R. Einhorn says that a couple of years ago he went to see Tony Robbins and it was an amazing experience. People walked on fire, etc.
Under the leadership of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Chabad (Lubavitch) grew from a small circle of Chasidim (no numbers are given in this book) into an omnipresent and unified force in world Judaism. Most importantly, he had the talent to ensure it would survive and prosper after his death by creating an atmosphere and structures in which the very idea of a successor was out of the question.
Such institutionalisation is an essential attribute of a charismatic leader who seeks to perpetuate his movement. According to Joseph Telushkin, the attempts to proclaim Schneerson Messiah infuriated him, though others have suggested that, in his later years and especially after the death of his wife, he may, perhaps unwittingly, have indulged it. Either way, if that faction had won, it would have derailed the continuing development of Chabad into a successful modern movement able to survive and grow without a living charismatic leader.
As a sage or rabbinic authority, Schneerson was, I need hardly say, different. As a Chasidic Rebbe, he left specific rulings to others, but Telushkin lists innumerable instances of sage advice on the practical problems of life that people brought to him. He also avoided pronouncing, for example, on the question, “Who is a Jew?” In this, he contrasts with other prominent rabbis. For example, the reputation of Ovadia Yosef, leader of the Shas movement in Israel – which surely learnt a lot from Chabad’s methods of bringing people to teshuva – rests on his innumerable published rulings.
Like other leaders of large-scale, innovative religious movements, Schneerson created an apparatus around himself to calibrate and ritualise his every public appearance: his meetings with thousands of individuals who would queue up patiently and seek his advice, after which he would give them each a dollar bill as a signal of their obligation of tsedaka, were his trade mark.