Op-Ed: Is It Time To Speak About “Expanding 770”?

by Rabbi Gershon Avtzon – Cincinnati Ohio

All Chassidei Chabad are shocked, horrified and angry about the events that took place in 770. A few heavily misguided “Porkei Ol” decided on their own – against the will of the Rabbanim, Gabbaim and Askanim, and thus against the Rebbe – to “expand 770”.  They created a terrible world-wide Chillul Hashem and caused 770 to be closed by the NYPD.

There is no justification, or rationalization, of such behavior and it is demanded of everyone –  “right, left and center”- to make clear that this behavior has no place amongst Adas Chassidim and all need to understand this is not an ideological-”meshichist” issue.  The eerie similarities to this event and what is going on in Eretz HaKodesh is chilling.

With that clear and clarified, it is very important to break up this story – as everything that happens (especially of such large attention and significance) must be a lesson in our own Avodah –  and discuss a few components: 1) The goal: The expansion of 770. 2) The desire of the Bochurim to expand 770. 3) The proper way to channel the energy of our youth (and where did things go wrong).

The Goal: Expansion of 770

There are very few things that the Rebbe invested so much personal time and energy – and took so personal – as the expansion of 770. The Rebbe personally participated in the groundbreaking, spoke Sichos and edited the famous Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu Shebebavel. The Rebbe complained – when he saw that there was no significant movement – that (I am not quoting the exact Lashon) “they took a ninety year old man to schlepp stones and nothing happened”.

A true embarrassment to Lubavitch is the lack of growth of the Rebbe’s Shul. While the population tripled, the Shul stayed the same size. While every other Chassidus has built beautiful centers, Lubavitch has remained stagnant. 

Let us be open and honest: It is not a question of money and architects. There are plans and there are people that  have been, and continue to be, ready to pay. The money spent on the endless court case about the “true ownership of 770” could have paid for a significant part of the expansion of the Shul.

Stories about being the “boiler room of Lubavitch” and “keeping the Shul the way it was in the 90’s so that our children can see it” may sound nice, but are no excuse not to do what is right and what the Rebbe wants. 

In short: Expanding 770 is something personal to the Rebbe and every Chassid that the Rebbe’s will is dear to their heart should not be apathetic about this issue and should be willing to do anything is their power and ability to expand 770.

The desire of the Bochurim to expand 770

The Rebbe has unlimited love to the Bochurim and they have always reciprocated with unlimited love to the Rebbe and complete dedication to any directive of the Rebbe. The Rebbe literally gives the Talmidim “Birchas Habbanim” – the Bracha that father gives his children on Erev Yom Kippur! – only to Talmidei HaYeshiva. The bochurim always saw that the Rebbe believed in their potential and their youthful energy and idealism.

In fact, the message that the Rebbe wants us to give over to all the youth of this generation on Yud Shevat is: “In the course of the day, people (who are fit for the task) should visit centers of observant youth — and, in a neighborly spirit, should make every endeavor to also visit centers for the youth who are not yet observant — in order to explain to them the great love that the Rebbe had for them. It should be explained to them what the Rebbe expected from them, his hope for them and the trust that he placed in them that they would ultimately fulfill their task of strengthening Judaism and disseminating the study of Torah with all the energy, warmth and vitality that characterize youth.”

The Bochurim have always been in the forefront of actualizing the inner will and desire of the Rebbe and were always trying to be creative in “giving the Rebbe nachas”. Whether it was any of the Mivtzoim, Mitzvah tanks, or anything else that the Rebbe wanted accomplished, it always was the Bochurim leading the charge. 

[Being open and honest: Even the previous expansions of 770 were done through some zealous and Chassidishe Bochurim (see enclosed pictures). There are obvious differences to those expansions and the current demolition.]

In short: The desire of the Bochurim to expand 770 is admirable and the way it should be. In a generation of apathy and lack of motivation, it should be a goal of the Mechanchim to bring the talmidim to idealism, passion and dedication.

The proper way to educate and channel the energy of the youth

The Rebbe has two unique, and seemingly opposite approaches when it comes to the Chinuch of the Talmidim. As mentioned, the Rebbe is very open about his love and care of the Talmidim. At the same time, the Rebbe is so demanding on discipline and Kabbalas Ol. In Tomchei Temimim, the mashgichim make the talmidim crazy about coming just a few minutes late and everything must go through the Hanhallas HaYeshiva. 

This – seeming – “rigid structure” is not a contradiction of the love of the Rabbeim, quite the contrary: When you truly love someone, you want them to be able to be the most productive that they possibly can. Instilling true Kabalas Ol in the Talmidim enables them to be true soldiers in the Rebbe’s army and to use their abilities to bring the Geula. That is why the Rebbe demanded that everything a person does need to be discussed with their personal Mashpia.

