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There’s no such thing as mainstream Judaism

Guest post by Pop Chossid

The summer before I left for Israel to study in Mayanot (a baal teshuva yeshiva in Jerusalem) for the first time, I had gone to a Shabbos lunch at a rabbis home in St. Louis, where my parents live. At first, the lunch went well, and I was enjoying myself. Everyone was very friendly.

But then, they asked me what I was up to that summer. I told them that I was going to Israel to study in yeshiva. They asked me what yeshiva. I told them, Mayanot.

And I remember one of the people looked up at me, eyebrow raised, and said, Isnt that a Chabad yeshiva?

And I nodded, like the innocent baal teshuva I was, and looked back down to eat my food.

He kept looking at me, though, and when I looked up, I realized that they were all looking at me.

Within a few minutes, they were spending their time trying to explain to me why I shouldnt go to Mayanot. They were careful not to disparage all of Chabad right away, but they spent much of their time arguing that it was important to go to a mainstream yeshiva. Otherwise, I would be in danger of being on the outside. And, they were worried for me. They wanted me to be a part of the majority.

I wasnt sure how to feel about it. I still went to Mayanot, but the thought that I might be out of the mainstream of Judaism stuck with me.

As I started to meet more people in different yeshivas, and learned with some people outside of Mayanot, I continued to hear this theme: Mainstream Judaism is where its at.

Eventually, I asked a friend if I could speak to someone about studying somewhere else. I wasnt sure how I felt about Chabad, but I didnt want to pigeon-hole myself.

This friend set up a meeting between me and his rosh yeshiva.

I went to his place in Har Nof, sat down with him and listened to as he explained to me, in much the same way as the people in St. Louis tried to explain to me: Chabad was on the outskirts. And, hey, he didnt have anything against Chabad. No, no, really. He just wanted to allow me to be open-minded. Kind of like a person who goes to college shouldnt major right away or something, so they dont get stuck in a career they dont want.

And again, the idea of mainstream came up.

It was interesting sitting there, listening to him parrot the words of the same people in St. Louis, of experiencing this feeling of deja vu as he spoke, hearing him tell me how I would be left out of something important, of how this choice was important for marriage, for life, for happiness.

What was even more interesting, though, was that as he spoke, I felt a completely different reaction than the time I heard the guys talk to me in St. Louis. Now, instead of being scared, I almost laughed. Instead of taking him seriously, I couldnt help but feel, intuitively, like he was full of it.

I didnt understand why I felt like that at the time. I remember being even more confused as to why I would react that way.

And as I thanked him for his time, and walked out, knowing I would never speak to the man again, I tried to interpret my reaction.

It took me a few months to fully understand what happened that day.

But as I spent more time in Mayanot, and as I spent more time exploring Israel as an on-the-scenes reporter for Chabad.org, I remember starting to slowly understand my own reaction.

St. Louis is a different place than Israel. In St. Louis, there is one main contingent of orthodox Jews: Litvak (their beliefs stem from a Judaism that originated in Lithuania) Ashkenazim.

And while almost all of them are extremely accepting of others, and few except for those people I talked to at the lunch tried to turn me against Chabad, its understandable why they might feel like theyre the mainstream.

But in Israel, and especially in Jerusalem, you get a very different angle of vision on the Jewish world.

Walk through Nachlaot and you see colorful hippie-Hasidim, Sephardim, Chabadniks. Walk through Mea Shearim and you see Super-Duper Hassidim. Walk through Katamon and you see rich old Dati Leumi folks.

Then explore the settlements, and you see even more kinds of Jews. Exploring Israel means seeing Asian Jews and Ethiopian Jews, and realizing that Sefardim arent one separate group, but countless groups holding different beliefs and traditions.

When I looked and look back on that encounter with that rabbi in Har Nof, it becomes painfully clear why I didnt take him seriously. He was living in his ghettoized home, his closed off world, trying to convince himself that he was part of some majority, some group of people that set an agenda that other Jews needed to observe.

In Israel, such a belief is so obviously empty, so insanely contrary to reality, that buying into it means not opening your eyes to the world around you.

As a Sephardi Chabadnik, this truth has become even more evident to me.

Thank G-d, Israel exists, and people realize more and more that there is no such thing as mainstream Judaism, and that the people who are trying to turn us into a colorless, white, empty, collection of ghettoized trained monkeys are liars, whether they realize it or not.

