Written by Shraga Crombie, Shliach in New Jersey
It began with a series of moving video farbrengens in which Chassidim, Rabbanim and Shluchim sat together for the first time, when they had been unable to do so for years. This led to a series of concessions between Chassidim and Shluchim who had seen Machlokes as a holy war for years. Now, they opted to put it aside and to meet with love and brotherly unity.
We cannot diminish the wave of Achdus we are experiencing in Chabad over the past week and a half, and without getting into heavenly considerations that are beyond us, we see that the results speak for themselves.
The nonstop news about people passing away which we had gotten “used to” in the weeks prior, nearly ceased. Instead, we are sharing good news about Chassidim who recovered and returned home, to the joy of their families and Anash worldwide. Everyone knows and understands that the Rebbe wants his children to live in peace and to stop fighting. There is no doubt that, at this time, the Rebbe is having much Nachas from these initiatives.
We are now at the stage in which we are waiting to see how things will develop and it is also the stage in which things become more complicated. The question arises, what is this Achdus that everyone is talking about supposed to look like?
One way of implementing Achdus is, as the saying goes, “Why fight? Let’s decide to do it my way.” We have seen letters publicized in this style in which, after many lofty sentiments about the importance of Achdus, there appears the bottom line: If everyone agrees to the view of the author and to accept his authority, then there is no obstacle to Achdus…
The other two ways to implementing Achdus are based on the assumption that today in Chabad there are two views and it is not possible to negate either one of them. Each approach has a big following of Chassidim, led by Rabbanim, Shluchim and Mashpiim, who hold that this way is right and all believe they are doing the right thing and that this is the only way to carry out the Rebbe’s Ratzon. Each side is certain that it is the one who should be leading Chabad and he is the one that ought to run the central Mosdos, from the position of his understanding of the intention and words of the Rebbe.
If this assumption is accepted, obviously Achdus won’t happen by negating the other but by there specifically being two views. In other words, this is unity but not uniformity.
For now, there is the ideal and there is the reality.
The ideal is that with the understanding that there are two approaches and with the understanding that we are all the children of one father, we can all overcome all the obstacles, and by accepting the other, there will cease to be two camps. There will be one magazine in Chabad, one Chabad news site, one Kinus Ha’Shluchim, etc. Not, Chas V’Shalom, by one side saying “I am the one making the decisions and if you accept my conditions then I will agree to recognize you,” but with the understanding that the two sides have a basis to stand on, and therefore, each side will accept the other side despite their differences.
For example, take the question of “who is a Shliach.” One side maintains that only one who was recognized by him is a Shliach while the other side denies his authority to be the one to make this decision. One side maintains that only a head Shliach can approve of who is a Shliach while the other side denies the power that the first Shluchim supposedly have. One side maintains that he and only he is the boss of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and the other side maintains that the Rebbe appointed a new Hanhala and it is not possible that those who refuse to come to a Din Torah should be the directors of an important Mosad.
Who is right? Of course, everyone thinks he is right, which is why there are disputes that have been going on for years. Achdus means that each one continues to maintain his position and yet, is ready to unite with others.
As mentioned, that is ideal. Is it realistic? It would seem a miracle is necessary to accomplish that. Until a miracle occurs, does that mean that it is impossible to do anything? Does it mean that the unity initiative failed? Chas V’Shalom.
And here we come to the reality that exists on the ground.
This is what we have seen in the past week and a half in more and more places. Let us take Boston for example, where the Machloches between the Shluchim has been going on for years and despite this, the Shluchim of the different Chabad Houses met via Zoom, in an atmosphere of Achdus and peace. The differences of opinion remain, each Shliach continues to maintain his view, but the hostility and hatred ended. The very fact of the meeting and the picture of the Shluchim together on the Zoom conference that was publicized, symbolize that there is no longer any hatred. In its place there is Achdus and peace.
This does not mean that tomorrow, the Chabad Houses are joining under one administration, since, as mentioned, the differences between the sides are real and perhaps unbridgeable. However, each side respects the other and recognizes that the commonalities are greater than the differences.
It is not necessary to agree on the right way to publicize Moshiach, just as it is not obligatory to decide on who is a Shliach (and as we have seen that even the Rebbe himself preferred not to issue clear rulings) or who should run the Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch. Everyone can continue holding his view but it is possible to do so without hatred and without Machlokes.
Even if there are two Chabad Houses in a city, they don’t need to be in conflict with each other; they can respect one another. Without promises of implementing unity “within 24 hours,” and without boasts of unifying the Mosdos from both sides, it is still possible to achieve Achdus in Chabad by all of us behaving respectfully toward one another.
Yes, even if there are two Kinusei Ha’Shluchim it is possible to respect every Shliach who attends one Kinus or the other and not to accuse him that by doing so he is “fighting against the Rebbe.” And certainly not to hate him or to make his life difficult just because he is operating based on what he believes.