Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lubavitch VIII

Nobody writes letters to dead Tzadikim.

The letters are a baseless misbelief of some Lubavitcher Chasidim, with no precedent anywhere. The GRA’s “gorel” is not the same. He did not just open a Sefer to get advice. It is done a specific way, according to Kabbalah. You don’t just open a sefer to wherever and think the letter has to do with you. There’s no such thing.

And what is happening today in Lubavitch – the Rebbe being alive, the Rebbe being Moshiach etc. has nothing to do with Chassidus. The Baal Shem Tov is not responsible for this mess. It’s a pity that some people think they can make up their own beliefs and blame it on the Baal Shem Tov. It is a defense mechanism for many people in Lubavitch today to explain away those who properly object to many things they are doing, as “misnagdim.” Nothing can be further from the truth. If the Baal Shem tov were alive today, he would be the first one to condemn these practices. Rav Lazer Shach shlita wrote in a letter about Lubavitch that once upon a time, Lubavitch was following the Tanya and their Rebbes, and they were a legitimate Chassidic group. But today the Meshichist stuff and some other stuff that is happening is unacceptable, and it is a lie to say that any of that has to do with Chasidus, even Lubavitch Chasidus. It’s just the invention of some of the Chasidim today, with no tradition or Chasidus to back it up whatsoever. He also adds that no, he is not a misnagid at all, nor does he chas vshalom have anything against chasidim. He adds that he could not imagine what the world would look like today if not for the chassidim. But what is happening today in certain segments of Lubavitch has zero to do with Chasidus at all.

I know that when a certain magazine in New York printed this letter of Rav Shach shlita, certain Lubavitcher merchants in Crown Heights called and threatened to boycott the magazine. When the merchants were asked about the fact that the magazine has written about the controversy in Lubavitch in the past, in much harsher ways, yet nobody had a problem with that, they answered that they don’t care if they write against Lubavitch, because they can always dismiss such things to their children by saying they are “misnagdim”. But to let their children see that Rav Shach has nothing against Chasidim, that he is not a misnagid, and that his gripe is only with today’s Chabad and not even with previous Lubavitcher Chasidus, that they cannot allow their children to read.

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Nobody would ever think of communicating with Moshe Rabbeinu by opening a Chumash, would they? Nor did anyone ever do this in history except some of today's Lubavitchers. It has no source, and no logical reason behind it. As far as it working, I have seen some of these "successes". They were more like a person fitting what he wants into the message that he saw.

Why don't you just throw the dice or use a fortune cookie? Don't you think the Rebbe can't communicate with you that way if he wanted? Or never mind the Rebbe - why not ask the Baal HaTanya -- open up a Tanya to somewhere and ask him if what you're doing makes any sense. But why stop there? You should open a Mishnayos and ask the Tanaim and Amorayim what to do? If you have Rabbi Akiva and Rav Yehuda Hanasi, why bother the Rebbe?

In our religion, we do not make things up. We do not believe things at random. We have Torah sources. Our religion and all its ramifications are given from Hashem. This behavior has no source in Hashem's Torah, hence it is not part of it. And it has no basis in logic either. So what's left?

Why don't they open a Chumash and ask Moshe Rabbeinu to advise them, rather than the Lubavitcher Rebbe? Surely they agree that Moshe Rabbeinu's advice is as good as their Rebbe's.

Or do they?

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The problem is not that you look in the Igros for answers, but rather HOW you do your looking. If you were to tell me that you look in the index for a letter that the Rebbe wrote to someone with circumstances similar to yours, and then you apply the letter to your situation, that makes sense. That's the way we look into the Torah for advice. If for instance, someone is going to meet with a powerful non-Jewish leader, he reviews the Parsha where Yaakov met Esav. And he takes the lessons in context, applying them as much as they are applicable to his situation.

We do not randomly open a Chumash somewhere and assume that whatever words appear on that page is the "message" that Hashem intended for us. That is nonsense. That is not how we are supposed to use Seforim. There is no reasoning behind it, it's baseless.

If you would find a letter somewhere from your Rebbe that says that dead people communicate with every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the street by random openings of their writings, that would mean something. But as it is, it shows zilch.

The difference between the way everyone in Klall Yisroel including Chabad always looked for answers in Seforim, versus the way these people do it today, is that everyone else always used the CONTENT of the Sefer, in the context that the message was written to decide if it applies to them or not. These guys are, instead, using a random opening to decide if it applies to them, and there is no logic or religious source for such a concept.

