Friday, August 8, 2008

Chabad - Rav Schach & Lubavitcher Rebbe

No account of how gedolim viewed the Lubavitcher Rebbe would be complete without mentioning Rav Schach. The Yated Ne'eman - Rav Schach's newpaper - reported the following I, II,

It is important to note that contrary to popular myth Rav Schach got along well with Chassidim. It was specifically the messianic, separatist views of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that he found very problematic. The following is an article written by a chassidic askan regarding Rav Schach.

HaRav Shach and the Chassidim

On several occasions the Rosh Yeshiva told me it pained him deep inside over the sheim ra he had acquired as a "hater of chassidim." This was "total sheker" he told me resolutely. "We are fighting against secularism in the yeshivas. Today, besiyata deShmaya people are learning Torah in both Chassidic and Lithuanian yeshivos. In my view there is no difference between them; all of them are important and dear to me. In fact, go ahead and ask your Chassidic friends with us at Ponevezh if I distinguish between Chassidic and Lithuanian bochurim."

Few people know that the Rosh Yeshiva served as rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Karlin in Loninitz before the War and was very successful there. In a sizable newspaper article to mark the 35th anniversary since the yeshiva's founding, a staff member in charge of the talmidim during the yeshiva's early years writes, "He continued to feel great love for the yeshiva."

And in a letter Maran wrote to mark the celebrations, the great love he felt for chassidim working hard to learn Torah was clearly apparent. The letter is full of nostalgia for those years. "And what a glorious sight it was when the Rebbe came to Loninitz. totally dedicated to the yeshiva in particular and to harbotzas Torah in general. The Rebbe was particularly happy when he came to spend a day with the members of the yeshiva. He inspired them with words of encouragement and was like a father to them, fulfilling all of their needs. He also sat down with them to eat," wrote HaRav Shach years later when he was already rosh yeshiva of Ponevezh and leader of the generation.

Recently I spoke with a prominent Chassidic Jew, R' Mordechai Leib Levine, who now lives in Jerusalem. He used to run the bookstore in Williamsburg. He told me HaRav Shach always showed great respect toward Chassidic bochurim who learned well. He would provide them funds for their basic needs (from money the Rebbe entrusted to him) and would sometimes give them a bonus saying, "You have another ma'aloh-- you're a warm, Chassidic bochur."


