Tuesday, July 05, 2011


Musing on the Rebbe

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

rebbeIt’s been 17 years since I lost my Rebbe, since the world lost the Rebbe.  Today is the 17th anniversary of the histalkus (elevation via departure from this physical world) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

To explain this anniversary, I turned to an example from the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of chassidus).  The Baal Shem Tov was an awesome influence on Judaism and the Jewish People.  In his time he was a direct powerful influence on his disciples, their families and the areas they lived.  Certainly his direct impact continued strongly throughout the next generation.

But after that?  His influence and direction, his spiritual impact, continued for generations and still is strongly felt today (within the orthodox Jewish world, and throughout the Jewish world via the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Chabad).  But for direct influence, other leaders arose who provided direct leadership to subsequent generations.

The direct impact of the Lubavitcher Rebbe has been awesome upon the Jewish world.  He took the remnants of a chassidus after World War II and completely refocused it on the mission of spiritually energizing the Jewish world.  Within a scant 50 years the goals and impact was evident as Chabad had spread itself to almost every area with a Jewish presence world wide.

In the 17 years since the Rebbe’s physical departure, Chabad continued the mission and spread their impact even farther.  Today, in many areas Chabad remains as the only organized Jewish presence (and certainly, outside of major Jewish concentrations, practically the only Torah oriented Jewish presence).

Yet the Rebbe wasn’t just about a physical mission.  He also changed the conversation of Judaism itself.  Topics such as a focus on the physical mitzvot (such as tefillin), the spiritual value of every Jew, and Moshiach became prominent parts of religious Jewish culture and discussion.  (Even for those who were or are on the other side of these discussions, the fact it’s being discussed or argued came via the Rebbe.)

The Rebbe was a great leader.  Whether he had spiritual vision or just great wisdom, he prepared for and addressed problems facing the Jewish people as a whole as well as specific groups, and marshaled his chassidim in doing the same. 

On this date and 17 years later, I deeply feel the loss.  Part of this is personal as the Rebbe provided direct leadership and change in my life.  But part of this is national.  It seems to me NO ONE, no leader, seems to care about the whole Jewish people anymore.  It seems to me NO ONE, no leader, is trying to address problems of the Jewish people as a whole anymore.

I know, intellectually, the power of a tzadik is increased after he leaves the physical bounds.  And I have no doubt that like the Jewish people are still talking of and impacted by the Baal Shem Tov over 200 years later that the Jewish people will be talking about and still impacted by the Lubavitcher Rebbe 200 years from now.

But 17 years later, especially when the type of leadership we had then is lacking today…

I miss my Rebbe.

I miss OUR Rebbe.

Though we are supposed to celebrate the elevation of a tzadik, I cannot.  I feel the lack.  We all do, whether we realize it or not.


  1. Akiva, I had a conversation with a rabbi who does smicha for a particular very well known orthodox institution about the leaders of today. The bottom line from even him was they don't have the faith and it appears the system is too powerful to make any changes. I talked to him about some area's that would lessen the blow of the coming geulah, God willing. His response is that first, one would be dead. Second, the system is rigged in such a way that if the top brass don't make the change, the sheep will not listen. How do you expect it to change?

    Look at you Akiva, you delete my posts because they don't agree with the status quo. Because maybe I point out where we have strayed from the Torah. It's very uncomfortable to say the least. Not only for you, but it would be better for me if I followed the status quo also.

    There are Jews who are deeply concerned about our well being. There are Jews who care deeply that we return to our Father and abandon our errent way's. Sadly though the system has blinded us and has a strangle hold so strong that only our Father can change it. It's way too late.

    It's quite sad that Jews cannot stand back and take a look at the last 2000 years. Why we can't realize that the system is not producing the results we need. Not to say all is wrong, but there are some major things that transgress the Torah. Traditions that spit in Gods face.

    Don't wake up Akiva, but why do you suppress anyone who disagree's with your derech? That's exactly what the nature of the Erev Rav is. Some day they to will return to our Father.

  2. "Look at you Akiva, you delete my posts because they don't agree with the status quo. Because maybe I point out where we have strayed from the Torah. It's very uncomfortable to say the least. Not only for you, but it would be better for me if I followed the status quo also."

    ..."Don't wake up Akiva, but why do you suppress anyone who disagree's with your derech?"

    Shiloh, we are in similar positions regarding "the system". Yet "the system" of today is only about 60 years old, created post-holocaust in the aftermath and as a reaction to it and survival mechanism from it.

    When you want to discuss problems with "the system" or even failings of the community, I'm generally open to it.

    But when you want to espouse positions that are outside the realm of what is currently considered normative Judaism, that I'm not interested in sharing with my readership. (You're always welcome to open your own site to promote whatever you wish to promote.)

    There is little doubt "the system" is out of balance. But I am not willing to throw away 2,300 years of approach or wisdom for my own best understanding.

