Avodah Mailing List
Volume 02 : Number 099
Wednesday, December 30 1998
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 20:26:09 EST
Subject: neshama klalis - Tanya, R' Tzaddok, etc.
>>>The application to a specific individual in each generation, I believe, is
based on a Zohar, "ispashtusa d'Moshe b'kol dor." That Moshe was the "kelali"
- or yechida - for his generation, I am sure can be found in Chabad, but I
know only where it is in R' Tzadok - see Tzidkas HaTzaddik 159-160. I must
note that this whole business of yechida kelalis is one of the Chassidic
axioms I have grave difficulty with - but:
1. It is essential to Chassidus. 2. It is universal in Chassidus.
While I cannot address whether this concept is universal or axiomatic, in the
little I have seen I can say that it does not lend itself to a singular
simplistic formulation. There seem to be two distinct ideas: (1) Moshe had a
'neshama klalis' i.e. embodied in his soul the national spirit of klal yisrael
(I take the blame for the formulation; its the best I can muster given my
rationalist leanings). Explicit Chabad references can be found in Tanya ch.
42 and 44 (where the citation YGB refers to from Tikkunei Zohar is cited), as
well as direct citation from the Besht - see the likut Besht al HaTorah end of
P' Bechukosi. It should be noted that in Tanya the concept is used to show
how an element of the greatness of Moshe can be found in EVERY Jew, not just
Tzaddikim. Also see Maor V' Shemesh end P' Pekudei. (2) Tzaddikim in other
doros embody this 'neshama klalis' as well. This claim has only a slight echo
in ch. 42 of Tanya, but there the tzaddikim of each dor derive their
leadership from emanations of this original soul of Moshe which manifests
itself in each dor - the tzaddikim themselves do not embody this power or
derive it from within their own individual souls. For an intersting echo of
this second approach see Orot HaKodesh by R' Kook, chelek II p. 342-3. R'
Kook's formulation departs from the singularity of the tzaddik to a function
of dveikus: through 'hitachdus' with the world one is caught in the universal
movement toward dveikus; once dveikus in turn elevates the universe in a
cyclical progression (again, see the source and don't rely on my formulation).
Al kol panim, R' Tzaddok in the passage cited rejects both aspects above in
his formulation by writing that the neshama klalis existed only for the Avos
and Dovid - not even for Moshe who only embodied the neshamos of T"CH (T"T
159), and certainly not for singular tzaddikim in each generation.
Go to top.
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 22:31:26 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Yechida/Neshama Kelalis
On Tue, 29 Dec 1998, Moshe Shulman wrote:
> I looked it up and I believe you have misunderstood it. (In fact what he
> says agrees with the Ari that only Moshiach will be such a nashamah.) HE
> states openly that Moshe was kollel only the talmidei chochomim. That is
> not a nashamah kollilos.
First of all. let me remind you that I am waiting on the potatoes.
Secondly, and this is also meant as a reply to my esteemed brother in law
RCB, who seems to be on your side of this issue: Nope.
R' Tzadok there, and in several other places, says that Moshe's neshomo
was kollel that of the *entire* Dor HaMidbar - whom he classifies as
talmidei chachomim, lock stock and barrel.
You may find this more explicit in Kedushas Shabbos (Pri Tzaddik Bereishis
As to whether this applies to later generations - on which you and RCB
say, if I understand you correctly: No...
Likkutei Ma'amarim p. 84 col. 1:
"...And so too in every generation the soul of the parnes, the leader of
the generation, is a soul that encompasses (nefesh ha'kolleles) all the
souls of the generation, just as the king is the klal of the entire
nation. And that is why he can lead them all, for his wisdom encompasses
all of their wisdom, and so too his da'as and all his oul's kochos..."
I suspect that there are many other places in which R' Tzadok makes the
Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
Go to top.
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 09:57:29 -0800
From: "Dovid Eliezrie" <email@example.com>
I have been reading, and on a limited basis participating in the discussion
on Lubavitch in the past few days. I would like to make a few general
comments that will shed a better light on the issue.
As for the Moshiach issue. Some of you (in particular Rabbi Teitz) have
discounted the efforts of the leadership of the Lubavitch in public
condemnation of them. In particular he claimed that the statements were not
clear and the Moshistim gained strength from them. First there was not one
statement, but a variety of them. Some official ones from Agudas Chassidie
Chabad (the umbrella organization of Lubavitch) and Vaad Rabbonie Lubavitch
(which represents Rabbonim & Roshie Yeshiva in the US & Canada). In addition
there were many other statements made by major leaders such as Rabbi Krinsky
and others. You can sit look for diyukim but the public record is clear.
There was much criticism from them because of these statements, and they
gained no support. Rather hey where infuriated that we codemned them in
outside media outlets. Nor are any of you aware of the internal
communications that have been harsher.
