Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chabad - Never prayed toward picture of Rebbe?

Dr. Eidensohn, I believe a clarification is in order, and respectfully request that you correct your post to reflect the truth. There is not, nor has there ever been, a 'Chabad custom' to pray towards a picture of the Rebbe, nor any picture at all. In fact, a quick glance at the Rebbe's sicha of 13 Tishrei 5743 makes clear that, if anything, the 'Chabad custom' would be the exact opposite. During this well-known farbrengen, the Rebbe expressed his outrage over those who spent davening looking at him, and said that such behavior is contrary to the Shulchan Aruch.

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...

There is no such "Chabad custom"; it's totally false. Please delete this libel.

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Not Lubavitch said...

In Rabbi Olensky's shul in North Miami Beach, FL there was a picture of the Rebbe next to the Aron. This was in effect, praying to the Rebbe.

In Rabbi Dalfin's shul in North Bay Village, FL, there was a picture of the Rebbe in the sanctuary (back wall, opposite Mizrach) that the Chassidim would turn to face while davening.

These are two examples of shuls that I personally visited while on vacation where I saw Lubavitcher Chassidim praying to a picture of the Rebbe on the wall.

51 comments :

  1. The Rebbie did not discuss the halacha regarding those who followed the custom of the radvaz of looking at him once just before prayer. This is NOT against Shulchan Oruch. And, why would he? It is in the poskim.

    Also, the custom of looking at a picture instead (now that he is gone) was not discussed. He is not here to pasken.

    But, this sicha does show that the chasidim required correction. Also, I am not sure if they listened. Shlomie can comment. I am told that many continued. Maybe, they are mistaken. But, I am only discussing the "kosher" practice.

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  2. Now it's the "custom of the Radvaz"?

    It is obviously not forbidden to look at a talmid chacham (or anyone else) before prayer. To my knowledge, there is also no source that says that there is a custom to specifically do so.

    The Radvaz clearly was not endorsing any such custom. The teshuva is not even discussing such a practice!

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  3. In Rabbi Olensky's shul in North Miami Beach, FL there was a picture of the Rebbe next to the Aron. This was in effect, praying to the Rebbe.

    In Rabbi Dalfin's shul in North Bay Village, FL, there was a picture of the Rebbe in the sanctuary (back wall, opposite Mizrach) that the Chassidim would turn to face while davening.

    These are two examples of shuls that I personally visited while on vacation where I saw Lubavitcher Chassidim praying to a picture of the Rebbe on the wall.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am Dovid Olensky, who you are referring to in your post above that said, "In Rabbi Olensky's shul in North Miami Beach, FL there was a picture of the Rebbe next to the Aron. This was in effect, praying to the Rebbe."

      This "Shul" for Shabbos & Yom Tov that functioned for less than a year, about 15 years ago, was not a "Shul" - it was my house. The "Shul" was in my living room/dining room. Most of the time, we were lucky if we had a Minyan in this "Shul."

      1) To label my house as a "Shul" to prove your point is false and misleading. 99% of the time, this was only my house, not a Shul. My available wall space in my house to hang a picture is very small. The picture of the Rebbe on the wall was there for a year before we set up this temporary Daavening arrangement, and remains there on the wall for the last 15 years after the "Shul" ended.

      2) Absolutely nobody praying there was praying to the Rebbe. We pray to Hashem. You could have easily found this out by asking someone. I'm sorry that you were left with a false impression and I'm sorry that you're spreading this false impression. No Lubavitchers pray to the Rebbe. We pray to Hashem alone. Sorry to ruin your Lashon Harah.

      Delete
  4. To not Lubavitch,

    Oy vey.

    Did I spell it right?

    One can found mekoros for kosher practices not avodah zoroh. Dr. Berger brings a discussion from the Chidushe Horan in Sanhedrin "ein kovod leachar misah".

    These people have to be excommunicated by their own.

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  5. levi said...

    These people have to be excommunicated by their own.

    I strongly agree. If there were strong voices in Lubavitch openly and explicitly condemning tendencies of this sort, then guys like me wouldn't have much to say.

    Yes, that would be a good thing.

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  6. To 'not lubavitch', I have a few questions which you might think about...
    1. The fact that, as you claim, "In Rabbi Olensky's shul in North Miami Beach, FL there was a picture of the Rebbe next to the Aron. " then means (to you) that "This was in effect, praying to the Rebbe." I think that is an outrageous conclusion, not to mention somewhat libelous. How do you know they weren't praying to the aron-kodesh, or the wall, or the shtender, or anything else on the east side of the shul ? Is this how you fulfill 'dan lekaf zechus' ?! That is, if we even believe you. The Rebbe's position on these things is a matter of record, as I mentioned earlier.
    2. You then claim that "In Rabbi Dalfin's shul in North Bay Village, FL, there was a picture of the Rebbe in the sanctuary (back wall, opposite Mizrach) that the Chassidim would turn to face while davening." which sounds quite bizarre, and frankly, unbelievable. Do you mean to say that the whole shul turns their back to the aron-kodesh and davens to a picture on the wall ? Do you expect anybody to believe such vicious slander (a few days before RH) when the Rebbe's position is clear and well known....
    3. You then say that "These are two examples of shuls that I personally visited while on vacation where I saw Lubavitcher Chassidim praying to a picture of the Rebbe on the wall." So let me ask you this; I personally know of 3 different boys who were inappropriately 'touched' by teachers in Torah Temima, and two more in Torah Vodaas. Does this mean that all the Rabbonim in these yeshivos are (c"v) molesters ? Do you realize how silly your accusations sound ?

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  7. shloime said...
    ...let me ask you this; I personally know of 3 different boys who were inappropriately 'touched' by teachers in Torah Temima, and two more in Torah Vodaas. Does this mean that all the Rabbonim in these yeshivos are (c"v) molesters ? Do you realize how silly your accusations sound ?

    These analogies between the very serious problem of child molestation and the crisis in Chabad are fundamentally flawed.

    I have refrained from responding to these analogies in the past because I didn't want to appear to be minimizing the nature of the abuse problem. It is a very serious problem and the community has not been handling it effectively.

    Nevertheless, the two issues are not analogous. They are fundamentally different kinds of problems and need to be handled in fundamentally different ways.

    As for Michoel's specific analogy, if the sexual abuse that he knows about was openly carried out in a public setting in the yeshiva with the other rebbeim looking on then, yes, you would be justified in saying that they are all molesters.

    But, of course, that is not what happens. Molestation is done secretly, privately, with threats to the victims that they must never reveal what has happened. Why is this done? Because the molesters know that their behavior in not acceptable in their community.

    No one says that these activities are proper, no one defends molestation per se. Those who defend the molesters do so by claiming that the accusations are false, that the events never happened.

    The crisis in Chabad is almost the opposite. We have numerous public incidents and statements that show that there is a real problem. The meshichistim are NOT hiding their opinions. They are publicly proclaiming their beliefs. Some (e.g. Sara Kanevsky) are apparently even changing halacha.

    Regarding our specific case, the pictures are on the synagogue wall.

    So, yes, given the public nature of these acivities and statements, we would be justified in assuming that the lack of a strong public outcry in the Chabad community indicates that these activities and statements have broad communal support.

    (Incidentally, Not Lubavitch did not make any accusations about broader Chabad, he merely stated what he had seen in two specific synagogues.)

    In short, both the abuse problem and the meshichist crisis are real. They both need to be dealt with. In the case of the abuse issue, we can see some progress, although it seems painfully slow. With the meshichist crisis, the problem appears to be growing with no sign of slowing down.

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  8. "Do you mean to say that the whole shul turns their back to the aron-kodesh and davens to a picture on the wall ? "

    During the davening, a number of the Chassidim were milling around and turning to face the back of the shul while praying . During L'Cha Dodi on Friday night, the whole shul was singing to the picture of the Rebbe.

