Dec 28, 2013
Oholei Torah Staff Issue Statement
8 mashpi'im of Beis Medrash Oholei Torah distanced themselves from the "Call of the Shofar" after being tied to it.
By COLlive reporter
An uncommon letter is being signed by teachers of chassidus studies at Beis Medrash Oholei Torah, one of Chabad's largest yeshivas and a division of Educational Institute Oholei Torah in Crown Heights.
8 of its rabbis, in positions of mashpi'im and chassidus teachers, came out with a statement on Friday, 24 Teves 5774, against "The Call of the Shofar", a "self examination" program based on the controversial Landmark Forum.
Written in Hebrew, the letter states, "It is fallacious to participate in any way in organizations such as "Call of the Shofar" and all like it, and there is no room for chassidim to have such perspectives."
"Call of the Shofar," or COTS, uses "cognitive tools" and "guided imagery visualizations" to bring participants of its weekend retreats to "discoveries and rediscoveries." They have been called a cult.
In their letter, the mashpi'im agreed that when methods "are against the spirit and philosophy of the Torah and chassidus in particular, it is all together absurdly fallacious to go and participate in the things and places."
Signed on the letter are Rabbis Nachman Schapiro, Pinchos Korf, Yosef Yitzchok Pevzner, Sholom Charitonow, Yekusiel Feldman, Schneur Zalman Vilenkin, Shlomo Sternberg and Levi Yitzchok Matusof.
At least two of the individuals who signed on the letter have reportedly attended the retreat or referred bochurim under their influence to go there as well. The location of the retreat in the Tri-State area is Morristown, NJ.
They stopped short of discussing the nature and the extent of (some of) their own involvement with the program. They also didn't offer guidance to those that already "pastured in other fields," as they write.
Raphael Aron, a specialist on mind-control and cults, wrote on COLlive.com that he questions "whether these Mashpi'im, as well intentioned as they are, have the understanding and expertise to make these 'referrals.'"
The mashpi'im did however conclude their letter by saying that those who feel they "need treatment" should "seek the advice of a G-d fearing medical expert and at the instruction of a Chassidic rabbi" active in halachic matters.
Rabbi Yaakov Schwei and Rabbi Yosef Braun, two members of the Crown Heights Beis Din, wrote on Friday that participation in the "Call of the Shofar" is forbidden.
An "urgent gathering" this past week in Crown Heights took place in the ballroom of Oholei Torah and was attended by 2000 people. Speakers called on finding meaning and fulfillment through Torah and chassidus.
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