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Reb Yoel: There is only ONE derech in Chabad

EXCLUSIVE: In an unprecedented scathing attack in this week's issue of Kfar Chabad magazine against the "shita" (the line of reasoning) of writing on the Rebbe "Shlitah," Rabbi Yoel Kahn, said that this is going against the Torah and defames the Rebbe's name. Shturem.net brings you an exclusive translation of the interview.
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In an unprecedented scathing attack in this week's issue of Kfar Chabad magazine against the "shita" (the line of reasoning) of writing on the Rebbe "Shlitah," Rabbi Yoel Kahn, the Rebbe's chozer, said that this is going against the Torah and defames the Rebbe's name. Reb Yoel stresses that he is not dealing with the "people" that have created this "shitah" but is condemning the "shitah" itself.

Reb Yoel: "When the Rebbe assumed leadership Yud Shvat 1951," he stated clearly that the task of our generation is to complete the process of drawing down the Shechina in this world. This is done, the Rebbe said, through the dissemination of Torah, especially "Pnimiyus Hatorah."

"For us chassidim,  the real dissemination of Pnimiyus Hatorah is as expounded by the Rabbeim. The Rebbe asks  in one of his sichos why did G-d have to  tell Abaraham that "I will make your name great?" Abraham was known to have been imbued with the greatest degree of humility how can one even think that he desired greatness?

The Rebbe answers that the meaning of "I will make your name great" was that through his name the Name of G-d Almighty will be sanctified. Everyone will see, even a non Jew, that Abraham's name reflects G-d's Name. In other words, every Jew and non-Jew will see that the Rebbe is an extraordinary elevated person, a true Shepherd of the Jewish People who cared about his people in general and about every individual in particular.

I believe that when one writes "Shlitah" now after the histalkus next to the Rebbe's name not only does he not bring greatness and admiration to the Rebbe but just the opposite, it defames and makes a mockery of the Rebbe's name.

"On Rosh Chodesh Kislev they printed a picture of a man walking in 770 with a caption that this was a picture taken on the 25th of Cheshvan this year as the Rebbe was walking towards his place through the "shvil" (pathway) that was made for him when he would come down to Mincha."

"Making the shvil itself is the biggest joke that could be but they add insult to injury by saying that the man they saw was the Rebbe. The joke is not on this or that chosid but on the Rebbe himself because they say they are making the "shvil" for the Rebbe. They added further disgrace by saying that the man that passed was the Rebbe.

"That wasn't enough either and in their weekly pamhplet "Sichas Hageula" (Woe unto us that this is called "Geula, which only makes a joke of such a great man) they write: "The revelation began on the 25th of Marcheshvan" and they boast that hundreds of thousands of people all over the world were able to view it." That wasn't enough either, they later printed this joke in articles in the pamphlets that they published for Parshat Vayetze and Vayishlach.

"I want to reiterate that I am not speaking about the "person" who wrote the article (it's not my job to speak about a person's intentions what's inside his head) I am talking about the object - the system - the printing of such pictures and articles which could be no greater diversion of the Rebbe.

"Everything the "maskilim" and communists tried to do in order to defame the honor of our Rabbeim is absolutely nothing compared to the defamation caused by the "meshichistin" because of two reasons: 1) the substance of the defamation: it never even occurred to the communists to degrade the Rebbe in such a manner. 2) when this defamation is done by Chabad chassidim the mockery and shame is even greater. Not only is this "shitah" a joke, it is against the Torah and is the complete opposite of what our function and shlichus is.

"The Rebbe mentioned many times that which the Gemara says in Sanhedrin "All predestined dates (for the redemption)  have passed and the matter now depndes only on repentance." The Rebbe would cry very much when he said this."

"Now, according to those who hallucinate, the Rebbe should have said: 'since there is no explanation why Moshiach has not arrived yet and according to Torah he should have been here already so this is real proof that he is here already. And what appears that we are still in Golus with all the tragedies we are witnessing in Golus, it's only an imagination....'

"In the sicha on the eve of 15th of Shvat 1979 the Rebbe mentioned the words of the Mittler Rebbe that "no tzoro will occur twice", there will be no more exterminations, and the Rebbe mentioned painfully that according to this there is no explanation for the Holocaust. The Rebbe could have said very simply: Since the Mittler Rebbe said explicitely that there will be no more exterminations there is no doubt that there was never a Holocaust and what we saw was an imagination.

"Think about it: These are questions that the "Rebbe" didn't understand, not questions that "we" don't understand, undoubtedly they were very difficult questions. Nevertheless, it never dawned to him to explain it very simply that  the fact is false and merely an imagination.

