What About the Ruchnius of Our Community? 

From the Anash.org Inbox: “I read the manifests, watched the open house meeting and even spoke in person with a number of the candidates. Yet, not a word has been said about the matter most important; the ruchnius character of our community.”

By a Crown Heights resident

As many of us Crown Heights residents are very much aware, elections for the Jewish Community Council (CHJCC) and Vaad Hakohol are underway. Advertisements, articles, events, and a variety of other methods of publicity and public engagement have been employed. The purpose obviously being – asking for our vote, our trust; the right to be our voice.

Elections aren’t something unique to CHJCC, Vaad Hakohol and the Crown Heights community, so we can definitely compare and contrast to other forms of public elections we might be familiar with.

By and large, we are definitely a beacon of light, an אור לגויים, in terms of how a respectful and civilized process could and should take place.

There is however one matter in which we can learn from the secular elections, not from the manner in which they are held, but from how the Rebbe addressed them.

At the farbrengen of כ’ מר חשון תשל”ה, which was on the day of the United States midterm elections, the Rebbe said:

“Regarding the elections, when there are candidates which we have to vote for, the point (and litmus test) is “אנא נסיב מלכא”, one chooses hashem. Therefore one has to inspect and consider what is better for shulchan aruch, what is better for Yiddishkeit, what is better for Torah and mitzvos”.

Similarly, when asked who the chassidim in Eretz Yisroel should vote for in the Israeli elections, the rebbe replied “הרשימה החרדית ביותר”, the most frum party.

In this light, I feel the need to share a painful observation.

I read the manifests, watched the open house meeting and even spoke in person with a number of the candidates. Yet, not a word has been said about the matter most important; the ruchnius character of our community.

It is no secret that there is a “broad spectrum of standards” in Crown Heights, yet I fervently hope that as Lubavitcher chassidim we would be voting for those committing to uphold the highest of standards.

There will be others that will feel (and vote) differently, legitimately so, as this is a democratic system after all.

But one thing is utterly inexcusable: silence. The fact that these matters have not even been raised, discussed, and addressed on the various platforms.

Everyone agrees that snap benefits are essential, community grants are important, housing is a crisis, parking is a disaster, and garbage collection should be taken care of better.

But what about substance?

In the said farbrengen, the Rebbe continued:

“It is irrelevant whether there have been promises about a bigger and more prestigious job, more or less money, much or little glory, for it’s about “אנא נסיב מלכא”. Therefore, if for Hashem’s purposes one candidate is preferable, even if on a personal level a different candidate is better, one knows for whom to cast a vote, being that he is a פיקח, belonging to the עם חכם ונבון, who declares אנא נסיב מלכא”.

Candidates should say their stance on these matters, because they matter. They should communicate clearly how they will operate in regards to maintaining, strengthening and indeed uplifting the standards of the Rebbe’s shchuna. We should be given the opportunity to be able to assess “what is better for Shulchan Aruch, what is better for Yiddishkeit, what is better for Torah and mitzvos”.

Perhaps politically they prefer to avoid these conversations, as these are not topics of consensus, and by stating a position they might be shrinking their voter base. But that’s what leadership is about; being honest, upfront and transparent.

The incoming CHJCC and Vaad Hakohol will be making decisions that will be affecting the ruchniyus character and standards of our community, and we deserve to know their positions on these matters.

It is concerning that they don’t feel compelled to address these issues, but this is really a reflection of ourselves, the voting body of the Crown Heights community.

Do we care?

Does our ruchniyus matter?

Are our community standards relevant?

Some might argue that the CHJCC is only in charge of gashmius, bringing in and spending community money. But we all know that this is incorrect. There is a Yiddish expression דער בעל המאה איז דער בעל הדעה, the ones with the funds always get to push certain agendas.

They will obviously have to prioritize; what will their priorities be?


At the meeting, a number of candidates mentioned that they want to encourage higher secular education, with the goal of enhancing the parnosa of members in our community.

The obvious question is, will this be interfering in any way with the ideals of חינוך על טהרת הקודש?

Will they be encouraging our ישיבות and schools to allot (more) hours for לימודי חול, at the expense of לימודי קודש?

Many more specific examples can be brought to illustrate this point, but I will suffice with one more:

In all of their activities, will they be seeking the guidance of rabbonim and mashpiim?

Are they committed to following their every directive?

What are the names of their rabbonim and mashpiim?

