Monday, August 18, 2008

Does it have to make sense?

I have this irrational thing about posting every day. I'm not quite sure why I do it; it's not like anyone in particular needs me to post, and it's not like I have anything particularly brilliant to write, but I suppose that I must give in to my heart and take up some of your time.
Fortunately, I do have something to write about. Go me.
Several years ago I was in Denver (for reasons that will remain unexplored here), and I happened to be walking on a Shabbos afternoon with a couple of older non-Lubavitchers. This was at a time when Matisyahu was at the height of his powers, and was in fact singing that night at Red Rocks. One of the men started cursing him out, and naturally segued into cursing out Lubavitch in general and the Rebbe in particular. I was (not that I'm not now) a pisher, and said nothing. This went on for a couple minutes, at which point we separated paths. The non-Lubavitcher who remained complimented me on the fact that I didn't say anything, and made the point that with some people there's no use fighting.
Many times over the intervening years I've metaphorically kicked myself in the rear for not responding. Not that I'm a big Matisyahu fan, but the fact that he stood for Chabad at that point meant that I should have said something. Same goes for now with Rubashkin. I don't know whether there's a problem with what they do, and I don't even know if they're Kosher, but by golly I'll defend them against any attacker, merely because they, for better or for worse, represent Lubavitch.
I'm not quite sure what I should have said. The simplest answer would've been, "Shut up." It would probably have been the first time he had heard those words in quite some time, and they would have probably done the trick, if only for a short time. I could have engaged him in a lengthy debate, or possibly just asked him if he'd enjoy me cursing out his Rabbi? Perhaps it was better that I was the one who shut up.

All this reminds me of a story that happened about sixteen years ago. I heard it from Mrs. Chani Wilhelm, wife of the Rosh Yeshiva and daughter of the Rosh, though whether that means it's true or not....
The Australian Chabad community held a Shloshim following Gimmel Tammuz in 1994. That night one of the Lubavitcher women who had attended called up a non-Lubavitch friend to complain that no non-Lubavitchers had come to the event. The friend tried to defend herself, "After all, none of you would come for a Shloshim for the Shach." The Lubavitcher responded, "Aderabe, we'll all be very happy to come to a Shloshim for the Shach. In fact, we eagerly anticipate it!"

28 comments:

Leo de Toot said...

Dear Mr. R. Shliach:
First, your loyal and devoted following would miss your daily writings so, unless more pressing matters intervene, try for the daily publication. Regarding your other issue, one can argue with facts (either right or wrong and a good search engine will help) but never opinions. Lubavitch-related topics create passionate opinions (for or against). Usually the opinions expressed (for or against) inform more about the speaker than Lubavitch. Clearly you were not adversely affected by listening to the comments of the person you describe, Lubavitch continues to flourish, and you likely know more about that individual (personality, intellect, psychology, etc.) than if you had engaged in heated debate which almost certainly would not have changed his point of view and lead to even greater frustration.
As always, listening to the music of the planets,
Leo d T.

Nemo said...

Sorry that I'm unable to keep up with the posts anymore ... no internet at home yet (soo frikking expensive) and lots to do.

So today at 7:30 AM I came to my new Chabad House for the first time, intending to pray with the requisite quorum, and I was greeted not by ten Jewish men, but by two gentile-looking fellows holding a banner saying (I kid you not) "Shame on Lubavitch House."

I don't know why the Jews weren't there, so I engaged these friendly demonstrators in inquisitive conversation. Apparently Lubavitch House uses a non-union construction firm for building its new building. Non-union firms don't give "proper" wages and benefits. The gentlemen handed be a pamphlet, obviously not prepared by them, with Hebrew and English blurbs from the Torah, Mishna and Talmud, indicating that this "hilul Hashem" is necessary because even rabbis are not exempt from "local custom" of paying wages.

