Friday, December 2, 2011

Controversies You Should Understand: Chabad Conversions

I've been trying to decide how to approach the Chabad question for several months. It is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed for conversion candidates because many discover Judaism through local Chabad houses. However, it is difficult to handle a controversy fairly and without making too many people angry!

I am not Chabad, but I have a lot of respect for the movement. I certainly owe a debt of gratitude to chabad.com for when I was living in isolated Jewish communities!

Chabad and conversions, traditionally: the Rebbe himself instituted a policy (in the 70s, I think?) that Chabad does not "do" conversions. I hear of people here and there who say they "converted Chabad," but I don't think Chabad actually arranged the batei din (and maybe didn't even sit on it). People who seek conversion but identify with Chabad have to convert through "mainstream" orthodox batei din, whether modern orthodox or "ultra-orthodox." That has been the status quo for a long time. Personally, about one-quarter of the converts I know went that route. All but one "re-joined" Chabad after the conversion was complete. My understanding is that these people say they "converted Chabad" because they learned Lubavitch minhag and halachic interpretations, as well as attending a Chabad shul. Many Chabad rabbis assist these conversion candidates, but do not "do" the conversion. Today, we would call these Chabad rabbis the sponsoring rabbi.

That background out of the way, you should know that Chabad is now a more complicated issue in conversions. I'll give you a short background, in case you aren't familiar with the issues. The Rebbe passed away in 1994, but a movement arose that said he is moshiach. The idea is very similar to Christianity in that these people believe that the Rebbe didn't die; he has gone into hiding and there will be a "second coming" where he will redeem the world. That is why you may see many emphatic references to how "very dead" the Rebbe is.

The idea that the Rebbe is moshiach is against Judaism. This idea is also not official Chabad "doctrine" (if any orthodox group can be said to have doctrine). However, if you have ever visited Crown Heights, it is not an insignificant number of people. Many orthodox people believe that messianics ("meshichists") have "infiltrated" 770 (Chabad headquarters and leadership) but that they are careful to keep it quiet. Understandably, 770 says the messianics are a very small number of people. Infiltrated or not, the meshichists are very bad for Chabad's image. Walking through Crown Heights told me that this is no insignificant number! (Yellow flags and banners proclaiming the Rebbe as moshiach are almost overwhelming there.) Because of the uncertainty of how far this belief reaches into the heart of Chabad, many orthodox Jews (maybe even most) distrust the movement as a whole. As many people (inappropriately) "joke," "Chabad is the closest religion to Judaism!" 

There is a separate movement of people who believe that the Rebbe is actually G-d himself. They are called elokists. They are scary.

What does that mean for conversions? When candidates come into "mainstream" orthodox batei din and proclaim how much they love Chabad, the batei din are generally not pleased today. An increasing number of batei din have official policies that Chabad rabbis cannot serve as "sponsoring rabbis" and that the candidates must attend the shul of their sponsoring rabbi during the conversion process (which could mean several years in a non-Chabad synagogue). The Chabad-leaning candidates are (to my knowledge) allowed to continue studying Chabad texts, ideas, and be involved in the Chabad community, but the beit dins seem to limit the influence of the Chabad rabbis as much as possible.

That may seem cruel at first, but it is also intended to protect the candidate's conversion from questioning later. As much as Chabad is distrusted in the larger community, it is to the candidate's benefit to distance themselves during the conversion process. After all (at least in theory), the conversion is "closed" at the time of the conversion, so re-joining the Chabad community after conversion should not taint the convert's "Jewishness" in the eyes of the larger orthodox community. If you are Chabad, it shouldn't matter if non-Chabad people want to question your conversion for that. However, it may matter to your children, so that's why people might put up with these policies.


It is sad but realistic. But trying to see things from a more positive viewpoint, Chabad is here for kiruv, outreach to born Jews. And like all organizations...funding, time, and space are limited. "Outsourcing" the conversion candidates (so to speak) allows Chabad to stay close to its mission, and all klal Yisrael benefits from their mission to increase traditional observance among the Jewish people.

So what should Chabad-leaning conversion candidates do? These are just my initial thoughts on how I would approach the situation.

