He Responds to This Bash-Fest on Cross-Currents, and gives it directly to Toby Katz.
This issue has been debated ad nauseum even in this forum, I doubt anything I will add will change anyone's set mind. It seems every Lubavitcher, Moshichist or not, is painted with the same vile brush, the fact that within Chabad there is extreme anger and even purging (witness the recent court case against the M’s in 770) is meaningless. The fact that any reader here can walk into a Chabad House throughout the USA, and in 99% of the cases will find not one hint of Yechi, Moshiach etc. is meaningless, The fact that at the recent Kinus, attended by over 3,500 Rabbis and 1,500 lay leaders and not one hint of Moshiach was uttered, is meaningless to this august crowd of contributors who continue to fill this and other prominent Blogs with their venom nothing else matters.
How many times have I read, of writers who while grudgingly admit that the Rebbe was “a Talmid Chacham” never even saw one of his, over a hundred, published works in all parts of Torah, Kabbala, Halacha, etc. yet heard from someone that heard from someone that he knew a little how to learn. How many times have I read of writers who dismiss Chabad work and wax knowingly about the type of Rabbis and communities they establish, and what they do there without even once visiting a Chabad House, or even meeting a Shliach. They rely on hearsay, on fragmented stories, on admittedly true stories but of disturbed individuals who perhaps never even learned in a Yeshiva but has decided to don a Kapote and wear a Borsalino and a beard. In a recent Blog, I read a comment by one who heard that someone visited someone, not a Rabbi, and before he made Kiddush Friday Night he kept looking at the Rebbe's Picture. Shoin!! Chabad is Ovdei Avoda Zoro. This is so ridiculous, laughable even, had it not reached such harmful proportions. How many readers, before they solemnly write out a segment of Klal Yisrael, a huge group of dedicated, good hearted, knowledgeable, nice families, who’ve dedicated their lives, in sometimes extreme conditions, to helping lost souls of Klal Yisrael, even bothered to drive thirty minutes, and spend a Shabbos at a random Chabad center, or two or three and see for themselves what really goes on.
I came to Sherman Oaks, California 21 years ago, there was nothing anywhere near my area, I was the only Frum Jew within 5 miles. I put up signs and some Yidden walked in. We have had a kosher minyan ever since. I gave a shiur in Chumash Rashi before davening, a Dvar Torah before Mussaf, and a shiur at mincha. I gave a tuesday night shiur, and my wife gave a monday night womens' shiur. We started an afternoon and Sunday Talmud Torah, ultimately sending dozens of students to the local orthodox day school, which in turn cemented the parents and the whole family to stricter Torah observance. We built a new building with a Mikve, the only Mikve in the immediate area for women, and the only mens' Mikve in the entire East Valley open daily. We now have over 120 people coming each Shabbos to Daven, we have a minyan 3 time daily with shiurim every morning and evening before mincha. On Yomim Noroim we have 2 minyonim, Ashkenaz and Sefard, with an aggregate of close to 800 attendees, no membership. On Monday nights there is a Shiur Torah in Russian, on Thursday nights in Hebrew, and Tuesday nights in English in addition to lunch and learn. We have a Talmud Torah with over 60 children, and a Bat Mitzvah club every year of Bat Mitzvah girls, we have a womens shiur and monthly tehillim groups , and we constantly have speakers on relevant Torah topics. Oh, and Boruch Hashem, we are an established stop for many meshulochim, collecting for decidedly non-chabad institutions daily. Of course they don’t seem to have any problem soliciting our funds, I guess Money is not Metame..
The past president of the local elementary school, the largest in the west, walked in to our shul years ago, now he, a full Ba'al Teshuva, and others on that same board as well who are mispallelim at other local Chabad institutions, give back tremendously to the community at large. There's more, but I won't bore you. Just in The Valley there are 21 such Chabad houses and centers. Some more succesful (Agoura Ca., Encino, Tarzana)) some less. Does anybody reading this realize any of this before they so willy-nilly tar and feather Chabad off the Jewish map? And yes, we talk about our Rebbe, we teach and learn his Torah, and we inspire people to follow his example of leading a selfless life of Torah and Mitzvos. We are Chassidim, we are connected to a Rebbe, we are proud of that. Were it not for the Rebbe's inspiration, I would have simply joined my families’ business and sat on Blogs all day. And no, we're not perfect not even close, we in Chabad, as in every single group, have their bad rotten apples, doesn't everybody?
