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This week's Yizkor book excerpt (Biala Podlaska) on the JewishGen Facebook page #yizkorbooks #poland #JewishGenUpdates
At the end of each week, we have been featuring excerpts from Yizkor books in JewishGen’s archive. You can find the archive of past Yizkor book excerpts here: https://bit.ly/3aCH1ak. If you are not familiar with the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project, please click on this link: https://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/faq.html
In “Between Two Mountains,” a story by the Yiddish writer Isaac Leib Peretz from the Yizkor book of Biala Podlaska (Poland), an unnamed Hasidic disciple tells about two rabbis who were at loggerheads because of very different outlooks in their approach to Hasidic teachings.
One “mountain” is the Rabbi from Brisk about whom the narrator says “If the Torah is an ocean, the Rabbi from Brisk is the whale in that sea.” The other is Noah who had been a devoted disciple for years but left when he became disillusioned with the Brisk rabbi’s strict adherence to orthodoxy in the study of Torah. Noah went on to become the rabbi of Biala.
Noah felt the Rabbi from Brisk’s Torah was a “dry Torah” — focused on its laws rather than the lives of people. “It was not the Torah of life, it has no joy,” Noah believed. “It is made of iron and copper, it has iron laws… It is elaborated, deep, but only for a talented minority!”
Years later, the Brisk rabbi comes to Biala where his daughter was undergoing a very difficult, life-threatening childbirth. And there he re-encounters Noah.
“And the two mountains met,” the narrator says. “I wonder how I survived it.”
The stories of Peretz reflected what has become known as a “neo-Hasidic” point of view, which believers hoped would revitalize Jewish religious communities by working to make its ideas relevant and accessible to a changing world. "Tsvishn Tsvey Berg," the story’s Yiddish title, was published in 1900.
The book is newly available in print. Details are here: https://bit.ly/3ZfzgNG
Silver Spring, MD
Researching: DRACH, EBERT, KIMMEL, ZLOTNICK
Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel
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