In Good Company: Shabbos At the Ohel



Shabbos at the ohel

Shabbos at the Ohel

A Crown Heights resident shares his thoughts after spending this past Shabbos at the Rebbe’s Ohel.

CHLEAKS: Having had the same experience (as I’m sure many have had), I could have written the following post myself. In fact I already touched a bit on this issue when I wrote ‘The Difference Between a Chabad Yeshiva Bocher and a Meshichist‘.

My comments about some of the comments on COL bellow.

By Shalom B.

Being a Crown-Heights resident, I often hear people discussing and questioning the future of “Lubavitch.” They mention teens falling “off the derech,” deteriorating tznius standards, constant fighting of rabbonim and other ills. (Some will also add to the bunch, the “Tzfatis”).

There are certainly many accomplishments, some unprecedented, to be proud of. 4,000 Shluchim and counting, thriving Chabad communities, schools and yeshivos that are filled to capacity and an abundance of new seforim and publications – in more than one language.

But, as is the way of life, it is the negative that draws our attention and looms over the horizon. We daven for redemption, yet worry what the future has in store for us. What will be with our children and in what kind of world are they growing up in.

This past Shabbos I was proven wrong.

I spent it with close to 1,000 chassidishe yidden. Anash, Shluchim, bochurim and even a few rabbonim. The point of gathering was in a row of tents near the Old Montefiore cemetery in Queens, where the Rebbe’s holy Ohel is located. The occasion being the Shabbos before Gimmel Tammuz.

It was a first for me and I came there hoping to be inspired and uplifted, and to rejuvenate hiskashrus to the Rebbe. By the time Shabbos has ended, I left there with much more than that and that is the reason why I am sharing my thoughts with you.

What I saw there was the future of Lubavitch. I saw there the real, original and authentic Lubavitch. The Lubavitch the Frierdiker Rebbe writes about in his memories. The Lubavitch the Rebbe wanted and dedicated his life to. We might have been near a cemetery, but all I saw was life – מה זרעו בחיים, אף הוא בחיים.

I saw the new generation of bochurim, of those who sit and learn chassidus before davening, who daven with a geshmak, bochurim with whom I had conversations in nigleh and halacha, needless to say chassidus. Bochurim with whom politics weren’t discussed at all, because it was not of interest to any of them.

There were hours-long farbrengens, niggunim were sung, stories were told, sichos were reviewed and L’chaim was said, yet adhering to the limits of the Rebbe’s gzeirah on mashke. I didn’t see anyone going wild, no booklets being banned or opinions and slogans being imposed on others.

I left inspired by what I saw, by the fact that there is a positive Lubavitch outside of Crown Heights, that there are bochurim who respect rabbonim and who want to become rabbonim, that there are bochurim who are striving to be Chassidishe Baale Batim, and Shluchim, and chassidim and just want to fulfill whatever the Rebbe wants from them without agendas, loopholes and excuses.

I therefore would like to highly recommend to all cynical people out there: Take the trip to the Rebbe for Shabbos. Do yourself a favor, leave the politics behind and see that there is a future. You just have to know where to look.

Thank you Rebbe! אשרינו מה טוב חלקינו! 

 Meshichistim expected knee jerk reactions/comments:

Meshichist-Internet-Troll (מישיחיסט)

dont buy it

I “smell agenda all over your article. I dont buy your story. there are pleanty of chasidisher people in ch well over a thousand. before this shabbos you didint know there are bochurim who get smicha and dayonus… business men whomlearn and go on mivtzoim??? As I try not to judge you I wounder maybe your are very naive and dont visit 770 and you hear “bad” and false matters about crow heightsers and than you went to the ohel and… so what YOU can learn is not to listen to Loshon Hora and be a real chosid come to 770 as well..

politics aside?

just funny to me that after starting off with such a beautiful title you go and contradict yourself by addressing the ‘tzfatis’ as one of the ‘ills’ of lubavitch. maybe you do not consider yourself to be part of those that think ill of them but you need to be accountable for everything you say

The following is the official Meshichist response (which they posted shorty after on their web-site) to the article above:

Confused Thoughts1

The best way to describe what your about to read

770 Is Lubavitch ● Opinion

Zalmy S. writes: The Ohel is a holy place. Period, end of discussion. However it is not Lubavitch and the future of Luabvitch is not there ●

Zalmy S.

 2 Tamuz 5773 (10.06.2013)

The Ohel is a holy place. Period, end of discussion. However it is not Lubavitch and the future of Luabvitch is not there.

Recently an article was published by someone who stayed at the Ohel for Shabbos. He describes an almost utopian world of Chassidishkeit where the atmosphere was pleasant and beautiful… ah!

(Without getting into the Halachic issues of staying at a Beis Hachayim on Shabbos) there are other notions that the writer expresses which at first glance seem to be Chassidish and the “right thing”, however they are fundamentally mistaken.

