Achdus Versus Sholom Bayis

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    After every tragedy and as a response to every crisis, a plea goes out to increase in achdus. But is it really achdus that we are looking for during normal times, or rather sholom bayis, where every member of klal Yisroel is an individual but there is no strife between different Torah viewpoints?

    It is only right that when a tragedy such as Merkaz HaRav or Mumbai or the Qassams befell a segment of our people, that we set aside our differences and do what we can begashmius and beruchnius to help. But are we really expected to suddenly support a derech that does not appeal to our particular nature, background and circumstances because evil terrorists happened to attack those for whom it is their correct path?

    I debated whether to change my ringtone of Hashem Hu Malkeinu during the Gaza operation. In the end, not only did I not change it (after all Menachem Toker, whom I suspect is far more accepting of the medine than I am, continued to play it) but I set it off davka as I stood off on the side of a flag and Hatikva filled demonstration saying tehillim and politely but firmly refusing to take a small flag. That is because, while all Jews must support each other in times of trouble, we cannot in essence allow the yetzer horo to allow us to accept that which we cannot normally accept.

    And I as a very active Lubavitcher winced when someone said “We are all Chabad” on the day of the Mumbai massacre. No, I wouldn’t even want to see that happen if it could happen. Only Moshiach can decide that all of us must follow a certain derech; trying to force conformity will only lead to resentment because we are by nature not conformist and we really do not need to lose 69 of the 70 ponim of Torah!

    If someone made a chassidus shiur available online in their memory for the shloshim, and others preferred to say tehillim or learn the gemara Brochos that Rav Teitelbaum HYD was holding when he was murdered, I would not expect everyone to all of a sudden tune into the shiur (unless that would have somehow forced Moshiach by overtaxing the server and forcing Moshiach to reveal some new technology to keep it going, but this does not make sense according to the Rambam in Hilchos Moshiach who makes it clear that such a thing will not suddenly happen).

    But what was unacceptable (and fortunately rare) was when people came out and attacked those who were hurt most directly by the tragedies. No, we do not have to start singing “hanigun hayadua” in memory of those who saw value in it. But only the callous fools of the Ku Klutz Kartel and a few of their online minions could possibly demonstrate against the medine during the time of the Qassams. Yes, I correctly and sadly predicted the surrender of the government in Gaza – but that does not abrogate my responsibility and ahavas Yisroel for those who believe that the Torah commands them to serve in the physical defense of am Yisroel via an army that has sadly lost its leadership.

    Then, there were those who chose the unfortunately ill chosen words of a very emotional man at a very emotional time as a way to break the spirit of cooperation by using the words to attack Chabad as a whole. Now, everyone who has seen the telethon knows who that person is and how he expresses himself at times; I know (and greatly admire) him personally and I know that he believes nothing even remotely ossur and he is very careful to keep and make sure everyone around him keeps the mitzvos behiddur even when he is abroad in primitive conditions. Only an achzar who is out to score points for himself can take that and use it as a point of attack at a time like that; anyone else who cannot understand it would simply brush it off as something said in the heat of a terrible moment which he probably knew was even more terrible than we did at the time.

    And there are other examples; one particular example is those who use the molestation issue as a weapon to attack a highly respected Chassidus as well as chas vesholom a godol beYisroel who is practically a century old and knows and has done more and learned more in one day of those nearly 100 years than his detractors will ever do.

    So, how do we solve this?

    The answer is – recognize that everyone is different and do not argue with those who are clearly 100% al pi Torah but practice or have viewpoints different from yours when it comes to the details.

    How do we do it?

    One: Ignore the extremists and the strange statements and do not fight with them or try to disprove them. Do not wade into the sewer to argue with one who lives there; pull him out if you can but if not, let someone else handle it. Reality or Moshiach will burn them out in due time – and if a strange statement was made at a strange time, it is the same as someone screaming out in pain. (lehavdil you DON’T want to know what I once screamed at the top of my lungs when my new hat went flying under a truck on Kingston Avenue – sometimes people say the strangest things in times of sudden distress and there are losses far greater than that of an insured Borsalino.) If you cannot soothe their pain, do not add to it. And if someone is trying to prove something you find distasteful but he is otherwise 100% within halacha, be thankful that he remains 100% within halacha and save your energy for arguing with those who really do damage to our people and show disdain for His Torah (anti-Semites and choilei nefesh shebeYisroel a/k/a militant secularists, leaders of the “movements” and leftists).