    "How do you know they weren't praying to the aron-kodesh, or the wall, or the shtender, or anything else on the east side of the shul"

    They were praying facing the aron but they were also facing a picture of the Rebbe that was on an easel next to the aron. I think that even a small child would know that it is forbidden to look at a picture while praying.

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  9. Shlome,

    Did you see the post that brings that we are not allowed to have pictures in shuls. Your defense does not cover that problem.

    Find out what is going on. Maybe, you will be able to fix it up. It is your task now that you know. We are outsiders.

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  10. The recriminations and accusations are depressing. People self-admittedly unable to “pasken” daily relevant questions of kashrut, hilchot Shabbat etc. suddenly are expert authorities on hilchot avodah zara and “hilchata limeshicha”! How depressing to see meaningless polemics on this and
    other blogs whenever the terms Chabad or Lubavitch flashes on the screen. They preach to their own choir, feeling ever so heroic for having “bashed” the other, but with few notable exceptions don’t have the guts to identify themselves. Why so shy when you think to speak the truth? Polemics is all about “scoring points” against those you oppose for whatever real or imagined reasons. Mostly there is no reasoning, no proven facts, only sophistry and innuendos, and trying to be as negative as possible, instead of spreading ner mitzvah vetorah or. They claim that they want to “protect the world from pernicious ideas,” when style and content demonstrate ulterior motives. You don’t like Chabad? Fine, do your own thing. You care about Shulchan Aruch? Fine, but remember that Shulchan Aruch cares just as much as what comes out of your mouth (or keyboard) as it does about what goes into your mouth!

    Especially disturbing are the anecdotal references, or non-explicated innuendos, of misdeeds, without any evidence (which is one of the biggest defects in Prof. Berger’s book as well). I happen to daven in many Chabad synagogues, including some with a good representation of Meshichists, thus have been exposed to every possible kind of manifestations. NOT ONCE did I witness any one of the incidents mentioned in those, nor,
    for that matter, have ANY of my numerous Lubavitch friends with whom I often discuss these issues (and not because they are trying to hide it from me - as they frankly discuss with me more serious issues).Yes, I have heard the “yechi”-mantra, and yes I have seen and read much of the rightfully condemned statements and proclamations cited, but not once any of the nonsense of meditating on the Rebbi’s picture before,during or after davening, tefillin etc. If only the aforementioned claim to have witnessed such, there is something basically suspicious and wrong about these reports.

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  11. I once did identify myself on a blog discussing concerns about Lubavitch.

    The following week a copy of my post to the blog was in the hands of the Board of Directors of the shul in which my husband was serving as the Rabbi.

    With my post was a letter, written by an attorney. The letter stated that our shul was being sued on account of my slander of Lubavitch for $250,000.

    Another time, I identified myself in a PRIVATE note to a Lubavitch Rabbi regarding a kashrus issue.

    A week later, I received a letter, threatening to sue me for slander and damages of up to $250,000 (is there something about that number??).

    My house was called no less than a dozen times. My ailing mother was called at her home as was my sister in Lakewood.

    I learned my lesson and that is, if one is going to criticize Chabad, it must be done anonymously.

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  12. Asher Heber said...

    "Yes, I have heard the “yechi”-mantra, and yes I have seen and read much of the rightfully condemned statements and proclamations cited..." (Emphasis added)

    Ok, so you apparently agree that the meshichist movement is something to be condemned. Your only actual complaint, apparently, is that you don't believe that any Lubavitcher's actually look at a picture of the LLR while davening.

    If you had followed the discussion, you would find that this entire issue began when someone explicitly defended the practice of looking at a picture of a tzadik while praying. He claimed that there was nothing wrong with it and that he had sources to support it. He was challenged on this claim and, in my opinion, his response was not convincing.

    It was only fairly late in the course of the discussion that the question of whether this was an actual practice in Chabad. "Not Lubavitch" claims to have seen such pictures on the wall of two Chabad synagogues. Can anyone else confirm or deny this claim?

    It seems to me that your aggressive and condemnatory language is a bit overmuch given that you apparently actually agree with the most of the statements that you are condemning.

    (BTW, who are the "people self-admittedly unable to “pasken” daily relevant questions of kashrut, hilchot Shabbat etc."? I don't recall seeing any such admissions.)

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  13. During the davening, a number of the Chassidim were milling around and turning to face the back of the shul while praying .

    Your earlier claim was that "there was a picture of the Rebbe ... that the Chassidim would turn to face while davening"

    Now you tell us that these people were "milling around" and "turning to face the back of the shul while praying". That's not the same as "turning to face" a picture. It sounds as if they were turning because they were milling around, or chatting, or whatever. This isn't good behavior in a shul, but that's not what you were addressing.

    During L'Cha Dodi on Friday night, the whole shul was singing to the picture of the Rebbe.

    No, the whole shul would have been singing a song in which Shabbos is metaphorically addressed as a person. During most of that song people face the front of the shul; for the last verse they turn to the rear of the shul to metaphorically welcome Shabbos. They do this in every shul I've been to. Surely even you don't think that they were talking to the Rebbe when they sang "Come, O bride, Come O bride"?!

    In essence, your complaint is simply that there was a picture of the Rebbe Z"TzL at the rear of the shul. I've been in shuls with other pictures there (e.g., other Rebbeim, bulletin boards with photographs of congregants) and it is inevitable that at some point some mispallelim will be facing the rear of the shul. It is obvious that they are not praying "to" those pictures.

    I think your description of the events was highly dishonest. You've got a lot of teshuva to do before the end of this month.

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  14. Pardon my simplicity, but if so many of you, Lazera, not lubavitch, and others, have so many issues with what you claim happens in Chabad shuls, just go somewhere else. When I was recently at a bar-mitzvah in Aish Hatorah in Toronto and noticed that the mechitzah is highly questionable, at best, I simply decided not to ever daven there again. Whats the big deal - you don't like someones halachic standards, go somewhere else. There are enough questionable kulos in every community, and the rule is "kshot atzmecha tchilla, v'achar kach kshot acherim".

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  15. "Yes, I have heard the “yechi”-mantra, and yes I have seen and read much of the rightfully condemned statements and proclamations cited, but not once any of the nonsense of meditating on the Rebbi’s picture before,during or after davening, tefillin etc."

    Is it Ok to have picture even of a Rebbe in any part of a Shul? What about the mizrach part of the Shul (when people happen to face that direction)? If it is Ok please provide sources; if not OK then, since chabad is a public organization and these practices may be come universal, it is legitimate for people to speak out against it.

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  16. "the custom of the radvaz of looking at him once just before prayer"

    You are actually following a ridiculous custom of some Lubavitchers which firs tinvent a flimsy unrelated line a teshuva or sefer to be connected with the subject discussed and then you upgrade that (not only that it is legitimate, but that )it becomes a "custom" which is even more dangerous.

    The problem with so many critics of your movement is that you turn you ideas into a religion with set customs that have source in judaism and are antithetical to the way jews conduct themselves for hundreds of years.

    The Radvaz was not talking about looking at the friend or relative before praying as a religous custom; he was merely talking about the mere presence of people to be with their keen and like minded people so as to raise the stte of hramony and peace and that there be no disharmony and machlokess. Where in heavens do you find any source from this Radvaz that he is referring to custom to see your relative before you pray?