The Kotzker Rebbe Zt”l was once asked about the customs of the Chassidim: Davening late, Farbrengens, what a disorganized lifestyle! This is Chassidus and Chassidim?! This is G-dliness?!

He answered with a story about a Jew who had never been to the Beis Hamikdosh his entire life and decided to journey at an old age. Imagine his shock when he arrived at the holy of holies the Beis Hamikdosh and saw the rivers of blood, slaughtered animals and hundreds of barefooted men running around…

(Anyone remember the story the Gemara relates of the person who got pelted with thousands of Esrogim by radical “Tzfatis”…)

There is a great misconception by many people about what G-dliness is. To them, it is something pretty and quaint. A picture of an elderly Chossid who never sinned, stroking his long white beard while singing an enchanting Niggun…

When the Tzemach Tzedek passed away leaving behind 50,000 (!) Chassidim, most of them followed the oldest son the Maharil Zt”l. The Chassidus delivered there was more Geshmak, it was pleasing to the eye.

The Rebbe Maharash on the other hand, scrambled to have a Minyan.

Elokus is not always so pretty, sometimes it’s looks may not be pleasing to the faint hearted. When hundreds of Chassidim were taken away at night and shot to death by the Communists leaving thousands of orphans, that was not pretty.

When survivors of “Mother Russia” and the death camps, had to let go of their children who were going on Shlichus to the other side of the globe, that was not pretty.

The nostalgic picture that many paint of the utopian world that existed before Gimmel Tammuz is simply false and misleading. In fact so many things have improved (Bochurim keeping Sedorim, Hiskashurs etc).

So what is Elokus? I don’t know, I am a simple Lubavitcher who tries to do my best. But my Rebbe says clearly where the Shechina will be until the coming of Moshiach: 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights.

Doesn’t look nice to you? Not aesthetic? The look of G-d and G-dliness can be deceiving…

Besides being incoherent (to say the least), this Meshichist totally missed the point. Like I said above, the Meshichistim would have a knee jerk reaction no matter how the article would have been written.

Not one sentence goes with the next and not one paragraph goes with the next. This is a bunch of random thought but together.

Darkness is really light and light is really darkness. Clean is dirty and dirty is clean. You see what really is not and you don’t see what is. Holiness is nasty Etc….

And let’s not forget the weird and twisted way this Meshichist tries to  justify Meshichist violence.

(Anyone remember the story the Gemara relates of the person who got pelted with thousands of Esrogim by radical “Tzfatis”…)

I’m convinced without a shadow of a doubt that the person who wrote the above knee jerk response is on some very high Meds.

I’m not going to post every comment made by a Meshichist, you can read them all HERE (you’ll spot them in a second).

Then we have the comments of those who get intimidated by the Meshichistim whining and complaining (the “moderates”) and as a result they try to meet the Meshichist half way. By doing so, they allow the Meshichist to frame the conversation and they are taking a group of people who are obviously in a defense-full position and stupidly giving them the offense. These “moderates” are naive individuals who don’t know all the facts, don’t know the truth, don’t have strong principles and are basically low information and as a result they fold (in their opinion) very quickly when faced with a “challenge”. (See this graph for more…orange and light blue)

For example:


to num 5

First of all no one cares if you “buy” it. who r you? Second of all no one said in 770 there isn’t cassidishe peaple There r prob more there, then anywere (prob). Its just that in 770 all I see (yes I know Your gonna say is who m I) and I’m sure other peaple do, is tsfatim going nuts and politics being spoken about. on the other hand by the ohel whens the last time you saw peaple going nuts? I’m there at least once a month for shabbos and I can tell you that all is good and fine by the ohel no “peaple ging nuts”. Its a place that if u wanna farbreing and daven WITHOUT peaple speaking about pollitics you go there! So as for you all I can tell you is: start “shoping” at the ohel” and I can tell you that you will buy all that’s there!

You’ll spot a few of these comment as well.

Then you have those that say it the way I would, they say it straight like it is, they simply state the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.


Breadth of fresh air

Great article. People in CH need to be held accountable for allowing the Rebbe’s shul to become infested with insane behavior. Just look at the video being displayed around the world of “Lubavitchers” receiving kos shel bracha this past Shavuos. When will our community leaders step up to the plate and defend the Rebbe’s kavod ? A Shabbos at the Ohel is a great retreat, but not the solution to a growing problem.29

To #25

What “agenda” does this have? Is it not true about the Tzfatim, slogans etc…? Crown Heighters have abandoned 770 many many years ago because of the Tzfatim (violence), slogans etc… So many shuls, over 40 since 5754 (1994) have opened, why is that? I take it you’ve never been to the Ohel for Shabbos and therefore wouldn’t really have a full any idea as to what is being written above true or not. I suggest you go to the Ohel for Shabbos and taste for yourself and then come back here and write your comments.



