Thursday, January 03, 2008

Rebbe Smackdown

New York's supreme court ruled that two of the three main bodies of Chabad have the right to expel Congregation Lubavitch - the messianist faction- from the synagogue in the bottom of 770. Apparently this struggle has been going on for about 15 years (actually, this makes me feel much better - I hadn't known that there was much of anything going on opposed to the crazier factions of the movement, which, from all accounts now make up, at least half of Chabad) but the suit stems from when some member/s of the messianist group defaced a plaque that referred to the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson as "of blessed memory" because that's not what Congregation Lubavitch believed was the current state of said rebbe.

From JTA

New York State’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and Agudas Chassidei Chabad, two of Chabad’s three main bodies, giving them the right to eject Congregation Lubavitch Inc. from the synagogue located in the basement of 770 and 784-788 Eastern Parkway, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. The sites represent the worldwide headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch.

In that first case, the court ruled in favor of Chabad’s leadership, declaring in June 2006 that Merkos and Agudas are the rightful owners of the entire property. The current suit was brought by Merkos and Agudas in order to give them the authority to physically remove the opposing congregation, and its four gabbais, or trustees, from the premises.

but wait, there's more:
Apparently this is their fifteen minutes. Or something.

In Israel, apparently it's just gotten out that there may be problems with the beliefs of some Lubavitchers regarding their former (or not) rebbe. The Jerusalem Post reports that a former FSU immigrant who was not Jewish , but was eligible under the law of return, had become interested in converting and studied in a meshichist Jerusalem ChABAD yeshiva.

About two weeks ago, he appeared before a beit din (rabbinic court) for his conversion. He had nearly finished, when one of the rabbis asked him if he believed that the rebbe was the messiah. He answered yes, that that was what he had been taught, and the court refused to convert him.
The JPost says, "

... a source in the State Conversion Authority said that at least two leading religious Zionist rabbis ruled that messianic Chabad was beyond the pale of normative Jewish belief.

"They [messianic Chabad Hassidim] attribute to him supernatural powers years after he passed away. That is not Judaism. It's something else."

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar will be asked to decide this weighty theological question and in the process pass judgment on thousands of members of the messianic stream within Chabad Hassidism who believe that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who passed away in 1994, is the messiah.

This according to the article; I have heard an (unsubstantiated as of yet) rumour that, in fact, Rabbi Amar has ruled against the conversion applicant, and thus, essentially declared meshichist Lubavitch treif. I am curious as to what effect will this have on ChABAD: Is this a recognition that some beliefs are outside the pale, even if the holder of said beliefs has the outer appearance of Orthodox praxis? What effect will this have on the yeshivot that are still er, offering this perspective, either in Israel or the USA?

By the way, speaking of treif, Rubashkin (who is owned by the ChABAD Lubavitch Rubashkin family just to be on topic), has apparently had its teudat kashrut yanked by KAJ (HT to Failedmessiah)

One last note:
First, England's Jewish Chronicle notes that England's Lubavitch movement is in some serious economic trouble: apparently because of pouring an enormous amount of money into a new club for young Jews that they opened this year. Apparently nearly all the donations they received this year went into said club, "including 'almost all' of this year’s £750,000 yield," leaving them £1.5 million (that's 2,959,951 dollars American) in debt - and of course, they've had to close the club, in addition to leaving their teachers unpaid since April (although donors have now stepped in to pay the teachers' wages).

1 comment:

tarfon said...

Some years ago, Prof. David Berger argued at length precisely the position that has reportedly been taken by R' Amar and by KAJ, that it's impermissible in Judaism to continue believing that an individual is the Meshiah after that individual is dead, and that the M'shihist faction of Chabad is thus outside the pale, and, for example, their hechsherim should not be accepted. See his book, The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference.