Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Official Jewish Songbook?

I recently had a phone conversation with a Lubavitcher Shaliach. It was quite a surprising one. It turns out that he is a devoted reader of this blog. What is even more surprising is that he not only believes that I am not a Lubavitch basher, he actually agrees with most of what I write including my essays about Lubavitch issues.

I am gratified to know that there are at least a few Lubavitchers that understand my motives and my views and agree with them. This Shaliach gave me Chizuk. More power to him and others like him. They are Gibborim – great people.

Unfortunaltley, the power is not yet theirs. This Shaliach, who shall remain anonymous for obvious reasons, has confirmed that the Meshichist problems are much larger than Lubavitchers are willing to admit – certainly in public. Especially in Israel where it is rampant.

Today I came across something called ‘The Official Jewish Songbook’. It is a work produced for Tzivos Hashem and is available online in pdf.

Tzivos HaShem is translated as the army of God. It is the name Lubavitch gives to various parts of their youth movement. Unless this book is a forgery or has been replaced since its initial publication in 1998, I have to assume this is what young people in Lubavitch are officially being fed.

Be that as it may, I was directed to a song via an e-mail from a friend. This song was printed in the back of a Lubavitcher Bencher that was published in 2006. It from this songbook. When I say that Lubavitch is obsessed with the Rebbe I mean lines like the following from a section entitled Rebbe Songs (pp 54-78):

Oy! But Rebbe I promise
Your holy words I shall uphold.
Nothing will stop me
From doing that which you have told.
Rebbe I'm your soldier
To you my life I dedicate.

So instead of God’s will - it is the Rebbe’s will. Instead of inculcating their children to serve God, they are taught to dedicate their lives to a deceased Rebbe. It is to the Rebbe that they seem to Daven to.

I’m sure that the response by many Lubavitchers who read this will be an angry one - claiming that I misunderstand or purposely distort the meaning of those words. I’m sure they will also say that these words are designed to give a Lubavitcher better focus on God by concentrating on the Rebbe.

But, I would retort that such an interpretation is a real stretch. Does one need an intermediary in order to better focus attention on God? Is there any other Chasidus that would pen the words contained in this song? Is there any other Orthodox group that would publish such a song in the back of a bencher about even the greatest Gadol or Chasidic Rebbe?

Here is more from page 63 from a song called ‘Redemption is Alive’:

Redemption has arrived
That’s what the Rebbe prophesied
Moshiach has come
It’s already begun.

The Rebbe King Moshiach
Walking right into shul
Smiling at his kinderlach
Cheering on their song.

The world will gather passionately
To the Rebbe in 770
In the Bais Hamikdosh Hashlishi
We know it won’t be long.

Yet we believe in you with perfect faith…

This song refers to the building at their current location in Brooklyn as the Beis HaMikdash. And the last line is the classic line from the Rambam’s 13 principles about the believing with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach - as the Rebbe. Ani Maamin B’Emunah Shelaima…

The underlying theme of this songbook is that the Rebbe is at the very least - Moshiach.

I’m not sure what to think here. Is this indeed the official songbook? Are these songs sung at their youth gatherings – like summer camps? I hope not. I would love to hear an official denial from Lubavitch leaders. I would love someone there to say that this book is an outdated fraud from 1998. But at least one publisher doesn’t think it’s a fraud and deemed fit to publish a song from it in a currently distributed Bencher.

This means that there is a market. There is enough demand to make it an economically viable product. And there was at least one wedding where it was recently distributed.

As far as I know there has not a word of protest by anyone. - No effort to remove or ban its publication.

If Lubavitch ever wants to be taken seriously by the rest of the Torah world they need to counter this type of thing. Yes, they are very large and growing movement. Bigger than ever. They will say they don’t need our approval. But they are wrong. If they lose their validity then size will not matter. Because if it did - then we would all be Christians.

Lubavitch leadership has to do something radical to counter this kind of thing. They keep popping up and every time they do – as it did at a recent Lubavitch wedding - it does more damage to their great cause. And that gives me great sorrow.