Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Just to introduce myself, I'm a ba'al teshuva who stumbled upon chassidus a few years ago while visiting Lakewood. Yes, a funny place, although many groups seem to have representation there these days. I had made a new friend, and he took out time to learn with me once a week. This had been my first time learning since yeshiva, which I attended up until eighth grade. He invited me to Lakewood for a shabbos, and guaranteed that it would be special. We walked to a local shtiebel, and from the first utterance of "lechu neranena," I was transported. We were amongst chassidim mostly, with a few yeshivisha guys thrown in. Previously, I had known conservative shuls, modern orthodox shuls, and even a couple of Litvish shuls, so never before had I even really heard people saying the words of the davening out loud. But here, not only were they saying the words out loud, they were exclaiming the words! Each person was singing the tefilah in his own way with all of his energy, from beginning to end. I had never heard such sweet sounds before. It caused me to look into my own siddur, and actually begin davening myself. When we got to lecha dodi I felt as if I had come home. This niggun, sung with great intensity, moved me to the heights of ecstasy. Even the young children sang. I asked my friend after the davening what type of "song" this was. He said, "this is a typical Jewish niggun amongst chassidim." To think that there were more like this, and that this was how people prayed.

But before I get carried away, the point I'd like to make is that the type of davening that I experienced amongst chassidim led me to go out and buy an Artscroll siddur, and start to examine the peirush hamilim, the meaning of the words. I had never cared enough before to do this, but I knew now that surely the tefillah was the highest level of truth, and would have to be closely examined and learned, word for word.

For the past three years or so I have been visiting chassidic communities, a little here and a little there. I go for shabbos and I go for tishen. I go to communities such as Satmar, Skver, Stolin, Bobov, Belz and Chabad. Lately, I have begun learning chassidishe seforim, as well, starting with Meor Einayim.

Hope that people enjoy the stories.

1 comment:

Steven said...

Amazing story. Yes, I have heard that their davening is beautiful. I would join a community like that if there was one around here, but as it is there is only litvish and modern orthodox, so I daven litvish.

I look forward to reading your stories... I am sure to gain a lot of insight.