Luke Ford has a brief post on a fundraising letter signed by Chabad’s titular head Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky. The letter refers to the Rebbe – who passed away in 1994 – as if he were still alive:
“As a fund which holds deep, personal significance to the Rebbe, the participation in its efforts is indeed a privilege and a priority for each of us.”
This sentence, which explicitly refers to the deceased Rebbe in the present tense as though he were still alive (i.e., “holds” not held), is underlined in the original letter.
Think this strange? Chabad, based on extreme interpretations of some kabbalistic theology, holds that tzaddikim are "more alive" after their passing than while "clothed" in a physical body. It’s a very short jump from there to saying the Rebbe’s relationship to hasidim and the world is unchanged by his passing, and that, therefore, our relationship to the Rebbe should be unchanged. As I noted last week, this is in fact what now passes for "normative" Chabad theology.
The Rebbe himself said things like this (and worse than this) about his father-in-law, the previous rebbe, after his passing in 1950. It was, in part, these extreme and bizarre statements that propelled Menachem Mendel Schneerson into leadership and rebbe status. In other words, to quote an old Yiddish proverb, the fish stinks from its head – the problems with today’s Chabad can be traced directly to Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s behavior in 1950 and 1951.