Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Playing the "Holtzberg" card


a Friend of the blog sent me this link, where the English-language COL website spoke

of Dr. David Berger's recent lecture in Manhattan where he spoke about his favorite topic: Lubavitch and the heretics they are. Some Lubavitchers even bothered to attend the lecture, which I don't get. Maybe they figured that they could convince the listeners there that he's wrong? Don't they know that it looks like they have something to hide if they come to shout him down or confront him? The crowd was apparently 95% irreligious people who had no idea what the sources he was quoting mean or say, and frankly don't care. I guess they were there to support YIVO and the Y, and maybe pass the time... But why did Berger bother with these people, did he give up the good fight when it pertains to the Orthodox? Is the indifference on their part too great to overcome? Is he the only one that sees it that way?!

It seems like some well-meaning guy who never encountered opposition to Lubavitch asked the following question: "Dr. Berger, would you eat from the Holtzberg's shechitah?" I guess he figured that Berger would have no choice but to answer yes, so as not to sound non-sympathetic to their murder. Anyway, the friend, who has a love/hate relationship with Lubavitch writes to me that the fact that they "played the Holtzberg card" is cheap. Lubavitchers - who often don't know better - resort to that question when confronted: "If you were stranded for Shabbos in Bangkok, would you not eat and daven at Chabad?" But most often pulling out that card is also not necessary. In this case, however, I believe it was well within the boundaries of good taste to use Gavriel Holtzberg's name, and IIMSSM, I'd say that Gavriel Hy"D would be proud. The reason is simple: Part of Berger's crusade is to ban Lubavitcher Shechitah and to make people aware that since Lubavitchers are disproportionate Shochtim that they refrain from eating meat that they know was slaughtered by a Lubavitcher, since ALL Lubavitchers are closest Meshichisten/Elokisten/Kristen in his book.

Memeilah iz shoyn altz gut farstandik. The question about Shechitah was right on the money since it's part of Berger's jihad in the desert. איי, why use Holtzberg and not just another Shliach? One could say since he was in the news recently and died so horribly that the message would penetrate even a prejudiced mind like the good Professor's. Gavriel was also one who had great mesiras nefesh for shechitah and kashrus, spending all that time traveling to where he could shecht and not relying on any heterim despite his location and reason to be mattir. Wouldn't that be something: Professor Berger stuck in Mumbai for a week and staying in the Chabad House. However, him the moddern one tells the Chabadsker who speaks English with an accent and finished Gantze Mesechtas as a kid that he considers his Shechitah treif and like a seudas Avodah Zoroh.... But guess what? I'm sure he'd go out and buy him fish and fruit, a new knife if he so pleases, and enough Diet Coke to last a month, since that's the type of guy he was. Al Apo VeChamosoy shel Berger......

61 comments:

Mottel said...

What did Berger say?

Maybe A Litvak said...

Which secret underground banker group of Litvikes sent him on this mission/shlichus?

Regarding All Chabadnikers being closet Meshicists. There is a substantial amount of them who think he is going to be the Messiah but don't consider themselves 'meshichists'. I don't know how they classify their beleif, maybe they consider themselves Bney Brockers.

What percentage of non meshichists would take a meshichist aydem? Don't be a Brisker regarding 'din meshichist', but someone who thinks that Messiah is going to carry around a lot of dollar bills. (I am not referring the lubab women)

Some are of the view that not every chabadniker is a meshichist, but Chabad is like the HIV virus: they are all infected, the question is if they test positive

SDR said...

"Meshichisten/Elokisten/Kristen"
In Detroit we call them Marranos

Anonymous said...

Mottel -

I take it you mean as a response?

Well, on the col piece linked in the post, it says he shrugged his shoulders and walked away.

That can simply be "teytched" al shnei ponim: As the author there writes - Notwithstanding, he wouldn't eat it. And the small ad hoc crowd that formed, was utterly disgusted and unimpressed with the Prof.

-- or, that the shrug was implying that he would, but too bashful to say it explicitly (as I heard some claim).

ברוך said...

I think there used to be a "yellow sign" in the chabad house in Mumbai.Maybe only in the beginning.
Whatever.
Once upon a time I'd give you the comments you liked that would cause your stats to rocket with all your כאסידישע און כאבאד'סקע זשלאבעס coming to defend the indefensible.
Note the "כאסידישע&כאבאד" not חב"ד or חסידות , you have nothing to do with the latter.
Unfortunately your unfeeling post about the Lakewood tragedy proved to me who you really are:א גרויסע פארשטונקענע מחילה מיט א קליינע קאפ און א הארץ פון שטיין.
Yuck

Anonymous said...

I think the only way to deal with him is to ignore him giving him free publicity just strengthens him as they say in marketing all publicity is good publicity.

Isaac Balbin said...

I am not sure what you want from Professor Berger. He gave his talk, someone asked him a question which was also emotionally laden. What was he to do?

That Rabbi Berger has certain views, is no less legitimate than you expressing yours. If anything, by using emotive terms such as crusade and jihad, you are doing exactly the same thing that the person who asked the question was doing.

I also fail to understand why Rabbi Berger should limit himself to Orthodox crowds. If he sincerely believes that there are halachik issues with Chabad Shechitah (and he certainly isn't the first or only one, as you well know) because he believes that Rov Shochtim are Nechshad, and Kol D'Porish M'Rubo Porish, then he is entitled to his view and entitled to speak up about it.