{ 70 comments… add one }
  • snooks March 6, 2013, 8:59 PM

    this is why everyone rags on bts…they are so damn annoying

    • Rivka March 6, 2013, 11:29 PM

      Nobody seems to mention that the group calling itself “mainstream” is the smallest group of Orthodox Jews in Israel. I have lived here for 30 years. My kids have gone to several different types of schools and I give shiurim, sometimes in private homes. If you want to know what people really think don’t correct them when they think you are “unser”. My experience tells me that most people know very little about the other and rely on the reports of others who wish to portray the other in a bad light, including rabbonim. I once helped a friend on an event in her job as director of womens programs in her shul. We held a beautiful event in their hashkafa. Her rav was furious for her “letting me put my foot in the door”. I just helped a friend but through hours of working together she found out that most of what she had heard and assumed was simply misinformation. Torah miSinai? Shomer mitzvot? After that do not repeat anything about another type of Jews unless you have researched it personally by speaking to their talmidei chachamim. When I was becoming frum I went to shiurim of many groups and one rabbi kept saying Ashkenazim hold… When I came to Israel I learned that Ashkenazim are also not a monolithic group who all hold the same.

      • Adam March 8, 2013, 10:12 AM

        “When I was becoming frum I went to shiurim of many groups and one rabbi kept saying Ashkenazim hold When I came to Israel I learned that Ashkenazim are also not a monolithic group who all hold the same.”

        Are you saying that there are Ashkenazi rabbis in Israel who lechatchilah permit the consumption (on Chag ha-Pesach) of matzah ashirah or kitniyot? Name one. I’m pretty sure that they actually are monolithic in certain cases.

  • JJ March 6, 2013, 9:07 PM

    You’re basically right. Problem is, even if we define “mainstream” ludicrously broadly (let’s say, Rav Elyashiv to Avi Weiss), Chabad is still an outlier. There’s a reason that many people who themselves are unusual feel that Chabad is beyond the pale.

    The messianism, the cult of personality… what will Chabad look like in 50, 100, 400 years? Will they even belong to the same religion as the Ashkenazi Litvaks whose self-congratulation you rightly dismiss?

    In that sense, you miss the point. Those people in St. Louis probably didn’t care that you weren’t going to one of *their* (“mainstream”) yeshivos. They’re worried because you were going to a Chabad one.

    • Elad March 6, 2013, 9:34 PM

      Interesting comment. I hear what you’re saying in the last line, and perhaps it’s something I should have addressed more clearly. But I think, either way, they weren’t JUST speaking about Chabad. I think their anti-Chabad attitude revealed a further prejudice: that the Ashkenazi-Litvak world is “mainstream”.

      As for the stuff you said above. I think you have a very superficial view of Chabad (I hope that doesn’t sound rude, I think most people do) which is coloring your judgment of the group. Defining Chabad simply by those two characteristics, both of which definitely deserve serious discussion, is a mistake so many people make.

      I’m not going to get into a whole debate here about Chabad, suffice to say that I wish people would examine a group more deeply if they are going to say things as seriously negative as raising the possibility that that group is becoming a different religion, G-d forbid. That’s just such a serious accusation to even hint at that people should really think deeply before they say it.

      • JJ March 6, 2013, 10:00 PM

        Thanks for your reply. Of course, I wasn’t there and I don’t know who you’re talking about. I’m perfectly happy to take your word that they were claiming exclusive mainstreamivity for themselves.

        Following your lead, I won’t try to draw you into a nitty-gritty debate about Chabad. Of course what I said isn’t the whole picture, and these are people who do many wonderful things, some of which I’ve benefited from personally as both a child and an adult.

        But it’s a very, very serious question indeed. And when we’re talking about a group as well-organized and PR-savvy as Chabad is, it seems to me that the burden is theirs to dispel any suspicion that they sanction beliefs which would in fact put them on a very worrisome trajectory. To the best of my knowledge, 770 has made no such effort. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

        • Yosef H March 6, 2013, 10:41 PM

          JJ: ??? You mention discomfort with the so called Chabad mishichist views… Have you ever spoken to one before and properly head his views?