    Two: Ignore those who don’t follow one: above. Like all extremists and baalei machloikes, they are looking for one thing – attention. It is one thing to answer someone who is trying to convince others of his derech in a legitimate debate, and another to even pay attention to someone who is disparaging every other derech out there and claiming they are greater than our true Torah leaders as they ascribe corrupt motives to everyone but their bloated selves. Most of the unacceptable dialogue is happening online; this is because some bloggers and commentators are looking for attention or have issues of their own and they use the anonymity and low cost of the Net to sound bigger than they really are.

    And most important, they and the extremists don’t represent anyone but themselves. Some hold very hard to explain minority deois and are sincere but may be wrong; others are just plain out there looking for attention; still others are so fixated on some small point of Torah that they forget the rest of the 613 mitzvois.

    Three: Realize that those who follow drachim other than your own are often sincere – and if you think or even have proof that they are sincerely wrong it is none of your business to correct them outside the rules of a legitimate debate unless they ask you or they have expressed doubts about their position. There are so many Yidden who do not even know what the words derech or hashkafah mean; they are the Yidden we need to attract to whatever community suits them best!

    Four: Keep the mikveh talk for the mikveh. Even if you refer to someone well known in the community, whom others respect, as a shaygetz or a meshuggener, keep that within your dalet amois and don’t post your opinion on the Net or share it with others unless asked. I know for a fact that all you accomplish that way is to drive the other person to check out just what it is that you are lambasting and he often finds it better than your derech that you have been ramming down his throat.

    Five: If you feel you have something good, whether it’s mussar or Chassidus or even the teachings of Rav Kook, don’t force it down anyone’s throat especially online. Not everyone has 26 hours a day or is able to handle a new approach; some people stay at home by nature and others need to travel every week.

    Do what the professionals do and teach it in a non-threatening manner and make it clear that you just want people to appreciate another interpretation that you find interesting and meaningful. In the end, you will accomplish what your goal should be – to widen people’s understanding of Torah in a friendly and warm manner full of ahavas Yisroel – which is how the most successful kiruv activists bring people to Torah in general.

    Six: There is a time to work together – any time when we can- but there is no place for anyone to give up his own identity or goals. We are just not monolithic by nature; two Jews three opinions is human nature that seems especially pronounced among Jews. We can help our neighbors build their sukkah – but that does not give us the right to decide whose picture or what type of decorations go up there unless we are asked.

    But most important, don’t expect achdus meaning where everyone becomes the same. Achdus is when we all work together for a common goal, each one in his own way. The term should be saved for certain times and for certain places. Instead, we should strive for sholom bayis, where we see klal Yisroel as one family in which every member has a different nature and different talents.

    Belev Echad

    whoah, nice.

    everyone pay attention to itzik.


    whoa…no offence way to long…my ADD is going crazy just looking at it 😛


    Itzik, you make some very good points.

    I am forced to disagree with you with what you term as achzarius.

    This isn’t achzarius. This is a question of ikkarei ha’emuna as expressed by the Ramba”m. Hashem runs the world.

    Let’s make the attack on me. Let’s say I get up and say, in an unforced manner, bifnei am va’eida, “They will understand and see- it’s J*s*s who runs this world”. What would you say? Would you defend me? Would you attack those who attack me as making political points?

    I am still waiting for the statement you referenced to be retracted, and I’m still waiting for somebody from Lubavitch to publicly repudiate it and say “Hashem runs the world, ein od milvado”. I would be very happy if you would do so.


    that’s waayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy to long for me to read.$



    No one believes that anyone other than Hashem runs the world. (Even those meshichisten who have not taken total leave of their sanity do not believe that anyone but Hashem rules the world.) There is no mekor anywhere for the statement he made in the midst of his grief.

