Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Orthodox Jews Desperately Need to Learn How to Communicate for Public Consumption

posted by David Klinghoffer

That’s the simple lesson from the Rabbi Manis Friedman affair, which, if you haven’t looked into it, you’re probably better off. What on earth was he thinking? It will blow over quickly, but what a bad day for Chabad. And what a strange day when I find myself agreeing with the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman. What was Moment magazine, a very mainstream publication, thinking in publishing Rabbi Friedman? Yet the funny thing is that I know from his admirers, among whom my wife counts herself, that he’s a riveting and illuminating speaker.

This is why I often feel like Don Quixote trying to remind Jews of our mission as a Kingdom of Priests. Sigh.


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Larry Lennhoff

posted June 4, 2009 at 10:28 am


So you think there is nothing wrong with Rabbi Freidman thinking these things, just in his saying them where non-Jews can hear? That certainly seems to be what you are saying above – you don’t ever explicitly say that he is wrong in his beliefs,



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David Klinghoffer

posted June 4, 2009 at 1:59 pm


Grover, actually I don’t know what Manis Friedman had in mind — I’m sure it’s not Amalek, as you suppose. It’s really not worth the effort that exegesis would require. He wrote utterly without thought, and that is my point. As for the idea that Chassidic Judaism, or Chabad in particular, isn’t Judaism — absurd.



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DML

posted June 4, 2009 at 2:19 pm


I have to agree with the other three posts. Genocidal fantasies should not be expressed internally or externally, anytime. Manis Friedman’s remarks should be firmly and clearly condemned, even if that means rocking the boat.



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DavidF

posted June 4, 2009 at 2:38 pm


I am surely not Rabbi Friedman’s press agent and I believe that DK is correct to argue that a press agent is precisely what Orthodoxy clearly needs.
The entire controversy is very revealing. We live in a political climate where a leftist can make mistake after mistake and all is forgiven. It is simply astonishing the degree to which Obama and his henchmen can blunder there way through all kinds of controversies and remain unscathed. Hence, we have Robert Gibbs explaining away all kinds of remarks made by Obama, the radical Sotomoyer, Joe Biden, etc. Perhaps no one even knows that Hillary Clinton gave Russia an “explosive” gift that was meant to indicate the very opposite she intended. It is all too easy to understand that if Sarah Palin or some conservative had made such an error–their careers would be finished.
In context and in retrospect, Mannis Friedman has been undiplomatic but his remarks are not especially controversial.
I will happily agree with what Rabbi Friedman said since it gets to the heart of the Arab Israeli dispute. Part of the reason why we live at a time when people commonly speak about the end of the state of Israel and the rise in anti-semitism which is now all over the globe where Muslims live to incite it–is because the Jewish people have taken such a passive and submissive response.
All Rabbi Friedman is implying is that some push-back would clearly help. And this kind of self-defense is clearly in tune with normative Jewish values. Perhaps part of the negative response he has garnered is more a testimony to the problem of passivity than it is some supposed dark side of the Jewish mind which somehow seeks to promote violence. Rabbi Friedman clearly stands for peace and non-violence.
I believe that his point stands tall that as long as Israel refuses to put on the table the possibility of the destruction of Islamic holy sites–Islam is emboldened to continue to believe their patience with a Jewish homeland is paying off and they, Islam, will emerge victorious.
By contrast, when an American President refuses to take nuclear options off the table–do Americans (I am speaking of sensible ones and not the fringe kooks) really believe it is the expressed will of the President that America drop nuclear bombs on our enemies? Even the radical Obama has not dropped our nuclear threat.
Therefore, please cool this hysteria about the very fine, moderate, kindly Mannis Friedman.



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DML

posted June 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm


“(Even the cattle)” – Sounds like Amalek to me. If not, then its the semantic equivalent of genocide. How much cool-aid would you have to drink to not have a problem with Friedman’s remark?



