Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Chabad-watchers --- this should be worth waiting for!

My good friend Binyamin "Bill" Weiss, with whom I enjoy many informed conversations, has received the following email from Professor David Assaf, whose article on the shadowy Moshe, son of the Ba'al haTanya, has been referred to in discussions on the blogs [see this link, the comments thereto, and several excellent subsequent posts on Mentalblog]:
The article is not available on the web. Only in Zion, as you wrote (and in Hebrew only).
A new extended version of this article based on new archival documents will be published (hopefully) next year in my forthcoming book "Ne'echaz ba-sevach". By the way, it is obviously now that Moshe converted into the Catholic faith not to the Russian church.

-Professor David Assaf,
Chair, Department of Jewish History
---- This sounds really explosive! It is interesting that the history of Chabad is attracting a range of non-Chabad-establishment historians of diverse backgrounds -- from the talented autodidact Shaul Shimon Deutsch (when are the rest of the volumes appearing? is his work still in progress?), through the apparently sidetracked military historian Brian Rigg (is he Jewish??? -- Tzemach has the answer) to the exotic Avrum Ehrlich (apparently a former Habadnik who now appears to be a Professor of Jewish Studies in China), and now a mainstream Israeli historian .......... No disrespect to any of them, all of whom are making excellent contributions to Jewish scholarship, but together they are the sort of crowd you might meet at, say, Seder in Chabad Thailand!! [Link is not to Chabad, but it seems just as interesting.]

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