Thoughts on Judaism

Friday, September 23, 2005

Are you Chabad?

The genre is spent for now, and I had restrained myself from shooting fish in a barrel. But by special request, we have a new quiz. Again, all based on actual experiences. (Toned way down for Elul.)

1) The Chabad Rebbe is

a) alive, though he is dead
b) alive and hiding in his office
c) alive and the Moshiach
d) Moshiach and hiding in his office
e) both alive and dead like Schroedinger's cat
f) either the Moshiach, a cat, or alive

2) Moshiach is coming

a) right now
b) a minute from now
c) all right, NOW!
d) How about ....... NOW!
e) Ad Mosei???!!!!

3) You have a meeting with an executive of a large client of your firm, Mr. Ed Goldstein, whom you have never met, and several other people. The next quarter of revenue rides on the results of this meeting. What should you do first?

a) Ask igros for a proper course of action. Open a random page, discern some advice and follow it as you interpret it. Expect a miracle.
b) Ask Mr. Goldstein if he is Jewish (just to make sure, you never know nowadays, with mixed marraiges). Ask everyone at the meeting if they are Jewish.
c) Assume Mr. Goldstein is Jewish and ask him to delay the meeting while you convince him to put on tefilin.
d) Ask Mr. Goldstein if his wife is Jewish. Give him candles to take home to her.
e) Hand Mr. Goldstein a L'Chaim. Tell him that the Rebbe, King Messiah forever, wants him to do good deeds. Explain to him that the Rebbe is still alive.
f) Go the Oyhel first, write a "pan". Expect a miracle. If the meeting is successful write an article for the Beis Moshiach emphasizing the obvious miraculous nature of every aspect of the meeting.

4) Where do you work?

a) your uncle's ... uh ... real estate firm
b) your uncle's camera store
c) your uncle's Chabad House
d) your uncle's diamond firm
e) your uncle's store on Kingston Avenue
f) Direct collections
g) It's off the books

5) When it rains, I

a) remove my hat
b) cover my hat with a plastic grocery bag
c) turn the front of the brim up
d) leave my hat on and wear it thereafter with the front brim at a ninety degree angle

6) Which of the following is not the name of one of your children?

a) Schneur Zalman
b) Menachem Mendel
c) Shalom DovBer
d) Chaya Mushka
e) Devora Leah
f) Yosef Yitzchak
g) Levi Yitzchak
h) Naftali Nachman

7) Your relative has just fallen ill (lo aleinu, rachmana litzlan) while visiting your home. What should you do first?

a) Write Igros and plan an emergency trip to the Oyhel. Discern an answer based on your interpretation of a random page and follow its perceived advice.
b) Call a doctor or ambulance
c) Call a homeopath, acupuncturist or naturopath
d) Find someone who sells pigeons
e) Ask the relative to check their tefilin and mezuzas when they get home.
f) Ask the relative if they truly BELIEVE in the Rebbe as Moshiach. If you suspect that they do not, make sure that you write the story for the Beis Moshiach magazine upcoming issue, with that all important fact.

8) We believe in G-d because

a) the Torah tells us it is a mitzvah
b) the Chazal tell us it is a mitzvah
c) the AriZal tells us it is a mitzvah
d) the Rebbe tells us it is a mitzvah

9) Chabad is to Judaism as __________ is to __________

a) G-d / angels
b) professor / student
c) professor / vagrant
d) king / pond scum
e) greyback / lemur
f) Babe Ruth / tee ball dropout

10) What is the most solemn ritual of the year?

a) The eating of the afikomen
b) The singing of Napolean's March and blowing Shofar after Neilah
c) Blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashana
d) Drawing of Mayim Shelanu
e) Puking up of the quart of Smirnoff Red that you consumed on Yed Tes Kislev
f) Pulling of your chaver's beard at a Chai Ellul farbrengen

11) You are driving 80 mph in a 30 zone when some stinking antisemite goy cop pulls you over on the pretext that you are speeding. You should:

a) call him what he is, an antisemite
b) imply that his zeide was a nazi
c) ask him if he is Jewish and attempt to put tefilin on him
d) explain that you have some rough friends in the city, if he knows what's good for him ... etc.
e) yell "Yechi ... Melech HaMoshiach Le'Olam Va'ed" 3 times. Expect the cop to miraculously disappear.
f) drive more slowly and less alcoholically impaired in the future, especially in the school zone you just blew through

