Monday, April 3, 2023

Yeshiva University Neo-Chasidic Leaders Gather at Last Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe's Tomb

Yesterday, members of the Chabad-Lubavitch faith around the world marked the 121st birthday of their late last spiritual leader, Rebbe M.M. Schneerson. Many of them did so by visiting his grave in New York City.

While that serves as a pilgrimage site for Lubavitchers, it also receives other visitors at times, who come for various reasons, such as politicians, who kowtow to the Chasidic sect in that manner in hope of winning political support, as well as friends, sympathizers, and fellow-travelers of it. Chabad-Lubavitch promotes visits to the tomb by the public at large as well, by framing it as a holy place, through which people can attain various types of salvation and good fortune. The more people that go there, the greater the PR for Chabad and their Rebbe that Lubavitch toils so diligently at.

Recently, a group of people affiliated with Yeshiva University made such a visit (a while ago we wrote about the relationship of Neo-Chasidus & Chabad, which we characterized as a relationship of closeness & distance). Among those making the trek were YU mashpia and Neo-Chasidic leader Rebbe Moshe Weinberger, Aish Kodesh Rebbe of Woodmere, NY, YU Judaic studies faculty member R. Reuven Boshnack, a protege of his, R. Efrem Goldberg, of BRS, prominent YU alumnus, with a group of his congregants, who were visiting the NY area then, and (surprisingly), R. Aryeh Leibowitz, of the RIETS/YU semicha program.

It is part of an increased closeness between some of the Modern Orthodox/YU comunity and Chabad-Lubavitch in recent years, fed by a sustained Lubavitch PR campaign trying to convince the MO that they are closer to Lubavitch than they actually were in the past.

Examining the photographic record of the visit can shed some light on the state of YU/MO-Chabad-Lubavitch relations now, as well as additional other matters.

Here we see Rebbe Weinberger at a tisch at the Chabad-Lubavitch tomb complex with the visitors.

Here we see some of them at the actual gravesite.

What is noteworthy is that basically, the YU/MO group is keeping to itself, staying apart from the Lubavitchers at the site. As if they are genuflecting to the late Rebbe, but staying apart from his living followers there.

It was interesting to see Rebbe Weinberger at the tomb. As we noted previously, he personally has deep connections with Lubavitch going back many years, and spent much time at their 770 headquarters years ago, including at gatherings with their late Rebbe. On the other hand, his congregation, which fairly often hosts other Hasidic speakers, leaders, performers, and personalities, such as R. Mottel Zilber, a Stuchiner Rebbe, R. Tzvi Meir Zilberberg, various people connected to Breslov, among others, seems to have a total lack, or at least a dearth of Lubavitchers so featured, the lack of which is quite telling.

R. Efrem Goldberg of BRS, who led the interesting BRS Mevakshim tour that brought his group there, although typically thought of as a prominent MO rabbi rather than a neo-Chasidic leader, has close ties with Rebbe Weinberger, whom he enthusiastically promotes, in addition to longstanding ties with the New Square Chasidic sect, and Chabad-Lubavitch, among others.

Another quite notable aspect of the gathering was, when Rebbe Weinberger and his entourage turned to enthusiastically sing and dance משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה there, in a departure from ordinary accepted behavior at the location. I guess it is related to Rebbe Weinberger's doing and encouraging such at other cemeteries and graves in his travels with followers a few months ago, which can be clearly seen in videos posted (for example, in Tzfas, in Teveria, and elsewhere). Is Rebbe Weinberger trying to normalize such a radical break with age-old tradition, to normalize singing and dancing in cemeteries? Perhaps he should try it at the resting place of the Satmar Rebbe R. Joel Teitelbaum, to whom he also had some sort of connection allegedly, as well, and see how the natives receive it there. Personally, I don't think such actions are wise, as Shlomo Hamelech warned, ופרץ גדר ישכנו נחש.

As we approach Pesach, a time where מסורה, tradition, and מנהגים are so central and emphasized, we should keep in mind that those categories are integral and vital to Yiddishkeit as a whole, year-round, and not just to that great יום טוב.

In the zechus of staying faithful, may we be zoche to a great Yom tov.

חג כשר ושמח

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Mussar Lives! Modern Revival Gathers Strength!

Defying a bevy of "frum" naysayers, who say things like "mussar is dead", not suitable for our time, doesn't fit our generation, is too negative, has been superseded by "Chasidus", and other nonsense, the veritable old discipline of לימוד המוסר continues on, and is even gaining new, enthusiastic, young devotees. 

As שלמה המלך, the wisest of men, exhorted us, החזק במוסר אל תרף, נצרה כי היא חייך - Grab onto mussar and don't let go, guard it, as it is your life - the imperative of mussar and introspection is fundamental, as recently expounded upon masterfully at length in Toras Avigdor.

