One of my readers asked me why I am not following a Rebbe and why I am not a member of any chassidic group. Is there anything I don’t like about a chassidic Rebbe ?
My very first chassidic encounter was with Chabad. Surprise, surprise !!! 🙂
I think that most Ba’alei Teshuva can make this claim. It is either Chabad or the writings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. If you like Breslov and you are planning on studying more: Please look for serious and accepted Rabbis and not for weirdo online self – appointed (Breslover) Ba’alei Teshuva Rabbis. Don’t go with the scam ! This is my advice.
I never became a member of Chabad and I never wanted to become a member. Not because I don’t like Chabad but because I am the dictionary definition of an introvert. There are times when I socialize but there are many times when I want to be alone and not be bothered by anyone. I am not a group person and I am definitely not looking for attention. On the other hand, I am not afraid to talk to other people like many other introverts. I can talk to strangers but I don’t want to be in the center of attention.
According to my personal understanding, one cannot really be an introvert and, at the same time, a member of a chassidic group. I may be wrong but, somehow, other group members expect you to socialize and participate here and there. What if an introvert like me doesn’t feel like going to a gathering at this very moment ? In case I force myself, I will be miserable.
There may be introverts in chassidic groups but all this socializing and demands for showing up would bother me too much.
My second reason is that I don’t want to be a member of only one group and follow only one Rebbe. What if the Rebbe is wrong ?
Of course, I shouldn’t say that the Rebbe is wrong but what if I feel this way ? Would I still follow his advice ?
I once met a Vishnitzer Chassid and he told me something very personal about his Shidduch life. In the past he had a Shidduch meeting with a woman he really liked. When he went to the Rebbe in order to get his approval, the Rebbe said NO. The Shidduch would not suit the Chassid and he should look for someone else.
Decades later, the same Chassid is still sad about the Rebbe’s decision and I asked him why he didn’t just marry this woman ?
The Chassid’s response: “This is why you are not a member of a chassidic group but I am. I do listen to the Rebbe no matter what. Why ? Because he is the Rebbe”.
If I felt that I cannot go with the Rebbe’s decision, I would do what I want. Even though it turned out to be wrong in the end.
Moreover, I am not a person who is able to admire one particular Rebbe. To me, a Rebbe is a human being and not G – d. He knows Halacha and Torah and may be extremely knowledgeable but he is still human. Halachic advice – I would follow though but if it comes to personal matters, I may have my doubts.
Nevertheless, there was a time when I seriously considered to join Satmar. In the days of Rebbe Moshe Teitelbaum and when Satmar was still united. 🙂 Then I really thought that I can change my entire life and be part of something. It turned out that I couldn’t and I don’t regret not to be Satmar. I still like Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum’s Torah commentaries. Many people make the mistake thinking that being Satmar means burning the Israeli flag but this isn’t the case.
In the early process of a Teshuva “career”, many newcomers make the mistake to force themselves into something in order to be part of something. When you are older and more advanced or mature due to the process, you realize that you don’t necessarily have to be a part of something. A community, friends, a Rabbi or Shiurim – Yes … but don’t force yourself into something in order to get accepted. “Accepted” means what you think is “accepted” but other Haredim don’t necessarily share your opinion. 🙂
I am too flexible. Sometimes here and sometimes I am there. I go to the Litvishe and to Chassidim. I don’t look haredi in any way anymore but will always be part of society. Changing to national religious society is out of question and I would never even think about it. Its a different world I cannot associate with. If there is anything, then it is the haredi world and nothing else ! But … I am not a member of any specific haredi movement. 🙂