The RCA And Lubavitch

48

rabbi-gershon-tannenbaumBy Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

In the last few weeks, timely news releases by various Jewish media, including vosizneias.com, Matzav.com, and collive.com, amongst others, reported that the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has incorporated the following requirement into their rabbinical member application:

“Affirmation Regarding Messianic Belief: By checking this box and with my signature below, I affirm that the following resolution, adopted at the RCA’s 1996 Annual Convention, reflects my beliefs: ‘In light of disturbing developments which have recently arisen in the Jewish community, the Rabbinical Council of America in convention assembled declares that there is not and never has been a place in Judaism for the belief that Mashiach ben David will begin his Messianic mission only to experience death, burial and resurrection before completing it.””

Internal developments within Lubavitch are not the subject of determination by any outside group more so than are the developments within Bobov, Satmar, Spinka, Toldos Aaron, Vishnitz, Yeshiva Ponovezh, etc. These matters must be left to the individual groups for resolution and clarification. Lubavitch’s body of shluchim today, with more than 4,000 shluchim in America and thousands more worldwide, represents the largest rabbinical group in America as well as worldwide.

We cannot imagine a brother observant rabbinical group presenting the lists of the 613 mitzvos, 13 Rules of Rabbi Yishmael, and the 13 Principles of Faith of the Rambam as individual items with individual little boxes that are to be checked at the applicant’s discretion, such as pick any 600 of the 613. Nor do we suspect that any rabbinical organization presumes to be the exclusive judge of who Moshiach is and how, when, and where he will be revealed.

As the Director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, the Igud Horabbonim, I invite all those that may have difficulty in understanding or agreeing to the arbitrary demand of the RCA to come and join the Igud. The Igud warmly welcomes and embraces ordained rabbis from all observant yeshivos. We meet as an organization every Rosh Chodesh, and we celebrate an annual Siyum HaShas. We also have an internationally (including in Israel) respected beis din.

{Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum}

{Matzav.com Newscenter}

48 COMMENTS

  1. The RCA is correct in requiring that a Rabbi applying to join the RCA check off this requirement against an anti-Torah belief.

    The word “Lubavitch” is not mentioned.

    If Moshiach ben David was here, did Eliyahu HaNavi announce him? Why are we still in Golus?

    It says in this article:

    “Nor do we suspect that any rabbinical organization presumes to be the exclusive judge of who Moshiach is and how, when, and where he will be revealed.”

  2. Internal developments within Lubavitch are not the subject of determination by any outside group

    Not to draw any comparison but why can’t a coservadox movement say the thing?Anyhow this isn’t an issue of dictating to Chabad what they may feel but rather setting a criteria as to who may join their group.

  3. With all due respect to Rabbi Tennnenbaum, I must disagree with his partisan call to join a rival organization whose “market share” is significantly less than the RCA.
    While internal politcal issues in the Lubavitch movement are no more the domain of anyone outside the movement than are the issues in any other Chassidus, the issue at stake is more basic in nature.
    In recent years, there has been a split in the Lubavitch movement, with many of their Shluchim subscribing to an apikorsis known not only as the Rebbe being Moshiach, but ascribing G-dly attributes to him as defined in the Rambam in the beginning of Hilchos Avoda Zara. As the differences are not clear cut to all who may observe them, it is a fidiuciary duty on the part of the Rabbinical leadership of the RCA to all those who rely on them for Rabbinic functions (which includes a major portion of the Modern Orthodox community as well as, surprisingly, a significant portion of the right wing Orthodox community), to ensure its members abide by certain guidelines toe ensure the composition of its Rabbinite is composed of people who are Ma’aminim as defined in classic Jewish thought. On the other hand, any Lubavitcher who is truly a Ma’amin and wants nothing to do with this issue should have absolutely no problem signing such a document.
    As an all inclusive Rabbinic organization, (as opposed to the Aguda’s Rabbonim, whose member are primarily graduates of right wing yeshivos, and therefore present no such issue) the RCA is prudent to have such a clause. If the Igud Harabbom would hold themselves to such a level,it would reveal not a level of political activism, but a level of responsibility to its constituents.

  4. Rabbi Tennenbaum, who are you kidding? This is a 100% valid request from the RCA. How can you equate this issue of who Moshiach is to conflicts within other major Orthodox groups. No one in Bobov or Satmar or Vizinitz argue over a Niftar Tzadik being Moshiach.There is a large contingancy within Chabad who beleives that the Rebbe is Moshiach, period end of discussion. If you want people to Join your organization try using a more educated method to encourage people to join. Perhaps you also ought not to allow missionary Jews into the Igud.