  • I suggest applying to convert with an RCA regional beit din or other "Israel-approved" beit din. That is boilerplate advice I would give everyone.
  • Be clear that you intend to be Lubavitch.
  • Also be clear that you know about the controversies. Then explicitly disavow any faith in the Rebbe as moshiach or G-d. (Assuming you don't believe that...)
  • Ask the beit din about their policy on Chabad rabbis participating in the process as a sponsoring rabbi or tutor. (Some are not up-front about this and will use it as a "discouragement" tactic later. Less pessimistically, they may save it until the beit din views the candidate as "officially" entering the conversion process. I have seen some told that they have to get a new shul nearly a year into the process.)
  • Ask whether you can continue to attend your Chabad shul.
  • If they don't allow Chabad to be active in your conversion at all, deal with it. You have to play by their rules if you want a conversion. Look into other batei din (if they are available), but this issue isn't uncommon anymore.
  • Likewise, if Chabad is supposed to keep its distance, ask about social events, learning, shiurim, etc. I don't know how these batei din handle those "informal" areas of Jewish life in these cases. It would appear they are okay, but it's better to know exactly what is expected of you.
  • Read Chabad materials and learn Lubavitch hashkafah.
  • You can probably still adopt Chabad halachic practices now, even if they are not the practices of your sponsoring congregation.
  • Expand your horizons Jewishly, and you might discover your hashkafah lies in another form of orthodoxy! After all, you may be living in your first Jewish community with more than one or two shuls!
  • Once you have converted, you have the choice to return to your Chabad congregation. However, ask about any requirements for staying within the converting community for a set time period after conversion. Your sponsoring rabbi may have to file a follow-up one year later to make sure that you are still Jewishly active and observant. That may tie you to his congregation for another year. Moving congregations in the year after conversion may also be problematic for aliyah/Israel purposes (but this policy changes a lot and is kept from public knowledge). Make sure you know exactly what is expected of you to the best of your ability.

As a practical tip: Be very careful how you discuss Chabad. Avoid doing so if you can. Tempers flare very quickly, and suddenly accusations are flying. Even the most innocuous comment can set people off on either side. I've been accused of supporting meshichists, and I've also been accused of claiming Chabad aren't Jews. Both sides can be quite vile and vitriolic. The only time I have worried that a Jew would physically hit me was someone (already clearly unbalanced) who thought I had made a disparaging comment about Chabad. To be quite honest, I'm not looking forward to today's comments... 

33 comments:

  1. Okay, I have to admit I have never heard of "elokists". It does not surprise me since I have heard some people talk of the Rebbe as if he were God (they speak of him exactly the same way a Christian speak of Jesus) but I've never heard the term.

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  2. A book which I think illustrates the problem with Chabad.

    http://www.worldcat.org/title/rebbe-the-messiah-and-the-scandal-of-orthodox-indifference/oclc/47200311&referer=brief_results

    The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the scandal of orthodox indifference
    Author: דן, יוסף, ; David Berger
    Publisher: London ; Portland, Or. : Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2001.
    Series: Littman library of Jewish civilization (Series)

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  3. A lot of this depends on the circles you frequent. After my conversion, I had every intention of being Chabad. During the conversion process, I went to the Chabad House exclusively except for times when I was required to go to the sponsoring rabbi's shul.

    What happened after the conversion? The Chabad people started asking me when I was going back to the sponsoring shul! A few months later, I went to the sponsoring shul for a Chanukkah party. After that, I wasn't allowed back into the Chabad House because I "hated Chabad". Yeah.

    After 20 years as a right-of-center, non-Chabad, Jew, I'm slowly making my way back to Chabad in another location. The whole outlook is completely different. Where I live now, all of the institutions fight with each other ( :-| ) except that nobody fights with Chabad and Chabad doesn't fight with anyone! So, among other reasons, I've been davening at Chabad for several years now in order to stay away from politics and controversies!!!

