Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lubavitch IX

Not everyone in Lubavitch is a Meshichist or a Yeschinik, but the problem is that our Gedolim saw, even more than 40 years ago, based on the direction the last Lubavitcher Rebbe was taking his Chasidim, that these Meshichists and Yeschiniks would be here. In other words, they saw problems in Lubavitch that they knew would lead to this kind of craziness.

The Brisker Rav ZT”L, after looking at the very first Drasha the Lubavitcher Rebbe gave, stated clearly that from there you can see that Meshichist craziness will come. At the time, people laughed and said “sinas chinam!”, but he saw correctly, as we see today.

The Brisker Rav blamed the Rebbe himself for instigating these problems, as well as others. Other Gedolim agreed with him. This is why:

Nobody is questioning the holiness of Chabad Chasidus. The issue here is totally different, namely, the new innovations to and changes in Chasidus that Lubavitch instituted in the past generation that are not part of their own Chabad traditions, nor any traditions in the Jewish religion, Chassidish or not. These innovations and changes are what lead to the debacle that we are seeing today, and that is what was predicted by our gedolim a generation ago.

Chassidus is different than let’s say Halachah, in that whereas the Halachah was meant for all of Klall Yisroel equally, each Chassidishe Rebbe taught his specific Talmidim according to the roots of their (the students’ and the rebbes’) souls, and each Rebbe had the approach that was custom tailored for his followers. There were great Tzadikim and Rebbes, like the Chidushei HaRim, for instance, who did not even use any Chassidishe Seforim because he held that they were meant for the students of that particular Rebbe, and nobody else (with the exception of the Seforim of the Rebbi of Lublin, which he considered written for everyone). And although others obviously did use Seforim of different Rebbes, they all took them in context, meaning, that the directions in the Seforim were said for a specific group of students at a specific time, and may or may not be what the Rebbe would tell us today, here. The Chasidishe Seforim are extremely valuable and enlightening, but they cannot be taken as a prescription for life designed for us, since the prescription was made for the specific Talmidim at the time, whose needs, souls, and situations were so different from ours.

More sources:

Degel Machanah Efraim V’aerah: “The Torah was given to Darshen according to the needs of each generation, their level, and their nature … and according to the specific soul of that specific generation.” He goes on to explain the same Posuk giving us two diff sets of instructions: One according to the generation of the Baal Shem Tov and then according to his own generation.

Butzinah D’Nehorah (R. Boruch Mezboz ZY”A) in the name of the Baal Shem Tov: Instructions that the Baal Shem Tov gave do not necessarily apply to us. He explains certain methods of Chasidus that are for great people, not plain people, even though the Baal Shem Tov stated these things generically. It is understood, however, that this is how Chasidus works.

Likutei Shoshanim – brings that when R. Moshe of Savaran ZY”A used to repeat the above statement of Rav Boruch, he would say that even what Rav Boruch wrote for “bainonim” is meant only for people on a high level and not for those beginning their Avodah”

Yosher Divrei Emes (I:16), this that the Rebbe Reb Dov Ber taught, that from illicit love a person can come to the love of Hashem, that is only referring to someone who is beyond material things. But for someone who is still connected to Gashmiyus, it does not apply [even though it was stated generically].

Vayoel Moshe p. 173: “So too it is with the Seforim of the students of the Baal Shem Tov. They did not write their Seforim to explain ways and means for everyone, rather, they were recordings of the particular influence that the Rebbe wanted to have on his particular students”.

The Tanya, too, was meant for the Chasidim in that place at that time, the holy students of Rav Shneurr Zalman ZY”A. As it says in the introduction, ‘But [“ach” in Hebrew: “But” or “Only”] for those who I know and recognize I will speak, each one of our loyal people [“anash”] in our country and the neighboring ones, with whom loving speech was found between us, is directed my words and speech in this Sefer Likutei Amarim’.

Taking the Tanya – or any Chasidishe Sefer - and using it as the focal point of your Judaism is comparable to taking a certain medicine because you know that it worked for someone else. Maybe it will work for you, maybe not, but probably it will make you worse. What will help re-start a slowing heart will blow out an already healthy one. If let’s say a Rebbe saw that his Chasidim were very arrogant, he would maybe teach them a lot about humility, and emphasize the “dirt and ashes” part of a person. The same approach would be poison for Chasidim who are very downtrodden and persecuted. They would have to live emphasis on the Image of G-d part of a person, and the greatness of his soul.

That’s step one. Step two: All Chasidus is designed to be learned within the context of other parts of Torah. A person’s education is like a recipe: Salt and pepper are important, but if they are disproportionate to the meat and potatoes, it will kill the food.