For the record, I eat Chabad Shechitah. In fact we had it at my daughter's wedding (where Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife were in attendance, but that's another story) and we will have it at my son's wedding next week. Yet, I have no issue with Rabbi Berger stating his views.

Friendly Anonymous said...

On the bright side, this shows that there is no NEW loshon horo about Lubavitch out there. (b'kerev anash, it's business as usual, but I'm talking about the type of loshon horo that the outside world fixates on).

anon1 said...

Just a few comments:
a) No one, including Lubavitchers, can possibly say that the Rebbe was, is or will be Moshiach. There is no redemption yet, nor even the smallest part thereof, so obviously Moshiach “was” not yet and “is” not yet. As for “will be” – how do you know? Moshiach himself, whoever he will be, does not know that yet, as the Rebbe often cited the teshuvah of the Chatam Sofer. On that score Berger is 100% correct, and the Rebbe would be the first to agree with him – as he often stated that Rambam is the final authority on that. Period. (For all you know, “Dovid malka meshicha” – could have been Dovid Berger, except that he disqualified himself with his malicious campaign…) A Lubavitcher who claims that the Rebbe will be Moshiach is simply expressing a personal wish/belief without ANY evidence whatsoever, no different, as one famous Chabad Rav said, than claiming his wife is the prettiest and finest of all women on earth.
b) To cite a prominent Lubavitcher Rav as “evidence” for the”truth” of meshichism is sheer nonsense. Rabonim much greater than Rav Marlow a”h believed in Shabsai Tzvi and were, of course, DEAD WRONG.
c) The question re Holtzberg is indeed a lousy red herring trying to cash in on a purely emotional issue. If he believes the shechitah of a meshichist is possul (of course that is incorrect and I challenge anyone to cite sources to prove otherwise), then if H was a meshichist he would have to disqualify him regardless of his being a kadosh; and if H was not, then he would accept it.
d) No, Lubavitcher should not go to Berger-lectures any more than going to lectures offered by Jews for Jesus. To challenge him (or them) merely entrenches them in their own views and provides them with excuses to spout even more rubbish. It is a violation of Chazal who state explicitly that “da mah shetashiv” does not apply to Jews – depokar tfei (it only makes them worse). Berger is very heavy into protecting his “honor”: note how this busy academic has time to stay up to date with any blogs that mention him, and he will respond there ONLY either to thank his supporters, or to “correct” insinuations against him that would impinge upon his personal honor – NEVER ever to engage in a substantive debate of the real issues. (Typical example of that was the recent exchange on the “Tradition Seforim Blog” where some people really wiped the floor with him.)

The reality is that Berger is compulsive-obsessive in his jihad against Chabad. It is practically impossible for him to admit his errors after lecturing and publishing continuously his distortions regardless how many proofs there are to refute him. For him to admit defeat is to surrender his sole claim to “fame” over the past decade or so, which would psychologically destroy a man with so much sense of self-importance. He thrives on the controversy, that gives him his ultimate “high” and excuses to continue. At this point he is no longer “ma’aleh umorid”, thus the best treatment is to simply ignore him – this would really cut him down to size.

Peshte Ruv said...

Mazal Tov, Isaac.

Ir Zolt Zein A Sach Yiddishe, Chassideshe Nachas.

yehupitz said...

The good news for large segments of Klal Yisroel and the bad news for Rabbi Dr. Berger (RDB) is that the decision-makers of frum Jewry, be it Litvak, Other Chassidish or Centrist(YU-OU-YI), will not take their cues from Judaic Academia. It's obvious that he is trying to insert his views into those circles by the constant repetition. But I think he will fail.

I think it's a shame that Richard Joel (unwittingly?) encouraged RDB's efforts by hiring him. He might be an excellent YC administrator. I wouldn't know. But I fear the vertical career move just encouraged his anti-Chabad activities, which he cares for on a level bordering on the obsessive.

How do I know this? Many years ago, a friend of mine who was a total stranger to RDB wrote him a letter congratulating him on an article entirely unrelated to Chabad. Berger replied by sending him a large manila envelope that held a thank you note for the kind remarks, and an advance copy of a Tradition article that advocated viewing Lubavitch Messianism as the single greatest threat to Judaism of the century. Now that's commitment.

The facts are that the "Yechi" culture is dying down, even in Crown Heights, and the "secret belief" that drives RDB batty is now nothing but a low, unspoken simmer of hope among some that doesn't hurt anyone.

Anonymous said...

Berger is right. The problem in Lubavitch is an old one. We don't defend our beliefs with pride.

This is something the Rebbe dealt with many times. Chabad ought to be strong in its beliefs since they rest on strong foundations and yesoidom beharerei koidesh

Menashe said...

I think you're basically right. Especially that berger is a piece of non-news. Anybody that wants to believe his narishkeit already does. He's not converting anybody new. So now he's grasping for straws looking for an audience for his non-issue.

Jason said...

"The facts are that the "Yechi" culture is dying down, even in Crown Heights, and the "secret belief" that drives RDB batty is now nothing but a low, unspoken simmer of hope among some that doesn't hurt anyone."

"Facts", maybe facts as you see them.The Meshichists are not dying down at all, they are doing very well especially amongst the young,where I would not be surprised if they have a majority.