          “The messianism, the cult of personality what will Chabad look like in 50, 100, 400 years? Will they even belong to the same religion as the Ashkenazi Litvaks whose self-congratulation you rightly dismiss?”

          cult of personality = intense devotion to a particular person. Usually is referred to negatively because of its connotation with corrupt cult leaders, if you are insinuating that Chabad is such, then sorry but your badly mistaken.

          Nobody is forced to be a member of Chabad nor is anyone forced to drink laced cool aid, and if some in the frum world feel uncomfortable with Chabad that’s fine, we will live in a free country etc.

          Your might be right, Chabad isn’t mainstream, we tend to hang out in China, happily arranging minyanim for Frum business people. India, having an open home for the lost son of the not necessarily Chabad friendly Rabbi. Florida/California Drug rehab/Half way houses for suffering Jews of all backgrounds including graduates of some of the most prestige’s mainstream Yeshiva’s.

          I actually take it as a compliment when you call Chabad “outlier”…

          • JJ March 7, 2013, 7:20 AM

            No, cult of personality does not necessarily connote corrupt cult leaders. You’re confused because of the word “cult.” A cult of personality simply involves intense fixation on an individual human being, generally propagated through mass media. Chabad is one of the best examples of this phenomenon in today’s world. In all cults of personality, the problem is not that the leader is corrupt – he may or may not be – but that no one, no matter how unique and impressive, should be the subject of that kind of adulation. Especially not after they’re dead.

            Have I ever spoken to a Chabadnik and properly heard his views? I’ve tried. I tend to get evasive responses. I wonder why that is. Care to tell me your views on the subject?

            You made no attempt to address my concerns. Instead, you put up a straw man by citing Chabad’s missionary work, which is indeed admirable – I was careful to acknowledge that in my exchange with the more reasonable Elad. If anything, I leave this exchange even more worried than when I entered it.

            • Anon, please March 7, 2013, 9:12 AM

              I have. When we offered a Chabad friend of ours (who was in the US from Israel) to go visit the Rebbe’s Kever in Montefiore, his response was “Why bother? He isn’t there.”

            • Yosef H March 7, 2013, 3:29 PM

              Email me @yossyisback@yahoo.com you get up to 5 questions and I will do my best to get you proper sourced answers…

            • Elad March 7, 2013, 4:23 PM

              JJ, just so you know, I have a response waiting for you, but it’s awaiting moderation, I guess cause there’s a link in it. Stay tuned.

              • JJ March 7, 2013, 11:03 PM

                Thanks, Elad. Looking forward to it. Heshy – what’s the hold-up?

                Yosef H: Thank you. I will email you sometime over the next several days.

        • Elad March 7, 2013, 10:06 AM

          This is the thing a lot of people don’t seem to get Chabad: it’s not a monolithic group. Yes, there are a group of people that decide who goes on shluchis, but besides that Chabadniks are about as diverse as orthodox Jews.

          That’s why I find it interesting that you say “770 has made no such effort”. 770 isn’t the center of leadership of Chabad. It’s a place where dudes go to daven and learn and it’s holy and beautiful, but it’s not the White House of Chabad.

          Chabad isn’t PR savvy because they have some big team working behind the scenes pulling a bunch of strings, although they do have a few dudes, like Motti Seligson, who do help out with PR. They’re PR savvy because they’re out in the world trying to change it.

          Anyway, what’s my point? My point is that yes, some people overly-obsess over the Rebbe. Some go too far with it. But that’s just like any other religious group. You got your almost-OTD folks, you got your Crazy Nutty Hardcore Fanatics, and then you got your everybody else in between. That’s what it means to NOT be a cult. It means you don’t agree with everyone in your daled amos, but you’re aware that they’ll exist as long as there’s a certain freedom of belief and expression.

          Chabad is so much more than what you, and many other people, have described. It’s a whole belief system, with countless books and a nuanced ideology and philosophy. It’s deep, and it’s complicated, and you won’t know what they are by sitting at one of their Shabbos meals or by walking into 770 or by knowing a few of them. That’s just how it is.

          I have written a bit about this from the inside, so you may want to take a look at this piece I wrote: http://popchassid.com/advantage-knowing-rebbe/

          It doesn’t exactly cover what we’re talking about, but it may give you an insider’s view of what it means to have a relationship with a rebbe.

          Nice talking. It’s nice to speak with someone who’s not reactionary, but thinking for themselves a bit.

