Friday, May 27, 2011

AISH HATORAH is washing your Brain ?

Seen in Jerusalem

Photo: Miriam Woelke


A secular Israeli colleague of mine keeps on teasing me with my religious knowledge. Now she met this young American who is studying at the beginner’s programme of the AISH HATORAH Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Actually he doesn’t seem to know himself whether he wants to stay at AISH or leave. Sometimes he escapes to Tel Aviv and then he changes his mind and runs back to Jerusalem.

My colleague asked me several times whether AISH is brainwashing its students. I know that there are different opinions going around about the AISH policy and if the programme is still the same Rabbi Noah Weinberg z"l once introduced.

My colleague, although female, went to Jerusalem and spoke to some of the students. However, she wasn’t convinced and still thought that AISH may brainwash her friend. I told her that it is everyone’s choice whether he wants to study at AISH or not. Every student has a free choice and if he doesn’t like it or doesn’t want to get involved, he is free to leave.

On the other hand, once a guy enters the real AISH programme in Jerusalem, he may be forced to wear a white shirt, black pants and a black litvishe hat after a while. Still in the beginner’s Essential Programme, you can do whatever you want and no one makes a comment on your Bob Marley Rasta look or your jeans. Things change when you stay longer and become a real student. Then the pressure starts and the Rabbi’s may push you into a certain direction. However, not only AISH is following this kind of policy but also other Yeshivot. 



  1. B"H

    Daniel sent me this comment by e - mail:

    Hey! I went to AISH TORAH.
    To many WACKO'S and nutty people for me. They could come up with the silly teaching and beliefs, it was hilarious.

    To many christens end up in class until their mask is striped away. That could take a week or more to find out.

    I spent a bunch of time studying with Doron my study partner. After a few months I read "The bible Unearthed" By Israel Finkelstine and finely I understood enough that all our traditions fell into place for me. Have you ever read it? It is a Real eye opener if you like our history.

    I am sure the religious hate him because he challenges the invented Orthodox history and put alot of harsh light on our mythology's.
    It is impossible to use your Blogs return questions because that stupid security system won't work right. so I sent this to you direct.
    Love Daniel

  2. B"H

    What is Israel Finkelstine writing about and does he give proof ?

  3. Aish haTorah is the most money-hungry of all of the ba'al tshuva yeshivas. Their web site is great, but be careful about getting involved with them, as they are smoothe-talking salesmen, IMHO.

  4. My humble opinion is the word "brainwashing", as discussed here, where people are Torah-Jews learning Torah, is an inappropriate term. We ALL brainwash our children as our form of chinuch. My raising my kids in a chassidishe home, my dialogue with Jews I reach out to, etc. it's all "washing their brain" in the sense of trying to sort out the impurities and instil the meritable. If we don't like the Aish way, we don't have to use negative words to label them with. Just point out the differences - and leave out the slander. We don't all have to do things in one and only one way, as long as we do Hashem proud in an observant way.

  5. B"H


    A friend of mine called AISH a PRODUCT and now you are calling their Rabbis SALESMEN. In my eyes, you are both right.

    By the way, we have to consider that many of the AISH Rabbis in Jerusalem are not real Rabbis but were appointed by AISH. Outside AISH, they are no Rabbis.

    @ In the Vanguard

    When you know AISH, and I do, then you realize that the programme is putting you into ONE direction only. Only their thoughts are being accepted and don't make any changes.

    AISH in the Old City of Jerusalem had to make some changes because their students were looking for something and found it elsewhere: Chassidut.

    AISH finally decided to get some chassidic lectures run by Yomtov Glazer. He is a touch of Breslov but not the guy to study Chassidism with.

    Any religious direction wants you to stay with them but with AISH, at lot of money is involved.