Also, just as you consider Berger to be biased in his "facts", you yourself as a Chabad sympathiser, are biased in the way you see your "facts".Simply put, for you Chabad has to appear normal, so that people around you do not challenge you choice of becoming a Chabad symathiser.
Everyone and their "facts"

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Berg/Burich. Repeat: Hmmmmmmmmm...

Mendy Hecht said...

Okay, look here:

Berger is a monster that we created by virtue of some of the wild and irresponsible things that some of our fellow Lubavitchers said and did and continue to say and do. It's that simple. Reacting emotionally as most of the posters here are doing does not answer the core questions:
1. Do we believe the Rebbe is Moshiach?
2. Do we believe the Rebbe could be Moshiach?
3. Do we believe the Rebbe will be Moshiach?
4. Do we believe the Rebbe would have been Moshiach?

These are things that we Lubavitchers need to make clear.

As for those of us who say Berger just hates Lubavitch, well, where was he before Gimmel Tammuz? Those who truly hate(d) Lubavitch never lost the opportunity to run their mouths all through the decades. This guy's just raising legitimate questions.

Jason said...

"The facts are that the "Yechi" culture is dying down, even in Crown Heights, and the "secret belief" that drives RDB batty is now nothing but a low, unspoken simmer of hope among some that doesn't hurt anyone."

"Facts"?
Yehupitz,just the facts,eh?
The facts as they really stand are:The Meshichists are not getting any weaker and amongst the young they may be the majority.

Now, obviously you,Yehupitz,have a need to portray Lubavitch as "normal" so you won't be accused of joining the "Lubavitch Sympathisers" when there are clearly some irrational things been done there.Your "excuse" that it's "waning,weak even in Crown Heights" blah, blah has been repeated almost from the beginning of the movement, days after Gimmel Tammuz.The facts, however are totally different.


Hey,Tzig, you claim that you don't censor but would not post a similar post?
Was it overlooked, or are you not truthful in your non censoring claims??

Organizer said...

The photographer shot Berger from the back of the auditorium, from behind the last few rows of empty seats, giving the impression that there few. In fact, 160 people were there-- a large crowd by YIVO post-economic collapse standards.

While the author of the article was not among them, and kept quite during the actual lecture, what is more important is that the other Lubavitchers in the audience, when responding to Berger, completely demolished their points (and some were substantial) by their inability to attack Berger personally--and, in one case, the audience itself.

He said (and I paraphrase) that Berger's arguments meant little given that this was a crowd of people "who didn't wear yarmulkas. Not only did he offend the crowd but personally contradicted Lubavitches vaunted belief in inclusivity among Jews.

In the interest of full disclosure, I planned this program. I grew up up with a love for Lubavitch. In my 20's I took a number of courses with Prof. Berger at Brooklyn College. His behavior, his midos nad love for Yiddishkeit were apparent to every Orthodox student who attended his classes. Apparently Y.U. believes the same, and this surely must rankle Lubavitch. If nothing else, Lubavitch has a P.R. problem to deal with . If not, how could Y.U. appoint him Dean of Bernard Revel. In closing, I find it odd that the writer mentions that the crowd was Yiddish-speaking, as though this were some kind shocking, sinful thing. Tell that to every Lubavitcher who spoke Yiddish in Europe and continued to do so here. Ther is no Bundist/Lubavitch divide; Hitler made sure of this.

Finally, as a confused sometimes Orthodox somtimes secluar Jew
(I admit it) I come in contact with many non-Lubavitch Orthodox Jews where I live, in the Upper West Side. And most of these, while not regarding Lubavitch Messianism as a heresy, do find it embarassing at best--like the behavior of an amiable, crazy uncle.

And the more Lubavitch openly manifests its belief in the Rebbe's post-mortem Meshichus and even didvinity (and I have experienced this personally, many times) the greater is the likelihood that Orthodox Jews will dismiss them as a well-meaning but distinct sect.

L'havidil elef alfei havdolos, for many years after Yoshka's existence, a giood number of Jews considered the Christians to be merely an increasingly bothersome sect, at worst. If they really regarded the group as distinct, there would be far more references to him in Jewish writings. I wouldn't be so sure that this will not happen in time.

And this is far more a threat to Lubavitch then to Berger. The program was advertised in every Jewish paper, including the Jewish Press, and on Zev Brenner's radio show. Extensively. So why didn't more Lubavitch show up? I gave every Lubavitcher a chance to ask Berger a meaningful question. Even those who did wound up taking the attack route. And the question regarding the murdered Mumbai sheliach's shechita--just awful, and telling. A malicious red herring. I was embarassed by it. Berger made a perfect, respectful response. That is, no response at all. Finally, the program was originally scheduled for February.

Berger himself postponed it because of Mumbai. He also heard the screams of "Ema," and he knew the parents were killed because they were Jews. So much for his raging antipathy to Lubavitch, his wickedness.

Lubavitch blew it by not showing up. And this was unfortunate.

nsker said...

...160 people were there-- a large crowd by YIVO post-economic collapse standards.
How is the size of YIVO crowds affected by economic collapse? Do they charge so much for tickets to Berger's lecture?

Berger himself postponed it because of Mumbai.
It is no less embarrassing that his lecture organizer finds it necessary to defend him like that.

