Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ten Reasons Why Lubavitch is Not a Cult, by Shoshanna Silcove

x
x
x
x
                  While some have accused Lubavitch of being a cult, it does not meet the criteria.

  • 1. People are free to leave or stop participating. No one is forced to stay in the Lubavitcher movement.

  • 2. Difference of opinion is allowed and even encouraged. Lubavitch welcomes and encompasses a vastly broad range of individuals from all types of backgrounds.

  • 3.Lubavitch does not teach some weird, half-baked philosophy, on the contrary, it is a theology that is rooted in ancient Jewish tradition.

  • 4. While cults isolate and separate themselves from society, Lubavitch does the opposite and engages with the society around it. Chabad Houses are often trailblazers in their communities, often making significant contributions.

  • 5. Lubavitch does not make sharp distinctions between themselves and other Jews. In fact, the Lubavitcher theology teaches that all Jews are equally beloved by G-d. Lubavitch values each and every Jew regardless of their Jewish affiliation or lack of it.

  • 6. Nowhere does Lubavitch force or coerce its members to work for the "cause".

  • 7. Lubavitch fosters Torah education and never uses mind control or hypnosis to motivate or influence people.

  • 8. Lubavitch does not promote any apocalyptic beliefs but rather, teaches the ancient Torah concepts regarding making the world a better place through acts of goodness and kindness that will eventually bring about the coming Messianic era.

  • 9. While Lubavitchers do revere their leader the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe was not an authoritarian figure but rather, he was an educator. In fact, the Rebbe was known to have said that he would prefer his group be one of leaders rather than followers.

  • 10. While Lubavitchers are often fantastic organizers and fundraisers, they are not focused on, nor singularly preoccupied with earning money for the group as an end goal in and of itself.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

while is true that Lubavitch is not a cult

First you have to ask the indidual what he understands by "cult"


Problem is that you are giving points that makes it look more as a cult ,according for many ppls definitions

cipher said...

2. Difference of opinion is allowed and even encouraged. Lubavitch welcomes and encompasses a vastly broad range of individuals from all types of backgrounds.

Dissenting opinions are regarded with condescension at best, contempt and derision at worst.

3.Lubavitch does not teach some weird, half-baked philosophy, on the contrary, it is a theology that is rooted in ancient Jewish tradition.

As filtered through the lens of Tanya and the reactionary opinions of your rebbes

5. Lubavitch does not make sharp distinctions between themselves and other Jews. In fact, the Lubavitcher theology teaches that all Jews are equally beloved by G-d. Lubavitch values each and every Jew regardless of their Jewish affiliation or lack of it.

As long as that Jew knows his place, and has the humility to accept that he is in a position of insufficiency by not being observant

7. Lubavitch fosters Torah education and never uses mind control or hypnosis to motivate or influence people.

If you don't consider indoctrination from birth to be mind control

8. Lubavitch does not promote any apocalyptic beliefs

As long as you don't consider teaching that the coming of Moshiach is imminent as an "apocalyptic belief"

but rather, teaches the ancient Torah concepts regarding making the world a better place through acts of goodness and kindness that will eventually bring about the coming Messianic era.

Of course, those acts of "goodness and kindness" don't have much meaning for the poor gentiles who, like animals, simply dissipate upon death.

# 9. While Lubavitchers do revere their leader the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe was not an authoritarian figure

Merely a messianic one

but rather, he was an educator. In fact, the Rebbe was known to have said that he would prefer his group be one of leaders rather than followers.

As long as those "leaders" are willing to follow his teachings and instructions to the letter.

Lubavitch's locus of reverence is a charismatic individual who is believed to have possessed supernatural abilities, had followers who regard him as being quasi-divine and who have spread throughout the world in an attempt to convert others to their ideology. I don't see how it isn't a cult. Yet you feel comfortable in characterizing Shmarya and his readers as "secular naive gullible anti-religious cultists" whom you laugh at (so much for valuing "each and every Jew").

Shoshanna, you've so completely bought into the Chabad party line you wouldn't recognize objective reality if it walked up to you and introduced itself.

Now go pray for my poor, lost nehsomoh.

The Repenting Jewess said...

As a member of the Chabad movement for 25 years I can say unequivocally that the vast majority of Chabad people I have encountered have always been extremely tolerant of differences of opinion. They have not shown derision for those with whom they disagree. In fact, most of the vehemently secular left leaning anti-religious Jews I have met, have been extremely intolerant people, who arrogantly proclaim to have a deep understanding of our theology and our culture, while being totally ignorant and unwilling to open their minds and learn. Having lived in both the secular and religious worlds, I have been privileged to see things from both sides of the fence. Chabad people display unbelievably more acceptance of individuals in their midst who may be 'different' or who do not fit in, opening their homes and their hearts, giving of themselves on a daily basis, their time, money, and energy, without asking anything in return. This type of humble generosity is rare if not non-existent among the anti-religious secular left, in my experience.

