Good news: Prominent rabbanim, mashpiim, and askanim in Crown Heights have recently started a new achdus initiative — to sit down together as brothers despite differences of opinion. This week, the third such meeting took place. This is the behind-the-scenes story.
This past Tuesday, a unique achdus gathering took place with the participation of Chassidim with varying opinions, who decided the time has come to put aside those differences, and focus on what unites us – the fact that we are all Chabad Chassidim, aspiring to fulfill the Rebbe’s horaos and to bring him nachas ruach, and most importantly – to immediately reveal the Rebbe now mamosh.
There is no doubt that the sight of Rabbi Gedalyah Shemtov, Rabbi Zusha Zilbershtein, Rabbi Chaim Baruch Halberstam, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Paltiel, Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, Rabbi Yisroel Shimon Kalmenson, Rabbi Michoel Zeligson, Rabbi Menachem Mendel hakohen Hendel, and Rabbi Sholom Charitonov sitting together (as well as Rabbi Zalman Liberow, Rabbi Nachman Shapiro and Rabbi Shloma Majesky who participated in previous meetings), brought the Rebbe tremendous nachas ruach.
It is no secret that thirty years after Gimmel Tammuz, disagreements among Chabad Chassidim have not disappeared. If in the early years, each side tried to convince the other, and sometimes these efforts spilled into acts which were the opposite of shalom, lately, it seems, everyone understands that the different perspectives are an existing fact, and until the longed-for moment when the Rebbe is revealed, each group will continue believing their path is the most correct in fulfilling the Rebbe’s will.
Amazingly, when examining in-depth the percentage of issues on which Chabad Chassidim disagree, out of all the topics making up Chabad philosophy – it turns out that in 98 percent of issues we all share the same view, with disagreements concentrated on barely two percent!
Another important fact: Despite the differing opinions, there are strong bonds of friendship, mutual assistance, and respect among fellow Chassidim. It can be said that the vast majority of Chassidim do not let disagreements interfere with the natural love between Chassidim, maintaining a uniform communal life together, regardless of disagreements.
The common assumption that there is a machlokes in Chabad is a result of the unfortunate discord between a tiny fraction of Chassidim in leadership positions.
This astounding fact – which anyone can verify on his own by thinking about his own circle of friends – caused several of these prominent askanim to decide the situation must change. It cannot be that because of 2% of disagreements, a machlokes should plague the Chabad community, rachmana litzlan!
So three Chassidim got together – Rabbi Gedalyah Shemtov, director of the Shluchim Office, Rabbi Zalman Liberow, the Rebbe’s shliach in Flatbush, and Rabbi Menachem Mendel hakohen Hendel, director of the World Chabad Center to Greet Moshiach – and started organizing “achdus gatherings” specifically among Chassidim with leadership positions on both sides.
Last night, as mentioned, the third meeting took place, and the participants decided to publicize this initiative, with the goal that it should serve as an example for other places and people as well.
At these gatherings, the participants learned a section from the Rebbe Rashab’s “Kuntres Heichaltzu” on the value of achdus. “If you can sit together for a cup of tea, there’s no reason you can’t sit down for a l’chaim,” said one of the participating mashpiim.
“The main goal of the meeting is, of course, to hasten the Rebbe’s hisgalus, and also to convey a clear message to the younger generation and Anash in general that it’s possible to sit together, respect the other’s opinion, speak positively about each other and help one another, even when opinions differ,” say the organizers, adding: “When we increase ahavas and achdus Yisroel internally – this will hasten the Rebbe’s hisgalus, and in this aspiration we are certainly all united!”