The "Failed Messiah" mentions a very interesting subject which has been bothering me for a long time. I am in the middle of planning so many different topics to write about and research seems to be endless. Not enough for one life - time and I am not getting any younger. Unfortunately.:-)
One of the readers mentioned the "Failed Messiah" article in a comment and I would like to respond this way: First of all, it is not a secret that various Rabbis / chassid Rebbes are tremendously rich. I just have one question: I would like to know where the "Failed Messiah" got his figures from.
It is known that the Gerrer Rebbe is one of the richest people in Israel. When he arrived in Israel (then Palestine), he actually was poor but suddenly became rich. As far as I know, the most common explanation for the Rebbe's sudden wealth is real - estate. The truth is that nobody really knows but the Rebbe himself. But mentioning this, I don't intend giving more food to the "Failed Messiah".
The Belzer Rebbe is rich too, and I assume that lots of his wealth comes from the diamond business in Antwerp or elsewhere. On the other hand, never forget that those Rebbes also invest a lot in their communities. Zedakah within chassidic communities is an important matter. So, we cannot only concentrate on the negative side but have to consider the positive side as well.
Personally I don't care how much money the Gerrer or Belzer Rebbe or any other Rebbe has. What does bother me is that various Sephardic Rabbis travel around, creep around Israeli politicians and famous business people and let them donate. I am, in particular, referring to Rabbi Pinto. I have been collecting a lot of material about him and some Shearim readers were so kind to contribute information. Rabbi Pinto is one of the keyfigures in using religion in order to lead a Hollywood - like lifestyle. It has become a custom that, a few days before Rosh Hashana, he takes a whole bunch of Israeli celebrities (including local pop stars) to the Kever of Rabbi Nachman miBreslov. The Israeli media likes to make a big fuss about the Rabbi and his celebrity club but I am always asking myself how much money he is getting out of this.