As far as indoctrination goes--I was attracted to Chabad initially because they were NOT dogmatic. The left wing I encountered in university was far more dogmatic than any Chabadniks. Questions were encouraged, and truth seeking was the norm. On the contrary, I felt that I had to rid myself of the indoctrination I had received since birth of my secular education and its quasi agnostic/atheistic/secular humanism,and the self-hating guilt of the American Reform movement I was raised in.

So much of your comments reek with ignorance of our theology. I cannot teach you our deep body of thought here, you would need to spend several years opening your mind and in study. I will just point out that our Messianic belief is in no way apocalyptic. And your assertion that we believe that gentiles die and dissipate like animals is patently false, as well as your characterization of our relationship with the Rebbe. Your condemnations are based on your misconceptions. If you were to put aside your negative prejudice towards Judaism then perhaps you will actually find out what it is that we actually teach and believe. Until then, you're dogmatically against what you do not understand.

cipher said...

My nephew is involved in Chabad. I'm well aware of your beliefs - and my understanding of Judaism is greater than you would supposed.

Of course, after 25 years, you aren't going to second-guess yourself.

Anonymous said...

I would say that Chabad is tolerant with most different opinions for new commers

Then,different opinions are , in general, considered as klipos, ( I said in general, b/c of course that they are some few ppl who respect different views)

Regarding the Moshiach issue, agai, it depends : there are extremly Moshichistm that ,obviuosly they understand this completely diffent that you

If you just want to accomodate your comments to a political corect agenda, just, erase this post, but I see in your comments this idea, otherwise, you have being adroctinated in such a way, that you cannot open your mind

Milhouse said...

Cipher's accusations are not against Chabad but against Judaism as a whole. Every complaint he has is true not just of Lubavs but of every follower of the Torah. Thus, unless he wants to say that Judaism as a whole is a cult, his complaints are pointless. And of course the whole purpose of the criteria for diagnosing cults is to distinguish them from genuine religions. If Cipher has taanos against Judaism, he's welcome to them: לא עלינו תלונותיכם כי על ה׳ The world is not a free-for-all, and there is no virtue in accepting rebellion against Hashem.

cipher said...

You've painted me into a very comfortable little corner, haven't you? If I deny that these terms apply to the rest of Judaism, you can label me as frei, and therefore not entitled to an opinion. If I concede that they apply to all of Judaism and that I reject it, then I'm an apikoros. In either case, you can dismiss me.

I'm not going to make it that easy for you. Unquestioning devotion to a man believed to possess supernatural abilities doesn't apply to mainstream Judaism, frum or frei. It arguably applies to Hasidism, but that's a relatively recent development, and, in any case, the insistence on the part of thousands of meshichtim that the Rebbe is moshiach tips it over the edge. It doesn't matter that not all Lubavitchers subscribe to that belief; the point is that many do, and that the belief system was conducive to it. Luvatich was fertile ground for messianism, whether one adopts that position or not.

Also, as you claim that all of my points apply to all of Judaism, I assume you agree that gentiles, for the most part, don't have continuity after death - which means, Shoshana, that either you're wrong, or Chabad isn't "real" Judaism. (In any case, as I should have mentioned earlier but forgot until I'd posted my comment - it's in the Tanya.)

Now I'll make it easy for you. I'm an apikoros - and yes, I know enough to be one; I've been certified as one by a Modern Orthodox rabbi - so, not only can you dismiss me, you can also derive pleasure from fantasizing about me burning forever in Gehinnom. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Cipher,
There was once a yid, who came to a Rav, and exclaimed, "I am an apikoras!". The Rabbi, astounded, replied, "No you're not! you are just plain Ignorant!"
What the Rav meant was, in order to be an apikoras, which is defined as someone who denies the Torah and its beliefs, you must KNOW them (all).
I see you mentioned Tanya. Shall I suppose you learnt it? I mean, at least once? Well can you tell me, how many parts is Tanaya split into? What does each part address? etc, etc.
I don't think you're qualified to be an apikoras. That takes a lot, which frankly you don't have.

cipher said...

I don't think you're qualified to be an apikoras. That takes a lot, which frankly you don't have.

Of course - you couldn't possibly allow for that possibility. It's much easier to dismiss people who say things you don't want to hear; it saves you from having to reassess your beliefs.

I have no interest in engaging you.