What I can tell you. Is that the Moshistim have lost considerable steam and
support. I'm not saying that there is not a vocal core. But they are losing
ground. For instance four years ago at the most important annual event in
Lubavitch-The Kinus Hashluchim (Shluchim conference held Shabbos Mevorchim
Kislev with 1,000 Schluchim) they put up a Yechie sign at the customary
group photo. The next year we hired security guards who ripped their sign
down (we warned them not to do it). Three years ago the regular picture was
taken and then some 75 guys stayed for a second picture with the Yechie
sign(only to be heckled by large numbers) The last two years already they
did not even put up a
sign. Last summer the magazine Beis Moshiach-their flagship made a
fundraising dinner in Crown Heights, they could not even get a crowd of 180
people, in a community where there are 2,000 Lubavitcher families. Their
honoree recinded his pledge after being approached by Lubavitch leaders.
Mosdos have gone through the painful decision to fire teachers who continue
to advocate their theology in the classroom. This has happened in
Pittsburgh, Morristown and other locations.They have been sytemaclity
excluded from many positions.
As for Berger and Keller. Berger thinks he is going to save us from
ourselves. I have spoken to him on a few occasions. Whatever his intentions,
he is having little impact in Lubavitch. What is having an effect is the
constant efforts of Chassidim with each other talking, educating and slowly
changing attitudes. As for Rabbi Keller my criticism of him remains strong.
I was the person to dealt with Agudah on behalf of Lubavitch after his
article. He was a poor choice to carry the flag in battle to save Lubavitch.
He has a long history of intense hostility to Lubavitch. Today it is
Moshiach, yesterday it was Menorahs, and almost everything else. He has for
years, long before Moshiach was an issue, been the only Rosh Yeshiva in
Chicago to refuse to participate in Kinusie Torah and other events we have
in Chicago. He was informed prior to publication that his accusations
against the Schliach in Chicago (his former Talmid who he "lost" to
Lubavitch) where false and he had not interest in the truth. His accusations
about anyone in Lubavitch believing in the deification (Chas Veshalom) of a
human being are lies. But then again anyone can yell fire in a theater.
One other interesting caveat in all of this Rabbi Moshe Sherer (who I
considered a personal friend) reached out from his sick bed -two weeks prior
to his passing- in an effort to repair the damage between Lubavitch and
Agudah caused by Kellers falsehoods. Many in Aguda -maybe because of their
understanding after the fact-have questioned the wisdom of printing that
Excuse the harshness about Keller. I would tell him directly the same if I
encountered him personally. In a correspondence to the Rabbi Sherer and the
Moezes I detailed my feelings on this issue ( I have misplaced the final
copy of this letter on some disk-hopefully I will find in within a day or so
and share it with the list-it is some ten pages) and the feelings of the
One of two other issues.
I find strange the definition of Klal Yisroel, which seems to me to some
writers on this list "the Litrvasher Yeshiva world". Which is as insular, if
not more so than Lubavitch. We at least interact on a regular basis with
many other Yidden frum and not frum- something the Yeshiva world does little
of. True we pursued, without embarassment, a different agenda then other
segments of the Torah World since we dropped out Agudah around 70 years ago.
However they are no more the Klal as I am just the Klal.
We have a valid shittah in Torah. If someone walks into my Chabad House (in
California) and learns how to put on Tefilin I have no reason not to teach
my Minhag. It is as good as the Minhag of Brisk or Aishenaz. The same goes
for benthing licht for girls, nusach etc. etc. We are not a different world,
just a different shittah. In fact in almost every Jewish community of size
there are three competing voices in the frum world, The Livasher Yeshiva
dereck, Lubavitch and YU. (there are smaller groups in certain communities
of other yeshivas, and Chassidim). The variety of Mosdos Chinuch usually
represents this variety of ideologies.
While some of you may feel the need to spend years in Kollel-something I can
appreciate-you might also find value in those of us who made the choice of
Shlichus of the Rebbe Z"YA to places none of you would live. There, we
spread Yiddiskiet where there are no Yeshivas or Torah Volt of any kind, in
some 2,500 locations worldwide. Anyone want to move to Shanghai, Lima, of
just maybe my suburban oasis of Yorba Linda California. (just last week the
head of a major Orthodox group told me he can not people for positions in
many out of town places)
The variety in Orthodoxy is the true pluralism in Judaism. For those of you
on this list that respect the various shittahs there can be common ground.
Those who have a disdain for Lubavitch no matter what we do about the
Moshistim or what we don't do then there is little to talk about.
Again excuse me for harshness. I am trying to be bluntly honest.
Go to top.
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 07:59:18 -0500 (EST)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Micha Berger)
I found the following on DejaNews. Hopefully it will reassure people
wondering exactly where the rest of Lubavitch stands.
Micha Berger (973) 916-0287 Help free Yehuda Katz, held by Syria 6020 days!
email@example.com (11-Jun-82 - 30-Dec-98)
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light.
http://www.aishdas.org -- Orthodox Judaism: Torah, Avodah, Chessed
On 1998/01/24, Yisroel S Markov <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in soc.culture.jewish:
Chabad-Lubavitch, then and now more options
""""""""""""""""" """" """ """ """" """""""
The following letter has been circulated in July 1995. I believe it is
useful to review it to get a feeling of what the trends were and are in
our movement. Personally, I share Rabbi Kagan's sentiment and believe that
level-headed Chabadniks worldwide do too.