An internal conflict ensued in my heart. The Lubavitcher in me, having never met the Shliach presiding over this particular Chabad House and not knowing the details of the case, wanted to play games of Talmudic semantics and tussle with the demonstrators over the allegations, showing them to be legal. My solidarity with Lubavitch would allow nothing less. But then the Law Student within me prevailed over my Lubavitch better half, telling me that I'd be running late for class.

So I cut the ranting demonstrators off mid-rant and left.

Cheerio said...

interesting welcome to your new locale, nemo.
and trs, please keep posting every day. if you didn't, how else would i waste my time?

Nemo said...

Stock shelves at that forbidden store!

The Real Shliach said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence Cheerio. And Nemo, you should've told them to meet you at a different time. Could have been quite the exciting debate. And I'm impressed that you went to a Minyan...

Cheerio said...

nemo, now that you're a lawyer dude, find some way of legally prohibiting me from ever working at that store again. i'd rather change baby diapers all day long.
also - i never stocked the shelves! i had the highly superior position of cashier. YOU were the lowly stocker.
of course, now you're going to law school, and i've spent the last month nannying for free, so... what's that thing we say before shmoneh esrei? "G-d raises the lowly and makes fall the mighty"? something like that.
and i'm also going to be impressed about the minyan thing. more about the fact that you were attending it at 7:30... i always used to spot you in 770 when I went there to daven... around 11 or so...(busted!)

Cheerio said...

and when did the shach die?

The Real Shliach said...

As far as I recall it was in 2002-I remember hearing that he died when I was in Mesifta in Minnesota; the problem is that I was there for three years, and the memories have all melted together.

e said...

Here's an important point:
Agri is not Chabad. The Rubashkins are trying to make a buck just like everyone else. Their Lubavitch identity does not mean that they are unable to abuse workers, manufacture drugs on their plant, etc. When deciding whether to defend them, the sole consideration should be "did they do it or not?"

Anonymous said...

the shach died four hundred years ago. you mean e.m.m. shach. is it that important to sound dumb?

The Real Shliach said...

Eliezer: If my sole consideration was "did they do it or not", I wouldn't be defending them. What do I care if some company is being evil? The only reason I bother is because, whether you like it or not, it's a Lubavitch issue.
anon: what's your problem?

e said...

I beg to differ. It really not a Lubavitch issue, just like Moshe Rubashkin's or Jimmy Gourarie's scams were not a Lubavitch issue. If you wish to safeguard Lubavitch's reputation, try convincing people that the are a couple of unscrupulous businessmen in Lubavitch. Any frummie will understand.

The Real Shliach said...

You say it's not a Lubavitch issue, and I'm sure you firmly believe that, and for all I know it may be true, but when the world says that it's a Lubavitch problem, then we must treat it as such.

e said...

If the world thought that Moshe's scams were a Lubavtich issue would you claim that Moshe is an honest upright businessman?

Do we need to lie because of people's mistaken perception? Shouldn't our defenses be firmly grounded in truth?

The Real Shliach said...

I'll claim anything if I need to. One of the advantages of not having any scruples is that I can tailor my words to the situation at hand without the slightest regret. If I had to defend Moshe, then I undoubtedly would.
As for truth, well, show me some and I'll try and sweep it under the carpet, which will enable all of us to continue to ignore its presence.

Rachel said...

That's an awful post. Sorry. It's been bugging me for a few days. (I know, I know... "If you don't like it get lost." It's just... uch.)

Oh, and E is right. It's not a Lubavitch issue AT ALL. I'm not Lubavitch, so I could say that indefinitely from an outsiders lens.

The Real Shliach said...

What was so awful about it? Was I too anti-snag? Have I offended you? A thousand apologies.

Rachel said...

Too anti-snag and too anti-Lubavitch. The first part of the post was like pouring ice water on my head, and the second part was like a blow to the stomach.

You're a Jew, remember?

I expected waaay more from a "real shliach."

The Real Shliach said...