  • Yochanan March 6, 2013, 10:16 PM

    BTW, the pic is of a band called HaLev veHaMa’yan (The Heart and the Wellspring)


  • boris karahina March 6, 2013, 10:37 PM

    @jj Again you are passing judgement without properly examining the facts.
    There is a court case in progress regarding 770. Without going into all the details, they leaders of the Chabad movement known as Aguch, are currently in a dispute with the gaboim of 770, as to who actually has rights to the shule. If Aguch win, they will “fix up” 770, and clear it of the extreme messianism which takes place there.

    • JJ March 7, 2013, 7:23 AM

      That sounds great. Please, go into all the details. I’m sure I’m not the only one here who’s interested. Or refer us to somewhere else on the web where we can read about it.

      Also, you acknowledge the “extreme messianism” which takes place there right after accusing me of failing to properly examine the facts. You see the problem with that logic, right?

  • Aaron March 6, 2013, 11:28 PM

    I’ve been in israel six months now and have had the exact same thoughts go through my mind countless times. In america there is basically either yeshivish or modern orthodox and if you are anything besides that two (or yeshivish in a m.o. place or vice versa) your considered an outsider, different, and not what jews are supposed to be. Israel proves that viewing people like this is totally wrong.

  • Michael Makovi March 6, 2013, 11:31 PM


  • John March 7, 2013, 2:32 AM

    You’re a “Sephardi Chabadnik”?!? Wow.

    I guess I’m an Ashkenazic Ethiopian.

    • Eitan Levy March 7, 2013, 6:11 AM

      Your comment shows a bit of a misunderstanding. “Sephardi” is an ethnic group with certain minhagim within klal Yisrael. Chabad is a self selected group of Hasidim committed to certain ideals and a certain rabbinic leadership. Though Chabad started in Europe, and was originally entirely Ashkenazi, there is nothing to prevent a person who davens nusach Edut Hamizrach and eats kitniyot on Pesach from becoming committed to Chabad Hassidus. There is nothing more difficult about being a Sephardi Chabadnik, than being a Sephardi Dati-Leumi, or Sephardi Haredi. Sephardi is the minhag. Chabad/Dati-Leumi/Haredi/Hardali, Modern/Yeshivish/etc. is hashkafah.

      • Person March 7, 2013, 4:24 PM

        Actually Chabad has plenty of their own minhag… Though they are usually presented as normative Ashkenazi/chasidish/whatever minhagim. You can be ethnically Sephardi and have taken on Chabad minhagim I suppose…

      • portyid March 8, 2013, 3:09 PM

        Sephardic people are spanish/portuguese origin but were forced to disperse due to the inquisition thus living in morroco, greece, turkey and any were they were accepted. Don’t get it twisted

  • SJ March 7, 2013, 4:28 AM

    The jews don’t even like Judaism anymore the orthodox are just locked into it by lack of education lack of economic opportunity and marriage.

    • Anonymous March 7, 2013, 6:13 AM

      That’s one of the most idiotic things you could have possibly posted on an article by a Baal Teshuvah…

      • Eitan Levy March 7, 2013, 6:13 AM

        That last comment was me.

        • SJ March 7, 2013, 6:46 AM

          there is a huge difference between putting up with it because you think you are supposed to and actually liking it. You honestly think that orthodox jews masturbate over being overcharged for their proteins? XD

          • Shimon doesn't rhyme with Cinnamon March 7, 2013, 11:01 AM

            How dare you make such a distasteful comment? You make no sense, and your spelling and grammar sucks.

            • SJ March 7, 2013, 1:03 PM

              Shimon doesn’t rhyme with being literate. lol yeshiva edumication at work. XD rotflmao

              • Anonymous March 7, 2013, 8:39 PM

                SJ is a moron. XD rotflmao

                • SJ March 8, 2013, 10:34 AM

                  The orthodox all feel like morons when they go buy their kosher meat from the supermarket.

                  • Anonymous March 9, 2013, 7:17 PM

                    OTOH, SJ feels like a moron all the time. So the Orthodox can be happy that they don’t have it as bad as SJ.

                    • SJ March 10, 2013, 1:05 AM

                      Let me try to understand this here.

                      Do you feel that you are gonna go to gehenom if you don’t allow yourself to be ripped off whenever you go buy food? O.o

                    • Anonymous March 10, 2013, 10:08 AM

                      Let me try to understand here.

