The pleasurable chabadnik

Last night, there was a knock on the door. My daughter answered and called out “Aba”, as I was eating dinner. I know this means that there is a Tzedaka collector at the door. I don’t do things properly. I should sit down with them, offer them a L’chaim or cold drink and listen to their pitch and look at the pictures. It’s something I need to improve on. He noticed I was in the middle of dinner and apologised, which is always the sign of a mentch.

I recognised immediately that he was a Lubavitcher. He told me that he had seen me at Shule and that I had wished him שבת שלום. I couldn’t recall. I used to have a policy of not asking them who they were collecting for and just gave each person a modest amount. Lately, there are two categories that I enquire about. The first is whether they consider the State of Israel as a hindrance towards the Geula born from the Satan who is misleading us with false promises. If they are one of these, I will tell them that I prefer to give to those who see the State of Israel as a manifestation of יד השם and those who look to improve the religious and economic situation therein and not carp on the outer. I wish these people well in their ventures but advise them that I would rather give my modest support to those whose views don’t upset me. I make a mental note to give double to the next collector (who is not one of these types) to compensate somewhat. I know the Rav ז’ל would have given to this type of collector. He used to collect for his Uncle, R’ Velvel ז’ל, even though the Rav and R’ Velvel had different views on what the State of Israel meant from a religious perspective.

The second type of individual with whom I am uncomfortable, is the Meshichist. This is not for the same reason, but again, I’m uncomfortable with their views. Perhaps it is precisely because I went to a Chabad School and was exposed to what I think is the real McCoy, that I am upset with this type of person. I recognise they are fully entitled to their beliefs, in the same way that I am entitled to reject them. Back to the story at hand.

This person came in, and modestly mentioned that he was a Rosh Yeshivah from Arad in the south of the State of Israel. I asked him whether he was a Meshichist. He smiled and said (in Ivrit)

“I am not one of those people who go around saying Yechi”

So far, so good. My next question was:

Is there even a remote possibility that the Mashiach may not be the last Rebbe ז’ל?

He smiled, genuinely, and with warmth said:

I will be happy with whoever Hashem chooses to be Mashiach, it is Hashem’s choice, and it is not important to me who that person is. That’s not the important thing.

He had that certain real old-fashioned Chabad warmth that I was accustomed to in my youth. I immediately took to him. He almost had a smile like R’ Zalman Serebryanski ז’ל and projected a certain Emesdikeit. I gave him 3 times what I normally give someone at the door, but in retrospect, I feel I should have given him more. If any of my readers encounters him in the next few days, please tell him to come back!

Chabad do great things. I don’t agree with elements of their Philosophy, but that’s not a big deal. If we are honest, and delve deeply, most of us can’t say that we agree 100% with any particular approach.

When I compare this, to the type of Chabad that my kids are/were exposed to, I feel they have missed out. One just returned from Camp. One of the first safety approaches that were enacted was the method to call out for help if a camper was lost or in trouble. Campers were told to yell “YECHI” and those who heard this and were in a position to help, were to yell back “HAMELECH”. Couple this with the saying of Yechi thrice after each of the three Davenings every day, I ask you, is this what Chabad is about? Don’t people realise this turns non dyed in the wool people off? It’s simply not what Yidden do!

Let’s have more of those genuine Chassidim whom I encountered at my door please? They lack absolutely nothing in their התקשרות. They perform Hashem’s will through the prism of the approach advocated by their Rebbe. They are comfortable in their own skin and don’t need to holler daily to prove their credentials. Their actions are their deeds.

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia although my views have naught​ to do with my employer. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

25 thoughts on “The pleasurable chabadnik”

  1. One of the Tzadikim of previous generations said that when it comes the time to give an account to The One Above, those who didn’t scrutinise who they gave Tzedoko to(give everyone something besever ponim yofos), will also have the same done to them.

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  2. I can’t remember exactly. He either learned it from Chazal or repeated what they said in a slightly different way.

    It’s logic. Hashem treats us as we treat others. Many sources for that.

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  3. Let me say it at the outset – I’m not a “meshichsit”.

    You state something without explaining it.

    Is there something inherently wrong in saying Yechi? If yes please explain why?

    Just because, as you put it “this turns non dyed in the wool people off” [Honestly – I’m not familiar with this term] , does not make it evil.

