By Chaya, 17, NY
Dear older generation,
You know what it feels like to have a problem, write to the Rebbe, and get a reply directly to you in your name. You know what it’s like to wait in line for hours just just to spend a few seconds with the Rebbe to receive a bracha.
You know what it feels like to wake up at four o’clock in the morning to save a seat with your friends to see and hear the Rebbe farbreng. You have experienced walking down Kingston and noticing the Rebbe’s car drive right by.
Even if tznius was not your thing, there was more of a pull to be tznius knowing the Rebbe would see you with a short skirt or low neckline. You have experienced everything. I know you always say Hiskashrus is through learning Sichos, watching Rebbe videos and doing the Rebbe’s haroas. But sometimes I feel like it is not enough for my peers and I to actually feel the Rebbe’s presence. What we have is in no way close to a hundredth of a substitute.
I do not know what it is like to have the Rebbe write a letter addressed to me. I never waited in line for hours just to receive a dollar. The only dollar some of us may have is one whch was given to us by a parent. I do not wake up four in the morning to save a seat by the Rebbe’s farbrengen, because I will never be by a farbrengen with the Rebbe in Galus. During Galus I will never see the Rebbe in his car driving. The Rebbe may have a great view from heaven of my untznuis dress but I don’t feel that. I will never have the Rebbe’s constant guidance with new sichos and haroas. Whatever haroas I will receive before Moshiach are printed in bound books of Likutei Sichos and other talks of the Rebbe. Still you seem to think this is enough for our generation to remain good Chassidim. The little we have and try to hold on to. When I sit in class I feel like you do not understand our situation. I never experienced what you call your Rebbe. My Rebbe is something totally different. Then on top of that we have the constant struggle of today’s age.
Today I can access whatever I want. I have the whole world at my fingertips. You have no idea where I can have a music or internet, and there is no way to keep us sheltered. When the Rebbe was still physically with us, he would have words of advice for things like a TV and it was very clear where Lubavitch drew the line.
In addition as the years go on it feels like a new halacha has been added in each day.
“People blame our generation, but they forget who raised us.”
When I look at pictures of your generation in camp, most people have sleeves above the elbows, skirts above their knees, and their neckline definitely not covering the collarbone. This was not in defiance of Tznius; this was the standard laws of dress. You don’t really understand how many Halachos of tznius we have now and the struggle as a teenager. As time went on more Halachos were discovered including the law of covering ones knees and elbows. This I understand, what I do not understand is the continued growth of ‘halachos’. The example that comes first to mind is that any skirt must be four inches below the knee in ordered to be counted tznius. The Halacha is that the knee must be covered at all times. It happens to be I own skirts two inches below the knee which amply cover my knees at all times, is that not tznius? Or that long draggy skirts are not tznius. Long skirts are not aidel, but to outlaw them as not tznius? Is it better for my skirt to be long and past the floor or right below the knee? Another one: Is tights halacha? Knee socks or ankle socks? It’s not giving in; most girls can’t handle doing all the hiddurim at once. Let me emphasize the word hiddurim, as in not Halacha. (For halacha there is no excuse. Halcha must be kept.) Let us keep halacha and be inspired to do more, rather than force hiddurim until it all crashes.
What have been taboo topics in former years of my Lubavitch schooling seems to have been reversed. What we talk about now in the hallways would have made me red with shame just a couple years back. This is not only due to the fact that I am more aware of the world around me, everything is accessible in a way that makes these subjects not so bad. Your generation is at a loss of how to deal with it. You make rules and rules but it doesn’t really stop what is going on. You try stopping Internet on phones, but it just builds resentment. I am not sure what the solution is, but definitely making rules that are beyond your ability to control, just makes your generation look awfully foolish. We know you do not fully understand what struggle our generation goes through on a daily basis, so when you make a rule that is too hard we ignore it, and get away with it.
Another last point, are you really good role models for our generation to follow? As a rule I do not follow Lubavitch politics for it sickens me, but the fact is it is there. These great people can’t do it right so how can I? How can I be expected to do it all right when I don’t even have any memories of The Rebbe to fall back upon, to keep me going? How can I be expected to do whats right if the greatest people have such a struggle? Even more so me, I have no real steady inspiration of the Rebbe’s words said to me. I feel we are pawns of an ugly generation. I am writing this just so you should understand. Every generation as we get closer to Moshiach, has more and more challenges. And you had the Rebbe! What about me, I have no Rebbe guiding me day to day, but you expect me to be just as good as you? Tell me how does that make sense?
With all due respect,
The younger generation