                      Where did I say anything about me? This is about you being a moron. O.o


                    • Anonymous March 10, 2013, 10:10 AM

                      Also, why would you choose to publish a blog? You want your ignorance displayed on a larger scale?

                      Please, more BIG RED WORDS detailing your insipid thoughts on gun control.

  • PeleYoetzElGiborAviAdSarShalom March 7, 2013, 5:08 AM

    Chabad can’t live without the donations of non-anash. This is the reason for the well oiled PR machine. If you look at the average Chabad venture, it relies heavily on non-Chabad money, which wouldn’t flow if there wasn’t a bit of deception going on. We don’t see Chabad running around telling everybody that they think that the sun goes around the earth and that pregnant women shouldn’t get ultrasounds – do we ?

    The average Chabad non-anash donor falls into 3 rough categories

    1) A guy who got rich by sheer luck, realizes that it was not “Kochi v’otzem Yadi” and is is then convinced by a Chabad “rabbi” that he can keep the money flowing – as long as the donations are made.

    2) A guy who got rich, sees his family assimilating more than him, and decides the only thing that he is missing is a guy with a black hat and a long black coat ( who will will never make any religious demands so long as the money keeps flowing )

    3) Old people with big bucks who are looking to buy friends or a piece of heaven.

    • Eitan Levy March 7, 2013, 6:16 AM

      Most of the money supporting the frum community in the US is from non-religious Jews. Chabad is no exception. Putting ‘rabbi’ in quotations for Chabad is just… I don’t even know how to respond. Just so baseless and hateful. I hope you do teshuvah.

    • G*3 March 7, 2013, 10:59 AM

      Lubavitchers dont get ultrasounds? Why not?

      • anonymous March 11, 2013, 5:49 PM

        The women in my community (Chabad) do. They generally don’t ask to know the gender, though, but they do all the same things as far as prenatal care.

    • Whittier March 7, 2013, 2:58 PM

      What a load of crap! You are either a troll, or terribly misinformed about the aims of Chabad. You imply that if they don’t tell every person they meet about every Minhag or practice of Chabad, they are guilty of deception. That would be like saying the Catholic Church is guilty of deception because they don’t preach their beliefs to everyone who enters their soup kitchens. The reason why a young couple would move to a distant city and open up a Chabad House, is to provide local Jews a place to experience Judaism, educate them about their heritage and encourage a strong Jewish identity that will ensure Jewish continuity. The point is to increase Jewish observance of Torah and Mitzvos. If a congregant wants to become Chabad, they have someone to guide them, but that isn’t the main point.
      Money is mostly from people who aren’t religious, because those are the members of the community who are benefitting from the programs. You pulled your 3 categories right out of your ass. People give money to ensure the survival and success of Judaism.

      • PeleYoetzElGiborAviAdSarShalom March 9, 2013, 5:36 PM

        1. Thanks for conceding that Chabad engages in what the moonies used to call “divine deception”
        2. The reason young people travel to a distant city is that they have been brainwashed ( think about it, the same argument applies to the members of any cult ).
        3. What you say is fascinating, but there are plenty of Chabad shluchim who are stuck in “the life” who simply don’t have any job skills that would bring in half the money that can while remaining in. I feel for the idealistic (albeit brainwashed ) shluchim who got sucked in, but once they are in, with 4-10 kids they don’t really have a whole lot of options … or am I missing something ?

        • Whittier March 10, 2013, 12:52 AM

          I conceded to no such thing. Divine deception as far as the Moonies are concerned, is when they LIE about their teachings to conceal the most controversial ones from outsiders. Chabad doesn’t lie about its beliefs. It’s like saying the Catholics are deceptive because students who enroll in Georgetown University are not notified about all aspects of the Catholic faith. It is imperative to separate the university’s academic objectives which aren’t particularly Catholic, from the religion’s philosophical beliefs. Similarly, although Chabad has philosophical beliefs, that does not mean that those beliefs play any significant role in their outreach efforts. Affording people the opportunity to put on Tefilin, enjoy a Shabbos meal, experience a Pesach Seder, etc., is what Chabad is there for, not to somehow subversively brainwash them.
          Points 2 and 3 are bullshit. They are the logical consequences of a bullshit premise.

  • Menachem March 7, 2013, 10:02 AM

    I find it quite interesting that whenever Chabad is mentioned in whatever article on whatever blog, there are the usual trolls who come out to bash Chabad, a subject you haven’t a clue about, why so obsessed?

