Dec 19, 2013
The Call of the Void
COTS founder Simcha Frischling (L) and Rabbi Schochet

Rabbi Yitzchok Schochet weighs-in on The Call of the Shofar, but asks a question Lubavitchers should be asking themselves.

Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of the Mill Hill Synagogue in England and whom the Jewish Chronicle calls "One of the most outspoken Rabbis in the world," was asked by COLlive to weigh-in on the debate over The Call of the Shofar program. His father was Rabbi Dr. Jacob Immanuel Schochet OBM, a renowned authority on Jewish philosophy and mysticism:

Videos have been watched, letters have been read and we are all now a lot clearer about the Rebbe's perspective on meditation, hypnosis and other such like alternative forms of psychology.

But none of us are any clearer on the status of Call of the Shofar (COTS) an organization that has become the center of much heated online debate as of recent.

Just scrolling through the comments on COLlive, one finds contradictory remarks. One comment from an apparent attendee insists that the meditation that takes place is strictly of a neutral and kosher nature. Not two comments later someone else claims to have heard from friends who attended that no meditation takes place whatsoever.

Therein lays the problem: No one quite knows what really transpires at the COTS retreats.

My brother posted some salient points on his now widely read Facebook page in response to those who asked him what he thought our father hk"m would say. He pointed out the following "red flags," on whether COTS is a cult:

"The way you tell them apart is by the end result. Not that you do the deed and see what happens. You analyze and determine as best as possible what the end result will be. If you cannot figure it out on your own, you ask the counsel of those wiser or better versed in the matter than yourself and have them help you figure it out. If the outcome is good then it's from the Yetzer Tov. If not, then it's from the 'other guy'.

That, to me, is red flag number one. Are there many people saying they went to these COTS retreats and came back changed for the better? Absolutely.

But there are also many reports of people coming back not only not improved but changed for the worse. That is very disturbing. Using medicine as an analogy: if you heard that some people were using a certain medication and it improved their quality of life. Others used it and it did nothing. That would not stop you from taking or trying that medicine. But if you heard that some people got sick from taking the same medicine, that should make any rational person take pause. Things that come from the Yetzer Tov can only produce good. There is no room for bad results. Thus his name: Yetzer TOV.

Red flag number 2: the need for secrecy. This is not Kabbalah or secrets of the Torah that needed to be revealed only to a select few until the time was right (haphotzas hamayonos chutzah). This is purported to be for everyone.

The 'secrecy' aspect is a basic marketing ploy that plays and preys on people's curiosity to get them to come to this secret life changing event. That is up there with the other marketing ploy of 'numerous Masphiem and shluchim have gone and it changed their lives' which is just an adapted version of the marketing ploy other such organizations (who are documented to be harmful) use by saying "attended by Fortune 500 CEO's" etc. Why those that attend are not allowed to talk about what happens at these retreats (not the details of what other people confided, but the overall program) is perplexing and quite disconcerting.

Red Flag number 3: the 'us versus them' mentality. Reading how some attendees apply pressure on others to come and when questioned, resort to denigrating well known rabbis and mashpi'im, even ones known to be experts in the field of cults, is again disturbing. The need of young inexperienced life individuals (certainly in this field) to put these accepted experts down publicly and express shock at those experts 'arrogance' and 'stupidity' is the epitome of arrogance itself! Hayotzeh min hatohor, tohor, v'min hatomeh, tomeh. The tactic of assuring members, if under attack, through emails and the like, that they don't need to defend themselves against these myriad of detractors, is boilerplate divide and conquer techniques.

"One last clarification of another misconception out there. Many people have said that they know people that went and it did not have an adverse effect on them. That means nothing. Cults get many, many attendees to their events and weekend retreats. Not everyone is susceptible. Just like not everyone will get addicted to certain things and others will. Its the ones that do that pose the concern."

I would make two further observations. There is an overarching halachic principle that "a judge cannot rule other than what he bears witness to with his own eyes." Plain and simply put, without knowing any of the details about COTS, it is difficult, if not in fact wrong to pass verdict on the organization; hence my brother only limited his remarks to 'red flags,' rather than outright criticism, in his posting.

In order to put paid to those concerns it behooves the heads of COTS to consider allowing a reliable rabbi --one who is thoroughly familiar with such sorts of trends as well as the associated relevant halachos-- to have access to what goes on.

Using a kashrus analogy, if one wants their product to be declared kosher they must allow a rabbi access to the food plant and all the ingredients contained therein. If COTS are emphatic about their confidentiality, they can take a leaf out of Coca-Cola's book and give restricted access to a particular Rabbi, letting him in on their secret, with the obvious confidentiality clauses signed.

If COTS was to insist it is not concerned with the labeling, potential clients ought to then seriously consider the validity of an organization that will disallow a rabbi access. If you won't eat the uncertified food that nourishes your body knowing how it is damaging to your soul, then you must equally avoid whatever is purported to nourish your mind, for it can be equally damaging to your spiritual self.

