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September 09, 2008



When I read this piece, I was reminded of the following letter written to a Jewish newspaper in Melbourne, Australia. First some background:

A number of individuals had been dancing and singing yechi in the local Lubavitcher shul. Some mispallelim got upset, and eventually the dancers were told to leave the shul. From that point on, they have taken to dancing on the street corner near the shul, during rush hour. Almost all local Lubavitchers think this is a chillul Hashem. Here then is the latter to the newspaper:

"THEY still shoot horses on the streets of St Kilda East. On Shabbat, aficionados of the dance marathon are being regularly treated to a modern version of this ancient rite. It is not linked with mammon, however, but with Moshiach.

The dancers are a group of Chassidic true believers, who claim that the Jews are a light to the nations, and that the Rebbe held that light. He held it in body when he was alive, and he holds that light in spirit since his passing.

How does their geographical constituency respond? One gentile joined the dance, and as he whirled faster and faster, he exclaimed, “I don’t know the words ... I don’t know the words!”

The dancers’ aim, of course, is not conversion in the conventional sense. Rather, this group wish to convert each and every individual, Jew and gentile alike, to the “cult” of dancing. Their belief is not founded in developmental or evolutionary psychology. It is not merely a case of returning to the content-free lack of civilised restraint characteristic of healthy childhood.

Rather, it is a return to a healthy, pre-civilised freedom to adumbrate the one deity. God can be praised in many ways – or not. The post-enlightenment refrain, “I believe in God but I don’t believe in organised religion” resonates with the leitmotiv of this little group of dancers. Dancing was deemed offensive by their parent religious body, and they were banned from entering their regular house of worship.

Now they have taken to authentic prayer in various squats. They have no intention of giving up dancing. When they are asked the question, “why do you dance?”, they retort. Respectfully, isn’t the question, “Why are you not dancing, my friend?”"

The point that the above writer makes seems to be very similar to the one you are making. And I'm flabbergasted, to say the least.

While we certainly can and should look for the good in others and not be judgmental, surely these are clear examples of what the Lubavitcher Rebbe said should NOT be done, when he asked for "oros detohu in keilim detikun".


Look, I admire the attempt to make sense of it. Because I haven't been able to.
It's nice to see us attempting to figure it out. But you're not there yet.

I think the same thing happened, l'havdil with the USA's fight against the USSR. For a long time, the USA couldn't figure out what the machlokes was about. In the 50's they thought it was about "God vs Atheism". That's why they put 'In God we trust' on the money and 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance. But that wasn't it. After a few decades, they figured it out.

So too with the Nanach's. We need to figure out why they like it. It's not simple. There's a catch-22. The Rambam did it fine at the end of Hil. Melachim, explaining the purpose of Christianity and Islam without justifying them.

I don't know if the motivation for nanachism can be sublimated. That takes great skill. But like a Dr Phil says: People do things because of a perceived gain. What do they gain from their Nanach shtick?

Why would nice Jews be attracted to mantra shtus? Because the establishment is really low on mantras. But our siddurim and piyutim show that there was a history of that. "Ki L'olam Chasdo". "B'dil Va'yaavor" etc. But we squashed it over time.

Well, apparently some people still needed that.

A start...

sarah [s(b.)]

Thanks. And thanks for that comment on Hesh's music thread (I read it after I commented, but I appreciated it).


Thank you for the comments. I agree. I also share the concerns about the direction into which Na Nach may develop. Rather than commenitng I added a paragraph that addresses it.


nice post, although I didn't understand some of the terminology.

Keep up the good work!

Peace, Love, or BRESLUV!

Great blessings of Na Nach Nachmu Nachman Meuman!

B"H this will be referenced and linked to at nanach.net


how come I can't read the other comments?

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