In this week issue of Ami Magazine, the Editor in Chief Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter interviewed OU Kosher’s CEO, Rabbi Menachem Genack, in an article titled A Statesman and A Rabbi. The OU CEO remembered an incident with Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveichik who was learning with his students the Alter Rebbe’s Lekutei Torah:
Rabbi Genack shares a humorous jibe at his own expense. “Back in my student years I would spend many of my summer vacations in Boston, attending Rav Yoshe Ber’s classes. One summer, the Rav gave a few shiurim on Likkutei Torah, by Rav Shneur Zalman of Ladi, founder of Lubavitch Chassidism. He said it was important to study Likkutei Torah in order to properly appreciate the grandeur of Rosh Hashanah.
When he sensed that some of us were resistant to learning the Chassidic work, the Rav related an apocryphal Yiddish story, known as “Between Two Mountains.”
“The story describes the encounter of the Rav’s great-grandfather, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (the Beis HaLevi, for whom the Rav was named), and the Bialyer Rebbe, a former talmid of his who had become a Chassidic Rebbe. The Bialyer Rebbe, filled with passion and religious fervor, had persuaded his master, the Beis HaLevi, to come to visit at a gathering of the Rebbe’s followers. As the story unfolds, the song and warmth of the Chassidim melted the outside snow and caused the trees to bloom and the birds to chirp. The cold Russian winter twilight had been transformed through the ecstasy of the Chassidim into a bright spring day.
“As sunset approached, the Beis HaLevi, being a misnaged (opponent of Chassidism) who was devoid of open emotion, looked at his watch and interrupted the song to remind the assembly that it was getting late and it was time to daven Minchah. Suddenly, the glorious spring faded and reverted to the cold winter.
“The Rav then turned to me and said, ‘That misnaged is you!’”