The Final Months of the Rebbe’s Life: Tonight at Yeshiva University

Good morning students of Jewish history–

If you are in Washington Heights tonight, please consider dropping by Yeshiva University at 8pm for a gathering of scholars and Hasidim of the Piaseczno Rebbe, the saintly Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapiro הי׳׳ד. I’ll be speaking in the Sky Cafe of Belfer Hall (2495 Amsterdam Avenue, Wilf Campus of Yeshiva University) on the recent, heated discussions taking place regarding the Rebbe’s last months in the Warsaw Ghetto and Trawniki Labor Camp.

Members of the Piaseczno Rebbe Facebook group recently witnessed an intense exchange involving colleagues Professor Shaul Magid and Rabbi Pesach Sommer (Professor Daniel Reiser, winner of the 2018 Yad Vashem prize for Holocaust research for his critical edition of the Rebbe’s work, tried to calm the discussion by suggesting that “everyone should practice yoga to achieve inner peace”). The principal locus of the dispute was Professor Magid’s assertion that the Rebbe’s faith was “broken” by the Holocaust.

Since then there’s been a lot of back-channel communication that places this argument within the category of “controversies for the sake of Heaven,” in my opinion. I’m especially grateful to Shaul for sharing proofs from his forthcoming book, Piety and Rebellion: Essays in Hasidism, which includes a lengthy and sophisticated chapter on the Piaseczno Rebbe.

I hope to spend the hour discussing the specific historic events of the final days of Warsaw Jewry and link them to the Rebbe’s sermons, with a view to clarifying the parameters of the controversy.

Please do join us and participate in the conversation.

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