So too Chasidishe Seforim were never ever meant for people who have zero background in Judaism. Chasidus was never meant to be a “stand alone” but rather as an addition, or enhancement, to a person’s already established Avodas Hashem. It can only be understood by someone who already has a decent background. An example I once heard given was sunglasses. Chassidus is like sunglasses. It allows you to look directly at the sun, which you never would be able to see without it. But it makes the sun look green. If you intellectually know that the sun is really yellow, you will look into the glasses and understand exactly what the sun looks like based on the combination of what you see now and what you intellectually know. But if you don’t have the intellectual information, you will think the sun is really green or gray or purple.

That “intellectual information” is the background that is needed in Judaism. Without that, what you learn in Chassidus will not be understood, and you will come out with a distorted picture. Not only that, but even with a decent background, you still have to take the Chassidishe Seforim in context, as merely additions to the Torah meal, not the meat and potatoes of it.

Chabad Chassidus in particular was identified by great Chassidishe Tzadikim as an approach that you need to be careful that “Maasav merubah m’chachmaso”, meaning, we always have to make sure that we are on the level of Yiras Shamayim to learn whatever it is that we are learning. Chabad Chasidus is a high level learning and therefore you must be extra careful that those learning it should not be in the category of “their learning exceeds their actions” (see Likutei Amarim Vitebsk, letters of Rebbe of Kalisk ZY”A, Niflaos HaRebbi (Lublin) #237, Derech Tzadikim V:28, Ohr Olam 11 quoting the Saraf of Stralisk, Sur Merah V”Aseh Tov p. 59 quoting the Rebbe of Zidechov – all specifically discussing Chabad Chasidus).

Other Rebbes took steps to make sure that their Chassidim don’t overdo the recipe with Chasidishe Seforim, but rather maintain a main course of Gemora and Poskim, supplemented by Chasidus. Says the Rebbe Reb Melech of Lizensk:

“To reach true Avodas Hashem, first, you need to learn Gemora with Rashi and Tosfos with the Meforshim and Poskim, everybody according to their own level. At the beginning, you should learn also Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim. You must also pray to Hashem to make you see the truth … and do teshuva … regret your sins … do this not once and not 100 times, but more … then Hashem will open your eyes and you will be able to understand torah, and then you will understand the inside of what you are doing … learn some Mussar Sefer, such as Reishis Chochmah every day.” (Quoted by his son in a letter, Sefer Avreich on Tehillim p.38, and quoted many other places).

Also from the Noam Elimelech (Emor): “The posuk is teaching us to serve Hashem in steps. During the beginning stages, when a person is not yet on the level to accept holiness … he should busy himself with learning Gemora and Poskim with diligence.”

And from the Zera Kodesh (Terumah): “The main part of Chasidus is learning Torah with hasmodah.”

So far we have two traditional rules of Chasidus,

(a) that Chasidus needs to be viewed in context of the rest of Torah and to learn Chassidishe Seforim you need a proportionate background in other areas of torah. If you learn Chassidishe Seforim without the proper background, you will likely misunderstand the concepts, take things way out of proportion, and come out with a totally distorted view of Chasidus. Chasidus is just one ingredient in a Torah-recipe for a Jew. Disproportioned ingredients in the recipe ruins the final dish.

(b) Chassidishe Seforim cannot be used as a direct guide for life except for those to whom the author of the Sefer was referring to – their time and their place. We can only use them for their Torah value and general ideas, but we cannot base our lives on the instructions therein.

Lubavitch changed this. For the first time in history of Chassidus, high-level Chassidus – Tanya - was taught to people who don’t even know the names of the 12 tribes or Moshe Rabbeinu’s brother, to people with zero background in the main parts of Judaism, the “meat and potatoes” of the Jewish soul, people who don’t even keep shabbos yet. The “salt and pepper” of the recipe of Chassidus was changed to the main ingredient. The place of Chassidus in the “food pyramid” of Torah was ripped out of its rightful place and re-emphasized with the wrong proportions. The structure of Ikar and Tofel was changed.

For the first time in history of Klall Yisroel, a Chasidishe Sefer was bound in the same volume as Chumash and Tehillim. “Chitas” – Chumash, Tehillim, Tanya, is a common fixture in Lubavitch homes. Learn a little of each every day. Nobody in the history of Klall Yisroel ever dared to put any other Sefer together with the Tanach itself! Even Gemora would never be put in the same volume as a Chumash. They are not in the same category. To put the Tanya together with Chumash and Tehillim in the same volume as a convenient way to get your daily dose of learning is to do a chain saw massacre job on the traditional proportions of ingredients to maintain our perspective of Ikar and Tofel.