  6. What a chutzpah from Aish. Read this:

  7. B"H

    AISH is extremely Chabad bashing and I am surprised seeing them using a photo of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.:-)

    What bothers me at AISH Jerusalem (in the Old City) is the good old connection between Rabbi Motti Berger, Rabbi Shmuel Schwartz or Rabbi Ari Kahn.

    When those Rabbis teach, nothing new is coming out but always the same content in order to get people in.

    A few years ago, some AISH students around the corner to Chabad in order to study some spirituality and AISH didn't like it. Some guys continued sneaking to Chabad and other wanted to avoid problems and only stuck to AISH.

  8. I Think I have to agree with ya...i went to Aish, and besides their beautiful building, I just like the classes by Rav. Spiro and Freedman...the other guys just want to Aished you, but they do not have the level and knowledge to do it...

  9. B"H

    The original concept of AISH is definitely a great idea. Teaching Jews who, so far, have had no contact with their religious heritage, some Judaism. Especially teaching why a Jew should NOT intermarry.

    In the course of time, AISH has become a huge business and then the trouble started. When you have too many branches, you, as the owner, may loose control and then every little manager thinks that he is in charge.

    The question is: What is the difference between AISH doing its AISHING and Chabad teaching their ideology ? Both directions depend on money / donations and both, more or less, try to get you into their ideology.

    Personally speaking, to me AISH looks like a real company whereas in Chabad every Shaliach or institute such as the ASCENT Hostel in Zfat, try to continue their task. AISH, on the other hand, has huge resources and they claim that Kirk Douglas, Barbara Streisand or Steven Spielberg send them money.

  10. "What is the difference between AISH doing its AISHING and Chabad teaching their ideology ?" Chabad is the original version, while Aish is a pale copy. The proof? Because of their pathetism, they have to use a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to snare people. With all their money, they cannot compete with Chabad, because shluchei Chabad are genuine in their teaching and don't try to "convert" you to chasidism, but just connect you to yiddishkeit, and if you want to leave once you are religious, you are even encouraged by Chabad to leave. Our goal is not to keep the "customers", while it's obvious that this is Aish's priority. And because of that, they are not always sincere in their approach. Other difference: Chabad is worldwide. Who ever heard about Aish in Belgium, France, Portugal or Argentina?

    Big differences.

    On the other hand, if people becaome religious through Aish, we should thank G-d for that and not bash our "opponent." What is sad is that we are constantly slandered by Aish. But we don't care, because it's just jealousy from them. They just want to be like us, but they realized they couldn't. So, they can keep their money, while we keep the success our dear Rebbe promised us.

  11. B"H

    It seems so weird AISH using a photo of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. On the other hand, a photo of the Rebbe has become a brand and when people see the photo first they think "Wow, I know this Rebbe". Then they start reading and this way, AISH is causing interest. In the end, it turns out not to be Chabad but, let me tell you, many many secular Jews cannot differentiate between litvish and chassidic. In my daily life, I have been facing this question plenty of times and people keep on asking me about the difference. They basically know that there is a difference but no details.

    A few days ago, a colleague of mine had heard about AISH (not from me) and asked me whether it is true that AISH Jerusalem lets people study and stay for free.

    Well, it is but you have to ask and get permission first but it seemed that my colleague was after that free stuff rather than making his own way in life.

  12. "let me tell you, many many secular Jews cannot differentiate between litvish and chassidic. In my daily life, I have been facing this question plenty of times and people keep on asking me about the difference. They basically know that there is a difference but no details"

    True, and the reason why people can no longer easily see the differences between misnagdim and chasidim, is because more and more misnagdim, while remaining misnagdim, have adopted many chasidic minhagim. There is a general charedization in Eretz Yisroel, and I have met many misnagdim adopting the chasidic garbs and attitudes (I have seen some misnagdim wearing a shtreimel), while keeping their narrow misnagued spirit. I remember a sicha where the Rebbe said that nowadays, true misnagdim do no longer exist, since the chasidic garb and approach have found their way into the litvak world.

