There are many, many worrisome beliefs and practices common to the
contemporary Lubavitch community. Some stand in serious
with halacha, others are simply odd. However, we're going
most of them and focus primarily on the principle of hiskashrus (a
Lubavitcher's attachment to his rebbe).
Why? Because hiskashrus isn't just odd or in conflict with
particular halacha, it would, as we shall soon demonstrate, seem to be
minus (a corrupted understanding of G-d and His nature which, among
other things, renders the believer unfit to provide religious services).
And because hiskashrus is so central a part of modern Chabad, and is a
theme so often repeated in their literature at every level, that no one
could ever claim "it's just a few crazy people at the fringe of the
Hiskashrus, in fact, is
what is hiskashrus and why
is it a problem
Central to the hiskashrus system is the elevation of a "tzadik" to
super-human dimensions. If this tzadik somehow possesses
and holiness that transcend normal human limitations, Lubavitchers are
taught, then a Chassid who connects with him can share in, or benefit
from those powers.
Here's how the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel (referring to his
deceased father-in-law as "the Rebbe") described hiskashrus (you can
see copies of the original edition of these pages here
Igros Kodesh vol. 3, pages 419-420
must, from time to time,
think about himself and his position and situation, but the rest of the
time it's better to think about the Rebbe, how he is constantly with
his mekusharim and how he leads them through every step.
this thought alone, even without
any especially deep thought, should strengthen all one's kochos
ha'nefesh so that they are used in accordance with the will of the
lest thoughts that are opposite to
this occur to you, you need to know that this is the atzas ha'yetzer
who seeks various ways to confuse you from (learning and performing)
Torah and avoda.
this it is apparent that you must
be strong in your trust in the brachos of the tzadik, the Rebbe, who
stands by you and leads you on the right path ...and the main thing is
that it should be absolute and obvious that the Rebbe is with you, and
you can rely on him that everything will be good, because atzmus
u'mehus ein sof boruch hu is the ultimate good, and the Rebbe is the
memutza ha'mechaber with atzmus u'mehus ein sof boruch hu, and firt
durch dem ratzon so it will all be good and ultimately it should be (a)
visible and revealed good ..."
So hiskashrus allows (or even requires) that a chossid think constantly
about his rebbe - even a rebbe who has already died - and, from those
thoughts, he can be confident that this dead rebbe can both guide him
and ensure that everything will be fine.
belief lead to any practical applications?
Rebbe's defining sicha from the last day of Pesach, 5710 (printed in
Likutei Sichos volume two, pages 510-511 - see it here
seems to indicate that there
The Rebbe asked the following question: "How can one (make a) request
(of) ["betten"] a rebbe; isn't that (a problem of speaking to HaShem
through) an intermediary?"
With the word "intermediary", he was acknowledging the Rambam's fifth
category of minus (see Hilchos Teshuva, 3; 7). After a number
explanatory paragraphs, the sicha confirms that it is indeed permitted
to "betten" a rebbe, and that "one can't ask a question from the
problem of intermediary, since this is the essence and existence (of
HaShem that HaShem has) enveloped in a body." ["Atzmus u'mehus alein vi
er hat zich areingeshtalt in a guf"]
Later, the sicha claims that "the rebbe" (meaning the previous rebbe,
who had recently died) "is with us still as before, he is in this room
just as before and he hears what we are farbrangen here Once, the rebbe
switched on the microphone in his room and heard us farbrangen
here. Now, it is the same, only much more."
These words reveal a number of beliefs. One, that a chassid
request all manner of assistance from his rebbe (even a rebbe who has
died) in a way that Jews have always believed appropriate only from
HaShem. Two, that the rebbe can hear these requests, even
he (or his body) is distant from the petitioner (in other words, that
he is effectively omniscient). Three, that the rebbe is able
respond to these requests (in other words, that he is omnipotent - why
should anyone daven to someone who can't help?).
It must be noted that the above sicha was delivered in the period
between the death of the previous rebbe (the Riyatz) and the
appointment of his successor (Menachem Mendel). There can be
doubt that the leaders and educators of the movement were well aware of
these teachings when they offered him the position (over the vigorous
candidacy of his brother-in-law) some months later (in Shevat,
5711). One can only conclude that they, too, accepted the
legitimacy of "atzmus theology." These leaders and their
have taught and guided the movement for all of the past six decades.
Around this time,
the Lubavitcher Rebbe published another, even more frightening formulation in "Toras Menachem"
(volume one, pp 162-163 - see them here
He was addressing the accepted historical opposition to the
study of kabbala among individuals who were not thoroughly prepared in advance. Today, he wrote, one simply can't
wait until he is prepared but he may nevertheless study the "rebbe's Toras chassidus", relying on his relationship
with the rebbe to carry him. This relationship will not only work for his full-fledged followers,
"but even if a person is found to still harbor doubts about the rebbe (whether he controls everything and
is all-powerful and thus is impossible to hide from), he should still study the rebbe's chassidus..."
