Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Thoughts on Lubavitchers

I must admit that my thoughts on Chabadskers have changed dramatically over the years. Here's the whole thought process, blow by blow.

When I was younger, my main exposure to Lubavitch was the L'Chaim magazine, that Tzivos Hashem stuff I would get in the mail (We Want Moshiach Now!), and maybe seeing them discussed on the news, especially when the "Rebbi is Moshiach" thing became big. I don't remember any of my rabbeim discussing the Lubavitchers. Maybe they mentioned that Rav Schach had what to say about them, or maybe I heard that from someone else.

Whatever it was, they didn't leave a good impression. Too much Moshiach stuff there. And some of that stuff on the news was a chilul Hashem. Even as a clueless youngster, a lot of the shtick I saw really rubbed me the wrong way. I thought, who are you to say who's Moshaich? Where's your evidence? I also felt like they were trying to convert me to their way of thinking. And one time, our family had a neighbor over who was telling us over all this "propaganda" in trying to get us to believe the stuff. Considering she had a moshiach bumper sticker on her car, she was quite the believer. And her attempts at converting us really ticked me off. And with all this in mind, I came out with the impression that all Lubavitchers are Moshiach-obsessed whackoes.

Many years later, I realized how off the mark I had been. A friend asked me to join him for a Friday night meal at one of his ex-classmates. This guy went to high school with my buddy and later became Lubavitch. So at first, I was reluctant to go there for the meal. Do I really need to hear someone call me an apikores because I don't think the Rebbe is the messiah, I thought to myself. But whatever it was, I ended up going.

Turns out, the whole Moshiach thing never came up. At least until I asked him about near the end of the meal. The guy said something great: I don't really have an opinion; it just isn't a big issue to me. It kinda came as a surprise to me, seeing a Chabadsker who didn't really care about the issue. After that, I noticed more and more Lubavitchers. There were a bunch in my college, another friend had a Lubavitch friend, the guys at Wolf and Lamb, etc. And they all seemed pretty normal.

Interestingly, in addition to the guy mentioned above, I've seen others who've "converted" to Lubavitch. Seems like there's more warmth and appeal to their mehalech than other sects of chassidus. More down-to-earth, more meaningful. After all, when was the last time you saw someone become a Satmar chassid?

I've come to realize that most Lubavitchers are fine people, some of them very sincere in there service of God. Okay, so there are a few vocal whackos and the guy on Kings Highway with the "Welcome Moshiach" sign. But why should I hold the bad impression those guys make against the many fine and normal 'badskers out there?


Blogger Gary Student said...

According to my good lubab buddy Alvin Keller, that's exactly where the mainstream goes wrong. They take the extremists to be centrists, when even the lubabs recognize those guys are whack jobs.

11:52 AM  

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