    But I can tell you that as chasidim, we are able to see that the people in front of us is not a chosid but a misnagued. You see it in his way of thinking and his attitude (misnagdim are not joyous people, for instance), and the way they are wearing the chasidic garb is an obvious indication they are not chasidim. Moreover, Litvakim (misnagdim) generally wear a tie. Wearing a tie for a chosid? No way! It's very rare. In addition, look at the peyos of a Litvak, and compare them to the peyos of a chosid, and you'll see there are not the same. In addition, misnagdim do not study the kabbalah, while chasidus is full of kabbalah. Misnagdim are not joyous people, while being joyous is a central part of chasidus (read an example here: a chosid, not singing and dancing every day is an impossibility (for me, the sefirah period and the Three Weeks, are the most difficult periods of the year, because we can't listen to music). And there are many other differences.

    So, there are plenty of signs to see the differences. But it's true that misnagdim are looking more and more chasidic, but they will never be chasidim, unless they leave their ways and join us in the path of the Baal Shem Tov, the more authentic way to serve G-d.

  13. B"H

    After a few sentences, it is very clear who is standing in front of you. Especially when it comes to the daily prayers and a Litvak keeps on looking onto his watch in order not to miss the exact time.:-)

    It is very common for Litvaks to go to chassidic Tishes. Then suddenly some participate in the swinging and dancing which looks a little unusual when you know both directions. I have asked myself many times whether their Yeshiva Rabbis know about students running to the Chassidim on Shabbat.

    Chassidut Slonim in Mea Shearim have a kind of guard at the door to the men's side of the Beit Midrash. The guard always watched who is coming in for the Tish. Once I was watching an incident from the upstairs Ezrat Nashim where three or four Litvaks walked in and the guard immediatley jumped on them. Later I heard that, in the past, some Litvaks started to make trouble at chassidic Tishes but nowadays I only see this with the national religious movement and their ignorant arguments. Chassidut Toldot Avraham Yitzchak, for instance, was facing some serious arguments in the Ezrat Nashim where national religious girls started discussing Zionism with the chassidic women watching the Rebbe's Tish.

  14. "it is very clear who is standing in front of you. Especially when it comes to the daily prayers and a Litvak keeps on looking onto his watch in order not to miss the exact time"

    We have a Litvak who is used to pray in our Lubavitch shul (not a Beis Chabad) and you should see his face when we are claping hands and singing during davening. So unusual for them. Litvakim don't sing when davening, they are doing mere recital, and when it happens that our Rabbi gives him the honor to be the Shaliach Tzibur, his davening is boring and without chayus, so typical of misnagdim, while we pray with fervor and joyous tunes. Every time they pray, it's like the Yom Kippur service. I cannot bear that. As for the time of the davening, we don't care about the exact hour, and don't rush in our davening. Even if it's the time, a chosid cannot daevn without his one hour limud hatorah prior to the davening. After the limud, he goes to the mikvah and physically prepare for the davening. And if meanwhile the time has gone, it's not a problem. It is said that we should prepare to meet our King before praying the King, so we don't rush to pray as litvakim do, and take our time to be fully prepared. Sometimes, the Rebbe davened mincha with a minyan of chassidim even after sunset, and it even happened once that it was almost 12am. Other chasidic rebbes are also known for davening very late even after the zeman (time). For misnagdim, it's scandaleous.

  15. B"H

    I have heard this many times from Litvaks. Complaining about Lubavitch still making Kiddush at 2pm in the afternoon.

    Every time they pray, it's like the Yom Kippur service.

