Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ignorant Comment about Chabad Lubavich EVEN IN VIEW of current events in Mumbai.

I was horrified this morning that in view of the horrible things that have happened to our friends in Mumbai, one of our own (a Jew) had the gall to do a search for the words "Chabad" and "cult" and post a comment on MY web site saying that Chabad was a cult because Jewish people (not necessarily even Lubavichers) moved in next to him and didn't befriend this Jew. I have pasted my response to his comment below.

It appears to me that you have found this web site by searching the terms Chabad and cult which is the first issue or that you are one of my personal friends who have had personal encounters with me and my peers. This is an old post, but it is still as true as the day I wrote it when I was in China in 2005.

I feel that your comment is uninformed because the whole purpose of Chabad is to teach people like yourself about who you are and to inform you of your obligation to practice the commandments that have been given to you. You might be a banker, a soldier, or a McDonalds burger-flipper, but you're still a Jew. Pardon your neighbors not coming over to your house to eat or for not joining you in your secular activities of which they have no interest or part -- the life of an orthodox Jew is a busy life with lots of responsibilities which you as a non-observant Jew either do not know about or have no interest in practicing.

I was studying with a close friend of mine who lived in Borough Park for many years -- a Jewish guy with a good heart, but limited observance. He means well, but I fear that his view of himself and his observance level is quite larger than is his actual practice. I learned Gemara with him shortly before he left to Iraq (at his request), and then before leaving, after me offering to provide his troops with Siddurim and reminding him to remember the Shabbat when he was abroad, he accused me of being a Lubavich missionary when I've been his been his best friend for over 10 years.

It is people like you who baffle me by allowing your egos to overcome your sense of sensibility and honesty about your level of observance of G-d's commandments. You think you are holier and mightier than the highest Rebbe, and you belittle religious people who actually know their place in the world and know how limited they are in their greatness in contrast to your own self-righteousness which convinces you that you are just as "religious" as they are. If only you knew how disastrous it is for you to pick up a phone or turn on a light on the Sabbath, you would never do so, but you do so unknowing the implications. That is where a fellow Jew comes in -- to remind you of who you are and to bring you closer to the truth which is Torah, mitzvos, and doing G-d's will.

As for your cult comment, forgive me for sneering at your ignorance. I am familiar with what certain Jewish organizations do, and I too believe some of their methods are creepy, but not Chabad. I've spent my entire life around them and now am part of them and I believe as one of them that their only interests are your best interests. Chos v'sholom you call a group of individuals who don't befriend your heiness (I spelled it that way on purpose) a cult.

Bottom line, the Chabad Lubavich movement is an outreach program where emissaries (shluchim) are sent to far parts of the world (and to local places like your local neighborhood) for the SOLE purpose of spreading Judaism to their own. The goal is to have fellow Jews recognize their role and identity in the world -- that there is a G-d, he created the world, he freed us from bondage in Egypt, and he gave us the Torah. As such, we have an obligation to be faithful to Him, and to do his commandments as he has asked of us.

I am saddened when people such as Anonymous post self-hating mumbo jumbo about certain groups (Chabad and otherwise) as being a cult. There is nothing asked of a Jew except to be a Jew and to perform G-d's commandments. There are no questionable tactics, but what I do see happen too often is that the ego of the other Jews are threatened when asked to put on Tefillin or to say a blessing (beracha), and are "turned off" to Judaism because some Chabad Rabbi asked them to do a mitzvah. Please spare me the idiocy. If you are offended because some Rabbi asks you to do a mitzvah, it is obviously because you are not doing it, or that you give off the message that you are not doing it. The rabbi has no benefit to asking you to do mitzvos except that you and him are bound together with all other Jews in one spiritual body known as Israel and every action of one Jew, religious or not, affects the body and soul of ALL OTHER JEWS around the planet. For this reason, there is no curiosity that shluchim will be sent around the world, even into dangerous places such as Mumbai to spread Judaism to visiting Jews because we are all of one body. On top of that, on a more secular level, obviously there is the motivation that you as a Jew will become more observant because you personally have a benefit of doing G-d's commandments, and obviously there is the not-so-exciting prospect that you'll give donations to further this shaliach's ability to affect other Jews to further his mission that he has been sent out to complete. There is nothing wrong with this.

Thus, your comment is unfounded and is wrong. Please do some inner searching before blaming some Rabbi for you not going to synagogue or for your lack of Jewish observance. You probably even owe this Rabbi an apology.


Ahuva said...

Why are you upset that your friend "accused me of being a Lubavich missionary"? You yourself say:
"because the whole purpose of Chabad is to teach people like yourself about who you are and to inform you of your obligation to practice the commandments that have been given to you."

That IS definining the whole purpose of Chabad as a missionary organization.

You're also not addressing the "cult" bit at all. "I am familiar with what certain Jewish organizations do, and I too believe some of their methods are creepy, but not Chabad." is not a defense against the accusation. Come on, you can do better than that. :)

Zoe Strickman said...

I hear you, but this is not a topic I'm interested in getting involved in just because of the stupidity and ignorance of those who start calling this group and that group a cult when really, they're just looking for an excuse to belittle someone else for their own insecurities. It's like you asking me to prove to you that the sky is blue. It would be a waste of my time because the person trying to convince me otherwise is obviously an idiot for trying to argue with me otherwise.

In somewhat agreement with my accuser's point of view, parents and non-religious Jews call religious organizations cults because often their children come back changed (often far more religious than when they started off) and the parents are vehemently opposed to that change. While it does happen in some circles where kids go off to Israel and meet up with individuals who lie to them and take advantage of their lack of Jewish knowledge to brainwash them to take religion to an extreme, I've never seen this happen with Chabad. Never. If anything, they are the opposite, encouraging individuals to remain part of society and not to alienate themselves from family and friends.

Anyway, I was annoyed at the tone of which was used when my friend called me a missionary. It was just an unfair judgment, especially when I've been VERY low-key regarding not mekareving him, so his accusation took me by surprise. In other words, I feel as if he judged me blindly as any self-hating secular Jew would. It was as if he didn't see me, his friend for over 10 years, but only a religious guy standing in front of him, and that hurt my feelings.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that maybe you might of said something towards your friend in a tone that had come across as your unfair judgement of him?

Is it possible that you were so quick to guard your own feelings that you didn't take into consideration his feelings?

If you have been his best friend for over 10 years, I'm assuming he has been a good friend in return thus perpetuating that long friendship, why would he come across and just insult you for no apparent reason except to question your unfair judgement of him???

Maybe you should be so quick to judge. Sometimes we need to listen to how we present ourselves so our intentions match our outcomes.


Zoe (at work) said...

EG, obviously you're still my best friend. If your observance is where you want it to be (which I believe it likely is), then you shouldn't be sensitive or offended when someone makes a comment to remember that it is Shabbos where you are (noting that it was likely not allowed re: halacha to return your e-mail because it was Shabbos where you were, just as it is not allowed to make a phone call to a location where it is still Shabbos -- I was reminding you to mind your surroundings.) Think about it for a moment, and you'll notice that I put myself and my spiritual well-being at risk (something I will have to answer to on the day that I die and am judged by Hashem) and I consciously broke halacha by e-mailing you back to tell you that. I'd say that's an act of friendship.