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Israeli Chabad Spokesman: Chabad is Zionist

A spokesman for the Chabad-Lubavitch worldwide Chassidic movement says the sect is Zionist in its support for Israel.

Rabbi Menachem Brod of Kfar Chabad told Arutz Sheva in an exclusive interview Tuesday that the traditional definition of the term has morphed into one that has become unclear.

Brod set about clarifying what the Chabad-Lubavitch movement defines Zionism to mean “in the practical sense of the word,” making it clear that its Jewish origins have not changed.

“If the definition of ‘Zionism’ is defined as detachment from Jewish roots and becoming a nation like any other, we oppose that – and so did all the great Torah leaders. But if Zionism is about loving the land, about national security, settling the land, then Chabad definitely supports those important activities,” he declared.

Brod, who serves as the movement’s spokesman in Israel, was responding to criticism from the Reform movement-affiliated group Hiddush (Hebrew for “innovation”).

The group had attempted to persuade Knesset members to call off a Knesset event – an evening to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS. The event was held to honor Chabad for its decades-long outreach to Jews in the former Soviet Union.

Hiddush argued that the Knesset should not support Chabad because it is “anti-Zionist.”

No MKs responded to the appeal, however, and the event was held as scheduled.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who addressed a Tel Aviv hall filled to capacity at the event, told the Chabad emissaries, “You stand atop of the mountain, and the Jewish people gathered at its base salute you. I am the first [to do so].”

Among the hundreds of Chabad emissaries from the former Soviet Union to attend the event were Russia’s Chief Rabbi, Berel Lazar and philanthropist Lev Leviev, head of Africa-Israel.

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30 Comments To "Israeli Chabad Spokesman: Chabad is Zionist"

#1 Comment By Zvi T. On July 20, 2011 @ 11:52 am

How about the term ‘reform’, no good ? The Rebbe spoke about hischadshus in Torah. It doesnt refer to a change in Torah and Mitzvos.

Moshiach’s Torah is called ‘Torah Chadosho’, again without changing that which we have already. But it will be novel.

The term ‘reform’ could conceivably be used, and be grammatically correct.

Would any sane Lubavitcher use it ? Or do we look at the broader ( political, historical, theological ) definition of the term and take that into account ?

#2 Comment By moshe On July 20, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

Brod “Hacked in Chainik”. but lets hope it sells well!

#3 Comment By Israel On July 20, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

Please be aware that the reform movement did not recognize Israel until after the 6 day war! Ask any reform Jew if he is an American first or Israeli Zionist first and the overwhelming response will be American first and American second and third and forth etc. Ask any Chabad member that very same question and the response will be something like this. I am an American Zionist and I am also a Zionist American. both of my allegiances are just as strong in different ways.

#4 Comment By Holy cow! On July 20, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

Rabbi Brod knows nothing about PR.
We’re going to suffer from this one for a while.

#5 Comment By AA On July 20, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

It’s pretty rich of the Hiddush guys to slam Chabad for anti-Zionism, when their movement itself was founded on the idea that “we expect neither a return to Palestine… nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state” (Pittsburgh Platform of 1885).

#6 Comment By Milhouse On July 20, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

#1 is exactly right. If Lubavitch is Zionist (as R Brod explained), then it is also Reform (as #1 explained), Conservative (under the definition used by 99% of English-speaking people), Reconstructionist (we support reconstructing the BHMK), Messianic (surely this needs no explanation!), Unorthodox (we are very innovative), Catholic (“umol’oh ho’oretz dei’oh es Hashem”), Russian Orthodox (needs no explanation), Baptist (we go to mikveh all the time!), Moslem (“islam” means bittul to retzon Hashem), Animist (chassidus fits the dictionary definition), Christian (“christos” means moshiach), and many other things. But I don’t think R Brod would use any of these terms about us, would he?

The Rebbe was fiercely anti-zionist, and it had nothing to do with whether Herzl was a rosho or a tzadik. He called the medinah “choshech koful umechupol”. And of course the Rebbe Nishmoso Eden’s view of zionism is published and well-known, and he makes it clear that this includes Religious Zionism.

