Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Prejudices against Chabad (Lubavitch)

The "Zemach Zedek" Chabad Synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Especially German Jews look at Chabad (Lubavitch) with very mixed feelings. The chassidic group is mainly seen as “Every Chabadnik is a Meshichist”. This is the usual propaganda of Orthodox communities in Germany and I have to add that those Orthodox Rabbis aver very afraid that Chabad may take over the show and snatch away their sheep. 

Many people, and not only in Germany, don’t bother with research on Chabad in order to achieve a few deeper insights. Let alone what Chabad Chassides really means and stands for. How Chabad sees Zaddik (righteous person) and any further chassidic aspect. What various people do think about Chabad is that the group is very open. Not to say “modern”. “Hey, any Chabadnik invited me in for a Shabbat meal and the atmosphere was open – minded. No pressure and telling me what to do like in other chassidic groups. Chabad just accepts any Jews no matter what his background is. Some Israeli Chabadnikim even join the army, so the group must be open – minded and tolerant and not as strict as other group"s. 

I have already mentioned a couple of times that Chabad is extremely anti – Zionist. A fact, not too many people are aware of. The Israeli members don’t celebrate the countries annual Independence Day but rather the “Day of the Bones”.  How come that despite all this anti – Zionism various Israeli Chabadniks can joing the army ? 

A Chabad Rabbi from Zfat told me that the groups does keep the laws of the countries the members live in and this is why some Chabadnikim can be found in the Israeli army. And, of course, the aspect of maybe influencing some Jews to the world of Mitzvot, is also playing a role. The group doesn’t publically make too many statements regarding its extreme anti – Zionist views and thus, many Jews don’t know about it at all. However, Chabad can be as anti – Zionist as Satmar. In certain aspects, at least. 

Today, one has to differentiate between the original “old” Chabadnikim who have been members for generations and those called “newcomers joining the Chassidut”. Nevertheless, I assume that also the Ba’alei Teshuva Shlichim within Chabad follow the group’s strict ideology. Chabad likes to help all Jews. JEWS and not Reform converts or Gentiles although the group is very active in the Bnei Noach (Noachide) world. 

Another ideology Chabad doesn’t like to mention publically is their viewpoint regarding the Holocaust. Already the Satmarer Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum as well as the later founder of Chassidut Toldot Aharon, Rabbi Aharon Roth, claimed that the Zionist idea played a part in the Holocaust, as G – d was "punishing" the Jews. 

There have been many misconceptions about Chabad and, unfortunately, people mainly concentrate on the Meshiach concept when criticising the Lubavitcher. In order to understand Chabad, you have to fight your way through a vast amount of literature on the group. Its history as well as its chassidic content. What I also learned is that writing about Chabad is extremely complicated, as the group’s history is anything but easy to understand. It takes years to find out what is going on and why it is happening this way. 


The anti - Zionism of Chabad


  1. B'H

    A well written and balanced article.

  2. Chabad in America is a joke for the most part. I'm sure there are some shuls other than 770 that try to keep certain standards. It's all about Money. They really push the envelope when it comes to Znius, Even their Rebbetizns. Also, How much do you compromise Halacha for the Sake of Kiruv. Don't get me wrong I love Lubavitch I daven Nusach Ari and keep all the minhagim of Chabad, I only differ in the Levoush.I wear the levoush of most other chassidim. They've turned the Tanya into a cartoon character and yiddishkeit into a Hollywood production!!!

  3. My biggest frustration with Chabad and its Holocaust theology is the fact that the rebbe said one thing and contemporary Chabadniks (at least in the English-speaking world), rather than either honestly confront his statements or defend them, a-la Satmar and Shomrei Emunim, have instead spent years covering it up to better appeal to would-be BTs or donors.

  4. B"H

    I don't have a satisfying answer for you, as I would guess that Chabad is very much into outreach and their own Holocaust ideology doesn't really fit into "Attracting" people.

    On the other hand, understanding this particular point of view on the Holocaust, a Jew needs a deeper knowledge and understanding on Judaism. Not everyone has that and by stating this ideology, too many people may misunderstand the concept.