Sivan 18, 5755
Recently, a veteran shaliach, Rav Aharon Yakov, invited a Lubavitch entertainer
to perform at his annual Chabad-House dinner, stipulating only that he refrain
from songs or remarks identifying the Rebbe as Moshiach. On the phone the
latter agreed, but later changed his mind, expressing his feelings to Rav
Aharon Yakov in a 3-page fax (copy enclosed), to which I responded with a
lengthy letter, which is attached. Some friends have encouraged me to share
this material with a wider circle of friends and acquaintances. I hope you
will find it of interest.
With best wishes,
Rabbi Yitschak M. Kagan
OFFICE 28555 MIDDLEBELT ROAD FARMINGTON HILLS, Ml 48334-4129 (810) 737-
7000 FAX (810) 737-4808
Motzoi Shabbos Parchas Bechukosai
Tof Shin Nun Hai
I received your letter which related the terms of our verbal agreement and
which articulated in greater detail the specific point of not identifying
Moshiach in song due to the "sensitivities" of your community. Like a mosquito
buzzing around my ear your letter has stayed in front of me and has bothered
me as I have been working on my computer on an album project this past week.
Rabbi, I want to draw your attention to a few points of common interest to us.
1)For over a year the Rebbe encouraged the chassidim to sing Yechi. This was
also done with global TV hookup in 770.
2)The Rebbe gave approval to print " The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Melech ha Moshiach
" as the author of Besuras HaGeula to Kehot Publication Society, the official
publishing arm of Lubavitch.
3)The Rebbe gave permission to engrave on a tombstone that a deceased chossid
was a Chossid of The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Melech ha Moshiach.
4)The Rebbe on Chof Ches Nissan told chassidim to do everything you can to
bring Moshiach, Now! 5)The Rebbe ruled that Moshiach can and will arise
from the dead and Redeem us. (See V'hu Yigalenu - Mendelsohn Press)
In the past eleven months I have seen the impossible happen. For the first time
in the history of Chassidus some of the self proclaimed shluchim have taken
specific directives from the Rebbe and under the cloak of Oifen HaMiskabel,
and with fear of communal non receptivity, they have in fact originated
a new agenda which terminates the Rebbe's agenda. Instead of proceeding
with the education of themselves and their congregations to all aspects of
Moshiach as the Rebbe directed, including Techias HaMeisim and preparing the
world thereby for the arrival of Moshiach, they have in fact quit the Rebbe,
buried him, his agenda and their own loyalty to the Rebbe. What has happened
is that the shluchim have made peace with the golus.
This is the first instance of this that I am aware of in the otherwise
illustrious track record of shluchim who went 110% Meseiras Nefesh for any
directive of the Rebbe in the past. it's kind of like a football team that
has carried the ball to the 10 yard line for the coach and then has gotten
cold feet because of irrational fear of the fans and therefrom failing to
go for the touchdown.
Rabbi, I was invited to perform somewhere in North America by some balabatim
in a shlichus where the balabatim have come to realize that they have to
choose between obedience to their Rebbe or suffering the politicization of
Moshiach by local shluchim who fear their funders more than their Rebbe. They
asked me to participate in an evening of Moshiach awareness and invited
an renowned outside speaker to address their congregation on the topic of
Techias HaMeisim. Why? Because the local Shliach wasn't following the Rebbe's
agenda. People are starting to pick up on this conspiratorial shtus posing
as Chabad Chassidim.
May I draw your attention to two Halachas. One "Not to be embarrassed by
anything Jewish and gladly tolerate any and all mocking. And two- He who
argues with his Rebbe is as if he is arguing with the Shechina."
Rabbi, enclosed is an ad Rabbi Springer put in the New York times on April 11
last. 770 was not bombed, Rabbi Springer was not assassinated, Notzrim did not
march on Crown Heights and the Rebbe's words were again born out by reality:
"The world is ready" for Moshiach in all its pratim including identification
of Moshiach and the present circumstance of teaching about Techias Ha Mesisim
to which the Rebbe alluded to in his teaching's which I recently studied.
So in light of the above points I now find my self being invited by yourself
to participate in an evening of fluffy religious entertainment via music at the
expense of both of our loyalties to the Rebbe's directives these past 4 years.
At the time of our verbal agreement these issues were not totally clear to
me. And I am now claiming against this agreement Mekach Taus. I am canceling
this agreement with your community and yourself solely on this issue and
not in relation to money.
Now it is some 4 months before this terminated agreement was to be manifest by
my performance. It you want to get your K'hilla up to par by teaching them all
aspects of Moshiach including Techias HaMeisim, I will come and sing for you
for free. You can just pay the air fare and the motel for one night. This
offer is valid for two weeks from the date of this letter. And I most
certainly will sing the Rebbe of Lubavitch is Messiah that night. Thereafter
you can use that event as a spring board to further your Moshiach classes.
What is batul to what in Lubavitch today? Is the tail wagging the shluchim?
