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Chabad leader claims he’s a cult buster

lubavitcher rebbe moshiach chabadThere is this little fight going on in Chabad these days about cults. Apparently, one of the best ways to maintain your cult is to call out other cults. I had no idea that Orthodox Jews of any stream, especially Chassidim, would even be allowed to call out cults. Chabad is definitely the best example of a cult within mainstream Judaism. Chabad gets thousands of people to join their cult every year, by serving good food, opening their homes, and convincing potential male members that they can look like slobs and marry beautiful women. Members of the chabad cult look up to their leader who died, but will rise up to redeem those cult members soon. Not sure what you think, but that sounds like a cult. Shea Hecht, who proclaims himself as a cult buster (when you’re a cult leader, you don’t want cult capitalism and so you need to fight against other cults) is on this rampage against some group called “Call of the Shofar“. I actually know people attended Call of the Shofar and they didn’t come back brainwashed, they came back renewed in their sense of self, but they never went back or join the cult so I’m not sure about the whole thing.

If Rabbi Hecht stopped at the cult thing, I would merely call him a fool, but he “as a chabadnick mind you” has gone beyond the cult aspect and decided to call out Call of the Shofar on Avodah Zarah issues. I thought we were well past the stage where we had a tayva for avodah zarah. Does he not realize that much of the Jewish world considers chabad to be a cult that is into avodah zarah? I’m really perplexed, if it was someone who wasn’t part of a cult, I’d be more likely to listen, but you can’t be a cult leader and call other out on being a cult. Chabad and much of ultra-orthodoxy demonstrates cult ways and therefore I’m liable to believe that the marketers at Call of the Shofar paid for bad press in order to gain new members. Most folks wouldn’t have heard of them if not for this cult debate.

I think that calling it a cult is a great way to confirm that Call of the Shofar inspires people and makes them see the light (whatever that may be) It reminds me of those times when my Rabbis would point at other religions and call them crazy because they made no sense. It seems pretty hypocritical for anyone in Chabad to call another group a cult.

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  • Crowin’ Cock

    Amen.

  • Bear-of-Peace

    You really don’t have enough information on this Heshy. Shea Hechts response was measured, moderate and was mostly concerned with making sure the source for the Call of the Shofar’s philosophy comes from an acceptable place. I would provide links to all the various articles and letters but i really don’t think i should be doing that work for you.

    I know this blog is mostly fun and games, however, every once in a while you touch on a important subject and when you do, you have a responsibility to get the basic facts right.

    (And BTW, when you write “Shea Hecht, who proclaims himself as a cult buster” you’re obviously inferring that you don’t believe him. The least you could do would be to do some 3rd grade level Googling on him to see if his claims stand up.)

    • Crowin’ Cock

      The pot’s calling the kettle black. Shea Hecht wrote that he based his opinion on the shofar guy due to certain mind control techniques they share with cults, namely, making them turn off their phones or taking away their watches in order to control their outside communication and limit their perception of time.

      Having been in the Chabad yeshiva system and having read the cultbuster book written by Shea Hecht, I can tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt that the system used many of the tactics described in the book.
      – The yeshiva controls your sleep (when you wake up and go to bed).
      – They control what you are allowed to see or hear (no radio, newspapers).
      -They control who you live with (dorm roomates up to DC or Rosh yeshiva).
      – They control who you can communicate with (no girls, or other “undesirables”).
      – Forced sitting in the same place for hours on end.
      – Group chanting while under the influence (farbrengens), designed to “break down barriers, similar to mantra and psychedelic drugs, especially when minors are involved.
      -Many also have students doubling as informants.

      If you don’t play along along or allow them to brainwash you, they kick you out, supposedly affecting your future value in the system. Not too mentioned cover up of verbal, physical and even s*xual abuse.

      Shea Hecht should revisit the Lubavitch yeshiva system before accusing others.

      • Bear-of-Peace

        You obviously did not read what he said either. He called it a cult, but he said it might be a “Kosher cult” whatever the hell that means.

        I am a product of the Chabad system like yourself and i agree with most of your points. The truth is, i don’t really have an opinion on Call of the Shofar either way, i haven’t been there and don’t know enough about it.

        Call of the Shofar is not the focus of this post though, the focus is on the Chabad response to it and on that subject, Heshy is either woefully under-informed or being deliberately inflammatory.