These bochurim are obviously missing in this basic and important aspect. While the desire to expand 770 is admirable, their lack of Kablas Ol caused a Chilul hashem and churban.  It is similar to Nadav and Avihu or had the “Ratzui” and Not the “shuv” and Korach who – as explained in chassidus – was “living with Moshiach – when all are equal etc” but ended up fighting Moshe Rabbeinu Himself! Instead of being educated to receive hashpah from 770, they feel emboldened to be Mashpia on 770.

[ Being open and transparent: This did not begin with destroying the physical building of 770, it started much earlier with disregarding the authority of the Gabbaim with “dollars”, “giving the Rebbe and Aliya” and being physical and violent about the “shvil”. Too many people just dismissed it saying “at least they are busy with something that looks spiritual”. That is another big mistake. Misplaced idealism has led to many senseless wars and destruction. People in authority have to exercise their authoritybefore things get completely blown out of proportion.]

There is no question that the Temimim – Chayolei Beis Dovid – will lead the charge to the Geula. Now it is incumbent on the adults to put aside all Cheshbonos and “expand 770”! I am sure that with the right mediators and goodwill, the Gabbaim and “Aguch” could sit and work out the future of the the expanded 770 in a way that works for mainstream Anash and this sad event can be the beginning of a very bright future in which the Rebbe is the true winner. 

Davening for the complete expansion into the Beis Hamidash Hashlishi!

Please feel free to share your thoughts, on the above in the comments section or by sending me a personal email: rabbiavtzon@gmail.com


  • Ari-free

    I’m sorry but with all due respect, the embarrassment to chabad is coming from people waving yellow flags who drink and cause chaos, not because of the look of a building. Fix that first otherwise you’ll just have a bigger place for more craziness and embarrassment

    • CR

      Once again, the problem of “whose property is it?” emerges. Yes, countless hours of litigation say “Aguch” and not “CL” but none of that has made a practical difference. The flag-wavers are doing their best to assert “ownership” by means of intimidation. Whereas those whose ownership is legally sound have failed to assert authority.

      Will the real leaders please stand up and be counted?

    • Ari-free

      It’s not just about property, not just about 770. There’s a problem from all kinds of yeshivas that call themselves chabad that support these crazy people… including one from Cincinnati

  • Shem Toiv

    I am an outsider. The entire event – as well as the explanation above – are incomprehensible to the rest of the non-Chabad world of Bnei Torah. You guys really need to explain what is going on here.

    • AH

      Simple, really. There are bochurim who have incredible energy that has been misdirected (in the terminology of Kabbalah it’s called “the lights of Tohu”). Work needs to be done on harnessing that for positive ends (“the vessels of Tikkun”), with kabbolas ol.

  • Yossi M

    Being open and transparent. (adding to your section) – maybe also worth thinking about that this might have even started with the saying of Yechi and adding yechi signs in 770 (over these same walls) – might be time for some leaders to be brave and rethink this approach. I know you have all the answers and textual proofs, but you see the result.

  • Anonymous

    Is it Time To Speak About “Expanding 770”? NO
    Is it time to speak about banning those who lack respect and take matters into their own hands?
    Is it time to speak about leadership in 770?
    Is it time to speak about having more kochos for davening, like the Alter Rebbe wanted, instead of using all one’s kochos for yechi?
    Is it time to speak about kabbalos ol and how to instill it in talmidei yeshiv

  • Ari-free

    It’s time to kick out the meshichist movement, especially the ones who wave yellow flags. Then we can talk about expansion. Asur mera, v’aseh tov

  • Mushkie

    When you say that NOW is the time to speak about expansion of 770, you are joining with the hooligans.

    The leadership/owners of 770 will decide about expansion – not you or me or hooligans.

    Because your article makes it as if each one of us can decide to expand 770…THAT is THE problem and this is the results.

    You can have an “opinion” but nothing more than that. The decision is with owners.

  • Eliyahu

    It seems to me that years ago these guys decided that the Ohel belonged to the ‘establishment’ if you will, so did the upstairs and the Rebbes office. So all they could do is seize 770 itself and make it their makom kadosh. But they are a small minority holding the majority hostage.

  • Chossid

    Who are the Tmimim in the photos and when are the photos from? (no “yellow flags” are seen here…)

  • Anonymous

    In the Tanach everyone had their flaws ,so why wouldn’t the Rebbe have had his? To believe otherwise will only lead to disaster .

    Ahavat Yisroel must not be dictated by a hidden agenda of chassidus or any anything else outside of its own sake.

    All the shevatim had unique minhagim and pathways- every time one tried to dominate, doom always followed.

    Dont be fooled into believing otherwise!

  • Anonymous

    “There is no question that the Temimim – Chayolei Beis Dovid – will lead the charge to the Geula. Now it is incumbent on the adults to put aside all Cheshbonos and “expand 770”! I am sure that with the right mediators and goodwill, the Gabbaim and “Aguch” could sit and work out the future of the the expanded 770”

    The “gabbaim” lost that fight and have zero say. Let them stand down already.

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