approach would also be reason to refrain from having the students be active in teaching and spreading Chassidus (which would ch”v stop the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus which is so paramount in our generation). (Igros, Vol. 19 p. 146; #7162)

    Don’t Pasken and Add a Disclaimer, But Write!…

    On Shabbos Bamidbar 5751 (1991), the Rebbe said: “Each individual should endeavor to develop new Torah concepts, and also, to publish them! Every Jew has the potential — and according to the Zohar, it is an obligation — to develop new Torah concepts.”

    The Rebbe addressed the common objections to this:

    “In the previous generations, people were very reluctant to write, let alone publish such Torah concepts, lest they not appreciate the true intent of the halacha or concept with which they were concerned. At present, however, there must be efforts in the opposite direction.”

    “It is [still] necessary to take precautions that people do not write practical directives of halacha when they are incapable of doing so. Nevertheless, simultaneously, it is necessary to do whatever is necessary to encourage people to increase their efforts in Torah study. And for that reason, it is worthy to encourage all those who are trained in the proper approach to Torah study — even if they are not totally sure that the new concepts are 100% accurate — to publish and disseminate the Torah ideas that they develop. (Needless to say, however, it is proper to add that these texts should contain a statement saying that they should not be considered as works from which halachic directives for actual practice should be derived.)

    “We see the success of such an approach. When people compose Torah texts like these, they are inspired to dedicate more effort to Torah study. Similarly, “the envy of the scribes increases knowledge” and their efforts spur other colleagues to like endeavors.” (Sichos in English Vol. 48)

    The Moshiach Connection: 

    Chazal tell us that Moshiach will teach us “the new Torah” i.e., the revelation of the deepest parts of the Torah. The Rebbe teaches us (Nasso 5751 ois 14) that the way we prepare for this revelation is through learning with chayus and originating chiddushim in Torah in the final moments before the Geulah. 

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