    So, it all depends on where you are... :-)

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  4. As someone who is about to enter the conversion process, your post is very helpful. It's very confusing when you don't know much about the differences within Orthodoxy. It's very hard to get someone to talk about it either, at least in my experience. The problem for me is that Chabad is so widespread that it is easier to find a Chabad house than other Orthodox Shuls although, when asked so far every Chabad Rabbi has said they don't do conversions. It has struck me before that the way they talk about the Rebbe seems uncomfortably like Christianity.

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    1. RAMBAM, the authority on all matters connected to Moshiach and Geula, teaches that the major reason Christianity came about was to teach the world about the concept of the Messiah. The ideas in Christianity are born out of Judaism. The Gemara repeatedly refers to the most learned of people who believed their 'rebbe' to be the Moshiach. This is referenced as commonplace throughout the Gemara and treated with respect. The Chumash outright speaks of Yaakov, our father, as living in the literal sense after his 'death' in addition to the metaphoric implications of 'Yaakov did not die.' Eliahu attends every bris. Judaism believes in many stages to life including before birth, this world, and the next. Tzadikim continue on with their physical bodies not even decomposing. There are numerous discussions of these matters that can be found throughout our Torah. Part of the problem by the sin of the golden calf was that the people were convinced they had lost Moses; they even saw him laid to rest in a coffin (we are told the satan presented this image before them) yet he reappeared on the 40th day. So, to imagine the Rebbe 'lives' even literally, despite what our eyes saw, is not so against the stream of Judaism.

      In 1992, the Lubavitcher Rebbe announced, as a prophet, that we have entered the true and complete Redemption. He repeatedly spoke of this in every lecture that year. This is documented and published in books (called 'sichas') which can be studied for clarification. Tzaddikim through out the world confirm and agree with this assessment. These are spiritually refined people who 'see' things that you and I cannot perceive. They all acknowledge the changes going on in the world and the special times in which we live. The Zohar speaks of many dates and it is generally agreed that the final is now [57]72.

      Chabad has always had the courage to break down barriers. Today it is popular to do outreach but years ago this was unheard of ...to the point where religious Jews reacted to this with anger and extreme hostility. Those less religious Jews were written off as lost. Chabad was alienated and looked down upon for engaging with such people. It was viewed as barbarian to put tefillin on a Jew who hadn't prayed or washed properly. Yet Chabad, following the Rebbe's directives, refused to abandon such Jews. Today, those same groups who criticized years ago are now all participating in outreach. I respect and honor Lubavitchers for their courage to stand up to the mainstream and pursue their ideals. I personally believe the Rebbe was and is the Moses of our generation, Moshiach. May we all merit to see the world finally in its completed state, with no doubt as to where God is and stand united with Moshiach in the True and Complete Redemption,Geula,as the Rebbe says, immediately!

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    2. Originally posted: December 5, 2011 at 3:44 AM

      Anonymous, you're very right (on all counts). While Chabad is conveniently located everywhere, most of those places will not provide the support required for a new convert. Any beit din will make you move to a place that has more than "just a Chabad house." If all you have is a Chabad, you need to work towards moving somewhere else. There is *only* a Chabad there for a reason; it's the "Jewish boonies." So it can be a good waystation until you can move somewhere more appropriate. I hate that advice, but it's the right answer.

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    3. Originally posted: March 1, 2012 at 10:42 PM

      Anonymous Meshichist, you prove several of my points. A) That no one will own up to it by putting their name on these kinds of ramblings except the people who are mamish insane and off their meds. B) Calling the Rebbe a prophet goes against at least four sources in the Gemara that say that prophecy ended with Malachi: Bava batra 12a, Sanhedrin 11, Berachot 55, and Bava batra 12b. The last one is particularly telling, "R. Johanan said: Since the Temple was destroyed, prophecy has been taken from prophets and given to fools and children."

      It is disrespectful of the Rebbe's memory and goes against his love of Judaism to turn him into avodah zara.

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  5. Thank you for this post Chavi (I am the one of the people who emailed you about Chabad).

    I will one day convert through the route you recommend, then one day (G-d willing) end up in a Chabad shul.

