Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Yom Kippur Katan - To Say or Not To say?

 There is a minhag some have to say special tefillos (some fast as well) on the day before ראש חודש (on some months it is omitted, e.g. when it is during a Yom Tov, e.g. חנוכה ), as part of Yom Kippur Katan, a custom from the Kabbalistic circle of Tzefas centuries ago.

One sees advertisements in publications at times, calling for observance of this minhag, on the recommendation of Maran Sar HaTorah, Rav Chaim Kanievsky zt"l.

What is interesting, however, is that Rav Chaim himself did not observe it. As reported in the fine Artscroll version of his great work ארחות יושר (p. 458), he followed (as in many other things) the practice of his uncle the Chazon Ish, who did not observe it.

א גוטען חודש

Monday, November 21, 2022

Chabad-Lubavitch & McDonald's

Chabad-Lubavitch just concluded its kinnus hashluchim.

It is a major part of their PR and advertising, particularly the banquet. They use it to portray themselves as a large organization, with wide range, classy, professional, mainstream Orthodox, universally accepted, and so on.

Many people, unfortunately, fall for their act. The more alert and knowledgeable, however, will notice the multiple lapses evident, whether webcasting that dropped while in progress, mispronunciations, messianism, and more. And the lack of gedolei Yisrael there, while press, politicians, and machers are well represented.

A less knowledgeable observer can go away feeling that Chabad-Lubavitch is the leading Jewish movement, that is everywhere. Which is what they want you to believe.

But there is really another way it should be viewed. Like McDonald's.

McDonald's is the world's largest restaurant chain by revenue, we are told, serving customers in over one hundred countries, with over forty thousand outlets. But people in the know are aware, that no matter how ubiquitous it may be, or may seem, it is neither classy nor healthy. Those that want fast food, and people of less means, may patronize it, but people with more education and class shy away from going there. 

The same goes for Chabad, which operates similarly to the business franchise model of McDonald's, where a central organization provides logos, promotional matter, marketing assistance, and so on. Like McDonald's, it too provides an inferior product, which it sells to the spiritually ignorant and indigent. The main market for Chabad Lubavitch shluchim are ignorant Jews, as is well known. Overall, the more Jewishly educated a person is, the less likely they are to attend Chabad.

So keep that in mind the next time you see a Chabad fast religion franchise. And give it the same treatment you would give to a McDonald's you pass. Keep on moving, giving it a wide berth.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Neo-Chasidic Desecration of Cemeteries

In another inversion of Jewish tradition, to go along with their Tisha Be'Av kumzitzes, and festive Selichos before Rosh Hashanah, Neo-Chasidim have taken to - ר"ל - desecrating cemeteries, in particular resting places of great Jewish leaders, traditionally places of quiet repose, serious contemplation, and prayer, turning them into places of singing, music, and even dancing at times.

Here, we see a recent clip of such activity, with one of the leading Neo-Chasidus leaders, Rebbe Moshe Weinberger, of Woodmere, New York, USA, at a cemetery in ארץ ישראל. This is just a very recent example, by the way, but by no means the only one, as this antic has been already observed for a while among them during their various tours, including singing at the kever of the Chasam Sofer a while back, with accompanying guitar strumming and dancing.

Once again, we see how their claim that they don't change anything in Jewish practice, that they rather just add flavor and meaning, is false. This group is violating ancient traditions and halachos, with seemingly near impunity. They must be held accountable for these breaches. If they are not, who knows where they will end up, ר"ל. 

Let them try such things at places like the kevarim of the Satmar Rebbe(s), Gerrer Rebbe(s), Bobover Rebbe(s), or even Lubavitcher Rebbes, and see what happens. I think they would get a rude awakening, and a strong lesson in proper traditional cemetery behavior.

May הקב"ה send to them a spirit of repentance, a רוח תשובה, so they return to traditional Jewish practice. If that does not happen soon, Jewish leaders, rabbonim, and even laypeople, should make it very clear to them and the public at large that such deviations are not acceptable, and that they will be held accountable for them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Chabad Messianist Saves Stranded Breslov Van

Na-Nach-Nachman Me'Uman Breslov van gets stuck in rugged terrain, yellow flag flying Lubavitch meshichist pulls him out.

Numerous interesting comments on this intriguing episode.

Seems that there is a Breslov teaching that one day the whole world will be Breslov. And Chabad tries to sell their way to all. But Reb Yisroel Dov Odesser, founder of the Na-Nach Breslov, allegedly said that Chabad is sheker. Breslov seeks out kivrei tzadikim to visit, while Chabad generally does not (outside their own leaders).

