So here's the deal. A Chabadnik builds two condominium complexes in Crown Heights, 770 Lefferts and 613 East New York. He sells the units to fellow Chabadniks, but fails to transfer the deeds to the buyers' names.
…takes out huge mortgages on the condos in the names of his mother and other family members as part of an apparent ponzi scheme to finance other swindles and keep him living the life of a rich man.
A few years pass.
Just before Passover, hasidim who thought they owned their units got eviction notices sent by Ameriquest and other sub-prime lenders.
The Chabadnik who defrauded his fellow hasidim is 47 year old Eliyahu Ezagui. He is now living safely in Jerusalem.
So why did hasidim buy condos from this man and then not insist on receiving a deed of sale?
"We trusted him, we thought we knew him, he told us he had the blessing of the grand rabbi. We had contracts, so we gave him the money," said Jeff Minsky, who lives at 613 with his wife and six children.
How could Ezagui have the blessing of the late Rebbe, who died in 1994, many years before the project began?
Perhaps Ezagui claimed to have done what so many Chabadniks do every day – randomly open a volume of the Rebbe's collected letters, the Igros, and scan the open pages for an 'answer' to their question. He may also have placed a note asking for a blessing randomly inside a volume of these letters and then opened the book to see if there was an 'answer' from the Rebbe there.
Whatever Ezagui did, lots of Chabad hasidim believed him, and believed he had a bracha from the deceased Rebbe to build these buildings.
I don't for a second think this affair will stop Chabad hasidim from doing these foolish things, and I don't believe it will cause hasidim to lose their faith in their departed messiah.
Chabad hasidim don't hold the Rebbe responsible for Joe Gutnick's shenanigans and for much else done in the Rebbe's name, even when the Rebbe was alive and well.
A broken Ouija Board won't change that.