May I share some other information with you. The last elections in Crown
Heights was a battle of Moshiachists versus the opposition. The Moshiachists
were voted in by 80% of the Crown Heights community. The opposition got
5%. I seriously recommend that you and the Rabbis of Detroit who have lowered
themselves greatly in my esteem by their loyalty to the Golus ahead of their
Rebbe, I seriously recommend that all of you wake up and smell the coffee.
The Rebbe did not come to this world to create a chillul HaShem. Torah Emes.
P.S. - I am more worried about the Rebbe's sensitivities than those of your
community. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?
Sivan 15, 5755 June 13, 1995
I have just received a copy of the letter that you sent to R' Aharon Yakov.
He forwarded it to me for my thoughts. However, I have decided that in
view of our long-standing friendship I would respond to you directly.
Before I write a single line let me first make it clear that brothers sometimes
yell at each other in anger -- particularly when that anger stems from a
passionate belief that they are correctly interpreting their Tatteh's will.
This does not mean that their brotherly love is diminished.
In plain words, anything I write is not meant as a personal slight in any
way. I reaffirm my warm feelings for you.
Let me first make sure I have this right: You are canceling your agreement
to sing for the mekuravim of Chabad. Why? Because R' Aharon Yakov is
uncomfortable with your identifying Moshiach as the Rebbe. Well, what is
Reb Aharon's comfort level?
Can you talk about Moshiach? Why yes, of course.
Can you educate the audience about the details of Moshiach's coming? Why yes,
Can you give clearly the message that higiyah z'man ge'ulaschem? Why yes,
Can you tell the people that the call of our era, is to prepare oneself and
the world for Moshiach? Certainly.
Can you urge the people to increase their Torah study, mitzvos observance,
Torah outreach, and acts of goodness and kindness -- all with the motivation
of bringing the geulah? Absolutely. No problem.
Nine out of ten: So from what are you being asked to refrain? From identifying
the Rebbe as Moshiach.
That's all. Period. R' Aharon Yakov (and I, and thousands like us) sincerely
believe that to do so would be a violation of the expressed, explicit will
of the Rebbe. You believe the opposite. So you turned down an opportunity
to come and sing and speak to a community already educated to a degree by R'
Aharon about Moshiach, techiyas hameisim, etc. and sensitive to these issues
-- and ready to hear and learn more about them. But you won't come, because
of one single item on your agenda, the identification and proclamation of
the Rebbe as Moshiach.
Obviously, I am forced to conclude that this single item is, in your twisted
philosophy, the entirety, the totality of the Moshiach Awareness Campaign. (Do
you have any source for this specific contention?) The reasons for your
beliefs and those of R' Aharon I will discuss later, but right now let us
focus on this point: that both of you agree and can work together on nine
points out of ten of the Moshiach Awareness Campaign -- a campaign in which,
incidentally, R' Aharon has been active for the past five years.
Yet because you are being asked to refrain from this one single point, you
fly into a fury and pour hateful invective on the heads of all the shluchim
in a torrent of pure sinas chinam -- the hallmark of m'shichism. (A Crown
Heights matron quipped last year, "I've been a m'shichist from way back;
I've always hated everyone!")
"M'shichist"; Definition: Now since you use the term "m'shichist", I feel
constrained to give you my own narrow definition. I hope and pray that you
do not fit into it. The meaning of the term m'shichist has evolved over the
last four or five years. My original definition was: one who believes that
identifying the Rebbe as Moshiach is the main, central point of the Rebbe's
Later, I was compelled to change my definition to: one who believes that
identifying the Rebbe as Moshiach is the be-all and end-all, the totality
and embodiment, of the Moshiach Awareness Campaign.
Tragically, my definition of a m'shichist today is this: one who believes
that proclaiming the Rebbe as Moshiach is the be-all and end -all of all
Lubavitch chassidus -- in fact of Torah yiddishkeit.
Caution: I must stress that anywhere in this letter I use the term
"m'shichist", I refer exclusively to my above definition, and to no other. To
the true m'shichist today, everything the Rebbe has taught us for the last
fifty years -- including how to prepare the world for Moshiach -- has been
heaved overboard. Junked. Stomped on. Spat on and reviled.
"Increasing our acts of kindness and goodness" (the Rebbe's exact words to
the CNN crew as to how to prepare the world for Moshiach)? Bah! Humbug!,
says the m'shichist.
Self-improvement? Midos tovos? Feh!, mocks today's messianist.
Ahavas Yisroel? Shtus! -- a diversionary tactic of the shluchim!, they shout.
Studying chassidus? Irrelevant!, they declare. (Take a look around you
at the real m'shichist leadership. How many of them regularly sit down to
study a whole ma'amar or sicha of the Rebbe in its entirety, not little
pamphlets with collections of four-line and five- line excerpts pertaining
only to Moshiach, etc. How about "chazerring" a ma'amar publicly?) So now you
see why I hope that you do not fit into my own definition of a m'shichist.
One who proclaims Y'chi, even three times a day religiously, is not in my
book automatically a m'shichist. Not by a long shot.
Where is Tatteh?
