Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chabad - can only be understood from inside by those who accept its beliefs II

Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...

If you re-read what I said [in his original comment] , you'll see that I never said that a non-Chabadnik must accept Chabad beliefs. I referred explicitly to "the proper emunah expected of a Chabad Chossid". I'll restate my points in case they weren't fully clear.

1. One who has not thoroughly studied what Chabad sources say from the original should not presume to comment based on 2nd- and 3rd-hand information.

2. The concept of tremendous focus on emunas Tzadikim, and similar concepts such as the revelation of G-dliness in the world through Tzaddikim, are not exclusive to the Chabad approach but are found in all Chasidic groups. See, for example, the classic Chassidic text Noam Elimelech. So the opponent to this belief in Chabad is really opposing the entire derech of Chassidus, and various sources that discuss this concept that predate the advent of Chassidus.

3. One should understand that since the beliefs of Lubavitchers (i.e., 99%, not a handful of crazies; in every group there are crazies) are based solidly on the Rebbe's words, criticism of Chabad is not a criticism of this or that approach of Chassidim, but a criticism and attack upon the Rebbeim of Chabad. One is able to choose to take this approach, obviously, but one should be aware that that is the path one has chosen, and ask oneself first whether this is indeed a wise course of action, considering that these are towering giants of Torah, Tzidkus, and mesiras nefesh.


Rabbi Micha Berger replied [to Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver original statement]:
I notice, though, that R' Oliver does not discuss Atzmus uMahus melubash beguf, and how it doesn't violate traditional understandings of the 5th ikkar emunah.

Frankly, the only parallel I found to this before the LR's speech of 1951 was in Mahayana Buddhism. All of the world is an illusion, there is only the Absolute One; lehavdil Chabad's very literal take of "ein od milvado" and their whole understanding of yeish mei'Ayin (which by their explanation requires capitalization of the "A").

The bodhisattva, having been able to pierce this illusion, that creation holds distinct items hangs around this world to help others do the same. Compare to the L notion that while everything is G-d, because tzimtzum is taken as metaphoric, and the rebbe, as the yechidah of the national soul, is able to connect to that. HQBH medabeir mitokh gerono shel Moshe - haRebbe bedoro keMoshe bedoro.

The only difference, and it's not a small one, is that in Buddhism, they don't link the one-ness of Buddha nature to a concept of Divine Will, or Divinity altogether.
Rabbi Micha Berger added:
I find a number of things about your [above] reply interesting.

1- Why do you assume I didn't learn the sources myself? In fact, I learned the Tanya more than once, Liqutei Sichos vol II os 40, pp 510-511, the Igeres of 19 Shevat to R' Yerachmiel Benjaminson, etc...

This kind of ad hominem will lead readership to believe you don't have substantive responses.

2- You answered off point. I said nothing about Emunas Chakhamim. I wrote about the rebbe saying that a rebbe is actually the Essence and Substance of G-d, that that's what it means when one says "G-d speaks from his throat".

The comment to which you're replying is my second attempt to point out that this is uniquely Lubavitch (within Judaism) and thus Lubavitcher Chassidim should be unsurprised that many pasqen it crosses the line into shituf.

3- I explicitly said I'm basing my critique on a position of the last Lubavitcher rebbe when I quoted his words. I agree that I'm not only impugning the messianic and "qever never" crazies.

The rebbe said that a human being is to be obeyed because he is an embodiment of G-d. Are you surprised that to very many rabbanim, such a statement is kefirah?

If you feel it's appropriate for Lubavitcher chassidim to believe such things because their rebbe said so, then you can't be surprised when people who believe (as we've been saying for millenia now) that G-d doesn't dress Himself in bodies - consider you heretics.

Nice guys. Who do a lot of positive, constructive, things. But apiqursim.