Most importantly, the Vaad Hakohol (unlike the CHJCC) is not just about financial and social services, rather a committee overseeing the needs of our community as a whole. Our needs as a community are ruchnius by nature.

What are their plans on that front?

A number of ideas:

Working with the בית דין to further develop a network of accessible מורי הוראה for all matters pertaining to men and women in our community.

Support for the local shuls, and caring for those who don’t have a shul to which they belong.

Organizing seminars on matters pertinent to our community, e.g. chinuch, sholom bayis etc.

Arranging farbrengens for all denominations of our community.

Facilitating and encouraging local shiurim.

Paying local mashpiim and mashpios to provide help and guidance to all.

Finally, I conclude with a question:

How should I, a Lubavitcher chassid, vote in these elections, when there have been zero position statements (never mind commitments) made on the one thing that the rebbe says actually matters?

Hoping to hear back from our candidates, and wishing our entire community and their elected officials much hatzlocha.

In keeping in line with the Rabbonim's policies for websites, we do not allow comments. However, our Rabbonim have approved of including input on articles of substance (Torah, history, memories etc.)

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  1. The purpose of the community council is to look after the physical needs of the community and deal with the government.

    You are welcome to start your own mashpia council, raise funds, and strengthen the spiritual side of things. We will support you as well.

    1. Basic principal is that the other yid’s gashmius is my ruchnius. These are basically askanim who are all Lubavitch and willing to help. It’s not politicians with different or no religious beliefs. Which ones are best suited to help in the gashmius? Their work is a sacrifice (not a well paid or low stress position) and expression of ahavas yisrael that helps free up those of us who are not skilled in these areas and/or not askanim, or who are askanim in more specific areas such as chinuch, or people who are already using these types of skills in a different position we are not supposed to leave, to keep working and succeeding more on the ruchnius. They have likely heard, as people often share, that gashmius issues are adversely effecting their and their families’ ruchnius. Candidates for this position have to know how to, and be willing to, deal with the gashmius so that everyone can make their choices and have resources for building up ruchnius. Of course everyone should seek to strengthen our personal ruchnius and welcome Moshiach.

    2. The writer clearly outlined how Gashmiyus affects the Ruchniyus & that’s besides for the fact that we’re also speaking about Va’ad Hakol which IS dealing with ענינים for the כלל – community like the ideas mentioned and there is more that should be done to this vain…
      Also don’t forget that this Va’ad will be involved in Electing Rabonim in the future and it is VERY important that they have the right values of our Chabad Lubavitch (not others…) in mind when doing this important and very delicate work….

  2. At the event, at least two members of the young slate spoke about establishing more shiurim and making Torah into the focal point of the community.

  3. I don’t have any problem with the Vaad Hakohol focusing on gashmiyus only, so long as they know their place and defer to rabbonim in all questions that might impact ruchniyus.

    Gashmiyus and ruchniyus need to work together like a body and soul. Neither can succeed without the other. But the soul must lead the body, not the opposite ch”v.

  4. Kudos to you for bringing up this vital point. Halevai it should change the discussion. May the candidates most willing to consult with the Rabbanim win.

  5. Hi,
    I agree with most/all of what was written in this article.
    Indeed it’s an important issue.
    Which leads me to the simple question of,
    Why don’t you just run?
    I mean this respectfully, but the best way to actually see a shift in the conversation isn’t by an article, but an actual candidacy. The organizer’s of the vaad hakohal have been pleading with any able candidates in our community to bring themselves forward.

    It’s a win win. Either you (or a like minded associate) wins, and advocates these issues. Or even you lose, the very fact that your campaign exists automatically brings awareness to the public and will typically force the other candidates to also make some adjustments in your direction. (We see this alot in secular elections, where sometimes a candidate will run for president, with no actual hope of winning, but he does it just to promote a particular agenda. And it works.)

    Either way, Hatzlacha.

  6. Some comments are arguing that vaad hakohol shouldn’t interfere with ruchnius. But the point of the article is that they are already interfering! Some candidates state clearly that they are looking to encourage bochrim and girls to get degrees. Is it possible to interfere more than that?!

  7. Where there is no Torah, there is no bread, and where there is no bread, there is no Torah. Please note that Torah is and must be put forth first!

  8. Would you know that the slate of 5 met with Rabbi Braun for over 2 hours last night to discuss the spiritual needs of the community? You probably didn’t, because you didn’t bother to ask.

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