What was the main cause of the split between the chassidim and the misnagdim?
Now, if you’re a chossid listen carefully and don’t be offended. The main cause of the split was the chassidim. I’ll tell you why the main cause was the chassidim. Because up till now there were no chassidim in Europe; all the Jews in Europe followed nusach Ashkenaz – they all prayed in one way. There was a certain nusach sefard in Oriental countries but in Europe they all followed nusach ashkenaz. Even Italians had a nusach Italiani, which is a nusach Ashkenaz.
The Ba’al Shem Tov came and he instituted for his disciples a different form of tefilah – he adopted mostly the nusach sefard format and that caused an upheaval. Because among Jews any change in minhagim is considered extremely serious. It caused a revolution. And so if the chassidim hadn’t done that, there wouldn’t have been such machlokes.
TAPE # E-25