"But here we're dealing with questions that "they" don't understand and their questions are based on how "they" comprehend the sicha nevertheless they conclude that what happened is not a fact but an imagination! It's a fact that the Rebbe wrote a will and everyone knows about it. And since to them there is a contradiction between the fact and the questionable meaning of the sicha as "they" interpret it - they come to the outrageous conclusion that the fact is only an imagination.

"Such a "shitah" not only goes against common sense it is totally false and most of those who follow this shitah know deep in their hearts that it is false and are trying to talk themselves into believing it. This only devalues everything the Torah says.

Kfar Chabad: OK, this shitah goes against common sense but why do you say it goes against Torah?

Reb Yoel: If their eccentric behavior would express itself only in making a "shvil" and things like that it would also be shameful but unfortunately, what they are doing goes against the Torah.

They urge people to do things that are against the "halacha" as a result of their new faith that there was no histalkus. And when they preach not to observe the customs and Halochos pertaining to an histalkus (including the customs that the Rebbe instructed to observe pertaining to Yud Shvat) this borders on going against the Torah.

"Such a shitah can bring to worse things. There are some who are saying that we're living in the period that Moshiach has already arrived. Pretty soon you'll have a "lamdan" proving to you that we're in the period of Tehiyas Hameisim and if someone will ask but we see that that no one has arisen from the dead, they'll answer you: according to the sicha it's definite that they have arisen - you're just imagining that they have not. Just like their saying "shlitah" that he is alive "begashmiyus."

"I know what I am saying are very harsh words but there is no choice once and for all the truth must be stated. Again, I am not talking about the "people" who invented this "shitah" but about the shitah itself 1) it is futile, vanity and folly. 2) It is not related in any way to Lubavitch nor to Torah. Torah is the ultimate truth and not nonesense and fantasies. 3) This shitah leads to the doing away with laws of Torah. 

Kfar Chabad: How is one to relate to these people?

Reb Yoel: The question is not how to relate "to them," but how to relate to the "shitah" itself.

If we want to pretend that there is unity among us then although there is a danger in this shitah we must declare that for the sake of achdus - unity - we accept all shitos.

But if we want kidush shem shomayim, that the Rebbe's name should be respected, revered and admired and that our children should receive a true authentic education, a Torah and chassidic education and not cause any harm then we must declare in no uncertain terms that this "shitah" is futile, nonesense and has no place in Torah or in Chassidus.

Kfar Chabad: But look, there is now an awakening and chassidim are getting together from both camps in unity and unity of chassidim can bring Moshiach, so why not unite with them?

Reb Yoel: If we are talking about the "people" who created the "shitah" then of course we have to live in unity with them like brothers and sisters. His simcha is my simcha and his pain is my pain. "Chassidim are one family.

"But as far as the "shitah" itself is concerned one must condemn it in the strongest terms not to give it any legitimacy. To procalim openly that this "shitah" has no connection to Chabad. This does not contradict unity and that chassidim are one family.

"This shitah defames the Rebbe, it harms the children and turns them into kids with all kinds of crazy ideas. A child must be healthy emotionally and mentally without hallucinations. This "shitah" feeds the child with lies and causes a disrespect to Torah and customs of Israel.

"Achdus - unity - among chassidim is without any doubt the most important thing we should strive for. There is nothing that will bring nachas to the Rebbe like true achdus among chassidim. Our motto has to be "Chassidim are one family." Each one of us must do everything possible to do everything for unity and avoid machlokes and fights - but we have to make it very clear:

"For the sake of achdus one is ready to concede and compromise on matters pertaining to money, to honor, to personal disagreements But we cannot compromise on the education of our children.

"This does not contradict unity and chassidim are one family. No one is saying not to love someone because he thinks differently than you. When one has poisonous ideas he is still loved by his brothers and sisters and family, and the love is shown by doing everything to help him realize that his ideas are poisonous and harmful. But no one is going to allow him to poison other members of the family with his harmful ideas for the sake of achdus. If one does allow him to harm other members of the family it just proves you don't love him nor the other members of the family.

Kfar Chabad: What then is the right shitah?

Reb Yoel: The right shitah is to say the truth: That now the Rebbe is also alive in the spiritual sense and affects us here physically. That after Gimmel Tamuz 1994 no change has occurred in the relationship between the Rebbe and chassidim - no change as the Rebbe relates to chassidim and no change as chassidim relate to the Rebbe.

"Chazal tell us (in Sotah 13b) that just like Moses was standing in service of G-d before he became 120 so too he is standing in the service of G-d after 120. It is brought down in holy books that this is said not only of Moses but of all true leaders of Israel in every generation especially in the sichos where the Rebbe speaks of the "hiskashrus" to the Previous Rebbe.