  5. What in the world is the point of this article? Is this supposed to be a clarification of the RCA’s position? If it is, it is pretty unclear. I cannot figure out what they want from this release!!

  6. There aren’t check boxes for all mitzvos because Rabbonim try to follow all of them, and don’t proudly violate any of them – except for meshichistin. I’m sure if it became an issue that some Rabbonim were openly violating something, it would be made an issue of.

  7. Rabbi Tannenbaum,

    You know that the RCA instituted this change in policy because there is a widespread belief amongst some in Chabad that clearly violates the dictates of Torah Haskafah.

    If a significant group of Orthodox Rabbis were to violate other clear dictates of Halacha or Haskafah, say, permitting cheeseburger or the like, the RCA would address that as well.

    I will also note, that the RCA did NOT claim that they know who Moshiach is, they simply asserted disqualify factors that clearly applied universally to all potential Moshiach candidates.

    Finally, the RCA is not forcing Chabad to adopt these standards, they are making this standard a precondition for joining their private organization, an organization that NO ONE is required to join.

  8. The Rabbincal organization worth its salt is the Agudas Harabonim (Union of Orthodox Rabbis), that Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT’L led.

    The RCA is for the Modern Orthodox, and the Igud today is for Lubavitch.

  9. Who is the RCA to decide who is or who is not Moshiach. You’re right, no one is forced to join them. That is the point that Rabbi T is making. Do not join an organization that purports to decide who is not Moshiach. The Lubabs have more than 4,000 Rabbi-Shluchim. They are by far the biggest and most active rabbinical organizaion in the world and in all of history. The RCA has mabey 1,000 members, some that are awake. The Igud has 850 members that are alive. The Agudas Horabonim has 100 memberson paper. None compare to size and productivity of the 4,000 Shluchim. Rabbi Tannenbaum is right on te bullseye !!!

  10. when Klal yisroel shows Hashem that we are ready for Mashiach & yearn for it then mashiach will come UNTIL THEN Hashem continues to wait every day for Klal Yisroel to wake up & do Teshuva in order to bring Mashiach & the Geula

  11. Does anybody know how Christianity began? According to a medrash, it was a bunch of frum Jews who believed their leader was Moshiach. Many people, even great people, fell for it. The early Christians were shomer shabbos and kept Torah and Mitzvos, except for one. They believed in the wrong Moshiach.

    As the Medrash tells us, Shimon Kipah, devised a genius plan which separated his followers and made it obvious they were not genuinely frum. He switched Shabbos to Sunday, Succos to X-mas etc.. Chazal called him “Shimon Peter Chamor” because people were “toah achorav”, even though what he did was l’shem Shomayim, and was done with the permissiom of the zekainim. His followers called him St. Peter, a break off of “Peter Chamor.”

    There is a strong debate in the Rishonim if this episode is ture, Sefer Chasidim does quote this medrash. Accoring to some Rishonim, While Peter was living amongst the Christians, he composed piyutim and sent them back to Yerushalayim. This way the zekainim knew he was still an erlecha Yid and was acting the way he was, only in order to totally break off these Messianic Jews, and prevent people from
    following in their ways.

    According to some Rishonim, it was he who composed the beautiful “Nishmas Kol Chai” which we say every Shabbos.

    We need our own modern day Shimon Kipah!! Someone strong and wise who could save our Jewish brothers!!

  12. rabbi tennenbaum, everyone knows the igud is a paper tiger and was and will always be controlled by lubavitch. whom are you trying to con? i hope not moshiach??????????????

  13. He claims that “Lubavitch’s body of shluchim today, with more than 4,000 shluchim in America and thousands more worldwide, represents the largest rabbinical group in America as well as worldwide.”

    First of all, those numbers are way inflated (as the Igud statistics claiming 850 member rabbis are). Is he counting Rebbetzins as Rabbis and children of shluchim as Rabbis too?

    If you go the Igud rosh chodesh breakfasts you will see a very small group.
    Anyone interested should go and see for themselves.

    Bravo to the RCA for taking a stand on this important issue.

  14. I’m just thinking to myself: Which other group out there studies the Halachos of Moshiach other than Lubavitch, with its annual study of Yad Hachazaka by every Lubavitcher, young and old? I would be surprized if (m)any of the RCA members would even know where to look for Halachos of Moshiach! I’m sure that they are all bnei Torah – but how many of them have any idea of the Halachos related to Mosheach? The average Lubavitch Bar Mitzvah boy probably knows more !!!!!!

  15. My #2 post above was cut off.

    It says in this article:

    “Nor do we suspect that any rabbinical organization presumes to be the exclusive judge of who Moshiach is and how, when, and where he will be revealed.”