        • Anonymous

          Or just screwing around, it is a satire site after all. I noticed on FB that he called himself a member of the orthodox Jewish cult

          • Bear-of-Peace

            Hey, anything is possible with this dude. I’m getting a little annoyed at his claiming the mantle of “Satire” when he quite clearly says things he actually means once in a while. Heshy really has to do a better job making it clear which is which; It’s not like he discovered some higher form of satirical commentary, he’s just being lazy.

            • Anonymous

              If you take a look at is it satire debates on twitter and FB, Heshy clearly gets a kick out of making the satire arbitrary. Does onion tell everyone they are writing satire?

              Personally I think Heshy did a great service to the Jewish frum entertainment industry by stopping the labeling if satire. If everyone knew it was satire we would lose the joy of the comments who think its serious. We would lose this dialogue created by the lack if clear satire labels. This way each person takes away what they want from the posts.

            • Bear of Peace, I also write satire for my blog, Frum Follies. If I were Heshy, I would be in 7th heaven reading you complain “he quite clearly says things he means.” Good satire cuts because it is works at two levels, both as fiction and as a reflection of real facts. Yes, there are cult features to Chabad that many have noted. Yes, it is funny to have Shea Hecht waving the flag of cultism to attack Call of the Shofar. And I too am agnostic about Call of the Shofar. Never been in their group and don’t have enough information from others to evaluate them. But the Hecht attack smells of turf warfare disguised as higher religiosity, something that always makes me suspicious about the truth of the claims.

              • Bear-of-Peace

                I have no beef with the basic business of satire, i quite enjoy and make use of it myself in fact. My claim is that Heshy is doing it poorly by making no effort to keep things on a even tone, which i believe is essential for making yourself clear. Good satire does not exist to simply provoke outrage in stupid people, it strives to say something in a more effective and powerful manner.

                • Bear-of-Peace

                  Just to be clear, i enjoy this blog immensely and keep coming back because i want to hear what Heshy has to say, i value his perspective and enjoy his satirical takes on Frum life; I only make these critical comments because i believe he can do it better.

      • Anonymous

        I liked your comment

  • zach

    What is ironic is that Shofar seems to cater to Lubavitchers, is based on chabad philosophy, and chabadniks come away from their program with an increased appreciation of their own religion (which I view as Judaism but yet quite distinct from “mainstream” Orthodoxy). The official powers that be should be working closer with them and not trying to marginalize them with the status of “cult”, which as Heshy & Crowin’ rightly point out fits Chabad to a much greater extent.

  • In over your head

    Heshy generally your material is funny, (even though recently your blogging on serious topics which shouldn’t have any humor attached to it, or maybe you are bashing and not looking for humor) but every now and then you give misinformation, and touch topics that are over your head.

    I know you are very informed on chabad issues, but haven’t studied chasidis in depth, and don’t fully understand what it has to offer. So maybe stay off of this topic and continue making fun of shabbos food and yeshivah days.

    Oh and btw our founding father Avrohom Avinu was the first to invite strangers in his tent, and give them food and tried to get them to recognize G-d, so hey I guess you are a cult member, who is comfortable with it, as are most chabadniks.

    Time for you to enjoy the life your living.

    • Anonymous

      He is a blogger. He is allowed to make small errors and be speculative.

      Also if he wants to make a political point in addition to being humorous last I checked that was still ok.

      What does knowing chassidus have to do with describing the behavior of an organization?? Honestly to me a lot of chassidus seems pretty vapid.

      Do you think Avrohom Avinu allowed people in his tent even without a yarmulke or other identifier?

      • Bear-of-Peace

        Yes, yes he did. If you know your basic bible then you know that Avrohom was the only Jew (And Monotheist) alive at that point, so the only people he could have possibly invited into his tent were Pagans. Besides, he probably did not wear a Yarmulke himself as the standard dress of that period probably included some form of head covering.

        As to “A lot of Chassidus seems vapid to me”, well that just makes me believe that you’ve never studied it at all. Chassidus, especially Chabad Chassidus, is the extreme opposite of vapid.

        • 1. Wrong. In your sexism you are forgetting Sarah, the other Jew.

          2. I am tired of Chabad types saying “You are wrong because you do not have the magic decoder ring of chasidus.” So is every non-chassidus Jew unfit to disagree with you including Moshe Rabbeinu, the Rambam and the Vilna Gaon. Guess what, pshat and facts come first. If your argument is good it stands at that level. You disagree, fine. Enjoy your mysticism, but you arguing against the majority of the sages of the Jewish tradition in history including many who were mystics but did not incorporate mysticism, even if they were mekubalim unless the argument also worked at a peshat level.

