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.