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  17. There is ample support for this type of thing going back (at-least) centuries. While the following seforim may not be very well-known outside chassidic circles, their standing is certainly beyond reproach. The Arizal (see Chida- midbar kedemos, ‘tziyur’) instructs that difficulties in torah-learning can be overcome by conjuring up a picture of one’s rebbe. Sar Shalom of Belz said that when in trouble or need, one should visualize the image of a tzaddik and he will surely be helped (see Lev Sameach - R’Chanoch Henoch m’Olesk). And the Palgei Mayim (end 16th century) writes that he kept a picture of his rebbe in his bet-hamidrash to fulfill the verse ‘vehayu einecha ro’os es morecha’. So having a picture of the Rebbi in shul or having children look at the picture of a tzaddik before saying shema at night doesn’t sound like a very big deal, EVEN if said tzaddik is the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

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  18. If a man is davening and he turns with his back to the Aron as he is milling around (which is wrong) and he continues to pray while he is facing the back of the shul (we have all seen this), he is at the time praying to the picture of the Rebbe, intentionally or not.

    I do not appreciate being called 'dishonest" as in:

    "I think your description of the events was highly dishonest. You've got a lot of teshuva to do before the end of this month."

    Nor do I appreciate the fear and intimidation you are trying to instill in anyone who dares to ask a question about Chabad.

    How many times on this blog have posters been threatened with "You've got a lot of teshuva to do before the end of this month." or similar.

    I do not feel as though this "accept the Gospel or burn in Hell" type of Evangelism belongs on a blog called Daas Torah.

    Please advise me as to precisely WHICH halachoa have I violated in reporting my observation that Rabbi Dalfins shul in North Bay Village has a picture of the Rebbe on the back wall of the sanctuary?

    Or that Rabbi David Olensky's shul had a picture of the Rebbe on an easel next to the aron?

    And to answer your question, I prayed these shuls on vacation. I asked my Posek what to do in the future and was told that it is better to pray alone in the hotel room than to pray there.

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  19. "The Arizal (see Chida- midbar kedemos, ‘tziyur’) instructs that difficulties in torah-learning can be overcome by conjuring up a picture of one’s rebbe".

    Before Davening??

    "Sar Shalom of Belz said that when in trouble or need, one should visualize the image of a tzaddik and he will surely be helped (see Lev Sameach - R’Chanoch Henoch m’Olesk)"

    Before Davening???

    "And the Palgei Mayim (end 16th century) writes that he kept a picture of his rebbe in his bet-hamidrash to fulfill the verse ‘vehayu einecha ro’os es morecha’".

    Before davening???

    Shulchan Oruch rules that one should not kiss small children so as to distinguish love of Hashem from any other loves. Having a picture of someone who is loved and is object of love (Ahavas HaRav whilch is great thing, but nonetheless) should not be placed in a Shul where the emphasis should be Ahavas Hamakom.

    It is unbeliavable how for every criticism Lubavitchers have quick non answers. They are disensitized to the way other jews think and the other frum jews acted for hundreds of years.

    Where was there a "custom" as one of the people phrased to look at a picture of the Baal Shem Tov before davening? to place the picture of Tzadik in Chassidic REbbe's synagogues?

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  20. So we have the usual confusing mix of defenses, ranging from complete denials to defenses of the practice (the same person in some cases!), with some "it's none of your business!" thrown in for good measure.

    Briefly:

    To those who deny that the practice exists (shloime, Asher Heber): The readiness of others to defend the practice is one of the main things that convinces outsiders that the practice is commonplace. If Lubavitchers would come out openly and publicly condemning the practice, you would have less of a problem.

    To those who defend the practice (Asher Heber): Your defenses are not convincing in the least. There is a significant difference between visualizing a person in your mind during Torah study or meditation, and gazing at a physical image during prayer, or setting up a such an image prominently in a synagogue (as opposed to small pictures on a bulletin board, although I don't think that should be in a shul either). It is particularly disturbing to hear of the practice of "having children look at the picture of a tzaddik before saying shema at night." Children do not have the the sophistication to understand that the picture they are looking at is not a portrayal of the one they are praying to.

    To those who say that it's none of our business (shloime): The concern here is that an important portion of the Torah world has begun to accept beliefs and practices that are severely problematic on various levels. This is the legitimate concern of any frum Jew who cares about his fellow Jew. Expressing concern about this problem does not mean that one is ignoring or oblivious to other serious problems in klall Yisrael.

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  21. I can't get over all this rhetoric. If it is prohibited to even mount a picture in a shul then get it out. The post following this summarizes the prohibition. Why is no one removing it? I have seen pictures in non Lubavitcher shuls of different people - in the hallways. Never - never - in a shul.

    And, of course it is AZ to pray to a man's picture. I gave you a reference from the Ran in arbah misos. Look it up. The Rebbie said not to look at him in prayer. It is against halacha. What is the issue? Enough defenses. Do something positive. Remove it. And, it is everyone's business. If Lubavitch is legitimate then it must follow halacha.

    BTW I was told that people after his famous speach continued to look at him. As one told me, they followed every cough and page turning. Who is Shlome kidding?

    I have defended looking at a picture in a siddur before the davening. This I have seen. We have a sefardi who became a Lubavitcher in our shul and he has pictures in his siddur.(Baba Sali,Rebbie, etc) This I understand. But, staring at him during the prayers (while alive-and worse after death as the ran brings) is even according to you wrong. And, I assume the Rebbie was not concerned about praying to him. He meant just looking. He did not say praying. He was not choshed in you people to be that off the wall.

    So, to summarize this whole discussion disgusts me. Get the idol out.

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  22. Lazera
    I did not defend the "custom" as the custom does not exist.Yes there may be individual crazies that do so ,even though I have never seen it and I've been davenning in Lubavitcher shuls and shtiblach as long as I can remember.My point was that even if some crazy does so there some legitimite mekoros for it.
    Not every thing is pilpul that has to be a hair splitting situation as Lazera seems to do whenever someone posts in defense of Chabad.Men darf nisht drayin mit dem grober finger to find chesronos on others.Yes there are serious issues in Chabad that have to and are being dealt with but the"minhag" to pray to the Rebbis picture is not one of them.

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  23. I did not sign my name in full on my previous post.It seems I hit the wrong key.

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  24. Asher said...

    ...My point was that even if some crazy does so there some legitimite mekoros for it.

    And so it goes...

    There are no serious meshichisten (just a few crazies), but if there were it wouldn't be so bad. See (flimsy) mekoros.

    There is no one who identifies the LLR with Hashem (except a few crazies), but if there were it wouldn't be so bad. See (flimsy) mekoros.

    There is no one who davens while gazing at a picture, but if there were it wouldn't be so bad. See (flimsy) mekoros.

    There are no pictures in the shuls, but if there were it wouldn't be so bad. See (flimsy) mekoros.

    Is it any wonder that so many Lubavitchers seem confused?

    Is it any wonder that non-Lubavitchers are alarmed?

    Can anyone in Lubavitch ever come out with a clear, unambiguous, condemnation of such improper beliefs and practices?

    Not every thing is pilpul that has to be a hair splitting situation as Lazera seems to do whenever someone posts in defense of Chabad.

    I have yet to see any lomdus in any of my comments. Clarity in thought and speech is not "hair-splitting" or "pilpul". I would appreciate an example.

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  25. Rieka,

    I was the one that cited the reference to that Radvaz. Obviously, photography did not exist in his time and the custom which exists (I will assume that some Lubavitcher copied the sefardim) cannot be very old. If I were to guess the ignorant started it and the rabbis supported it-this happens. If I made it all up and gave you the reference then your questions would be valid. Who am I? But, since this was shown to me (over a decade ago) by gedole hatorah who know then let us try figure it out.

    Let me explain it just as I did the LLR's take on the semah's pesak on baale batim
    vs lomdim. Even Lezara reluctantly said - I understand but.. Of course, it does not apply to issues he wants to mix into.

    The Radvaz shows that when one looks at his Rebbie while learning there is a rapor that rubs off that reaches prophecy. He extends this to prayer and gives examples of praying with people we like and respect as well as our Rebbie.

