The Call Of The Shofar Controversy

Benny posts:

Reflections on the Call of the Shofar controversy:

I don’t know much about the program, nor do I particularly care. But, ever since the controversy began, I’ve been asking —

What’s the goal and purpose for writing and bashing COTS?

Okay, so you feel it might be a cult. Gotcha. But, why are you suddenly bashing this group? Why are rabbis, rabbonim and mashpiim writing articles and calling meetings to discuss this issue? What difference does it make if mature adults make a decision to attend a weekend retreat?

Is the goal to save souls? Really? Then, I simply ask you, where are these people on the numerous other important and profound social issues going on in Chabad today? Why are there no meetings on sex-abuse by these same people? Why are they not writing articles on the matter and publishing it on all Chabad websites?

Rabbis – you think it’s okay to motzie shem rah on hundreds of fellow Jews? You think its okay to disparage them? You think its okay to call them idol-worshipers (the worst thing that anyone can ever call a yid)?

Clearly, it isn’t about COTS or saving souls. It is clearly about power, control and getting your name in the news. Not one of the so-called experts or opinionates interviewed a single COTS attendee to discover what happens, what affect it had and what “hold” COTS continues to have over the member.

It’s a bloody shame. They want to control our daily actions, our way of thinking and our ability to be independent. These rabbis crave power and control – something they have been losing steadily over the past several years.

Rabbis – if you truly care about the Jewish soul, then show that you truly care and do something about the more pressing and important issues. And then can we address COTS and its effect on several hundred adults.

Luke says: It’s such a shame that rabbis want power, control and influence. Oh wait, all the anti-abuse activists want the same thing. Wait, everybody with an IQ over 100 wants the same thing. Every healthy smart adult with an ego wants power, control, and influence, if only to keep it away from people they hate. Much of the anti-abuse activism is driven by hatred of rabbis (who embody Judaism aka telling you what to do), which is fine with me. Let a thousand arguments bloom. Rabbis have lagged in the fight against abuse and they deserve criticism.

You could make the same argument against the rabbis against COTS by saying, “But what about lashon hara/tv/internet? Why aren’t they speaking out about lashon hara/internet/tv etc” Or any of 100 things that pose a danger to Orthodox Judaism. COTS aka Landmark aka LGAT (Large Group Awareness Therapy) is dangerous. Read if you want to know more. Rabbis are doing their jobs when they condemn something that is dangerous, even if they don’t simultaneously condemn everything else that is dangerous.

Put “Call of the Shofar” into Google and the first auto prompt is for “cult.” COTS comes from Landmark, which is EST, which was developed by Werner Erhard, the fake name of former used car salesman John Paul Rosenberg, who was heavily influenced by Scientology.So if you love Scientology, you’re going to love COTS, and if you hate Scientology, you’re going to hate COTS (if you think things through and do your research).

Per Wikipedia:

Erhard read L. Ron Hubbard extensively, and some Scientology terms overlap with terms from est.[19] Erhard later said, “I have a lot of respect for L. Ron Hubbard and I consider him to be a genius and perhaps less acknowledged than he ought to be.”[17]:383 William Bartley, in his biography of Werner Erhard, recounts that he asked Erhard to describe the differences between est and Scientology; Erhard replied:

The essential difference between est and Scientology is two-fold. The first has to do with Scientology’s emphasis on survival and its idea that the purpose of life is survival. est sees the purpose of life as wholeness or completion – truth – not survival.
The other main difference between est and Scientology lies in the treatment of knowing. Ron Hubbard seems to have no difficulty in codifying the truth and in urging people to believe it. But I suspect all codifications, particularly my own. In presenting my own ideas, I emphasize their epistemological context. I hold them as pointers to the truth, not as the truth itself.
I don’t think anyone ought to believe the ideas that we use in est. The est philosophy is not a belief system and most certainly ought not to be believed. In any case, even the truth, when believed, is a lie. You must experience the truth, not believe it.

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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