#7 Comment By Leivi On July 20, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

And Chabad keeps going down

#8 Comment By CR On July 20, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

“But if Zionism is about loving the land, about national security, settling the land, then Chabad definitely supports those important activities,”

You may call it zionism but that merely sounds like good patriotism; it is how loyal citizens should feel about their country wherever they live (I certainly feel this way about my country, the USA).

Zionism, as defined in the Hertzl era, is an obsolete ideology and is completely irrelevant today. Israel exists as a country and has achieved all of the original objectives. There is really nothing left to ”zionize” over anymore.

#9 Comment By WOW Great News On July 20, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

Hatikva Yes?

Hatikva no?

#10 Comment By exch-r On July 20, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

Och un vei

#11 Comment By Chaim On July 20, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

It is all dependent on definitions. Get over it. Nothing wring with this.

G-d and the Rebbe are zionists by my definition too.

#12 Comment By ad mosai?!? On July 20, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

people we all say it daily in our tefilos in many different ways ex:hamachazir shechinoso leZION!!! amen! we want Moshiach NOW!!!

#13 Comment By Milhouse On July 20, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

#5, no Chabad member would identify himself as either an “American Zionist” or a “Zionist American”. A Chabadnik is not a Zionist, of any kind. And a Chabadnik knows where his first loyalty lies: neither with America nor with the Medinah, but with Am Yisroel. Whatever is in the best interest of his fellow Jews is what he will do. Right now, that means securing the safety of the medinah, whether it suits America or not; at another time it may mean ditching the medinah.

#14 Comment By nsker On July 20, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

<i>It is all dependent on definitions. Get over it. Nothing wring with this.

G-d and the Rebbe are zionists by my definition too.</i>

The subtle substitution of terms is called ”rebranding” these days. Whatever their tirutzim, they have no right to rebrand Rebbe.

#15 Comment By Chossid On July 21, 2011 @ 9:37 am

He is the spokesman for Tzach not for Lubavitch. Secondly we love Eretz Yisroel, The Rebbe being the number one oheiv Eretz Yisroel and Am Yisroel, but against the state. When Brod says zionist, when he (hopefully) means Eretz Yisroel, Arutz Sheva takes it as zionism kipshuto, which is totally against the Rebbe Rashab, Rebbe Rayatz and the Rebbe.

The Rebbe said to the Shulzinger bros. that the medina pushed off Moshiach by 50 years!!

Tzion v’Yerushalayim- of course! Zionism- cholilo/
Moshiach NOW

#16 Comment By Laaniyas Dayti On July 20, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

It is an ancient saying.

“Children should not play around with ism’s.”

They are like “fire” (of avos nezikin). Once lit they take a life of their own, and you are no longer in control.

What is amazing is that Brod (the clod) mentions this very concept. [“…the traditional definition of the term has morphed into one that has become unclear.]
Everyone can have his own definition in this (Zionist) changing ism. But then again, it is a current fact tht Chabad has morphed (is morphing) into something that generates lively (heated?) debate. In other words, the definition of Chabad has become unclear also.

So Brod uses the old rule of any ballagolla: Hitch a ferd to a ferd, and you can have a bandwagon.

#17 Comment By Rather be a Zionist On July 20, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

What’s worse: Being Zionist or Serving Avoideh Zarah? (ehem, mishichists)

#18 Comment By Chaim On July 20, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

nsker: actually you have no right to speak for the Rebbe who only showed ahavas Yisroel as I recalled as opposed to the closed-mind, divisive person you appear to be.

#19 Comment By Back to School On July 20, 2011 @ 11:25 pm

Get an education Nsker.

If you actually learnt the history of Zionism you will see there are many different definitions and the Rebbeim were not against all of them entirely. The Rebbe also never put down Israel, its people or its government although he clearly disagreed with many of their decisions.

#20 Comment By attn #8 On July 21, 2011 @ 12:26 am

well said

#21 Comment By melech On July 21, 2011 @ 2:17 am

seriously ppl, get over it. we love n want israel 2 flourish? yes? then technically Zionist. Zionist is English 4 Israel lover (per Se) no need 2 make a big stink over what we are branded on. get a life 4 gds sake. we have so much fighting & controversy in lubabvitch then let us @ least unite with something…unless u dont give a hoot about Israel then brand urslf wtvr u want.