That doesn't mean that everyone must study mussar in the exact same manner as was done under Rav Yisroel Salanter zt"l in Kovno some 150 years ago, or in Slabodka or Novhardok fifty years later. There are multiple schools and paths in mussar, which is a very broad discipline. And one can absorb mussar without being an official "mussar'nik" as well, e.g. by learning sefer Mishlei, other sections of Torah which may not be labeled as such, or a more recent work (such as the great ארחות יושר of Rav Chaim Kanievsky zt"l), rather than more typical mussar seforim more commonly associated with the modern movement.

Hachzek - Daily Mussar Impact - A New High-Tech Mussar Center

In the category of old wine in new vessels, I saw an advertisement for a new mussar endeavor, an organization called החזק, recently, but just checked out their website in earnest this week, and was favorably impressed with the professionalism and sophistication on display. I counted shiurim from twenty (!) maggidei shiur for the latest (brief) mussar yomi installment there (a section from the classic חובות הלבבות, שער הבטחון). And the shiurim are not long, busy people can easily be a part of it, on the go, or at rest, in just circa 5-10 minutes a day.

Hachzek. Reach higher

Take a look, have a listen, check out a video, a sefer, or text there. It may not be exactly how your grandfather got his dose of mussar, but the aura of introspection, striving for self-improvement, and closeness to Hashem that characterizes mussar is still there for sure.

In the zechus of such serious spiritual enterprise, whether older מוסר varieties or newer, or other less common, but still legitimate variations, may we be zoche to גאולה בקרוב.

א גוטען חודש

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Niggun for Binyan Hamikdash That Lubavitch Took & Made Into a Chabad Anthem

 A while ago, we posted about a foundational Chabad-Lubavitch myth and song of their seventh generation, of their late last Rebbe, who passed away close to thirty years ago.

At the time, I wrote that "the tune that Lubavitch uses to אימתי קאתי מר was taken from an old Yerushalmi song, מתי יבנה המקדש (When will the Beis Hamikdash be rebuilt?)".

Although I recalled part of the song, or one version of it, I was not aware of a recording available to share easily with readers.

B"H, I have just found it (or a version of it) online, sung by the great Rosh Yeshiva of  Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, Rav Yisroel Belsky zt"l, at a fine website memorializing him.

You can hear it here.

The mostly Yiddish song, suffused with the feeling of a Jew of old, intimately familiar with the ordeals and tribulations of our long גלות, pleading to הקב"ה for the גאולה and בנין המקדש, goes as follows (followed by my loose translation)

פון דארטען ווארפט מען ארויס

דא לאזט מען נישט אריין

זאג'שע טאטע טאטע'ניו ביז וואנען וועט דאס זיין

זאג'שע טאטע טאטע פאטער מתי יבנה, יבנה המקדש 

From there they throw us out

Here they don't let us in

Say dear Father, Father dear, until when will it be?

Say dear Father, Father dear, when it will be rebuilt, the (Beis Ha)Mikdash will be rebuilt

אכי"ר, בב"א

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidim Struggle With Life-Threatening Alcoholism Epidemic

It has long been known that alcoholism is a significant problem in Chabad-Lubavitch, but even I was surprised at some of the hair-raising details I saw in a just-published article on the problem, and in the many comments on it.

 'Near Death': Activists Warn About Rise in Alcohol Consumption (

Some more at Community Leaders Launch "Urgent" Campaign Against Underage Drinking - 

More details about the depth of the problem at Rabbi Braun Explains What Triggered Letter on Drinking (

While the Chabad-Lubavitch PR machine tries to convince people (esp. those far from Crown Heights and those that know little about them) that they are about to bring Moshiach, with their airbrushed propaganda about far-away shluchim, the reality of much of the group is far different.

Why aren't these "Chasidim" getting high on avodas Hashem instead of alcohol, drugs, and other mishugasen? 

May Hashem help us see the truth about things, and be spared from all types of deception and corruption.

Missing the Boat on Purim Due to Misplaced Emphasis on Hyped-up Segulos and Fads

 Rav Gershon Ribner שליט"א is a leading expositor of Torah השקפה and הדרכה (outlook and guidance). In addition to his regular work of הרבצת התורה as a ראש ישיבה, he responds to questions on a wide range of subjects from a broader ציבור, giving crucial guidance to בני תורה dealing with various challenges of modern life.

While looking at a site where his wisdom is shared the other day, one piece related to Purim caught my attention. Upon contemplation, I came to the conclusion that it was quite fitting for featuring here, in line with some of our past posts, in which we highlighted the classic old Torah מסורה of Purim, as opposed to some new-fangled fads that have recently arisen and spread.

Rav Gershon Ribner: The great opportunity Purim presents is often mismanaged (

While the entire piece is worth listening to, I want to focus on two things the Rosh Yeshiva שליט"א says.