    If that’s so, then why do the Lubavitch say that their last Rebbe was Moshiach?

  16. Rebbe Akiva also made a mistake about who moshiach is. It is really a trivial issue. The RBSH will show us who he is in due time. Certainly the Lubavitcher Rebbe would have been worthy, but moshiach has still not been revealed to the klal, so we have no way of knowing who he will be. Why not leave it up to hashem, since it really doesn’t matter an iota.

  17. Yasher koach to the IGUD and Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum!!!!!

    The RCA is just a modern organization that has done nothing for Klal Yisroel, except for what suits their own political agenda.

  18. Igud is Rabbi Tannenbaum’s organization. It is mostly Lubavitch with Zionist policies.

    The RCA is, of course, the left wing/modern orthodox Rabbinical organization.

  19. Considering that the Igud has 850 members ACROSS the United States (and Canada !!), having some 40 rabbis show up at their Rosh Chodesh events in NYC is quite impressive. Does the RCA have Rosh Chodesh events?? The Igud is, after all is said and done, quite impressive. They have also been accused of being a Sephardi organization. They are across the board. Period.
    The number of Shluchim is so very obvious. Simply go to any state or any country and count ’em yourself. They are opening new Chabad houses faster than Macdonalds opens new branches. More power to them.

  20. Can anyone tell me more about this Rabbi Tannenbaum? Where did he learn, who did he get semicha from, what did he do with his life before the Jewish Press gave him the platform he has now?

    By the way, Igud doesn’t typically have forty people at their rosh chodesh events.

  21. #27: No, I actually meant Nishmas, not Yigdal. (There is a stirah in Machzir Vitri if he composed it or not. It seems to be a machlokes Rashi and Rabeinu Tam.)

  22. “Internal developments within Lubavitch
    are not the subject of determination by
    any outside group…”

    Not so fast, R. Tannenbaum. It is our
    business. (Of course, legally you fellows
    can believe in ghosts; just don’t expect other folks to follow
    suit or grant recognition to your odd
    doctrines on the subject.)

    The problem is that you
    represent yourselves as an orthodox
    rabbinical group. Moreover, you present
    yourselves as the most important of all
    groups.

    From a theological perspective, it
    is.thus, our business. (People should
    be aware that some people
    continue to preach the radical doctrine
    that someone is “Moshiakh”;
    in fact, others claim, in addition,
    that their late leader is still alive.)

    Consequently, the adults in the
    room are simply acting responsibly by
    saying: Enough! We’re no longer amused.
    Given the outlandish messianic
    pretensions,
    its legitimacy has been discredited.

    Since there have been attempts to
    infiltrate other organizations by
    spreading false messianic beliefs,
    like other missionary sects, do not
    be surprise at the negative reaction.

    The RCA has performed a public
    service by insisting that its members
    repudiate the ridiculous superstition
    that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi
    Menachem Schneerson, was/is “Moshiakh.”

    Every mainstream organization
    should follow the RCA model.

    In fact, I call upon
    Igud HaRabbonim to follow the RCA
    model by rejecting the false
    messiahsip.

    I call upon Rabbi Gershon
    Tannenbaum to state in plain
    English his rejection of the
    bogus messiahip of the late
    “Lubavitcher Rebbe.”

  23. R. Gershon Tannenbaum:

    According to my sources, you also believe in the false messiahship of the late Rabbi Menachem Schneerson. Is that the case?

    Would you kindly answer the following questions?

    1) Is it true that you also believe
    in the absurd claim that the late
    Lubavitcher Rebbe is “Moshiakh”,
    even though he died?

    2) Is it true that you believe that
    he is still alive?

    3) Is it true, sir, that you proclaim
    to your followers that the
    deceased “Rebbe” is “Melekh
    HaMoshiakh?

    4) Finally, if you do not hold the
    aforementioned unorthodox beliefs,
    why don’t you proclaim in the name
    of your organization your
    unequivocal rejection of the
    aforementioned bogus “mesheekhus”
    regarding the deceased clergyman?

  24. Here’s a straight answer. From Rabbi Tannenbaum’s clearly writing: “Nor do we suspect that any rabbinical organization presumes to be the exclusive judge of who Moshiach is and how, when, and where he will be revealed,” we can safely surmise that he definitely does NOT confirm that the Lubavitcher Rebbe (ZT”L) is the Moshiach. Simultaneously, he does not deny it either. Of course, I am only writing as though I were Rashi. Someone else, writing as though he/she were Tosfos, might have another interpretation. Either way, the RCA, with its supposed 1,000 rabbis, cannot claim that is a representative body of American rabbis when it is, if fact, excluding the 4,000 most active and most productive rabbis on the American scene. Hisory will bear witness to the error of the RCA.