#22 Comment By What a dumb caption On July 21, 2011 @ 4:21 am

He explained exactly what the position of Chabad ir re: Israel. Read his words “If the definition of ‘Zionism’ is defined as detachment from Jewish roots and becoming a nation like any other, we oppose that – and so did all the great Torah leaders.”
And then went on to explain what Chabad is: “But if Zionism is about loving the land, about national security, settling the land, then Chabad definitely supports those important activities.”
So what he is saying is, the term Zionism today is meaningless. He never said Chabad is Zionist. This is pure sensational media.

#23 Comment By YMH On July 20, 2011 @ 11:43 pm

Before the establishment of the State of Israel the Lubavitcher Rebbeim (Rebbe Rashab and Friedeker Rebbe)were vehemently against the establishment of the Jewish political state. The Rebbe was also against its establishment even if it would have been under the juristiction of authentic Frummer Yidden.This explains why the Rebbe Rashab walked out of the first Agudah convention never to return to it.The Lubavitcher Rebbeim sided more with the views of the Munkatcher Rebbe the Minchas Elozor of Hungary who was a vehement anti- Zionist and clashed with the views of the Gerrer Rebbe the Baal H’Aimre Emes whether the 3 Oaths mentioned in Masechte Kesuvos are Lehalocha or not.These include not antagonizing the Goyim, Mass settlement and immigration to the Land of Israel and not to force the Geulah before the destined time.The Gerrer Rebbe said that the 3 oaths were not Lehalocha as the Rambam doesn’t mention them at all, rather it is an Aggadta, and we don’t Pasken a Halocha from Aggadta. All the Lubavitcher Rebbeim held that if an Aggadta doesn’t contrdict a Halocha we Pasken from a Aggadta. Therefore they held that the establishment was prohibited.In addition to this the Rebbe spoke fiercely against it mainly in the first years of the Nesius describing the amount of Jewish children who had lost their Yiddishkeit thanks to the doings of the Zionists. In my day (the’70s)I remeber the Rebbe shouting that a certain respectable Rabbi had said that the Medina was Haschalta DeGeulah(the beginning if the redemption)!At length the Rebbe explained emphatically why this was a mistake and cannot be. Needless to say that though the Rebbeim held a cordial relationship with Rav Kook, they were opposed to his views on Zionism(which even for the Gerrer Rebbe were too much).The Rebbeim were against the singing of Hatikvah and Yom Ha’Atzmaut. He ordered that Tachnun be said. (I heared from very reliable sources that the Rebbe in the early years of the Nesius took his name off one of his Yeshivos because they sang Hatikvah at the annual dinner)
After the establishment of the Medina,the Rebbe was more occupied with Kiruv and Mivtzoim and the safety of the Land.But under no circumstances one must not misunderstand this to mean that the Rebbe was a Zionist.Even then, the Rebbe repremanded them regarding the Law of Return and Not giving back Land and other terrible things such as Chillul Shabbos.(This I personally heard the Rebbe speaking about it).Someone said to the Rebbe that since so many Yeshivos were growing in the State of Israel-perhaps the establishment was a good one. To this the Rebbe answered that even if there were benefits to its establishments- it didn’t rule out all the other problems, the main thing was to ensure its complete safety.
In short, there is no bigger fighter against the detriments of Zionism than the Rebbe.
In short Rabbi Brod,in light of the above,one should be ashamed of saying that ‘Chabad are Zionists’, no matter how you want to interpret Zionism-‘Ein Mikra Yotzei Midei Pshuto’.Be honest to yourself,you don’t have to make yourself cute in front of others,stop saying such things in the name of Chabad which are clearly against the views of the Rebbeim,and most important think about all the above facts and then PLEASE TAKE BACK YOUR COMMENT!

#24 Comment By to #23 On July 21, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

if the media pushed off mashiach then y do we even bother with anything the rebbe said? nothing is gonna happen 4 another 50 yrs lol. this generation my foot, how long does a generation last 4 already? hahaha this whole thing is hogwash. do good things, love israel. but dnt sit here n tell us the rebbe said this n that. he isnt god. is he a leader? yes but hes not god. thats a concept lots of lubavitchers need 2 undrstnd well.