The next step was for Tanya and Lubavitch philosophy to become synonymous with “Chasidus” instead of just one branch of it. It’s not “Lubavitch holds” but rather “Chasidus holds”. This, too, is unique in Lubavitch, that the refer to their own specific traditions generically as “Chassidus” says, as opposed to Lubavitch says. In the Hatekufa V’Hageulah, the index lists sources form Shas and Rambam, then it has “Seforim”, which include numerous Chassidic works, and then it lists “Seforim of Chasidus”, which only has Lubavitch Seforim in it. The edge was blurred between what generic Chassidus says versus what Lubavitch in particular says.

So you can have a guy who owns a pizza store, knows almost zero about Torah, never opened a Gemora or Shulchan Aruch in his life, but learns Tanya and believes that he is following the “derech of the Baal Shem tov”. That he is a “chosid”.

But not only was Tanya – chasidus – used in a way that it never was intended to be used, a way that confuses our perception on Judaism in general, but on top of that, the Baal Shem Tov’s mission suddenly became ours. The “prescription” that the Baal Shem Tov and his students were given suddenly became our medicine as well, in opposition of Chassidic tradition.

Even many in Chabad will agree that the Meshichistin are off their rocker. But the question is, why out of all the Orthodox Jewish groups in the entire world, did this stuff pop out of Chabad? The answer cannot be merely that “Chabad accepts everyone”, even people who are off their rocker, which is the answer I have heard more than once, because among the meshichistin are very respected Chabad rabbis, Roshei Yeshivas, and others considered authorities, not weirdos. Only in Chabad will you find so many Rabbonim espousing ideas that every high school kid can tell you is antithetical to Torah. How can this happen?

No, they did not all just go crazy together one day. If we understand the teachings they were given all their lives, we can understand how they can believe such a thing. Not everyone in Chabad, BH, fell victim to Meshichism, which is like many people crossing the street at a red light – only some will get hit. The misconstrued version of Chasidus that is unique to Chabad and nowhere else makes them vulnerable to such terrible mistakes.

And remember – much of Lubavitch are Balei Teshuva. Which means that they have – or had at one point – no background or little background in Judaism. Those who grew up in frum homes and saw the way their parents and grandparents referred to their Rebbes, their Chassidus, and Judaism in general would not be nearly so susceptible to the eccentric derech of contemporary Chabad. It is much easier to confuse people with little background than it is with strong background. Baalei Teshuva who became frum through Chabad are much more likely to accept what they are taught as authentic because they have no background to contrast it with. This is not to say that all Meshichistin are Baalei Teshuva, but rather the great multitude of Jews with little or no background prior to their exposure to Chabad greatly raises the odds of them having so many Meshichistin among their ranks.


The Lubavitcher Rebbe's impressive roster of thousands of Jews becoming religious through his emissaries as well as brilliance in many subjects - Judaic and otherwise - but he was a very controversial individual, whose foreign innovations into Judaism and Chasidus elicited fierce opposition by Torah leaders and Tzadikim. His emphasis on Messianism in general and his hints that he himself was the Messiah in particular, was in itself sufficient for more traditionally Orthodox Torah Jews to distance themselves from him and his group. Statements such as (Likutei Sichos II:p.511) "a Rebbe is actually G-d Himself clothed in a body" caused the mainstream body of Torah Jewry to reject Lubavitch as illegitimate, often to the point of outlawing affiliation with it and even declaring it idolatry. Because most of the Lubavitcher's followers were Jews with little or no Torah education prior to their indoctrination by the Rebbe's emissaries, the foreign ideologies were able to be passed off as mainstream Judaism or Chassidus without being questioned. The Messianic tendencies and deification of the Rebbe culminated in the famous declaration of many Chabad rabbis that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is indeed the Messiah, and that, even after his passing and burial, he is immortal, still alive but hidden, and soon to be revealed to the world as the long awaited Messiah.

It is primarily those with no Jewish education prior to their encounter with Chabad that live their lives according to the Lubavitcher Rebbe's teachings and believe him to be the Messiah. Chabad has little success attracting those knowledgeable in Torah.


It's great if you became frum through Chabad, and as I mentioned, they deserve much credit for making people frum. However, Shlomo Carlebach made many people frum too, even though many things he did was wrong. Shabsie Tzvi the false Messiah also made many people frum.

But the fact is that Chabad WAS very opposed by Torah leaders - It's just that within Chabad they try to deny that or hide it, or, as you do, explain it away by saying people are jealous. Do you really think that all the great Tzadikim that oppose Chabad are all jealous?