Lubavitch blew it by not showing up.
Blew what? And who is this "Lubavitch" that you expected to show up?

fakewood inc. said...

yet bergers son ate a chabad house in mahattan during sukkos.

nsker said...

Mendy,

Reacting emotionally as most of the posters here are doing does not answer the core questions:
1. Do we believe the Rebbe is Moshiach?
2. Do we believe the Rebbe could be Moshiach?
3. Do we believe the Rebbe will be Moshiach?
4. Do we believe the Rebbe would have been Moshiach?

These are things that we Lubavitchers need to make clear.


Having learned in Lubavitch yeshivos, lived in Crown Heights and otherwise been considered a card carrying Lubavitcher for 20 years or so, I am ashamed to say I still don't get it.

I thought the Rambam has made it clear. We believe in 13 things. Who, when and how made the identity of Moshiach a question of faith?

Whether or not any or all of the above "beliefs" are consistent with these ikrim is not a question of faith, it is a halachic or even purely philosophical question, where machlokes is possible.

Let us take this out of the fundamental realm. By the way, in this light Berger is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

"As for those of us who say Berger just hates Lubavitch, well, where was he before Gimmel Tammuz?"
"I took a number of courses with Prof. Berger at Brooklyn College. His behavior, his midos nad love for Yiddishkeit were apparent to every Orthodox student who attended his classes."
We may be living in different worlds.My wife who attended Brooklyn college many moons ago and had Dr.Berger as an instructor has often told me that even then,many years before gimmel tamuz,he had many negative issues with Lubavitch.The fact that he exhibits midos tovos and ahavas Yisroel does not negate the fact hat the man is and was a rabid hater of Chabad.
" If not, how could Y.U. appoint him Dean of Bernard Revel." proves nothing but the fallibility of YU.

Anonymous said...

Derech Agav,

I remember seeing from one of the vozner rabbonim that someone who is clean shaven is pasul le'edus.

Anonymous said...

Since when do we have a problem with someone identifying a Person as Moshiach as a kofer? The Rambam that made the 13 Ikrim writes that Reb Akiva mistakingly crowned Bar Kochva as Moshiach.
Is Reb Akiva a kofer according to the "Mamin" Berger?Will the Mamin Berger eat from reb Akivas Shechita? is reb Akiva off the pale? Why does he think did the Rambam bring down the story of Reb Akiva by Hilchos Moshiach, besides to learn you the lomdas of Cheskas or Vadie Moshiach, he was out to teach us even if you mistaken on a identity of moshiach You are the still the great of the greatest almost Moshe Rabieni (as chazal say)

Anonymous said...

Is Berger maybe the Moro Deasra in the YU gay club? maybe he was the only one that was willing to take that post.He checked the emuna vedios of the boys and he took the job.

fakewood inc. said...

Y.U also has a transexual working for them

yehupitz said...

Jason,

I am known as a sympathizer in real life, despite my disgust towards the yechi-niks. That doesn't frighten me.

I have spent a few days observing in Crown Heights and Kfar Chabad. I know meshichistn and "anti"'s, and certainly prefer the company of the latter group. I have observed 770's main 10am weekday minyan where the tzfatim were hanging out with their shvil and yechis after Shachris. I know what's going on. And I stand behind my characterizations. I am not going to do the PR stunt of claiming it doesn't exist. But I do see it for what it is.

I have told by many people in the know that the fuel of the yechi side is not the moshiach or "alive" doctrines. It is a political one, revolving around opposition to Merkos-Aguch hegemony.

I do think it's unfortunate and frustrating that the yechiniks have given RDB some good material to work with. But in a global sense, I still think RDB has too single-mindedly wanted to turn this ugly little molehill into a gigantic mountain.

Maybe A Litvak said...

I think this pro grew up hearing statements oozing with ahavas yisroel like from one of the old Litvak leaders, like: 'If you cut open the head of a chabdniker you will find a small yechi clip (next to a photo of a tzadik)' and if the lubab doesn't survive the procedure, don't worry, he is still alive.

Mike Mandel said...

That Dr. Berger continues to generate (even) this amount of controversy is amazing. Let's face it. In 20 years, nobody will even remember who he was, just as he was an unknown professor 20 years ago... In case nobody had noticed, Dr. Berger has a way of showing up whenever he can preach to his choir, or to any ignorant forum. However, when offered a chance to debate a serious scholar, such as Immanuel Schochet (who has demolished Berger's 'scholarship' in print numerous times), Dr. Berger heads for the hills. Thats right- David Berger is scared to debate any serious scholar who will destroy his ignorant arguments and expose him for what he is. Remember a while back, on Zev Brenners show, when he was asked if he'd debate Rabbi Schochet- Berger flip-flopped, hemmed-and-hawed-stammered-flubbed-etc.
David Berger is an ignorant and malicious bigot, and certainly not qualified to issue halachic rulings of any sort, kashrus, shechita, and otherwise. If you don't like the Lubavitch-shechted burger, Dave, you know where to go....back to Burger King...

troubledjew said...

to organizer:

why was asking abt holtzberg a red herring? If c'v ur local butcher converted would u eat his meat? Yet this is what berger considers people who are meshichists.It doesnt matter if he was killed. according to berger hes not a kadosh bec he was a kofer.Its like the well known response to christians who say if u dont believe in jc u go to hell so people ask these missionaries what abt the 6 million? maybe berger couldve given a similar response that these missionaries give

Isaac Balbin said...

