16 years ago I was dragged by my father to Crown Heights for a funeral. I really had no idea who the Rebbe was at the time. When I saw a picture of him, I recognized as the same dude in the picture frame with a dollar bill on my uncles wall in Buffalo. Looking back, I find it kind of interesting that the only funeral of a gadol I have ever attended was the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s. This is even more interesting considering my father is a huge misnaged — more like someone who doesn’t like minhagim changed.
Like many people my father is very critical and very complimentary of Chabad at the same time. I know loads of people, including myself, that aren’t pleased with the Rebbe obsession. The hysterics and arrogance that goes in the Chabad movement – yet how can we really dislike a movement which has planted Torah (Rebbe) Judaism in some really far flung places, bringing sparks of kedusha down to where they may have never been before?
I remember my first time in Crown Heights for a Shabbos. I was there for my buddy Berel’s ufruf. His cousins were some pretty intellectual folks one of them being a doctor of sorts – yet they were the first people I have ever heard say to me without blinking that the Rebbe was still alive and was waiting to reveal himself as moshiach. When I told them that I was at his funeral, they asked me if I had seen the body. I have been to exactly one open casket funeral and the Rebbes was not it.
I was asked to write about the Rebbe, but you know what sucks? Thanks to the yellow flagger loonies that invaded Chabad in the 1980’s and have been relentless in their madness, I find it quite hard to write about the legacy of the Rebbe without talking about his tarnished reputation. Kudos to Chabad.org for showing they aren’t meshichists. I tried to write a sane post about the Rebbe and when it comes down it it I really couldn’t.
I have never been to the Rebbe’s kever (grave site) but I hear it’s a trip and a holy experience, so next time I’m around New York I plan on hitting it up. May the Rebbe rest in peace.