1) The Rambam says we are to learn from Purim, להודיע כי אמת הוא מה שאמר משה בתורה כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלקים קרובים אליו בכל קראנו אליו. Purim tells us that HKB"H is close to us whenever we call out to Him. If a person walks out of Purim with the focus that Purim (דווקא - specifically) is a געוואלדיגע עת רצון, and "כל הפושט יד נותנין לו", he missed the boat, because the idea we are to learn is that that special closeness between Hashem and Klal Yisrael is anytime, not just on Purim. The limud of Purim is that he does not need a/any bazundere segulah.

2) If a person is (overly) busy on ליל פורים (Purim evening) with מסיבות (Purim celebratory gatherings) (when the proper/main time for them is not at night, rather during the following day), and he therefore misses proper קריאת שמע the following (Purim) morning, and is like a zombie at the daytime megillah reading, he is a שטיא (fool).

B"H we still have גדולים who speak out clearly on these very important fundamentals, especially when way too much confusion exists out there, especially among the less educated of our people.

א כשר'ן און פרייליכען פורים

P.S. Also remaining very relevant are our numerous Purim related posts from previous years, in which we dispelled certain widespread popular myths (e.g. Purim will not be the only Yom tov when Moshiach comes), and shared proper old-fashioned Litvishe השקפה with regard to Purim from gedolim like Rav Aharon Leib Steinman, Rav Avigdor Miller, and the Brisker Rav, זכר צדיקים לברכה, delineating how they differ from various Chasidic teachings and practices. Read and enjoy those and other pieces here.

Monday, February 27, 2023

The Chabad-Lubavitch Massive Messianic Fiasco of 5753/1993 - New Video Brings it Back to Life

We are now approaching what is called פרשת זכור, a time of our year in which the theme of remembrance is additionally prominent. Although of course, it is important through the year, as much of our faith involves matters of זכירה.

Our great Rabbis have taught us that forgetfulness reigns after a year has passed. קל וחומר, all the more so, when thirty years have passed since an event. Therefore there is a need to occasionally revisit certain things, to remember them, and to protect historical accuracy from some who may attempt to obscure, obfuscate, if not outright deny or falsify, important facts.

There are many young people today who were not alive, or were just young children at the time, and they therefore don't understand the background of some of the positions promulgated by our great גדולי ישראל, such as The Brisker Rav, Maran Harav Schach זצוקללה"ה, זי"ע, and so many others, with regard to very necessary and vital distancing from Chabad-Lubavitch, that prevail and reverberate to this day. Therefore we are indebted to for sharing with us this great video coverage of a major messianic event that occurred at their headquarters in 5753/1993, involving messianic proclamations, satellite connections to other countries, unveiling of special messianic artwork, appearance of their Rebbe following a stroke on a 770 balcony, in addition to the messianic frenzy in Chabad-Lubavitch at that time in general, including general media reports, that bring the matter to life, and show the prevailing mood and context there then.

Some highlights in the video -

Lubavitcher leader Shmuel Butman, longtime head of Lubavitch Youth Organization, and cousin of the late last Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, is MC of the event.

Reb Yoel Kahn, prominent Chabad-Lubavitch theologian and teacher, is seen proclaiming his late Rebbe as Moshiach with a display of vigorous certainty. He states that he does not say אם ירצה השם as he is 100% certain.

A young Berel Lazar, head of Chabad-Lubavitch in Russia, who Lubavitch claims and promotes as "Chief Rabbi of Russia" (though that is disputed), promoting his late Rebbe as Messiah, and bellowing יחי אדוננו וכו.

The late Rebbe appears on a balcony of the hall.

Chicago channel two TV report on Moshiach beepers and messianic frenzy overall.

Barry Cunningham reports for Channel 11 TV, also on Moshiach beepers and Moshiach frenzy.

Eyewitness News Channel 7 report with Bill Beutel and Harry Martin.

Reb Yudel Krinsky, longtime Chabad-Lubavitch spinmeister, attempts some damage control

An Israeli tv report on the happenings.

A tv report in English by a woman reporter (seemed like channel 11), later joined by a male colleague.

Reb Leibel Groner, and other prominent members of the group.

Watching this with your own eyes, and seeing the messianic hysteria and frenzy then, which continues widely to this day, to some degree or another, within Chabad-Lubavitch, is helpful even for those who were around then. But all the more so, for those who didn't see it when it actually took place.

May הקב"ה help us remember what needs to be remembered, including, for such terrible debacles, fiascos, and failures, what actually happened, so as not to repeat dangerous errors, or support those that try to keep them alive, rather than leaving them dead and buried.

