In a conversation with a friend, the son of a very successful shliach, (the truth is, that what a successful shliach is a matter of dispute in and of itself, but for the purpose of this post, we will assume that it is one who has a large Chabad House with many members and Ba'alei Teshuvah) the question came up:
When working on Shlichus, what is the goal? Do we want to make full fledged Lubavitchers, and if so, how far do we push this desire?
Before continuing this post, however, there a few different factors that the reader must assume:
That Chabad Chassidus is vital to every Jew and that it ought to be shared with others.
(Or rather, being a Lubavitcher I feel that what I have is a desirable path in divine service and therefore work with the tools that I have available)
-This isn't such unique phenomenon, look at any 'Litvishe' Kiruv group . . . they sell the standard Gadol line of thought, complete with nusach Ashkenaz and the like to all who they encounter -I doubt the YU students who make yearly Pesach Sedarim in Belarus take into account that there were whole cities in that area made entirely of Chabad Chassidim- and the truth is, to do anything else borders on the inane . . . One can hardly be successful if he must first delve into the often vague family tree of his congregant before further growth can be achieved.
"Let's see here, you said you only know that your great-grandmother's uncle was from Vitebsk . . . so you could be a Lubavitcher, or a Litvak . . . but then again Vitebsk was a large city, so your roots could even go back to . . ."
(This not to make light of those who have researched their family's past and wish to follow in the path of their forefathers, such a move is beautiful testament to one who truly wishes to give honor to his forebears and for what they stood.)
In other words, before this note further distracts us, please assume that you are a Lubavitcher . . . (You're telling me that you aren't yet?!)
My friend stated, that while making a full fledged Lubavitcher is ideal, too often this becomes the goal, while eclipsing the need for other, more basic needs.
The end result; a guy with a beard, hat and Kapote, who can't read Hebrew, and thinks that now that he has the Shmonah Begadim, the full garb, he can express his (often ignorant) view on all matters . . .
Keep them good Jews with leather Yarmulkes and Armani Shabbos suites and life will be much easier, for everyone. If an exception comes, someone who is ready for the full deal, then of course we take him up a notch . . . but not as an automatic next step.
To a certain degree he's right.
Personally, I am not bothered by a person with a Kapote who must break his teeth on Aleph-Beis -some people just haven't been blessed with the skills to learn new letters, Kapote or not, these guys won't be getting much further- and even more so, I feel that to a certain degree, the Rebbe does want Kapotes. But to slap on the sirtuk is a big move.
Too often, with kapote comes all the problems. When one has been fully initiated into the chassidic life, the rosy colored view of those early years begins to fade.
A certain Ba'al Teshuvah once said,
"When I came into 770 with jeans and a ponytail everyone came to help me, now that I come in with a beard and a hat, nobody turns his head."
Chassidus is perfect, we as Chassidim are (far too often) not.
The infighting, politicking, and vile rancor that we spew at each other can be frightful. Is it right to take someone down that path?
I am not suggesting hiding the truth, preventing the person from increased spiritual growth or pretending that everything is peachy keen (That's where half the problem comes from -the initial denial of the truth) . . .
As a Ba'al Teshuvah, my first year in Yeshivah was very difficult . . .
Yet as a Ba'al Teshuvah, how can I not help someone take a step forward.
When I first became frum, I was given the option of going to a Jewish High school or taking the full leap into Yeshivah (True it was Mesivta, high school, and I took secular studies, but the difference between the two is very great).
I shudder to think how I would have turned out had I not gone to Yeshivah . . .
My friend would argue that I fit into the group that is ready for the extra step, perhaps he's right . . .
Yet we all have to grow, Judaism can not stagnate, and if someone has moved up to becoming a frum, friend of Chabad, then at some point, wouldn't he be ready for the next step?
What do you think?
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