12) When davening, one should concentrate the most kavana:

a) during krias shma
b) during Chazaras HaShatz
c) during the chanting of Yechi 3 times after laining
d) during the chanting of Yechi 3 times after aleinu
e) during the chanting of Yechi 3 times after kaddish
f) during the chanting of Yechi 3 times at any moment that the mood strikes

13) Which of the following is a Chabad custom?

a) Saying Pirkei Avos after Shabbos Mincha in the Summer
b) Naming girls "Mushka" after the Rebbetzin
c) Not making kiddush between 6 and 7 PM
d) Not wearing paiyos
e) Wearing a black Borsolino with the front brim turned down
f) Waking up at midnight to say tikun Chatzos on Thursday and preferably every day

(See teacher's key below ****)

14) What is the most important holiday of the Jewish Year?

a) Chai Elul
b) Yud Tes Kislev
c) Yud Shvat
d) Gimel Tammuz
e) Yom Kippur
f) Yud Beis Tammuz

15) Someone has written a book that implies that the Rebbe is heroic, but not perfect in every way. You should:

a) question the author's lineage
b) threaten the author's family
c) publicize that the author has been influenced by misnagdim
d) depend on the fact that much of your base education does not include the ability to read English anyway
e) pretend that the book was never written, if anyone asks about it

16) How can you best exhibit the Rebbe's mivtza of Ahavas Yisroel?

a) telling everyone about how much ahavas Yisroel you have
b) inviting everyone over to get drunk ... er ... I mean "farbreng"
c) telling everyone how little ahavas yisroel the misnagdim have
d) telling everyone how little ahavas yisroel the Satmar have
e) telling everyone how the misnagdim learn only for self aggrandizement and can never understand basic tenets of faith without chasidus
f) telling everyone that only a follower of the Rebbe can have TRUE ahavas yisroel

17) Which of the following is not a mivtza of the Rebbe?

a) buying Jewish books
b) ahavas yisroel
c) lighting ner chanuka
d) tefilin and mezuza
e) compulsory Vodka consumption
f) erecting large billboards that declare the Rebbe to be the Messiah
g) raising money from wealthy intermarried lawyers that you personally disrespect, but are willing to court becuase you depend on them financially.
h) Jewish education
i) yelling Yechi during and after davening, and at crisis moments

18) How much knowledge of Torah do misnagdim have?

a) none, zilch, nada
b) less than nothing, they are practically goyim
c) anything they learn is poisoned with their hashkafa
d) zol zei gein in drerd! Chab zei in bahd! Rotten Snags!
e) they have a few sayings, but no true emunas chachamim without the Rebbe MHM
f) they are too busy "learning" to have any knowledge
g) they do not know the last two perakim of Rambam, the only pre-Chabad Torah ever worth discussing

19) What is the best indicator of how frum a person is?

a) he does not eat gebrachts on Pesach
b) he wears a proper hat
c) he does not use the eruv on Shabbos
d) he eats only Chabad shchita
e) (s)he uses only a Jewish name, like Mendy or Mushka or Zlota
f) he puts on Rebenu Tam tefilin
g) he eats only bishul yisroel potato chips
h) s(he) doesn't trim his (her) beard

20) Is the Rebbe Moshiach?

a) Yes of course
b) It is proven in Rambam and Navi'im
c) Shhhhh, don't say that
d) Many sources point to the prophecies of Moshiach and one who examines the life of the Rebbe might well conclude ... zzzzzzzz
e) Is the Pope Catholic?
f) What of all the miracles he did and prophecies he said? (The Rebbe, not the Pope.)
g) Lalalalalalalala, I can't hear you!

Teacher's key
13. F (This custom is documented in Tanya. None of the others are documented customs of Chabad.)
B is incorrect, as the Rebbetzin was not (clearly) called Mushka, but Moussia or Musenka.


  • I wanted to write that isn't it sad that so many normal Lubavitchers look terrible because of a few crazy wing nut BTs. But thinking it over, I have decided to write that isn't it sad that a small, teeny-weeny portion of normal Lubavitchers look terrible because of the overwhelming majority of BT wing nuts that comprise the movement ?

