Why did the Brisker Rav zt”l call giving brachos “shtusim”?

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    My shul is zoiche to get the kuntresin of the shuezin of both Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l and yblct Rav Brog shlita of Cleveland. The most recent issue mentions how Rav Meir Soloveitchik zt”l refused to give brachos, quoting his father the Brisker Rav zt”l who “didn’t believe in them”. When some relatives wanted to ask Rav Meir zt”l for a bracha, he said “You also fell into these shtusim”?
    However, the same kuntres mentioned how the Chazon ish zt”l gave brachos in Bnei Brak. Why did he feel giving brachos was shtusim if the Chazon Ish did it? As well, why was brachos-giving apparently less popular among the litvish?


    Shtuyot. The plural is shtuyot.


    Please don’t get stuck on these stuff there is much bigger issues in the world going on


    He was pushing back against the Chasidisization of Litvish Jewry. Since the time of the Brisker Rav more and more non chasidic Jews have adopted Chasidic practices and beliefs ( ex:reliance on segulahs). Classic Judaism says that if you want a bracha ask G-d and focus on becoming a better Jew. If asking for a bracha is a easy way out and an attempt to avoid the real work that is neccessary I understand why he pushed back.

    On the other hand, think about the approach of R’ Chaim Kanievsky zt”l. He felt that even if people come to him with stupid requests (photo ops, dumb questions etc.) if it males people happy just do it. He saw it as an opportunity to do a chesed that no one else could do. There were plenty of things that R. Chaim would do that any sane person would agree are “shtuyot” but he did it because it made people happy.


    It is better to ask Rav Brog what he meant. I am sure he will have a great answer for you.
    I have heard many of his shiurim. Always filled with Taam Vdaas.

    There is a famous story of the Brisker Rav’s minyan, when he lived in Jerusalem, waiting during Chazaras Hashatz for a Kohen to come and bentch Birkas Kohanim . Asked why he is makpid and will wait so long until they find a Kohen ,he said that people wait on line a long time for brachos from Tzadikkim, so Kal V’chomer for a Birkas Kohanim.


    I spoke old time litvaks from “der heim” and they told me that the Rosh Hayeshiva never gave brochos, had bottos, took kivtlach etc. this is all a poor imitation of a Rebbah.


    The torah says explicitly many times that if you want brachos, then you need to follow in God’s ways, you can’t do whatever sins you want and then go get a magic blessing from your rabbi, much like the fools that line up at these so called self proclaimed kabbalists


    I’ve heard b’sheim the Steipler too. Old school Litvish Rabbonim tend to view brachos as more of a placebo. When you receive a bracha from a tzaddik it inspires you to be better. I heard one Rosh Yeshiva say that it upsets him that people think of brachos as a magic potion.


    I agree with Rocky. This might be a judgement call depending on the people the Rav is dealing with – where they hold, does he have a long-term relationship with them, will they be unhappy not getting brocha, does he have a chance to affect this person and the whole community, will they just go to a different Rav and bother him … So, you can’t necessarily question different Rabonim coming to different conclusions, but you can try to understand their shitot if they ever commented about it.


    common, was it even a question!?


    Because its much more powerful To go directly to the source Hashem our loving father for help then to go through messengers. Yes there is a famous line called “tzaddik gozer Hashem mekayaim” which means when a righteous man calls out to Hashem then Hashem always answers his call BUT the power of turning directly to Hashem the source is way more powerful. A person can call out wholeheartedly to Hashem in any language at any time as we say from Tehillim every time we bench after a meal “Vdorshei Hashem lo yachsiru chol tuv” which means for one that seeks out Hashem directly lacks nothing.

    Lets all remember this and work on our faith and trust in Hashem our loving father and king of kings ruler of the world


    @AAQ, no, it was a statement of fact.


    The world follows the Chazon Ish (and Rav Chaim) on this issue.

    Rav Brog is an einekel of Rav Miller.


    Rav Yosef Albo zt”l in his Sefer Ha-Ikkarim wrote why brachos work. I should think that if he wrote about it, it has merit.


    Brachos and segulos are shortcuts all the brachos lie in the Torah to one who fulfills it’s dictates. the Torah speaks about shabbos as memory habracha so someone who increases his shemiras shabbos will merit Bracha by default, it’s mimeyla and therefore no Bracha is necessary and that’s why it’s shtusim and kindershpiel this is what I feel the brisker rav meant


    The Gemara in Moed Katan 9a relates that Rabi Shim’on bar Yochai told his son to go after two Talmidei Chachamim and try to get a berachah from them.
    The Me’iri on that Gemara writes: לעולם תהא ברכת תלמיד חכם חביבה לו לאדם וישתדל בכל כחו שיברכוהו
    The Chofetz Chaim ztvk”l gave berachos regularly. In his old age, he writes in a letter that it is difficult for him to receive so many people who want berachos. Therefore he asks them to write their requests to him and he will bless them from far, rather than in person, and he assures them that the blessings will have the same effect.
    Rav Shach zt”l, who was a talmid muvhak of the Brisker Rav ztvk”l’ gave berachos with mesirus nefesh, even when he was very ill and weak.


    Brachos are definitely not a “magic pill”. It doesn’t accomplish much, unless the Rav actually davens or does something as a zchus for the individual.
    I have a relative who is a real kabbalist. He doesn’t advertise himself, doesn’t accept money to meet with people, or anything like that. He just sits and learns all day. I was once at his house visiting, when someone came in to see him, who was having a difficult time. She explained her situation to him. He sat there, with his eyes closed, for a minute, without saying anything. Then he opened his eyes, and said to her, “IY”H Hashem will help.” She left the house. My relative turned to us and asked to be excused for a few moments.
    His son said to me, “You know why he sat there? A brachah on its own doesn’t do anything. He was thinking what he could take on as a zchus for this person. But he has so many others he’s doing things for, that he needs to figure out what he can do, and when. Now he excused himself because he’s going to his study daven and cry for half an hour or so for this person.”

    That is what matters – actions, and tefillah. Just saying something nice doesn’t do much.



    “Shtuyot. The plural is shtuyot.”

    This isn’t correct. In Hebrew yes the plural is shtuyot but in Yiddish it is shtusim.
    Same for Shabbosim
    See Dovid Katz’s article “kapitlech in Yiddish” in the ALgemeiner Journal 2/12/2010.
    Or ask any Yiddish speaker


    In Yiddish, the plural of ‘shtuss’ is ‘shtussim’. The Brisker Rov spoke Yiddish, not your mutated English.


    The bigger shtuss is to try to make sense out of all the random shul publications.

    spot on

    And according to Ashkenazic tradition, the plural is “shtuyos”.

    Ari Knobler

    spot on: That is the Ashkenazic pronunciation of the Hebrew word שטויות. In Yiddish both written and oral, the word is שטותים. The same thing goes for words like טליתים and שבתים, which are the Yiddish plural forms, even as the Ashkenazic pronunciation of the non-dialectical Hebrew words is “Talisos” and “Shabbosos”.


    takah is a tziyoni. He doesn’t like old fashioned Yiddishkeit.

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