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DavidF

posted June 4, 2009 at 3:59 pm


My improved version of my posting above was lost after this initial one was lost. Then when I posted the improved positing–the old one appeared to take its place. Obviously, my computer skills are not excellent.
From Tzvi Freeman (perhaps the finest mind in Chabad)–here is an additional clarification:
Yet, even here, the Rebbe noted that the dictum does not say that you must actually kill anyone, only that you must be ready to do so. They said, “Rise early to kill him,” he pointed out, not, “Rise early and kill him.” If you show that you are ready to attack first, there will be no need for such. The emphasis in all these matters was on psychological warfare first: Act weak, and all are placed in danger. Show you are strong and no one will be hurt. Again, what was the consideration? Simply the protection of life.
Indeed, the Rebbe expressed his concern over the loss of Arab lives on several occasions. For example, a month after the talk cited earlier, the Rebbe spoke again about security and defense in Israel. Again he declared that those who proposed relinquishing territory were endangering the inhabitants. With strong, secure borders, the Rebbe asserted, there would be no need for war.



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yonason

posted June 4, 2009 at 5:43 pm


RE – grover’s slander of Chabad…
As I understand it, when the Rebbe talks about “good” he means Torah and Mitzvot. Saying Gentile don’t have that isn’t to put them down, but to make us appreciate what we have, that they don’t, yet. And the sooner we do, the sooner Gentiles will be able to have access to it so they can begin improving themselves spiritually.
What the Rebbe said…
http://www.sichosinenglish.org/books/letters-rebbe-1/53.htm
…and ending with…
“The maamar entitled Vichol Banaiech, Likkutei Torah, Devarim, p. 30b, states that in the Future, even the gentile nations will be refined, for “I will remove the spirit of impurity from the earth” (Zechariah 13:2).”
But, for now they are “swallowed up” by the Klipos. And can there be any doubt, given the nonsense they believe, and the evil they have committed? It’s only by being honest concerning their impoverished status that they will be able to correct it. You know, you first have to admit you have a problem,…
http://www.coxandforkum.com/archives/000504.html
…before you can fix it.
And usually when someone slanders the good, it’s to justify their own errors, and one can often tell what their problem is by the falsehoods they tell about the good that they hate (psychologists call it “projection”). Comprendete, grover?
On a positive note, every Yom Kippur we are to be inspired to Teshuvah by learning the book of Jonah, whom G-d sent to a Gentile city, the repentance of which was accepted. If Gentiles were mere animals, that would not make any sense.



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yonason

posted June 4, 2009 at 6:03 pm


PS, grover, who is Rabbi Schacht?



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yonason

posted June 4, 2009 at 6:28 pm


HEADING OFF THE LYNCH MOB
I don’t know why anyone objects to what is said in the Tanya, based on what they THINK the Nations will be offended by in it (as the spies were afraid to enter the land, because of what they THOUGHT the Nations thought of them?).
The Alter Rebbe, who wrote Tanya, was arrested by the Tsarists, and thoroughly questioned about EVERYTHING anyone thought was objectionable. Not only was he released, but Russia then assisted him in spreading Chassidus.
The Rebbe Rayatz was also arrested, this time by the Communists (because of the slander of non-observant Jews at that time), and also forced to answer questions about the same passages in Tanya, and others in the Talmud. Again, he was also released, despite the intention of the Frie Yiddin who wanted him dead.
Now there are those who, ignorant of history, raise the same objections, as if they are credible. They are not!
You reveal more about your own prejudices and fears than you do about reality, and are an embarrassment, because you try to pass yourselves off as knowledgeable. You are not!
Please get your facts BEFORE you speak/write…
http://www.sichosinenglish.org/audio/heritage/
http://www.sichosinenglish.com/books/prince-in-prison/03.htm
… and stop making things up.
Thank you.



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David Klinghoffer

posted June 4, 2009 at 6:34 pm


I think Grover is probably referring to Rav Shach, but his inability even to spell the name correctly doesn’t fill me with confidence that the side-splitting quip is authentically sourced. I’ve heard it before from others. Not that it matters.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elazar_Shach



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yonason

posted June 4, 2009 at 7:33 pm


Thanks, DK, for the reference, and yes grover is probably just quoting from something that he read, but doesn’t understand, that supports his “views.”
Rav Soleveitchik was very close to Chabad, as were many other Great Sages. Just look for the smile! So, just because one Sage has a problem with the Messianic message of Chabad proves nothing.
And, as I write this, I was listening to THIS, and realize I have to “fix” the way I respond to some of these commenters, and their errors.
Regards



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yonason

posted June 4, 2009 at 7:37 pm


DK, when you have time, could you please approve my comments that are awaiting it, except for the very first that I corrected in a later post.
Thanks.