    Is it a “meshuga’as”? Probably. Or closer to “sure”.

    Against Halacha? Probably not.

    Against Chassidus teachings? Probably not.

    Earns us friends? Probably not.

    Will refraining to say it earn us more friends? Probably not.

    Is this “meshiga’as” curable? Probably not.

    Something to be embarrassed by? Probably yes. Sometimes.

    Makes us sane Chabadniks uncomfortable? Probably yes.

    Something to hate people for? Probably not.

    Believe me, for those out there in a Chabad House fighting the battles against assimilation the concept of “kaporos” is much more challenging then explaining the Yechi aberration.

    The difference for us between these two irrational ideas is that we grew up and accepted the first and are uncomfortable with accepting that some sincerely believe in the latter one as well.

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    1. Daniel: I said nothing about evil.
      Here is something for u to research. What is the ONLY context we say לעולם ועד about?
      I mentioned this to Rabbis Paltiel and Telsner on shabbos. Neither could justify the current neo-pasuk of the meshichisten. Why worry about Mesorah if you have תורה חדשה

      PS I’m happy to report that after my post the Shaliach came back tonight and scored. Thanks Emmanuel.

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      1. Re “l’olam va’ed” for a human being – an authority no less than Reb Moshe zatzal suggests we ought to use that phrase when giving a berocho to the Rebbe zatzal.
        As usual all minhogim of chassidim have mekoros in seforim. I can return with more mekoros on “l’olam va’ed” for a human being.
        One is in Tehillim…
        It behooves you yo speak with respect or hachna’ah when addressing minhogim that you were not zoche to understand yet.
        Below is RMF zatzal’s words. They speak for themselves.
        לקראת י”א בניסן שנת תשמ”ב, יום הולדתו השמונים של הרבי, כתב הרב פיינשטיין מכתב ברכה בו הוא מבטא את הערצתו וידידותו אל הרבי:
        בקשר לידידי וחביבי מעלת הוד כבוד קדושת הגאון הצדיק האדמו”ר מנחם מענדל שליט”א שניאורסאהן מליובאוויטש, הנה ידוע בעולם אודות גאונותו בתורה ואיך שהוא באמת מתעסק גדול בתורה בגאון, שהוא עובד תמיד בתורה ושהוא באמת בעל תורה . . במשך השנים שאני מכיר את האדמו”ר שליט”א, שהקשר בינינו היה בידידות גדולה, היה לי כמה הזדמנויות להשתעשע עמו בענינים מסובכים בין בתורת הנגלה ובין בתורת הנסתר, ותמיד החשבתיו כרום גדולתו וגאונותו . . שקידש עצמו להכנס ראשו ורובו להרביץ תורה בכל העולם, בקטנים ובגדולים בכלל ישראל ביחד, ובאמת מתעסק בגאונות בענין של הרבצת תורה. וניכר שכל עבודתו הוא בזה . . בכל פעולותיו המרובים, הציבוריים והאישיים. וזה רציתי להזכיר שזה באמת השבח הכי גדול, והוא השבח שהיה לכל גדולי עולם במשך כל השנים, שהיו בעיקר בתורה . . לפיכך אני משתתף בשמחה להענין שנתקבל בעולם כולו, שיש שמחה גדולה שהשי”ת האריך ימיו לשנת השמונים. ואין מספיק סתם לברכו לאריכות ימים ושנים, שהיום לא מספיק ברכה זו, שמקוים שמלך המשיח יבוא מיד ובקרוב, ויזכה אז האדמו”ר שליט”א לעבוד לעולם ועד בתורה וביראת שמים . . ונברך שיזכה ידידי אדמו”ר שליט”א לאריכות זה, ושיזכו כל כלל ישראל לגאולה השלימה בקרוב מיד ביחד עם האדמו”ר שליט”א.

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        1. Thanks for your post רב רבנן. If anything you have not brought support to answer the question. There is no record that this is a “Minhag” as you call it. On the contrary, We have Avoseynu, Tanoim, Amoroim, Rishonim and Achronim that don’t appear to use this language (I haven’t done a בר אילן search), let alone advocate that such language bedazzle Yarmulkas and the like. You seem to have missed that R’ Moshe’s phrase, used the qualifier אז. That doesn’t appear to apply to now in any shape or form? If you want to use this letter for your proof, I’d think you need to also find a quote from R’ Moshe that either the משיח is from the מתים based on the רמבם, or find a quote from R’ Moshe where he affirms that someone who is thought to be חזקת משיח can fail to complete his task, pass away, and then come back and complete his task.