    The Rebbe was an exceedingly brilliant and kind man. I received the Chabad "Daily Dose" and am absolutely marveled at how timely and appropriate they are; sometimes they seem custom-made, as if they are answering questions I am currently wrestling with.

    That being said, I know he is not the Moshiach, and quite frankly, I don't believe he ever proclaimed himself as such. Even the videos posted by messianics in order to "prove" their theories are rather unconvincing.

    I also equally disagree with the bad treatment I have seen the messianics receive from fellow Jews. Some of what I have seen from that angle has been downright shameful.

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  6. It looks like you haven't met any REAL chabad people. You are writing about the minority. I myself am Chabad and go to a Chabad School. i live in crown heights, actually. In the school I go to they DO NOT say the Rebbe in Hashem, Chas Vesholom. We think of the Rebbe is like a Nasi. He helps us connect to Hashem, and bring us closer. I've never met someone who thinks that he is G-D.

    The problem is, that most people assume things about chabad without really knowing us. I repeat, MOST people.

    Many Chabad people believe The Rebbe is the messiah. These people will not admit this for they are afraid of what people may say. Thats sad.

    In the past, there were a few False Messiahs, and signs were created to prevent this in the future, when we need to see if its true or not. Some of them was that he would be humble, from Dovid Hamelech, He would send his messengers all over the world etc. That describes our Rebbe.

    Also, the Rebbe never said out loud that he is moshiach, only hinted to it sometimes when people asked.

    In every generation there is a potential Moshiach. If we merit it, that person will become the moshaich.
    Only after the shofar is blown etc, will we be able to do all the things that will happen when moshiach comes.
    NOT now, when we arent ready for it.

    Moshiach days are nearing, and we believe Hes coming. Every Jew MUST believe he is coming. Weather or not is The Rebbe, we dont know, we will find out sooner or later. We just want the Redemption NOW!!

    (iknow this wasn't written so well, im kinda really tired, so if my point wasn't brought across clearly, let me know and i will try to explain...)

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  7. I take my children to a "Bagel Babies" put on every week by Chabad. I've only ever had positive experiences there, and I'm Reform and a convert. It's been very difficult for me to figure out where Chabad stands. They have only ever been super friendly to me. However, when I mention we do a Chabad program to born-Jews especially Reform, they recoil at the word Chabad. Very confusing!

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    1. Originally posted: December 13, 2011 at 7:39 AM

      The last two Anonymous commenters: you have missed the point of this post. Your experiences, my experiences, they're all irrelevant. This post is not about the truth or fallacy of the accusations. They're about how those accusations affect orthodox conversions. That's it. Because these accusations *greatly* affect Chabad participation in conversions, the conversion candidates need to know *why* the batei din make these policies.

      But the one who says I've never met "real" Chabad people: you just supported the veracity of the accusations. "Many" Chabad people believing that the Rebbe is moshiach is more than enough to remove those from Judaism, whether or not they admit it. They don't admit it precisely because they know it removes them from Judaism. And that means that these "secret" meshichists are causing the entirety of Chabad to be called into question, and I think that is selfish and sneaky. It is the meshichists' fault that these policies have to exist, not the beit dins being jerks. They are undermining their own organization. And they apparently feel no qualms about causing true Chabad Jews to suffer.

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  8. I often find myself right smack dab in the middle of all this mess, since we have Lubavitch family. It's tough and unfortunate on all sides.

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  9. Thank you again. I had no idea about those two sites for Beit Dein and for a sponsoring Rabbi!
    I will most likely use them!

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  10. I find this discussion so foreign given my experiences with Chabad. I compeleted a conversion (after living many years as a Reform "convert") with a Chabad sponsoring Rabbi. No issues with the Beis Din (Not a "Chabad Beis Din" if such an entity exists). I was directed by HaShem to Chabad because of my connection to Chassidism. Now that I am a Shomer Shabbos Jew, I am very involved in Jewish outreach with Chabad. If your soul was truly present at Mount Sinai but was was born physically to a non-Jewish mother, your conversion will be successful. G-d does not give us a challenge we can't overcome.