  1. Unfortunately, the post and some of the articles linked therin contain some rather absurd fallacies. It is, however, important to remember that Rav Shach represented a very extreme view that was not shared by most gedolim, and that was often simply wrong. It is easy to call anybody we disagree with 'apikorus', but that doesn't make it so. Here is an article from awhile ago, making some very valid points:
    There has been a lot of talk about gedolim and especially about
    Rav Shach. Before people make any judgements I think it is important to
    know something about the man and his teachings. If what I say appears
    harsh, let me assure the readers that I have said the same things to many
    rabbis and they have agreed with me. Since the views I will be expressing
    are also those of numerous others it would be best for the moderator not
    to censor it. I realize that others are afraid to speak out so I will say
    what everyone else is thinking. Needless to say, the Lubavitchers have
    spoken out and been a great deal harsher than I will be but that is for
    good reason. Rav Shach has branded the rebbe a heretic. Furthermore, he
    has branded the entire movement as heretical. Most people respond harshly
    when they have been called heretics, Especially since the other gedolim
    seem to have no great problem with Habad. They don't support everything
    Habad does but you don't have other gedolim using the inflammatory rhetoric
    of R. Shach.
    In fact he is very inconsistent. He mocks the Lubavithcher
    rebbe's Rambam learning program saying that people knew about the
    Rambabm before Lubavitch came around and that no one should follow
    Habad's program and it is forbidden to innovate and yet he praises Daf
    Yomi. Well, people knew about learning Talmud before R. Meir Shapiro.
    The difference is that when Rav Shach likes something, when it comes
    from his circles, then it is ok. However if an innovation, no matter how
    good, comes from another circle then he viciosly attacks it.
    In general, everything that comes out of his mouth is criticism.
    He does not believe in building but in destroying. All of his volumes of
    letters are attacks against everything from Lubavitch, to religious
    Zionism, to Hesder yeshivot, to Rav Goreh (who has no yirat shamayim
    according to Shach), to R. Steinsaltz (another heretic). When the rest
    of he Jewish world was celebrating the Entebbe raid and R. Moshe said it
    was an open miracle Shach gave a talk saying that what the Government
    did was forbidden. This is exactly what the Satmar rebbe said! He gave
    his famous talk last year viciously attacking the kibbutzim. Why? We all
    know that they don't keep kosher there but why attack them. Is this the
    way to bring people together and bring them to yiddishkeit? Is this
    love? Lubavitch knows how to be mekarev, they do it through love. Shack
    simply attacks. And then he attacked President Herzog for no reason.
    Herzog did more for religious Jewry than any president and he is a fine
    man but Shach viciously attacks him just like he attacks the kibbutzniks
    who have laid down their lives so that he could live in peace. And he
    expects the secularists to keep subsidizing the yeshivot at the massive
    rate they have been?
    Rav Shach has no value in his life other than that of learning
    Torah. People can't feel good about anything other than learning Torah.
    There is no value to the State of Israel other than that it enables us
    to learn Torah and its destruction would be no great tragedy if Torah
    continued to be learnt. He opposed the annexation of East Jerusalem and
    Golan because it will get the goyim mad. He doesn't recognize the
    concept that Jews should see something positive in annexing our
    capital-- East Jerusalem. He also speaks of not provoking the Gentiles,
    a concept which has no validity when Jews have a state, although he
    thinks that the State is just as much a galut as N. Y. and London. He
    says that Jews in Israel should act as if they were dancing before the
    Polish nobleman. In other words, the fact that Jews now have a state
    means nothing about how they relate to the world. They still must have
    this inferiority comples. There is something wrong with having pride and
    holding one's head up.
    His views have infected the Haredi community. We all know that
    they dodge the draft but it is even worse. They refuse to say a mi
    shebarakh for IDF even though the latter protect them from the Arabs.
    They refuse to say a prayer for the government which gives them millions
    of dollars. In the diaspora they alwasy said a prayer for the government
    but not in Israel. In the Diaspora they always acted patriotic and if
    there was a moment of silence for war dead they wouldn't dream of
    breaking with the practice. However in Israel while everyone stands at
    attention on Yom Hashoah they go about their business. Do they realize
    how much of a hillul hashem this is and how it hurts the feelings of
    others who are remembering loved ones. Of course they know but they
    don't care. Unlike Lubavitch they enjoy confrontation.