The story is told of the Alter Rebbe asking his grandson (the Tzemach Tzedek),
"Where is zaydeh? The little child touched the Alter Rebbe's beard saying,
"Here is zaydeh." The Alter Rebbe said, "This is zaydeh's beard, but where
is zaydeh?" The Tzemach Tzedek did not reply, but some time later, when he
was playing in the room, he suddenly called out, "Zaydeh!" The Alter Rebbe
turned around to him. "Aha!" said the child triumphantly, "here is zaydeh!"
With poetic license from this anecdote, I ask the m'shichists, "Where is
Tatteh?" I began to ask this question with increasing agitation and anxiety
three years ago as I saw the Tatteh-dimension of the Rebbe being pushed out
of mind by a new kind of cultism within Lubavitch, rachmana litzlan. This was
after the black day of Adar 27. True chassidim cried; true chassidim ached;
true chassidim wrestled with their grief constantly. Not just shluchim,
but all of us who felt the Rebbe as Tatteh first and foremost, and ourselves
as his kinderlach. We strengthened ourselves with theknowledge that geulah
was imminent; after all, given these new black circumstances, it had to be.
We could countenance no alternative. (We still can't.) But we could not
and would not sit back smugly and declare what was happening as "just another
necessary concealment prior to the ultimate giluy". We could not and would
not play tambourines when our father was in such suffering.
To my horror, I already saw then that the louder the new cult-leaders screamed
y'chi, the larger their banners, the more fierce their proclamations of
"Melech", of "eternal life", etc. - - the less they truly cared and felt for
the Rebbe as a Tatteh, for the Rebbe's earthbound dimension, his precious
guf, etc. It was as if they were consciously repressing that dimension of
the chassid/rebbe relationship deep into their souls.
No refu'ah wish?!
N'shei Chabad of Crown Heights, under the thrall of their m'shichist mentors,
were able to generate enormous motivation among their active members to hold
a highly emotional and fabulously well-attended melave malka to proclaim
the Rebbe as Moshiach. This was prior to Adar 27.
But, after that day, they never, ever had a similarly huge gathering to scream
to the heavens, to storm the walls of shamayim, about the Rebbe's illness!
As the months dragged by and the Rebbe's condition did not improve, no
two true Chassidim (certainly not shluchim) ever met and talked for even
a minute or wrote even one line to each other -- without concluding with
the wish that the Rebbe should have a refua sheleima. But N'shei had a
Convention during that period and, in utter dismay, as I perused their
detailed program from top to bottom, with dozens of sessions, speakers,
workshops, etc. all about Moshiach and ge'ula, I saw not one single word
anywhere about a refua sheleima for the Rebbe! (Such an omission did not
reflect, chass ve'shalom, the true feelings of any of our women; it was
only a Freudian slip -- excuse the expression -- by the N'Shei leadership
revealing their distorted focus.) What was happening, in my humble opinion,
was that the m'shichist philosophy was transforming the Rebbe into a symbol,
something larger than life -- but not within life.
True, the Rebbe is malkeinu, but he is just as much avinu, and that aspect
was being repressed, rachmana litzlan.
Should have cried then:
Many years ago, Rabbi J. J. Hecht, alav hashalom, spoke at a dinner here in
Detroit, and told of a woman who came to him crying bitterly that her son was
contemplating intermarriage. Rabbi Hecht told her the story of some young
Jewish men who were smuggling Swiss watches in coffins across the border to
France, in staged funerals. They were caught when the customs officials noticed
that although the "mourners" were sad-faced, no one ever actually cried.
When they received long jail sentences, they broke down and wept in front
of the judge, begging for clemency. Sternly he said to them, "if you would
have cried then, you wouldn't be crying now!" Likewise, said Rabbi Hecht to
the tearful mother, "If you would have cried for your child to get a Jewish
education, you wouldn't be crying now." My friend, to this very day, despite
my strong opinions, I would stand up in respect for any chassid who proclaimed
y'chi with tears in his eyes. But I've never seen one. The entire mood
among your mentors is to question any tears. "What's the matter with you?
What are you crying about? Don't you have emuna?! Don't you know this
is just the final test? Come, join hands and let's dance and sing y'chi!"
To which I reply "och un vey to your nouveau-chassidus, your gimmickry,
your pseudo-hiskashrus!" I truly mourn that a small number of wonderful,
warm chassidische people whom I have known for years -- have nebach been
swept up into this callous, knee-jerk, slick, sloganeering mind-set.
Having explained to you where I am coming from, let me now focus on some of the
thoughts in your letter. I see you use the term "self-proclaimed shluchim".
What depths of hatred lie beneath the use of that epithet! Don't think for a
moment that I don't know where it comes from. I know its source exactly, and
it is not from within your soul, but from some of the poisonous leadership
of the m'shichist cult, the same people who started the anti-shluchim
jihad some five years ago. Open your eyes! Look at the sicha of the kinus
hashluchim in 5748 and other times, and the special terms of endearment
the Rebbe reserved only for us shluchim.
It was the Rebbe himself -- and no-one else -- who proclaimed us shluchim!
