Written by Shraga Crombie, Chabad Info
In connection with the court-case regarding the administration of 770, and the varied and bizarre claims as if the Rebbe gave the responsibility to decide how the shul is run to Agudas Chassidei Chabad (as the legal owners of the building), we are publicizing the Rebbe’s views on the issue. These are derived, first and foremost, from the explicit sichos as well as from responses to various queries, according to which it is clear that the responsibility for the operations of the shul is exclusively in the hands of the Rabbonim of Crown Heights, and the actual administration is in the hands of the Gabboim.
To be clear: nobody is arguing the fact that the ownership of the building is in the hands of Agudas Chassidei Chabad and Merkos L’inyanei Chinuch, and as such, issues like expansion of or alterations to the building is entirely up to these entities. The following addresses the administration of the shul itself, by way of the Gabboim who are subservient to the oversight of the Rabbonim.
TO START – SOME HISTORY
During the years that followed ever since the shul was opened by the Rebbe Rayatz when he purchased 770, operation of the shul was handed over to the Gabboei Beis HaKnessess U’Beis HaMedrash Lubavitch Sh’b’Lubavitch, or Gabboim for short. They were the ones who took care of the tefillos, the maintenance and other assorted administrative duties.
In the year 5730, after the passing of R’ Yochanan Gordon, who served as Gabbai under the auspices of the Rebbe Rayatz, the first elections for Gabboim took place with the approval of the Rebbe and his blessings to the Gabboim who were elected.
In the year 5731, there was a meeting of Anash where it was decided that since the Gabboim were doing their jobs devotedly, they should retain their positions for life. Over the years, some of the Gabboim passed on and only R’ Pinson and R’ Blesofsky remained. There were some who wanted to appoint R’ Zev Katz as a new Gabbai. Towards this end, signatures were gathered for his appointment and when they wrote to the Rebbe about this, the Rebbe sent them to the Rabbonim of the Shechuna to approve the appointment.
In the year 5747, after members of Aguch pressured the Gabboim not to call up any of the newly elected Rabbonim for the aliya of the Aseres HaDibros on Shabbos Parshas Yisro, the Rebbe addressed this in a sicha (see later) and said that although as a rule he does not mix into the work of the Gabboim, since it was done in front of him he is obligated to voice his protest. He requested that the Rabbonim should impose a “punishment” upon the Gabboim, and asked that it be done in ways of chessed.
Immediately after the sicha, one of the Gabboim resigned his post, and another one refused to apologize, whereby the Rebbe stopped acknowledging his existence. After a few months (of the Rebbe ignoring him completely) he was compelled to apologize in public and in the presence of the Rebbe. Only then did the Rebbe return to acknowledging him. After that, there were elections for the Vaad HaKahal, in which the Rebbe was involved extensively, and in light of the events of Parshas Yisro, the residents of the community asked the Rabbonim to call for new elections for Gabboim.
The elections took place that summer, which were acknowledged by the Rebbe, and a number of Gabboim were elected. They immediately began serving in their posts, and they filled this role for a few weeks, even calling up the Rebbe to the Torah, and so on. After a few weeks, due to a side event (the passing of the Bochur, Shmuel Chitrik OB”M), the Gabboim decided to stop carrying out their duties and to allow the old Gabboim to continue.
IN THE WORDS OF THE REBBE:
THE ELECTIONS FOR GABBOIM IN 5730
As mentioned, in Teves 5730, there were elections for Gabboim of 770. One of the Gabboim who was elected asked the Rebbe if he should accept the appointment. To this, the Rebbe answered in writing:
It is public knowledge that I don’t mix into matters of Gabbaus etc – and it is astonishing that he asks me about this.
Following this, all of the Gabboim who were elected wrote to the Rebbe on 19 Teves that they are accepting upon themselves the appointment for one year, and are asking the Rebbe for his holy blessing. The Rebbe proffered his blessing and wrote:
And may all of the above in this letter – be with success, and Lubavitch B’Lubavitch should be a Bayis Gadol with all of the explanations of Chazal. Azkir al ha’tziyun.
THE SHARP SICHA
Let’s jump ahead sixteen years (1987), to one of the most serious affairs in the history of the shul. It all began at Shacharis on Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Yisro. The tefilla proceeded as usual on every Shabbos, and even during the Torah reading there was nothing out of the ordinary. It was only when it came time for the aliya of the Aseres HaDibros, when the crowd was shocked to see the Gabbai call to the Torah one of the visiting Rabbonim from Eretz Yisrael, and not one of the Rabbonim of the Shechuna.