          Please do NOT read this as a lack of respect in any shape or form for the Rebbe ז’ל himself. He was a true צדיק and גאון and a giant of our generation; there is absolutely no doubt about that in my mind.

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          1. Isaac, I’d go further than that: R’ Moshe’s brocha was that Moshiach come speedily and that the late Rebbe then be able to learn Torah forever – “לעבוד לעולם ועד בתורה וביראת שמים”. So R’ Moshe implicitly didn’t think the Rebbe was Moshiach, and he didn’t think that the Rebbe could live eternally without Moshiach coming, and there’s no reason to think that he wouldn’t have applied the same expression to any other Jewish scholar.

            They say you can’t prove a negative, but when people offer weak arguments like this I think it should count as a negative proof.

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  4. Isaac, יחי המלך is very different from the usual slogan that you object to. יחי המלך makes no messianic claims; I don’t see what objection you could make to it. And (unlike the current slogan) it was endorsed by the Rebbe himself, in reference to his deceased father-in-law.

    And he justified it by citing an open pasuk יחי אדוני המלך דוד לעולם. He explained that during the subject’s life it could be understood as a prayer for his continuing life, while after his death it could just as readily be understood as a prayer for his resurrection. Thus you can have no legitimate objection even to יחי אדמו״ר לעולם ועד, since we pasken like the Ramban that עולם התחייה is eternal life; it’s only those two words in the middle that are troublesome. Kol shekein that you can have no legitimate objection to a mere יחי המלך .

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    1. I am aware of the Pasuk and aware that it doesn’t say ועד despite you adding the Rambam as a proof text. My point remains. This is NOT a phraseology that we ascribe to humans.

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      1. The Ramban, not the Rambam, who holds that עולם התחייה is only temporary.

        In any case, your point does not remain with regard to יחי המלך. How can you object to that?

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  5. Milhouse, my recollection is that saying “יחי המלך was not endorsed by the late Rebbe: he said that bjust as people saying “יחי המלך” strengthened the power of Dovid hamelech, so too saying “Ad Mosai?!” strengthened the power of Moshiach. Do you recall it differently?

    And I object to it because it’s not only stupid, it’s endorsed by the worst kind of people. I would also object to Jews reciting the (Christian) “Lord’s Prayer”, even though its actual words are inoffensive to Judaism.

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  6. I was educated in Chabad. I also grew up surrounded by outstanding examples of passion for yiddishkeit. Those of us who did will always owe a debt of gratitude to the Chabad of then, but not the Chabad of now.

    I, and many of my peers became increasingly disillusioned with Chabad as the Messianic fervour reached a crescendo towards the Rebbe zt”l’s latter days. Most of us no longer daven at Chabad, and whereas we remain attached to the orthodox world, we are acutely aware of how much credibility Chabad has lost within that world due to its Messianic obsession.

    The issue here is quite simple. Normative Judaism has always placed the Ribbono Shel Olom front and centre – “Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Somid”. We cover our heads to remind ourselves of the presence of G-d, not as it has been perverted by many Chabadniks as a tool for Messianic slogans. “Vayaa’minu Hashem U’vmoshe Avdo” is what the Chabadnik die-hards say when I remind them of “Shivisi”. So I promptly retort that all their pilpulim in the world cannot undermine the unequivocal instruction chazal themselves instituted in our teffilos – “Lo Al Enosh R’chitzno V’lo Al Bar Elohin S’michno”.

    Emunas Chachochim is central to our faith, but not at the expense of our connection to the Ribbono Shel Olom. When we become too numb to develop a meaningful direct relationship with Hashem and instead try to substitute Him with man, then we make the very same tragic mistake that the founders of other religions made with tragic consequences.

    When Chabad’s obsession with man, irrespective of his greatness, unequivocally undermines the centrality of G-d in our lives, then it indeed has lost its way.

    I too long for the Chabad of old. Alas, it is no longer…….

