Monday, June 7, 2010

My Affinity for Chabad - By Yehupitz



I had defended Yehupitz when he was attacked for stating his opinion about some of the Chabad bashers. I called him someone who had a "love for the Rebbe" among other things. Yehupitz has graciously accepted my offer to put his thoughts about Chabad in his own words.

Tzig,

Thank you for the defense, but I would like to clarify my position.

"Loves the Rebbe" is too strong for my taste. I would prefer it said that I admire the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l. Contrary to your guess, my admiration did not begin with my witnessing "his experience l'maan Haklal."

I attended Litvishe Yeshivos, whose Roshei Yeshiva, who all davened Nusach Sefard, had a strong hisnagdus to Chabad. Since my youth I have been fully aware of all the tainos, and some of those tainos still bother me. My admiration for Chabad began with learning the Chabad seforim: Tanya, Torah Or, Likutei Torah, Derech Mitzvosecha etc. Until I got into Chabad learning, I thought Kabbala and Chassidus were just a wacky form of science-fiction. I then began to see that they deal with philosophy in a way I had never seen in anything else. Learning the Rebbe's Maamorim and them some of the sichos, and talks that expressed attitudes towards Kiruv (or hafatza if you prefer) that mirrored or fortified my own views, led me to admire the Rebbe, despite/because of all the "chiddushim" he introduced.

I am not blind to the significant differences that Chabad has with the rest of the Frum world. Namely:

1) A level of Leader-reverence and a focus on said leader that far outweighs respect traditionally shown to Talmidei Chachomim and Tzaddikim. Does it make me feel uncomfortable? Often, yes. But I can appreciate that the Rebbe fostered this kind of attitude to fire up his followers to accomplish great things. The negative consequences are obvious to me as they are to the Litvishe world. And no, I do not think that even this exaggerated form of reverence should earn them the title of "cult". And I am able to appreciate the positive consequences and remain optimistic that they will outlive the negative.

2) The emphasis on bringing Moshiach. That some chassidim think the Rebbe never died, or will rise again etc. is disturbing to me. Yet again, I see a carefully designed, non-violent messianic expectation as a positive development for Klal Yisroel and the world. David Berger, coming from his studies in early Christianity, thinks this is the beginning of a new Christianity which must now be nipped in the bud. I say that if this happens, we'll throw them out then. I see no need for a preemptive strike on a movement that may or may not turn heretical in 200 years. Until then, the hope is merely on low simmer, and irrelevant to most Shluchim's work and teaching. I can live with that.

3) A different kind of emphasis on Talmud Torah K'neged Kulam from the Rebbe and Chabad in general since the days of the Alter Rebbe. I've never learned in a Chabad Yeshiva, but I've visited a few. They learn plenty. The sedorim are filled, with open gemaras and "real" seforim. So I know that the talk about "amaratzus" is unwarranted. But taking learning to a practical level (Talmud meivi lidei ma'aseh) is not a bad thing. I think frum Klal Yisroel needs at least one group that doesn't fool itself into thinking that "Ein Li Ela Torah" is a positive thing. "Afilu Torah Ein Lo." "Mutav Lo She'lo," etc.

4) The changes the Rebbe made to Halacha. I think this is a huge canard. I read the talks about Shalosh Seudos and Sukka-sleeping. The accusations made are absurd. The Rebbe never said that the Chassidishe Toira uproot the mitzvos in question. He used the Chassidishe Toira to justify why the previous Rebbes were meikil like the Yeish Omrim opinions of the Mechaber and Rama in contrast to their usual practice to be "mehader" and follow the stricter views.

5) Chabad think they're better than everyone else. They think the Rebbe's bigger than everyone else. I say "So what?". If you disagree and think your Rebbe or Rosh Yeshiva is bigger, i.e. has a better plan for Klal Yisroel, knows more Torah etc. good for you. The elitism that frustrates so many people doesn't bother me. The way I see it, the Baal Shem Tov (or Mezritcher Maggid, or Baal Hatanya) didn't go about his mission because the thought he'd introduce a new flavor into the Eilu V'Eilu market. He thought Klal Yisroel was lacking an emphasis that needed to be added, or reintroduced if you will. You disagree? So write a Nefesh Hachayim. But the etzem taano of "superiority" of hashkafa doesn't disturb me. Do I wish there was less sinah? Of course. But I still haven't figured out who to blame for that. Maybe human weakness on all sides plays a role there.

My thoughts here on constantly in flux, and I have no problem adjusting or rephrasing if shown to be inaccurate.

Yehupitz

27 comments:

Moshe said...

