Levi Liberow, Beis Moshiach
It happens every now and then that people act in a wrong way defending a right ideal, and when this does happen, it makes it a lot harder to stand up for the ideal, as people naturally — and incorrectly — immediately associate the ideal with the actions done in its name.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right” is true, but neither should we shy away from continuing to promote a true idea, along with condemning the wrongful actions done in its name.
I write this with a heavy heart. I’m not sure if I have made the right decision to discuss this in this forum, but I decided, after consulting with a few good friends, to address the topic nonetheless, hoping that it will bring desirable results. Perhaps meaz yeitzei masok — we, as a community, can gain from an event that left us all with a bitter taste in our mouth.
The educational dilemma placed before us here was, in fact, a very valuable lesson to teach:
As we are still in the final moments of galus, we continue to feel the long-lasting effects of the Chet Eitz HaDa’as, where the good and the opposite thereof — which both existed since creation, but separately — became mixed up. Our task ever since was to clarify and separate the two, and we need to teach our children to be able to separate not-good from good, even when the not-good is surrounded by so much good.
The question here is, in essence, “How should we react to the usage, production and promotion of good and right things by people and organizations who have a mistaken ideology?”
I know it’s a multifaceted question. It depends on what kind of services, it depends on who is being given the services, it depends on what kind of wrong ideology, and it depends on what degree the organization’s services transmit its ideology, if at all.
So, let me be more specific.
I’m speaking of several organizations that produce and promote educational materials and programs that make the Rebbe’s messages accessible to various groups and ages.
I think they do an incredible job at what they do, and that’s why I’m very troubled by the ideology behind it.
One of these organizations was founded to help broadcast the Rebbe’s farbrengens throughout the world. While they provided the instruments and the tools, the Rebbe provided the content.
Now, when we, unfortunately, cannot yet hear new teachings of the Rebbe, such organizations, using treasure troves of material the Rebbe gifted us over many years, must make the selection of what to present and how much.
It’s up to their discretion, and as such, they must seriously make sure they are representing the Rebbe the way — as much as we can possibly assume — the Rebbe would “present himself” to the world.
It’s not so hard to figure that out; it’s fairly simple. You just need to compare the Rebbe we present to the world to the Rebbe that presented himself to the world in the last period of time we were zoche to hear and see the Rebbe b’eini basar l’eis atah and make sure they more-or-less match!
You can’t teach everything at once, but you must live with the times. I find it particularly ironic that publications and productions that do a tremendously good job in making the Rebbe and his messages relevant to the world on a regular basis, are portraying an “old version” of the Rebbe, by effectively — purposely or not — hiding the latest innovations in the Rebbe’s peulos and teachings, primarily Besuras HaGeula.
[As wrote here several months ago, there are steps in the right direction recently, but much more is needed to be “brought up to date”.
This cuts both ways. Another common mistake is to present just the chiddush of recent times, not noticing that it must come in the context built up by those many decades of the Rebbe’s work of l’sakein olam b’malchus Shin-Dalet-Yud.
We cannot understand Besuras HaGeula properly if it is detached from the rest of Chassidus and the Rebbe’s teachings, and for sure, people who are not yet versed in what we grew up with from day-one need a lot of background material to be able to understand it, let alone accept it.]
In summation, this reminds me of the story of the teacher who reprimanded a student rather forcefully for his lack of participation in class. The student was shocked, “What did I do?”
“Nothing!” the teacher responded, “and that’s why I’m screaming at you!”
Let me speak clearly: Attempts are being led by such organizations to de-facto hide from the world the belief of Chassidim that the Rebbe — in his capacity of Nasi Hador — is the Moshiach of the generation. (Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu Sheb’Bavel, ois 6, et-al)
Despite the “controversial” vibe this matter produces, it isn’t a mere “detail” of many in the teachings of Chabad, rather it is a fundamental aspect in Toras HaChassidus and, in essence, it defines what a Rebbe means. The fact that the Rebbe is Moshiach is what makes the Rebbe Rebbe. (See more on this in Kuntres Inyana Shel Toras HaChassidus, ois 5)
How to express this is a worthy discussion. I believe that mistakes have been made in how this has been presented to the chutzah, but to completely ignore it at this point, after it has been made public (and encouraged, or at the very least allowed by the Rebbe) is equal to denying it.
What you believe and think inside, is irrelevant for chinuch purposes. The child sees what you do and hears what you say. That’s what counts, especially when he is exposed to the message coming from others (even if in a not fully thought-out way). If you don’t tell it to him and he does hear it from others, he rightfully gets the impression that you don’t agree with it.
Most of all, this policy is detrimental to the chinuch of children growing up inside Lubavitch. Those hiding it from the “world” are hiding it from our very own children. Talking about this to our children now, when we don’t see the Rebbe is of even greater importance, and it’s an opening to addressing this subject in a p’nimusdike and educated manner, rather than “going with the flow.”
A number of years ago, when a respected community-mashpia made unfortunate statements about this topic while speaking to a group of boys in a local Crown Heights mossad, there was an outcry in the community.
But day after day, we, the very same people who were terribly hurt to hear such words from a prominent figure in our community; we, the very same people who make it a point to name our children and celebrate Bar Mitzvah’s at the Rebbe’s minyan in 770, are allowing our children to hear the same message in so many other ways.
I’m not saying we should “throw out the baby with the bathwater,” but I do think that we should be aware of this matter and when we use these beautiful materials, we ought to make sure we, as parents and educators, “supplement” what is missing by making a point to show our children videos of the Rebbe about Moshiach, videos of the Rebbe encouraging Yechi, and most importantly — learn with them on a regular basis the sichos of the latest tekufa which contain the Rebbe’s timely messages, until those responsible make the necessary amends.
A good car is nice to have, but it’s more important to make sure it’s driving in the right direction.
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