Monday, February 13, 2006

Myth #3: "Chabad has this shtick with Moshiach"

shtick also schtick or shtik n. Slang 1. An entertainment routine or gimmick.

Sometimes, the small passing moments or comments in class reveal the most.

It happened in Rabbi Pasternak's sicha class.

In one of the Rebbe's sichos on Yud Shvat, he discusses the spreading of Chassidus and how each of our Rebbes had a particular way of giving over Chassidus to the masses. In one line, the Rebbe talks about how the Baal Shem Tov gave the light of Chassidus to "non-Chassidim." This spurred a whole conversation in class about misnagdim. Rabbi Pasternak was saying that, today, there is no such thing. There may be "non-chassidim", but no one can really be considered a misnaged anymore.

In typical Machon Alte style, one of the students rose to debate: "What do you mean? There are so many people who are anti-Chabad today!"

And I love what Rabbi Pasternak said.

"No, these people aren't opposers to Chassidus. They just have their Moshiach shtick."

Moshiach shtick.

The non-Chabad world has "moshiach shtick?"

Is this guy joking? Come on, Rabbi. Every one knows who has the shtick - let's be real here. We can admit that we got the shtick going on. Let's not turn the tables.

But Rabbi Pasternak wasn't doing any table-turning. In passing, he shed light on a seemingly controversial topic and went straight to the almost comedic core of the "issue."

The people today who seem to be "anti-Chabad" or "misnagdim" usually have this whole issue with Lubavitchers believing the Rebbe to be Moshiach.

And, you see, this is where the shtick comes in.

They talk about it. They laugh about it. They reduce Chabad to this one belief. They can't get into one discussion with a bearded guy without asking him, "so, do YOU believe the Rebbe's Moshiach?" They won't go to the Rebbe's burial place - the resting place of a Tzaddik - because of it. With their ever so valuable free time, they create disgustingly mocking and pathetic websites about it. When they hear that you're close with Lubavitch, they freak out and elect themselves to inform you of the "dangers of the Chabad derech." When they hear that you're totally going to be changing your life by going to a Chabad school, the only thing they find in their brain to ask is, "well, what's their take on the Moshiach thing?"

Yea, it's disgusting.
Yea, it's immature.
Yea, it reveals much weakness and insecurity.
But really, it's all just a routine, it's all just a gimmik.

Really, it all comes down to shtick.
These people get worked up. They invest energy and frustration. How could you possibly believe the Rebbe's Moshiach?! They get innovative with their arguments, and discuss it with their Rabbis. It's like an excercise. They actually sweat. And their performance gives them pride.

The (meshichist) Chabadnik, on the other hand, is grounded, strong, and real with his own beliefs. He waves his own flag proudly, and any of his efforts outward are always focused yet quiet and humble. He won't pull any shtick about YOUR beleifs, you can rest assured.
Because the Chabadnik finds no impulse to have any shtick about the beliefs of others.

The Chabadnik will be glad to discuss the "Moshiach issue" with you.

But come on, just drop the show. Drop the entertainment.

Stop sweating.

Just turn off all the Moshiach shtick.


Anonymous said...

Ha! Your rabbis is awesome!

nahama said...

hehe :)

Like they say in the back of, "If you don't have any new food cooking, you just end up throwing old knishes around the kitchen."

[mimi: attempt to locate sister chani. she is somewhere in your country.]

Dov said...

Tried to comment the other day, couldn't.

I think your sentiment is dead on. I too am disgusted by those that are so quick to point out the perceived fallacies in others. I too encounter this specific issue, and I just smile and say something like, "Hey, I focus on my own growth, and towards growth for us all."

Of course, at the same time it is important for there to be an opinion and stand regarding things potentially detrimental to the community, in this case the Jewish community and Judaism itself.

This is what their argument would appear to be, as if effectively equating it to false Messiahs in history. This is utterly ridiculous, though, and it's a tough sell to argue that this situation in particular is detrimental.

The Rebbe never said he was Moshiach and those who believe what they will do so in a peaceful, non-obtrusive way, and are absolutely entitled to.

The Rebbe waved his hands and didn't explicitly stop the cheering, leading some to see this as a acknowledgement. What if he too were participating in the yearning for Moshiach, respecting what others individually believed, and whether or not he was the Moshiach was not an issue (and who's to say Moshiach knows prior)? Just another way of seeing things.

In my mind, it boils down to self-aggrandizing pietism. I've used that term elsewhere and use it again because it's the best way to describe what I mean: people who try and build themselves up by comparing their superior pietism and religiousness to others, albeit often indirectly.

We're all guilty of it, Chabad too. For the most part, though, I think Chabad practices more of a tolerance and respect for thy neighbor than many others, and the complementary and inexporably connected mantra of working on one's own character traits and being an example is evident as well... maybe just a few of the reasons why they're phenomenally successful in all corners of the world and are (arguably) the envy of many.