The fact that you have some stories that seem to be indicative of connections between the person asking for advice and the advice itself - such as both were written on Purim and the like - means nothing. First, out of so many tons of openings of the letters, you are bound to find some similarities simply at random, but even if not - even if you would find an impossibly large number of such connections, it would mean nothing positive about this practice. Since we know that (a) there is no Torah source for it, and (b) there is no logic behind it and (c) Jews have never done it, ever, and (d) it is only being used with the Lubavitcher Rebbe's Seforim, and, if this thing makes sense, it should apply to everyone's seforim, so obviously it is just one more method of singling out the Lubavitcher Rebbe as different than everyone from Moshe Rabbeinu down, it therefore cannot be real. We do not base our beliefs on supernatural occurrences. The Yetzer Horah allowed Yassir Arafat to survive plane crashes at impossible odds so that in Saudi Arabi they can "show" the school children that G-d approves of Arafat's actions. Every idol worshiper can have miracles done for him. We derive our religious beliefs from the Torah, NOT from miracles. Since this has no basis in the Torah, and is clearly untrue otherwise Jews would have been doing this throughout history, we should not be impressed by "coincidences". Who knows? How do you know its not the Yetzer Horah, based on the principle of "he who wants to lower himself receives supernatural help to do so" (Yoma 39b), who is creating these "coincidences" in order for you to believe what's wrong? It's happened in the past. Lubavitch, for instance, who are very anti-Zionist would have to answer the Zionist claims of miracles in a similar fashion. If you are not impressed with the Zionist stories of miraculous victories over all odds because "miracles" do not impress you - and you are of course correct in this attitude - why should anyone be impressed with your "miracles"?

But that's only l'shitashchem - according to your own understanding of what is happening.

I was challenged by a friend of mine to "test" this Igros thing. My friend opened up the Sefer at random, and of course he "found" messages directed straight at him. Rather than argue with him about how interpretive he's being, I took a random volume of the World Book Encyclopedia and did the same thing. Lo and behold, I found an equal amount of messages to me.

But as I said, miracles or no miracles, if something does not come from a Torah source, we do not believe in it. Period. And this does not.

Of course there is Hashgocho here, but you have Hashgocho when you flip a coin too. Or when you throw the dice. Or when you open the World Book Encyclopedia to a random page. You are adding the idea that a random opening of the Rebbe's letters has some extra Hashgocho that does not exist elsewhere. This is simply false. Hashem controls the dice as precisely as he controls your Rebbe's letters. The idea that the Rebbe communicates through the random opening of the letters is not Hashgocho is a plain baseless fabrication.

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There is no such thing in our religion that you can communicate with your no-longer-alive Rebbe by opening his sefer and randomly turning to some page, then figuring out on your own what the no-longer-alive Rebbe wants to tell you.

The Radak and Abarbanel explain the Sefer Torah found by King Yoshiah being rolled to the special place.

Rashi explains that the Sefer Torah was found under a layer of stones where it was hidden when Achaz burned the Torah.

Malbim (quoting Abarbanel) explains that they found the Torah written by Moshe Rabbeinu, which was hidden from Menasheh, who cut the Shem Hashem out of the Torahs.

All these commentaries are found in the Perek itself.


Although if such a thing were legitimate, Jews throughout history and all over the world would have been doing it, the reality is that NEVER ANYWHERE has anyone ever thought to do such a thing, EVEN in Chabad, until the Rebbe died. Which means clearly that this the concept here is communicating with the deceased Rebbe, else it would have been done while he was alive as well, AND other seforim could have and would have been used. It's just plain superstition concocted out of thin air.

Over there, the King Yoshiah miraculously found the Sefer Torah that Moshe Rabbeinu himself wrote, hidden under a rock pile in the Bais HaMikdash although all Sifrei Torah were destroyed by Achaz. Now, suddenly, they were shocked to find the Sefer that Moshe Rabbeinu himself wrote, in its designated place in the Kodesh HaKadashim.

But another strange thing: All Sifrei Torah in the Bais HaMikdash were always rolled to Bereishis before being put away. Miraculously, this Sefer Torah was not. Instead, it was rolled to the punishments that will happen to the Jews when they do not keep the Torah.

Yoshia was shocked at the unlikely finding of this particular Torah - of any Torah at all - and the strange place to which it was opened. He took these unnatural occurrences as a sign from Hashem, and tore his clothes. He immediately consulted the prophet Chuldah for guidance and assistance.

Chuldah said: This sign is no coincidence, but rather a real sign from Hashem (Abarbanel), which means that even Yoshia needed confirmation from a Navi for what he figured out on his own. "So says Hashem," she says. "Your interpretation of the message was correct". There was a need for a special prophecy telling Yoshia he was right.