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  11. The meshichists ruined all the hard work the Rebbe did to bring jews closer to judaism .I respect the Rebbes teachings and have many photographs of him on my walls as inspiration, Its sad chabad isnt taken seriously anymore. like we had people occupying Wall street to protest against greed, We should band together and occupy 770 :)

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  12. Dear Skylar,

    I just chanced upon your site. Firstly, I'd like to commend you for your exceptional service and kindness in helping potential converts navigate the conversion process. It is clear to me that your post about Chabad was with that intention only. So I hope you don't mind my commenting on this issue, coming from a place of admiration for your work and from a desire to add clarity to the broader topic.

    I am a person born into a family of Chabad Chassidim of many generations. I was raised Chabad, all my family is Chabad and I'm a Shliach today. I guess you can say that I understand Chabad very, very well. This is my life.

    What follows is not a critique of your analysis (the practical advice part of it is quite right on), but of the popular perception out there, which you are simply and honestly reporting on.

    First a few facts:
    * "Elokists" (supposedly a group in Chabad that believe in the Rebbe as G__ - I can't type such a thing) -- If such a specimen exists, I have yet to see one, and I have yet to even hear about someone who has seen one. In short, this is a horrible accusation that is out there and is simply not rooted in any fact. As a Chabad Chossid, hearing this falsehood innocently repeated hurts very deeply. In fact, the very opposite would be true: Chabad Chassidim study Chassidus, one of the basic themes in Chassidus is the discussion of G-d's absolute, infinite greatness, oneness, and how "Ain Old Milvado" (there is no other true existence other than G-d's), etc., etc., So a Chabad Chossid would really be the last person on the planet to ever entertain such an idea.

    * Re seeing the Rebbe as Moshiach: The views on this question, within Chabad, are as many as the colors of the rainbow. Some think definitely no, some definitely yes, many simply have no firm opinion on this, because they honestly do not know, and then there are many somewhere in between. There are really not many who believe "that the Rebbe didn't pass away and is simply concealed from our eyes" or something like that.

    But, here comes my most imprtant point, even that (latter) strange and most extreme approach is not against Judaism and does not cast them beyond the pale. It can rightfully be seen as extreme, strange, silly, not healthy, and more, but it does not put them outside of Halacha. This has been stated clearly by respected non-Chabad poskim, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a highly regarded Posek to say otherwise based on factual Halacha. Why? Because similiar ideas are mentioned in the Gemara and Rishonim, and thinking of someone (alive or passed) as Moshiach does not violate any prinicples of Jewish faith.

    In fact, this is why the people who are leading this charge (such as David Berger, the author of that book that someone posted about) against Chabad add the utterly baseless "divinity" accusations into the mix: Because they know that without that they really have no demon to fight.

    But why would people want to besmirch an entire segment of Jews? I think most people are not out to besmirch anyone, but are simply repeating what they heard from others. That being said, it is not possible to understand this without contemplating that ever since the dawn of the Chassidic movement (from the Baal Shem Tov) it has faced determined opposition. Over the years the well-intentioned opposition (that was intially based on genuine concern about what this new movement was all about) dissipated, only to replaced by those who thought that this opposition was some sort of "sacred tradition" that must be upheld, even when the concern was no more. It is the bearers of this sad "tradition of division" who are leading the effort against Chabad today.

    This is my honest understanding of this issue and my only objective in writing this to try to assist newcomers to Judaism. Please keep up the wonderful work you are doing with this blog.

    Yitzchok

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  13. If I may be so bold as to cut this Gordian knot...

    There are several separate issues regarding Chabad messianism and its perceptions, with what I believe to be a single underlying cause. Here are the issues:
    1. The messiaists do not understand why everyone else has a
    problem with their worldview.
    2. Everyone else does not understand how Chabad (or factions
    therein) could create/acquire this worldview, nor how
    they can consider it normative and consistent with Judaism.
    3. Chabad (all factions) does not understand why its handling
    of the Rebbe-as-messiah issue is viewed as deranged (regarding
    messiasts) or weak and suspicious (regarding those who aren't
    messiasts refusing to make any definitive statement).
    4. Further, Chabad has a complete lack of comprehension _that
    the mere fact that such an issue exists in the first place_ is
    more than a little frightening and is inherently hostile to
    everyone else.
    5. Everyone else cannot ascertain the underlying beliefs and
    modes of both individual Chabad members and the organisation
    as a whole. The lack of decisive statements by those who are
    not (publicly) messianic increases the perceived level of
    danger and overall suspicion.