    What he believes and probably thought he was saying is what the Gemara says which is that tzadikim are still with us after they leave the world so that the Rebbe still has (spiritual) hashpaah over the situation – but when he already knew in his heart that the worst was the case he broke down and said something that makes no sense.

    Every Simchas Torah I get hammered, use the bima as a pull up bar, and sing an old song about HaRabbi Shlita; everyone who sees that and joins in knows all I am doing is remembering old times because I know all too well that the Rebbe is not shlit”a anymore (but I would never let anyone video that scene or even do it on Purim when pictures could be taken).

    I also know how he reacts when under stress and how emotional he often gets when speaking about emotional subjects. His mother A”H has not been with us for years now; when I heard him speak the Shabbos of her >15th yahrtzeit, he was speaking with the same heartfelt sense of loss as if she had just passed away a few days hence. I felt as if I knew her, even though all I knew of her was her name and that she had predeceased her husband A”H.

    We knew but did not want to believe that there was little hope (sadly I figured out what the situation was when the Holtzberg parents tzu langer yorn got a police escort to take them to the airport) and most of us were in a state of mourning even though we had not gotten official news because of the time zone differential.

    That video should never have been made public – it was a private situation – but knowing him I think he likes the controversy and he is not the type to care what anyone thinks of him. If he weren’t like that he could never have done what he does and continues to do for Yidden and Yiddishkeit (or survived as a practically lone frum boy growing up in a changing neighborhood – he’s not from Crown Heights).

    If he said something like that on a normal day, everyone would be right to question and my first thought would be that perhaps he had become ill (knowing him as I do). If he had a website filled with that kind of thought, it would go into my filter with the other obscene trash and I would probably think of him in the same terms as I think of the Ku Klux Kartel. (More likely, if this were the case I would ask family members if he is ill L”A or being treated with medications that may have psychological side effects).

    But when someone speaks from heartfelt grief, you never know what they are saying because they are not thinking straight.

    If you said something absurd or unusual under unusual circumstances, I would pay it no heed. That includes anything as mundane as your sukkah beam crashing on your head, or even being drunk on Purim, as well as L”A the kinds of things that should never happen to any Yid. I assure you I don’t use bad language in English or any language people can understand but when my hat flew, my reflexes took over and I screamed the 2 most offensive words in the English language in a very public place. No one cared except to try to help me retrieve the hat.

    If you wrote articles defending j4j or anything else outside of Torah, I would probably write a long post attacking you on every point and then throw your site in my killfile. If you had made a name for yourself with kefira or even plain shtus, you’d earn yourself a profile in my infamous satire blog (which has 2 Lubavitch entries, one for a freak meshichist and the other for someone who spent countless hours attacking a popular entertainer over total nonsense).



    Most importantly, though, if something connected to a rov whom you follow happened and you said something seemingly out of line regarding that rov, I would understand it. And if you said it in private it would be none of my business, any more than a supposedly questionable performance at a controversial time by a particular singer at a private Purim party was my business.

    This is the double edged sword of the Internet; private should not always be made public.

    If something your rov predicted came true and you spoke about that in a way that was meant to convince everyone that the derech of your rov is the truest mehalech, I would accept it as legitimate even if I disagree because my hashkafah and practices are very different. I would in fact expect you to believe that your derech is the truest one – for you – and I would expect you to want to speak about it and teach to others but would hope you would do it in a non-threatening and non-demeaning way (the opposite of which is a problem across the board especially when kiruv is involved). At the same time I would expect you to accept the fact that I am happy as I am and just may not have the inclination to listen to other hashkafas for reasons that could just as soon include time constraints or being so steeped in my own derech that peronally I can’t relate to much else anymore even as I respect the legitimacy of the other 69 ponim laTorah.


    Itzik, what you are saying, in short, is that he was in a moment of grief, and the kefira he said was a ruach shtus. I would love to believe it. He is supposed to be mainstream. It would mean that such kefirah is not mainstream thought.

    I have difficulty with this interpretation because:

    1. He spoke publicly, not privately. It was a public gathering for divrei hisorerus.

    2. Nobody corrected him. They all said “Amen”.

    3. He didn’t correct himself, or put out a public retraction.If I cursed publicly and was a public figure, I would run to apologiuze and ask forgiveness.