I do, however, want to express my extreme disgust at “Rebbetzin” Katz, and her vile remarks in this forum and others; ugly, snide words cloaked in backhanded praise wondering whether the poison in every drop of water justifies the good. Afra Lepuma, I take personal offense. I am the Rov of a Chabad Shul, I receive no compensation, I have a business. I receive tens of Shaalos a week from Jews of all Valley communities, as it seems that I am the only one available, and I have merited to good Shimush. I am asked to adjudicate disputes, I have shiurim for hours daily, I have Kashered kitchens and put up mezuzos, I have brought unfortunate people to Kever Yisrael and attended more Shiva calls than you can even imagine there being. I have visited children and siblings of frum tradiitional homes who have landed in prison, I have made loans and donations to all types of Jews knowing I will never get it back, I have interceded on behalf of single mothers and other unfortunates to all types of schools, camps and institutions for free or reduced admittance and you dare to accuse me and my dear wife and children of instilling poison??? who are you, and how dare you even think words like that, let alone write such spiritually murderous poisonous words? how does a Jewish daughter even say such things? your Father was a Gerrer Chosid, does that make you an authority on Chassidus? you should be ashamed of yourself! what kind of warped chinuch did you recieve? I do not ask you or anyone on this forum to become a Lubavitcher Chossid, nor do I care what you think, nor do I even delude myself that there is not very valid criticisms of many in Chabad, nor would it bother me if anyone were to ask questions about my Rebbe's opinions and teachings, but to write words like that? on what basis? you met a few nut cases or misguided lunatics and you judge a whole Eidah? would you judge other communities similarly?
I totally understand the troubling Moshiach issues and its difficulties. I am the total opposite of a Moshichist, I and my friends and all that I associate with oppose it and will not allow any of their philosophy in our shuls. We have instructed young men who have desired to engage our congregants to leave the shul, and we do not allow placement of any publications mailed to us. I also have read recently on another popular Blog (where Toby spews forth regularly) where to my surprise a seemingly non chabad writer asked the self proclaimed “Halachist specialist” Blogmaster if there is anything in pure Halacha that would oppose believing that a person dead or alive is Moshiach, and to my amazement this honest and fearless blog master kept on refusing to answer, until he was seemingly forced to write that admittedly Halacha does not find anything wrong with that position, But it's wrong and dangerous and etc etc. because it's against the Torah and could lead to other problems. Without even realizing that this exact position was the reason all the Gedolim of yesteryear were vehemently against the MO Rabbinate, including RYBS, and others, because it could lead…
I, and multitudes of my colleagues, who BTW, bear the brunt of the justified backlash of the group of Meshichisten around, tend to flocks of Yidden, teach them Torah, introduce them to HKB"H and his Mitzvos, in many cases seeing them continue on their journey in another more established community. You should all be ashamed of yourselves, the shmutz I read in this blog and others, is shameful. Learn a little about Chabad and its Rebbes, open up a Sefer of The Rebbe in its source, not what some former student or dropout or single person interprets his words. Realize that as with any discipline, especially mystical, one has to understand the context and vocabulary used. Visit a Chabad House or two, and look at the type of Far Far off Jews on the front line these Rabbis have to deal with in way off communities and see what they have to work with. See how they live financially, see what it takes to educate their children properly, the hours and expense incurred to do car pool to the city etc. the mesirus for life in a foreign environment then try to emulate them and do something positive.
I know I went too long. But enough is enough! you cannot continue to murder an entire Eidah Kedosha on lies.
Chabad of Sherman Oaks, CA