And from that story you want to prove that (a) every Tom Dick and Harry in the street can (b) randomly open the rebbes' letters and get some message (c) from the Rebbe that (d) Tom Dick and Harry can rely on to make decisions?

Ouch.

Number one: Because Yoshia the great Tzadik, who Chazal say (Echah Rabbah 4) was to Hashem like an "article of gold jewelry”, could interpret a sign from Hashem that means every guy in the street can?

Two: Even Yoshia only took it as a sign because it was a miraculous occurrence, and

Three: Yoshia had a prophet confirm his initial understanding

Four: Nobody ever tried this in their own home. Nobody used a Sefer Torah in such a way to randomly open it and get "messages". it was only because of the unnatural finding and the weird way it was not rolled to the beginning that he took it as a sign, and even then, if it was not confirmed by a prophet we do not know if he would have accepted it as fact.

Six: None of this has anything to do with communicating with a dead Rebbe. Remember: These people never did this before, even though they had this "source" (sic) always, and they still do not do it with a Sefer torah but with the Rebbe's writings.

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The Igros? When they communicate with their dead Rebbe by opening his Seforim? That is psycho. There is no way you can communicate with the deceased author of a sefer by opening his sefer.

Here, too, Chabad rabbis will distort things. They will come up with sources that people would open Seforim to get messages about what to do, similar to the Gorel HaGra.

But here, again, another lie. None of that has to do with what Chabad is doing. In all those instances, nobody was ever communicating c"v with the deceased author of a Sefer. Rather, Hashem "determines" where the Sefer will open to, and thus it is considered a sign from Hashem, not a communication by the author. When you do the Gorel HaGra with a Chumash, you are not communicating with Avrhom Avinu. Rather it is a Kabalistic way of seeing how the "chips fall" and using that as a sign from Hashem.

But using the specific sefer of a deceased person believing that the author is talking to you is a totally different act, and it is whacko. It has no source, none whatsoever, and it exists only in the denial-wracked minds of Lubavitcher Chasidim. To compare this to the gorolim in our seforim is a crime.


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It's not wrong to want a Rebbe, but that's like the guy who talks to his dead wife asking is it wrong for him to want his wife.

The Rebbe is not alive. Not any more than the Bobover Rebbe or the Satmar Rebbe or the Bluzhever Rebbe or the Klausenberger Rebbe.

For a long time there were those in Chabad who "knew" (sic) that the Rebbe was Moshiach. Now they can't accept the fact that all these years they were wrong. I remember when the Lubavitcher Rebbe was sick after his heart attack. These guys were saying to everyone don't worry, he will for sure recover. When asked what if he doesn't? The answer was that's unthinkable! Of course he will! He's Moshiach!

They were wrong then.

In the most recent issue of Bais Moshiach (9 Shvat 5761) there is an article called "The Seifer Torah of Moshiach". In short, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rayatz) began writing a Sefer Torah with which Moshiach is supposed to be greeted when he comes. The Torah was finished by last Rebbe (who they refer to as The Rebbe MHM, i.e. Melech Hamoshiach). On 10 Shevat 5730, the sefer Torah was going to be completed in the Lubavitcher Bais Medrash in Crown Heights. The Sefer Torah was in fact finished, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe placed a gold and silver crown on top of it. The following are some quotes from those who were there:

"When the Rebbe opened the box and removed the crown, we were certain - I, as well as others who related this - that the Rebbe would place the crown on his head and be revealed as Moshiach . . . it wasn't a wish and it wasn't a feeling. It was absolute knowledge. We all knew this was the day Moshiach would be revealed" - Rabbi Yosef Berger

"It wasn't something that we debated. We were all 100% certain that after yud shevat would be the Geulah. No questions were asked and nobody tried to find allusions in the works of halachah chassidus or kabbalah" - Rabbi Chaim Meir Chazzan

They were wrong then, too.

When a belief yields so many wrong results, perhaps it's time to rethink the belief.

I understand how people who believed something for so long can be in denial when they are faced with the reality that their belief was wrong, and I agree that nobody can judge them as people, because who knows if any of us would be able to accept the fact that a long established belief of ours was wrong? And we also all have to keep in mind the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov: Kol hanegoim ododm roeh, minigei atzmo - whenever someone sees others sinning, it is a sign that there is a sin in the one who sees it.

So when we see so many of our brothers fall so hard and so terribly we all have to do Teshuva. We should not judge them because how do we know how we would react if we were taught something all our lives, especially if we became frum through these teachers, and now we find out that it wasn't true?