This was not something done in innocence or by mistake, but was carried out intentionally by the then-serving Gabboim, upon the instructions of a number of leading Chabad activists who refused to accept under any terms, the recent election by the public of the new Rabbonim. The following Shabbos, Parshas Mishpatim, the Rebbe reacted to this in a very strongly worded sicha (printed in Hisvaaduyos 5747, vol 2, p 489). The following is a portion of what was said:
“Based on what was said previously regarding the power of Rabbonim in general, and especially the Rabbonim of this congregation and community – it is thus obvious and simple, that in a case where there arises a question in matters pertaining to the congregation, a matter pertaining to the shul and the like, they need to turn to the Rabbonim of the congregation and do according to their ruling, and as said the responsibility for all matters of the congregation rests upon them. Therefore, it is not from among my matters to mix into matters pertaining to the Rabbonim.
“But what? There are those who say that in the matter of “ploni” my will and intention is in such-and-such a manner, and more so, there are those who say things in my name that never existed and were never created, as if I agreed to a matter of “infringement of borders” and the like. Matters that are in opposition to the Shulchan Aruch, rachmana litzlan. Therefore:
“As far as the give-and-take about what is my will and intention etc. (even if we were to say that there is a practical ramification to what my will and intention is) – I don’t need anybody to interpret my words, since regarding a matter that I need to say, I say it openly and explicitly, as per the instruction of the Torah, “Do not be afraid before any man.” And regarding matters that I don’t see the need to express explicitly, to mention names or the like – I FORBID saying interpretations in my words, that with these words I mean “ploni ben ploni,” or I am referring to subject “ploni” and the like.
“As relates to words that they say in my name that run counter to the Shulchan Aruch – I said on numerous occasions, and I am repeating and reiterating once again, that all such matters are ABSOLUTE FALSEHOOD! It is the greatest astonishment that there is someone who would even consider in his mind such a shocking reasoning (awakening the need to negate it) – not from the standpoint of righteousness, Tzaddik Gamur etc, up to the fact that “Your nation are all Tzaddikim,” but rather from the standpoint of humanity, since any person who is sane of mind would not say to act counter to the Shulchan Aruch, chas v’shalom!
“Since that is the case, it would seem that it is not for me to say the following, since ALL MATTERS OF THE CONGREGATION PERTAIN TO THE RABBONIM. The reason that I decided to speak about this is because we are speaking of an occurrence where I myself was present. Consequently, if I do not protest, it could be construed as an APPROBATION. “Since he was silent, we can deduce therefrom that he admitted to him.” Therefore, I am forced to speak these words.”
HANGING A SIGN IN 770? “CERTAINLY WITH APPROVAL OF THE RABBONIM”
In 5748, when the tmimim Zalman Liberow and Yosef Yitzchok Meizlisch sent in a duch to the Rebbe about their excerpting the practical hora’os from the sichos for the special bulletin board that was put up in 770, dedicated to promoting the Rebbe’s latest directives, they received the following response, wherein the Rebbe makes it clear that even matters that seem technical in nature must be done exclusively with the approval of the Rabbonim:
Certainly all of this with the approval of the Rabbonim sheyichyu, as spoken about in the past.
SEDER NIGGUNIM? CERTAINLY WITH APPROVAL OF THE RABBONIM
In 5749, R’ Yosef Yitzchok Losh and R’ Shneur Zalman Lipsker sent in a duch to the Rebbe informing him about a seder niggunim and review of Chassidus at the time of the third meal on Shabbos. To this, they received the following response:
Certainly all of this with approval of the Rabbonim Shlita sheyichyu. Azkir al ha’tziyun.
DISPUTE ABOUT AN OFFICE IN THE BUILDING? OBVIOUSLY, TURN TO THE RABBONIM
When R’ Moshe Meir Gluckowsky wrote to the Rebbe and complained that the office that he works out of for Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim, near the apartment of Rashag on the third floor of 770, was to be cleared out for the Lubavitch Library, the Rebbe answered:
As is obvious, he should turn to the Rabbonei HaShechuna.
NEW PAROCHES IN 770? THE GABBAI ASKS APPROVAL OF THE RAV
After the passing of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka ob”m, the Gabbai, R’ Zev Katz wrote to R’ Yehuda Kalman Marlow in the name of the Gabboim:
“We are of the mind to make a paroches in the shul in memory of the righteous Rebbetzin, and based on the famous instruction we are hereby asking approval for this” (emphasis not in the original).
THE RABBONIM RULE: THE GABBOIM HAVE FULL RIGHT TO ACT AS GABBOIM
As stated, the Rebbe established, in a manner that is incontrovertible, that all matters of the shul are the responsibility of the Rabbonim. The Badatz was called upon to deal with this matter on more than one occasion, in 1987 and in 1996, and they ruled unequivocally regarding those elected in public elections:
“The public and the Gabboim have the full right to have them serve in the role of Gabboim.”