Thursday, July 23, 2009

More on Mosdos

The Vaad Ruchni has just issued a statement regarding the establishment of mosdos. No doubt this was precipitated by the letter in the preceding post originally publicised in Emmanuel's email.


Given the (generally commendable) desire to open new Moisdos (institutions e.g. a Shule, Minyan or Chabad House etc.) for the purpose of strengthening and spreading Yiddishkeit, we would like to draw the community’s attention to guidelines stated by the Rebbe in this connection. In the Sichoh of Shabbos Mevorchim Adar 5748-1988, which was edited and corrected by the Rebbe himself, two issues are raised for consideration:-

1. The question of unnecessary duplication i.e. an evaluation of whether it might not be preferable to invest efforts etc in the establishment of a Moisad which is at present completely absent rather than merely duplicating something which already exists.
2. The more important (Halachic) question of Hasogas G’vul (encroaching on someone else’s territory) which is, in many cases forbidden by the Torah.

With regard to the second issue, the Rebbe directs all those who wish to establish a Mosad, to first consult a Rov in order to ascertain that the opening of such a Moisad does not constitute any form of Hasogas G’vul. The Rov should be locally based, in order that he be fully conversant with the circumstances and details of the proposal, and should also be a Posek i.e. one who is regularly consulted and gives rulings in other areas of Halacha. It is also desirable that he give his decision in writing, in order to avoid further complications in the event of another party wishing to later establish a similar Moisad.

We are sure that everyone will appreciate that adherence to the above recommendations is in the best interests, not only of existing Moisdos, but also of any new Moisad, whose success is ultimately dependent on its being based on firm foundations, i.e. the will of Hashem as expressed in His Torah.

With blessings that we merit the immediate and complete Geulah through Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

There is a lot one say about this statement. On the surface it is quite reasonable and just common sense but when one takes into account personalities and egos it is not so clear cut.

Just the issue of Hasogas G’vul, for one, is not simple. I remember a communal shiur by Rabbi Chaim Gutnick where he said that one may open up, for example, a jewelry store next to another jewelry store with the argument that each is aimed at a different clientele and has different stock etc. I am sure that the learned ones will argue with this but to a simple person like me it makes perfect sense. If I have a business, shul or whatever and cannot offer a product that appeals to my customers then that is my problem. If someone with a better or more attractive product opens nearby I need to pick up my game and not cry about it.

Another issue is that many rabbis of established shuls and Chabad Houses are hoping that their children will move into their area and are against other Chabad Houses opening nearby (nepotism anyone?). It is understandable that they would want this but it is not necessarily morally correct.

There are other issues but the bottom line is - are we wanting to open mosdos to benefit the Jewish community and Jews in general or are our Chabad Houses just functioning as businesses. I believe that we, and more importantly our communual leaders, have to step back and think about what Chabad is and what the Rebbe wanted in terms of hafotza. Maybe then we will be more open to doing what will benefit the "people" rather than the "leaders".