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Anon

posted June 4, 2009 at 10:12 pm


Your article on Rambam and war came close to advocating the same kinds of things that Rabbi Friedman said, though you did it in a more indirect and subtle way:
http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-klinghoffer032803.asp
I agree that Orthodox Jews need a better media strategy. This is really important when it comes to settlements. It’s really absurd how the whole world seems to feel so sure the settlements are the main obstacle to peace and must be stopped, despite the sheer incredulity of this argument. The settlers should be trying to make their case to the world; the Israel National News website is not enough. If they have the resources to run two political parties that get seats in the Knesset (Home of the Jew and National Union), then they should also try to use their resources to make their case to the world. And they do have good arguments, that need to be heard. But it’s also understandable that they’ve given up on that, given the worldwide irrational hatred against Israel.



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LazerA

posted June 5, 2009 at 3:08 pm


Grover,
Personally, I have serious concerns about modern Chabad and believe it is developing in very dangerous directions.
At the same time, I think that the statement made by Manis Friedman is, at best, only tangentially connected to the problems going on at Chabad (although there may be a reason why Zionist messianists and Chabad messianists tend to use the same kind of inflammatory language. I don’t know where Friedman stands on the specific meshichist issue in Chabad but the entire Chabad movement has clearly developed an extraordinarily strong messianic bend.
As for your specific concern about the apparent racism in the Tanya, you are simply barking up the wrong tree except, possibly, in one sense, which I will explain shortly. The fact is that the Tanya, like all works in its category (i.e. classic Chasidic texts from the 18th century) is fundamentally a deep kabalistic work based upon the premises of Lurianic kabala. This is an extraordinarily technical field which uses extraordinarily precise terms and definitions when discussing spiritual concepts. These discussions are almost never directly translatable into English without a substantive commentary. (For example, there are several different terms for soul in Hebrew (???, ???, ????, ????) each of which is understood to refer to different aspects of the spiritual make-up of a human being, each of which is, itself, subject to further division.
When this issue came up in the news about six months ago, I made the following note on a blog discussing the topic. It is rather technical and uses a good bit of Hebrew. I assume, given the fact that you apparently feel perfectly confident in condemning a classic Chassidic text, that you have the ability to understand what I have written here and to follow up the relevant citations. If not, then you are simply not qualified to have an opinion:

The Kabalistic idea that ???? do not possess a ???? is not as radical or racist as it sounds given that Kabalistic doctrine teaches the same regarding most Jews as well. Thus, for example, many kabalisticly oriented siddurim (e.g. ??? ????, ??? ?????) include the following note as a preface to ???? ????:
???? ?????? ??”? ???? ?”? ???? ????? ????? ?????? ????’ ??? ??? ????? ??”? ??? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ??? ??? ???? ?? ??? ???? ?????? ?????”? ??”? ??? ??? ????? ???? ??”?
(Also see similar notes in Siddur HaGaonim v’ha’Mekubalim and the Siddur Kol Yakov.)
I think the main point to take from this is that when kabalistic texts speak of the ???? they are doing so in exceedingly technical terms and interpreting such concepts in simple terms will cause no end of trouble.
(Incidentally, given that ????? ????? is apparently acheived primarily through the proper recognition of God (????? ????, ????? ?:??), this would explain why the Jewish people, as a whole, are said to possess a ???? as opposed to ????. (See ??? ????, ???? ?:??)
This would also explain why we find sources that indicate that ????? ??? the ???? will also be considered ???? ????? (e.g. ????? ?????, ???? ?:??), as the status of ???? ????? is closely related to the concept of ???? (e.g. ?????? ?????, ???? ?:??).)