So, if we are to take the Lubavitcher Rebbe's word for it, he is not only effectively omniscient, but omnipotent too; a veritable god!
Hiskashrus would seem to be a two-way street: not only should a
Lubavitcher develop a strong sense of emotional attachment with his
(dead) rebbe, but that attachment will arouse the rebbe to provide the
Here's what the rebbe wrote in Basi L'gani (10 Shevat, 5711)
"We will merit to have the rebbe (the Riyatz) here, below, in a body,
below ten (tefachim) and he will redeem us."
And here, in "Beis Chelakim from hisvaadus" (12 Tammuz, 5711)
"Even now, the rebbe stands and guides all matters."
Now, of course, just demonstrating that the rebbe believed and wrote
about these ideas doesn't prove that they are actually taught and
practiced among his contemporary followers (which is our true
concern). There are, however, some readily available samples
should give us some indication.
During the dark days of the Mumbai Massacre, Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, among the most prominent and powerful rabbis in the entire Chabad movement,
was recorded on video (see our home page
) declaring his confidence that all the remaining
hostages would be released and that then, "they will understand and see it's the rebbe who runs this world." Rabbi Cunin didn't make this up.
He quoted virtually word for word from Likkutei Sichos, Shabbos parashas Teruma, parashas Zachor, 8 Adar. 5710.
Here's a brief excerpt taken from a teaching resource (aimed at first
to fourth grade children) published by the well-known Chabad
educational organization, Tzivos Hashem. The pamphlet is
entitled "The Rebbe":
"…Whenever we learn a Sicha or a Maamar we become
close and connected to our Rebbe."
In general, it must be acknowledged that the Chabad magazine, Beis
Moshiach, has been widely and publicly criticized (and even banned) by
some Lubavitch rabbis. Nevertheless, it's rare to see or hear
Lubavitchers disagreeing with the actual beliefs the editors promote;
just with their decision to publish in such a public forum.
importantly, many of the magazine's writers hold positions of great
influence in Chabad educational establishments. After all, if
community hires and supports such people as educators of their
children, one should assume that the community is comfortable with
their basic beliefs.
Moshiach, Issue 299
From an article entitled "Wisdom From Our Mashpiim" by Shmuel Alexander
(quoting) Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg, mashpia, Tomchei Tmimim, Kfar
When you relate to the Rebbe as someone from the past, he becomes, r'l,
part of history. The difference between the Rebbe and other tzaddikim,
especially the other Rebbeim, becomes blurred. The miracles the Rebbe
continues to perform, etc., alone do not sufficiently underscore the
fact that the Rebbe is our Nasi, now as before.
Moshiach, Issue 320
From the article "Our Generation: What Makes Us Different"
Rabbi Sholom Charitonov, Mashpia in Oholei Torah:
In order to daven, the person has to be infused with the concept that
the Rebbe is the one who is the 'connecting intermediary.'
Moshiach Issue 379
From an article entitled "We Can Still Turn to the Rebbe" by Rabbi
I felt the Rebbe's presence not only then, but all along the
felt that not only was the Rebbe guiding me, but that he was making it
about Chabad summer camps?
Here's something from an individual who was a counselor and teacher at
Camp Gan Yisroel of Montreal, Camp Gan Yisroel of Parksville, NY and
Camp Gan Yisroel of Los Angeles:
"There is a song that we would sing with the kids every day, here is
"The Rebbe is,
The Rebbe lives,
The Rebbe cares,
The Rebbe hears,
The Rebbes sees,
The Rebbe leads,
He is concerned for all our needs.
The Rebbe is,
The Rebbe gives,
The Rebbe sees,
The Rebbe speaks,
The Rebbe smiles..."
'97-'98, Number 15, page 131
A description by Leah Lipszyc (the wife of a prominent Chabad shaliach)
of her experience facing the extended armed robbery of her home in
"Rebbe," I thought. "I know you're here with us. I
people in difficult situations. I think this fits the
please help us now. And do it quickly, please, before one of
guys snaps and decides to shoot."
By the way, we are still dismayed that a mainstream Orthodox magazine
like Horizons would publish, without comment, this autobiographical
account of a woman actually davening to her dead rebbe.
So the rebbe wrote and spoke about it and, for the past fifty years,
there have been teachers and mashpiim faithfully transmitting
has the message of hiskashrus been picked up by their
Without a doubt. It would simply be unthinkable for any
reject any of his rebbe's established teachings.
It could, perhaps, be argued that, since the rebbe published so many
volumes of writings, many people might simply be unaware of this
particular thought (perhaps it was "lost in the crowd").
a thing could be argued, but it's just not true. As we said
hiskashrus is universally known and is inseparable from modern Chabad.
Here's an example from a Chabad-dominated online forum based in
Montreal. The question starting off this particular thread
do you do to instill hiskashrus to the Rebbe in your children?"
Here are some of the responses; each set of "advice" is from a single
poster. (And remember: this is one of the smaller online forums where
Lubavitchers "meet" - there are many more just like it.)