    But it is not only Chabad, Satmar or the Toldot Aharon making such statements. I have heard enough Litvaks claiming the same.

  5. B'H

    Anonymous, i'm a Lubavitcher and I agree with you in all your points. Lubavitch is no longer what it used to be. But now that 770 and Chabad of America do not represent the whole Chabad world and that many many Lubavitcher are not like that and still stick to the old Chabad tradition (davening longer, dresing as chassidim, etc.) and don't try to have a name for themselves. If you look carefully, you will notice that most of the "shluchim" on the Chabad websites are modern Lubavitcher (some of them even touch their beards). But all the Lubavitcher are not like that.

    1. BS"D
      Moshe, Thanks for your reply. I am curious are there any Lubavitch shuls that still hold to the old ways here in the US?
      Thanks, Anonymous

  6. Let me get in here and share, my 2 cents..
    Miriam, your an innocent outsider, and you mean well. Thank you for being somewhat balanced.

    The rest of you are totally clueless, and your willing to besmirch all of Lubavitch for your ignorance.

    "Chabad in America is a joke for the most part."
    Huh? A network of thousands of Shuls, Chabad houses and Shluchim working round the clock being mekarev Yidden.. Whats the joke?

    "It's all about Money"
    Some people are like that, not most..
    Just like all groups..

    "They really push the envelope when it comes to Znius, Even their Rebbetizns."
    Well, every group has an area in which to improve, no Chabad Rov will defend pritzus.
    they are also human beings with a Yetzer Harah..

    "They've turned ...yiddishkeit into a Hollywood production!!!"
    Oh, check out the latest Aish videos, like the Rosh Hashana dance.. and Rock of the Ages..
    Tell me who does hollywood!

    "My biggest frustration with Chabad and its Holocaust theology"
    Can you please clarify?
    I'm not getting it, this whole thing with the holocaust theology in Chabad.. What are you talking about?

    Moshe wrote: "If you look carefully, you will notice that most of the "shluchim" on the Chabad websites are modern Lubavitcher (some of them even touch their beards)."

    That is absolute bogus! Phoney baloney!
    Having been by DOZEN'S of Shluchim and having many Shluchim in my family, I can tell you that 99.5% of Shluchim don't dream of even trimming their beards..

    "I am curious are there any Lubavitch shuls that still hold to the old ways here in the US?"

    Why are you even taking this Moshe seriously?
    He obviously doesn't live here in NYC, because if he would, he wouldn't present you with such baseless and distorted information..
    As someone living here all my life and having been in many Chabad communities around the world, i will not deny that there is a minority who are becoming very modern..

    But all you have to do is walk in to 770 and you'll find many many of the old type.
    There are also approximately 55 Shuls in Crown Heights, and most are not in any way modern style, though a small noisy few are.

    In Israel as well, there are many very old-style chabadniks, check out Toras emes or Tzemach Tzedek in Yerushalayim, or the village of Kfar Chabad and many other places.

    1. BS"D
      No one is bismirching Lubavitch, Chas v' Shalom. I have been in many Shulichim homes 90% don't even have a set of the Mishna Breurah or learn from it. What do they know about other chassidus. Do they Marry outside the "Fold" ie' other chassidim
      Just to give you an example, I was having my Chabad Tallis Cleaned before Shabbos and I was wearing a standard Kosher tallis when a shleach came up to me and asked where is your Jewish Tallis?, this was on shabbos in front of other non Chabad people. I was once learning with a young 20 something newly ordained Rabbi who didn't even know who the Ramchal was. I could go on and on. There is only one Torah, not a Chabad Torah, not a Belz Torah, Hashem's torah that was given to us all.

  7. What an oversimplification of Chabad Chassidus. How much Chabad Chassidus have you read/learned? Have you even read the sichas and watch the videos of the Rebbe answering your questions?

    If you had maybe this blog post wouldn't exist.

    Ad Mosai?