Mike, Rabbi Berger is certainly not ignorant. I don't believe he is malicious, or a bigot. I do believe that his academic passion for his research sometimes clouds the eficacy of his conclusions to the extent that I think his book was sloppy. As to whether he is qualified to issue halachic rulings, how would you know? I'l bet his Smicha is better than yours

Anonymous wrote:Derech Agav,I remember seeing from one of the vozner rabbonim that someone who is clean shaven is pasul le'edus.
Nu, Rabbi Lubkovsky of 770 doesn't allow Eydey Kiddushin to be clean shaven. The Lubavitcher Rebbe specified that Shochtim who learnt Kedushas Levi weren't at the correct level to be Shochtim unless they learnt "real" Pnimiyus HaTorah.

nsker: if someone doesn't admit the possibility that Hashem will choose Moshiach and that it could be someone other than person X, then that person doesn't believe in Moshiach. They believe in person X. Such people should rewrite the Ikarim to say Ani Maamin Be-munoh Shleymo B'vias X ... Read Rav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch on Ki Sisa and the Egel and the mistaken focus on Moshe by the people.

Anonymous said...

Issac
there is no doubt that the REBBE as the nosi of Chabad chassidus believes with all his heart that the ultimate derech is shitas chabad as all the Rebbes before him were holding steadfest, As the mussarnik or the brisker etc.. is strong that his is the only right derech.
By Shechita out of all other mitzvahs the Shulchan Oruch writes that you need Yerai Shomaim "MARABIM" then its self understanding that more or deeper penemuth hatorah you learn and know, its more "MARABIM. Its a hidur in Marabim, that doesnt mean that Chabad chasidim or the Chabad rebbes didnt eat other shechitas thru the years, I heard that the Frierdiger Rebbe used chicken from Laam butcher in Willi. A Galicianer chassidisher yid that many Rebbes were eating from his butcher,I dont know if it was before Tzelemer ROv arrived or what.
I dont think chassidim have anything to gain from the Hirsch philosopy its too apolegetic, plus his hashkafa on Achdus hashem is out of the pale(a term Berger lives from)
Berger looked very weak on the seforim blog,when he showed up with a "Kanois" on Mark Shapiro post, he came on viciously to answer all the refuters on the comment line to no avail,
Bottom line if you are a boki in hilchos Yoshke VeChristianity dont become a posek in halacha, if you cant find no halachic Marei mekomos for your arguments, then go teach in a Jesyit School and shut up.

Anonymous said...

>>It is a violation of Chazal who state explicitly that “da mah shetashiv” does not apply to Jews – depokar tfei (it only makes them worse

So Chabad can make up stories about one of the greatest talmid chochom of the generation stating that Chabad Chassidim are not Jewish (the statements he made are pretty clear on this. The Chabad rags never cared for the truth), but can freely write that talmidei chachomim with extremely legitamite views rooted in expertise in halacha which the posters on this blog do not have can be called goyim?

You are such sick hypocrites.

>>Nu, Rabbi Lubkovsky of 770 doesn't allow Eydey Kiddushin to be clean shaven. The Lubavitcher Rebbe specified that Shochtim who learnt Kedushas Levi weren't at the correct level to be Shochtim unless they learnt "real" Pnimiyus HaTorah.

This kind of junk is famous. The Tzig will not put this on, but it remains a fact that the so called rebbe hated all jews who were not interested in chabad, and he maintaned that only chabad is pnimius hatorah.

nsker said...

Isaac,

There is a difference between "believing" in the sense that a person has been convinced in some statement, and proclaiming it as an article of faith. For example, if one is convinced that a certain scientific theory holds, he is also certain whatever it may predict about the future. This is not a question of emunah, it is a corollary to knowledge.
It seems that yellow fever-stricken individuals come close enough to the border line here. If they would merely say that they visualize Moshiach as the Rebbe, and have strong evidence and perhaps personal conviction that he is or may be moshiach, fits the qualifications, could be from the dead etc., it is not k'fira. It may be questionable halahically, but there seem to be legitimate shitos and precedents in their favour.
But if they proclaim it as a new extension to the ikrim, then the question of herecy is legitimate. At the very least, some of them appear to be doing just that (and enjoy it, which is most puzzling to me). We tend to dismiss them by entering a plea of insanity on their behalf. It is true that Chabad haters may inflate their number and influence, and they hated us before, but this reasoning alone does not make the problem go away.

As for those of us who say Berger just hates Lubavitch, well, where was he before Gimmel Tammuz?
Yellow fever started before 3 Tamuz. And it has (much milder) precedents in previous generations, and not only in Chabad. So yes, I do not think Dr Berger's passion is due exclusively to meshichisten, who nevertheless provide an excellent stimulant to it.

Anonymous said...

Anon,10.35
Purim is over its about time to get sober,
What exactly are u saying and what is your problem

Anonymous said...

>>What exactly are u saying and what is your problem

I was clear about it. Sober up.

Anonymous said...

Anon
where do you see that someone labeled Berger as a Goi?

Anonymous said...

