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I first encountered Chabad back in the early ’70s as a college student. They were instrumental in my evolution as a ba’al teshuva, and for that I will be forever grateful. However, once they saw I was committed to shmiras mitzvos, they put increasing pressure on me to become not just a frum Jew, but a Lubavitcher. The last straw was when they told me, “the Rebbe wants you to put on tefillen.” I didn’t know much, but I knew that directive was from someone much more important than the Rebbe. Had I not become close with a Yekkishe family, I’m not sure I would have stayed the course.
I had a number of Lubavitchers as work colleagues in the following years. One claim I heard repeatedly from them and from online forums was that the Rebbe is/was infallible. Whenever he misquoted a possuk, it was for an important purpose. A corollary is that the Rebbe is omniscient, for how else could he avoid error? A third claim I heard less often was that the Rebbe is/was omnipotent. Infallible, all-knowing, all-powerful: one need only connect the dots.
Are these opinions normative in all Chassidus? The Satmar Rov (as he preferred to refer to himself) once left out the brocha over the second kos at a seder. He immediately said, “I didn’t do that on purpose! I made a mistake! Don’t think that’s my shita!”
It is the duty of every Torah Jew to counter such dangerous confusion between a tzaddik and HaShem. We must do so with utter respect and a complete absence of hatred. We must also give allowance for occasional heated reactions, given the seriousness of the issues involved.
I highly recommend a book by a genuine epidemiologist at Einstein College of Medicine. It’s called “Hyping Health Risks”, by Geoffrey Kabat, published by Columbia University Press. He shows that the incidence of lung cancer among non-smokers is so small that almost any attempt to find causality is doomed. In particular, second-hand smoke is so vastly diluted compared to what’s inhaled by a smoker, that no ill effects are ever likely to be demonstrated. Rather, the idea of second-hand smoke was seized on as a way to keep anyone from smoking in the presence of other people.
Smoking is indeed dangerous, and every legitimate effort by poskim or, l’havdil, the government should be applauded. It’s interesting that another demonstrated health risk is given a complete pass. Mishkav zachor is much more dangerous than smoking cigarettes, but the Supreme Court has ruled it muttar.
Back in Eastern Europe frum Jews were poor, but there was no welfare, so they had to work very hard just to survive. They had neither time nor money for luxuries such as smartphones and internet access.
It is a chillul Hashem for Jews to accept tzedakah from goyim.
The article today specifically states that R’ Eytan Kobre, spokesman for the anti-Internet event at Citi Field, is Orthodox but not Hasidic. When it’s hard for us frum Jews to distinguish Hasidim from other Haredim by their appearance and lifestyle, we shouldn’t expect fine distinctions from Fox News.
The expansion of Haredi communities does present significant problems for public schools. If retirees suddenly took over a town, they would also have no interest in funding a school system which offers them no benefit.
Strange that all these ultra-organized ultra-Orthodox Jews couldn’t organize themselves a couple of decent spokesmen to offer intelligent arguments to the reporter.
All too many FFBs lead their lives along the path of least resistance. They were raised frum and stay on the derech mostly by inertia. When uprooted from their friends and family, many decide the path of least resistance isn’t the derech of Torah. Look at what happened to East European Jews coming to America, or having their lives turned inside out by the first World War. R’ Aharon Kotler, R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky and R’ MM Schneersohn had one thing in common. Of all their brothers and sisters, they were the only ones to remain shomer Shabbos.
On the other hand, BTs find that the z’chus of teshuva gets amortized over the years, so eventually they feel very much like a stam Yid. They may still have a strong sense of bechira, but it’s very hard to transmit it to their children.
In the future it will be very easy to tell BTs from FFBs by their tattoos.
Consider the “mizmor leDavid” we sing when returning the Sefer Torah to the aron on Shabbos. The standard tune adapts easily to the irregularities in the text, such as additional syllables. Carlebach’s niggun does not. Unfortunately it’s not possible to attach .mp3 examples to blog posts here.
My objection isn’t the character of the composer, but the niggunim themselves. They often force one to distort the syllables and meter of the text, and unnecessarily drag out the davening.
I never understood this practice until our children reached school age. When all shoes are left by the door, it saves at least five minutes when trying to get them out of the house in the morning.
It is quite common for Chassidim to believe their Rebbe qualified to be Moshiach. At the Rebbe’s levaya, a letter is read confirming the Rebbe’s choice of a successor. Thereupon his Chasidim transfer their messianic hopes to the new leader of their Chassidus.
It is therefore deeply troubling that R’ M.M. Schneersohn did not designate a successor. Even an undisputed Moshiach such as Dovid HaMelech was a mortal man and had to choose one of his sons to continue the malchus. How could the Rebbe have been so irresponsible as to orphan his Chssidim? Is it any wonder they have been subject to troubling ideas about him?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe reportedly held that Yekkishe shochtim didn’t have to have a beard. This was important because Chabad used to rely on KAJ shechita.