    Moshe if you are truly a Lubavitcher then how can you even think for a second of condemning thousands of the Rebbe's Chassidim? How old are you? 25? 30? 50? What do you even remember of the "old days"? From videos that you can vicariously live through.

    The Rebbe Rashab said BE A LAMPLIGHTER. He didnt say complain that there is no light in the room.

  8. B"H

    To speak about myself: I have learned some Lubavitcher Chassidus for a couple of years but also dealt with other chassidic writings and not, exclusively, Lubavitch.

    I have been in touch with different Lubavitchers. Ba'alei Teshuva, Shluchim as well as born Chabadniks (with the background of generations).

    What I still don't understand is why everyone is getting so upset about Chabad ? I am talking here about members and not outsiders. I know that there are fights / arguments (whatever you like to call it) between Rabbi Krinsky and the Meshichistim. Probably there are plenty of further arguments and it is very hard to figure out all conflicts and disputes.

    Why do you always have to fight about who met the Rebbe and who didn't ? It sounds like "I met the Rebbe and thus, I am more important than anybody else who hasn't".

  9. Ha Yom Yom says learning Chabad Chassidus from the Rebbeim and interalizing it is greater than seeing the Tzaddik face to face. Still it says again in Ha Yom Yom that the Shpoler Ziede met the Baal Shem Tov who touched his chest over his heart and it was warm his entire life.

    The Rebbe Rashab says learning Tanya is like meeting the Alter Rebbe face to face.

    Hashgacha Pratis is that I wrote a long response and a power outage in my building caused it to be lost. Imagine the lengths Hashem goes to make peace between Yidden.

    Kitzur is that I have studied and surrounded myself with many different groups of Chassidim and in the end came back to Chabad is that I find it is the only way to successful serve Hashem thanks to the Rebbeim who painstakingly scoured the endless sea of Torah to create a map. It might not appeal to everyone but you are guaranteed to be successful if you follow the directions laid out.

    Learn Shaar HaYichud which is called the Keys to Chassidus.

    If you arent a Lubavitcher then who cares about the internal strife and if you are a Lubavitcher and you care about the internal strife I suggest you learn more Chassidus.

    Yichus means nothing as the story of the chasid of the Alter Rebbe who made the Mitteler Rebbe into a Chassid by showing that Yichus means nothing if not backed by sincere and serious Avodas Hashem. It can befound in ArtScrolls Chassidic Tales on the Torah Portion on parshas Shemos.

    Chabad Chassidus is above all this and if you busy yourself with working on yourself you will see less flaws in everyone around you.

    Check out my new post.

  10. Miriam, everything I was saying was talking about members..

    btw, Iv'e been following your blog for a long time, it's quite interesting I must say..

  11. B"H

    All comments show that CHABAD is not an easy subject and there is so much to learn about.

    @ Binah

    You asked about the Chabad Holocaust ideology. To clarify, it is not only Chabad following this ideology but many more chassidic groups plus the Litvishe.

    I may be wrong but, as far as I know, it was the Satmarer Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum stating that the Holocaust happened due to the Zionist idea. Not that the Holocaust only happened to the Zionist ideas of Theodore Herzl and others. However, the Satmarer Rebbe sees Zionism as one of the reasons why G - d punished the Jews with the Holocaust.

    It is a very strong claim and not easy to understand. So far, I have refrained from mentioning this kind of ideology on my German blog, as any Neonazi may see himself justified. Just like: "See, even G - d wanted a Holocaust to happen and not only Hitler. So, it was G - d's fault and not Hitler's".

  12. A nice video showing the Rebbe support for the Jews who defend the Holy Land and organize bar mitzvah's for their orphaned sons.

  13. Why are all of you arguing and Badmouthing eachother? Is there not enough hate in the world? Say what you will about my naivite but I love each and every one of you, and every rabbi chabad or not that has ever touched my life. Think Good and it will Be good. B*H

  14. HI everyone,

    I just want to clarify what the Lubavtitcher Rebbe said about the Halacaust> (not word for word) "chas v'shalom to accuse any Jew of causing the halacaust" Nothing and noone can ever justify such a terrible calamity".