We have a picture of the Rebbe in every room of the house. And we point
at it and ask "Who is that?" often.
Pictures of the Rebbetzin and the Rebbe's parents abound as well as
posters of the previous Rabbeim.
We discuss sichos at every shabbos and YT meal, and specify that it is
a teaching of the Rebbe.
We tell our children YOU are the Rebbe's children.
We show videos of the Rebbe (in Oholei Torah they have a vcr in the
front entrance with streaming videos, no sound, of the Rebbe walking to
his car, talking to people at dollars, davening etc!!! I wish they sold
We have books for children about the Rebbe, and various formats of 'the
Rebbe speaks to children'.
We tell our children that they are in the Rebbe's moisad.
Basically, we include the Rebbe and Rabbeim in every day conversation,
the way we talk about family members.
i have only one young baby, but this is what i do/think/expect to
happen as my family grows:
1) i think it is important to speak to the children in yiddish to give
them a basis for further yiddish learning ie. if they go to a school
where they teitch the chumash into yiddish, in many mesivtas and zals
the mashpiim and teachers hold classes in yiddish, and last but not
least, when they hear their Rebbe talking to them in Yiddish (on a
tape, video, i"yh Moshiach...) they will be able to understand the
Rebbe clearly and straight with out having to wait for translation
(like i have to...)
2) pictures of Rebbeim in the house and in their room so that they
become familiar faces.
3) the chassidishe yamim tovim are a special day in my house, not like
any other day. whether its a treat, a special story or nigun,... these
days will stand out amongst others in my children's minds.
4)to name the children after the Rebbeim/ Rebbetzins or great
chassidim, so they feel a basic connection already.
5)of course, sfarim for children and adults, minhagim of the Rebbeim,
stories and dvar torahs,...
there are probably more but this is what i can think if now.
in some families each child has a "Rebbe album" of their own. i am
still thinking about this one...
In the Ha'Yom Yom for Elul 10, it says that the gedolei ziknei chasidei
Rabeinu Ha'Zakein said, that one of the purposes of a yechidus is:
l'hiskasher b'hisachdus gemura, v'limsor atzmo, ibergeben zich mit ale
retzonos - he should bind himself to the Rebbe in total oneness, and
give himself over with all his desires.
In the Ha'Yom Yom of 24 Sivan the Frierdiker Rebbe says:
You ask what his hiskashrus to me consists of, when I do not know him
... True hiskashrus is through limud ha'Torah, and when he learns my
maamarei Chassidus, reads the sichos, and associates with yididei Anash
and the tmimim in their learning and farbrenging, and fulfills my
requests in saying Tehillim and keeping the zemanei ha'limudim, this is
Ha'Yom Yom 9 Adar II:
The longing for hiskashrus can only be satisfied when you learn
maamarei Chassidus .. seeing him is not enough.
Ha'Yom Yom 8 Iyar:
Chassidim are shluchim of the Rebbe, the Alter Rebbe. If they carry out
their mission, they are mekushar, completely mekushar: there walks a
chasid, there eats a chasid, there sleeps a chasid.
for us, here at home, serious learning of Chasidus is IT
Sefer Haminhagim in English lists all the minhagim of yud shvat.
(having an aliyah the Shabbos before, writing a Pan,...)
when i was in school we were each given a packet to learn, of each days
Hayom Yom and a paragraph about Moshiach, one for every day until Yud
Yud Shevat was the occasion when the Rebbe agreed to lead the
Chassidim, and this marks it as time when the bond between the Rebbe
and the Chassidim is intensified. It is a day on which it is
appropriate to examine our level of connection to the Rebbe and strive
to increase our personal level of Hiskashrus.
There are times when one may wonder how it is possible to feel truly
connected to the Rebbe. We appear to be somewhat removed; too attached
to materiality, and too involved in our own affairs to be able to
fulfill the will of the Rebbe properly. At this point, one may wonder,
what is my attachment to the Rebbe? What is my connection to G-dliness?
Furthermore, there may be people who find themselves without an evident
desire to strengthen their ties to the Rebbe. What can be said to those
who lack any feelings in this matter?
We can posit different levels of Hiskashrus:
1. People who are truly bonded to the Rebbe and sense this deep
attachment and Hiskashrus.
2. Those who are pained that they don't feel Mekusher and have the deep
desire to attach themselves to the Rebbe.
3. Those who are distressed because they do not even have the desire to
4. Those who are troubled by the fact that they are not distressed by
the fact that they feel no desire to be Mekusher, and so on...
We will soon present evidence that these beliefs represent a
significant departure from halachic Judaism (although we are greatly
pained that evidence should be necessary). It should be
though, that some Lubavitchers (largely in response to persistent
criticism from a few Orthodox individuals) have offered various
arguments in defense of hiskashrus. These arguments, and our
to them, will be presented in the book
For an extended dialogue concerning this site (initiated by a Lubavitcher), see this