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Mitzvah Tanks in New York Lubavitch attitudes to contemporary moral issues 8 Lubavitch attitudes to contemporary moral issues To understand Chabad Lubavitch’s attitudes to moral issues and to be able to explain the reasons for these attitudes. Recap main Jewish sources of authority and main ethical principles. Students brainstorm how Chabad Lubavitch beliefs might affect their attitudes to these issues. To understand how these attitudes are subtly different from those of other branches Go through main points on handout. of Judaism. Authority? Power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. Jewish Authority? Jewish ethical attitudes? Rabbis Justice Torah – law Truth Talmud – law Peace Synagogue Loving-kindness Elders Compassion Conscience/Reason/ family Self-respect Expert Esteem Command Education The main focus of Chabad-Lubavitch is outreach • reaching out to Jews, • educating them about the traditions of Judaism • encouraging them in their faith. As such, education for young people is key to this mission. The Lubavitcher Rebbe developed an organisation for children under the age of Bar Mitzvah (13 for boys) or Bat Mitzvah (12 for girls). This organisation is called Tzivos-Hashem, “The Army of God”. Giving these children “a genuine Jewish education” is of utmost importance as explained on the Chabad website: “Despite all the advances of modern civilisation, the quality of education in today's world leaves much to be desired. Instead of promoting the growth of caring, sensitive, loving children, contemporary culture often glorifies selfishness, arrogance, and cunning; and society's educational institutions are increasingly ineffective in their efforts to counteract this trend. Violence in the schools, vandalism, insubordination, and the all-pervasive drug culture are symptoms of a tragic failure in education. It has become a matter of great concern, not only to educators at large, but also – and more so – to Jewish educators.” “Despite all the advances of modern civilisation, the quality of education in today's world leaves much to be desired. Instead of promoting the growth of caring, sensitive, loving children, contemporary culture often glorifies selfishness, arrogance, and cunning; and society's educational institutions are increasingly ineffective in their efforts to counteract this trend. Violence in the schools, vandalism, insubordination, and the all-pervasive drug culture are symptoms of a tragic failure in education. It has become a matter of great concern, not only to educators at large, but also – and more so – to Jewish educators.” The role of women Within all branches of Judaism, the role of women is seen as extremely important. • Women are seen as the foundation of the Jewish home. • Many religious duties are the responsibility of the woman, for example the lighting of Shabbat candles. • Women are seen as having just as many unique powers as men, just different ones. • But Chabad were the first major group within Judaism to advocate formal Torah study of women. • Unlike other Jewish groups who leave the Torah to the men, the Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged all Jewish women to actively study the Torah. • It was also women with the movement who led several of the Mitzvah Campaigns (eg. Shabbat candles, kosher and family purity). • As an emissary, the woman fulfils the role of: • Mother and teacher to her own children • As well as that of to thousands of other people. • She is expected to lead the community by being a role-model • Actively teaching others about the Torah, the traditions of the Hasidim • Offering advice and counselling. • Women are so important within Chabad that emissaries are always appointed as couples. Crime and punishment Judaism Generally: The Torah takes crime very seriously and contains many explicit teachings on the appropriate punishment for various crimes. But it is interesting that prison as a punishment is never mentioned. Most crimes should either be paid for by fines of varying amounts, corporal punishments (physical acts such as flogging and stoning), or by the death penalty. The Lubavitcher Rebbe once said to a judge, “May God help you to judge all people justly, and may all your judgements be preventative — not to punish, but rather to prevent wrongdoing.” But the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that although the death penalty is allowed by the Torah, prison is a far worse, and unjust, punishment. With all other punishments, the criminal is made to suffer the penalty, is cleansed from their sin and is then free to continue his life, following God. Whilst in prison, they are not free to be able to pursue a better life, or any kind of life. The Rebbe did teach that if a person finds himself in prison as a result of his actions, then it is God's wish, and he should aim to use his current situation as a way to do God's will. One of the most famous passages in the Torah says “an eye for an eye” which has often been taken to mean that Jewish punishment is based on revenge. But not according to Jewish scholars: • this passage did not literally refer to the removal of a criminal's body parts! • More about the penalty for crimes should be proportionate. • Chabad teachings are all explicitly against retributive actions (actions based on revenge). The idea of crime being properly monitored, judged and punished is very important in the Torah: “You should appoint judges and officers for all of your tribes, at your city gates, and they should judge the people correctly.” (Deuteronomy 16:18) General Judaism: • Teaches that you should love your fellow human. The Lubavitcher Rebbe specifically taught: • Nowhere in the Torah does it say “do not kill”. • So acts of aggression are wrong. • What it says is “Do not murder”, where “murder” is the killing of innocent human life. • Judaism is not pacifistic. • If someone has either committed a serious crime or is posing a direct threat to the lives of innocent people, then they are not themselves innocent, so they can legitimately be killed. • Torah says there is a time for war and a time for peace. • This means that sometimes war is necessary for the overall balance in the world, and that violence is justified in certain circumstances in order to obtain peace. The Torah also teaches that: “If someone is coming to kill you, rise early to kill him first." The Rebbe insisted that: "This means that it is possible to know that someone wants to cause mortal harm, and in such a case, one has the responsibility to prepare a pre-emptive attack.“ War The Byrds Ecclesiastes However, he went on to explain that you if you rise early looking like you are ready to kill your enemy, hopefully he will be scared away and you will not actually have to kill anyone. The complicated issue of warfare morality is explained on the Chabad website like this: “Yes, it is conflicting to be a Jew. We are not meant for warring and killing. But God has placed us in a world—or perhaps, we have made His world into such a place—that sometimes a life must be taken to save one, or even many lives... Pacifism alone can turn as ugly as its opposite, militant extreme, but to know the season for each thing and temper one with the other, that takes great wisdom.” Other Ethical Issues As you now know, the whole movement is about educating people on the teachings of Judaism, and explaining them to all people in a way that is easy to understand and apply today. As such, their website has lots of really clear explanations of the Chabad view on most ethical issues: www.chabad.org.uk Add to your mind map of the CL movement but make sure you include: How are they different to PB? How are they different to what you know about mainstream Judaism?