    4. He didn’t say an expletive. He said what sounded like a very well-thought-out sentence, one that matches what anecdotal evidence idicates is a more widely-held belief than people want to admit to.

    5. Two Lubavitchers I know of who saw it said he meant what he said, but he meant tzaddik gozeir VeHashem Mekayeim, as if that means running the world (If my kid asks for a lollipop and I give him one, he’s not running the show). So 2 people “in the know” say it wasn’t a mistake or a kefirah equivalent of an expletive.

    6. There are many who clearly interpret “bettenen the Rebbe” and “hiskashrus” as saying this very thing. Websites stating “The Rebbe = Hashem” are easily accessible with a simple Google search.

    Again, if I was a public rabbi instead of balabos, and in a public speech, in a state of grief said “J*s*s runs the world”, I would make sure to go out of my way to let everyone know that it wasn’t an expression of a belief but a ruach shtus. I would expect whatever organization I was part of put out a clarification and apology. I would expect widespread confusion on the face of the audience for saying something so shocking. I would also expect someone to make a loud protest.

    NONE of that happened here. The silence is a bit deafening to me.

    Pashuteh Yid

    Itzik, we have debated the Zionism issue previously. But very briefly, what is wrong with anti-zionism is the word anti. This by definition is a hashkafa which is anti the work that others are doing and from which many are benefitting. It means there is pure hate directed at another segment of a population for no reason. To be Zionist does not connote any hatred towards other Jews. It means love of Zion, and the rebuilding of the land. But to be anti means nothing other than sinas chinam.

    I am not saying all Zionists were perfect. But no group is made up of perfect people. This is not a reason to hate an entire group and their work. How can one possibly have it in his heart to hate hesder boys or what they stand for, when they are moser nefesh to learn, and also to put their lives on the line for all Jews?

    an open book

    cute how the teens r the ones who complain abt the length


    an open book, excuse you! i read it through – did you hear me complaining?


    PY: The label you applied is of your, or whomevers, making. The correct description is Pro-Torah, not anti-zionist.

    Will Hill

    Itzik/Jothar, can you fill us in on what you are discussing?


    moish: i’m so not ganna read it!!! my ADD went bizerk just lookin at that!!!!



    Sadly, I see that I just created more machloikes with this thread, which was meant to generate ways of avoiding just that while allowing everyone his own hashkafah and minhagim.

    Add me to the list of those who have left the Coffee Room.



    Also, just so that no one wastes bandwidth trying to convince me to come back, please understand that I have added the URL for this site to my filter (and I don’t control the password).


    Itzik_s: oh come on!!! stick around!!!!!!!!!!



    Sorry, I am gone (I am just figuring out how to block the site in Chrome; I already have it blocked in FF and IE while I wait for the person who admins my filter to come online and let me add the site to my main filter).

    This is just the nature of discussion sites; every sort of krumkeit, sinas chinam and utter shtus comes to the surface because, let’s face it, that stuff is interesting and therefore sparks debate.

    After my friend’s father in law AH was killed in a car accident, someone wrote (tongue in cheek) that the niftar was considered a bit “boring” because he did not waste his time discussing the politics that divided his community. I’d like to see a site which is “boring” in that way. But it would get no hits and not be able to sustain itself.

    Maybe better online where it really just goes to the wind than in real life (where all of this rambling has little influence anyway) but this rambling is a waste of time and no good comes of it.


    Will Hill, they are discussing a video recording that went around after the Mumbai tragedy:


    Perhaps my tone was a bit harsh, for which I apologize. However, I can’t and won’t apologize for the content of my posts in this thread. There is a big difference between hashkafah differences and ikkarei emunah as clearly defined by the Ramba”m.


    The relevant Ikkarim of the Rambam are:

    1. Hashem alone created and runs the world

    2. Hashem doesn’t have a physical form.

    3. even though humans have a neshama from Hashem, they are NOT Hashem, and it is assur to Daven to a human being.


    itzik: come on, why are you leaving PLEASE come back, we all like you.$

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