In an article entitled “Rav Miller, Rav Heinemann and Rav Belsky on the Burning Issues in the Charaeidi Community” which was published last week, the author of the article, M. Yaffe presented a very biased and slanted question to the Rabbis, each of which responded in their own way, yet Rav Belsky chose to use the opportunity to viciously attack Chabad.
It is interesting to note that this Rav Belsky actively fought against Tanya Shiurim in his yeshiva, Torah Vodaath while other noted Roshai Yeshivas in the Litvish world, such as Rav Pam, supported it. Comments such as these, filled with so much Sinas Yisroel, bring into question Rav Belskys authority as a Posek and “Rav Hamchsir” for such a largh kashrus organization, such as the OU.
Read the question and the Rabbis answer in the Extended Article.
How should the chareidi community react to phenomena such as Chabad and the wide publicity it engenders with its Mashiaeh campaigns periodically splashed across the non-Jewish radio and TV media?
Rav Miller: There is both positive and negative in Chabad. Chabad in Toronto and worldwide are active in being mekarev Bnei Yisrael. There is lots of good in their organizations.
As far as the Mashichist group, there is much opposition within Chabad itself. After the outcry of rabbanim against this phenomenon, the issue has toned down greatly. The situation may be different privately among themselves, but at least they stopped publicizing it openly. The belief that Mashiach is in the embodiment of a deceased person is definitely assur and our mosdos must convey this issur to students as part of their education. However, we must convey the message that they are our brothers and we should feel sorry for them and not hate them, chas v’shalom.
I would not say the Mashichistirn are pasul, but rather they’re very mistaken in an important point of Yiddishkeit. Perhaps. I won’t accept such a person as a Rav (you can’t be a Rav if you’re deluded) or to work as a shochet, but I won’t say their shechitah is prohibited. Even avodah zarah b’shogeig does not pasul a shochet. It’s enough they know that other chareidim vehemently oppose these beliefs (and the non-observant think they’re crazy). It will eventually die out and b’ezras Hashem those mistaken will do teshuvah.
Rav Heinemann: I’m not against Chabad per se. I think they’ve done quite a few good things, but I’m not among those who believe that the Rebbe was Mashiaeh. But you don’t have to be Mashiach to be a gadol b’Yisrael. Moshe Rabbeinu wasn’t Mashiaeh despite being the leader of Klal Yisrael. It’s a distortion to say the Rebbe is Mashiach and anything which is not the truth, we can not agree to, even though Chabad in general does many good things. The best strategy concerning how to deal with a Chabad media campaign is just to ignore it. If you go against it, you strengthen it.
Rav Belsky: I disagree. Chabad used 10 he about disseminating Chassidic teachings which the Baal HaTanya wrote, saying his Divrei Torah, etc. In America, Chabad started out with Shlichim going out and bringing the masses back to Judaism. These are goals which we share and do not contest.
But present-day Chabad has nothing to do with the above. Present-day Chabad has become a personal cult centered on the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe. Everything they do from beginning to end, revolves around this. They constantly project his image, talk about him and how great he was, how smart he was, how he was a better strategist than all the generals, that he was Mashiach. etc. This is the way people talk about a cult figure. There’s no room in Yiddeshkeit for a personality cult in which an individual is deified and glorified. Whether he was great or wasn’t great is immaterial. There have been many great people in Judaism. The personality cult of glorifying an individual person, giving him unique titles, elevating the shape other building he was active in. etc., has no place in Yiddishkeit.