    By Anonymous onionsoupmix, at 9:36 AM  

  • It's silly how much hate for a fellow Jew you can have. Granted the guys who think the rebbe was the one and only Moshiach are mistaken in my viewpoint there is no reason to chastize them. Additionally, based on your feelings towards Chabad I doubt you've ever lived in one of their communities else you'd be more educated. I've lived near 3 Chabad communities (home, college, work) and visited countless otehrs on road trips. The majority are sane, open minded, kind, intelligent, and do not believe the Rebbe was the Moshiach (though they recognize he was a great leader). It's a small number (though very vocal) who claim he is alive and the moshiach, plus they aren't even really Chabad. For proof look up the main website and look up the main website of the King Moshiach Chabad guys, both sites "called Chabad" list different rabbis and centers around the world (with differences in the same city). Soon you'll probably see a split in the organziation. Regardless, though I disagree with a lot of "modern Judaism" and with the Rebbe Moshiach groups, etc I don't think it is right to chastize fellow Jews in the slightest.


    By Blogger Adam Epstein, at 10:41 AM  

  • " I don't think it is right to chastize fellow Jews in the slightest."

    Odd, given the content of your comment.

    However, I assure that this was purely satire and hyperbole. I am well aware of the Chabadscape. Assure yourself, I have nothing particularly against Chabad that overfamiliarity does not allow.

    I have to agree with onionsoupmix, though. The "Rebbe is alive" theology is OFFICIAL. The Moshiachists are not at all a minority, except amongst the shluchim that fear how much cold water it pours on fundraising. It is not only BT wingnutters. There are plenty of FFBs and kiruvistim involved.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 11:57 AM  

  • The majority are sane, open minded, kind, intelligent, and do not believe the Rebbe was the Moshiach (though they recognize he was a great leader). It's a small number (though very vocal) who claim he is alive and the moshiach, plus they aren't even really Chabad.

    I would like to establish my credentials before fervently disagreeing with the above statement. My husband is a fully accreditted chabadnick and all of the shuls I have ever belonged to were chabad. For the last 20 years. Most people in my community would consider me lubavitch. Although I would not consider myself that way at all. And now for the disagreement - with all due respect adam, you have not been involved with enough chabad people. Peace and love-onion

    By Anonymous onionsoupmix, at 12:49 PM  

  • Rebel, I am impressed that you saw fit to tone it down in honor of Elul. (I can only imagine what it was like before...). The question is asked though; although your wit sarcasm was proven once again, what has been gained?

    Questions 1 and 2 in particular (more so 2), I simply fail to understand. Most every practicing Jew says daily אף על פי שיתמהמה עם כל זה אחכה לו בכל יום שיבוא. The Rebbe dared take this a step further and demand that we actually mean it. What exactly are you poking fun at? It looks like you are exhibiting "real" understanding, you know; yeah, we say it, but we all know it's not happening anytime soon (aside from those nutty Chabad people...)
    Most of the above goes for your Charedi posts as well. This can be funny within limits, but at some point, one simply shakes his head and says: Nit shein.

    By Blogger Nathan, at 1:29 PM  

  • OSM
    What I find remarkable is how many of the most ardent nutters were not even around when the Chabad Rebbe ztl was alive.

    Why do you consider yourself any less Chabadnik than others consider you? What is it that makes you NOT CHABAD?
    (Answer by email, if you prefer,

    "(aside from those nutty Chabad people...)"

    I cannot put it any better than the Rebbe himself. At a lag b'omer farbrengen in 1988, the Rebbe asked 770 to sing "We want Moshiach Now". They complied for over 1.5 hours. At that point the Rebbe said "at some point someone has to say ad kan hakafa alef". He was talking to a room full of Chabadniks.

    I think it is healthy to point out hypocracy in things like ahavas yisrael, bitul and the tendency to backburner the other 12 ikarim. I think most Lubavitchers from onionsoupmix's (and my) generation would laugh at my post and realize that we sometimes do things by rote and they lead us down a negative path without intention. I did a Chabad shtick here, because 3 different Chabadniks felt that Chabad deserved its own post, after I did the others.

    What was it like before?
    Over 50 questions, with references to particular incidents, and I was ROTFL.

    What was gained?
    I was ROTFL.