An encounter of two of the most aggressive, fringe, competing Hasidic groups has a nice ending.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Breslov Mysteries Explored - Kotzk Blog Deep Dives Beyond the Surface Into Its Early History

Breslov (or Bratslav) is a unique Chasidic group, or stream, one of the oldest extant. R. Nachman was a great-grandson of Baal Shem Tov himself. Yet it has been enveloped in mystery, misunderstanding, and controversy for many, many years. Can we perhaps get a better grip on it, by examining the context of the turbulent times R. Nachman lived and operated in?

Why did the Shpole Zeide and some other Chasidim oppose R. Nachman of Breslov? Where did the idea of a "Tikkun Klali" come from? Were R. Nachman's famous stories totally new, or related to previously existing tales? 

Those and other aspects of the mystery of Breslov are addressed in a fascinating and thought provoking new post at the Kotzk blog. Read and learn.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Litvish vs. Chasidic Song - Chabad-Lubavitch vs. R. Boruch Ber of Kamenitz - קול דודי Face-off

 Some lighter fare, for a change, in this special time of the year.

An Israeli website (re)posted a link recently to a niggun attributed to R. Boruch Ber Leibowitz, Kamenitzer Rosh Yeshiva זצ"ל, to the famous words from שיר השירים of קול דודי דופק פתחי לי

Listen and enjoy. :)

On the other hand, one of the oldest and most famous Chabad-Lubavitch niggunim, going back to their first Rebbe, is set to those words as well.

Here's a recording of that.

If you listen to the two, they are both songs of yearning, not so different from each other (just sharing the impressions of a non-music professional).

On a related note, someone once heard a Misnaged singing the tune to a Hasidic song, and expressed wonderment. The Litvak replied that he is being מעלה the ניגון, raising the niggun, the argument that Chasidim have made when using non-Jewish melodies. Although caution is necessary with Hasidic songs, particularly when they are attached to questionable, objectionable lyrics, limited use may perhaps be made of them under controlled circumstances (this is not a general psak, which I leave to regular halachic decisors), exercising caution. If a shinui is made in them, an alteration, that could be grounds for additional leniency as well. 

א גוטען שבת און א פרייליכען יום טוב

Monday, October 3, 2022

Dangerous Confusion in a Chabad Prayerbook vs. Proper Understanding of Our Davening

What is the נשמה, our soul? 

Of course, our knowledge to precisely define and delineate certain things is limited, but we do have a מסורה (tradition) from our חכמים, from way back, דורי דורות, which finds expression in Chazal and ancient tefillos. And that is, that it is a spiritual creation of הקב"ה, that comes from a very high place (sometimes a description of חצובה מתחת כסא הכבוד, hewn from under the heavenly throne of glory, is seen). In later generations, some have used an expression taken from a pasuk in ספר איוב (לא:ב) for it, namely חלק אלו-ה ממעל. Chabad-Lubavitch adds the word ממש (literally) to that, zealously stressing it in its preaching. Due to that, there is fairly widespread misconception, to a significant degree fueled by and emanating from them, that the neshamah is "a piece of G-d" literally, ר"ל. 

Of course, that is quite problematic, as it blurs, or eliminates, the distinction between the Creator and the created, the בורא and the נברא, and is reminiscent of foreign faiths, עבודה זרה ר"ל.

The matter has been discussed online in various fora, at various times, such as here, here, and here.

Recently, during a shiur on the ימים נוראים davening, in speaking about עלינו, a speaker displayed a Chabad-Lubavitch siddur open to that prayer (סדור תהלת ה' עם תרגום  באנגלית, תשע"ד, ניו יורק, עמוד 288), in which the translation states that Hashem has given each of us a neshamah "that is part of Himself". Such dangerous, misleading, if not outright heretical words, blur or eliminate the distinction between the בורא, הקב"ה (the creator, Almighty G-d), and the נברא (the created - man), a very dangerous thing, which is even more problematic in a tefillah where we stress our distance from ע"ז, especially during this awesome time of the year.

On the other hand, in the beginning of the tefillah of אמיץ כח, in mussaf of Yom Kippur, where it relates the early history of the world, it states with regard to the neshamah (line 12), הפחת בחלדו טהר נשם מזבולך, You (HKB"H) breathed into him a pure breath (neshamah) from your zevul (an area of the heavenly sphere). No mention of it being a "part".

In the zechus of being careful, understanding what we say and believe, particularly in the area of עיקרי הדת, and avoiding and resisting dangerous distortions of our faith and mesorah, in addition to outright אפיקורסות (even if spread by men with lengthy beards), may we be zoche to a שנה טובה ומבורכת.