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MAKING THE REBBE PROUD

Everywhere else, Jews are taught to bring Nachas to Hashem. In Chabad, the goal of Mitzvos is to bring Nachas Ruach to the Rebbe. Rav Shach shlita writes that this is part of the Avodah Zarah of these people. Prism, your answer comparing it to those who do not write Shivisi Hashem on the Aron misses the point of the problem. The diff is that although it may not say Shivisi Hashem, it still would never say Shivisi HaRebbe either! So if in the Chabad manual it doesn't say to bring nachas to Hashem, that could be because it’s not necessary, but if you write clearly to children that the reason they must behave like good Jews is to bring Nachas Ruach to the Rebbe, that clearly leaves out Hashem. Either say Hashem, or don’t say anything. To say that the reason you are behaving like Jews is to bring Nachas Ruach to the Rebbe is disgusting and idolatry, as Rav Shach writes. Especially when telling this to little children, the message that "You are doing Mitzvos to being Nachas to the rebbe" is total avodah zarah.

Incidentally, I received, through IM, the following conversation. It is from a girl on these boards who is (was) Lubavitch, but has decided because of our boards that she doesn't want to be Lubavitch anymore. This girl says she found a pamphlet in a different Chabad institution her brother brought it home from school. This is what she says (I changed her screen name):

FormerChabad Girl: They make the kids sign this. It says: I ________ have read this entire handbook, and understand that my coming to the mesivta is btanai that I have undertaken to adhere to all the rules
Moderator5761: ....
FormerChabad Girl: and policies of the mesivta as set forth in this handbook. My learning, davening, and general hanhagah will bli neder
FormerChabad Girl: be one that is according to the ruach of tomchei temimim that causes only nachas ruach to
FormerChabad Girl: the Rebbe
Moderator5761: Feh. So what did you do?
FormerChabad Girl: I corrected it. I crossed out the Rebbe and wrote
FormerChabad Girl: to Hashem.
Moderator5761: :-)

"Tizki L'Mitzvos" to the girl above, for she fulfilled the Mitzvah of "al tashken b'ahalechah avlah" - not allowing anti-Torah literature into her home.

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If you are against Lubavitch today you are not against the Tanya, since the Tanya does not defend at all, anywhere, the wrong things that Lubavitch does.

Tanya does not say that a Rebbe is G-d in a body, but the Lubavitcher Rebbe said it.

Tanya does not say that because you are Chabad you are exempt from sleeping in the sukkah, but Lubavitcher Rebbe says it.

Tanya does not say that the need to robotically imitating your rebbe exempts you from washing for shalosh seudos. But Lubavitcher Rebbe does.

The Tanya did not say to bind his sefer together with the Chumash and Tehillim, but the Lubavitcher Rebbe did. The Tanya did not say to take people out of the Bais HaMedrash and send them out to teach Tanya to Jews who are so ignorant in Judaism they don't know who Moshe's brother was, before they can read a posuk in Chumash.

Tanya does not say that anyone in Moshiach.
Tanya does not say that the Rebbe is alive.
So if you're against these things that means you're against the Tanya?

Huh? Nope. Sorry. Please don't blame what Chabad has become today on the Tanya. The Alter Rebbe had nothing to do with it.

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I have learned the Tanya in depth. And that is one of the reasons I cannot accept the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Because I know that the Tanya should NOT be taught to everybody in the street; that learning Tanya without the requisite background in Torah knowledge can steer you off what Chasidus is supposed to be; can cause you to believe that your Rebbe is infallible, has no yetzer horah, and must be unquestionably followed. All of which is a distortion of what the Tanya means to convey.

Learning Tanya without the requisite background has led some people to apikorsus, such as those who I have spoken to in Lubavitch that think that the reason Hashem created the world was because "He wanted a dwelling place in the lower worlds", which is what the Tanya says. But what does it mean?

WHY did Hashem want a dwelling place down here?

I have spoken to baalei teshuva and non baalei teshuva, who do not realize that Hashem is perfect and does not need any dwelling places anywhere.

If so, what is the Tanya saying?

The answer is that Hashem created the world for our sake - in order for US to beenfit from Gan Eden, ultimately. The Tanya was not asking that question. The Tanya assumes you know that answer. The question he was asking was, why did Hashem need to create a "world" in order to do that? Why is the universe, with all its spiritual-physical dichotomy, with all its illusions and sheker, necessary for Hashem to give us gan eden?

The Tanya's answer is that Hashem decreed that the way people can get gan eden is by sanctifying, on their own, by their own free-will, something that (a) is not holy (b) but can become holy; to bring Hashem's "presence" into a place where it is not apparent is what merits us Gan Eden.

