June 19: Chabad's '614th mitzva'

The Lubavitcher Rebbe may have been a "once-in-a-millenium holy man,"...but he was only a man.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Chabad's '614th mitzva' Sir, - The Lubavitcher Rebbe may have been a "once-in-a-millenium holy man," as Shmuley Boteach wrote in "Rebbe to the world" (June 18), but he was only a man. His resurrection, anticipated by most Chabadniks, is indeed "strikingly Christian" ("Maverick Chabad group to toast the Messiah, Matthew Wagner, June 18). I have heard it said that the only difference between Chabad and early Christianity is 2,000 years. Most Chabadniks believe that the Rebbe was, is and will be the Messiah; some are more "moderate" and subdued about it, while others are more "fundamentalist" and aggressive. If Rabbi Brod thinks that the anniversarial "Free drinks on the Messiah" campaign is giving Chabad a bad name, he should realize that Chabad, in spite of all its success in outreach, is giving Torah Judaism an even worse name. Chabad may also be "the single most successful Jewish educational network in the history of the world," but it has perverted the Torah by adding to it another commandment: to believe that the Rebbe is Moshiach. The real test of its members' sincerity is this: Would they still work to attract a secular Jew to Torah knowing that he or she will never accept this 614th mitzva? I moderately/fundamentally doubt it. NATAN BEN-YOSEF Jerusalem Sir, - These maverick messianic groups within the Chabad movement may yet cause the complete demise of this outstanding hassidic sect, God forbid! It's about time for the mainstream elements of the movement to take control and purge the "crazies," who don't recognize that the Rebbe, may his memory be blessed, was nothing more than flesh and blood. The mavericks are playing with notions that not only besmirch the memory of this great man but delve into areas that contravene the basics of Judaism. H.M. LERNER Ganei Tikva Not so fast > Sir, - Re "Friedmann: Let Gazans cross to W. Bank" (On-Line Edition, June 18): Has it been forgotten exactly who was in legal charge in Gaza when the city of Sderot was under rocket attack; who let the suicide bombers roam in the area to attack us and supported acts of terrorism against the Jewish people - was it not Fatah? One only has to read the history of Gush Etzion to understand the mentality of Fatah. In 1948, when the defenders of the bloc surrendered, they were massacred by the local Arab population, as were the convoys transporting the Gush refugees to Jerusalem. COLIN L LECI Jerusalem There's no time... Sir, - Re "UNRWA only has 10 days' worth of food left for Gaza" (June 18): We know that the Hamastan people are in need of water as much as we are in need of quiet at our borders. So let us make a deal: For every tank with water we send over, they send us a cartload of their weapons. The first cartload should be accompanied by a healthy Gilad Schalit. MAURITS MARK Jerusalem ...like the present Sir, - Now would be the time to release prisoners in exchange for Gilad Schalit. Let's empty our jails of all Fatah terrorists and send them to Gaza. Chances are good they will not be a threat to us anymore. EVE HAROW Efrat Objection to Israel Sir, - Re "BBC sorry for calling Jerusalem capital of Israel, says it won't happen again" (June 15): When the representative in the UN Assembly of the newly established Jewish state stated that its name would be Israel, the UK representative got up and said the UK objected. Abba Eban, representing the new state, asked permission to reply, then said: I recommend that the UK remove all mention of Israel from the British bible too, and sat down to the applause and laughter of all. MOSHE IVRY Jerusalem Sir, - The BBC's pandering, even groveling, to the Muslims was an embarrassment for a once-mighty country. URI MILUNSKY Netanya Breath of fresh air Sir, - Dr. Abd al-Hamid al-Ansari's op-ed was a breath of fresh air, a rational voice amid the plethora of hatred-spewing and destructive Islamic invective ("We need to make our young people love life," Verbatim, June 18). He will most probably be written off as a stray sheep, an anachronism, by the very people who should listen to him, and Israel will most definitely be blamed for the lack of hope for the young people of the Middle East. Yet continued repetition of his message, endless and unwavering, could make a difference - if not among the extremists, at least in the minds of so-called enlightened Westerners. NACHUM REMEN Kfar Haroeh Pelt in peace Sir, - Headline on June 18: "Haredim hold peaceful protest against gay parade." The story subsequently reported that "dozens of haredi protesters pelted police with stones, injuring a policewoman in the head." Several trash bins were also set on fire. I'm glad the protest was peaceful. Can you imagine what would have happened had it been violent? GERALD SCHOR Ra'anana Ice cream for trash Sir, - I guess the government truly is comprised of the blockheads everyone says it is, especially when they can't even remember their own successes ("Environment Ministry threatens to slap fines on beach polluters," June 28). Twenty-five years ago, I was on reserve duty in Eilat, and during a free period went down to the beach. Soon afterwards a group of police officers and municipal workers showed up and began to distribute large trash bags to the happy vacationers, requesting that they clean up within a two-meter radius of their blankets. More than once I heard the whining complaint: "But it's not my garbage!," to which |the cop's laconic reply was: "It is now!" Before too long the beach was shockingly clean. Besides that, they promised a free ice cream to every kid who brought them a full trash bag. They soon had to resupply the ice cream truck, and the kids were still coming. The whole operation worked like a charm, so I ask: Why the "new" campaign? Where, in fact, have the authorities been this past quarter-century? With their heads buried in the trash-strewn sand? TREVOR DAVIS Asseret Blunted edge Sir, - I was extremely disappointed with Israel's under-21's European football championship challenge performance in Holland ("Israel looking for first points of U-21 tournament," June 15). Yet although they were blotted out 6-0 in three matches, the players performed reasonably well and should not be castigated for lack of success. The players do possess skill, but they are limited in application by being three to five yards too slow off the mark and, as a consequence, lose over 90% of tackles. The majority of their opponents play in senior sides in the most competitive European leagues, and therefore had a clear-cut edge over the Israelis. JOEL JOSEPH Essex