    The system needs to be reformed and rebalanced. Past attempts at your model (assuming I understand it correctly) have also led to unlivable extremism and failed to survive.

  3. Akiva, surely no one has to throw out everything. That's certainly not what I am refering to. Nor do I believe in what your two references are advocating as a whole. They too have errors. But following the majority does not mean it's the truth by any means. Look at our history, is normative alway's correct, the prophets state otherwise. Even movements today that reflect some positions that your two examples hold to, I have asked tough questions of them, they also cannot answer without commentaries. So, please, don't look at it as an attack against you personally, you are just doing your best too.

    The whole point is to go back to God. He invites us to return to him, and He will return to us. The problem has not been resolved for 2000-2300 years as you and I know.

    If you can defend your positions based on what the Written Torah say's, I will back them completely (I am certainly not against the commentaries except when they are incorrect interpretations which contradict the Torah). But when they stray and Jews teach them, according to the same Torah, we are to say something in order that the entire Nations does not see harm because of it.

    Claiming God said something when Moshe never recorded it, is in itself against the Torah from Moshe. Seeing how this has not solved anything, actually it's caused many problems it's not the time to stick one's head in the sand if we are in the day's that many believe are right before our eyes. God willing.

    This is part of 'the system' and it's also part of failing of the community. Both subjects you allow.

    When have we enjoyed throughout history being told we are straying from the derech. Here's a good example, the secular in many cases need to learn a bit about modesty, while the religious (excluding yourself) needs to be more attached to what God has given us with the Land. What that says, is there is truth and there is error. It's just I am hitting a sore spot. Let's use the example of the calendar, you and I know it's off. It's not a secret. Ok there are problems implementing the correct Biblical method currently, but how problematic is it to have Yom Kippur fall on the wrong day? To me, a little problematic.

    Have a great evening, and if you believe your interpretation is correct, then prove it as such, hey, I can be wrong too. That way your readership, which I hope grows, will be able to figure out if it's contrary to the Torah or it's completely fine. What is there to fear Akiva?

  4. 1. Who knows what leaders might appear when the time is right? One could be your neighbor already.

    2. Don't assume that all contemporaries of your Rebbe, or their successors, are really so uninvolved with Klal Yisrael as a whole. This type of claim puts your group in a poor light.

  5. Dear Akiva, because something has been around for 2300 years does not make it all correct. It that is the case then we should follow the majority of xtianity, maybe Buddism, how about the oldest religion, Hinduism. Because something was destroyed due to political battles does not mean it's all false either. History is full of things that are not true, but won the battle.
    Let the Mashiach decide. Whoever is right buy's the other a shwarma. Deal?

  6. i think shalom arush and lazer brody care very deeply about all of the jewish people. rabbi brody travels around the world bringing emunah and knowledge to far corners of galut. may they both be strengthened in their endeavors.

  7. if we had more lazer brodies mashiach would be here yesterday he has yirah shamayim ahavat yisrael tutored under sages and strong strong emunah !sadly I have almost never in my 42 years found other rabbis who had faith 1 exception the lubavaticher rebbe . question akiva why is faith and belief in the messiah so stressed in xtianity but not judaism , is our religion fake ?

  8. Anonymous 1 - I don't make any such assumption. I know well that many leaders have been concerned and involved for klal yisroel. But I'm also seeing the results in our time, which are discouraging.

    Shiloh - Deal.

    Anonymous 2 - Indeed, R. Brody is working hard on spreading a good message. But that's only 1 man with whatever audiences he can reach. Rav Arush, shlita, has had an impact with his "Garden of" books, but the impact ends there. Sadly.

    Anonymous 3 - Because they have nothing else. No foundation, no defined relationship with G-d. You just "believe" and disengage thought to accept what they offer.

  9. Annon, The Torah is clear that if we return to God, He will return to us. We should focus on God, not his future representitive. Also, read in the Tanach the chronilogical events still to come, haShem ends it then his representitive will be exposed. If the messiah was revealled, he would end up dead rather quickly. Sadly, though, we cannot return to Him, as we don't know what to do. The reasons I won't elaborate on.

    With xtianity, they believe that the messiah has come as you know. So they have something tangeble to hold on to. The problem is of course his teachings have been corrupted into an anti-Torah lie. So we Jews stay well away from it.

    We have huge problems in the 'religion' department. This too I won't elaborate on, but it's not good for business.

  10. Akiva, the results are discouraging.

    Yes, I agree. Each one of you has a small audience. I know of others too, but if all of you stated one message of teaching at a time, would this not help?

    What about speaking and presenting idea's from several of you to some of the higher ups. There must, must be a way to tip the scales. Even if we deserve to hit the bottom, still we can try.

    A big shavua tov. By the way, if you have to buy me a shwarma (God forbid ;-) ) I don't eat Bdatz, just so you know. Its just to prove a point, lol.


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