    I very much agree to that !!! :-)

  16. "I have asked myself many times whether their Yeshiva Rabbis know about students running to the Chassidim on Shabbat. "

    In fact, many roshei yeshivos are not aware of that. I personnaly know many cases of litvakim attending chasidic shuls and celebrations without informing their rosh yeshivah, because there are some litvak yeshivos which threaten to throw out bochurim attending chasidic events and shuls. You can see plenty of litvakim on sukkos celebrations under a Rebbe's sukkah (for instance, every year, plenty of litvakim attend the sukkos celebrations of the Munkatzer Rebbe). We cannot blame them, because they have discovered that being joyous in our avodas hashem is not a crime and is the best way to enhance your connection with G-d.

    I also know some litvak bochurim studying chasidus secretly.

    BUT, on the other hand, there are more and more Litvak roshei yeshivos who are pro-chasidus and encourage their students to learn it. There are also some other litvak yeshivos who include one hour of chasidus in their cursus. Many things have changed since the time where the Vilna Gaon refused to meet the Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch, claiming that chasidus was a pollution and a distorsion of the Holy Torah of our forefathers. That's why those who reject cahsidus are called "litvakim", because the whole Eastern Europe was conquered by chasidism, except Lithuania, the headquarter of the Vilna Gaon, who was the only one who resisted chasidism. It is no surprise that when he died, chasidism also penetrated Lithuania. I know some descendants of the Vilna Gaon who are Lubavitcher. And it's quite funny!

  17. B"H

    What I heard from some Litvak Yeshivot in Jerusalem:

    Don't go to Chabad. They have their weird Meshiach agenda and teach an ideology no one needs to know until you understand the Halachot. Chabad would confuse Litvak students with all this kabbalistic stuff such as worlds, Sefirot and elevating sparks.

    When one doesn't grow up frum and he does Teshuva or is interested in his own religion, then he should have a choice of looking for his own way. Deciding where he fits in and is comfortable with.

    This is the reason why students without any background should do Yeshiva shopping and not just run into the first place.

    I like the variety and would never fit into only one direction. Its a pity that hardly any programme in Jerusalem is teaching you this.

  18. Finally, AISH decided to apologize for having used the Rebbe's picture:

  19. "Chabad would confuse Litvak students with all this kabbalistic stuff such as worlds, Sefirot and elevating sparks."

    As if Chabad and Chasidus invented the Kabbalah. It's part of our holy Torah and what's their justification to reject it or discourage its study? I wonder!

    "I like the variety and would never fit into only one direction. Its a pity that hardly any programme in Jerusalem is teaching you this"

    I think it will only happen with the coming of Moshiach. Untill then, 10 Jews, 10 opinions and 10 approaches.

    "Don't go to Chabad. They have their weird Meshiach agenda and teach an ideology no one needs to know"

    It's quite funny to hear that, because throughout the ages, litvakim have invented numerous excuses for not learning chasidus. If there wasn't the meshichism within Chabad, their problem would have been the Rebbe. They tell you, "We respect Chabad, and we only have an issue with the last Rebbe." It's false, because they had issues with the Rebbe Rayatz, and also with the Rebbe Rashab, and it was because of a coward and false accusation from the misnagdim than the first Lubavitcher Rebbe was put in jail. And if you remind them those facts, they will respond "We don't have any problem with chasidism, only with Chabad." It's false, they opposed the Baal Shem Tov during his lifetime and it is a fact that when misnagdim were encountering a chosid on his way, the chosid was beaten violently by the misnagdim. It was so violent that the first Lubavitcher Rebbe forbid the chasidim to pray in misnagdim synagogues or pass by misnagdim villages. All this to say that their issue with meshichism is only an excuse, they will find you any reason to oppose chasidism in general, and Chabad in particular.

    Anyway, when you want to be famous and look like a zealot, the best way to achieve it is by slandering and attacking Chabad. People want their share of the cake, so they know who to attack. Mr. Berger and all the Aish puppets are good examples. And where does it lead them? Nowhere. It's not that we are perfect, quite the contrary, since the Rebbe says that if a chosid dare saying that he is perfect, he is not a chosid, but people like Aish should stop inventing and finding new excuses. The more they try, the more they are ridicule, as we know that messianism is not their issue, but a cover to slander.