    T think that there is an incredibly simple underlying reason for Chabad's total lack of understanding. The education program for Chabad youth contains no history, for lack of a better term. They do not learn anything of the other peoples of the world; they know nothing of the beliefs, cultures, or history of our host cultures; they are removed from the experience and memory of the last 2000 years in these cultures.

    To put it bluntly: there are almost no differences in belief, practise, behaviour, ambiguity and interaction-with-other-Jews between Chabad from the time of the Rebbe's second stroke till today and that of xtianity in the time between the Essene split and Paul. There is one important difference, however; Chabad is _everywhere_. It's huge. It already has momentum.

    Given the experience of the last two millenia with the last group whose breakaway started with the belief in a dead rebbe returning as the messiah, the rest of Jewry is rightly worried and probably a little terrified. We as Jews have been oppressed, tortured, exiled, and martyred instead of accepting this belief. That this belief came up again, from within mainstream Judaism, that is, from within those who survived the horrors inflicted for refusing this belief, is hostile to those of us who haven't forgotten.

    As a sidenote, some of the similarities between Chabad and early xtianity are simply stunning. The belief in a dead person returning as the messiah is the least of it. This belief being considered foundational, this belief being considered essential, this belief taking precedence such that normative concepts are altered to avoid conflict... even some of the "proofs" that moshiach will be a resurrected person, with the same methodology, down to the same verses, without context, being interpreted in the same way contrary to halacha, to buttress a heretical belief, that the subject of this belief acts an intermediary... it's amazing. The intentional ambiguity of Chabad hashkafa is in some ways the most telling... since when have Jews not stated (emphatically) their beliefs and opinions to other Jews (whether the others wanted it or not)? This time we can't even innovate an addition to shmoneh esray.

    I mourn for the Lubavich rebbe, because his talmidim do not mourn for him as is proper for one's teacher. I mourn for his message, because those he entrusted to continue it in his absence transmit their beliefs of him instead. I mourn for Klal Yisrael, because the same utensil that tried to increase ahavat yisrael now splinters us. I mourn for Hashem, because that which was intented to bring us closer to Him has led to avodah zara.

    May Chabad return to us, and may Moshiach come soon.

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  14. You have to be real gullible to believe anyone other than someone in a mental institution believes the Rebbe is G-d.

    People that propagate these lies should be ashamed of themselves.
    There is a big difference between saying the Rebbe was Moshiach when we was physically here, and a few load people saying he is moshiach now (and alive)... the garbage your saying that people believe he is Hashem..

    Personally I have more of an issue with "frum" people who
    1) Don't have ahavas yisrael
    2) don't support Israel
    3) pretend to be orthdox but reality are nothing more than dressing the part...

    Those people are the closest thing to judaism.

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  15. After reading this
    1) "in 1994, but a movement arose that said he is moshiach"

    and then this
    2) "it's against Judaism"

    I could read no more. I am a "Moshichist" chassid, or "converted" from non-religious to religious.

    Before you make comments like that, it behooves you to understand what you're talking about. You have very little to go on, I see, for having said what you said because, frankly, it is utterly ridiculous.

    Rather than in this venue try to explain the vitality of the concept that the Rebbe IS Moshiach, I merely implore you, as one Jew to another, to please refrain from issuing such anti-Jewish HALACHIC statements.

    There happens to be a psak-din that the Rebbe TODAY is "בחזקת משיח", but if you stick to "Litvak" opinions, as there are many of them in the blogosphere, you may be directed in the wrong direction.

    I beseech you to first look into the issue, perhaps at my blog if you like, but know that you are causing Jews to breach with the most important aspect of their religion by brushing this issue of Moshiach, as you do, under the rug. I have been with Chabad now for 22 years, seen the Rebbe, reaad much of what he wrote, read much of his more recent works especially, and strongly request of you to rethink the matter with some good facts before you issue such assertions as you did.

