Chabad

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Menachem Mendel Schneerson in 1987
Mazel tov!
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Chabad (Hebrew: חב"ד‎), also known as Lubavitch or Chabad Lubavitch, is a large sect of Hasidic (Ultra-Orthodox) Judaism. Followers (known as Chabadniks) believe their late Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was the promised "Mosiach", even though he didn't do anything the Jewish Messiah is supposed to do before his death. This is still okay because, of course, the good Rebbe will be coming back to finish the job any day now... any day now. Just you wait.

In the interim, Chabadniks believe that the Rebbe is still spiritually present with them, so if they perform rituals for him, he will work miracles in their lives. They are also big into doing "kiruv" (outreach) to unaffiliated Jews in the hopes that they will join them, and to this end have set up Chabad Houses staffed with their rabbis everywhere from Anchorage to Auckland. When humans land on Mars, rumour has it a Chabad House will be there to greet them.

Now, don't let the whole end-times messianic gobbledygook and aggressive proselytizing fool you, Chabad is completely, 110%Christ-- err, Jewish. Absolutely nothing questionable about the fact that they worship a dead guy, even though Judaism prohibits idol worship. Not at all. Well, actually more than a few Jews consider it a cult, even akin to Mormonism, especially since those who try to leave are often shunned.[1][2][3][4]

Etymology[edit]

Chabad is an acronym formed from three separate Hebrew words - Chokmâh (חכמה, 'wisdom'), Binah (בינה, 'understanding'), and Da'at (חכמה, 'knowledge'). The name Lubavitch derives from the Russian town in which the now-dominant line of leaders resided from 1813 to 1915.

Beep![edit]

In the early 1990s, the use of beepers (pagers) was popular among the Chabad, so as to be alerted of the exact moment when Menachem Mendel Schneerson was about to die and turn into the Messiah.[5][6]

Outreach[edit]

Since 1951, Chabad began conducting large-scale outreach to unaffiliated Jews around the world, establishing synagogues and "Chabad centres" in countries around the world. These centres can be found in remote areas such as Noumea, New Caledonia,[7] where we can safely say there are very few Jews. However, these centres accommodate Jewish tourists.

Chabad's website is also one of the largest websites dealing in Jewish theology, beliefs and rituals, which creates an interesting scenario in which the main source of information on a diverse faith such as Judaism comes from one of its most fundamentalist sects.

Divisions[edit]

Chabad is split between "Moderate" and "Fundamentalist" factions, in particular over Chabad Messianism. Fundamentalists believe that the Rebbe himself is still alive and the messiah, though he died in 1994 at the age of 92. Moderates within the movement refute this claim, while still believing that the Messiah is inevitable. The tensions between these factions have led to various splits within Chabad, and the issue is quite controversial.[8]

Education[edit]

In 1978, the Rebbe's birthday, 11 Nissan on the Hebrew Calendar, was recognized as "Education Day USA". Schneerson supported the creation of the Department of Education, and believed that Education built a strong emphasis on moral and ethical values. He also believed in promoting a just world, and human rights for all people. While generally accommodating to Orthodox views on women, as he was no feminist, he broke with tradition and taught Torah to women and girls. He encouraged Women to speak their mind and to learn, believing it to be for the greater good.[9] [10]

External Links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Is Lubavitch/Chabad a Cult? frumless's Blog: beauty of living an unorthodox life
  2. Manny Waks: I'm the 'troublemaker' who blew the whistle on Jewish abuse scandal. Manny Waks is still living with the impact of years of abuse inside Australia’s Yeshivah centres. Before he can reclaim his life, he says, more people must resign in the wake of the child sex abuse royal commission by Melissa Davey (February 2015 22.51 EST) The Guardian.
  3. It can be done without Chabad by Sam Green (September 29, 2009) New Voices.
  4. A Jewish Family's Experience with the Cult called Chabad (April 27, 2007 07:16AM) Cult Education Institute.
  5. Group uses beeper to watch for Messiah
  6. The beepers were to alert his followers when he was able to be seen on the balcony of his hospital room. They nicknamed it a moshiach beeper but they had no intention of it being the 1st response to the Moshiach.
  7. Chabad New Caledonia
  8. Divisions within Chabad-Lubavitch
  9. Education is the Cornerstone of Humanity - The Rebbe
  10. Putting Women in the Picture - Susan Handelman