  20. "Don't go to Chabad. They teach an ideology no one needs to know until you understand the Halachot"

    Here is an answer from Rabbi Gershon Avtzon to counter that claim:

    Each individual mivtza of the Rebbe is a key in our hands that the Rebbe has handed us, with which we can make Moshiach a real part of our lives. However, there is still one point, that needs clarification: What is the difference between the awords "Mitzvah" and "Mivtza"?

    The answer is that a Mitzvah is a commandment from Hashem, of which we have 613. A "Mivtza", on the other hand, is a campaign that the Rebbe started by emphasizing a certain Mitzvah. The Rebbe highlighted certain Mitzvos - for men and woman - that everyone should be encouraged to do. For many unaffiliated Jewish people, introduction to these mivtzaim is their gateway to a fully "Torah - committed" lifestyle.

    I am sure that there are those who question the Rebbe's method of outreach. Would it not seem more logical - and less aggressive - to first learn with someone for a while until he is comfortable with the ideology of Judaism, and only then to ask him to don Tefillin or perfom any other Mitzvah?

    A perspective: However, this was never the perspective of the Rebbe. This discussion is only regarding the ultimate vision of Jewish outreach, that Jewish people should embrace Yiddishkeit in its entirety. However, it is self-understood that a Jew is not an "outreach project" and one should never think that - if the person whom he is influencing does not become observant, then all his efforts are a waste of time. On the contrary, the Torah teaches that every Mitzvah that a Jew does is very precious to Hashem.

  21. This is evident in the words of the Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 3:4); "Accordingly, throughout the entire year, a person should always view himself as equally balanced between merit and sin and the world as equally balanced between merit and sin. If he performs one sin, he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of guilt and brings destruction upon himself.

    On the other hand, if he performs one mitzvah, he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverance and salvation to himself and others. This is implied by [Proverbs 10:25]: "A righteous man is the foundation of the world," i.e., he who acted righteously, tipped the balance of the entire world to merit and saved it." The Rebbe explains that this approach (Likkutei Sichos Parshas Lech Lecha Vol. 25 pg. 47) is best illustrated based on the Torah's introduction of the life of Avraham Avinu. The first activity of Avraham’s experiences that we read about in the Torah, was his travel from his hometown to "The land that I will show You."

    The fact the Torah introduces Avraham only at this late point in his life seems strange. At the time of that command from Hashem, Avraham was already 75 years old! He was already an accomplished scholar and was admired by all for his willingness to die for his beliefs. He had jumped into a raging fire to sanctify Hashem's name and had stood up to the misconception of the masses around him. Why are all these stories hidden from us, - and only to be explained by a Midrash that uses hints from within the Torah text, - and yet the story of Avraham's travel is so explicit?!

  22. The answer is that a Jew's connection to Hashem is beyond and deeper than reason. Avraham had accomplished great things in his hometown, but they were all a fulfillment of goals that made sense to him, missions that he set forth for himself on his own. Avraham’s willingness to follow Hashem to an unfamiliar land at such an advanced age, placing his entire trust in Him when he left everything familiar, was an act that defied reason. It was this event that, as the Torah is teaching us, was the true beginning of Avraham’s service to Hashem. Every Jew has a Neshama, which is "literally a Part of Hashem above". That soul is the true essence of a Jew. It is as a result of the power within that soul that every Jew wants to serve Hashem and do His commandments, simply because it is His desire, even if it may challenge everything we understand to be true.

    Another illustration of the Jew’s essential connection to Hashem being present through his G-dly soul is found in a halachic application.

  23. A perspective: The Rambam (Hilchos Geirushin 2:20) writes that one may use force to obtain a man's consent to divorce his wife, in a case where he refuses to do so. This seems strange. If Torah says that a divorce must have be given with true genuine consent, how can the Rambam justify using force in this situation?

