Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lubavitcher Taqiyya?

I’ve had this exchange recently on Harry Maryles’ blog. thanbo is me, Lubavitcher and Chareidi are handles chosen by the respective posters. I’ve suspected for years that some Lubavitchers felt free to dissemble about their faith in the Rebbe as Moshiach, and the extent of that faith, because of the consistent difference in perception between insiders, who say the Moshiach problem isn’t that widespread, and outsiders, who observe that most Lubavitchers they meet seem to be Messianists. I hadn’t actually encountered a concrete example of this disconnect between claim and reality until now, when a self-proclaimed Lubavitcher lied to my screen about a concept that is, while unfamiliar to many outside of Chabad, strongly rooted in Chabad and traditional [Chazal’s] texts. This concept, as we see below, is central to the concept of Rebbe as Moshiach of the generation, and has several counterintuitive implications for Jewish thought.



That is unfortuantely an absolute lie. Who would dare compare the Rebbe to the Baal Shem Tov or chas vchalila Moshe Rabbeinu himself? No one in their right mind would make that absurd jump. Naturally we feel the most intense closeness to Nasi Doreinu but again not to such an insane degree. We don't compare leaders. Period.

And later:

No Jew in their right mind would compare the Rebbe to either the Baal Shem Tov or Moshe Rabbeinu. Such a comparison has no basis in Torah. Period. We do not compare leaders. The Rebbe is the Nasi, with all the current implications of that word. No more and no less.


Of course you don't compare leaders. Because the Rebbe is the greatest leader that ever lived. [where most Orthodox Jews would hold that Moshe Rabbeinu was the greatest leader that ever lived, under the concept of Yeridas haDoros, “descent of the generations.” -jjb] It is not a lie to say that Chabad believes in an ascent of generations where everyone else in Orthodoxy believes in a descent of generations, because Chabad has this concept of "yechida klollis".

Yechida is the highest component of a human soul (narancha"i), and is possessed by great leaders. The nosi hador, the prince of the generation, has what is called a "yechida klollis", a collective soul, which encompasses the souls of every Jew in their generation. Moshe Rabbenu was the yechida klollis of the dor hamidbar. [generation of the Desert –jjb] Yehoshua was the next yechida klollis, and since he was alive when Moshe was alive, his soul encompassed Moshe's soul, and therefore was greater than Moshe's soul. This continued down the generations, such that the Mezritcher Maggid's soul encompassed the Baal Shem Tov's soul, etc., down to the last L. Rebbe, whose soul encompassed every Jew in our generation, as well as the souls of all the leaders who came before him.

So the Rebbe is the greatest single soul who ever lived. And in calling this "an absolute lie", you're if not actually lying yourself, at least engaging in the standard Chabad tactic of diverting attention from the issue at hand, by refuting a side question.

It's also sometimes called neshomo klolis, e.g
See also the L Rebbe's sicha of Vayera 5752
A similar idea is present at Zohar II 47a, if not the actual term and its implications.


On the off chance that you were actually being sincere, I followed up on the sicha you cited. Unsurprisingly there's no mention at all of any of this.

Why did I suspect you were being insincere, aside from your condescending tone? Because I've heard bfairush the exact opposite in shiurim on the history of the Rebbeim. We absolutely believe in yeridas hadoros.

I can't and am not interested in looking at Zohar. And if you're posting here, I would posit that neither can you. And I didn't bother looking at because frankly I don't care much for their opinion.


>Why did I suspect you were being insincere...?

Because if I were sincere, which I was, I would be pointing out a central idea in Lubavitch which is embarrassing to state in front of regular Orthodox Jews, inasmuch as it contradicts the standard idea of Yeridas haDoros. Which in fact I did.

But eppur si muove, [Galileo’s alleged last words – “and yet it moves”, referring to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun rather than vice versa –jjb] buddy boy, much as some Lubavitcher liars may like to distract us with falsehoods.

See section 14, footnote 127, in the sicha [Chassidic talk, less mystical/deep than a maamar –jjb] of Vayera 5752.

What's most impressive is how you can blatantly lie about the sichos of your own Rebbe, in order to deny principles of your own movement's belief system.

PS, I have two copies of the Zohar, one contemporary, one antique. And do read it on occasion. Not that I understand it all that well yet.

See here for an insider's view of neshomo klolis and its importance, with sources in the Zohar and Midrashim:

Here's the Zohar in question:

ויאמר משה אל העם אל תיראו התיצבו וראו את ישועת יהו"ה, אמר רבי שמעון, זכאה חולקיהון דישראל דהא רעיא כמשה אזיל בגווייהו, כתיב (שם סג יא) ויזכור ימי עולם משה עמו, ויזכור ימי עולם, דא קודשא בריך הוא, משה עמו, (מכאן אוליפנא) שקיל הוה משה ככל ישראל, ואוליפנא מהא, כי רעיא דעמא הוא ממש עמא כלהו, אי איהו זכי, עמא כלהו זכאין, ואי איהו לא זכי, עמא כלהו לא זכאן ואתענשו בגיניה, והא אוקמוה. התיצבו וראו, לית לכו לאגחא קרבא, דהא קודשא בריך הוא יגיח קרבא בגיניכון, כמה דאת אמר יהו"ה ילחם לכם ואתם תחרישון, תא חזי, ההוא ליליא כנש קודשא בריך הוא לפמליא דיליה ודאין דינייהו דישראל, ואלמלא דאקדימו אבהן עלייהו דישראל, לא אשתזיבו מן דינא, רבי יהודה אמר, זכותא דיעקב אגין עלייהו דישראל, הדא הוא דכתיב (תהלים קכד א) לולי יהו"ה שהיה לנו יאמר נא ישראל, ישראל סבא:

[bold text: For the shepherd of the nation is necessarily the entirety of the nation, if he is worthy, they are all worthy, and if he is not worthy, the whole nation is not worthy, and will be punished for his sake. -jjb]

For a Hebrew translation see here at the bottom:

Now who's the liar and insincere?

thanbo (conclusion from another thread):

[Harry Maryles wrote:]

What does all this mean? I think it means that Meshichism is still a problem despite all their protestations to the contrary – no matter what the breakdown is or what the percentages are of each.

I think you're right. Look at my argument with commenter "Lubavitcher" [above]. "Lubavitcher" apparently felt compelled to falsify the textual record of the Rebbe's own statements, and to dismiss the Zohar as a source, to cover up an idea that is clearly central to the Rebbe's concept of what a Rebbe/Moshiach is (the sichos of 5751/5752, the last year and a half of his compos life, focussed strongly on the idea of Moshiach), an idea which I learned about from a major Rav who is meyuchas to Lubavitch, and which is clearly sourced in the Midrashim and the Zohar.

So it would seem, that there is permission, if not an actual mandate, to hide the truth about Lubavitch messianism. IOW, you can't necessarily believe what they tell you about "Oh, I don't believe in that stuff". They may well, but because it's off-putting to other Jews, they may feel compelled to go so far as to lie about it. The Shi'i Muslims have a word for this: Taqiyya.


nmHz / Rhu said...

That exchange is scarily reminiscent of the classic book "You Take Jesus, I'll Take God"

Harry Maryles said...

I must tell you that I had some private discssions with a noted schoalr on this issue and what he rtolkd me is well... pretty bad.
I don't know what to beleive any more.

I fear that we will never really be able to know what is in their hearts. Their views seem to have been internalized and are now being kept secret.

I see Lubavitchers every day. And if one were to judge them by their outward by percpetion ... or what they seem to focus on in their every day lives. They have almost completely submerged all referrences to the Rebbe as Moshiach keeping their thoughts under 'lock and key' ...and seem as normal as anyone.

thanbo said...


Which, I imagine, was how most Shebselach (followers of Shabtai Tzvi) were through the 18th century. Consider the Emden/Eibeschutz controversy. Was there anything obvious to R Yonatan Eibeschutz to say he was a Shebsele? I doubt it.

Outwardly, he was a godol batorah, author of Kreisi uPleisi, and Yaaros Dvash, and a Shu"t collection, etc. Master of halacha and machshavah. But when push came to shove, and he wrote amulets, which he probably thought nobody would ever read & decode, and he wanted to invoke Divine aid, he felt he had to have Shabtai Tzvi the false messiah as an intercessor.

If the ShabiZvinikes were obvious, would it have taken an obsessive lie R Yaakov Emden to root them out?

thanbo said...

By the way, both Scholem (I've read his articles on it in Mechkarei Shabta'ut) and yblcht"a Leiman (I communicated with a student who's taking his class on Emden/Eibeschutz this semester) seem pretty convinced that the author of Kreisi uPleisi was a secret Sabbatean.

Leiman comes from a Lubavitch background, doesn't he? With a name "Shnayer Zalman", I expect so. I wonder what he thinks of the current secrecy situation.

S. said...

What made hidden Shabselach dangerous? That's like a tree falling in a forest.

And why shouldn't they dissemble? People waiting to declare them heretics should be told what they really believe? Who can blame them?

S. said...

>Leiman comes from a Lubavitch background, doesn't he?

I don't know that Leiman does, but Shnayer Zalman is not a Lubavitch name. It's a Litvish name, which is of course why R. Shnayer Zalman was named Shnayer Zalman by his parents, who obviously weren't Chabad Chassidim.

As for R. Yonasan's guilt, there certainly were many columns of smoke around him. But ultimately, who cares? RYE's accusations (except the core) were fantasies.

Joe in Australia said...

You need to chill, Jon. You have some random pseudonymous guy who obviously doesn't know what he's talking about, and you deduce from this that Lubavitchers are Moslems - Christians - worse! Surely you're still in touch with our mutual friend from geza Chabad. I think you can rely on him to be frank with you about Chabad philosophy.

For what it's worth, though, I know the late Rebbe fully accepted the idea of yeridat hadorot and referred to it many times.

thanbo said...

I'm sure he did. But perhaps these are different domains - one can't argue with yeridat hadorot in terms of closeness to Sinai, but in this case, it seems to be that some are arguing for an ascent in souls by induction on the Yechida Klolis idea.

What makes the leader great? Is it his knowledge of Torah, or his soul-attachment to his followers?

I'd say the latter, and I'd say that the results of the Rebbe-succession controversy of 1950 support that - the Rebbe became the Rebbe because he was better at connecting with the Chassidim, while RSG impressed people with his knowledge of Chassidus.

By the way, our mutual friend is currently yelling at me on FB.