David Berger On The 770 Court Decision

Steven I. Weiss has Rabbi Dr. David Berger’s take on the recent 770 court decision. Dr. Berger is unsure of what to make of it and he prefers to wait and see what the practical results are. That was my reaction when I saw the decision last week, and it’s why I have not posted anything on it until now.

Dr. Berger has a litmus test of sorts – will Rabbi Krinsky remove messianic signs and banners from the building, inside and out? Will he ban messianic practices like making rows of honor after prayer for the late Rebbe to "walk" through? Or will the status quo remain?

The theology of the Krinsky "anti-messianist" faction and the overt messianists is the same. It is only the practical ideology,
their public actions, that differ. Both believe the late Rebbe is the
messiah. Both believe the late Rebbe answers prayers directed to him
and "dispenses" advice to those who ask for it. It is only publicizing
the late Rebbe’s "messianic status" that causes disagreement.

As a commenter on Canonist points out, the real test is not whether the Krinsky faction removes messianic signs from the building and bans overt messianic practice inside. The real test is whether Chabad followers remove questionable messianic theology from their hearts.   



Filed under Chabad Theology

13 responses to “David Berger On The 770 Court Decision

  1. Paul Freedman

    you’re the only person I know who claims Krinsky is a Messichist–bavakasah, no unsourced resort to your self-asserted inside expertise which always turns out to be a variant of “everybody knows that…” one view I’ve read has been that the organizational center has exploited the concensus of LR’s exceptionalism to preserve itself from replacement by a charismatic successor (w/out however actually signing on to the is-coulda-woulda-shoulda-been Messianic ideology that superficially permits their legitimacy as institutional successors)–i.e. it’s institutional politics with these guys not dogma per se.

  2. I know Yudel Krinsky personally. I’ve known him for more than 20 years. I was INSIDE Chabad. You have claimed many times not to be Orthodox and are by your own admission an outsider looking in:

    1. Krinsky has never said that the Rebbe is not the messiah.

    2. Krinsky has never said that the Rebbe could not be the messiah.

    3. Krinsky has never condemned or publicly censored those who openly claim the Rebbe answers their prayers and gives them advice.

    4. Krinsky okayed the first attack of Rabbi Dr. David Berger. He has never distanced himself or Chabad from that or any subsequent attacks.

    The “leader” of Chabad has NEVER condemned or distanced himself from Chabad messianism. He opposes the meshichistin (public messianists) on POLITICAL grounds, largely because they hurt his fundraising and challenge his leadership.

  3. There are many other who do agree with my position on the POLITICS of Chabad messianism.

    One quick example would be the author of YudelKrinsky.com.

    Try asking Avrum Ehrlich or Max Kohanzad.

  4. Paul Freedman

    Shmarya–Your insider status or not (it’s debated) you have undoubtedly made claims that have NOT proven true–talks you claim were Elohist that were not Elohist, OK?

    Once again you INFER FROM A NEGATIVE–this is my very point–what Krinsky has NOT done can mean several different things: you convert INACTIVITY AGAINST MESSICHISTIIM INTO MESSICHIST IDEOLOGY (oppositional only because it wants to be esoteric only).

    My personal background and the lack of my bona fides or your claim of cultural feel can turn this inference from a negative into telling us anything one way or another about what makes SK tic. The discussion on TA’s site on this indicates that many (insiders) don’t count him as Messichist.

    FYI: I got the paradigm of Krinsky as ideology free religious-bureaucratic politician dovka from Ehrlich’s last book in the first place.

    Ehrlich’s thesis appears to be that SK precisely TOLERATES meshicistism as a general concept of the Rebbe’s irreplaceable status because that HELPS his leadership.

    That’s what I’m saying.

  5. Well, you’d better give Ehrlich a call.

    If you mean that, all things being equal, YK (NOT SK) would come out against all messianism and declare the Rebbe is not and cannot be the messiah, all I can answer to that is:

    1. How do you (or anyone else) know that?

    2. We can only deal with the facts as we have them. YK has never opposed messianism, only open displays of it.

    3. As for learning from a negative, look at it like this: Jews build a Golden Calf because they believe Moshe died. This is rank idol worship. Moshe comes back down the mountain and sees this. If Moses does not clearly and publicly condemn the cult of the Golden Calf, what should be inferred? that he really *privately* opposes idol worship but, for various reasons now remains silent?

    4. Your answer is either that he’s using the messianism, which he personally does not believe in, to his own ends – to strengthen his leadership by focusing attention on the Rebbe and not on a successor.

    5. Another possible explanation is that YK doesn’t have a strong enough base to stand up.

    6. Either way, the Golden Calf dominates Lubavitch.

    7. Halakha judges by actions – or lack there of – not by thoughts, because we cannot judge another persons inner thoughts. Therefore, not speaking out can and should be judged.

    Show this to Ehrlich and see what he says.

  6. Paul Freedman

    Shmarya–thanks for the response–as for 1. I am only saying that we really don’t know the inner workings of SK–what (or if) he believes, as opposed to the thesis that *ideology* of the SK faction is not-for-public-display-Messianism.

    You suggest in 2-3 that by analogy to the Golden Calf you have warrant to argue from a negative–that “private” disavowal doesn’t match the facts–I think that is something to think about for sure–keeping in mind the shades and nuances of Chabad “messianism” and the arguments on the topic itself as to whether Mendelian “Messianism” of any sort per se is idol worship.

    but you concede, for sake of argument my suggestion of 4 or even 5–I took Ehrlich to have stated 4 in his discussion on transition in the Messiah of Brooklyn.

    My disagreement is in claiming a definite and known emunah for SK and his collegial intimates (guys on his level of authority).

    take a look at TA’s site and the discussion now going on as to the court decision and also as to who does or does not say yechi and what it means in TA’s post on the failure of nerve of the NLR.

  7. Paul Freedman

    YK not SK–my borot

  8. Tzfania

    R. Y. Krinsky has not “distanced” himself from Christianity, Islam, Buddism etc. He doe not have to!

  9. Paul Freedman

    Tzfania: Christian services are not held in 770.


  10. Paul Freedman

    Tzfania: OK, I get it.

  11. vanner

    same can be said about 99.999999999999999% of world’s population.

    does this make them meshichisten?

  12. Paul Freedman

    vanner–Shmarya’s point (avoda zara to one side) is that Messianic doctrine and practices were ongoing within K’s sphere of authority and that he only moved to limit certain public displays–if he was opposed to Messianism he would have said something. Myself, I don’t know what the guy thinks.

  13. Paul Freedman

    excuse me, would have said something or, even if tactics suggested caution, SHOULD have said something, either way, etc.

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