You say that the shluchim "have in fact originated a new agenda". How true
were the words of chazal, Kol haposel bemumo posel. "He who disqualifies
others does so by accusing them of having a blemish that is in fact his very
own!" Given the unceasing torrent of propaganda over the last few years,
and given the frighteningly intense atmosphere of self-righteousness among
the m'shichists, you will undoubtedly turn apoplectic at my next statement:
The Rebbe specifically forbade public identification and proclamation of
himself as Moshiach. He did so both verbally and in writing -- in his own
holy handwriting. He did so not by allusion or hint or implicitly, but openly
and explicitly. "But"...you sputter in incoherent fury... "What about all the
approvals, permissions and responses that people quote copiously (some of
which you mentioned in your letter)?! How can you refute them?!" The answer
is, my friend, that I cannot refute them, but neither do I believe them.
Not one iota. Not one little bit. Particularly after Adar 27, regarding
all responses on this particular topic of identifying the Rebbe publicly
as Moshiach, I would need to know who posed the question to the Rebbe, how
the question was phrased, which distracting political currents were flowing
between the mazkirim at the time, etc. Also, was any objective observer in
the room to report accurately on the exact wording of the question and the
exact way it was answered? Without the above information, I am confident
and comfortable in my utter denial of the so-called responses and brochos
supposedly received from the Rebbe. I will explain the ultimate reason for
my confidence at the end of this letter.
But, you exclaim, what about singing y'chi with the Rebbe ? Do I deny that?
Chas veshalom! I was a joyous participant in that experience. I wish it
were happening again (with the Rebbe in full health, of course).
But I deny the right of your mentors to interpret that experience in one
specific way, to claim that there is no other way, and to extrapolate from
that interpretation to bizarre lengths. For what is their interpretation?
That for the first time ever in his blessed leadership, the Rebbe reversed his
specific, explicit, written and verbal stand and commanded all the chassidim
to go out to the world and proclaim the Rebbe as Moshiach. That is their
derivation, their interpretation. As powerful as it might seem to you
or others, it remains nothing more than an interpretation. It can never
attain the weight of an actual note in the Rebbe's own handwriting shortly
before Adar 27 specifically reprimanding an individual for engaging in such
public identification, as well as many other written and verbal responses
in the same vein.
Do I claim to have some deeper interpretation of the singing? No, not at all.
I am quite satisfied with the experience as it was, in its purity. An older
chassid of the past generation once said wryly, "I don't need a Rebbe who I
can understand; I need a Rebbe who I can not understand!" Who fears funders?
You say "This is the first instance...that I am aware of in the otherwise
illustrious track record of shluchim who went 110% mesiras nefesh for any
directive of the Rebbe in the past." I find this to be a most revealing
statement. How did the shluchim express their 110% mesiras nefesh? Was
it only by working long hours at small pay? Is it not also a fact that
shluchim have repeatedly expressed their mesiras nefesh by refusing to bend
their principles even though it meant the loss of huge financial donations?
Throughout the U.S. and Canada, and undoubtedly overseas, whether it had
to do with making certain compromises in day school education, or shmiras
shabbos, or many other questions, the shluchim, to turn your phrase around,
always feared their G-d and their Rebbe more than their funders.
So how can you claim, my dear friend, that in this one specific case, the
shluchim have suddenly changed their principles and personalities and have
become petrified of potential lost support? The truth: The real truth is,
of course, that the "new agenda" of which you speak belongs to your mentors
and to them alone. It is the shluchim who continue to promote the Rebbe's
agenda. Yes indeed, the truth is this: The shluchim have stood steadfast
in refusing to accept your New Agenda because they believe it violates
the Rebbe's expressed wishes and also because they see with their own eyes
that it drives away yidden from chassidus, from the Rebbe, from Moshiach,
and from yiddishkeit.
Which leads me into your next point. You say that when Rabbi Springer put in
the ad last April, "770 was not bombed, Rabbi Springer was not assassinated,
notzrim did not march on Crown Heights, etc...." If it were not so dangerous,
I would say that this sounds like the rantings of a demented lunatic. Does
the failure of these meshugena scenarios to materialize give one scintilla
of support to your contention that people in general support m'shichism?
What utter garbage! Yidden have been turned off to Lubavitch by the tens of
thousands. That they do not broadcast this publicly is absolutely normal.
How do you expect an average person to express his being turned off to
Lubavitch? By "bombing and assassinating", rachmana litzlan? They have
expressed it in exactly the same way you and I would, if we were turned off
from a movement which we had previously admired. We would simply walk away.
We would just quietly determine to no longer have anything to do with that
group, and we would instruct our children likewise. It is by now an open
secret that an independent poll was conducted (davka among non- religious Jews)
in Eretz Yisroel about this very point, and the results were overwhelmingly
conclusive. Yidden, even the nonobservant, responded that although they are
still attracted to most aspects of Chabad outreach, the opposite holds true
for the new Moshiach Campaign (i.e. the Moshiach-Identification Campaign.)
As for the frum community, the situation there is far, far worse. Some gains
painstakingly achieved over forty years have been wiped out by the m'shichist
henchmen -- who couldn't care less.