    Just to quickly discuss the 2 points I mentioned, before I could read no more, I respond:
    1) No movement AROSE that he is Moshiach. That movement IS Chabad, and has always been Chabad. Long before 1994 chassidim believed the Rebbe to be Moshiach. The only thing that changed was, that after Tammuz 3, many, especially those who were religious from birth, switched and felt that now Nature rules the roost and the supernatural no longer is relevant. We "Moshichists" take issue with that determination, and I'd be glad to respond to any question you have of us, if only you'd be willing to ask.

    2) It most definitely is NOT against Judaism. Even the NON-Chassidic giant, Rabbi Soleveichik, addresses that point and signed a letter to deny what your assertion, or, more likely, an assertion you heard from someone else. You can read about it here:
    http://hezbos.blogspot.com/2012/09/rabbi-aharon-soloveichiks-verdict-of.html

    When a Jew, G-d forbid, is in pain, another Jew, no matter how far he is from the sufferer, also feels the pain. Like it or not, we Jews comprise one body, and when the left hand itches, the right one seeks to relieve it. I too feel very hurt that you, a convert to our religion, now seeks to undermine the very religion we share. Please, at the very least, restrain yourself because Judaism is deeper than the sea and there's much to learn before you can make the assertions you made.

    It may well be that you feel "qualified" to do so because of perhaps a christian background and critics of Chabad liken us to that segment's religiosity, but I hasten to say that THEY GOT THEIR religion and ideas FROM US Jews, only perverted it, but it is WE that believe the world was created for and is soon destined to manifest as the Era of Redemption.

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    1. I would have suggested that you finish reading the post, as I am only explaining to conversion candidates why batei din are increasingly refusing to allow Chabad rabbis to be involved in the conversion process or even banning candidates from attending Chabad shuls. The truth or untruth of the matter is irrelevant because this is about explaining the popular perception of Chabad by a particular group of people and how that perception practically affects conversion candidates. If you want to see the problems these candidates can face without any understanding of why they've done something "wrong," read the rest of the post.

      And then take your missionizing elsewhere. It is irrelevant to this topic.

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    2. I'll stand up for the rights of Chabad wherever they are degraded. You can call it "missionizing" and you can speak, as you do, as if an authority in these matters. Your expertise, based on "I hear of people here and there" does not make you an authority. That Chabad touched you warmly should give you presence of mind to be appreciative. But "pundits" of Chabad, such as yourself, remain OUT of our circle and therefore you know little of what the Rebbe said, stands for, or what his following think. Assume some humility rather than finding something to keep your blog filled with falsities about Chabad.

      The very fact that you mentioned christianity in the same breath with Chabad is outrageous. Jews, Kochava, own the Moshiach concept! The Johnny-come-lately religions are the ones who copied the Jewish concept. To impugn Chabad with anything less than THE MOST NOBLE mission - nay, the one the world was created for in the first place - is simply slander.

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    3. Hello. The site author is absolutely correct. If you want a secure and easier conversion, and to stay converted, you have to tow the line. Do not do anything foolish to make the converting rabbis question your sincerity. Just like no chabad and no silly Rebbe talk, also no yoga, no asking about Jewish meditation, etc. Keep a lid on it for your own good. Excellent advice.

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    4. This is terrible advice. Jews do not "tow the line". Are you advocating an insincere conversion?

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    5. I don't believe this person is advocating insincere conversion. I believe this is recommending that a conversion candidate follow"requirements" set by batei din even if they are clearly not halacha. Applied to this case, that would mean there should be no requirement to forbid the involvement of Chabad rabbis, but the conversion candidate must accept this as reality and "tow the line" by following the beit din's "rule," even if it is not a good (or even legitimate) rule.

