Upon Further Review

July 2, 2014

The hagiographic discussion of how the ”Rebbe’s Teachings Continue to Inspire” (June 20) omitted salient data.

First of all, despite the fact that most rabbinic commentators insist that aliyah and settlement in the Land of Israel is one of the 613 commandments, Rabbi Schneerson not only never set foot on its holy soil, but — unlike the common devotional practice of observant Jews — he is not even buried there.

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb may laud Rabbi Schneerson’s “care and concern for every Jew,” but such solicitude did not extend to Jewry’s seminal 20th-century creation, the State of Israel. Many of his followers do not sing “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem. Continuing this legacy of opposition to Zionism, in 2008, when the bodies of their emissaries were flown to Israel after the terrorist attack in Mumbai, Lubavitch protested when the coffins of the deceased were wrapped in the Israeli flag.

As regards Jewish unity, Rabbi Schneerson rejected the legitimacy  of non-Orthodox Jewish denominations (especially their clergy). Meddling in Israel’s internal affairs, Rabbi Schneerson was the behind-the-scenes mastermind of the Israeli Knesset’s 1989 “Who is a Jew?” legislation and campaign. Of local interest is the fact that this divisive enterprise was only beaten back thanks to yeoman efforts spearheaded by Baltimore communal icon Shoshana Cardin.

Lastly, as a matter of full disclosure, it should have been noted that the author of this article holds Lubavitch rabbinic ordination; and, in light of the untrimmed beard displayed in his JT “Opening Thoughts” photo, remains an adherent. Halachically, such conflict of interest would seem to fall into the category of genaivas da’as (transgressive deceit).
Rachmiel Gottlieb
Pikesville

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