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  7. Actually, I happen to know this Rabbi. Name is Rabbi Yankel Mendelson.
    Not sure about his messianic views, but what did he say he is collecting for? That he is Rosh Yeshiva?? He is the Rav of the Chabad community of 20-30 families… Cmon. If he cant say truth about that, why should he be believed about what he thinks of Moshiach? If he can “become” a RY for money, so he will also say what he thinks you want to hear about his other views!!

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  8. People in glass houses should not throw rocks.
    Please do not take what follows personally.
    I’ll be short.
    Your post repeatedly uses the concepts such as “Normative Judaism” “תורה חדשה”.
    “Chabad of then, but not the Chabad of now”.
    Your bio states “I spent a number of years as ראש חינוך and a מדריך at Bnei Akiva.”
    No doubt you recite every Shabbos that the gathering of Jews in Israel since 1948 is the “beginning of our redemption”. ראשית צמיחת גאולתנו.
    Tell me my friend – is that “Normative Judaism”? Isn’t that תורה חדשה?
    Was the uttering of that phrase something found in Judaism (of “then”) prior to 1948?
    The answer is an unequivocal NO.
    A minority of Jews began to say it (Judaism of Now) because, in their opinion, times have changed.
    And yet you cannot seem to grant that there are people that believe that the Rebbe herald a new and non reversible era?
    Now let’s talk logic-
    What is more ridicules?
    To believe in 2011 that Israel is the beginning of Moshiach’s era or that a great person who has passed away may come back as Moshiach?
    Be honest with yourself prior to answering this question…….
    People in glass houses should not throw rocks.
    I too long for the logical Judaism of old. Alas, it is no longer…….

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    1. “Daniel”
      a) I do not recite what you say I recite
      b) My yarmulka doesn’t say it
      c) I don’t wave flags that say it
      d) When my kids are in danger, they don’t yell out “Reishis” and I yell back “Tzmichas Geulosaynu”
      e) When my children go to bed at night, after Shma, they are not instructed to say “Yechi”
      f) Reishis is not sung to some tune at each available opportunity

      Have a nice day.

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  9. It’s time us Lubavitchers (and I am a proud Lubavitcher) stop defending all this nonsense.
    No one understood the sicha with regards to yechi hamelech as a command to say it 3×3 daily, answer the phone with it or anything of the sort.
    So lets stop bringing sichas to bolster Meshugas.

    – to quote a Line from Rabbi Bleich which I think can be appropriately uses wit hregards to the Messianism.

    “Nonsense is nonsense, theological analysis of Nonsense can only create an aura of cognency where none exists”

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  10. I’m glad we agree to equate, in principle at least, these two crazinesses.
    If you at one point did say Reishis Tzmicha Ge’ulosainu and then sobered up, well, maybe the meschisten will sober up too.
    If you never said it, [you fooled them well in Bnei Akiva…] then please remember that others do and no one calls them names, ostracizes them and/or refuse to give them money for their “mushaga’as”.
    As to all the wild actions such as the ones you mention – (seems you were never is Israel on Yom Haatzmaut…”independence”….) these actions are not a symbol of how deep their screw is loose but rather on the measure of how much it bothers YOU!

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    1. Daniel,
      I suggest you re-read what I wrote. Your response is self-serving and transparent. I have chosen not to respond to your comments because I don’t want to give them any logical credence.

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  11. Would you find it surprising that your pleasurable chabadnik who apparently believes in medinat yisrael has had the beit din rabbani of jerusalem issue a ktav seiruv against him for refusing to come to a din torah regarding his actions in arad?

    I would include a copy of the letter issued by the beit din here but I don’t know if that’s possible. If you want to see it please tell me where I can send it.

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    1. Yankel, I never implied that the chabadnik “believe” in medinat yisrael. The latter test applies to other charedim, and I don’t need to advise of the varieties I speak of.
      Thanks for sending me the letter from the beis din in Israel which clearly states that in a dispute between this pleasurable chabadnik and the gerrer community in Arad, the pleasurable chabadnik would only allow adjudication by a Chabad Beis Din as opposed to a completely independent one. That is sad, indeed. Indeed, it goes to my next post, where it is possible (but perhaps unlikely in this case) that a probity checker may well have informed the community that this person has a Ksav Siruv hanging over his head, and warrants further investigation.

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