And so, since He deemed necessary for our attaining Gan Eden the sanctification of the mundane, that is, G-d's presence "expanded" (only appearance-wise, of course) into an illusory, mundane world, therefore, Hashem created this world.

In other words, He created the world in order to facilitate the ability for His presence to be brought to the mundane.

"A dirah batachtonim".

I also know from learning Tanya that the Tanya was written only for his own group of talmidim and chasidim, as he writes in the introduction, and not designed for everyone's needs. It's like a prescription that a doctor wrote for someone - you should learn from the doctor's knowledge of how he wrote the prescription and why, but you cannot assume that prescription would be what he would write for you.

So too, the Tanya was not designed to be the lifestyle-manual for everyone. Only for those who the Baal HaTanya deemed it so. And clearly from his words, that is not everyone.

I also know from learning Tanya that the Lubavitcher Rebbe's comment about Rav Shach's speech regarding the chilonim "it's from the yetzer horah" means, to those familiar with Chabad teachings, "Rav Shach is not a tzadik."

Inspiration is great, but the Tanya was also designed to educate, not only inspire. And teenage girls are not ready for that level of education yet.

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I did not just "suddenly think of these doubts". These are a sampling of the problems with Chabad that our Gedolim have had for years and years. These issues have been well known in the Torah world, and are at the crux of the opposition of the Gedolim to Chabad. I don't know why they haven't heard of this in Lubavitch before this week.

The not sleeping in a Sukkah is particularly well-known by Torah leaders as a Chabad violation of Halacha because it is the most public of all the transgressions. Writes Rav Shach shlita:

"They [Lubavitch] are far from the opinions of our holy Torah. For instance, they currently publicized [for people] to undo a Mitzvah Aseh of sleeping in the Sukkah with a Dvar Torah full of nothingness, nonsense, and ignorance." (Letters, IV:349).

This was written in 1989. About 15 years ago, a Satmar guy named Mordechai Moskowitz published a booklet called "The Truth about the Lubavitch Movement in the '80's", which explains why Satmar is against Lubavitch. It's the same basic ideas as above.

What I posted here is nothing new. In Lubavitch they just didn't want this material known. I remember years ago there was a controversy in one of the Brooklyn Jewish magazines about the Meshichistin and Chabad. Someone published a letter from Rav Shach stating that he is not a Misnagid, he loves Chassidim in general (he cannot even imagine what Klall Yisroel would look like today if not for Chassidus, he writes), and he has nothing against Lubavitch Chassidus either (he says that the students in his Yeshiva may freely learn Tanya if they desire, no problem) but Lubavitch has slowly gone off the Derech of even their own Chassidus, and it is the new innovations and behaviors - NOT real Chabad Chassidus as espoused by the Alter Rebbe - that he opposes.

Lubavitch vendors called the publisher threatening to ban it in Crown Heights because of this. When the publisher asked that in the past much worse things were written about Lubavitch so why are they so upset about this, they answered that they dont mind if they write something against Lubavitch because they can say to their children that it's just Misnagdim, but they don't want their children knowing that Rav Shach loves chasidim and is not a misnagid and its' only them he opposes.

And Satmar, too, as opposed to what one poster above claims, was not at all against learning Tanya. The Tanya is quoted numerous times in the Satmar Rebbe's Seforim and used by him frequently in his Drashos. In the biography of the Satmar Rebbe called "Moshian Shel Yisroel" by Shlomo Y. Gelbman (who personally knew the Satmar Rebbe) we have the following (vol. I:p.320):

"So too did the Rebbe ZT"L [learn] the Seforim of Chabad, mentioning often in his Torahs material from the Tanya and the Sidur HaRav...Once , he borrowed from someone the Kuntres Hispalus of the holy rabbi RD"B of Lubavitch ZY"A... the Rebbe spoke with awesome respect for the holy Rebbe Rashab ZY"A, of his amazing holiness and his exceptional wisdom ... once, a chosid asked the Rebbe why, when he quotes the Rebbe Rashab he uses more titles on him than he usually uses [on others]. The rebbe answered, “The Rashab was a burning fire!" ... when bochurim from the Yeshiva asked him about learning Sifrei Chabad he said ... nowadays we have to be very careful because there are among the Lubavitchers today those who twist the Torah, and we have to be careful not to fall into their trap ... and therefore, you should learn Tanya only as much as other Chassidishe Seforim, and not make a unique project of it."

Nobody is against the Alter Rebbe or Chabad itself. Rather, the opposition is only regarding the new philosophies and innovations instituted by Chabad in the past generation, and the reasons for this opposition are well known.

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