"It is a violation of Chazal who state explicitly that “da mah shetashiv” does not apply to Jews – depokar tfei (it only makes them worse"

anonymous3 said...

where do you see that someone labeled Berger as a Goi?
Anonymous said...
"It is a violation of Chazal who state explicitly that “da mah shetashiv” does not apply to Jews – depokar tfei (it only makes them worse"

Looks like you have serious problems with reading comprehension. What did that post say? "Do not argue with Berger - under the guise of da mah shetashiv, because that [da etc.) applies only to a goy, and NOT to a YID, for the YID will be pokar tfei. Now go start learning how to read, then take a dictionary to explain the words.

Michael said...

Does no Lubavitcher realize the problem with A)Claiming the Rebbe is alive or B)That even if not he is Moshiach?
Forget Berger for a sec,let us just say for arguments sake that he is going to far.The question still remains even Lubavitchers do not realize the problems with the above positions.
I cannot talk for Lubavitch.I'm not Lubavitch.What I can tell you is that Jews outside of Lubavitch think these positions are very strange.To say the least.
As another poster ,Hecht, said before, first address these questions before you get to lambasting Berger

Gerald said...

http://docu.nana10.co.il/
A very moving documentary, on the Holtzbergs just shown on Israeli Television.
Still the question to Berger was the reddest herring I've seen in a long time,besides for the fact that Lubavitchers only eat "Shichtas Lubavitch" (claiming that only a Lubavitcher who learns Chabad Chassidus is God fearing enough to schecht)If they can decide who is God fearing enough, why do they get so up in arms when someone just turms the tables on them, claiming that since some of their theology is "questionable" (at best)their shechita is not to be relied upon?
I'm not taking a position, just uncomfortable with people not being honest .

nsker said...

fact that Lubavitchers only eat "Shichtas Lubavitch"...
That is not a fact. It is more accurate to call it a myth that used to benefit Kingston Ave shops.

"Lubavitch" is not a hechsher. And if you mean the CHK, I am not sure about how "Lubavitch" are all shochtim that produce meat with their label, but certainly it is not true that Lubavitchers only eat CHK. Most would eat other meat, and nowadays many even find reason to refrain from using CHK itself.

That said, asking anybody if he would eat this or that shechita to gauge his attitude (and not invite him for dinner) is poor taste and deserves no answer. Couple this with populist, mob arousing allusions, and the guy surely deserves to be whipped and elected to Congress.

Isaac Balbin said...

I wasn't saying Lubavitch ASSUR other Shechitah. I was simply using two examples of groups making a choice on their approach. I contend that Rabbi Berger is well within his position to make his views known, and I still don't understand why people are critical of him for doing this very thing.

One Anonymous wrote: it remains a fact that the so called rebbe hated all jews who were not interested in chabad
This is of course nonsense.

nsker: Nice try. Envisaging who might be Moshiach is far removed from my point. I often ask the direct question: Do you believe that the Moshiach cannot be anyone other than person X. If the answer is yes, then I suggest that they are not holding the 12th Ikar of the Rambam which clearly talks about believe in the Moshiach, not in person X as Moshiach. This is not the same as saying

"in my view X is most likely to be Moshiach or the best candidate"

A person can certainly hold such a view at the same time holding the view that Hakadosh Baruch Hu may very well not appoint person X to be Moshiach. Think about it.

nsker said...

Isaac,
think about what? I think we are generally in agreement.

Still, conviction and faith is not the same thing. Are you convinced that the sun will rise tomorrow? It is not the same as adding a new extension to the ikrei hadas. The English word "belief" is too vague to use for distinguishing between the two.

Another (hypothetical) question is what constitutes kfirah: only a belief that contradicts the ikrim, or even merely something that extends them, i.e. belief in a statement formally consistent with the ikrim, but adding a new restriction to them?

In your example, believing with full faith that X is Moshiach is consistent with all the other principles. If you say that this is heresy, by this reasoning you must believe that anything within these confines can happen. So this can bring you to a classic Russel paradox. I think this generalized view is too vague to be applicable in practice. You can convict almost anybody by such reasoning.

However, in the more narrow view, believing that X is Moshiach is not in itself a problem.

Anon1 said...

Isaac Balbin said...
I contend that Rabbi Berger is well within his position to make his views known, and I still don't understand why people are critical of him for doing this very thing.

If Berger would simply go around saying that certain beliefs or statements by group x APPEAR to him to be counter to Jewish tradition or law - no problem, I agree with you. If he adds "and therefore I feel their shechitah etc. is passul and refuse to eat from it etc." - also OK.

If, however, he states categorically that "IT IS counter to Jewish law and tradition, and IS avodah zara etc." - as a psak din, then he has overstepped his limits: a) he may have semichah and be a dues-paying member of a rabbinical organization (like 1000s of others), but that is no more than a diploma for passing some tests many decades ago, and membership in a professional (for social and job-oriented) organisation which does not confer any authority whatsoever (and we all know that the majority of RCA-members is not qualified to be poskim). He is not a moreh hora'ah bepo'el, and falls into the category of "da'at ba'alei batim hepech da'at Torah" (which does not refer to stam baalei batim - for then mai ko mashma lon, but to people who do have semichah but are not professionally involved in shimusha shel Torah!).