    The Rambam explains: "Why is this Get (divorce bill) not void? For he is being compelled - either by Jews or by gentiles - [to divorce] against his will [and a Get must be given voluntarily]. Because the concept of being compelled against one's will applies only when speaking about a person who is being compelled and forced to do something that the Torah does not obligate him to do. For example, when a person who was beaten until he consented to a sale, or to give a present, the transaction is invalid. If, however, a person's evil inclination presses him to negate [the observance of] a mitzvah or to commit a transgression, and he was beaten until he performed the action he was obligated to perform, or he dissociated himself from the forbidden action, he is not considered to have been forced against his will. On the contrary, it is he himself who is forcing [his own conduct to become debased proper]. With regard to this person who [outwardly] refuses to divorce [his wife] - he wants to be part of the Jewish people, and he wants to perform all the mitzvot and avoid all the transgressions; it is only his evil inclination that presses him to do otherwise. Therefore, when he is beaten until his [evil] inclination has been weakened, and he consents [to the divorce], he is considered to have performed the divorce willfully. [Different laws apply when] the law does not require him to divorce his wife, and a Jewish court or simple people compel him to divorce her. This Get is deemed unacceptable.

  24. Through these statements, the Rambam teaches us clearly that a Jewish person’s essence can not be severed from Hashem. When his actions seem to show that he is disconnected, this is only as a result of the yetzer hara’s evil work. One only needs to remind him of this essential connection in order to reveal it. Yet, for most, this essential connection remains hidden and concealed. What we learn from the story of Avraham is that the way to tap in and reveal that connection is by leaving "Your hometown", (in other words a person must leave the confines of his comfort level and the status quo) and enter "The land that I will show you", (i.e. doing Hashem's will).

    When a person does a Mitzvah only after studying and absorbing the concept, he will not tap into this inner-essence that he has. However, when one starts with a Mitzvah - like we say in the Shemoneh Esrei prayer: "Sanctify us with your MItzvos and - only then - give us a portion in your Torah", one must first begin to connect to Hashem, his soul, and his identity as a Jew by first performing the mitzvos. In this way - one leaves his comfort-zone of living the way he always has, to change his life by fulfilling the will of Hashem. This act reveals the Neshama of a Jew. Once the soul is inspired, it will motivate the person to perform more and more Mitzvos. This is evident from the saying of our sages (Avos 4:2) "One Mitzvah leads into another!"

  25. One still may ask: Whey did the Rebbe pick these specific Mitzvos to be stressed in his campaigns? To ask this question is like a simple person asking the most educated doctor , why he prescribed a certain medication. The Rebbe sees both the physical and spiritual needs of the generation. He understands which Mitzvos will "work better" to affect the souls of our generation, and has thus guided us.

    So the claim from Aish to distanciate from Chabad because, first, you must learn the Halachos, and only then perform the Mitzvos, is a non-sense. When people are learning the Halachos first, they are borred and they see Judaism as being nothing else than legalism. It's only a pack of too many laws. That's why you need to show them how to perform essential mitzvos as davenung, putting on tefilins, lighting shabbes candles, and other easy things, and they will see that Judaism is not so bring they used to think. And a mitzvah leads to another Mitzvah. And then, they will learn the halachos to enhance their Torah observance. If they start by studying all the details of 39 melachos forbidden on Shabbes, they will never be Shomrei Shabbes. One sage said: "One can study the halachos of Shabbaes, but the best Shabbes is when you live it." You have to practice the Mitzvos to know how to do it, and not study them to practice them. The Gemarah asks: "What's more important: learning Torah or practicing the Mitzvos?" And the Gemarah answers: "The act is the essential."

    Needless to say that our method has been proven to be more effective than their boring halacha classes. That's the difference between chasidism and misnagdism: they don't infuse their deeds with chayus, while chasidism gives chayus to any though, word and deed.