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  16. Incorrect! My supervising rabbi was a chabad shliach. The other rabbis were a Sephardic rabbi with Israeli dayyanut, and an Ashkenazi rabbi would go on to be president of the RCA. My wife's supervising rabbi was a different chabad rabbi (the other two rabbis were the same). My conversion went like clockwork; hers was obstructionist and power-trippy, but got done in the end. Also, in my Yeshiva (also chabad), there was a gentile bochur with a Jewish relatives who converted with a Beit Din in Crown Heights. Its rare, but it does happen.

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    1. As I said, this is not "the rule," at least not yet. It's a "trend" that has been picking up speed over the last few years, and it does affect many potential converts. Of course, it would be much less likely to be an issue when converting in or around Crown Heights. In the rest of the US, this can be a very big issue, and often is.

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  17. This is not as simple as you put it. The Israeli rabbinate concluded a potential convert with mishachist beliefs could convert. The initial beit din of four senior rabbis was split (the two hareidi rabbis said yes and the two modern orthodox rabbis said no), but R' Amar permitted it. Also, the RCA rules require Chabad communities/rabbis who want to be members to declare they are not mischachistim. A simple and delicate way to deal with this is to ask the chabad rabbi if he is an RCA member. Since the RCA oversees conversions for the Israeli rabbinate, you end up killing two birds with one stone - which may not be kosher, but will get the job done ;)

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    1. I'm unaware of this ruling from the Israeli Rabbinate. Could you provide a source for it?

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  18. The site author is absolutely correct. If you want a secure and easier conversion, and to stay converted, you have to tow the line. Do not do anything foolish to make the converting rabbis question your sincerity. Just like no chabad and no silly Rebbe talk, also no yoga, no asking about Jewish meditation, etc. Keep a lid on it for your own good. Excellent advice.

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  19. I know many people that converted with chabad rabbis. I think that if you go to Machon Chana ,like 30% are converts. Chabad doesn't do conversions, this is true, but if someone really wants to convert ,there are not barriers ( its because they have the jewish neshama trapped in their non jewish body)

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  20. see Rabbi J I Schochet's book about Moshe,Tzaddikim & HaShem, Eternal Life of Tzaddikim,
    http://www.amazon.com/Chassidic-Dimensions-Practice-Mystical-Dimension/dp/0826605303
    see Rebbe's sicha about Prophecy:
    http://www.sichosinenglish.org/books/sichos-in-english/49/20.htm
    and
    http://www.torah4blind.org/besuras/bh-37.htm
    Rebbe Blesses those who publicize he's Moshiach:
    https://sites.google.com/site/therebbeiskingmessiah/rebbe-is-messiah

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  21. If you're new to Judaism then stay away from Chabad. Stay away from Kabbalah in general. Stick to Torah and Talmud (at least til age 40). Start out with the modern Orthodox, and if that seems "too easy" then you are obviously insane and would be much happier with the Haredim. What you learned in the modern Orthodox world won't have been a "waste". If you're really, really, new to Judaism you might even want to start out Conservative, just to get a "taste" of what its all about. Avoid Reform or Liberal like the plague, its WAY more water than vodka. You may as well not even be religious at all if you're going to go that path. All the Hassidic sects have cult like elements to them of which you should be aware. Secular Jews will try and convince you that all of Orthodox Judaism is a cult. Stay true to yourself. Don't try to change your personality to become somebody that you're not. Never do something that you consider to be immoral "because the Rabbi said so". Don't immediately cut yourself off from family and friends. Don't be surprised that they are disappointed, shocked, angry, hurt, confused... This is something that you're going to have to deal with and there's no easy way around it. Know what the law actually says, what which Rabbi's instituted fences around it, when, and why. Ask questions. Argue with your teacher, and most importantly make sure that you know EXACTLY what you're signing up for when you formally accept the 613. Oh, and watch out for the unscrupulous who try to force you to sign up for expensive "conversion classes" and then more expensive "conversion classes" and then even more expensive.... This is what is commonly known as a SCAM! (no, the Jews aren't perfect angels, there is racism, there is anti-goyism, and despite the mandate to "love the convert" there is "anti-convertism". There will be snobby families who won't let their sons and daughters marry you. Deal with it).

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  22. Chabad Jews dance around the Torah just like in Moses's time. Does anyone else? They welcome EVERYONE. Does anyone else?

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