    For R. Shach there is only one truth. He has no conception of
    Jewish history and doesn't realize that there can be disputes in matters
    of hashkafah, as long as we all accept Torah and halakhhah. Thus when R.
    Ovadiah decided to join the government he threatened to ban all of the
    latter's books No other gadol has ever made such irresponsible
    statements and acted in such a dictatorial manner.
    Everything I have described so far is written in his books. I
    have not made any of it up and if gets you mad hearing what he believes
    trust me that this is only the tip of the iceberg and there is no way
    that anyone who reads this line should regard him as an important gadol,
    since everything most of us view as important he mocks (he even says its
    forbidden to form rabbinic organizations).
    To give one final example of this let me refer to Rav Shach's
    attack on R. Soloveitchik in vol. 4 of his letters. As everyone knows,
    there were always disputes in hashkafah between the Rav and other
    gedolim. However this never stopped the Lubvavitcher rebbe or R. Moshe
    or R. Aharon Kotler from being on close personal terms with the Rav and
    respecting his gadlus. Obviously R. Moshe and the Lubavticher Rebbe, as
    well as the Rav, believed that their own approach was correct and the
    others were wrong. But they never said that the approach of the other's
    was forbidden. It was just misguided. Similarly, the Rav never said that
    everyone had to learn secular studies, that other aproaches were
    invalid. Rather, only that his approach was also legitimate.
    Rav Shach has a different approach, one which shows all of his
    feeling of knowing everything and his belief that he, and only he, knows
    the truth, the one and only truth. In discussing the Rav's book Hamesh
    Derashot he doesn't say that we have a different view or that the Rav is
    wrong. No, what he says is that it is forbidden to listen to what the
    Rav says. Forbidden. the Rav goes against Daat Torah and the Rav has
    completely distorted Daas Torah (one wonders whose Daas Torah. Doesn't
    the Rav have his own Daas Torah?) Since anyone who goes against Daas
    Torah speaks heresy it is forbidden to listen to what the Rav says! Does
    he realize who is talking about? This is not some Mizrachi functionary
    he is mocking (not that this is forgivable either). He is speaking about
    R. Soloveitchik, whom R. Tendler called the greatest Rosh Yeshivah of
    our generation, whom the Lubavitcher rebbe stood up for etc. etc. May
    God forgive him for degrading our teacher! Furthermore, R. Shach
    continues, it is the Rav's secular studies which are responsible for
    these distortions. Woe are the ears which hear such nonsense. What
    chutzpah, to say that secular studies distorted the Rav's Torah! Rav
    Shach goes on for a few pages without any respect for the fact that the
    Rav was a gadol and he is entitled to have different hashkafah, also
    throwing in some irrelevancies about how Hesder yeshivot have destroyed
    any notion of striving for greatness in Torah learning. (He also hates
    hesder because their students actually get a job. For R. Shach, and
    Israeli Haredim, as oposed to American haradim, there is something
    negative about actually working for a living. There is no concept of a
    Baal ha-Bayit. That is why he put Leo Levi's book Shaare Talmud Torah in
    Herem, since it advocates a Torah im Derekh Eretz [i. e.earning a
    living] approach). Shach is also confused how come the rabbis in the U.
    S. did not protest The Rav's opinions and furthermore that they
    contributed to the book Kevod ha-Rav . This is a great hillul hashem
    since by giving the Rav a book in his honor and praising him the
    yeshivah students will see this and think that is ok to follow in the
    Rav's path, God forbid, and will absorb his views which are completely
    I could go on but I think everyone gets the point. When it comes
    to gedolim we should consult R. Eliashiv, R. Shlomo Zalman, the chief
    Rabbis, R. Ovadia etc. We should not even take Rav Shach's opinion into
    consideration. By adopting such a hateful tone and being so opposed to
    everything we consider decent he is not really different than the Satmar
    rebbe, who was, as R. Aharon Soloveitchik told me, a great scholar who
    made a terrible blunder. So too with Rav Shach. He has slandered great
    gedolim and for his sake we should hope that it was all done le-shem
    shamayim. When I asked R. Aharon why we don't put him in Herem in
    accordance with the pesak of the Rambam re. anyone who slanders a gadol
    all he could say was that we no longer use the Herem. One thing must be
    said for Lubavitch, even thought R.Shach says they are heretics and that
    their rebbe is one of the greatest sinners alive, and going straight to
    gehinnom, they have not lost their cool. I don't think there will be any
    rejoicing in Crown Heights when he passes away. They realize that this
    whole affair is very sad. Unfortunately, however, when the rebbe passes
    away there will be rejoicing in Ponovezh because one is supposed to
    rejoice at the death of a heretic. What have we come to!
    Marc Shapiro