Unfortunatelythere is behavior and a ruach imposed by some in 770 that is m’rachake many of Anash. The attitude of those individuals is that if someone is uncomfortable with it that’s their problem. It’s tragic and sad that this is what’s become of the Rebbe’s daled amos R”L.

This one is my favorite:


to 25

even if this article is 100 percent filled with “agenda” (which i doubt but anyway) the points are all true, sadly too true. the rebbes shul and lubavitch world headquarters has sadly been invaded by a force of uneven minded individuals chock full of “agenda” who have successfully transformed a beacon of holiness into a den of psychotic, deranged, individuals. spouting nonsense, sparking conflict, and making a whole lot of unwanted noise in general. contrary to this you have the ohel, a successfully managed, clean organized facility, with a aura of peace and holiness pervading the center. you cant blame anyone for exulting and glorifying the latter, whilst condemning the former. good day.


missing the point

The ohel is an inspiring energizing [transient] chassidishe community when it gets filled with hundreds of anash a dozen or so shabbosim a year. Most people there daven in the tent and don’t step foot into the cemetery, Going to the Ohel doesnt mean that you are spending shabbos visiting the tzion (even those who daven at the ohel, it’s at the candle room, they don’t step foot near the kever), it means you are spending shabbos NEAR the tzion with many Chassidishe bochurim and anash. So forget the ohel, it’s spending shabbos in Cambria Heights. If you’re cambria- heightsophobic, than thats fine. I never saw Rabbi Refson on all fours begging people to come for shabbos.

With all that said, let’s clarify a few things:

1) Had the Rebbe zt”l been alive today, he would not be coming to downstairs 770 (the basement) in the condition it’s in now. There were times when the Rebbe threaten not to come downstairs if certain conditions weren’t corrected. So is the Rebbe in (downstairs) 770 today? No he isn’t. Had he been alive, the Meshichistim would have thrown him out.

I (and many in my family and community) haven’t been in downstairs 770 for over 5 years (some even more) and I/we are not missing anything. When I give a tour to my children, it is only upstairs 770.

2) For those commenting on how this article could have been written without the so called “negativity” (which is really the darn truth)…

Today as I was preparing to write this post, I came across the following quote:


So what ??? I’m sometimes allowed to be depressed… If I will never be depressed…I would not know what it means to be happy !!! If I want to know whats sweet, I need to taste the bitter in life.

What makes this person positive experience, well positive, is the fact that he has had a negative experience. The point that the writer is trying to make, can not be made without the negative experience he’s had.

And besides, don’t think for a second that had this article been written without the so called “negativity”, the Meshichistim would not be making the comments they made. The Meshichistim who already have a very low self esteem, would be writing the same comments. Their comments would have just start like this…

“are you suggesting that by 770 etc…etc…”

 אויפֿן גנבֿ ברענט דאָס היטלA hat burns on the head of a thief.

The Meshichistim would get defenseful either way. We shouldn’t really care how they will feel and those who try to play nice with them (by trying to meet them half way) are making a mistake.

What I will however say is that COL should have used a different headline for the article.

Now, how did the Meshichistim who run wild in 770 celebrate Gimmul Tammuz?

חאפלת הגאולה ע''ג

ג תמוז משיחיסטי

משיחיסטים ג תמוז

Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact that the entire world agrees with it, nor

less so even if the whole world disagrees with it.

(Rambam: Moreh Nevuchim 2:15)


2 Responses to “In Good Company: Shabbos At the Ohel”

  1. Meir T. Says:

    אני מאד מצטער אבל אני יוכל בודאות לכתוב ואין אחד שמכיר את המשיחים כמוני .אחד אחד ,אין עם מי ללכת לשולחן. לא מענין אותם רק נקמה ברבי. לחסל את המוסדות ואז יגידו אמרנו לכם שלא עושים עסק העולם התחתון,
    אבל לא יעזור למשיחים והנה מה אנחנו אומרים ומתפללים בתפילת קבלת שבת,
    ארבעים שנה אקוט בדור ואמר עם תעי הם והם לא ידעו דרכי אשר נשבעתי באפי אם יבואן אל מנוחותי….,
    הסבר,ארבעים שנה. הרבי הייה איתנו בחיי חיותה.
    והמשיחים ,הם עם תועי. וזה לא דרך חב”ד,
    נשבעתי באפי, שהמשיחים לא יבוא לאוהל מקום מנוחתי,
    יש לכם תשובה בבקשה אבל בלשון נקייה

  2. Anonymous Says:

    whoever said your not aloud to to the ohel on shabbos? the rebbe was once there on erev rosh hashono i think tof shin yud and it was very late and the rebbe said really we should spend yomtov here but we dont have a shofar so we have to go back, besides for the countless sichos about kohanim going to the ohel etc…….

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