Monday, December 1, 2008

Chabad’s success is fundamentalist muslims’ defeat

(Chabad’s point of view provides ability to see one world inside another — spiritual in the physical)

A good article.
Adherents of the jihadi ideology share a common presumption that the modern world in all its manifestations is the implacable enemy of a traditional religiosity. Modernism, in their minds, is built on concepts that pollute: reason, individual liberty, democracy, pluralism. Like all totalitarians, they demand submission to a single pure idea. Difference equals contamination; reason leads to sacrilege.

If ever there were a living retort to the obscenity of these presumptions, it is the current of Hasidic Judaism that began more than 200 years ago in the Byelorussian village of Lyady. There, a philosopher rabbi — Shneur Zalman — sought a reconciliation of intellect and heart as a compromise to the controversy then dividing the Jewish world between those who held to a tradition of scholarship and disciples of the embryonic Hasidic movement, which stressed an emotive religious practice. He succeeded brilliantly and founded a movement that today commands the loyalties of hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Jews around the world.

The hallmark of Chabad's approach is an openness to — indeed, an embrace of — the modern world, while insisting that it make a place for their deeply traditional religious devotion. Around the world, including in Los Angeles, Lubavitcher Hasidim are living precisely the sort of lives the jihadi ideology insists are impossible. Culturally, they participate fully in the pluralist democracies, while privately, they profess fully a deeply traditional spirituality. Faithful to their own long history, they are valued and good neighbors to others.

[Rabbi Shneur] Zalman taught his followers that their G-d desires the development of their minds as well as their hearts. The fully realized human intellect, he argued, was built on da'at (knowledge), bina (understanding) and chochma (wisdom).

It's hard to imagine a more stinging defeat for the Mumbai killers than the fact that a movement of faith founded on such an idea has endured in fidelity to its traditions for more than two centuries, and will continue to thrive when, as the old Yiddish expression goes, the names and memories of the murderers have been erased.
One thing I should add is that Chabad does not merely tolerate the modern, “outside” world in public, while going back to traditional Jewish values in private. Uniquely in Judaism, Chabad philosophy actually asserts that immersion in physical world is necessary for successful spiritual progress; when accessed through proper means and from a proper angle, physical and modern allow us to reach the levels of spiritual before unreachable (indeed, this is why a Jewish soul descends into the physical world from lofty Higher Worlds in the first place).

More on Chabad’s unique strategy of finding spiritual in the physical. More on Alter Rebbe (R’ Schneur Zalman of Lyady).

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