Monday, July 18, 2005

Hate for Lubavichers Explained

I have arrived home safely to the US, and I have written much on my Palm pilot since my last post that as soon as I can, I will upload it onto the site.

In spite of various hate letters and comments I have received because of the rage various Jews feel towards their own people, I wanted to state clearly my intent in writing this blog. I am not interested in debating Jewish politics, nor am I interested in discussing how bad certain groups are over certain others. I am a firm believer in Jewish unity, and I saw it at the Shabbos (Sabbath) table in Beijing, China, where there were Lubavich Chassidim, Satmar Chassidim, and Bellz Chassidim (forgive me if I've misspelled any of your groups' names) sitting at the same table eating the same food, discussing concepts of the same Torah.

All Jews from all walks of life have the same G-d, the same Torah, and the same rules. Even if you open up a Torah scroll that has been locked away in some forgotten Ethiopian tribe for thousands of years, you will find that they are still following the same Torah which is exactly the same, letter for letter.

No Jew should dislike another Jew because he has a different approach to his service of G-d. Some Chassidic groups approach G-d in service with singing and dancing, while others approach G-d with fear, self-nullification, and trepidation. Some separate themselves from the world, while others try to embrace it and to raise the level of holiness of the world. After all, for you Chassidic-haters, remember that as a Jew, your obligation, as the Torah clearly states, is to be "priests onto the world." Even non-Jews look to us for our priesthood and they expect us to act morally and to have a close connection to G-d.

When a Jew such as my anonymous poster from one sect of Judaism spits out words of hatred against another sect or group, he has violated Jewish law. This person is a sinner, and is in deep spiritual trouble, both when it comes to divine punishment coming to him for his fragmentation of the Jewish people, and when it comes to his own sad isolation from his own people. Jews are Jews, regardless of whether they wear a black hat or have long payis (curly hair let to grow around the ears); regardless of whether they shave their heads or whether they grow long beards. We all wake up in the morning and are obligated to the same laws, and we are connected spiritually in a literal way as one body. It hurts every Jew when another Jew breeds hatred amongst his fellow man. It causes hatred amongst other Jews, and it causes the goyim (non-Jews) to hate us because we are not sustaining the world spiritually the way we need to. Our actions even affect the non-Jews and their quality of life. When we stop being unified and following the commandments we have been obligated to, the world goes nuts and people get hurt. So stop your fighting and drop your hatred of Lubavichers, and of other Chassidic and non-Chassidic sects that are not like you in their approach to Judaism. You cause more damage than good by your hatred.

Since most of my readers on this site are non-Jews, I also want to clarify the angry posts that you are witnessing by the random Jewish self-haters who come on this site from time to time. What you are seeing specifically is roughly a 200-300 year old fight between those who follow the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and his teachings of Chassidus versus those who reject Chassidus. The problem was that the Jewish people were turning into angry disciplinarians whose observance over the years turned cold and heartless. Their study of Torah and observance of the mitzvos (commandments) continued to be strong, but their hatred of others and their protectionist measures towards those who were not like them as a reaction to all of the anti-Semitism they experienced over the thousands of years led them to drive many Jews away from the faith.

Judaism as people today well know has a mystical side and a practical side. The real mystical side we see today, often called "Kabbalah", has been lost through disuse because it became dangerous to practice Kabbalah after we lost our holy Temple in Israel and went into exile. This is because our spiritual garments which are maintained on some pseudo-physical level by our performance of the mitzvos (commandments) became incomplete when we stopped having the capacity to fulfill many of the mitzvahs through the loss of our temple (i.e. bringing sacrifices, temple service, etc.). By lacking the ability to have a complete garment, Jews became prone to being influenced by dark angels, demons, and other non-corporeal evil entities who were able to possess, effect, kill, and misdirect our energies to do bad and not good when we tried to practice Kabbalah. For that reason, we stopped its use and over the hundreds of years, we forgot its methods.

Chassidus is not Kabbalah, nor is it the practice of magic or sorcery that so many Jews rightfully fear. By the way, a Jew is not allowed to practice magic or sorcery. This is a biblical prohibition. Rather, Chassidus teaches Torah in a way that the average person is able to understand the spiritual concepts in a tangible way. By learning Chassidus, one becomes refined in his attributes and in his thoughts. He learns that it is a bad idea to do the mitzvos selfishly for one's own reward rather than to serve G-d with a pure heart. He learns the concept of bitul, and other concepts of living that prepare a person to live a moral life.