#25 Comment By Milhouse On July 21, 2011 @ 5:44 pm

#16, Zionism *is* avoda zara.

#24, If that’s your attitude then what are you doing on this site? To chassidim, “Ein lonu elo divrei Ben Amrom”. The definition of chassidus is bittul to the Rebbe, “ve’idoch pirusho hu”. If you can’t accept that, then you’re not a chossid, which is fine, but on a chassidisher site you shouldn’t express such views.

#26 Comment By #16 & #24 Right – Milhouse Wrong On July 21, 2011 @ 10:30 pm

As usual, Mr. “Milhouse” entertains us with his pompous pontifications, showing that he really belongs in a mad-house. Will the men with the white coats please take him away already?

#16 wrote: What’s worse: Being Zionist or Serving Avoideh Zarah? (ehem, mishichists)

Hey Milhouse — please answer this question for us, is being a “Zionist” worse than being a “Meshichist”? Please explain how Zionism *is* avoda zara.

#24 wrote that the Rebbe is not G-d. To believe that the Rebbe is G-d (Chas V’sholom) unquestionably *IS* avoda zora — even though Mr. Milhouse doesn’t seem to think so (or is it MS. Milhouse, considering how he evidently fits into the category of ‘da’aton kalos’ – my apologies to the ladies). Actually it doesn’t seem that Mr./Ms. Milhouse is capable of any coherent thinking at all.

Hey Milhouse – why don’t you go and see if you can find and kiss Bin Ladin’s tuchus (I understand there is a group of Arabs claiming he is the Messiah and he cannot be dead). You seem to have much more in common with the Arabs than with the Jewish people.

#27 Comment By An Elterer Chosid On July 21, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

#24 Millhouse:

We can agree that #23 went overboard in ridiculing the absolutism (and fundamentalism) of most Lub’s today.

But what makes you the koveya of what a chosid is? One sentence (phrase or word) VeIdach pirushoy? Where do you find that fundamentalist infallibility concept of Rebbe in any (ANY) maamorim of previous generations?

Your dismissal of such an opinion as #23 presented, and banishment of him/her from a Lub site, is extremely depressing. Criticize his chuptzpa in presentation, but YOU, Millhouse, who normally appears to be a thinking person, YOU have exposed yourself as a fundamentalist like so many others?

Infallibility belief led to immortality belief. How far is this from deification?

Shame Milhouse, shame. You are aligned with the problem and the past, and not with the solution and the future.

Question to a maskil (Millhouse?):

Why is Lubavitch so hung up about the chitzoniyus of the Rebbe, and ignore the pnimyus completely.

A Rebbe is a NESHAMA klalis, NOT an immortal guf. Why do you need the Rebbe’s neshama back in the same guf (which will eventually be.) Why can chassidim not transcend that chitzoniyus, and realize that a neshama klalis can (AND DID) reside in different keilim?

No doubt in this old-fogy’s mind that that was precisely what the Rebbe meant when he said “…you only need to open your eyes and you will see him…”

SO WHY has that not even risen as a possibility? Because 99.99% of chassidim are mevinim on who is and who is not shaych to be the guf in which this neshama can reside. Where does that leave the neshama klalis today? Either in tohu or in a poylisheh bekeshe?

#28 Comment By Moishe On July 21, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

The Rebbe supported eretz Yisroel, which in fact helped Medinas Yisroel.
The Rebbe did not praise the medina, but tried to steer it in the direction he felt it should go.

#29 Comment By @millhouse On July 22, 2011 @ 3:46 am

thank u 4 telling me where & what i can go…i appreciate the father-likeness in u. who r u 2 tell me if i am a chosid or not? cuz u might wear a white shirt? no, a chosid is inside. i keep 6134 mitrzvos like u (hopefully) do, that does not make u a better person than i, & in retrospect, it doesnt make ME better than u. theres a big problem in lubabvitch-what deems a person as a chosid. i love it how we go around having ahavas yisroel with non frum yidden but within ourslvs? noooooo. mayb u should’ve joined that Neturai Karta burning of israel snacks sir

#30 Comment By hershey On July 22, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

i think mosiach will arrive whel all of chabad will all get along