    P. S. As I already pointed out, everything I have said in this letter has
    met with the approval of rabbis, none of whom are in the Lubavitch camp.

    1. Marc, I realise you wrote this 4 years ago and may have changed your views, however you need strong voices to keep everyone on the straight and narrow, it's not for me to begin to imagine what Rav Shach was thinking, however from reading the few biographies I have, it seems that he was worried that a potential Gadol Hador would be attracted to one of the new systems, you mention the Rav, would he have been the Gadol he was if he had gone through YU instead of his path through the Agudath? Whatever you want to say about Povovezh, I have never heard the concept "teffilin dates" or girls going to mikveh before they are married etc. As for Chabad, I don't understand the issues with Mashiach, however I am pretty sure not many in our generation do, so to comment on it is silly, leave it to the Gedolim to discuss. If you believe the next Gadol Hador is going to come from the Gush, then by all means, have your say, however also understand that Rav Shach had a responsibility and he saw the next Gadol Hador coming from a Ponevich type of institution, and in my very humble opinion, I think he needed to warn people about what he perceived as the differences of following the Rav or Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.

  2. I think too many people are ignoring a real ideological/halachic problem connected to the beliefs of some people associated with Chabad
    For details I point readers to read the article at which is entitled Monotheism Vs. The Outlook That Everything is G-d

    An Article Against The Attempt To Deify The Rebbe Of Lubavitch, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
    written by Shlomo Moshe Scheinman
    Attached to this article is the written recommendation of the Chief Rabbi of the Old City of Jerusalem, Rabbi Avigdor Neventzal, Shlit"a

  3. I dont know what kind of Am Ha'aretz would say that the Gadol HaDor's opinion should not be taken into consideration. R' Shach raised the level of Limud Torah to such a high level. And all the gedolei yisroel including R' Shlomo Zalmen, would constantly speak to R' Shach before coming out with a big Psak. Maybe you can say that the other Gedolim are not exactly on the same page as R' Shach, and not as outspoken as him, but to speak of Rav Shach with such degredation is an enourmous Chillul Hashem. Rav Shach knew Kol HaTorah Kulah, and if he said that someone was an Apikores, or a Kofer, he didnt just say it because it was simply a disagreement, he felt thats what the Torah was saying, and being in his position he felt a chiyuv to say it. Rav Shach cried after speaking of the Rebbe. He did not want to say what he did, but he was machuyav being in his position. How dare someone speak of Rav Shach as just a commanor. He truly knew the definition of an Apikores and did not use it freely unless he felt thats what the Torah was saying, and seemingly just about every gadol and Talmud Chocham held of him as the Gadol Hador, so think twice about doing such a grave sin of speaking of a tremendous Gadol BaTorah with such degradation.

  4. A Gadol Torah should know better. All the faults that he saw in others were really faults the he himself possessed.Any one who critizes the Rebbe we must feel really bad for, what hes done for international jewry cannot compare. He introduced Chesed to the extreme gevuradik way of thinking.. One word to this Rav: Your not Moshe dare you criticze another ho dare you critize a special neshama the tzaddik of our generation how dare you

    1. I would humbly suggest that you are of Modern Orthodox persuasion. The majority of orthodox rabbis (excluding those affiliated with chabad or with the modern orthodox crowd) would concede to Harav Shach

    2. It would seem you are of modern orthodox persuasion. The majority of Rabbis not affiliated with chabad or modern orthodoxy would concede to Harav Shach's opinion

  5. Regarding Rav Shach's koach in psak, check this out:

  6. There is "No concept of a baal Habayis" - but in the very work "Michtavim Umamarim" where the ban on Sharei Talmud Torah is printed, there are several letters encouraging Baalei Batim to learn. The rest of the frivolous lashon hora in this comment is below my interest to address. Further, had you read Rav Shach's bikores on the book, you would see that his issue is not with Torah im Derekh Erets. And you are not Marc Shapiro, and you are Lubavitch.

  7. Kalonymus AnonymusAugust 5, 2019 at 1:38 PM

    E.E. Dessler was Mashgiach at Gateshead, and then at Pnovezh. His views were that you have to destroy 10,000 ordinary people to produce one "gadol". Perhaps he destroyed rav Shach in the process, with his insanity and redifa. This is nothing to do with Judaism, and everything to do with Amalek.

  8. Kalonymus HaQatanJune 5, 2020 at 12:55 AM

    When the Lubavatcher rebbe made an attack against Rav Shach's speech 9as many others did, frum and secular), it seems to me that he (Schneerson) made some basic errors.

    "Excerpts of the rebbe’s remarks, provided by his spokesman, Rabbi
    Yehuda Krinsky, included assertions that “every Jew is part of God” and
    that “anyone who berates any Jew is touching the apple of God’s eye.”

    The rebbe also was quoted as saying, “Every Jew, regardless of
    differences and levels of observances, is part of Am Echad,” the unified
    Jewish people." (source -

    This, I believe, is misleading. The Torah clearly gives a number of cases where we have to fight certain people, eg the Meisit - the one who misleads people to idolatry. There is also no exemption for Jews from the laws of rodeif - a Jewish rodeif is still a rodeif, and hilchot apply to him.
    Also Rav Goren made a similar attack against Rav Shach (not naming him directly) pointing out that the Talmud states that when a shepherd is angry wih his flock, he will put blinders on the eyes of the lead goat, to lead the herd off a cliff. And another case that the army of Achav won their wars but King saul lost his wars, despite Achav being an idolater and Saul being a tzaddik. The reason was that Achav's peopel didn't speak loshin hara, but Shaul's did.

    These ideas are dangerous and give the misleading notion that rashaim are Tzaddikim, and Tzaddikim are rashaim.


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