Wednesday, November 16, 2005

N.Y.U. on the 'Rebbe'

Baltimore Jewish Times has more on N.Y.U.'s conference on the Rebbe:

R' Lamm cuts to the chase:

...Rabbi Norman Lamm, retired president of Yeshiva University, who spoke on "The Rebbe, Mysticism and Philosophy" on Tuesday, was the first to address Lubavitch messianism head-on. In speaking for the first time in public about the rebbe, there was much he lauded, asserting that "his genius lay in his exquisite combination of high intellect and his ongoing concern about each and every individual Jew, not only his own group."

But he also sharply criticized the messianic thrust that the public face of the movement seems to be increasingly taking.

"I do not believe that the rebbe thought himself to be moshiach. But I do think he considered himself a possible candidate," said Rabbi Lamm. He decried the movement's "over-emphasis on messianism" and castigated those who now say that the rebbe is the messiah but simply concealed from view.

"To continue this myth of his being moshiach is utter ridiculousness," he said. It is easy for the messianically-oriented "to distort" the rebbe's teachings and say "that the rebbe is part of the God-head. That is completely heretical and quite dangerous," he asserted. "I wonder if this distortion could and should have been aoided by responsible leadership of a movement that has not lost its vitality."

Naftali Loewenthal, in the conference's final session, ardently defended his movement from the messianists in a paper titled "Chabad, the Rebbe and the Messiah in the 21st Century."

He protested their reductionist, myopic focus and called their opponents, who run many of the movement's institutions, "the spiritual elite" of Lubavitch.

"There are attempts by moshiachists to define the rebbe as just one theme," said Loewenthal. "But even his messianic thrust was not one-dimensional."

He said "every Jew has a role to play in the quest to make the world a dwelling place for the divine." ...

..Unlike all other chasidic rebbes and fervently Orthodox rabbinic leaders who have recently banned use of the Internet, Rabbi Schneerson saw "technology as not inherently corrupting, but containing the potential to be integrated into Judaism's spiritual mission."...

Let the debate continue.

posted by Yeshiva Orthodoxy
at 2:06 PM

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