  26. B"H

    I have had the experience that Chabad always goes wild as soon as someone is criticizing them.:-) I think it is based on the long dispute from the days when the Vilna Gaon slandered the Alter Rebbe.

    What I noticed at AISH Jerusalem and with the new Chabad Shluchim is that many of them don't know too much about Halachot.

    AISH has its agenda and Rabbi Motti Berger keeps on explaining the FREE WILL concept. Ask anything specific in Halacha and then you will have an experience by seeing them thinking.

    Chabad Shluchim may know their TANYA but many of them are not well educated or experienced enough answering halachic matters.

  27. "Chabad Shluchim may know their TANYA but many of them are not well educated or experienced enough answering halachic matters"

    The reason is simple: the new Chabad Shluchim are either Ba'alei Teshuvah or Chabadnikim from too modern families who did not toil a lot in halachos when they were in Yeshivah (and some of them even studied in college or the like). So I agree with you on that point.

    On the other hand, you have three kinds of Lubavitcher: 1- the very frum (you will rarely see them involved in kiruv, and prefer staying in Charedi or Chasidic neighborhoods to avoid bad influences from the outside. They are very learned people and master the halachos. They are always seen in black clothes); 2- the average (they are frum and learned, but at the same time, they are open to the outside world and society. They are not always in black clothes, but still keep a chasidic attire, and know a lot in secularism); 3- the cool and non-conformist (they have all kind of fancy clothes, don't study a lot of yiddishkeit or halachos, they only know the Tanya and some Chabad Maamarim, and the like). Most new Chabad Shluchim are either from the second group or the third, but I have the impression that even the second group is less and less involved in kiruv, and that we are left by people from the last group. I hope it's just an impression, but I agree with you that many new Shluchim (and I insist on the word "new") don't know much about Halachah.

    As for "I have had the experience that Chabad always goes wild as soon as someone is criticizing them.:-) I think it is based on the long dispute from the days when the Vilna Gaon slandered the Alter Rebbe." I think the time when Lubavitch was used to keep its mouth shut is over. Because of messianism and many other things, we have been slandered without saying a word. That's why, we don't accept anymore many of the injustified accusations against us. On the other hand, we are not perfect, but people should admit that there are many non-sense in what they say or hear about us. Just make a little search on Google, and you will see that there is not a single Jewish organization that is too much slandered than we are. You have websites like failedmessiah, infochabad, chabadmafia and the like, which are disgusting to say the least.

  28. And I forgot to mention the fact that you don't have to be a Rabbi to open a Beis Chabad. In fact, most Shluchim don't have a smicha (Rabbinical ordination) and are dependent on a Rav or a Mashpia to whom they submit their questions and from whom they receive advices when needed.

    It is a fact that the most learned will chose to lead religious communities instead of a Beis Chabad. As I already noted, just see the number of Chief Rabbis around the world who are Lubavitcher. In Paris, Antwerp, Brooklyn, Kfar Chabad and other frum locations (Lod, etc.), you will meet many learned, frum Lubavitcher leading huge religious communities. This is a personal choice they made. I think it's a natural and human orientation: the more you are learned, the more you'd like to be involved with already religious people. And the less you are learned, the less you'd like to be involved with already religious people (it may explain why some Shluchim insist that only secular Jews can attend their classes). But once again, we cannot say that Lubavitcher are unlearned people who don't know much about halachos. Yes, there are many, but Chabad is more complex than that. There are no official figures, but the more optimistic experts estimate that there are almost 200 000 Lubavitchers around the world, while the less optimistic say almost 100 000. Of course 200 000 is exagerated. But when you know that there are 6 000 Chabad Shluchim around the world, you can see that Shluchim are far from being the majority in Lubavitch and that most Lubavitcher are unknown to the public. That's why making generalization about Lubavitch from what people know about Chabad Shluchim is not a precise science and more often leads to innacuracies and mistakes.