After being misrepresented Rabbi Shea Hecht took the opportunity to clarify his position with CrownHeights.info on the on the controversial ‘Call of the Shofar’ movement, reiterating that it is a cult – albeit a ‘kosher’ one.
As a veteran ‘cultbuster’ and expert on the subject, Rabbi Hecht was recently called upon to clarify as to whether the organization, a growing phenomenon in the Orthodox Jewish community, is indeed a cult.
Rabbi Hecht answered in the affirmative, leading many to believe that he had denounced the organization and discourages anyone from attending. Some went so far as to conclude that being a “cult” means that participation in their sessions is the equivalent of Avodah Zarah.
In the interview, Rabbi Hecht took the opportunity to clarify his position on the matter.
“Yes,” he said, “Call of the Shofar is a cult,” because they use certain signature cult tactics to manipulate and ‘take control of people’s minds.’ “But that doesn’t mean they are treif,” he continued, “because it is possible to use cult tactics for Kedusha.”
As to whether the movement classifies as Avodah Zarah, Rabbi Hecht was unequivocal: “It is not Avodah Zarah. However, don’t fool yourself into thinking that this is some form of Chassidus, for it is not that either. It is just one thing – Therapy.”
Rabbi Hecht went so far as to encourage those who feel they will benefit from these therapeutic sessions to go ahead and attend Call of the Shofar’s three-day seminars.
On the other hand, emphasized Rabbi Hecht, if one feels he doesn’t require this form of therapy, he should stay away. “They say they’re like vitamins – that anyone can take to boost their health; but I say they are like antibiotics. Only one who is ill and needs them for a cure should take them, but if you are healthy – stay away,” he said.
This statement by Rabbi Hecht runs contrary to those who, irresponsibly, promote ‘Call of the Shofar’ as a ‘one size fits all’ and legitimate program that is appropriate for all Chasidim regardless of need.
At the conclusion of the interview, Rabbi Hecht urged anyone with further questions on the matter to contact him personally, offering to take the time and offer guidance on the matter to anyone who feels he or she needs it.