There are many families where the children decide on a different derech than the parents. If you remain frum (of course) and become a ben Torah, your parents should be thankful, even if you are not Chabad. The thing is, in the meantime, you must live peacefully with them, do not argue with them, and as the Halachah is regarding all Jews, including parents, do not correct them on something they will not listen to you about, even if you do it in a very respectful manner.

I don't know if your parents are Baalei teshuva, but it is often very difficult for people, especially with the Chabad chinuch, to see that their lives are not being lived in the best way. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz ZT"L says that this was the greatness of the sage Shimon Ha'Amsuni, who spent his life deriving Halachos from every instance of the word "es" in the Torah.

When he hit a roadblock in the posuk "Es Hashem elokechah tirah" - what else besides Hashem can we possibly be afraid of? - he was ready to chuck his entire life's work of "es" derivations. For if there is one posuk where nothing can be derived from the "es" it disproves his entire theory.

His whole life's work was going to go down the drain.

Until Rabi Akiva came and saved his career, by explaining that Talmidei Chachamim also must be feared.

But here we have a sage, a Tanna, who could raise the dead in a second, ready to throw out his whole life's work because he had a question he couldn't answer. That proved him wrong.

And he wouldn't return to the work until the question was answered.

That's greatness, says Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz. For a person to realize their entire life's ideas were a mistake, and be big enough to admit it.

It can happen to the best of us, and we should thank Hashem that He showed us the right path.

Maybe it's actually b'zchus all the searching you did and effirts you put into your religion that Hashem gave you a new revelation. The Yismach Moshe explains Chazal: Yagati Umatzasi Taamin - "I worked hard and then found results" - saying that "finding" something is not the same as working for it. Meanign, even though you worked hard on your growth, in the end, b'zchus your work, you may "find" the rewards somewhere you never expected them to be.

So follow what you know is the truth. one day you will be married and then you will follow your husband's Minhagim. In the meantime, be peaceful, respectful, and honorable to your parents, because, bottom line, if it weren't for their upbringing, you probably wouldn't be frum in the first place. And it is considered a zechus for them that, despite their expectations, because of their bringing you up religious, their daughter chose the right path.

You are not harming your parents by choosing what you know to be right, you are giving them a very very big Zechus.


Yes, it is true that many things Jews do are wrong, and many things Lubavitchers do are wrong. But the big difference is, Judaism has remained the same, it's just Jews that have violated it. In Chabad, Judaism itself has changed. The problem is NOT just people who do NOT follow the Lubavitcher Rebbe, but the people that DO. In other words, the issue here is the problem of the Rebbe, not the Chasidim.

The opposition to Lubavitch is based on things the Rebbe himself did and said, many of which have been listed above. Statements such as (Likutei Sichos II:p.511) a Rebbe is G-d Himself clothed in a body, and that Lubavitcher Chasidim - and ONLY Lubavitche Chasidim - do not have to sleep in a Sukkah because they should be like the Mitteler Rebbe who had a hard time sleeping in the Sukkah because the Shechinah is there, and other things that are against the Torah as well, is what we are talking about.

If Jews want to do the wrong thing, they have free will to do it, but if they want to do the right thing, they know what it is. In Lubavitch, the wrong thing has been made into the RIGHT thing, which is a totally different problem.

The first is violating the Torah, the second is changing it. The second is much worse, since even people who want to do the right thing are misled into doing the wrong thing by the leader, in this case, the Rebbe.

In this, Chabad has something in common with Modern Orthodoxy, the JDL, Zionism, and other deviant groups. Namely, they all claim to be following the Torah but really changed the Torah to follow them. So just like if someone grows up in a Zionist school for instance, and has a lot of Yiras Shamayim, he will still be off the derech, because he thinks he is following the Torah but is not, so too in Lubavitch, those who DO listen to the Rebbe will be going against the Torah.

Now, regarding the idea that "there was opposition" to the Rambam, to Chasidus from the Vilna Gaon, and even to Kiruv Rechokim in general, you are making a number of mistakes.

First, regarding Kiruv Rechokim, I know that what you said is commonly taught in Chabad circles - that Lubavitch once had such terrible opposition to their Kiruv programs and now everyone is doing it - but it is a total falsehood.

Nobody ever opposed Kiruv Rechokim. It is older than CHabad and older than Chasidus itself. What was opposed is the way Chabad does Kiruv, namely, to send some poor guy out to live among the Goyim and non-religious Jews, which is what was opposed by the Torah leaders, as Rav Yosi bar Kisma says in Pirkei Avos, "Even if you would give me all the money in the world I will not live anywhere except in a Makom Torah."