          • Bear-of-Peace

            Dude, you really have to re-read what i wrote. I did not say anything about Chassidus being more important or better than any other strain of religious Jewish thought, or of having primacy over Poshut Pshat. I was just responding to this line:

            “What does knowing chassidus have to do with describing the behavior of an organization?? Honestly to me a lot of chassidus seems pretty vapid”.

            As to me not mentioning Sarah you’re 100% right, i should have mentioned her along with Avraham, my mistake.

  • In over your head

    Heshy generally your material is funny, (even though recently your blogging on serious topics which shouldn’t have any humor attached to it, or maybe you are bashing and not looking for humor) but every now and then you give misinformation, and touch topics that are over your head.

    I know you are very informed on chabad issues, but haven’t studied chasidis in depth, and don’t fully understand what it has to offer. So maybe stay off of this topic and continue making fun of shabbos food and yeshivah days.

    Oh and btw our founding father Avrohom Avinu was the first to invite strangers in his tent, and give them food and tried to get them to recognize G-d, so hey I guess you are a cult member, who is comfortable with it, as are most chabadniks.

    Time for you to enjoy the life your living.

    And Shea Hecht is a very impulsive man, so I think he reacted to quick with big accusations of Cult, and AZ but Landmark and Emclear have been called cults for years, and that’s the philosophy being used at these weekend get togethers.

  • Anonymous

    Since we all know that the best way to find out about an organization is to see what they say about themselves on their website, I read their testimonials page.

    https://calloftheshofar.org/Testimonials

    Now I can say “I wanna get me some of that!”

  • Anonymous

    Looks like someone got there nerves touched, hesh I think you pissed someone off.

  • Amusingly, an ad for scientology appeared after this post.

    • Matrix

      Lol.

    • T

      lol good

    • Dan

      That’s because you’ve been searching for scientology.

  • Ah Poshuter Nevler

    Call me biased, but I’ve got my money on Heshy becoming a Lubavitcher.

    • Anonymous

      Heshy is more like a cross breed of classic conservative, open orthodoxy, and a sprinling of Chabad/ kotzk

  • Izzy

    FWIW, the Rabbinic Advisors listed on COTS’s website are mainstream Orthodox rabbis.

  • Satire
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  • I read Rabbi Shea Hecht’s book “Confessions of a Jewish Cultbuster” cover-to-cover. It’s actually quite good.

    One thing that differentiates Chabad from the cults that cropped up in the ’80s-90s is that other cults brainwash you through means of sleep deprivation, drugs, lack of healthy food, and entrapment in some compound off in the boondocks with sentries to prevent you from leaving. Chabad does none of that. They instead focus on getting people to love Torah and Mitzvos through farbrengens etc., all in the name of their Rebbe.

    I still can’t get over the whole Rebbe-being-alive-and-moshiach bit, though….

    • Crowin’ Cock

      I read his book too, and also attended the Lubavitch yeshiva system for a while. Read my previous comment above as to how their brainwashing methods are eerily similar to what he describes in the book.

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  • Shui

    I have found Rabbi Hecht’s book, Confessions of a Jewish Cultbuster and its broad overview of the methods and dangers of cults to be very helpful in understanding this controversy. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Confessions-of-a-Jewish-Cultbuster/1374737249439951

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  • 2 Cents

    In my opinion, Orthodox Judaism is not a cult but the Orthodox community often is and not just Chabad. The yeshiva world is even worse. At least Chabad doesn’t threaten you with eternal damnation every minute and allows you to get a job and to do something in your life other than study books that you can’t understand. And what BTs experience is definitely a cult as they are required to change their names, clothing, food, are given rules that they can’t understand, are deprived of sex and told to marry strangers and immediately have babies, to give all their money to the cult, to shun the outside world, to follow the leaders blindly. I can go on.

  • 2 Cents

    how about their division of the world into the enemies and the righteous (them), how about changing your name, diet, sex life, and clothing. and not just chabad but the whole ortho world.

  • 2 Cents

    orthodox judaism controls you through sex. drugs are not needed, suddenly even masturbation is outlawed, for men that’s total control. want sex marry one of our witches have babies immediately and send 10 kids to expensive yeshivos for the rest of your life

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