By Rabbi Joseph I. Korf for COLlive
The recent op-ed COLlive published (read here) insisting that the Rebbe’s overarching desire was to push democracy is not only absurd on its face but a total mischaracterization of what he and Chassidus represent. It is so inconsistent as to be utterly specious.
The sheer folly of this assertion signifies how far we’ve sailed from our ancient and fundamental moorings. The terrestrial connection to reality let alone Chassidic principles seems to be fading. It’s as if there’s no continuity between the Rebbe and his predecessors. It seems as if a “new” Torah has emerged (for those who believe in “aschalta d’ge’ula” or eat and rejoice on Tisha B’Av and r”l worse) and the good ole time religion has come and gone.
Those who make such claims should be forced to show us where and when the Rebbe toiled and labored to advance democracy and democratic principles? Where does Torah in general advance such principles or anything akin to it? Is there a voting rights act we’ve not known about heretofore?
The reason Crown Heights is in the morass it finds itself is precisely because of its so-called democracy! The fact that it is experiencing such a spiritual downward spiral is because of this illusory and elusive democracy. The fact that the leadership itself is a mockery and its rabbinical leaders a laughingstock is due to its so-called democracy and the one or two individuals who define its meaning.
The very seeds of its destruction were sown years ago when proponents of this democracy decided to pester and “push” the Rebbe for rabbinical elections. Never in Lubavitch did such a thing exist (not to mention Jewish history). But some malcontents – unwilling to set aside their egos – couldn’t leave well enough alone and found it necessary to use a “cloak of sanctity” in demanding democratically elected rabbis.
These individuals would never subordinate their collective will to those who truly represented the Rebbe and his organizations. They’d rather keep and centralize power within a special few. To them it is unthinkable to have those appointed by the Rebbe and managing his institutions also administrating the Rebbe’s “shechunah”! The Rebbe’s temporal abode must be distinct from his spiritual seat. Sort of like the Establishment Clause separating church and state.
Yet, not only did the Rebbe eschew such falderal he actually had the prescience to initiate the inverse – within his own institutions – belying the intention of those who want to enact new liberal innovations unseen and unknown before.
They don’t stop at “kahn tzivah…” but want to co-opt the international lighthouse and beacon built with the Rebbe’s own blood, sweat and tears. Instead they’ve purchased an imploding edifice where the infighting continues unabated. Caesar fiddles and Crown Heights burns! Yet, Lubavitch International and the Rebbe’s official arms of outreach and education remain as vibrant and strong as ever.
Wonders of wonders that the latter has no democracy – some would even call it a benevolent dictatorship – and its gangbusters. While the former – preening like a swan with its democracy – continues to flounder under its own weight, and the insane continue to run the asylum.
Oooohh…I hear the voices of shock and awe. How dare he? Such heresy! To dare contradict the Rebbe himself who consented and blessed the newly minted rabbis to their newly elected positions! Did not the Rebbe himself call them the “mightiest of the mighty” (the nomenclature reserved by Halacha to all rabbinical courts of all times and places)?!
But, thank the all-Merciful G-d, since I live in the Diaspora and recently read Parshas Shelach I read the story of the “meraglim” and I clearly remember that Moshe did not want to send the spies and was rightly uneasy about the whole thing. And yet – after much badgering – he did and we all know how it turned out, don’t we?! How come? How could something initiated with Moshe’s blessings go so terribly and fatefully awry?
The answer: Moshe didn’t initiate it! He was sort of forced into it, imagine that! But, he finally consented and even blessed the expedition hoping against hope for the best. As Chassidim always knew and I believe the Rebbe was wont to say: When a Rebbe says something – even if it’s just a request – it’s a command. But when we insert our own “individuality” into the picture so the Rebbe sees things our way, no doubt the Rebbe will bless and hope for the best, just don’t blame him if it does not!
To say the Rebbe wanted elections or the Rebbe campaigned for democracy is not only a misnomer (and a dangerous one at that) it is an outright falsehood and one for which the anonymous author must seek the Rebbe’s pardon.
The Rebbe is an “ohev Yisrael” par excellence and bestows blessing on those who seek him out even when not in accordance with his will, but inside he cries. The Rebbe pines for an army of soldiers not community organizers. The latter may get you democratically elected as President the former places you in the sublime proximity of spiritual greatness.
And thus you have the current mess and morass that seems so utterly implacable. History repeats itself over again and Crown Heights seems doomed to fall for it.
I categorically and publicly deny and refute everything asserted in the Rebbe’s name by a few mislead individuals. It’s time for the silent majority to wake up and come home. It’s time to remove the shackles of the “spies” who are destroying the Rebbe’s vineyard. It’s time for Yehoshua and Calev to rise up again and tell it like it is. It is time for those within the ranks of the proletariat to stand up and demand a full accounting and a return to the days of old.
A time when it was all for one and one for all when a unity of purpose existed between those who toiled in the Tabernacle of the Rebbe and those who guarded it from without. We must demand; enough of this self-aggrandizement and self-absorption. We want our town back and we aint gonna take it anymore. We will go with the Rebbe’s appointed representatives – like em or not – and together be lead out of this dark galus to meet our fearless leader once again.
– Rabbi Korf is the Director of HCS: Hollywood Community Synagogue – Chabad in Florida
COLlive Elections Coverage:
+ New Vaad Granted Access
+ What’s With Crown Heights?
+ Vague Outcome to Election
+ Crown Heights Election Results
+ Claimed Elections Count 832
+ Op-Ed: They All Must Go
+ Crown Heights Elections Are On
+ Candidate Tamir Calls It Quits
+ Judge Rejects Sunday Election
+ Candidate Tamir Calls It Quits
+ Op-Ed: Why We All Need To Vote
+ Op-Ed: A Letter to My Supporters
+ Disputed Candidates Press On
+ Vaad Hakohol Under Dispute