Count me with the Levites:
You mentioned the elections in Crown Heights. What can I say about this
argument? It is so pathetic, so nebbish. Baruch Hashem, I am intensely
preoccupied with my work and therefore unaware of 95% of Crown Heights
politics. Nonetheless, even I know enough to understand that the elections
were a potent brew of a dozen different issues, not as you have simplisticly
portrayed them, as "m'shichists vs. the opposition". The community of Crown
Heights is a beautiful one, outstanding in its hospitality, middos tovos,
tzedaka, and its love for the Rebbe. In addition, the number of residents who
share my views is probably five times greater than it seems; but terroristic
intimidation and insidious propaganda have done their job well. Do me a
personal favor: Don't join the m'shichist propaganda bandwagon in trying
to create the impression of a divide between ourselves and our brothers
and sisters in Crown Heights. We are one with the rank-and-file there. The
leadership? -- that's a different story...
However, let's get back to the percentages game. Let us assume that elections
were held in a different location, explicitly on this issue and the vote
was 80% for and only 5% against. Everything is by hashgocha pratis..
It's right there in this week's sedra. What was the total number of B'nei
Yisroel in the midbar? The answer is 603,550. What was the population of
the Levi'im? It was 22,000. That's just 3.6% of the total population. Yet
when Bnei Yisroel, in their hysteria of fear that Moshe would not return,
made the golden calf, it was only Sheivet Levi that stayed faithful, waiting
for Moshe's assured return.
We shluchim, the Rebbe's Sheivet Levi, will not be swept up into the new
madness. We obey what Moshe explicitly commanded us, and await Moshiach
with complete confidence.
And another thing: part of the insidious anti-shluchim propaganda that began
several years ago has tried to cast the situation in terms of good guys
vs. bad guys, shluchim vs. baalei-batim, as you express all too clearly
in your letter. This is nonsense. Just think about your own community.
You and I both know personally some of the most scholarly, knowledgeable,
chassidische and devoted followers of the Rebbe -- none of whom are shluchim
-- yet who share my opinions; and the same holds true everywhere.
Whose mesiras nefesh?
Let's turn our attention to Detroit for a moment. You say that, ...the rabbis
of Detroit, ... have lowered themselves in my esteem by their loyalty to
the galus ahead of their Rebbe". Rav Aharon Yakov, and shluchim like him
around the world, have been working for decades with utter devotion to the
Rebbe and no concern for their own self-fulfillment or personal welfare. R'
Aharon in particular is a malach: He and his wife are gentle, kind chassidim
who do not know what it means to have a focus on gashmius. Of how many
non-shluchim could the same be said? How many of the m'shichist leadership
are sunk into a gashmiyus peat-bog up to their eyebrows? Two years ago at the
N.Y. Kinus Hashluchim my brother actually witnessed this scene in a shtieble,
at an opsherenish: A young sh'liach from a small distant community was being
berated by a sleek, well-fed, local Lubavitch businessman. The latter's
fancy shirt-cuffs and cuff-links protruded from beneath his flawlessly
tailored kapota. The sh'liach, eyes downcast, was quietly explaining,
"...but if I proclaim y'chi in my Chabad house, I don't know how the people
will take it; I don't think they're keilim for it." The businessman, his
Borsalino trembling with indignation atop his thick, well-groomed hair,
bellowed in response: "Where is your mesiras nefesh for the Rebbe's inyanim?"
In this past year alone I have visited shluchim in their Chabad Houses
in 15 or more cities in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Ontario and
the Midwest. I never fail to return humbled by the experience of living
firsthand with the ultimate mesiras nefesh frontliners of the rebbe's army.
That is why I am so enraged at attacks on their devotion.
Rav Aharon Yakov:
What a z'chus to know R' Aharon. I remember how every Shabbos afternoon
around his table at Chabad House, at exactly 1:30 p.m. he would ask everyone
to lift their glasses in a l'chaim to the Rebbe, who was at that moment
coming out to farbreng in 770. For twenty years R' Aharon has bound his
followers close to the Rebbe. When mivtza Moshiach was launched, he was in
the forefront, quietly and with determination implementing shiurim on the
topic and never missing an opportunity to talk to people about Moshiach and
geulah at mealtimes and at all other gatherings of Chabad House.
Your m'shichist mentors are not worthy of licking the dust that R' Aharon
Yakov treads on! Despots and tyrants expert at propaganda always distinguish
themselves by their ability to promote the Big Lie. The Big Lie is that people
such as the "rabbis of Detroit" and our thousands of colleagues have removed,
chas veshalom, Moshiach, geulah, and techias hameisim from their agenda.
I can tell you the very reverse is true; these topics occupy the thoughts
and the emotions of all of us here -- to a degree more intense than I have
Up until this letter I and my chaverim have reacted to the spewing of hatred
against us only by drawing ourselves closer together and strengthening our
bond of hiskashrus deeper and yet deeper with the Rebbe. In our yeshiva
here, our bachurim are involved in nothing else but preparing the world for
Moshiach -- in exactly the way the Rebbe wanted them to prepare it, with
no deviation to left or right. They are totally involved in learning Torah,
nigleh and chassidus, day and night. They memorize huge amounts of gemara,
numerous ma'amarim, work with themselves in davvening and to improve midos,
and participate in mivtzoim according to a strict seder.