Anonymous said...

lol
after having experience fights between Iechi vs non Iechi, and inside 770 (kinnus ),fights in CH ,board, etc, Rabbis, cherem, etc, shomrim,It is very clear how All Lubs are toleraants to others views, opinions
"koifer if you do not believe what I believe,etc"

Oycult said...

According to this definition it is a cult:

"A system or community of religious worship and ritual."

Quite reasonable?

cipher said...

Well, that's an older definition, used in the field of religious studies. The definition in play here is more along the lines of the first one in the article you linked to:

A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.

The last part of that sentence is key. I think that if group members are fanatically devoted to a charismatic individual, believe him/her to possess supernatural abilities and actively seek to convert others (and, Shoshana, don't give me the Chabad party line that you aren't seeking to make converts, merely trying to get Jews to perform mitzvot) that pretty much nails it. I find it pretty rich that the Chabadniks think the Moonies and the Hare Krishas et. al. are cults (with which I'd agree) - but they don't think Chabad is.

On the other hand, I don't really care. I don't troll blogs as a rule, especially religious ones. I only came here because Shoshana came to another blog on which I comment, to a thread dealing with a Chabad rabbi, and left the following:

I laugh as all you secular naive gullible anti-religious cultists jump on anything and everything that fits with your anti-religious hatred bandwagon. You are so easily manipulated and whipped up into a frenzy by the smallest innuendo or slander and swallow it all whole cult-like with no critical thought. What misguided fools you are! Pathetic.

We're easily manipulated. Right.

cipher said...

No, they've been deeply wounded by all of the corruption and abuse taking place in the frum world on a daily basis - things you don't want to believe exist - and, yes, many of them take pleasure in its exposure.

You people despise Shmarya because he was once one of you, then defected and became antagonistic. There's nothing a person of faith hates more. It threatens the very foundation of one's belief system.

The Repenting Jewess said...

That comment of mine was posted to the most vehemently anti-religious crowd of haters imaginable and I stand by it. These are anti-religious anti-semites who intensely hate frum Jews and take pleasure in acting like a self-styled Secular Inquisition of sorts.

Der Shygetz said...

BS"D

Cipher's responses here show just how it is that the secularists are the ones who are the most intolerant.

As for Shmarya, most of us regard him as what I know him to be from a personal encounter - someone in need of guidance and counseling.

We know full well we are not perfect and that sometimes those who should be on the highest level fall the farthest. If we were perfect, Moshiach would be here. Shmarya thinks that he is perfect and that his regurgitation of material for the Forward crowd is groundbreaking reporting. You think that you are the enlightened one when in reality you have a small bit of third hand knowledge.

That is the difference. That is why we are growing, and the secular Jewish world is shrinking toward disappearance.

Der Shygetz said...

BS"D

Oycult, using that definition for cult is the same as defining both a house cat and a lion as a feline - which they both are. But I think we know which one we can keep at home, just as anyone should know the difference between Chabad and chas vesholom Scientology.

cipher said...

That is the difference. That is why we are growing, and the secular Jewish world is shrinking toward disappearance.

Oh, this again. Over and over and over again, like a bunch of freaking mynah birds. You people need some new material.

Orthodoxy and Reform have each been predicting the other's demise for two hundred years. Everyone is still here. Meanwhile, Orthodoxy is approaching a watershed. By virtue of number and influence, the Hareidim are Orthodoxy now; they own the franchise. Their world is collapsing - succumbing to pressure from without and deteriorating from within. Some of them have begun to realize it. It won't last more than another generation, two at the outside - and, when they go, they'll be taking most of the rest of Orthodoxy with them. The Yeshivish, the Right Wing Modern Orthodox - they'll all fall by the wayside. The most liberal, left-leaning factions may survive - Avi Weiss and his crowd - but there are hardly enough of them to sustain a subculture. There may not be enough to provide a viable gene pool.

Not sure how it will affect Chabad. On the one hand, you have an infrastructure largely independent of the rest of the frum world. On the other - you've been having your own internal problems. We'll see.

In the meantime, I've been told (I don't have figures) that Reform is actually the fastest growing denomination, because they recognize patrilineal descent. Yes, I know they aren't Jews according to halakhah, but you realize that they don't care what you think. They call themselves Jews, and they call what they're doing Judaism. You don't want to? Fine - it doesn't affect their lives in the slightest. You are as irrelevant to them as they are to you.

Der Shygetz said...

BSD

That patrilineal nonsense is only proof that Reform as Jews have disappeared. So have seculars in Israel who are now post Zionists and have no problem marrying non-Jewish Russian olim.

Avi Weiss and company are a circus sideshow with no following outside of a few talking heads from the Forward and similar rags and a half bankrupt former telecommunications magnate.

The adjustments in the charedi world are only making it stronger.