Rav Yosi B"K was offered money to come live in a certain town. They offered him this money because they wanted a great Tzadik like him to be in their town. Obviously, the people making this offer were not evil, for what evil people would pay to have a sage come live among them?

And also obviously, Rav Yosi could have done a lot of good in that town, since they themselves beged him to come. They valued his presence, and wanted him there because they wanted a sage among them.

But Rav Yosi said that he will not move there because he will only live in a Makom Torah.

But in Chabad you have "shluchim" in places like Puerto Rico, where there are zero frum Jews, and zero Judaism, except him and his wife and little kids.

Not exactly what Chazal recommend.

The difference between this and what the Gedolei Yisroel did was they sent groups of people to start Kollel communities to live in different cities, and there was always a pre-condition that the people going to do kiruv would have a "makom torah", either among the Orthodox community of the place they go to, or because of their peer families coming with them. But never would a Gadol send an individual to live among the Goyim and non-religious Jews alone. Never.

That is still opposed, and always was.

Nobody changed their minds about Kiruv, or about Chabad.

The difference between Chabad and SEED is that the SEED program sends (a) people - plural,(b) temporarily, to do Kiruv. That's not the same as bringing up a family and living alone among the Goyim.

What Chabad does, only they do, and it has zero source anywhere in Chasidus. The Baal Shem Tov's "shluchim" were not made to live in Puerto Rico, they went to teach the Baal Shem Tovs Torahs to frum Jews. Big difference. What Chabad is doing is not Chasidus at all.

As far as the Rambam's opposition is concerned, it is true, he had oppostioion. But one may assume that the Rambam would be able to answer his opponent's charges if directly confronted. The problem is, he did not get a fair chance. The Vilna Gaon too, was supposed to meet with the Alter Rebbe to hear the Chasidim's side of the story but never did. But we can assume the Baal HaTanya could have defended himself.

As opposed to Lubavitch, where the Rebbe himself has not even come close to adequately explaining his actions and policies, even though he has tried.

In order to defend themselves, they have to lie to rabbis about their actions (such as the letter from the Debreciner Rav above), make up stories about Gemoras that do not exist (such as the non-existent Gemora that says it was "common practice" for students to say their Rebbe is Mohsiach). None of the Lubavitch rabbi, mashpiim or shluchin have the faintest idea of how to explain their actions. At least not when trying to explain it to someone a little Torah-literate.

That’s one. Two, there was opposition to Chasidus and the Rmabam etc. long ago, and that therefore opposition in and of itself does not prove someone is wrong. But you also cannot use the fact that the Rambam had opposition to negate charges against Chabad, because the Conservative and Reform etc. can say the same thing: Maybe in 100 years everyone will agree that Reform is right, like they agree that the Rambam was right?

So now my question is, how do you know if the opposition to Lubavitch is like the opposition to the Rambam, or like opposition to Zionism or Reform? Isn't it true that although there has been mistaken opposition in the past, there has also been legitimate opposition as well, and therefore, the most you can say is "I don’t know if I am right or wrong. The Rambam had opposition but so did Reform. I do not know if I am like the Rambam or Reform."

Is that a way to live? How do you know that the opposition to Chabad is NOT legitimate?

That’s the problem in Chabad. Everyone just blindly follows what they are taught, and when they are shown to be wrong they say "Yeah, well, they said the Rambam was wrong too."

But of course, whereas those who followed the Rambam did so because they knew the answers to the charges leveled against him, Chabad chooses to follow their way even though they have no idea why.

And that's the difference. The Rambam's followers were his followers because they knew the answers. Not because they said "Well, someone else also had opposition."




Blogger BoruchN said...

In Tenach judges are called 'Eloqim' one sage was called a 'sefer Torah,' etc.
every Tzaddik Gomur is like G-d in a body.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was discussed. A brief summary of what I can recall now

1. Elohim (It's not Hashem's name in this case, there's no roblem with writing it out) simply refers to something or someone who has power attributed to them. idols are called elohim acheirim, but it doesn't mean chas vesholom that they are real.

2. Sefer Torah, in all contexts i have heard of where a Talmid Chacham is called one, is used metaphorically talking about the Torah contained within them. If a tzadik falls, you don't fast 40 days. they themselves are not being put on the level of the Torah

3. hashem can not, chas vesholom, reside in a body. Tzaddikim are above angels, but not equal to Hashem. There is no source or anything for such a thought.

11:15 AM  

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