  25. Lubav is a breath of Fresh air. I was recently in S. Diego, Ca. Went to school there 30 years ago and they had 1 wonderful Chabad House that lifted up the Souls of Thouands. Today, there are 18 plus Chabad Houses and shuls thruout S. Diego County plus a school with close to 400 sweet children. No Moshiach crowd , just pure love of a fellow Jew. Please stop the senseless BICKERING and join in to bring the Geulah

  26. Rabbi Tannenbaum is not a Lubavitcher, he is Hungarian.

    Anyone with functioning eyes can see that his organization is barely alive, despite the fact that he tries to make it seem otherwise, and who wants to join such a group with such a leader.

  27. Attn Webmaster:

    For the sake of principle, please demand that R. Gershon Tannenbaum explicitly reject the ridiculous and superstitious belief
    in the bogus messiahship of a deceased Rebbe.

    In addition, R. Tannenbaum should clearly denounce the crazy notion that he is still alive.

    Aside from RCA, all respected rabbis
    and scholars reject the notion of a dead
    messiah as totally unacceptable within the
    framework of normative Judaism.

  28. “Here’s a straight answer. From Rabbi Tannenbaum’s clearly writing: “Nor do we suspect that any rabbinical organization presumes to be the exclusive judge of who Moshiach is and how, when, and where he will be revealed,” we can safely surmise that he definitely does NOT confirm that the Lubavitcher Rebbe (ZT”L) is the Moshiach. Simultaneously, he does not deny it either”.

    but the problem is, that there is nothing that legitimizes one to declare and announce someone that is not alive to be the messiah. So, Rabbi Tannenbaum is WRONG in claiming that it is an “internal” chabad problem! statement is actually a cha bad falsehood; because it is a klal yisroel issue as to whether or not a belief that’s contrary to our tradition can be expressed as a valid belief.

    You cannot teach something relating to 13 ikkarey emunah that is contrary to tradition and then turn around and say that it is an “internal”matter!

    No one is excluding anyone based on their strength or weaknesses in numbers of rabbis. They however, have the right and obligation to exclude rabbis whose beliefs differ from Jewry. Just as no one will be impressed by large amount of conservative rabbis etc. (not that i’m comparing them in general but just to make this point).

    and it is precisely because of the large amount and strength of the rabbis in general and their power in other areas that it is high time for a G-d fearing organization to declare ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! you do not represent the normative beliefs that religious have shared for thousands of years.

    And it would be a shame for such good devoted selfless people who do such tremendous good (that we should all emulate them); to have their good deeds washed away by the creation of new religion and a new belief system.

  29. Lubav is a breath of Fresh air. I was recently in S. Diego, Ca. Went to school there 30 years ago and they had 1 wonderful Chabad House that lifted up the Souls of Thouands. Today, there are 18 plus Chabad Houses and shuls thruout S. Diego County plus a school with close to 400 sweet children. No Moshiach crowd , just pure love of a fellow Jew. Please stop the senseless BICKERING and join in to bring the Geulah

    No one on this controversy is arguing or denying the great feats done by lubavitchers in general. The question that is under discussion is: Should Rabbis who profess this belief system be partof a rabbinic group that shares the values and belief of klal yisroel for over two thousand years?

    The answer to this question by an honest organization is: NO!

    It is over 15 years from the time when the new religion system and belief has been established and promulgated. It is high time that other rabbis and organization speak out to their chabad brothers and sisters that this is anathema to the belief system that observant jews shared for thousand of years.no amount of money, power and honor should dissuade one from voicing his honest and truthful opinion as our torah commands us: “lo taguru mipney ish”.

  30. 44: The RCA has no problem with the Chabad houses you mentioned. They don’t believe the Rebbe is Mashiach, so what’s the problem?

  31. In all of the material I have seen on the issue, I have yet to see one posek who said that believing that Moshiach will come from the dead is kefirah. Among those I’ve seen, R’ Aharon Soloveitchik, R’ Feldman from Ner Israel, and lately R’ Menashe Klein have addressed this issue, have condemned the belief, but have not gone as far as to call it kefirah. So let people be clear when they cry “heresy” that they mean heresy within their particular hashkafah, not a denial of Torah basics.

  32. Even if it is not “heresy” it is extremely wrong and worthy of of strong condemnation as these Rabbis you mentioned did. Changing ikrey emuah is at best dangerous and it does border with kefirah as it distorts ikrey emunoh how jews beleived for thousands of years. And certainly the RCA should be commended for taking a stand not to allow rabbis who believe in these cahngesintheir ranks. May others follow suit.

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