"Obviously, this pertains to the Rebbe too as it is written in Zohar that "when a Tzaddik departs he is to be found in all the worlds more than in his lifetime."

"The difference between the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe is that since the Rebbe Rashab had a son who replaced him the "hashpo" goes through the new leader and Moses of that respective generation. But in the case of the Rebbe since he did not leave anybody to replace him, he continues to affect us just like before.

Kfar Chabad: How?

Reb Yoel:  Chassidus tells us that  it is an accpted fact that the soul animates the body, however, since the soul is spiritual we cannot see it, but we do see the actions and effect that it has on the body. Seeing a body that is alive is clear proof that there is a soul eventhough we don't see it physically.

"The same is in our case. After Gimmel Tamuz 1994 since the Rebbe's life is spiritual we cannot see him but we do see the effect of this collective soul (the Rebbe) in the collective body (Klal Yisroel). It is as though we see the Rebbe himself.

"We see this despite all "experts" and prophets of doom 12 years ago who predicted that  Lubavitch would dissolve. Not only has it not disappeared, it has turned into the greatest Jewish empire in the world. We see how Lubavitch chassidim continue to thrive and grow. No shaliach has left his shlichus and even many non-Lubavitch chassidim have come closer to chassidus and the Rebbe.

"Not one shaliach has given up his shlichus after Gimmel Tamuz. On the contrary, shluchim are growing by leaps and bounds and have established hundreds of Chabad Houses, Jewish institutions with divine success. This is only because the one who sent them (the Rebbe) is animating them and granting them the power to fulfill their shlichus.

Just like before Gimmel Tammuz 1994 people from all walks of life, not only Lubavitchers, would come to the Rebbe on Sundays to receive a dollar and ask for a blessing and witnessed outright miracles today too people from all walks of life come to the Ohel and are blessed with what they need. Some people make a special trip just for that. They land in Kennedy airport, go to the Ohel and fly back just as they came to the Rebbe before Gimmel Tamuz.

In summation: "We must love every one regardless of their opinions just as we love our siblings in our family. Simultaneously, we must declare emphatically in no uncertain terms that this shitah is foreign to Chabad and to the Rebbe. There is only one way in Chabad that has been paved for us and is very clear. This and only this way will help us fulfill our shlichus, the shlichus of the seventh generation and will bring Moshiach. 

5 Shevat 5767
Photograph: Eli Kahn, courtesy of Kfar Chabad
 
Rabbi Yoel during the interview
Rabbi Yoel during the interview | Photograph: Eli Kahn, courtesy of Kfar Chabad
 
Photograph: Eli Kahn, courtesy of Kfar Chabad
 
Photograph: Eli Kahn, courtesy of Kfar Chabad
 
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Comments
5
1. Oh-boy
These comments are going to invite a storm. Get ready for the "ahem" to hit the fan.
7 Shevat 5767
2. Oy, vey!
What I'm supposed to do with the Rebbe's sichos, which is clear written that we must have a nassi hador alive with Moshe Rabeinu's neshama? Put them in geniza (ch'v) or burn them (ch'v)?
The only derech are the Rebbe's words.
10 Shevat 5767
3. Great words!
12 Shevat 5767
4. Response to #2 Oy, vey!
No - don't put the Rebbes Sichos into Geniza. File them under the heading" Words of the Rebbe that we don't yet understand" - that's the same file that the Rebbe filed the words of the Mittler Rebbe about the Holocaust (see reference in the article), the same place that the Rebbe filed many things that the Frierdiker Rebbe said that he said he didn't understand. Moshe Rabbenu did not get answers to many things either.
Don't misunderstand me - You are allowed to ask these questions. The Rebbe asked them too (often crying bitterly). The fact that we don't know the answers yet is one more reason to cry Ad mosai.
The point that Rav Yoel is trying to make is that we cannot re-invent the reality to make it fit words that the Rebbe said that we don't yet understand.
How many time did the Rebbe say on a Shabbos afternoon Farbrengen ".... and today - before Mincho - we will be in Yerushalayim etc. etc.... " Was he wrong when he said it? Of course not! Can we change the reality and say that on that Shabbos we all daavened mincho in Yerushalayim? How do we reconcile the two things - we can't - yet. We will understand it though, very, very soon.
12 Shevat 5767
5. How refreshing
What a breath of fresh air to read Reb Yoel Kahn. At last someone in Chabad is prepared to show some leadership on this very divisive issue. I particularly like the way he has shown how the shita is not correct while continuing to show respect to the people holding this shita.
16 Shevat 5767