    With a little imagination you can agree (if you are not given to debate) that being with a Rebbie (for a chosid) or a ztadik (for a sefardi) is an experience that lifts one into the proper mood. It is for this reason people want to be as close as possible to a Rebbie while praying. For these people the Rebbie is the individual who will create this enviroment of prophecy. Yes. It is an extrapolation but obvious to those who do not argue. Now, it was extended to a picture. This is not a terrible jump. I was told by an ashkenazic rov that one should "touch" it before the prayer. I realzie that if i introduced you to those rabonim you would all shut up. There is not a line in Shas they do not know. I hope that I have been a sheliach ztibur for them and explained the obvious. Of course, you and Lexara will no doubt argue. But, I hope you can see that there is some merit to those two gedolim I quoted. (I never knew the radvaz until they showed it to me. Now I share it with you)

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  26. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 12, 2008 at 6:20 PM

    Modern Orthodox watch TV and even alalow girls and women to give droshas in many of their shulls violating kol isha (the TVs are usualli in every room in the MO's homes for every kid and adult to watch their own shows, sometimes even on Shabbos); Litvaks and Misnagdim paste photos of Gedolim on their walls in as many places they can (in fact, I am now wondering, should I take down the pictures of the Gedolim in my house so that people shouldn't think that I am chas vesholom praying to the huge portriat I have in my living room of Rav Moishe Feinstein or of the Brisker Rov in my sons's room); my next door Sefardic neighbors have so many pictures and variants of Chacham Ovadia Yosef, some almost wall size and the late Babba Sali all over their house that it is unavoidable looking at least at a few of them when they say brochas and birkat hamazon); a few of the shulls where I daven have etchings and carvings of birds, lions and trees on the paroches and above the aron kodesh that sometimes I wonder if it's not avoda zora to daven there, one is the shull of Rav Feivel Cohen (author of Badei HaShulchan) who has allowed a huge crown with the heads of four eagles on it that stare down at you put above th aron kodesh (it came from a rich donor so the shull had to find a way to allow it), and he says its muttar because the eagles are "not solid" figurines, go know he's the posek; and so it goes.

    When was the last time you came into an Orthodox shull that was painted with bare simple plain walls with absoltely nothing on them? (aside from plaques with names that can also often have all sorts of chazerei and kishkushim smeared on them), so this whole debate is getting ridiculous because noone is perfect.

    Oh, and the Mishkon and Bais Hamikdosh had the Keruvim in them, birds with humand faces via special dispensation, but that is another discussion.

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  27. So Lazera joins Dr. Berger in demanding full disclaimers and 'clarifications' from Chabad, lack of substantial support for such demand notwithstanding.
    I'll tell you what, Although YOU seem to be convinced that a few crazies in Chabad are the biggest problem confronting yiddishkeit today, many disagree with your priorities. In fact, many would say that the real avoda-zarah of today is the brainless 'godol worship' that leads some to blindly follow every mistaken position of such-and-such a rov/r.y/etc.
    When a Rosh Yeshiva interferes in a child abuse problem, telling the victims that al-pi-halocho they have no claim (as there was no hachnosas ha'ever), when another rov intimidates askanim trying to deal with the situation by issuing hazmanas for 'motzi shem ra', when a famed (though slightly senile) rosh yeshiva humiliates another Rov at a TU convention, and 300 rabbonim sit by and watch silently, THESE are the problems facing the torah community today, and must be addressed. This holds true even for a RY who may wear 100 pairs of tzitzis, or may be a big macher in kashrus (or may even be matir eishes-ish), or may hold a big title in the Moetzes. But no, instead of dealing with these issues of hatzolas nefoshos or mamash retzicha, you attempt to deflect attention by screaming AZ at a few crazies hanging around Chabad. Once again, if you don't like Chabad's answers or the way they deal with their problems, go somewhere else and have a nice day. Nobody in Chabad owes you an explanation, and your harping on every little blip in the most critical fashion, belies your true intentions. "Kshot atzmecha tchilla..." applies to you as too!

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  28. yankel said:
    "Where was there a "custom" as one of the people phrased to look at a picture of the Baal Shem Tov before davening? to place the picture of Tzadik in Chassidic REbbe's synagogues?"

    The custom, as far as I know, existed NOWHERE, and certainly not in Chabad. Stop ignoring the facts and accepting every bit of rechillus as fact (shelo k'din, incidentally). I've already pointed out that the Rebbe condemned even looking at him during davening - this is a matter of record, audio as well as print. The 'straw man' attacks aren't very original. And if a few lunatics reflect badly on a huge community, what do a few pedophiles reflect on the litvishe yeshivos ?

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  29. LEvi,

    This get's very tiresome. Can show the Radavaz who says that it is a good custom to stare at a Rebbi right before praying? In the Radvaz posted he was talknig about being in company with people like that and was not talking abouyt a custom.

    About the Sema: Then certainly you owe us something. WE have given here a Teshuva by the Tzitz Eliezer that it is wrong or assur! He was a reknon possek accepted and learned by large groups of klal Yisroel. Can you provide one Possek (not hearsay that you "heard" and they "showed you but actually) and can can show us black on white that this is a proper custom?

    AS A matter of fact, i once heard that over a decade ago they wanted to put a picture of the LR at the back of 770 and Rabbi Heller (I was told that he is one of the rabbis of the community) strongly prohibited it!

    Being with a rebbie is not the same as having a picture in your siddur. Where does Radvaz say that you can place a picture in a siddur? Why can one have a picture of a revered person in a shul and one cannot even kiss his children in shul so as not to compare love of Hashem with any other love?

    You start with allowing to stare at picture right before prayer, then you proceed with creating a custom to look at him before prayer and you start permitting during prayer and on and on...

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  30. A quote on the subject of "pictures" from a different site.
    "The Rebbe was once asked by a lady who strongly criticized and questioned the Rebbes call for unmarried girls to light Shabbos candles,
    being that her family custom was that young girls do not light Shabbos candles. The Rebbe answered, (printed I believe in Vol 16 of LS) “Your Grandparents didn’t wear make up or go to movies either, so when one adds in darkness one needs to add in light.”
    Personally I could care less whether you have ten or twenty pictures of Gedolim in your living room, something which once again was absolutely anathema to Yeshivish crowds of yesteryear, but with all the influences in the HOME and the STREET and the CHEDER and the YESHIVA that kids are subject to, I for one would rather them be bombarded with pictures and videos of Gedolim and Rebbes (whoever they are) than the other stuff. our kids (and we adults as well I might add) need whatever help they can get from WHEREVER they can get it. The Midrash quoted by Rashi that Yosef was saved from sin due to recalling his fathers image.
    As for the child looking at the Rebbes picture and then saying Shema, I’ve never seen it happen and at the Chadorim and Yeshivos I went to they don’t teach it, but allow me a different perspective.

    In the sefer Raishis Chochma Shaar Hakedusha it tells us that during “Tashmish” (marital relations), one should have the “tziur” picture of a taddik in mind. He bases this on the Gemmoro that relates that Rav Yochanan would sit in front of the Mikve (Bais Hamerchatz) so that the women immersing would see his face and think of his form, and “have beautiful children like me” the intent, as is obvious there, beautiful children spiritually.
    Again, I'm not advocating or teaching anything, but if I heard that my childs mind was filled with the “tziyur” of the Rebbe or for that matter any other godol, instead of what he may readily snatch from the ‘net or youtube etc, Rachmono Litzlan, I would be overjoyed. I truly feel we live in a very different era even from when I was growing up just a few short years ago, even when we had TV and Movies, its very very different now. I wouldn’t belittle anything that leads and adds to yiras Shomayim.
    When newly religious congregants come to me for advice how to “convince” or transform their spouses or immediate families, to become religious, I invariably tell them, “forget it” you will never convince anyone, but here is what I want you to do, place mezuzas on all the doors, get as many religious items and symbols and books in your home as possible, and live that life in a pleasant way, you will see that little by little it will have the desired effect. It has worked many times, at least to break down resistance. (this is BTW the Rebbes reason for the public Menorahs).
    I would rather a video of the Rebbe be playing non-stop than another type of video. and maybe for variety I’ll even sign up for the monthly Rav Eliyashev video. if you add in darkness, you must add in light."

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  31. To Not Lubavitch
    I can appreciate your predicament as I get it from both sides.Obviously from the meshichistim and from some of the anti's who admonish me with the dictum "Al tisnabel in hanivolim......."
    Lazera
    It seems to me that anything that disagrees with your premise is "flimsy evidence". I get the impression that you perceive yourself as the "defender Of the faith" who single handily will will save Yiddishkiet from the inequities of Lubavitch.You and Dr.Berger.
    It's interesting that many who quote him, would ordinarily look askance at him because of the fact that he's MO.He only becomes a "godol" and a source of great knowledge and wisdom when it comes to trashing Lubavitch.My wife had him as teacher in Brooklyn college many years ago,way before the meshichistim became an issue.He was a detractor of Lubavitch even then.

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  32. If ... he is milling around ... and he continues to pray while he is facing the back of the shul ... he is at the time praying to the picture of the Rebbe

    Nonsense. Praying "to" something means praising it or beseeching favors from it. Many shuls have pictures of lions on the paroches. Are people "praying to" these pictures? I quite agree that one shouldn't pray while facing a picture or other form, but that's because of distraction and maaris ayin.

    Incidentally, Lecha Dodi isn't actually a prayer. It's a song in praise of Shabbos. The only entities addressed in that song are Yerushalayim, the Jews, and Shabbos. If it were a prayer than we would all be guilty of avodah zarah, heaven forfend, because we may not address prayers to anyone but Hashem.

    Nor do I appreciate the fear and intimidation you are trying to instill in anyone who dares to ask a question about Chabad.

    Halevai my rebukes would be enough to intimidate even myself. If you are so pure a soul as to be afraid and intimidated by a bit of tochacha - well, good for you, it will keep you far from sin.

    Please advise me as to precisely WHICH halachoa have I violated in reporting my observation that Rabbi Dalfins shul in North Bay Village has a picture of the Rebbe on the back wall of the sanctuary?

    Glad to help: Vayikro 19:16 Lo telekh rakhil b'amekho ....

    Anyway, my criticism was caused by the fact that you claimed that people were "praying to" the picture. I have no opinion as to whether there actually is a picture there or not; I try not to believe loshon hora.

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  33. Joe in Australia said...

    Incidentally, Lecha Dodi isn't actually a prayer. It's a song in praise of Shabbos. The only entities addressed in that song are Yerushalayim, the Jews, and Shabbos.

    Actually, according to the Sefer Yesod v'Shoresh HaAvoda (and repeated in a number of standard pirushim on the siddur, including the Anaf Yosef and the Siddur Tikun Shabbos), the word "Dodi" is referring to Hashem and the term Kalah is refering to His shechina, and the phrase, "Lecha Dodi likras Kalah", is an expression of "kudsha brich hu u'shechintei".

    Maybe you are relying on a different commentary. I would like to know who.

    As for other issues I have commented on in this thread, no one has responded with anything substantive, just insults and general nastiness. (The usual pattern.)

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  34. yankel said:
    "Where was there a "custom" as one of the people phrased to look at a picture of the Baal Shem Tov before davening? to place the picture of Tzadik in Chassidic REbbe's synagogues?"

    Shloime:
    The custom, as far as I know, existed NOWHERE, and certainly not in Chabad. Stop ignoring the facts and accepting every bit of rechillus as fact (shelo k'din, incidentally).

    So please respond to to this fellow (Levi) who wrote:
    "The Rebbie did not discuss the halacha regarding those who followed the custom of the radvaz of looking at him once just before prayer...":

    Shloime:

    Start attacking your friends for making these comments and the others who "defend" this and other silly and bizarre new "customs".
    If instead of hubris and arrogance in denigrating other jews you would educate *your* friends and puils the story would different. But as it goes your friends will grow in creating new "customs" etc. and you will continue to attack those who criticize the torah chadasha with "rechilus".

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  35. Practically everything the Rebbe initiated was condemned by some Godol. Moshiach issue is the cherry on the pie (though a very big cherry).

    Going back to the 50’s with ufaratzta and oureach to the 60’s with the tefilin campain, to public menoras, to girls from 3 lighting Shabbos candles, to Lag B’omer parades, and so on. These were considered major terrible “deviants”, novelties that had to be condemned.
    Artscroll refuses to publish any Chidushim from the Rebbe. Chabad take offence from this. More seforim have been published of the Rebbe’s works than ANY other Rebbe, Talmid Chochom, or Gadol in history. And I’m not exaggerating. Over 200 Seforim from the Rebbe, ranging from 39 Lekutai Sichos to over 20 volumes of published letters to over 40 volumes of unedited talks from over 40 years of Farbrengens. The Rebbe would farbreng for 6 hours speaking divrei Torah quoting from Shas, medrash, rishoinim, achronim, Chasidus, without any notes at all. And all this is ignored by the “velt”.

    Then every minhag was attacked, not sleaping in the succa, and so on.

    Chabad felt like the “Jewboy” of the frum velt, forever shunned and scoffed.
    Most Chabad felt that they were condemned at every turn. Like Israel in the UN.
    So most Chabad reacted with an understandable ‘indifference to what the “velt” thinks of us’. Much like an Israeli saying “Who cares what the world thinks of us. They hate us anyway.” Or a frum person saying “What the Goyim thinks of us is none of our concern, we have to do what we have to do”

    Now when there is a real issue that Chabad could listen to some criticism, many feel the velt has lost it’s credentials to criticize Lubavitch. They feel this is just the latest issue out of hundreds.

    Now even the legitimate criticism of the M.’s is laced with libels.Chabad prays to the Rebbis picture,before davining,during davining,after davining and on and on.
    David Berger, though with merit decries the M.’s, has added bizarre accusations. He writes that a “chashuvah” Rabbi told him the reason Chabad have emphasized strait menoras instead of round is because “every new religion needs a symbol”. He forgets to mention that this is the opinion of Rashi, and that the Rambam drew with his own hand a straight menora, and the Rambams son verified this. His otherwise justified objection is therefor viewed with suspicion.

    The M.’s have to be fought. But not for the “velts” sake, because we simply stopped caring what the velt thinks of us, they have displayed extreme bias over many years, but rather for our own sake, for the sake of our children.

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  36. Zalmen raises a number of important issues. I have long felt that the core issue that led to the current crisis in Chabad was their feeling of being fundamentally separate from the general Jewish community. This has caused them to ignore outside criticism, seeing it as rooted in a fundamentally different belief system which has no legitimacy within their community. In some cases, it has made them oblivious to how far-out their beliefs and actions appear to non-Lubavitchers.

    This tendency has also led them to see every criticism or controversy regarding Chabad as an expression of hatred. The truth is that, for good or ill, such criticisms are commonplace in the frum community. Almost every prominent godol/rebbe/yeshiva/organization/community has been "condemned" for some reason or another by someone at some point. It is part of the price we pay for having a cohesive community. We criticize those whose behavior we care about.

    It is difficult to say when this separatist tendency in Chabad began. It is clearly not rooted in chassidus in general. Although, obviously, the original chassidim did separate themselves to some degree, there was always a clear desire to maintain legitimacy within the broader community. We see this, for example, in the strenuous efforts made by chassidic leaders, such as the Baal HaTanya, towards a rapprochment with the misnagdim.