However, for some reason these Jewish misnagdim, as they are called, have been fighting with the followers of the Baal Shem Tov since the beginning. This is the fight you see today when someone attacks Lubavichers, who are modern-day followers of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe, better known as that Baal Tanya (the one who wrote Tanya, which can be crudely summarized as the handbook for Chassidic thought). They also don't like the fact that Chassidic people follow a head Rabbi (a.k.a. a Rebbe), even though there have been Rebbeim since the beginning of the Jewish people leading them and directing them. Moses was the first Rebbe, as all Jews respectfully call him "Moshe Rabbeinu" (Moses, our Rebbe). Rebbe is an acronym which stands for "Rosh Bnei Yisroel," which means "the head of the Jewish people." Misnagdim don't like this either, while all it means is that as all Jews are part of one spiritual body, some are born with souls who have their source in the equivalent of the arm of the Jewish body, and others are born to the head. Rebbeim are said to have their source in being part of the head of the spiritual body of the Jewish people.

I hope this helps to explain a few of the concepts involved in this fight, and to understand why you'll have these self-hating Jews who populate the web and the blogsphere causing trouble for others through their hateful comments.


Daphnewood said...

don't worry Zoe. You have never seen a fight between a Southern Baptist and Catholic. My kids are still not recognized by the Catholic church because I would not convert. There is hate in every religion and those who feel the need to convert others who already "believe". What a waste of time and passion.

welcome home!

Rowan said...

my personal feeling on this is, regardless of faith, if you are telling someone that they are practicing wrong in nonconstructive and hurtful ways, this is sinning regardless. I believe in any faith, we all are referring to the same God, so respect Him any way you feel is right.

Pragmatician said...

There are very few things that hurt me as much as seeing one group fighting with another. As you said so fittingly, we all believe in the same Torah.
And within the framework of Halachah it shouldn’t matter how it is applied to daily life regarding clothing, cooking, choice of synagogue etc...
Well written.

Dylan said...

well written. May Moshiach arrive speedily in our days.

Rebeljew said...

You know why we do not have Jewish unity today. It is because of those Misnagdim, those incidious self aggrandizing egotists of the Jewish world. They speak only lashon hara about others. They despise unity and I would never walk into their shuls or batei medrash. It is their negative focus and bashing of others that fan the flames of internecine hatred.

And as a Chabadnik, your mashpi'im would certainly agree. No?

Zoe Strickman said...

As a Chabadnik I would not agree. As a Jew I believe in achdus (unity) and I feel that any hatred among the sects is not proper because we have the mitzvah (commandment) of ahavas yisroel where we are commanded to love our fellow, regardless of whether he is mischichist (messianic oriented) or a misnaged (who doesn't believe in the teachings of Chassidus).

I feel that your anger towards misnagdim is akin to the reverse discrimination and hatred blacks in America have for whites. It's just not a proper way to think.


PS - I was going to delete your comment because I felt that this site should not be a breeding ground for one Jew attacking another, however I wanted to respond to you with respect that because these "incidious self aggrandizing egotists" you talk about are your and my own people, hatred towards them is not justified.

[To my non-Jewish friends and readers, this is an internal Jewish problem that needs to be rectified.]

Rebeljew said...

Sorry Zoe

That comment was tongue in cheek. I thought the irony was more obvious given the subject of the post.

Dindel said...

Rebeljew, you have to realize you can’t sink to their level. They may be self hating Jews and anti-Semites at their own level. But if we hate them, we come off just as bad and accomplish nothing in the mean time.

But can I just add; this is a was to put a good spin on what they do. As much as they run around with the Anti-loshan hura patrol crap they spew..
I would like to personally thank the snags of my hometown for doing everything in their power to spread the word like wild fire and make my life sound a lot more interesting than it really was. Cause now I can go almost anywhere and feel like home. Cause people know my name –f* ckers
Please don’t take that as sarcasm I mean it. Really I do.

Zoe Strickman said...

I guess I wasn't so coherent to catch the tongue and cheek this morning at 2:30 am. Last night before writing that, I fell asleep on the train ride home and ended up in the middle of nowhere at 1am and so getting back home was a trek.

I'm sorry anyone has been hurt by the rift between the sects. When I became Lubavich, I lost three good friends and a girlfriend who at the time I wanted to marry.

However, I believe very strongly that Chassidim should not fight with Misnagdim (snags). It's just not proper.

Rebeljew said...

Its just so strange to hear the hypocrisy of the strong sectarians (chabad and misnagid) so clearly, realizing that they cannot hear it themselves.

It is almost as blaring as your naivete in believing that they even want to stop or would stop if it were pointed out to them. (Not that a little naivete isn't good. It takes a while to get really really cynical.)

blueenclave said...

Excellent post. I feel diffident about getting too close to the Chabad community in my own hometown, although the shul seems very heimish.