Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

This post on Failed Messiah is getting a lot of play in the blogosphere.

FM reports: “A Chabad rabbi is upset because a recruit asked to have his name removed from Chabad’s mailing list and won’t return the rabbi’s emails and text messages asking for an explanation. What does the Chabad rabbi do?”

My empathy here is with the rabbi. The rabbi has obviously had this man to his home many times, hosted him for many Sabbath and holiday meals, and now this man has asked to be removed from the Chabad mailing list.

So the rabbi wants to know why.

I get this.

If you’ve been hosted for meals, you have obligations to your host. To cut off relations with no explanation is classless.

I’m not saying that the congregant in this case is classless. I know nothing about his situation and I won’t judge him.

The most difficult writing I’ve ever done has been about my relationships with various rabbis. It was such a close bond. These guys really knew who I was. I shared some of the most intimate details of my life and they all did their best to help me to live up to the Torah’s requirements.

On countless occasions, I failed my rabbis and I failed to live up to the Torah. Instead, I wanted to do my own thing.

What’s a rabbi going to do when a congregant leaves? He won’t make public the congregant’s indiscretions. He would never leak a phone message to a blog. A rabbi wants to abide by Judaism’s strict dictates about preserving dignity.

Us bloggers tend to have much less concern with maintaining others’ dignity. We instead think about our own traffic, image, and prestige before we think about what Torah requires from us.

I totally understand blogging this rabbi’s upset phone call. I just feel sick about it. I feel sick about my own painful separations from various rabbis so I could do my own thing. I feel sick about the way I’ve needlessly sacrificed others’ dignity.

Here’s a partial list of the rabbis who’ve most influenced me:

* Aaron Rubinger
* Yitzchock Adlerstein
* Yitzchak Etshalom
* Ari Hier
* Shlomo Schwartz
* Nachum Braverman
* Elazar Muskin
* Abner Weiss
* Avrohom Union
* Steven Weil
* Yosef Kanefsky
* Joseph Telushkin

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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