Monday, July 07, 2008

A Letter from a Lubavitcher

I just received a private post from an anonymous Lubavitcher Chasid. He feels that my criticisms of Lubavitch are wrong and – to put it the way he does – in bad taste. He asks that I admit that and apologize. He even ‘allows’ me to keep my views but feels that I have lost my credibility with Lubavitchers because of my relentless ‘attacks’ upon them.

He says that I could regain credibility by publicly regretting my words and promising not to engage in it anymore. I have no idea who this poster is. But I do believe he is sincere and understands that my motives are good if not effective – and even counter productive.

I would love to do disavow my words about Lubavitch if I could. I don’t relish being looked at like an enemy of Lubavitch. But my theological criticisms remain. I do not regret making them. I believe passionately in what I said.

My only regret is the negative way in which Lubavitch perceives them. I do not attack them. I am just trying to make them aware of what the almost entire rest of the Torah world believes about them. I am trying to lull them out of the false feelings of acceptance they may feel from the rest of the Torah world. That acceptance is not there.

It is not just the left - or just the right that rejects their resurrectionist-Meshichist theology. It is an across the board rejection. By publicly ‘telling it like it is’ my hope is that at some point they will realize just how strongly the rest of the Torah world rejects it and readjust their approach to Torah Judaism back into mainstream thought.

I of course realize the reality all too well. Instead of looking at the merit of what I say, they look at my words as an attack against them. I further realize that no matter how many times or in how many different ways I say that it is not an attack, they still do not believe me. Because of that, I have been subject to quite a bit of verbal attack, insult, and even hate talk - by some of my fellow Daveners in Bnei Ruven, the Lubavitcher Shul I Daven at every day.

I am truly misunderstood by them and I’m not sure I can change that. But I will not apologize for my views or for my expressing them in public. If this blog is about anything, it is about Emes. I will not offer insincere apologies just to gain points. I hope at some point they will come to realize that my criticisms are done out of love, not hatred.

That said, I do not want to miss an opportunity to promote some good advice to Lubavitch from one of their own. The anonymous poster asked that I write about a situation in Lubavitch that parallels much of my criticism in the Charedi world in Israel - and to a lesser extent in the United States.

It is about supporting one’s family by preparation - rather than by default. Instead of my writing about it, I present his entire post - unedited and uncut. I hope his words are taken seriously. Aside from the 'Mussar' given to me about my public attitude with Lubavitch - it is good advice and for the most part I agree with it.

You know good and well, that every time you attack or critique us Lubavitchers, you don’t influence us in any way. We either ignore you, or the more passionate among us may respond to your criticisms at us.

There is though a position that you are passionate about, that is shared by many in the Lubavitch community, that if you would champion that cause, you would be able to win many allies in the Lubavitch community, and it could influence (in my humble opinion) future Lubavitch practice in this issue. That issue is commerce. People in the Lubavitch community have a mentality that somehow getting a job, and not pursuing shlichus, is a negative pursuit.

There are so many young Lubavitchers (hundreds) nebach rotting away in kollel “looking” for shlichus. If a shlichus opportunity doesn’t present itself to a young Lubavitcher after two children, he will have no choice, and he will have to get a job.

At that point, it is impossible for him to be entrepreneurial, because he has a family he has to provide for, so at this stage of the game, he doesn’t have the luxury to take risk. He ends up with a loserish job, and it is at that point too late to reverse the clock.

Had this yungerman initially of had the view, that there is nothing disgraceful with an honest job in the business/corporate world, he would have had a different outcome. That is not to say that if you are a very talented idealistic Lubavitcher, you shouldn’t pursue a shlichus, you should, but if you are not 100% genuinely driven towards shlichus, there should be no reason a Lubavitcher should not pursue a business career. Even the Lubavitcher Rebbe (I believe) didn’t oppose attending college after marriage.

If the tide changes in Lubavitch in this issue, I believe it can be a turning point in the ENTIRE chareidi world in this issue. You are a talented articulate writer who has the opportunity and forum to champion this issue. Unfortunately, you have tarnished your ability to have a listening ear in the Lubavitch community, due to your relentless attacks on our community (despite your insistence that it is all constructive criticism, we don’t see it that way).

If you release a statement on your website that you regret your theological critiques on Lubavitch, and that it was in bad taste, and you are committed in the future not to engage in it anymore, I think you would rebuild the trust in our community, and regain the platform (meaning a LISTENING ear) to influence Lubavitch.

Then your blog would actually have the ability to influence change, and not merely be a platform to rant! If you have too much pride to disassociate yourself from your past critiques of Lubavitch, then I believe you will have no ear in Lubavitch youth (or Lubavitch in general).

It doesn’t mean you have to alter your opinions in those issues, just reassure the Lubavitch community that it was in bad taste that you engaged in raising such sensitive issues on your blog, with full knowledge that you didn’t have a shot in influencing Lubavitch anyhow.

The ball is in your court, do with it as you please.