    PS nathan, you must know by now that I bear no particular animosity to the Chabad Rebbe ztl nor to Chabadniks in general. Why are you so miffed when they are the target of legitimate "criticism"?

    K'Vch T LShT'uM

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 5:32 PM  

  • Upon further examination, nathan, your comment deserves one other comment. The rate at which the theosophy of Charadim, Chabad at the head of them, and the right wing of fundamentalist Orthotocracy are making frei people out of frum people is "Nit Shein", not my shining a little light of levity on it.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 6:47 PM  

  • It's great to see you have so much time on your hands to look at other people's issues not everyone is perfect and we see an example of that from you so if you are that board and have nothing to do in your "busy" life open any safer and learn something for once and then (hopefully) moshiach will come!!

    By Blogger James, at 1:07 AM  

  • Rebel, please do not take me to mean that what you are poking fun at is "shein". Nor do I abhor some poking fun, especially when it does the job of exposing that which needs to be exposed better than any other means (I noted the new face of your "About Me"). Some Gedolei Yisroel are famous for using their wit and sarcasm even in the realm of Halacha, notably the Brisker Rav.

    However, I do believe that if the goal is indeed not just poking fun for the sake of ROTFL, but constructive to some degree, then it will of necessity be within some limits.

    When we are discussing things that a Torah-true Jew is obligated to believe and feel to the full 100%, and it is only human nature that precludes us from doing so, then there is a very fine line between laughing at the hypocrisy that arises when we fail in this. For He who demands of us to act/think/feel a certain way, does so with the full understanding that it is extremely difficult. We can only try.

    That is why I found question 2 to be singularly distasteful. For the same reason, I personally try - whenever it does not get ludicrous to the EXTREME - not to poke fun at traditionally "snag" initiatives such as "Shmeeras HaLashone" and the like, despite their getting similarly hypocritical all too often.

    I certainly understand that you mean no real offence. BTW, I confess that I would love to read the original, if you can/would email it to me; hypocrisy be damned. :)

    By Blogger Nathan, at 11:41 AM  

  • this is sick and sad do you have nothing better to write?
    your good friend

    By Blogger Mehallel, at 9:13 PM  

  • Every single Lubavitcher kniws with full g=faith that the Rebbe, zy"a is Moshiach. We are only actively anticipating "V'hikitzu v'raninu" and then will be the hisgalus of the our dera Rebbe.

    For yourself, what are you gaining wasting your life away. Do a mizvah and bring Moshiach one step closer. Ad mosai?!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:28 PM  

  • "That is why I found question 2 to be singularly distasteful."

    Try though I may, I cannot see why this is offensive.

    Same point to you moshiachman. What makes this "sick" or "sad"?

    Both of you and anon, answer honestly. Did you feel the same about my previous few posts, or are we so consumed in partisanship?

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 10:57 PM  

  • "Why do you consider yourself any less Chabadnik than others consider you? What is it that makes you NOT CHABAD?
    (Answer by email, if you prefer,"

    I don't believe in most of the chabad stuff anymore. Most especially, I don't really agree with many things in the Tanya, the bible of chabad. The only reason people do consider me chabad is b/c my husband labels himself (and by automatic extension, our family) that way and the shul he goes to is chabad, etc. Read my user profile for a brief bio.

    By Anonymous onionsoupmix, at 11:29 PM  

  • OSM

    I ask because I find myself in much the same boat. My problem is less with the Tanya and more with the whole concept of monomonasticism, human infallibility and the propensity toward magic and silliness, in the name of mysticism.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 12:03 AM  

  • I'll tell you why it;s offensive rebel. We get crap from everyone already. Go pick on a group your own size. Or create one, like the Creedmoorer.

    By Anonymous hmmm, at 8:41 AM  

  • hmmm



    A stream of tears. Seriously, do the Chabadniks of today consider themselves victims of the evil misnagdim, who hate them, while they do nothing to provocative. I suppose that it part of the culture.

    Tell you what. I am certainly not a Chabad hater, though I find their pecularities (especially in philosophy) as entertaining as any in the Jewish world. Next post will be on objectively laudable stuff that Chabad does, without being a brochure. I will try to stay away from backhanded slaps too, though, being human, I make no promises.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 9:11 AM  

  • a) monomonasticism = ?

    b) karmic balance requires "Are You a Secular Jew?"