Quite a shallow and apologetic view of everything Chabad.I actually thought there would be a chance for some substance.
One example since I"m short on time is the brushing under the table of the Sukka Sicha.That Sicha is impossible to take seriously because of the implausible apologetic.This has been discussed here at length.In brief, the claim in the Sicha that the Torah somehow "changed" since the dissemenation of Chassidus and a halachik impossibility of someone being "mitztaer" because they are not on the level of being "mitztaer" since the average chosid cannot feel the "makifin"is very strange.Indeed the whole premise that Chabad and their Rebbes never slept in the Sukkah is derived not by fact but rather by circular logic.In fact Rabbi Mondshine in his sefer "Otsar Minhogei Chabad" notes that in the town of Lubavitch there was no known minhag not to sleep in the sukka, some slept others did not, not unlike the rest of Am Yisroel and numerous reasons to be meikel were searched for by all the commentaries on Shulchan Oruch.I can assure you that the ones given in the Sicha are novel.
I could live with a great man making a mistake,after all Sefer Hachinuch in quoting a Rambam he disagrees with says that a great person is judged in the paucity of his mistakes.After all anyone can make a mistake,besides for....
So to brush that Sicha under the table for someone not of the official Ana"sh list is incredibly intellectually dishonest.Rabbi J.B Soloveichik in discussing a teshuva of "kivrei tzadikim" that a Lubavitcher rabbi wrote understood that a card carrying member of a chasidus may feel swept over to be lenient about "tumas meis".However one cannot both claim to being both OBJECTIVELY truthful while being a Chosid of the person one is objectively attempting to defend
Lastly, my first disturbing interaction with Yehupitz was years ago when he criticized a Litvishe group, while out of town on vacation, for not wanting to eat Rubashkin shechitah.When he was told that Lubavitch also have the notion of eating only shechitas Lubavitch and criticizing others of the exact same thing is the "The pot calling the kettle black", he was not very kind about the criticism.To say the least.
I am totally open to a civil discussion on Lubavitch and The Rebbe vis a vis The Yeshiva world.After all it's high time that a certain peaceful cease fire come about.In fact in light of the aforementioned Rubashkin and his defense by what used to be a very critical newspaper that may have already taken place.

dovy said...

Why did you think that if Berger is right we need to worry about it in only two hundred years?Ariel Sokolovsky and a whole bunch of other guys, as seen on youtube are already doing the stuff Berger feared

yehupitz said...

Moshe,
If you are open to a civil discussion, why an opening salvo about shallowness and intellectual dishonesty? Just ask, and I'll do my best to clarify how I think. Then you can disagree and sholom al hablog.

Re: The sukkah sicha, I was not addressing the Rebbe's etzem sevara of "mitztaeir", which truth be told I do find farfetched. My point was that the Rebbe was not explaining how the sevara trumps Halacha as much as he was explaining how such a sevara could justify following a kula by Rebbes who were otherwise machmir (or mehadeir) in their halachic observance.

More later...

Chabad-Revisited said...

I find it very refreshing to read such a balanced and orderly review of issues that usually incite controversy and extremism on all sides. It just goes to show that if people would only take the time to look into the issues and study the sources with an open mind the accusations and misunderstandings simply dissolve.

Certainly there are a lot of mishugoim and extremists who have infiltrated our ranks, and there is not all that much we can do to get rid of them. But if you happen to find a mainstream Lubavitcher who learns Chassidus with a level head, you be surprised. We Chabadnik's may be different, but you may find, that we're really not that far off, and we might even have something to offer to the wider Charaidisher public.

Yehupitz is to be congratulated for having the guts to use his mind and for allowing himself to come to conclusions other than those which his Roshei Yeshivah tried to impress him with. Which ever party we belong to, we should take an example from Yehupitz and approach controversy prepared to explore controversial ground impartially and be "mekabel ho'emes m'mi she'omroi".

visit us said...

Chabad-Revisited said.
"We Chabadnik's may be different, but you may find, that we're really not that far off, and we might even have something to offer to the wider Charaidisher public."
I suspect the reason Chabadskers are sliding far off is because they think that the wider chariedisher public has noting to offer for them,
add to this their integration into the social, politically,financially organizational fabric of the non charidisher public, the future doesn't seem bright,
down the road history has proven that worshiping a leader without Hisbadlus from non-Torahdig influences is not enough to sustain a Jewish identity

Mottel said...

-Dovy: Ariel Sokolovsky and the handful of other not jobs are sick people. They are disturbed and need medication and psychological treatment. I once met a "Snag" that gave me his explanation for his chilul shabbos and giloi ariyus . . . shall I judge the pathetic sevaros of this sicko on the Litvishe mosdos that produced him? Please. . . .