Chabad in the end will take over most of Reform and Conservative and bring people gradually to observance.

You, cipher, are indeed a cipher and completely irrelevant.

Der Shygetz said...

BSD

What is more, Chabad, ChabadLite and Breslov will be picking up many of those who are disaffected with other charedi communities, especially those who are disaffected because they feel stifled by a need for conformity. Very few of the so called OTD crowd will stay secular or end up in heterodox Judaism which is often more conformist than even Satmar.

Those who really leave, from wherever they were, will sadly disavow Judaism altogether, and either fade into general society or join New Age cults L"A.

Of course a few malcontents like you (the very aptly named cipher) and Shmarya will still be able to use the Internet to puff yourselves up and make yourselves look like you have huge support. In reality Shmarya cannot even muster enough real support to raise the pittance he needed to cover the Rubashkin trial live from the courthouse. Even his buddies at the Forward were unwilling to pay his tab because at the end of the day they, too, know he is a useful idiot and a real mynah bird who just parrots what others have already found.

That is because at the end of the day, good wins over evil, positivity wins over negativity, and G-d wins out over avoida zoro (be it real worship of idols, empty secularism, or idolatrous redefinitions of "Judaism" that are made to cover for the laziness, shame and cowardice that is the root of assimilation). Otherwise, there would have been NO Jews left after the centuries of Jew hatred that culminated in the Shoah and the decades of pressure to assimilate. Instead, we Torah Jews are growing and the assimilated ones are basically, and sadly, gone with the flow that they were too weak to resist, or that they chose to go with because it offered some temporal benefit.

cipher said...

Right. Just keep telling yourself that.

chenyok said...

I think this article is a waste of time, as it tries to fit (a group within) Judaism, a timeless, absolute truth, conform with temporary, subjective standards of appropriateness. Like trying to fit a square into a round hole.

lilacgreen said...

Cipher, I liked your responses, the points of view you shared. It shows that you investigate and your a thinking person.

I am an orthodox woman and one who will not label herself as attached to one particular group or another. I attend synagogue and classes in both Litvak and Chabad circles, some of my best friends are Belz, Satmar and Chabad as last but certainlyh not least "modern orthodox" women. I have friends in many sphere's and value every segment of Judaism. I too feel a sense of intolerance with Chabad towards another point of view but I have felt and heard this same intolerance when in the presence of Litvishe or other forms of Chassidic groups. You know the famous joke: "When you have 3 Jews in a room you'll get 4 opinions."

I see the value in everything that is said and see that each one has its place just like each person is vastly different from the next. It is not true that non-Jews have no continuity after death, they too have a soul. In Jerusalem at Yad Vashem they maintain a special ceremony to honour and acknowledge the righteous gentile eternally for saving the life of a Jew(s) at the risk of their own life going against the culture and the reality as they knew it. No small feat! I personally know many orthodox Jews who maintain contact and have gone to visit Europe or brought their non-Jewish hero's to America, Israel, Australia, to visit and meet their children and grandchildren. I know the children of orthodox Jews who maintain contact with the children of these non-Jews after the hero himself has passed away and their own parents and grandparents have passed away.

The Ten Commandments were given in the singular form, not in the plural form. The non-Jews have the Seven Noahide Laws and if they keep it and we keep ours, then we live together harmoniously. In Melbourne, Rabbi Shimon Cowan has an organization: "The Institute for Judaism and Civilization" in which Jews and non-Jews get together and they bring speakers from both camps that discuss Secular and Bible related issues. Rabbi Cowan is Lubavitch as is Rabbi Mannis Friedman (from the USA) who address both Jews and non-Jews 'internationally' men of the clergy and men and women of the military. We are not mutually exclusive we co-exist.

The bottom line is that it is incumbent upon each Jew, as an individual, to inspire and consciously move to grow closer to G-d. At the foot of Mt. Sinai the Jewish people made a covenant with G-d: "Na'asei V'Nishma", "We will do and then we will here" (this was just prior to the Torah being given). Because of this G-d has kept his part of the bargain: "Lo Yanum V'Lo Yishan, Shomer Yisrael", G-d neither slumbers nor sleeps HE watches over his people Israel.

Have you seen the article by Mark Twain: "The Jew" it was actually a part of an anti-semitic thesis about the Jews. It is enlightening at the very least but what makes it unique is the question that he poses at the end. Its a good read!

I don't mind continuing this thread. I won't dismss you, at most we might find that we will agree to disagreee. G-d has invested us with free choice. I can take comments and criticisms, I'll roll with the punches and bow when I don't know something. Its no skin off my back, what could be the worst case scenario, perhaps my ego would be tarnished, that too I can handle....