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:36 AM  

  • Monomonasticism is the tendency to follow one particular sect or leader, 100%. It is technically redundant (monastic from "mono"), but in recent times, the mainstream in orthodox Judaism is multiple leaders.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 4:03 PM  

  • hhmmm... and Moses? was just one of many leaders - he said 'listen to me! oh go on then - listen to the others - i don't mind!' - look Rebel - i found your chabad thingy funny - but saying things so dogmaticly really isn't very smart. there's nothing wrong in people blindly following one leader - in fact if Chabad actually did it - the world might be a slighter better place. The problem with your 'Monomonastic' comment is that it shows you no very little about how Chabad really works - although there might be superfically a curtain level of conformity - if you get down to it - Chabad as a movement has as many different oppinions as there are 'Chabadniks'. Everyone has there own 'Rebbe' - who they follow - its called 'Alter Ego'.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:06 PM  

  • Anon

    "there's nothing wrong in people blindly following one leader"

    Provided the leader is entirely infallible, that may be so. However, being that Jesus is fictional in my view, we are hard pressed to find a nonfictional infallible human. Blind adherence leads to abandonment of common sense and good judgement. While that can be benign for a while, it almost always goes astray at some point.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 7:54 PM  

  • Sorry, too diplomatic

    It ALWAYS goes astray at some point.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 7:54 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger chabadlover, at 4:03 PM  

  • Not to get on a discussion defending Chabad, though beleive me I have unfortunately had to be in plenty of those after meeting up with hatred and antagonism, I just wanna ask you one small request. I'm sure there are plenty of things to laugh out when it comes to Chabad. We like to do things differently for better or for worse. But honestly these jokes are disrespectful for the Rebbe. Whatever you want to say about the Chabad Chassidim there is something that is undisputable: the Rebbe was a holy man, a leader that changed the world as we know it. PLEASE treat his name and his honor with the respect that it deserves.

    By Blogger wandering, at 9:55 PM  

  • I grew up in Crown Heights (Stoliner, not Lubavitcher)and I always wondered. Why is it that childless couples flocked to the Rebbe o'h to get a bracha for children, when the Rebbe and his wife weren't too successful themselves? It also bothered me that a man who espoused ahavas yisroel as his raison d'etre felt himself too heilig to have physical contact with other Jews!

    And the wacked out hero worship existed long before any ba'alei teshuva came on the scene. Where did you think the BTs got those crazy ideas? My father o'h used to go to the RaYatz obm and when the Rebbe took over, my father would complain about how the atmosphere changed.

    Kol Tuv

    By Blogger Shlomo, at 11:38 AM  

  • Yes, SLA, it was difficult having the Rebbe so far removed that one was unable to achieve yechidus except by pshetlach. It seems that only those able to pony up for Machne Yisroel had instant access. However, the Rebbe had many more followers than his father in law. Something practical had to happen.

    By Blogger Rebeljew, at 6:52 PM  

  • I found a website that I think could shed a lot of light on all this.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:51 PM  

  • I must say you are very talented. its a "shod" you don't use your talent for doing good deeds (yes, like the lubavitcher in the meeting... you don't have to talk in the name of the rebbe, you can talk in the rambam's name!!! and you can bring moshiach even, if you believe in him - and even if not

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:10 PM  

  • Your questionnaire was hilarious. Haven’t had such a good laugh for a long time. You are making a difference (like all BT’s) just by being part of the frum community. We (BT’s) have a unique perspective on things. The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe actually wrote that what is going to bring Moshiach are the “waves of BT’s”. It’s true that we had mesiras nefesh giving up all the symbols of power that we had – family, profession, wealth- for our ideals. And paradoxically these are the things that we see as being symbols of status in the frum community. We could have held onto these things but ours was a choice for spiritual truths. I suppose that the sort of doubts mentioned in the blog articles are a continuation of that battle of the spiritual over the material. And it’s OK to be engaging in that battle. It’s OK to kvetch and not be in denial of that internal battle. Isn’t that battle what it’s all about according to Tanya? Even the Patriarchs, Matriarchs and Moses had their struggles. It wasn’t plain sailing for them either. But don’t despair. Hold onto hope, optimism, gratitude and faith. All the knocks and bumps along the way are a communication to us from none other than G-d.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:15 PM  

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