Know: Sugar is the drug
Eli Wiesel describes his introduction to kabbalah at age twelve or so through the writings of R' Nachman of Breslov, then difficult torah to come by. Breslov was pretty much illegal, it's furious critism of mainstream rabbinic leadership across the board rendered R'Nachman's writings taboo.
I met a real, old school, poverty stricken Breslov chassid in Mei Shearim last week. He hadn't eaten in like two weeks, in response to some internal hemorraging. He would not see a doctor, because that would only be more dangerous, and instead, was just seeing it through, not moving from his house, praying all the time forever. He had had his kids taken from him by either the state or the local chassidic leadership, he couldn't quite tell which, some years ago, and was living away from his wife, who had either left him, or somehow he was keeping some distance from, in an attempt towards higher purity.
He was being supported, sent fruits and whole grains, by a local anti-zionist chassidic Gvir, but nontheless refused to be specifically anti-zionist himself. "Of course the governement is evil, but it doesn't help to hate jews!"
He described the early days of R Yisrael Bar Odesser's ministry, a non-existant thing. R Yisrael, A.k.a. the Saba (grandpa) a.k.a. na nach nachma nachman me uman, was another poor fringed shlepper who was really into R' Nachman's torah, and suffered total alienation from the rest of the chassidic community because of it. His family was taken off the chassidic charity doll what takes care of everyone else who needs it in Mea Shearim, and his wife and kids promptly starved to death.
His saintly virtue is that he refused to stop being happy all through it, as radical an anti-consumerist a message as anyone could live, maybe.
This was the condition of Breslov historically, it's teachers totally booted out of chassidus in alot of the larger community, it's ideas totally avoided. Where did Eli Wiesel get access to these marginalized texts and teaching?
From Kotsker Chassidim, who didn't give a fuck.
People occasionally ask me what kind of chassid I am. I say different things at different times, but the lineage I think I have to claim closest relationship would have to be pshiche. Why?
Because it's nice to cleanse the parasites out of our guts sometimes
Sugar is the devil, is the excess that is killing most lately, and is the most socially acceptable, even for children, the most vulnerable and addictable amongst us.
Meod, excess is the building and definition of evil. Concetrated sweetener, once rare and requiring much effort to find sometimes, if honey wasn't in season or available... dates and figs ain't holy for nothing. Sweet potatoes, carrots, brown rice, millet, etc. are what our bodies are actually longing for, love in the form of whole sweetness, with Substance; sourness, bitterness, saltiness and/or charif fire cleansing your system from the toxic excesses that an insatiable psychological need to be comforted with sweetness... It's the deepest yearning, and cake, like many of the associative mistranslations of what the serpent is actually asking for.
This is true in religion also. Pietism is a rejection of the sweetness of the world, and chassidis appears to me an attempt to reclaim it. And the fear of chassidis and for that matter, sabbateanism and california, I percieve as a deeply rooted fear of sugar excess making us weak, which it does. Sweetness in moderation is very empowering, in excess, sweet, unavoidable excess, is crippling, makes you sleepy, gassy and complacent, terrified of discomfort.
Most of the early school of chassidis feel to me like an attempt just to get the sugar around. By pshiche, you have an attempt to burn away the excess, while somehow maintaining the good part of it. All pshiche torah, even the darker kotsk stuff, hints at a sweetness available somewhere.
Understand, all chassidic pietism is ultimatly for the sake of sensitizing to the sweetness. Elimelech of Lizhensk sets his arm on fire and feeds himself to ants, and in the songs about him, he's dancing so happily, smoking his pipe and leaping in the air. Later polish chassidis is an attempt to refine that. How much do we really have to hurt to feel the good? How can we do it safely?
(to be continued)