CTs blog said...

Mottel or who ever you are, show me where anyone who has any official capacity in Lubavitch says that the beliefs of Sokolovsky and the likes are not just nebechdiga nuts but pure apikoirsem,
in your next post please paste the links for all to see it not just anonymously on CTs blog

Idiot Watch said...

CT Blog, here you go sicko:

obvious fact #1

obvious fact #2

ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

Shmuel said...

FWIW, there is an English letter from the Rebbe to a non-chosid where he says that if one is sure he is able to sleep in the sukkah without arousing any feelings of disrespect, then by all means one should do so...

Anonymous said...

Hirshel
this sukka issue was discussed on you Blog tens of times, nothing new has been cooked up, its the same ... different day, I guess you enjoy it

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

yeah, right. I enjoy it very much...

please.

Chabad-Revisited said...

"visit us"

I have and continue to do so.

"I suspect the reason Chabadskers are sliding far off is because they think that the wider chariedisher public has noting to offer for them"

Yehupitz's testimony - that "I've never learned in a Chabad Yeshiva, but I've visited a few. They learn plenty. The sedorim are filled, with open gemaras and "real" seforim." - proves your suspicion to be unwarranted. Normative Lubavitcher's are well aware of the wealth of Lomdishe seforim and Musser seforim from non-chabad sources and their value to a far greater degree than normative Chareidisher are aware of the wealth of similar chabad sources.

Normative Lubavitcher's said...

Normative Lubavitcher's what is this?

Anonymous said...

Example of why there could be a problem with Chabad
http://www.youtube.com/user/moshiachibiza#p/a/u/2/TG1LgyHXv7E

Mottel said...

-Anon: Funny that you mention Kraus . . . He was educated in Meah She'arim and suffers from the derangement of which I speak.

-CT's Blog - or whoever you are: Shoteh - do a google search and find it yourself . . . Somehow I managed to

Sruly said...

Rav Shteinman in an historical visit to Odessa gets no mention in the Lubavitch sites or the Lubavitch run Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS
Here: http://www.bhol.co.il/news_read.asp?id=17502&cat_id=2
Why?
Another example how Lubavitcher have a problem acknowledging and fargining anyone else.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

Sruly
the question is why he went, not why Lubavitch doesn't cover it. It seems like there about 50 people there, half of whom are Israelis who come for a few years, make some cash and go back to Israel.

Why is this less historic than his visits to Brachfeld or RBS?

Anonymous said...

From an objective point of view, I think the Litvishe yeshivos are responsible for more evil and destructive social trends than anything wrong that Lubavitch has done. Plus, they are definitely more racist/prejudiced against Sefardim and people who aren't part of their clique.

There's plenty of ehrliche Lubavitchers out there, I think the constant bellowing about the sins of the movement just polarises further these people and gives an excuse to all the victim-complex types.מאן דעביד כמר עביד ומאן דעביד כמר עביד

Sruly said...

"Sruly
the question is why he went, not why Lubavitch doesn't cover it. It seems like there about 50 people there, half of whom are Israelis who come for a few years, make some cash and go back to Israel."

Ok,so you are an imfarginer,ok.Nu, maybe you need to work on your middos.What I don't understand is how you turn around and then accuse others of the same thing, namely when you scream about all kinds of "omissions" against Chabad, like when Artscroll does not see fit to mention Chabad enough in your opinion.You see doing that makes you begeder a "tzovu'a" a hypocrite someone who is two faced and Chazal told us in Masechata Sota (one masechta that Lubavitchers should know since it's learned there during sefira) "הזהרו מן הצבועים שדומים לפרושים, שעושים מעשי זמרי ומבקשים שכר כפנחס"

On top of everything else, Odessa has a very large and successful Yeshiva kehilla.
I"m very wary of Lubavitch because of these "little" things.If kvoid shomayim was takkeh important, than we would see Moshe Rabbeinus words echoed " ומי יתן כל עם ה' נביאים, כי יתן ה' את רוחו עליהם.You would not seek to farminder the non Lubavitch kehilla in Odessa, but aderaba be happy that they too have been very succesful.

Sruly said...

"From an objective point of view, I think the Litvishe yeshivos are responsible for more evil and destructive social trends than anything wrong that Lubavitch has done. Plus, they are definitely more racist/prejudiced against Sefardim and people who aren't part of their clique."

How "objective" are you?
You are an anonymous poster.
Just state your opinion.
Fact of the matter is that Litvishe yeshivas have boys from ALL backgrounds and Nusachs.Ashkenaz,Sephardim,Chasidim.
Lubavitch has only Lubavitchers.
Crown Heights has almost no non Nusach Ari shuls, Lakewood has many different Nusach shuls.
Are you wondering why?
I"m sure not.You are way to "objective" for that. (My friend, it seems that you may not know what the word "objective" means.Just google it...)

