Monday, August 09, 2004

Litvaks yesterday and today

In the past, and still to a degree presently, a Litvak was a Jew from Lita or one with Litvish roots. However, as there are very few Jews in Lita today, and as there are not that many Jews around any more anywhere that grew up in Lita, a new definition of Litvak is emerging.

The label Litvak today is changing to mean someone who is Litvish in outlook - who shares Litvish approaches to life, Torah and the like - even if that person may have no ancestors that lived in Lita. To be a citizen of the spiritual Lita - the Lita shel maalah - of the Vilna Gaon, Rav Yisroel Salanter, the Beis Halevi, etc., one just has to share their values - even if their roots are in Kiev, Cracow, Tunis, Sanaa, Budapest, Casablanca, Aleppo, Riga, or Berlin.

We are still in a transitional period between the old definition and the new one, but the new one is steadily gaining ground, in my opinion.

Lita - not just a place - but a way of life.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Litvaks - the air conditioners of the Jewish world

When things heat up - too much 'varemkeit' (warmth) making you stuffy or you just want some fresh air - intellectually, emotionally, spiritually - then it is time to turn on the Litvisher air conditioning.

When you hear an outlandish tale or notion being passed along in the name of Judaism - and it just doesn't sound right - but no one has challenged it, preferring to take the easy way out - put on your Litvish hat and raise some questions. It will be a welcome blast of fresh air !

Maybe we should market a line of Litvish air conditioners !

Varemer Litvaks un Kalter Litvaks (warm Litvaks and cold Litvaks)

Sometimes one hears the expression 'kalter Litvak' (cold Litvak). By the way, a real Litvak should know Yiddish, but, lo oleinu, some today, esp. from the younger generation, are shvach (weak) in that area.

Anyway, I recall hearing a choshuv'er Rav, a Litvak from South Africa, some years ago address this matter. This Rav, Rav Leizer we could call him (zol er zein gezund un shtark), said that he never heard the expression Kalter Litvak until he came to America ! In South Africa, the Jewish population is predominantly Litvish, but he never heard of such a thing ! They are varemer (warm) Yidden !

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Mazal Tov

Finally - a Litvish presence in the blogo-sphere !

In these hot summer days, could we not use a blast of cool Litvish air ?

Sometimes people don't appreciate the greatness of cold, until things get too hot.

So sit back and relax and enjoy the cool Litvish atmosphere......