In a slanderous op-ed, Rabbi Shammai Englemayer attributes quotes to the Lubavitcher rebbe that are out of context and twisted. The irony is that the position Englemayer attributes to the rebbe is the exact diametric opposite of what the rebbe spoke, taught, and preached about the Holocaust throughout his 40-plus years of leadership.
In his writings and discussions on the subject, which can be found in many sources, including Sefer HaSichos 5751 Vol.1 p. 233, Sichos Kodesh 5751 vol 2 p 173, where the rebbe said it’s a desecration to the memories of the kedoshim to say that the Shoah came as a punishment to Jews, in every one of these sources, in every one of his talks, the rebbe rejected all theological explanations for the Holocaust. What greater conceit, the rebbe would say, and what greater heartlessness can there be than to give a “reason” for the death and torture of millions of innocent men, women and children? Can we presume to assume that an explanation small enough to fit inside the finite bounds of human reason can explain a horror of such magnitude? We can only concede that there are things that lie beyond the finite ken of the human mind. The rebbe would say: It is not my task to justify God on this. Only God Himself can answer for what He allowed to happen. And the only answer we will accept, said the rebbe, is the immediate and complete Redemption that will forever banish evil from the face of the earth and bring to light the intrinsic goodness and perfection of God’s creation.
The quote Englemeyer attributes to the rebbe is regarding our understanding of evil in this world as a whole, it was NOT an explanation of the Holocaust and most certainly not a reference to the kedoshim who perished there.
When a Jewish leader in Israel spoke about sin causing the holocaust, the rebbe literally shouted at a public address about the amazing chutzpah one has in blaming the victims and giving a theological response to something that is unfathomable and unexplainable by man.
It was the rebbe who dedicated his life and his leadership to reaching out to every Jew, regardless of religious observance. It was the rebbe who said that just as Hitler, may his name be erased, searched out every Jew in hate, we must search out every Jew in love.
Did Englemayer reach out to one Chabad representative in Bergen County or nationally before writing about and attributing a false statement to the rebbe? No.
Furthermore, had Englemeyer cared to investigate, he may have discovered that like millions of his generation, the Lubavitcher rebbe was personally touched by the Holocaust. His younger brother, Dov Ber, was shot to death and thrown into a mass grave, as were tens of thousands of other Jews in a series of massacres conducted by the Germans shortly after their occupation of Dnepropetrovsk in the fall of 1941. A beloved grandmother and other family members were also killed. The rebbe’s wife lost her younger sister Sheina, who perished in Treblinka together with her husband and their adopted son.
Does the call for Jewish unity that Englemayer proclaims in the same issue not apply to anyone to the right of him religiously? To those to his right he can lie, distort and falsely attribute quotes to fit his preformed opinions? Whatever happened to journalism 101, or a better question, what ever happened to plain old Ahavas Yisroel and “judging everyone favorably” as per Ethics of our Fathers 1:6.
Perhaps a little more journalistic integrity would be in order for our community paper.
Rabbi Ephraim Simon
Rabbi Yitzchok Gershovitz
Rabbi Avrohom Bergstein
Rabbi Mendy Lewis
Rabbi Micheol Goldin
Rabbi Moshe Grossbaum
Rabbi Dov Drizin
Rabbi Yosef Orenstein
Rabbi Yossi Katz
Rabbi Mordechai Shain
Rabbi Meir Konikov
Rabbi Chanoch Kaplan
Rabbi Moshe Schapiro
[Shammai Engelmayer responds: The quotes attributed to the late Chabad-Lubavitch leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, are a matter of public record (they originally appeared in a Kfar Chabad publication), as is Schneerson’s defense of his position, from which I also quoted. As the Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer noted, the letter was dated Aug. 28, 1980, and was written on Schneerson’s personal stationary. It “contains a number of corrections in his own handwriting, and is signed by him,” Bauer wrote. “In it, the rebbe confirms everything in the published text.”]