א פרייליכען חודש אדר

Monday, December 19, 2022

Gauging the State of Chabad-Lubavitch: The Evidence from their 19 Kislev Holiday

 The Chabad-Lubavitch faith, a Chasidic sect, is well-known due to their extensive PR (public relations) campaigns and media presence over many years. Due to their outsized, disproportionate, and one might say incessant, PR, they are at times more known and recognized than other religious groups who are larger and more important than them, but are less engaged in such self-promotion. Too many naive and ignorant people even think that they represent mainstream Orthodox Judaism, or mainstream Chasidism, a great misconception encouraged and promoted by them.

But how large and strong actually are they, beyond the noise and publicity they generate?

A Measuring Stick

A major (perhaps the main) holiday in the Chabad-Lubavitch faith (I saw recently somewhere that they have twenty two holidays of their own, commemorating things like their Rebbes being released from prison, as well as their birthdays, wedding, and death anniversaries, but some are stressed more than others) is the nineteenth day of the Jewish month of Kislev, aka Yud Tes Kislev, which they refer to as Rosh Hashanah LaChasidus, the new year of Hasidism. Through examination of reports of celebrations of it this past week, we can, with Hashem's help, get an idea of their actual strength, which will take us beyond the fluff and puff of their publicity to the actual reality of things.

Let us look at a few examples -

1) Kfar Chabad - the Chabad-Lubavitch center in ארץ ישראל, this town holds a large celebration then. Looking at the photos, there seem to be hundreds in attendance, seemingly in the low hundreds. What does a Lubavitcher website report, however? They claim that there were thousands there. Clearly untrue and wildly exaggerated, based on the posted photos there.

2) Bnei Brak - in this ultra-orthodox center, there seem to be less than one hundred in attendance at their event, which is very underwhelming turnout, that speaks very loudly in terms of showing how marginal the Chabad-Lubavitch faith is there. Nevertheless, the Chabad website claims that six hundred joined it. Now I know that many in Chabad-Lubavitch are weak in secular studies, but how does one hundred become six hundred? It seems to be a deliberate deception, an attempt to inflate their importance.

3) Manchester - examination of photos seems to show perhaps 50-60 in attendance. A Chabad website, however, claims that two hundred were there.

3) Lakewood - A sizable event took place on Motzei Shabbos. The photographs show a crowd of perhaps a hundred, if that. A Lubavitch website however, claims that there were hundreds there, clearly not in accordance with what their photos show. Furthermore, the audience comprised many shtreimel wearers from other Chasidic groups, as well as visiting Lubavitchers. So it seems that non-Hasidic Litvish types were almost totally absent.

4) Y.U. - A Chabad website claims that over 250 YU students participated there. Examination of photos and video coverage, however, shows a much smaller number, perhaps around fifty (while there are more people than that, many are visiting Lubavitchers, rather than YU students, as evident by their different appearance. As reported at a different Lubavitch website, which gives a figure of thirty five visiting Lubavitcher bochurim that took part).

5) Brooklyn - An event in the Marine Park vicinity attracted perhaps 100-150 people, based on what the photographic evidence shows. However, a major Chabad website claims that over one thousand people were there, a giant exaggeration, a major untruth. 


1) Overwhelmingly, the greater Jewish community, the greater Orthodox Jewish community, and even the greater Chasidic community, does not recognize and celebrate this Chabad-Lubavitch holiday.

2) Some members of the neo-Chasidic community, springing from Modern Orthodoxy, with leaders such as Rebbe Moshe Weinberger of Yeshiva University, Aish Kodesh Rebbe of Woodmere, NY, Rebbe Judah Mischel of Camp HASC and NCSY, and Rebbe Moshe Tzvi Weinberg and Rebbe Hershel Reichman of YU, do celebrate it. No major surprise there, as we have written in the past of the closeness of this group to Chabad-Lubavitch.

3) The great efforts by Chabad-Lubavitch to promote this holiday of their faith by presenting events at sizable venues with leading singers, offering free music, food, and drink, have had only limited success in attracting new people to it. Many, if not most, of the new attendees are from the Neo-Chasidic group, Dati-Leumi or Modern Orthodox communities, and to a lesser extent Sephardim. There are grounds to assume that many of them are drawn more by the free entertainment, food, and drink, rather than ideological reasons. 

Bottom line - Chabad-Lubavitch is a lot less than many seem to think, and what they would like you to believe. By massive PR and frequent use of outright exaggeration and deception, they try to make themselves seem larger and more powerful than they actually are.

From the above we can and should extrapolate to Chabad overall, their organizations and activities in general, and not be foolish consumers who purchase the proverbial Brooklyn Bridge from them. Since they have been based in Brooklyn, NY for so many years they may have become experts in selling it to the unsuspecting and naive, but those of us with more knowledge need to be more wary of them, and warn others as well.

May light triumph over darkness, and truth win out over deception.

א פרייליכען חנוכה