  1. "the beliefs of Lubavitchers (i.e., 99%, not a handful of crazies; in every group there are crazies) are based solidly on the Rebbe's words,"

    The author apparently hasn't met many Lubavitchers. I have met several hundred. 99% of them teach their children that the Rebbe is the Messiah, that the Rebbe has G-d like qualities, that the geulah is already occuring etc...

    It's generous to call them "crazies", but they are not crazy. Just heretics.

  2. I fail to see that one must learn (Chabad) Chassidut in order to criticize it. The infallibility thesis is enough to determine that it is assur to learn these doctrines.

  3. I find it odd that every post of mine is blown up into a blog post. I responded to this post of micha in the earlier blog post, but I'll repost that response here.


    My response was not to your post, but to the post on the blog, so I wasn't responding "off point." I have no clue what you know or don't know. I was commenting on my impression of the bloggers' very meager knowledge of Chabad teachings. As for your post, as soon as I see that you start discussing buddhism, I stopped reading it, being that I don't read avodah zara. The Rebbe never said that a Tzadik is the "embodiment" of G-d, ch"v, that's a gross distortion of what the Rebbe said in the original sicha, quoting sources.

    In any case, I wonder how much background you have to the teachings of Chabad, how much in-depth study of Kabbalah and Chassidus (not just controversial excerpts) you've engaged in. I would venture a guess: very little.

    Have you studied the book "Al Hatzaddikim," from Reb Avrohom Boruch Pevzner? It quotes extensively from Chazal, Kabbolo, and non-Chabad sources in defense of the Rebbe's sicha.

  4. Rabbi Oliver:

    1) Please understand that as you claim others cannot criticize or even understand what chabad believes without in depth learning of chabad sources, non chabad claim that chabad does not understand and know how jews believed and understood the articles of jewish thought and belief without learning them and interacting with other jews. If you would do so you would understand how many red lines you have crossed and how you have deviated from standard mainstream jewish thought.

    2) There is no need to study chapter and verse of your sources to understand that judaism that centers and revolves all of it's life and energy on one person is not the judaism jews beleived and lived in for thousands of years. TO make it simple: Jews never put on teffillin or helped other jews primarily to give nachas to moshe rabbeyno!; they did so to please and obey the ALmighty! Even if occasinally we find such reference it wasn't the focal outlook and the whole energy was not invested in it. Jews never placed a chair in the BAal Shem Tov's shul after his passing and have thousands of jews regularly look at the chair during prayer and the like. It just did not happen. NO amount of Noam ELimelech and Kedushat Levi will support this new religion. Forget this blog and other similar blogs. Start realizing how this is detrimental for your kids!

  5. In the video they were not just looking at the chair, they were sanctifying their wine by it.

    Now if THAT ain't avodah zara!!! then what is?

    Think about that next time you go to buy wine that might even have POSSIBLY been supervised by a Lubavitcher or meat that might even POSSIBLY have been shechted by a Lubavitcher.

    There were 4000 shluchim at that convention and with few exceptions, ALL of them lined up to pour their wine to the chair.

    It is not the fringe of Chabad who are Ovdei Avodah Zara it is ALL of Chabad.

    Chabad is DESTROYING Judaism.

  6. "there were 4000 shluchim at that convention and with few exceptions, ALL of them lined up to pour their wine to the chair".

    It is a LIE. They did not line up to pour wine to the chair. It is a hotzooas shem rah.

  7. Mr. Anon. with points 1) and 2), citing certain behaviours of a totally fringe group is not intellectually honest. The issue here is the derech of Chabad as a whole, and my point is that the idea of the focal point of a Chossid's life and the key to his connection to Hashem being his Rebbe is nothing unique to Chabad (though I'm flattered that you would think so). It's central to the entire derech of Chassidus (and it has many precedents in Chazal, all discussed at length in the book Al HaTzadikim that I referred to).

    So all I'm asking for is a bit of intellectual honesty here. Please, stop pretending that you're attacking Chabad davka; instead, make it clear that you're attacking all Chassidic groups and the entire derech of Chassidus.


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