A non Chabad response to Rabbi Kennard

I was sent this, presumably from Rabbi Kennard’s facebook page. I will take the liberty of interspersing what I think answers might be.

Rabbi James Kennard Rabbi Schochet introduces his second piece by making clear that he was asked to become involved “at the behest of the Chabad Leadership of Australia” (as stated on his FB page and on collide.com).

This raises three questions:

1. If the Chabad leadership of Australia wanted a response to my first piece, why could they not find any Chabad rabbi in the whole country to write it? Why was no-one as suitable for this task as someone on the other side of the world?

I would have thought the answer to this question was obvious. Each Chabad Rabbi has their constituency and is dependent on it. Most/many would not seek to become actively involved in a debate on such a topic as it may cause heat and/or discussion in their constituency. They would see their roles as Rabbi Kennard has noted, as bringing Moshiach, and would not see debating this topic as helping to do so. On the other hand, some, presumably younger? or perhaps more likely to want to defend the Chabad brand, sought out a well-known Rabbi, Davka, who is not on these shores in the (ill-advised in my opinion) hope that he could “argue the case with Rabbi Kennard and defend the brand”.

2. If Rabbi Schochet’s piece was written at the behest of the Chabad Leadership, will they agree to what was written in response to their request? In particular, are they of the opinion that Chabad rabbis are uniquely dedicated to their shuls, in a way that non-Chabad rabbis are not?

No doubt they have opinions or even a single opinion on this, however, I don’t expect them to comment as they will feel it won’t achieve anything in practice (B’Poel, as they put it). They will likely exercise their right to silence and not respond (further directly or indirectly through an agent). Followers of the disagreement will  make up their own minds about the lack of response and what that means to them, in practice.

3. Of course there is another possibility. I have been informed that Rabbi Schochet’s article was not written at the behest of the Chabad Leadership in Australia. That would render questions 1 and 2 above moot. However, that would imply that Rabbi Schochet’s statement was incorrect. Since he accused me, repeatedly of “peddling lies” and repeating “falsehoods”, it couldn’t be that his article was factually inaccurate. Or could it?

I don’t expect Rabbi Schochet or anyone will tell you whether he was were asked, cajoled, encouraged, and/or by whom. Accordingly, my advice is to continue to focus on the important issue of pluralism within Orthodoxy, something I wholeheartedly support, and the advantages of alternative approaches for certain congregations. And yes, I repeat, I support the presumption of different approaches/diversity.

A clear response from either the Chabad Leadership, or from Rabbi Schochet, will clear the matter up.

As I said before, I can’t see that happening.

I’d move on.

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

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