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yonason

posted June 7, 2009 at 1:59 am


GROVER’S TAILS
“The TANYA makes it clear: Gentiles have the souls of animals, not human beings….”
If so, then no gentile would ever be allowed to convert to Judaism, and some of our greatest Jews have been converts.
http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112286/jewish/Onkelos.htm
“Darwinism makes it clear: Humans are just an accident of nature, and have no soul at all…”
Nu? Show me your “outrage.” Or do you just save your righteous indignation for when you think you can slander a Jew?
Besides, Grover’s quote is a lie. I gave him the reference with the correct quote, and what it meant. He doesn’t even address that in his response, so did he read it, or not understand it, or just ignore it because it disproves his nonsense? Who cares, he’s just wrong, period!
And don’t pretend you “deliberately” misspelt Rav Shach’s name so we would learn something about him. But I did learn something about you – you aren’t only careless, but far worse, you are deceitful as well.



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yonason

posted June 7, 2009 at 2:08 am


Meanwhile, these are the people that Rabbi Friedman wants dead…
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=45c_1231682078
…as do I, and every sane human on the planet.
Of course, if they did repent of their evil, then that would mean we could live in peace with them, and there would be no need to kill them. However, until they put their weapons down, they and everything they hide in and behind is a legitimate target, as every other nation acknowledges…
http://www.nowpublic.com/world/international-law-and-civilian-casualties-report
…though we Jews are forbidden such luxuries as self defense.



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Marian

posted June 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm


Although I in no way agree with the Orthodox Jewish hardliners on how to deal with the Arabs, I think their point of view should be publicly represented–because it makes the Jewish Left look so much more reasonable! This is called the Mutt and Jeff, or good-cop/bad-cop theory of political organizing. If the Ortho hardliners did not exist, the Peace Now folks would need to invent them.



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yonason

posted June 7, 2009 at 8:33 pm


RE Marion
So just how do you propose to deal with these ghouls
http://al-ghoul.com/rocketmen.htm
(and yes, that IS their family name)
How do you propose to reason with beasts?
They may once have been human, and they may be able to be human again, if they renounce their hate, but until they do, their thirst for human blood makes them lower than animals. It’s not because they are gentiles, but because they are cold blooded killers.
If they will not forsake their hatred of and desire to dominate humanity, then they MUST be erased from history. Having mercy on them only condemns many innocent to suffering and death.
That is what the Rabbi means. If you don’t exterminate the evil, it will spread, and the longer you wait the more damage it does. And that will be the fault of those who could have acted, but did not.
Before Hitler, one might have been able to say they didn’t know how it would turn out. But now we know what happens when evil is left unchecked, and so we have no excuse for not acting.



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LazerA

posted June 8, 2009 at 9:31 pm


Grover wrote:
“LazarA:
b. Your excursus was illuminating … but specious….”

I’m trying to find where in your comment you detail what, exactly, was “specious” in my previous comment. It seems that you are limited to snide remarks about John Woo. (The same is true of the commenter who associated my comments with apartheid.)
The fact remains that Torah sources clearly consider non-Jews to be fully human and capable of attaining great spiritual heights. At the same time, Torah sources also teach us that the Jewish people have a unique spiritual status, especially in pre-Messianic times. Kabalistic sources use highly technical and esoteric jargon in discussing these ideas and literalist translations can be very misleading.
The fact that you disagree with the outreach policies of various Orthodox groups – including Chabad – is utterly irrelevant. There are practical, historical, and philosophical reasons for Jewish outreach to focus on estranged Jews before attempting to recruit non-Jews. None of these reasons is based on a denial of the spiritual significance of non-Jews as “a lesser breed,” God forbid.



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yonason

posted June 14, 2009 at 5:42 pm


dear “Your Name”
“1. it is “talis” not “tails.”"
I said “tails” as in “tall tails” (there was also a hint at his potential adherence to Darwinian evolution)
But I guess you are a stranger to sarcasm, and double meanings? And as to the rest of your rant… what are you babbling about? No, that was rhetorical, I really don’t care to have you regurgitate any more nonsesnse.



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yonason

posted June 14, 2009 at 5:48 pm


grover
Your idiotic assertion that “much Kabbalistic thought moves in a different direction from the Torah and Talmud, often in aberrant ways.” is such a total fiction that it isn’t worth addressing accept to show that the one uttering it is himself so removed from Torah and Mitzvot that he doesn’t know up from down. All the objections against Chabad have been addressed ad nauseam, and none are considered credible by virtually anyone today. The only people who regurgitate those slanders are anti-Semites and malicious ignoramuses.



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