"My dear [dead] Rebbe, I am asking for brochas to find parnosa and if a sale of our home is the solution that is chosen please assist in making it a successful one. If you can intervene and provide a miracle that brings about a windfall financial gain in another form that will allow us to hold on to our home I will share this windfall with the community (minimum 20% Tzedeka) and take it upon myself to become more observant in additional mitzvot."
Originall published at 10:57 pm CDT 9-2-2013
Ray Tashi, the Chabad follower who was defrauded by senior Chabad Rabbi Joseph Gutnick in a mining scam, was awarded a $1 million (Australian dollars) plus interest judgement, as I reported last week.
What I failed to report (although I linked to it) is that Tashi wrote letters to the dead Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson asking for Schneerson's help in getting out of his deep financial crisis.
(Letters like this are faxed, carried, mailed or emailed to the Chabad House at the late rebbe's grave. A Chabad House rabbi (or the person writing the letter or a friend) then reads the letter quietly at the grave and leaves it there, often but not always torn into small pieces.)
Here's what one Tashi letter to the dead Chabad-Lubavitch rebbe said:
I have recently been challenged financially, some of which has been due to my own mismanagement for which I take full responsibility. However, some of the events were unexpected and have impacted heavily on my financial resources and ability to continue to live in the lifestyle that we have established. This has necessitated the sale of our home, which is creating a great deal of pain to both my wife and me.
I have worked hard for what we have achieved over the past 50 years and I have been generous to my family, friends and community not only financially but with my time as well. Nevertheless, I intend to continue to do so.
I have over the years become more observant and my journey has not yet achieved its full potential and I fully recognised my shortcomings in that area and I would like to continue to improve myself in this area. I know it is up to me.My dear Rebbe, I am asking for brochas to find parnosa and if a sale of our home is the solution that is chosen please assist in making it a successful one. If you can intervene and provide a miracle that brings about a windfall financial gain in another form that will allow us to hold on to our home I will share this windfall with the community (minimum 20% Tzedeka) and take it upon myself to become more observant in additional mitzvot.
As I've written many times in the past, this behavior is normative in Chabad theology. The dead rebbe "answers" their prayer and their requests, and praying directly to and asking the dead rebbe for guidance or for material or spiritual benefits is normal.
In normative Jewish theology and law, this is forbidden. It is a form of idol worship and is considered foreign and something outside Judaism.
Shortly after writing that letter to the dead rebbe, Gutnick – the late Rebbe's handpicked Special Emissary to the Integrity of the Land of Israel one of three official Chabad head rabbis in Melbourne – offered Tashi a huge 'deal' on mining stock.
Tashi thought the rebbe had "answered" him, and he bought the stock – only to find out later that the stock was sold to him at retail price, which was vastly overvalued. Gutnick had defrauded him.
What Australia's court really doesn't seem to address is why Gutnick might have offered the 'deal' to Tashi.
Chabad rabbis allegedly feed information gleaned from letters like Tashi's (and gleaned from commiserating with potential marks who have come to the Rebbe's grave to pray) to hasidim who are allegedly in the affinity fraud business. The Chabad rabbis allegedly get 'charity' donations and other favors from these alleged scammers in return.
This same system may also be in play when wealthy people or people who are very ill or close to death write letters and send them to the Rebbe's grave. Local Chabad rabbis allegedly are tipped off about the letters and their contents and then bump into or find other ways of meeting these people and striking up a friendship with them in order to get what they hope will be large donations.
A similar scam was reportedly run by the famous Maggid of Mezeritch, the Ba'al Shem Tov's successor, but it was run while the Maggid was living. It involved hasidic spies who got information on rich Jews and on Jews who came to visit the Maggid's court. They passed the info to the Maggid who then used it 'spontaneously' on the Sabbath to wow these naive people, who then became his followers and donated money.
Gutnick is now reportedly living in Singapore.
There is more on Rabbi Joseph Gutnick here.
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