    Most of you haven’t got the slightest idea of what Chabad means, what is the underlying Chabad philosophy, and how it manifests itself in Lubavitchers today. Open up a book of Chabad maamorim or the Rebbes ‘s Sichos and study it well before any further trolling.

    • Shimon doesn't rhyme with Cinnamon March 7, 2013, 11:06 AM

      What’s the difference between a sicha and a maamor?

      • Menachem March 7, 2013, 2:24 PM

        If you really want to know…

        A Maamor is (purely) a discourse on Chassidus (part of Nistar d’Torah), Chabad Chassidus ranges from deep kabbalah explanations on the worlds spiritual structure (how it is all Has hem) to a human beings spiritual structure (how to use it to serve Has hem), its more heavenly, and the atmosphere and tone of the Rebbe while reciting a maamor was very special and it was preceded by a special nigun.

        A sicha is a talk of the Rebbe, it could be a explanation on the parsha (often mostly in Niglah (revealed, open) d’Torah), it could be a talk on current events e.g. matters pertaining to events in Israel, or a call for his chassidim or klal Yisroel to improve in a certain area on a personal level or as the Rebbe often stressed to influence others..

        I am putting this in a very short very simplistic way not doing justice t all. But maybe you’ll be intrigued to discover yourself

        • G*3 March 7, 2013, 3:31 PM

          Why do you separate Hashem as Has hem? You did it twice, so Im assuming it wasnt a typo. Hashem is a euphemism, not Gods name.

    • Ari Gold March 7, 2013, 1:00 PM

      Lubavitchers = Christians

      • Critic March 7, 2013, 10:07 PM

        Ari Gold=Moron
        Just couldn’t resist saying that.

        • Ari Gold March 8, 2013, 5:11 AM

          You want to hug it out?

          • Critic March 9, 2013, 6:27 PM

            Ari Gold, you appear to be an angry Jewish man (or woman). You’ve got a noticeable chip on your Jewish shoulder.Chill out!

            • Ari Gold March 9, 2013, 6:46 PM

              Ariel “Ari” Gold is a fictional character on the comedy-drama television series Entourage.

              There’s no chip on my shoulders.

              • Critic March 10, 2013, 12:30 AM

                “Ariel Ari Gold is a fictional character on the comedy-drama television series Entourage”and that’s why I wrote “you appear to be an angry Jewish man (or woman)”. (emphasis on “man or woman”)

      • Anonymous March 9, 2013, 7:17 PM

        Ari Gold is correct

        • Critic March 10, 2013, 12:42 AM

          About what?

          • Anonymous March 10, 2013, 10:07 AM

            About the post I replied to. Can you read?

            • Critic March 10, 2013, 10:55 AM

              Pay attention and maybe you’ll grasp the the “deeply complex” nature of my question
              “Ari Gold” or whoever he or she may be made two statements
              1)”Lubavitchers = Christians”
              2)”Ariel Ari Gold is a fictional character on the comedy-drama television series Entourage.”
              To which you commented “Ari Gold is correct”
              My question was simply which of of the two above statements do you claim is correct, one,two or both? Now that wasn’t to difficult to understand or do you feel a further need for clarification?

              • Anonymous March 10, 2013, 10:59 AM

                Are you mentally retarded? In case you didn’t know how blogs work, the replies are THREADED. Look at which post I replied to.

                I’m drawing a map for you and you’re too stupid to follow.

                • Critic March 10, 2013, 11:18 AM

                  Wow such anger! You could have stated your point just as coherently without resorting to ad hominim attacks.Stop getting your panties twisted into knots.

                  • Anonymous March 10, 2013, 11:39 AM

                    I did state my point coherently. You are just too stupid to understand it. I stated it twice and you responded with juvenile stupidity. Unlike you, I don’t wear panties.

                    • Critic March 10, 2013, 12:03 PM

                      “I did state my point coherently”
                      Never stated otherwise! what I did say was that “You could have stated your point JUST as coherently without resorting to ad hominim attacks”which your’e still doing.If anything resorting to that kind of rhetoric reflects on your persona not mine.I would think that a modicum of civilized or mentchlich response would have added much more validity to your response even if I admittedly did misunderstand.

                    • Anonymous March 10, 2013, 12:07 PM

                      This discussion reflects upon you more than it does me.

