Friday, April 29, 2011

A Trip into CHABAD (Lubavitch) History


  1. Many say that nowadays, eventhough people use them as being synonymous, there is a (slight) difference between "Chabad" and "Lubavitch". And when you are in some countries like France or in neighborhoods like Crown Heights, you can easily agree with that.

  2. B"H

    According to my Zfat experience:

    I saw that too many Chabad branches somehow write their own Chabad history. One claims this, the other claims that. In Zfat it wasn't even mentioned that there was a huge dispute between the favourite Baal Shem Tov student, Rabbi Yaakov Yoseph of Polonnoye, and the Maggid of Mezritch after the death of the Baal Shem Tov.

    This is my opinion and Zfat experience but what I saw made me question whether Chabad today needs a firm leadership. Otherwise too many Chabadnikim, including Baalei Teshuva, start selling their own opinions as historical facts.

  3. Those who are rewriting Chabad history are mainly Baalei Teshuvah or FFB's who never saw the Rebbe alive. It's their way of being connected. But don't make generalization. There are many interesting BT in Chabad.

    Leadership in nowadays Chabad is a very strong and polemical issue for some reasons, and it has nothing to do with being meshichists or not. The main reasons why Chabad didn't appoint an 8th Lubavitcher Rebbe are:

    1- The Rebbe didn't appoint any successor;
    2- There is a belief in Chabad that there can only be 7 Lubavitcher Rebbes, the 7th and last one being the one who will lead the generation to greet Moshiach;
    3- There is not a single Lubavitch Rabbi who can compete with the high stature and knowledge of the Rebbe;
    4- Chabad is divided in two ideological camps. So, there is not a single Rabbi who can be accepted by everyone, because if is not meshichist he won't be accepted by the anti's, and if he is an anti, there is no way he can be accepted by the meshichists. You are from one camp or the other, but there is no middle ground.

    A Gitte Shabbes!

  4. B"H

    The situation reminds me a little of Breslov !

  5. Yes, but the difference between Breslov and Lubavitch is that in Breslov, every leader has his own "theology". The way chassidus Breslov is practiced in Meah Shearim has nothing to do with those in charge of the BT and Kiruv activities. There is a huge gap, and it seems that they cannot get on well with each others. In Lubavitch, while the movement is divided, you have plenty of similarities between every factions, because the Rebbe is so central than everyone try to adhere to his teachings as closely as possible. In Breslov, while Rebbe Nachman is quoted here and there, it's more a question of power and fame (there are plenty of different factions in Breslov with plenty of different leaders) than adhering to the teachings of Rebbe Nachman. And who can trully says that the nowadays Breslovers are adhering faithfully to Rebbe Nachman's teachings? Don't forget that he died two centuries ago, while the Lubavitcher Rebbe died only 16 years ago, that means that his message is fresher and clearer than in Breslov. That's why, even 16 years after that sad event, the Rebbe continues to inspire even chassidim who were not born yet, while in Breslov we can argue that it's not Rebbe Nachman who inspires but Rabbis Arush, Brody and all the others, in the way (faithfull or not) they present Rebbe Nachman's pjilosophy to people.

    That's, of course, my own opinion, and I may be mistaken.

  6. In addition, there is another meaning to my words. When I say that "Chabad" and "Lubavitch" may refer to different things, it also means that generally speaking, "Chabad" is more and more used in refering to the kiruv branch of the movement. It's not an hazard if the shuls opened by a shliach for baalei teshuvah and non-affiliated Jews are called "Beis Chabad", while "Lubavitch" refers more to the other side of the movement, the "closed" community. That's why, for instance, you will never find a "Beis Chabad" in Crown Heights, and that in Paris, the Chabad mosdos are all called "Beis Lubavitch", because they offer services to a Lubavitch public first, and then to the non-affiliated.

    This is a general phenomenon in Chabad. You have more and more Chabadnikim looking for closed and frummer Chabad communities, and more and more mosdos that are created for the needs of the Chabad community (the "Lubavitch" aspect), because there are less and less places available for those who wanted to be involved in shlichus, due to the fact there is a shliach in charge almost everywhere in the world (the "Chabad" aspect).

    By the way, I don't think it was a coincidence if the Rebbe Rashab was forbidden by his father to wear a shtreimel outside of the city of Lubavitch, or that the Rebbe imposed strong standards of Torah observance in Crown Heights, which is called "Lubavitch" by the chassidim.

  7. B"H

    Thanks a lot for the intersting definition between "Beit Chabad" and "Lubavitch". I have never heard this explanation from any Baal Teshuva.