This is Lubavitch. This is chassidus. This is the Rebbe.
Contrast such conduct to last year's cultic prognostications about the
collision of Jupiter, all started by a certain Canadian rabbi with the most
shallow roots in chassidus, and a talent for spurious gematria and other
such gimmickry, anathema to Chabad. (And guess what? Here's a sensational
revelation: Do you know where he picked up most of the bizarre theory? --
From an unemployed amateur mathematician in Detroit!! And has he asked
mechilla from all the folks he so egregiously misled? If so, I haven't
heard about it!)
Now for the coup de grace.
After all is said and done, I still must answer the one enormous question
that I know you can throw at me: "Who are you, Kagan, to place your
interpretations of the Rebbe's sichos, etc. against those of so many
illustrious and scholarly rabbonim and mashpi'im who see it our way?
What chutzpah for you to be so confident that you are right -- in the face
of such weighty scholarship and so many articles and books!" I can assure
you my dear friend, that I do not attempt to measure myself in knowledge
of chassidus or the Rebbe's sichos against these scholars. But you see,
I don't really need to. The Torah (that book written by the Aibishter --
remember Him?) gave me special instructions not to listen to their arguments,
without even entering into discussion with them at all. These instructions are
in Devarim, in Parshas Re'ey (13:2), partially using Kaplan's translation:
This is what you must do when a prophet or a person who has visions in a
dream arises among you. He may present you with a sign or miracle, and,
if the predicted sign or miracle comes true, say to you "let us follow
a different god" ... Do not listen to the words of that prophet ... etc.
Now let's examine these verses. What kind of a miracle-performing false
prophet is the Torah trying to warn against? Against a priest of another
faith with an icon hanging around his neck? Hardly. For throughout our
history, had any such priest performed "a sign or miracle", the yidden might
be terrified, but they would scream "witchcraft", and run from him. No,
yidden do not need any special exhortation by the Torah to resist a pagan
Then against whom does the Torah warn? The key is in the word b'kirbecha,
"among you". The Torah is trying to forewarn against one of your very own.
An individual with a kapota and a black hat and a gartel, toting a Likutei
Sichos under his arm -- and with semicha to boot!
"And he shall perform for you a sign or a wonder". I.e. he proves to you
from sichos and elsewhere, that we are commanded to publicly proclaim the
Rebbe as Moshiach; "And the predicted sign and miracle actually come true".
I.e. you are unable to refute his interpretation. He is more scholarly
than you. But you must shun him, because what does his interpretation and
his philosophy lead to?
"......Let us go and serve other gods"...
....It leads to dancing at the levaya on gimmel tammuz!
A violation of Torah, a violation of shulchan aruch, a violation of chassidus,
a desecration of everything that is holy to us, a desecration of the Ohel.
Now please don't cop-out by saying, "I didn't do it." I have heard that
same excuse from some of your mentors. Frankly, it disgusts me, for it
entirely evades the point -- that it is their philosophy, their outlook,
and their interpretations that led to "chassidim" dancing on gimmel tammuz,
to women, rachmana litzlan, banging tambourines at the levayah. What is
more, I have yet to hear any official dissociation by any of the m'shichist
leaders or mashpi'im from that obscenity. Not one of them has condemned it;
not one of them has distanced himself from it. After all, how could they?
Their philosophy leads inexorably in that direction.
So perhaps now you can understand my confidence. I don't need to go
head-to-head with any m'shichist "scholars". To know if someone is a false
prophet, you just have to apply the ultimate analysis: If it leads to avoda
zara, then it is false.
And anything violating halacha and Torah is, at its core, avoda zara. It is
a violation of Torah to dance at any levaya -- how much more so in the case
of one's own father, how much more so at Gimmel Tammuz, rachmana litzlan.
It is a violation of Torah not to use the letters (HK"M) after mentioning
the Rebbe, in the year of histalkus. It is a violation of Torah to assume
a role greater than that of the Anshei Knesses Hagedola, (who arranged the
nusach and wording of our tefillos) and proclaim y'chi at set times during
tefillos daily -- and eight times at the end of ne'ila on Yom Kippur as was
done in 770 last year.
Yes, my dear friend, we have woken up and we have smelled your coffee --
and it is poisoned.
But it is not too late. By throwing away the bitter dregs of this drug, you
can begin to heal. A good therapy of genuine chassidus-study, intensifying
hiskashrus to the Rebbe, with frequent visits to the Ohel, will help you
back to the right path.
G-d bless you.
P.S. I was just informed of a new outrage: Some semicha-carrying m'shichists
have declared it "wrong", or even "forbidden", to use terms like zatz'al
about the Rebbe. But I console myself with the thought that the more
outrageous are their actions, the more likely it is that our community
will finally, finally, wake up and realize the anti-Torah, anti-halacha,
anti-chassidus slippery slope down which these madmen are trying to lead us.
Go to top.
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