Even if he would cite chapter and verse of HALACHIC mekorot to defend his reasoning (which he has NEVER done, merely citing polemical texts and/or polemical individuals with agendas – never mind that the relevance of his “sources” have been amply refuted), he would have to submit it to morei hora’ah for an actual psak. This becomes more serious when prominent morei hora’ah have actually ruled that there is no heresy involved in the position he attacks – but that it is simply shtut (stupidity), yet he persists in his personal crusade (and, yes, that is precisely what it is), then he is also guilty of megaleh panim baTorah shelo kehalachah which must be condemned.

This becomes even more serious when considering that even if he were a functioning rabbi with semichah on issur vehetter (matters of kashrut), and for all I know even in Orach Chayim, this would still not qualify him to deal with dinei nefashot (which he is doing when relating it to avodah zara).

Going around and pontificating his theories as halacha pesukah we can argue, as you do: let him do his thing in a free society, and simply dismiss him as the “shoteh, rasha vegas ruach” to which he reduced himself. At this point, however, as he after all the halachic discussions and refutations, we can no longer even give him the benefit of doubt that he is simply acting on a “sincere error of interpretation” as e.g. the famous case of Rav Hillel, but if there were a Sanhedrin he would be a zaken mamre for still insisting that his “psak” is correct and telling people to follow it. Thus as he continues with a crusade (persisting with his writing and lecturing, trying to brainwash others into his views) his can and should be condemned for the protection of the “ignorant masses.” I would no longer counsel to engage Berger himself in debates, for (a)that merely gives him some credence, same as Jewish members of Jews for Jesus etc., and (b)as Chazal said depokar tfei – putting him on the defensive will only make him dig in further and getting worse.

CR said...

I just cannot get roused by whatever Herr Doktor Berger has to say on Lubavitch and Meshichisten anymore. He is preaching to the already converted; those who already agree think he is Godol HaDor, those who disagree think he is a Boor v'Am HaAretz. And the rest of us wish he would just go away already.

A couple of years ago I was in a comment thread conversation at Failed Scotty's on some article or another that quoted DB. He had made some comparison between himself and Tomas de Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor during the Spanish Inquisition. I made a snarky comment saying that DB had more in common with Don Quixote; i.e. a hero in his own mind only. Within a day DB was in on the comment thread taking umbrage and defending his honor against such an insinuation.

The man is a pathetic, obsessive, self-important egomaniac and should be simply tolerated and ignored.

Isaac Balbin said...

nsker: Believing that X is the most likely to be Moshiach isn't a problem, as you say, but believing that there exists no possibility that Hakadosh Baruch Hu has another candidte in mind undermines a basic tenet.
There is little doubt that there exist many people who will simply not admit that it could be someone else. Those who believe that are removing Hakadosh Baruch Hu from the equation. It is fundamental that the most we can ever say is that "it is highly likely". We cannot say it is certain.
This is a subtle but critical difference.

Many will not say it because they think that it undermines their "hiskashrus". At the end of the day though the mitzvah is Uledovko BOI

Even though we say Vayaminu Bashem UveMoshe Avdo, we know that it is not simply a fait acompli that Tzadik Gozer and Hashem is Mekayem. Our history, including Moshe, shows this simply isn't true.

In the words of the Sefer Haikaarim: Lu Yodativ, Hoyisiv.

Anonymous said...

I am somewhat puzzled.I agree that that it is beyond the pale to say with a certitude that someone, be it the Rebbe or otherwise,is Moshiach, but by the same token isn't it a chutzpah to declare with a surety who he is not? Hashem is a hakol yochol and by saying someone is not Moshiach you are negating that premise which is is certainly kfirah.

n said...

good story and smart posts.
Berger's book of revelations (christian pun intended) about Lubavitch is an inflamatory rag and could have been rebutted tit for tat after its debut...but time has passed and there is little traction/steam, and guess what?...if written today, it would sell 100 copies..
The Holtzberg question is as valid as any and maybe more so in that it humanizes the shliach that berger so desperately tries to paint at a scheming apostate shylock shliach who wants to drink jewish blood. Rabbi Holtzberg truth be told was your average lubavicher shliach, only he was murdered.
BTW, I spoke to a non lubavitcher Rov (family friend/Rov) recently who was the rov hamachshir at empire years ago. Rabbi Avraham Holtzberg (father of Gavriel Noach) worked at Empire as a schochet and asked the rov hamachshir to test his son on shchita. After testing him, and seeing he was learned young man with yiras shomayim, he gave him kabola.

nsker said...

Believing that X is the most likely to be Moshiach isn't a problem, as you say, but believing that there exists no possibility that Hakadosh Baruch Hu has another candidte in mind undermines a basic tenet.
What tenet? We are drifting into tautologies.

My point is that an assertion about the future does not necessarily constitute declaration of an article of faith. We can say it is kfirah if it is inconsistent with the ikrim. But if it is consistent, what makes you think that merely extending your views with a new statement constitutes kfirah?

My problem with the yellow statements is not that they think the Rebbe is Moshiach, but that the flag waving and the recitations come close to a declaration of a new ikar. Or at least it seems so to a reasonable observer. Whether they personally are certain about what they say is irrelevant. Actually, they are not, since they seem to think that reciting "yechi" helps to bring it about, leaving the possibility of it not happening according to plan.