Anonymous said...

Sruly,
"Lubavitch has only Lubavitchers."
did you try to register your son and you were not accepted. I lately saw in the Emanual/Slonim fiasco that reb Yakov Yosef is saying the only mossad in the country that is inclusive for every Jew is Chabad.

Chabadnik said...

As a Lubavitcher, I find it hard to disagree with your post, both the shevachim and the criticisms.
There's nothing wrong with being proud of your mesorah. Chabad believes we have something important to share with klal yisroel. We are not opposed to other derachim (in fact the Rebbe was perhaps more open to other derachim, seforim, etc. than many others). However, we have a big problem in the so-called "Chareidisher" or "Litvisher" velt and that is that we are made to feel defensive and that we have to apologize for who we are in those circles. If you think Chabad should be more "pluralistic", be more tolerant towards Chabad. Those circles and people that treat Lubavitchers with respect, have the respect of the Lubavitchers.
A note on shechitah: There is a difference between being makpid to eat a certain kind of shechitah and being makpid not to eat a certain kind of shechitah. We don't think other shecitahs are treif, we prefer Lubavitch shechitah. (We don't kasher our keilim from other shechitahs.) Not eating Lubavitch because you think we're kofrim is simply insulting.

Anonymous said...

Forgive my ignorance, but regarding the sukkah issue: What are makifin, what are they surrounding, and what does that have to do with mitztaer? Serious answers please, or if you want to be sarcastic, make it plain that you're doing so.

yitzy said...

"A note on shechitah: There is a difference between being makpid to eat a certain kind of shechitah and being makpid not to eat a certain kind of shechitah. We don't think other shecitahs are treif, we prefer Lubavitch shechitah. (We don't kasher our keilim from other shechitahs.) Not eating Lubavitch because you think we're kofrim is simply insulting."

My friend you are splitting hairs and you probably know it too!
You "preference"(it's much more than a preference, actually) for eating "Shechitas Lubavitch" only, is as far as I know "unique".No other group gets away with saying we "prefer" schochtim that belong to us.
And why do you actually prefer/demand shechitas Lubavitch?
Simple.You believe that you are B-E-T-T-E-R Jews.Yes, Lubavitchers think they are better Jews, therefore they fit into the Tzemach Tzedeks ruling that a Shochet has to be "Yorei Shomayim merabim".
On the other hand the people who are "uncomfortable" with Lubavitcher shochtim do it because they have concerns about some of todays Lubavitch belief system.Actually the OU I believe, will not allow Meshichist shochtim under their supervision.I think that the OU is the largest Kashruth organization in the world.
I recall reading that at the Rubashkin plant that was an issue and they would not allow Meshichist shochtim.We all know that to define a "Meshichist" is not that easy,so it's not vary farfetched to stay away from any Lubavitcher Shechita unless you know the shoichet or rav hamachshir.

Anonymous said...

It is known that Lubavitch Rabbonim have innovated many Minhagim in Shechitah, some of which are universaly adopted (steel knives) and others that are more subtle and specific. In eating Lubavich Shechitah solely, I am assured that the Minhagim of my family and Kehilla are being used. Other Shechitas are superb as well but coming from a family of Lubavitch Shochtim, I appreciate adhering to our specifications. Why does that cause people ire? The only meat I learned was verboten was Hebrew National.

YGB said...

Why the Rebbe is relevant to some of us non-Chabadniks:

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1201321/jewish/The-Rebbe-and-Viktor-Frankl.htm

The Rebbe and Viktor Frankl
The Rebbe's Communiqué to the Founder of Logotherapy


Whatever issues that one may have with Chabad - and there are legitimate issues - the Rebbe stands out as unique. Not in the story's implied mofeis that the Rebbe caused Frankl's book to be published and impact upon the world. In Yahadus, mofesim are nice, but insignificant.

Rather, it is the Rebbe's insight that Frankl was important (and he was!), that his philosophy-psychology was beneficial to the world (and it is!), that Chochmoh ba'Goyim [or Frei Yidden] ta'amin (too rarely admitted, and even more rarely encouraged!), that one need be concerned beyond one's "hoif" or "yeshiva" for the benefit of humanity - these are rare qualities even among our leaders.

Were it but for this alone, the Rebbe deserves our admiration - not our devotion, that is for Chabadniks, not for us - but our appreciation.

YGB said...

Oh, those were my ruminations on the occasion of the yahrzeit, of course.