Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Chassidus, Misnagdus, Mussar, and now TIDE

As per Reb Gershon Seif's request, here is my attempt at incorporating TIDE into the table:

This is too short and sharp to be accurate, so take it as a springboard. The middos used here for comparison purposes are taken from the Table of Contents of Otzaros HaMussar by R' Moshe Tzuriel shlita.



Mussar Differences


Torah im Derech Eretz


Downplayed and underdeveloped theme; too elusive to define and too dangerous to use as a focus.

Similar to other Misnagdim

Central theme (although not much time is spent developing it); essential for Dveykus.

The highest level of accomplishment, but internal, not external.

Achilah U'Shesiyah

A physical activity only moderately elevated by Torah and Zemiros.

Similar to other Misnagdim

An essential catalyst for Ahavah; for Ha'olas Nitzotzos. Meals with Toiroh and Niggunim are core experiences.

To be enjoyed, so long as performed according to the Torah's parameters.

Emes Va”Sheker

Unrelenting focus on reality, to the detriment of possible ecstasy – is it for real?

If anything, even more so – but reality lies more in the character and personality than in the Blatt Gemara.

A little blurry at the edges: If the experience is uplifting, does it matter if it's “really real?”

Unrelenting application to interpersonal activities "Better glatt yosher than glatt kosher."

Bushah V'Azus

Harbors doubt, sometimes lacks confidence.

Paradoxical trends toward doubt and boldness co-exist.

Bold and confident in the service of core values.

Steadfast against Reform, willing to attack.


Hashem has his plans.

Could go either way.

Everything is Good!

You must make a Hishtadlus!

Ga'avah V'Anavah

Takes pride in personal accomplishments, built on drive. Tool for aliyah.

Paradoxical trends toward ambition to achieve and negation of kavod (see below).

Bittul – negation of self; role in system more important than personal satisfaction.

Pride in meticulous observance, decorum and conduct.

Dveykus Ba'Hashem

Nice, but not essential

Similar to other Misnagdim.

It's Everything!

What does it mean?

Dibbur U'Shesikah

Intellectual conversation most important.

Mussar b'Hispa'alus and shmuessen in Yirah and Middos also important,

Chassidic stories most important.

Humor and irony., but somewhat high falutin'

Derech Eretz, Nikayon, Seder

Essential to Mussar-refinement.

Critical, but even the non-Mussar school holds that these elementary characteristics enhance accomplishment.

Not inspirational, not particularly important.

This is where it's at! Avodah is expressed primarily in these characteristics. A greatly expanded definition of Derech Eretz.

Hakoras Tovah

A logic

A middah.

An emotion


Zerizus V'Atzlus

Is of greater value than more profound kavanah.

Similar to other Misnagdim.

Is of lesser value than profound kavanah.

Similar to Misnagdim.

Chaver, Shachen, Nosei B'Ol

About the same.

Much more important than either of the other derachim

About the same.

About the same.

Chesed V'Rachamim

Only when not learning.

Only when not learning, but then a focus.

A legitimate option instead of learning.

For most people, the preferred primary focus.


Central theme. Mostly onesh, some romemus.

Similar to other Misnagdim.

Secondary theme. All romemus, little onesh.

Not as heavy as the others, basically cognition of Hashem.


Can be used as a shelo lishmah, major emphasis on Kavod HaTorah.

Eradicating Kavod is one of the most central of Mussar's themes

Preferable to eradicate, with the exception, obviously, of Rebbes.

In the form of decorum and dignity, very positive and important.

Kavanah when performing Mitzvos

Nice, but tafel – not worth bending the rules.

Similar to other Misnagdim.

Important, an ikkar – worth bending the rules.

Similar to Misnagdim.

Ka'as, Refraining from

Very Important.

Very, Very important

Very Important.

Very Important.

Lev Tov

Very Important, but not as much as Torah.

If one does not accomplish a Lev Tov, then one has not accomplished anything.

Very important, but not as much as Dveykus.

Very important, and for most people more important than Torah.

Limud Torah


Similar to Chassidim.

Important – for some, very important, but not Everything.

Nice, but for most people on a relatively low level – much more reliance on Rabbonim.


Very Important.


Very Important.

Important, but defined very much differently than others define it – more openess to participation of women.


Positive attitude, at least in theory.

Similar to other Misnagdim, but more l'ma'aseh.

Except for Chabad and Breslov, neutral or negative attitude

Positive attitude, but separation from Reform institutions is more important.

Shalom U'Machlokes

We pay lip service to shalom, but in reality...

More of an attempt to put principle into practice.

We pay lip service to shalom, but in reality...

Similar to the Misnagdim and the Chassidim.

Simchah V'Atzvus

Not much attention paid to these concepts. Some Misnagdim are pretty depressed.

Similar to other Misnagdim.

A lot of attention. In theory, and often in practice, Chassidim are happy, avoid sadness, and are more happy-go-lucky.

Not much attention – but, its attainment is not limited to Jewish means – it, and other emotions, can be cultivated from general culture.

Tochachah, Kana'us, Chanufah

Not much attention.


Not much attention.

For principles – significant kana'us.


Very Important.


Very Important.

Similar to the Misnagdim and the Chassidim.

Avodas HaShem


A combination.


Holistic and systemic.

Note: Readers noted three other important differences that must be noted:

1. Mikveh. Chassidim stress the need for extra taharah as facilitation of dveykus; Misnagdim find no greater source of taharah than Torah – and, anyway, are not big on dveykus. Yekkes never even heard of men going to the mikveh.

2. Levush. Chassidim stress the religious significance of dress to a greater extent than Misnagdim. The stress is evidently an externalization of the quest for dveykus. For Misnagdim, dress is more a matter of social identity and cohesion. For Yekkes dress should not differ from surrounding standards of dignified attire.

3. Connection to Tzaddikim. For Chassidim this is a part of the quest for dveykus – the tzaddik is the devek. For Misnagdim, the leader is more of a teacher and counselor. For Yekkes, he is the arbiter of religious life.

4. Yiddish. For most Chassidim, the use of Yiddish is a core value – "shelo shinu es leshonam." And if English "chotsh a tzubrokhener English, tzu zein anderish vi di Goyim. For Misnagdim it really doesn't matter that much, as long as satisfactory communication takes place. For Yekkes, Yiddish is an anathema – the pure and eloquent use of the local language is an ideal.


  1. The leftmost column (with the headings) seems to be obscured.

  2. I redid it at: