On Sunday evening thousands of listeners tuned in to a live broadcast with Rabbi Shea Hecht, which was organized by CrownHeights.info in order to bring clarity and closure amid the uproar over the infiltration of the Call of the Shofar ‘cult’ into our community.
Rabbi Hecht lectured on the nature of mind control in general and COTS in particular, followed by a live question and answer session with the listeners.
Rabbi Hecht began the lecture by explaining the difference between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. He explained that cults have methods of taking control of one’s subconscious mind in a very subtle way. However, he explained, this control can be overcome due to the fact that the conscious mind is ultimately the more powerful of the two.
He then went on to address COTS in particular. First, he debunked the claim that COTS is endorsed by prominent Rabbonim, specifying how he contacted each and every rabbi who is said to have endorsed it and found their ‘endorsements’ to be lacking. Then he proceeded to address the organization itself and its methods.
Rabbi Hecht said that he had met with over one hundred people who attended COTS, he had spoken to psychiatrists, therapist, professionals and many Rabbonim, and based on the information he gathered, he drew the following conclusions:
1. COTS is a cult. “They tell you to put away your phone and your watch to isolate you; they have a 3-day program that is designed to control your mind,” he said. “That’s what cults do.”
2. COTS is bad for you. “It is designed step-by-step to take away your free choice, and make you keep coming back for more at tremendous monetary cost,” he said. Of the 100+ people he met with, Rabbi Hecht said that a majority of them expressed support for what he is doing, and even volunteered to assist in his research to bring light to what they are doing.
3. COTS is Ossur al pi Halacha. Large swaths of the COTS program are derived from Buddhism, which is 100% Avodah Zarah. Whether this means that COTS itself is Avodah Zarah is a separate question to which he did not give a definitive answer.
“I sincerely regret encouraging anyone to attend COTS,” Rabbi Hecht declared emotionally. “I was misinformed about the true nature of COTS, but after conducting proper research I know that I was mistaken.”
Rabbi Hecht reiterated that those who attended COTS should not be maligned in any way, because they were unsuspecting victims who were fooled into it. He also explained the basic ways they can rid themselves of the cult’s influence.
After the lecture, several listeners submitted questions, which Rabbi Hecht duly answered.
The following is a partial list of questions that were submitted. Rabbi Hecht’s answers can be heard in the second video below:
• Is hypnosis brainwashing or Avodah Zarah?
• You (R’ Shea) sent me to COTS, should I keep what I have gotten there or go get deprogrammed?
• A bochur attended Rabbi S. Tanya Shiur in Oholei Torah, where he incorporated some therapies and techniques from COTS. The bochur says he’s not affected (he didn’t find it life changing for the better or worse), is there any reason for concern, that corrective action is needed for this bochur?
• So many people have been sent to Alcoholics Anonymous and its subsidiary groups. It is derived from the Oxford Group – a Christian cult. Is that different? Why?
• What about the educators who are refusing to acknowledge that they were brainwashed and be deprogrammed. Shouldn’t they be fired? I don’t want them teaching my child!
• Don’t they take away cellphones in all Yeshivos?