Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Myth #4: Chabad is Orthodox

Unorthadoxy on Wheels

1. Orthodox
a. Adhering to what is commonly accepted, customary, or traditional.
b. Adhering to the accepted or traditional and established faith, especially in religion.


We all throw around labels so casually, rarely stopping to consider or examine the truth and depth of our language. Oftentimes, the words we pair together to form an idea are so far from being true, that they are almost a lie.

If you would pair together the words Chabad and Orthodox, you would get such a lie.
On the outside, Chabad wears the beard and garb of your ever so traditional Jewish neighbor. But if you take a closer look, you will see the truth. Chabad is about as unorthodox as Judaism gets.

Chabad’s roots are proof of an inherent unorthodox mindset. To fierce protests, the Chabad philosophy was born. The Alter Rebbe and the Previous Rebbe were both revolutionaries, ripping through the mainstream and traditional thought of their times. Up against all of so-called-normative-Judaism, they broke down the walls of the elite in Judaism, refused honor, insisted that Judaism be taught to all Jews, and were successful in bringing a shattered Judaism to its feet. They changed the future of Judaism through song and dance, teaching, publications, a lot of resilience, and, of course - some jail time.

One must stop to think, “It wasn’t so orthodox of them.”

But, that’s the thing. Chabad just isn’t orthodox. And it never has been.


The Rebbe spoke in front of thousands of people, and wasn’t afraid to be on the radio or television.

That isn’t so orthodox.

Young men in the streets, helping other Jewish men put on Tefillin.

That isn’t so orthodox.

Breaking through government laws to put up menorahs, construct mikvahs, and build Shuls.

That isn’t so orthodox.

Meeting with Presidents and Prime Ministers to change their views.

That isn’t so orthodox.

Living in the most remote places on earth, all for another Jew.

That isn’t so orthodox.

Running the world’s largest Jewish website, to 60,000 clicks a day.

That isn’t so orthodox.

Actively insisting that non-Jews, too, have a place and purpose.

That isn't so orthodox.

Matisyahu shouting "Moshiach now!" to a crowded club.

That isn’t so orthodox.

Consistently showing that, through Torah, one can “live with the times.”

That isn’t so orthodox.

The list can go on and on.

There just isn’t anything so orthodox about Chabad.


When analyzing the behavior of the Chabad populace, one begins to wonder exactly when they will start sporting spiked hair, and listening to punk music.

Look at any Chabad piece of literature, and you are looking at a representation of a change in a society, an uprising, a protest.

Without really trying, without raising a fist, all Chabad Rebbeim campaigned against mainstream Judaism.

They were protesters.

They were revolutionaries.

They were radicals.

A seemingly righteous title means nothing to a Chabadnik. They would be surprised and even insulted to be called orthodox, for the title only does a disservice to the truth of what Chabad means for the world.

Chabad has re-introduced many things into mainstream Judaism, like hanging up pictures of Tzaddikim and hitting the streets to help other Jews. But once these things become “normal” or “mainstream”, Chabad has something new with which to scare orthodoxy.

Thanks to Chabad, the rest of the world is starting to become a little less orthodox.

If anyone ever tells you that Chabad is going off the normative path of Judaism, there’s only one response.

Just smile.

Then nod.

Then say, “It was never on that path to begin with.”


socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Wow you are controversial and brave.

annoying [speller] dude said...

Reciprocating the visit :)

Mazel Tov on your new look.

Your caption should say OrthodOxy.

Otherwise, very well put.


check it out !


Yossi's blog said...

Really cool like all youre posts keep it up'

FrumGirl said...

I guess I have much to learn about Chabad... I do know one thing though... the most dynamic, caring and amazing teachers I have had were lubavich.

ChayAiz said...

some young people walked into my chabad house while i was typing on the computer and asked if this was, like, an orthodox chabad

I said all Chabads were orthodox

they responded- "oh cuz we're orthodox" and wanted Jewish info.