    Furthermore, we don't find any similar separatist tendencies in other major chassidic groups today. Obviously, each group maintains its own identity and philosophy, but they all clearly see themselves as part of a broader legitimate Torah community.

    While it is difficult to say when the roots of this problem began, it is clear that it became a significant factor during the reign of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe.

    I suspect there was a kind of feedback cycle here. The Chabad community, behaving in a separatist manner, invited criticism from outside, which, in turn, reinforced Chabad's sense of separation. And so on and so on... until it got to the point that Lubavitchers truly felt that their relationship with the general frum "velt" was analogous to that of Jews with non-Jews. As Zalmen said, "...Chabad reacted with an understandable ‘indifference to what the “velt” thinks of us’. Much like ...a frum person saying “What the Goyim thinks of us is none of our concern, we have to do what we have to do”"

    I don't think that the general frum community is completely innocent in this catstrophe. At the same time, the fact that Chabad, and only Chabad, has developed this broad dysfunctional relationship with the general Torah community and is currently veering so wildly out of control, would seem to indicate that the core problem is rooted in Chabad and not in the way others have treated them. (Indeed, the very fact that Lubavitchers feel that, of all the innumerable varieties of Torah Jews, they were uniquely singled out for mistreatment is rooted in their self-perception as fundamentally unique.)

    Frankly, I believe that the core problem has been irresponsible leadership by a brilliant, innovative, and charismatic leader who encouraged his followers to think that they were a unique, elite group with eschatological significance. They were led to believe that they, and only they, held the "keys to the kingdom", so to speak, and were operating on a level above and beyond the comprehension of all other Jews.

    We have seen this sentiment expressed innumerable times in these discussions. As even the anti-meshichist author of a recent post put it, "most non-Lubavitchers do not know much about Moshiach or anything pertaining to ruchnius in general."

    Even the criticisms of world-famous talmidei chachamim are easily shrugged off because, it is readily assumed, (1) they can't possibly know anything about kabala or chassidus and (2) they must be hateful enemies of Chabad. This is seen as so self-evident that no real response to the criticisms is necessary.

    At this point, I think Zalmen is correct that any real solution for Chabad will have to come from within. I suspect that, at this point, a certain number of these Jews will be permanently lost. However, if a significant number of Lubavitchers will stand up and take action, perhaps the community as a whole, with its wealth of unique minhagim and its unique contributions to Torah, can still be saved.

    P.S. Zalmen, if you read the relevant passage in Dr. Berger's book, you will find that the statement regarding the menorah was quoted to illustrate that there truly are those who are irrational in their criticism of Chabad. He did not quote it approvingly.

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  37. I think that if Lazera's animosity to Chabad with reckless (and obviously incorrect) statements like "most non-Lubavitchers do not know much about Moshiach or anything pertaining to ruchnius in general." was less glaring, the criticism would be viewed with less suspicion. Though no great supporter of Chabad myself, I have, over the past 30 or so years, had many debates and discussions with many prominent thinkers and talmidei khakhomim within Chabad, and they are certainly very well-versed in Torah. In addition, most of the prominent Chabad Roshei Yeshiva are world class scholars who have, in their own yeshivos, banned any of the crazy meshichism since the beginning. I mean scholars like Rav Ezra Shochet of LA, Rav Benyomin Cohen of Australia, and Rav Shapiro of Miami. The meshichism are likely not kofrim at all, simply misguided idiots, for the most part, and it will die out on it's own. All the silly hate that gets leveled at general Chabad in the meantime only serves to delay the restoration of balance.

    Jacob Freund

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  38. "Modern Orthodox ... even alalow girls and women to give droshas in many of their shulls violating kol isha"

    RaP: I am not aware of an opinion which states that women are forbidden to speak because of kol isha. Kol Isha refers only to singing.

    Many women surmise that men cannot hear women's voices, but this is not because it is forbidden.

    We put pictures of the Gedolim in the house as an inspiration and an example.Pictures are not put in the shul and pictures are not put on the same wall as the mizrach so that no one will inadvertently pray to them.

    "When was the last time you came into an Orthodox shull that was painted with bare simple plain walls with absoltely nothing on them?"

    The synagogue we pray in has nothing on the walls except for the marble panels from Italy. I have never prayed in a synagogue that had anything on the walls except for paint, paneling or wallpaper. I have seen ornately carved Arons, ridiculously expensive marble, intricate mechitzas, more silver than the Hunt brothers', amazing tapestries and priceless rugs, but never pictures and never mirrors.

    Shloime:

    There are times when a person is obligated to speak out, even though the information is disparaging. Specifically, if a person’s intent in sharing the negative information is for a to’elet, a positive, constructive, and beneficial purpose, the prohibition against lashon hara does not apply. And if the lashon hara serves as a warning against the possibility of a person being harmed, such communication is not only permissible, but, under certain conditions, compulsory.

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  39. J. Freund said...

    ...Lazera's ... reckless (and obviously incorrect) statements like "most non-Lubavitchers do not know much about Moshiach or anything pertaining to ruchnius in general."...

    Um, did you read what I wrote? I was explicitly quoting the words of an essay written by a Lubavitcher which was heavily discussed on this website. You can find the post here. The essay also appeared on a number of other websites, such as here.

    So, now that we cleared that up, will my criticisms "be viewed with less suspicion". I suspect not, and precisely because of the reasons I described above.

    most of the prominent Chabad Roshei Yeshiva are world class scholars who have, in their own yeshivos, banned any of the crazy meshichism since the beginning. I mean scholars like Rav Ezra Shochet of LA, Rav Benyomin Cohen of Australia, and Rav Shapiro of Miami.

    I am genuinely pleased to hear this. Could you please point us to public statements by these individuals condemning the meshichisten as fundamentally wrong? All of the criticisms I have come across are very mild and generally save the really strong language for non-Lubavitchers who are critical of the meshichisten.

    The meshichism are likely not kofrim at all, simply misguided idiots, for the most part, and it will die out on it's own.

    This is an excellent example of what I just described. Any clear eyed observer can see that this is not true. Just read the essay I cited above!

    All the silly hate that gets leveled at general Chabad in the meantime only serves to delay the restoration of balance.

    According to you, there is no balance that needs to be restored! Its just a small, short-lived, group of misguided idiots!

    If Lubavitchers would come out clearly saying that they reject the idea that the late Lubavitcher rebbe is moshiach, the whole controversy would disappear!

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  40. I'm sorry. The second link in my comment above was erroneous. It should have gone here:
    http://www.crownheights.info/index.php?itemid=13388

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  41. Lazera's question as to what came first,the chicken or the egg,as to Chabad's relationship with the "Velt" is answerd in the following quote from Zalmen's post
    "Going back to the 50’s with ufaratzta and oureach to the 60’s with the tefilin campain, to public menoras, to girls from 3 lighting Shabbos candles, to Lag B’omer parades, and so on. These were considered major terrible “deviants, novelties that had to be condemned by most gedolim of the time"
    The Rebbe was a revolutionary figure because of these seemingly revolutionary Mivtzoim just as Avrohom Avinu was a revolutionary in his time.People generally do not take kindly to revolutionary ideas and the "Velt" did not take kindly to the Rebbi's miivtzoim,and there lies the rub.That's when the estrangement beetween Lubavitch and the velt began and Chabad went into the "circeling the wagons" mode.
    It's interesting to note that most of the Rebbis mivtzoim which were so roundly condemed by the so called "gedolim" of that time are now part and parcel of non Chabad kiruv movements with the blessing of the Gedolim.Sad to say the looking askance at the percieved iniquities of Chabad and Chabads defensive mode has remained and perhaps snowballed out of control.