Anti-snag maybe, but where was I anti-Lubavitch? Again, I didn't mean to offend anyone, and I'm sorry if I did. Sometimes we say things which make sense at the time, and which we may even believe in, but obviously that doesn't mean that we're correct.

You expected way more from me? Me too.

e said...

Don't give me that crap. You'd offend anyone.

The more I read this blog, the more I begin to think that TRS' designation of himself as the Real Shliach is rather tongue in cheek (although from this blog's early history, one wouldn't think so.)

The Real Shliach said...

Shush, Eliezer, I'm trying to be nice to the non-Lubavitch girl...

As for my name, well, at this point I'm not quite sure what it all means. Hopefully someone can enlighten me. Or I can blog about it tonight. Maybe.

e said...

Here's what I think: back when this blog was started, you thought you'd be the Real Shliach. Now you've realized that making letzonus of everything holy is a lot more fun and don't take your real shliachhood that seriously.

Rachel said...

Of course it was anti-Lubavitch. That second story you mentioned spoke lashon harah against them. You publicly announced something they said to a "snag" that was horrible. (Misnagdim have awful issues they need to overcome. But they don't know any better, they've never truly encountered chassidut. Lubavitchers should know more than to lower themselves to that.)

As for the first story: You shouldn't have been passive. I think hitting another Jew should count as ahavat yisrael in that case... teach them how to speak properly about our Rebbe.

"the non-Lubavitch girl..." Pffff. Don't bother with good PR. What you say can't make me like Lubavitch any less anyway.

Don't be sorry to me. I'm just trying to point out that posts like this one aren't conducive to bringing Mashiach. I'm guessing you had a Jewish Lubavitch upbringing, you would know.

The Real Shliach said...

e: Possibly. At this point in my life, like most points in my life, I don't quite know what's going on. Whether or not the TRS name is accurate, it's what I've got, and I'll try and make the best of it.

Rachel: I didn't think the story was anti-Lubavitch. It was a great line by a Lubavitcher woman getting back at someone who obviously had no particular love for Chabad. It's not a lowering of anything; we merely give as good (actually, better) as we get.

I assume you're being sarcastic in your second paragraph. So I won't bother responding. All right, I just did respond. Whatever.

As for your third, darling, I was following your lead and being sarcastic myself. You should have been able to figure that out with the "Shush" which preceded my command to Eliezer.
And you don't like Lubavitch? Why not? We rock the house!

I shouldn't be sorry? Fine, I won't be sorry. Listen, I don't know what's going to bring Moshiach. You're right that this blog probably ain't helping too much, but such is life.

Rachel said...

1. That's precisely it: she shouldn't have been "getting back." That's an awful thing to say about another Jew. (Like I said, the misnagdim don't have a complete education. The Chabad lady should have known better.)

2. No sarcasm. Okay, maybe a little. But it wouldn't have hurt to speak up.

3. "And you don't like Lubavitch? Why not? We rock the house!" Ah, you misunderstood. Re-read the phrase: "What you say can't make me like Lubavitch any less anyway." ...Oh, wait, I see where the confusion came from. Let's rephrase- You did not need to "shush" Eliezer and worry about PR (even if you were being sarcastic), because I like Chabad too much for it to matter whether you say something that makes it look good or bad. I'm still not sure whether that made sense. Whatever- just keep on rockin'! :)

The Real Shliach said...

1. I seem to have spent my whole night apologizing to various females; I won't apologize here for one. Anyway, I thought it was a nice story, though you may of course take it as you like.

2. You are correct, I should have spoken up. I still kick myself today that I didn't. But, everything is Hashgacha Pratis, and I guess the good L-rd didn't want me insulting my elders on that particular Shabbos.

3. Nothing I can possibly say will affect your opinion of Lubavitch? Am I that useless? Oh well, I shall keep on rocking.

Rachel said...

Uh, why would you apologize?

The Real Shliach said...

Well, I could have apologized for what the Lubavitch woman said, or for my broadcasting the story to the whole wide world. But I didn't.