Oh, and how those that claim that the Rebbe is somehow alive? Is something totally outside physical reality also kfirah? They disagree with most people about what the reality is, let alone predicting it. If you look at it in a formalist, "yechi" itself is a wish for long life, which admits the possibility of the opposite. So in this extreme example the group of people (a) denies that the Rebbe has passed away, (b) wishes him good health, (c) hopes that he will reveal himself as Moshiach. [I wonder when they will re-start the doctor's controversy about the course of medical treatment]. They actually have a safe exit strategy (left as exercise to the reader). It is, of course, insane, but I see no heresy here. Does refusal to believe your eyes constitute kfirah in your book?

chaim said...

Nsker,
In your 'defense' of Chabad and the Meshichisten, you have said that the Meshichisten are pushing an insane theology (Rebbe alive, wishing him good health etc)but you see no heresy.
Wonderful.
So now even a Lubab defender admits that a large part of Chabad, without nitpicking here what percentage, is insane.
Why would anybody want to be involved with a group, that has a large group of meshugoim in their midst?

nsker said...

chaim,

I certainly did not intend any defense other than trying to show, by way of example, that a certain group of people are meshugoim rather than kofrim. I thought we are discussing the definition of kfirah. What makes you think that any comment here must be politically motivated?

That said, if you absolutely insist on classifying everyone as either a Chabad attacker or defender, you are welcome to put me down on the list with the latter.

Anonymous said...

To N 11:57 --

To set the facts straight:

Hakadosh R' Gavriel Noach's father - may he live and be well - is R' Nachman, indeed the shochet you speak of.

R' Avrohom [Yeshaya] is an uncle.
~

As today is 27 Adar - I feel I cannot part without a shuddering "AD MOSAI!" - 17 years without seeing unzere tayere Rebbe ZY"A as "Mareh kohen"..

Nu, we can only be moisif in Torah v'Avodah to add some light to eventually dispel this darkness, u'ba'agala didan.

chaim said...

Nsker,
All I was showing was that your "defense" of Chabad is putting Chabad under a very unpleasant light.
I than raised a question, if allowed, and it was, why anybody would want to associate themselves with a community ,in this case,Chabad-Lubavitch, which has a large group of crazies.Fair question, don't you think? Especially in light of many wonderful Jewish communities chasidic and non chasidic sans crazies.

chaim said...

Nsker,
If I may add,I don't think that the Meshichists are heretics, but they are dangerously close.Why:Well, when you claim a human being is alive, when he is not and continue the argument based on some kind of consideration that he cannot pass on, because after all, why would he be different than the rest of humanity? Obviously the next step is to claim that he is a deity.Simply put, cannot die=God.
Unfortunately little kids brought up in this theology will understand him to be a deity.

nsker said...

And I thought I was defending Berger for not answering a stupid and insensitive question :)

Chaim, the question is off topic. We were defining kfirah; I was not defending Chabad or explaining why would one want to be associated with it at all. If you don't believe it is possible to talk about other things, then you are in many ways an answer to your own "question".

Anonymous said...

Did Professor Twersky hate Chabad as deep as Berger, he claims so in his Book, are there some Bostonians in house to verify it? nothing will happen if he was also on the hate list, I am just curios

Chaim 2 said...

Fair question, don't you think? Especially in light of many wonderful Jewish communities chasidic and non chasidic sans crazies. - Chaim

Can you please name me one or more of those, so that I may join them? As far as I know all of them are inundated with crazies, internal fights, questionable beliefs, crooks etc. (except, of course your own - which for some reason or another you are too embarrassed to identify....)....

Isaac Balbin said...

Someone said: Rabbi Holtzberg truth be told was your average lubavicher shliach, only he was murdered.
I see "average" shluchim all the time. Reb Gavriel was not average. I know.

Someone else said: by the same token isn't it a chutzpah to declare with a surety who he is not?
Are you saying that someone who paskens based on the Rambam ... it is a chutzpah? You can argue the Psak, but you can't call it Chutzpah!

nsker said What tenet? We are drifting into tautologies.
No we are not drifting. The tenet is that we are mortal and HE alone is not, and as such if we drift to a level where we deny the possibility that HE may contradict our "sure choice" or "certain feeling" or "call it what you will" then we are displacing HIM. We can't do that. It's back and white. You can think what you like, you can even feel very sure about what you like BUT you must always admit that HE may have a different plan that is not yours. Translated into plain English. HE may have a different Moshiach in mind to the one that you or I or Joe Bloe might be "really sure" about. Some simply do not accept that basic tenet. They are not Meshugoim, although of course there are Meshugoim everywhere and we don't talk about that minority.

anonymous said...

"Someone else said: by the same token isn't it a chutzpah to declare with a surety who he is not?
Are you saying that someone who paskens based on the Rambam ... it is a chutzpah? You can argue the Psak, but you can't call it Chutzpah!"
My point was that Hashem being a hakol yochol can change the prameters by which we can detirmine who Moshiach is or is not.Another words we can not determine with a surety or certitude who he is or is not becaue if you do so you are negating the fact that Hashem is a hakol yochol and C"V limiting the infallibility of his mehus.

nsker said...

You can think what you like, you can even feel very sure about what you like BUT you must always admit that HE may have a different plan that is not yours. Translated into plain English.
Do you mean the first ikar? That is a very free translation indeed. I challenge you to find where the Rambam (or anybody else) puts it in remotely similar terms.

And, that is called a tautology. Worded this way, the tenet would deny validity to any statement about reality because He may have a different idea about it.