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  42. Lazera's question as to what came first,the chicken or the egg,as to Chabad's relationship with the "Velt" is answerd in the following quote from Zalmen's post
    "Going back to the 50’s with ufaratzta and oureach to the 60’s with the tefilin campain, to public menoras, to girls from 3 lighting Shabbos candles, to Lag B’omer parades, and so on. These were considered major terrible “deviants, novelties that had to be condemned by most gedolim of the time"
    The Rebbe was a revolutionary figure because of these seemingly revolutionary Mivtzoim just as Avrohom Avinu was a revolutionary in his time.People generally do not take kindly to revolutionary ideas and the "Velt" did not take kindly to the Rebbi's miivtzoim,and there lies the rub.That's when the estrangement beetween Lubavitch and the velt began and Chabad went into the "circeling the wagons" mode.
    It's interesting to note that most of the Rebbis mivtzoim which were so roundly condemed by the so called "gedolim" of that time are now part and parcel of non Chabad kiruv movements with the blessing of the Gedolim.Sad to say the looking askance at the percieved iniquities of Chabad and Chabads defensive mode has remained and perhaps snowballed out of control.

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  43. Asher Heber said...

    The Rebbe was a revolutionary figure because of these seemingly revolutionary Mivtzoim just as Avrohom Avinu was a revolutionary in his time.People generally do not take kindly to revolutionary ideas and the "Velt" did not take kindly to the Rebbi's miivtzoim,and there lies the rub. That's when the estrangement beetween Lubavitch and the velt began and Chabad went into the "circeling the wagons" mode.

    While there have been Jewish revolutionaries, such as Avraham Avinu, who have brought about positive change, the overwhelming majority of Jewish revolutionaries have wrought great harm. History has taught the Jewish people to be justly suspicious of revolutionaries.

    It is true, of course, that, at times, this suspicion interferes with necessary changes, but, throughout history, even well-intentioned revolutionaries have caused more harm than good.

    If a Torah leader seeks to introduce "revolutionary" ideas or practices, he should be fully prepared to receive criticism from the broader Torah world. A wise leader would recognize that such criticism is to be expected and should prepare his followers to understand that such criticism is not the result of hatred. A true Torah leader would teach his followers to continue to respect those who criticize them, explaining that only with the passage of time will they see that their actions were justified. This was the path followed by the early chassidim, who always spoke respectfully of the Vilna Gaon, despite his strong antagonism to their movement.

    In current Chabad, this lesson has clearly not conveyed. Opponents of Chabad, even world-famous gedolim, are villified and spoken of in the vilest terms.

    It's interesting to note that most of the Rebbis mivtzoim which were so roundly condemed by the so called "gedolim" of that time are now part and parcel of non Chabad kiruv movements with the blessing of the Gedolim.

    To my knowledge, none of the specific practices mentioned by Zalmen, such as tefilin campaigns, Lag b'Omer parades, public menorahs, or young girls lighting Shabbos licht, have become mainstream. As someone who has been involved in kiruv for most of his life, I have yet to see any of these practices outside of Chabad.

    Perhaps you are referring to the general concept of "kiruv". Of course, the basic concept of kiruv is not an invention of Chabad, it is a well-established Torah concept going back to Har Sinai.

    As for the methodological approach to kiruv, for the most part, Chabad's approach to kiruv has not been adopted by the general Torah community. There are some kiruv groups that have mimicked aspects of Chabads approach (e.g. sending 'shluchim' off to far-flung locations) but the bulk of kiruv in the Torah world is very different. (A detailed discussion of the different approaches to kiruv and their philosophical underpinnings would be very interesting.)

    The main Chabad "claim to fame" with regard to kiruv is that they were the first to engage in a large, organized kiruv campaign. I believe that this is true. I also believe that this campaign has had some serious costs for the Chabad community.

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  44. Lazera:
    Reluctant as I was to believe it, you've confirmed what so many Chabadniks claim. Nothing in your posts reflects any honest intellectual analysis of what Chabad does and whether it's right or wrong. Rather, you arrive as judge, jury, and executioner, demanding acceptance of YOUR standard and ground rules. This is not the stuff of scholars, but of demagogues. I imagine it's a waste of time to debate one in sole posession of exclusive truth, much as arguing with a brainwashing victim is a waste of time. You seek not to learn, but to criticize. The only Chabadnik you accept is the one who comes on bended knee to confess. Although there are "shivim panim latorah", you insist that they all lead in your direction.

    When you make an absurd statement like;
    "I am genuinely pleased to hear this. Could you please point us to public statements by these individuals condemning the meshichisten as fundamentally wrong? All of the criticisms I have come across are very mild and generally save the really strong language for non-Lubavitchers who are critical of the meshichisten."
    all you do is put your incredible bias and hubris on display. Unlike the 'yeshivish' world, where Roshei Yeshivot routinely issue bans on music, clothes, food, and allow Jewish kids like Isaac Hirsh to be shipped off to eat treyfe food in Jamaica... the only thing the Roshei Yeshiva I mentioned do is, SURPRISE - they learn and teach torah. Consequently, they are not in the 'proclamation' business, not about meshichism or anything else. They obviously enforce strict rules about what is (and is not) accepted in THEIR OWN yeshivas. So if your 'demand for validity du jour' is 'public statements', you might try holding your breath...
    Which brings me to a valid point I see some others have raised. Since so many of the prominent Rabbis and Roshei Yeshiva who seem to specialize in fatwas and 'public statements' have been silent on the pedophilia problem in their yeshivot, might we assume, taking your approach to its logical conclusion ? That if they continue their silence and even active efforts to stymie investigations, that they might support leaving the problem alone. For these are not shy people, they know how to scream 'kfirah', 'freier', and 'rasha' when it occurs to them, so why the silence on a REAL issue of saving lives ?

    Now, after I wrote that;
    "The meshichistim are likely not kofrim at all, simply misguided idiots, for the most part, and it will die out on it's own.", you asserted that;
    "Any clear eyed observer can see that this is not true. Just read the essay I cited above!"

    Which is typical of your self-righteous and vindictive approach. IF any major posek were truly of such opinion, they would have, or should, issue a loud and clear halakhic ruling saying so. When people waffle and say that 'so-and-so' privately told 'such-and-such' a talmid that '.......' (insert your choice heresy du jour) is really kfirah, it doesn't sound convincing. Might the absence of such a public and unambiguous annoncement mean that there are not, in fact, halakhic grounds for such a ruling. Again, there are 'shivim panim latorah' and a fringe opinion does not necessarily equal heresy.

    And yes, you understood me correctly. There is no balance in hate to be restored, only some honesty in the debate. You, from the outside, have the gall to demand an accounting from Chabad, based on YOUR subjective and unscientific analysis. What happened to giving them benefit of the doubt ? Are they not Jews in your opinion - which halakhic standard allows you to slander a whole group so viciously, based on your cherry-picked 'research samples'?
    Chabad doesn't owe you an explanation, nor do you owe them one. As someone who has had many, many, questions about what Chabad was doing over the years, I have done the responsible and 'Torahdik' thing. I have spent time visiting some of their prominent rabbanim and ASKED HONEST QUESTIONS. Not always did I like their answers or explanations, but I at-least understood their perspective. This was important to me because, while I supported many more programs outside Chabad, I also supported some of theirs. What I've read here has convinced me to increase my support for them, as I see them sweating in the field, while people like you only respond with hate. The rest of your latest attacks on this site have convinced me of this. Yes, hate disguised as piety is still just hate, and that's something we all should consider before Rosh Hashanah.

    Shana Tovah,
    Jacob Freund

    ReplyDelete
  45. "the 'yeshivish' world, where Roshei Yeshivot routinely issue bans on music, clothes, food, and allow Jewish kids like Isaac Hirsh to be shipped off to eat treyfe food in Jamaica....so many of the prominent Rabbis and Roshei Yeshiva who seem to specialize in fatwas and 'public statements' have been silent on the pedophilia problem in their yeshivot...That if they continue their silence and even active efforts to stymie investigations. For these are not shy people, they know how to scream 'kfirah', 'freier', and 'rasha' when it occurs to them, so why the silence on a REAL issue of saving lives ?"

