As my long-time readers know, my purpose in life is helping my fellow humans improve their lives spiritually, physically and occasionally metaphysically. Today, I share a letter I received from a distraught Litvak and the advice I shared with him. I hope you find it as inspiring and useful as he did. – David
Like every weekday, I awoke today before dawn and joined my local ‘vasikin minyan’ for the morning prayers; as usual, the dry monotony of the prayer was boring and uninspiring. After I realized that if we all tried to be the “last to leave” we’d be there all day, I departed the shul and went home for my breakfast. While eating my ‘yoshon’ bagel with cream cheese , (lox is banned because of bugs,) I wondered, “is this all there is?” I took a long hard look at my life (if mirrors were mutar I’d have looked in one) and thought “where has all the joy gone?” Will my life just just be endless repetition of Daf Yomi shiurim, banned roughage and the ever-changing opinions of Da’as Torah? I want to, poshut, live!
Yours in Mehadrin Kashrus,
Fear not, Reb Yid, for I bring you tidings of great joy for all people. The Rebbe Melech Hamoshiach is alive and well, and he wants YOU to become his chossid! Mishechistim are always looking for young able-bodied men to swell our ranks, because after all, Mendel Hendel isn’t getting any younger.
I know what you’re thinking, “David, I’m a cultured well-learned man! You can’t possibly expect me to become a Mishechist, the wide-brimmed droopy hats alone make me cringe!” I understand your concern, but fear not, there are many different types of Mishechist. Our job here at Chabad is to make your transition from Litvak to Mishechist as smooth as possible; to that end, we offer a wide variety of Mishechist options:
Hold onto your pants, because this first option will make you collapse on the ground! We understand that many new Mishechistim want to feel respected by everybody: Mishechist, anti and the velt. For that person we have the hybrid-mishechist option. Nobody will quite be sure of what you actually believe or if you believe anything at all, but your loyal band of sycophants will rewrite your history and silence your enemies. It fits best for the man who has managed to gather (through whatever means) a respectable amount of ksovim over the years. (Use these to buy the loyalties of both sides of Chabad; people will love you if you give them a scoop.) A great option, but one shown to be prone to attack from verbose historians. You read whatever publication is kissing up to you at the moment.
For the gentleman, we have the civilized-mishechist package. Sure, you believe the Rebbe is alive and well, Tammuz 3 was a dvine hoax and Moshiach is just minutes away, but you enjoy the finer things in life, too. You have nice clothing, (preferably tailor-made,) enjoy single-malt scotch and maintain an immaculate home. Your known Mishechist beliefs don’t even impugn your reputation in the rest of the world, because unlike your savage peers, you are an eloquent speaker and erudite thinker. You may not wear a Yechi yarmulka or sport a yellow pin, but deep in your heart you know that the Rebbe still farbrengs Shabbos afternoons in 770. Perfect for those with charisma, a touch of worldliness and a golden tongue. You read any and all seforim you come across.
Maybe you are a brilliant man, but just not a people person, eh? Well then, you may very well be an academic mishechist. A true believer in the Rebbe Melech Hamoshiach even though it cost you your job in the Chabad book industry, but don’t worry about that, you’ll find wealthy backers who will help you start your own publishing company! (To help settle the score, we recommend you use the same logo as your old job, just to rub it in their faces…) An academic mishechist is an intelligent man of integrity, but not above the occasional act of pettiness or pashkvil. (Don’t feel bad, you HAD to do it. After all, those bastards stole your months of research and published it under their own names.) A man always worried about the Rebbeims‘ honor, you’ll choose what parts of their own writings are not “for public consumption”, because SOMEBODY has to do it! You read the (kosher) Likkutei Sichos
You’re starting to give me a funny look. I understand now. The academic life is a difficult one, this is true. I misread you, Reb Yid! You want all the joys of being a Mishechist with non of the obligations of having a higher-order mind, that would make you a peasant-mishechist. All YOU need is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air, with one enormous picture of the Rebbe covering the wall, wouldn’t it be lovely? Not cut out for shlichus, not bright enough for a chinuch job, not enough ambition to run for the va’ad hakahal, but my goodness you know how to follow orders! You blindly support the righteously elected Rabbis of your community, after all, you never found the time to finish semicha either. Despite your lack of abilities, you may still find work as a mashgiach, you’ll even get a raise once they stop paying that bad Rabbi! You’re in awe of the hybrid-mishechist, think the tzfatim may be a touch too extreme, but at least they have emunah. You don’t know how to read well.
To be concluded…
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