  • G*3 March 7, 2013, 11:08 AM

    The mainstream doesnt exclude just Chabad. In the US, at least, the part of the frum world that considers itself mainstream is distinctly Eastern-European. Chabad at least gets noticed enough to be badmouthed. Other groups just disappear.
    There are Jewish groups from Italy, Germany, France, etc., all with their own minhagim, but in the yeshivish/chassidish world theyre barely acknowledged.

    • shmendrik18 March 7, 2013, 5:51 PM

      the mainstream litvish , needless to say , considers non-haredi [ eg MO] , non-mainstream , if even orthodox….

  • PJ March 7, 2013, 3:19 PM

    Diskin (Or maybe Kotler) once overheard one Lubavicher tell another that you can see that the rebbe is ‘godly’ because he says a ‘maaymar’ 7 hours straight without going to the bathroom. So Diskin said “did you ever notice that nobody sits next to him?” So the guy gave him a ‘frask in punim’.

  • Pesach March 12, 2013, 1:51 AM

    Something my late RY would say about different streams of Judaism is that if someone has an authentic tradition then why bash it or try to ‘convert’ them to your stream? We should respect and appreciate any form of Judaism that has a true tradition of Torah going back to Har Sinai. He would quote R’Gifter z’l as saying that one of the challenges of todays Jewry is Machlokes L’shem Shomayim.

    A note on Chabad/Lubos: I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Lubos and my understanding is this:
    1) Not all are Mishichisdim. There seems to be two camps. Those who aren’t Mishichisdim are embarrassed about those who are. While those who aren’t agree to it being misguided (and mshuga), but there seems to be enough Mishichisdim that it’s not so simple to declare antipathy in public. Families may be split along such lines. Personally – I see those who are not Mishichisdim as part of the Orthodox fold, of having a true Torah tradition….as to those who are Mishichisdim, they can be as friendly and full of mitsvos as they want but in my mind they not keeping Torah – period. They’ve gone off the derech and are oiver mesis when trying to convince others about Mishichisdimnuss.
    2) I admire Lubos for their Harbotsos Torah! Vyafutsu Mayanosecha Chutsa! Their Lubo Torah overflows to the 4 corners of the globe. Torah is one of those things it is said of that will bring the redemption. And something else I learnt from Lubos is to end off by saying – Bimheira byameinu Amein!
    3) They have Azus. Which is a good quality for Torah but which can be a bit too much when they start eroding existing and established minhagim. They are well meaning though and once informed are often open to respecting.

    A note on Litvaks: This is funny – Litvaks in US are different to my understanding of Litvaks as I’m from South Africa. Maybe someone can enlighten me as to the origin of the group and how they came to be called Litvish/Litvaks. My understanding is it was due to the Litvish Gedolim who were part of a minority group but had such great Torah (and so were the majority in yeshivas) it spread to non-Litvaks and so it’s a description of a hashkofa rather than ancestral origin?
    In SA it’s a bit of both. The majority of Jews here are descendants of Litvaks who actually came from Lithuania. So I call myself a Litvak b/c of my ancestry. But also there is an affinity to Litvish Torah. To varying degrees it is practiced, sometimes that Litvish spirit is just lying dormant and is reawakened with a good Torah injection.
    Also there is a slight bewilderment to me as to all these labels. I’m a BT and a bit isolated from all these ‘groups’. To me I just want Ratson Hashem. BH I have found a true Torah tradition.

    To end off I’ll say another thing my RY z’l would say: Dig roots in one derech/haskofo/Yeshiva, this way you can better grow in your Yiddishkeit and avoid confusion. Then, once you have your foundation, feel free to explore other streams of Torah. He would give the example of a visiting Sfardi Chief Rabbi who enjoyed learning the Telz shiurei daas.

    Hatslocha & Chodesh Tov!

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  • The Rebbe March 15, 2013, 5:22 AM

    Chabad is not Jewish. It’s Christianity, with the Rebbe in place of Jesus.

    No Jew accepts Chabad as valid, but at the same time are hesitant to completely trash them because they do a lot of good.

    Chabad is filled with converts and confused Bt’s.

    Let’s all sing Yechi and claim we’re Jewish. 1,2,3…

    • Ari Gold March 15, 2013, 1:29 PM

      Exactly what I said to Critic.

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