    "typical of your self-righteous and vindictive approach."

    "hate disguised as piety is still just hate"

    Did this post get mixed up with a post from "Jew watch"?

    This is really offensive and anti semitic blog. I do not see how this contributes to a discussion of Torah.

    ReplyDelete
  46. ...sigh...

    Ok, Reb Jacob. Let's take a step back.

    Beneath all the rancor, it appears that you have two substantive criticisms of what I have said. I will attempt to summarize and respond to each:

    1) You cited a group of Lubavitcher roshei yeshiva who had "banned" meshichism within their yeshivos. I said I was pleased to hear this and asked if they had made any public statements to that effect. You took very strong exception to this, saying that it is not their responsibility to make public proclamations. Your point is well taken. Not every rosh yeshiva sees himself in the role of a manhig who has a responsibility to the general community. While, obviously, some must take on this role, others see their primary responsibility to be teaching their talmidim. This is a valid position.

    Being that this is so, may I ask if you could give us any details on exactly what their ban of meshichism within their yeshivos entails? Are the talmidim actually taught that believing the LLR is moshiach is wrong?

    2) You had stated, "The meshichistim are likely not kofrim at all, simply misguided idiots, for the most part, and it will die out on it's own." To which I had responded, "Any clear eyed observer can see that this is not true. Just read the essay I cited above!"

    You took strong exception to this, saying that we see no evidence that major poskim have declared the meshichisten as kofrim. Again, your point is valid. My response was unclear. When I said that your statement was not true, I was not referring to the first half of your sentence, "The meshichistim are likely not kofrim at all", but to the last, that the meshichist movement "will die out on it's own." I apologize for the lack of precision.

    I do not recall ever saying that the meshichisten are kofrim. In fact, I am inclined to believe that, by and large, they are not. In my opinion, people throw around the terms "kofer" and apikorus" far too liberally.

    That being said, the meshichisten are clearly not a minor phenomenom that will go away on its own. They are a growing group that is making rapid inroads in the mainstream Chabad community. In fact, by now, it is quite possible that the meshichisten actually are the mainstream.

    Their beliefs may not yet come to kefira, but their beliefs are nevertheless fundamentally wrong and dangerous. Beliefs need not be kefira to be harmful.

    I also believe that it is clear that many major poskim agree with this assessment. A widely discussed article in Mishpacha magazine quoted three such poskim (R' Miller, R' Heineman, and R' Belsky) on the issue of the meshichistim. (See here)

    R' Miller said that the belief that the LLR is moshiach is "definitely assur" and that he would not accept such a person as a rav or shochet. He believes that the movement will die out. (I don't share his confidence.) He also says that it is important for the meshichisten to know of the "vehement" oppostion to these beliefs by other chareidim.

    Rav Heineman said that the belief that the LLR is moshiach is "a distortion" and "not the truth." His recommended strategy to the meshichist campaign is to ignore it.

    Rav Belsky says that he disgrees, presumably with the mild approach endorsed by Rav Heineman, though this is not clear. He clearly sees the meshichist problem to be rooted in the relationship that Lubavitchers had with their late rebbe. He says that the entire approach "has no place in Yiddishkeit."

    So, are my statements really so far out? Given their public statements, I don't believe that any of these poskim would disagree with the substance of my remarks. (Rav Heineman would probably prefer that I didn't make them.)

    I hope this has cleared up some of your confusion.

    As for the bulk of your comment, it is truly impressive when someone can insert so many insults into one comment. (BTW, you should look up the word 'vindictive', you are not using it correctly.)

    I can honestly say that I do not hate Lubavitch, not even the open meshichisten. I am, however, gravely worried about what will happen to them. As I have said previously, I honestly believe we are on the verge of losing a significant part of the Torah community.

    ReplyDelete
  47. " As for the bulk of your comment, it is truly impressive when someone can insert so many insults into one comment"

    And this is saddest part of all that they are to answer to most objections with substance but with non-sequitor "answers" (how can other crises in other sectors of jews be answer to the the growth of a new religion in their midst) and the worse of all with such vehement hatred at the critics and criticism.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Jacob Freund,
    You claim to be 'no great supporter of Lubavitch', yet have a 'hissy fit' and attack Lazer, a very knowledgable and decent poster, when he politely points out things to you.

    You are either a Lubavitcher masquerading or someone who has no manners.

    Also 'interesting' how you 'somehow' know Lubavitchers rabbis from across the globe(you pointed out rabbis from L.A Miami and Australia!).Objective poster who just 'happens' to a globe trotter?
    I think not!

    ReplyDelete
  49. 1. There should be NO IMAGES whatsoever, inside any synagogue.

    There should be NO IMAGES of
    • ANY PERSON, or
    • ANY ANIMAL or
    • ANY OBJECT
    inside any synagogue.

    Any images of a person, animal or object should be REMOVED immediately, and ENTIRELY out of the synagogue or shteibl. No matter how large or small they may be. This is against the Halachah.

    (a) Images of a Person – inside a synagogue:

    Examples:
    • Portraits of a person;
    • Photographs of a person;
    • Drawings of a person;
    • A Calendar containing many images might be attached to the wall;
    • The cloth marker for the Sefer Torah may contain an image of a person or an object e.g. the sun with human features.
    • The Notice Board inside the synagogue/the room used for the minyan: this should be checked carefully for images of ANY PERSON, no matter how small, including tiny clip art images.

    There should be NO IMAGE of ANY PERSON whatsoever, inside ANY synagogue, especially in the area where people pray.

    Every IMAGE OF a PERSON should be REMOVED immediately from the synagogue or shteibel, as this is against the Halachah.

    • This applies in particular to the Ladies’ section, where there may be pictures of a rabbi, rebbe, or tzaddikim.

    • The Notice Board inside the synagogue/the room used for the minyan:
    A tiny clip-art image may have been used at the end of a notice or advert on the Noticeboard e.g. a small dotted image of a stick man.

    • Similarly, if a house is being used for a minyan, all images of people should be removed from the room being used for the tefillot.

    ReplyDelete
  50. 2. Hashem, our G-d, is a very “JEALOUS G-D” who demands “EXCLUSIVE WORSHIP.”

    Hashem has clearly told us in the Second Commandment:

    ‘Lo ta’aseh lecha PESEL, vechol temunah asher bashamayim, mima’al va’asher ba’aretz, mitachat va’asher ba’mayim, mitachat la’aretz.
    Lo tishtachaveh lahem, ve’lo ta’avdem, KI ANI HASHEM ELOKECHA, KEL KANAH, poked avon avot al banim, al shileshim, ve’al ribe’im, le’sonay.
    Ve’osseh chessed la’alafim, le’ohavai, u’leshomrei mitzvotai.’ (Parsha of Yitro, Chapter 20, verses 3-6)

    ‘Do not represent (such gods) by any CARVED STATUE OR PICTURE of anything in the heaven above, or the earth below, or in the water below the land.
    Do not bow down to (such gods) or worship them. I am G-d your Lord, A JEALOUS G-D, who demands EXCLUSIVE WORSHIP.
    Where My enemies are concerned, I keep in mind the sin of the fathers for (their) descendants, to the third and fourth (generation).
    But for those who love Me and keep My commandments, I show love for thousands (of generations.)

    (a) Many synagogues contain actual carved statues of 2 GOLD/BRONZE LIONS clutching a depiction of the 10 Commandments.

    These GOLD/BRONZE LIONS should be REMOVED ENTIRELY and immediately from the synagogue. No matter how large or small they are.

    It is completely assur, (forbidden), and against the Halachah for such images to be inside any synagogue.

    ReplyDelete

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