On the particular topic of cults -and I am not suggesting that COTS is-- one must bear in mind that most are unfamiliar with the methodology and tactics of cults.

Only earlier this week, a self-styled rabbi in Denver who purports to be Chabad, wrote in a public forum in support of the Kabbalah Center. Notwithstanding his obvious ignorance of cults and apparent total lack of knowledge of the halachos associated with the study of Kabbalah, the argument that he finds much positive upside in the center (even as he acknowledges certain things wrong as well) goes against the very basics of Judaism.

The end hallows the means is a pagan concept. Robin Hood is not a Jewish role model. It only proves the point how anyone can make a gross error of judgement.

Finally, I find myself wondering why COTS has become a focal point of concern, especially within Lubavitch. There are many of us who had the very real zechus of experiencing the Rebbe first hand. There are many others besides who will have been impacted through toifeach al minas lihatfiach.

But perhaps there is a whole new generation emerging that feel that much more distant and are looking to fill a void. It is undeniable that that void can be readily filled through the study of chassidus.

Are mashpi'im reaching out beyond the confines of Yeshiva walls? Must we rely on others to come up with innovative fads in order to satisfy a yearning? Can we not determine ways to provide the appropriate fulfillment through the time-hallowed means of pnimiyus haTorah that has been the very spine of Chabad through the ages? Maybe some searching questions in this regard can put to rest this whole saga.

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Opinions and Comments
Right on!
Thank you Rabbi Schochet for this very clearly written explanation of the risks inherent in this danger. I too was bothered how some participants left COTS and stopped wearing their hat and jacket and worse. I am most concerned how many became extremely selfish and self-oriented. It all became about the "ich", the "I".
(12/19/2013 5:13:50 PM)
This Is Classic
Mah zaroi bachaim af hu bachaim. This is like reading a piece by Rabbi Emanuel himself. Both sons knock this one out of the park.
(12/19/2013 5:17:34 PM)
very balanced article. He didn't attack but throws down the challenge to the other side. Best piece written yet.
(12/19/2013 5:19:02 PM)
The answer to your last questions
I went through the Chabad yeshiva "system" unmotivated and uninspired by the teachers lack of care, enthusiasm and creativity. Which isn't their fault. I'm really not surprised that young Chabad guys are looking for something deep and meaningful that speaks to them at their level, and helps them feel and attain a closer connection to G-d.

I went in to a popular Chabad Baal Teshuva Yeshiva the other day to daven, one kind soul came to welcome me. I went back a few times, I didn't even merit a simple "hello" from the Rabbi or the mashpia, let alone anyone else. What's it worth if its so dry.

Reminds me of the story of a famous chossid of the Rebbe Rashab, I believe, who in the middle of shema bent down and told someone their shoe was untied.

And we're surprised that the youth are turning to COTS and CAY
(12/19/2013 5:19:35 PM)
Clear and well written RAbbi SChochet. Definitely agree. You bring facts without accusations. Most importantly you have identified the real root of the problem vs a "side effect". Yasher koach. Thank you
(12/19/2013 5:21:18 PM)
the 4 went in, and only rabbi akiva went in well, and came out well. if people go to it and are a little off in the first place, you cannot blame COTS if they come out not improved. and if the alternative is a secular psychologist, than we are really just not trying hard enough. my experience with mashpia is a lot of passing of the buck; we are too busy to spend long quality time together. COTS seems to offer a more thorough attention to its participants than any mashpia is going to REALLY do. time is money; time is valuable. I have a mashpia, but he is very busy rosh yeshiva and i am a busy full time professional. the same pot shots I hear being thrown at COTS, could be thrown at any farbrengen. if we put the spotlight on a farbrengen, we could complain a lot. we do not do that, we respect the farbrengen - I do not know why COTS should be any different. I have never been to COTS, but from the readings, it sounds like COTS is being picked on unfairly by a bunch of biggots.
(12/19/2013 5:25:18 PM)
I went and was NEVER TOLD I CANT DISCUSS WHAT GOES ON. I was told people won't get it perhaps. I gave numerous friends A PLAY BY PLAY of EXACTLY what went on.
(12/19/2013 5:27:15 PM)
address the point
Address the Rabbis main point. Let a Rav give a haskamah. Then we could all be relaxed about it.
(12/19/2013 5:48:42 PM)
Denver rabbi
Now THAT'S a knockout!
(12/19/2013 5:50:46 PM)
grateful to read
Couldn't of said it better. I hope everyone will listen to Rabbi Schochet's wise words in both points. Hopefully this call of the shofar mishigas happened in order to get people thinking how much are they bringing the Rebbe and chasidus into their lives and don't need to look into other places for direction and fulfillment. It should bring to yisron haor min hachoshech viyisron hachachma min hasichlus. (And for those who r"l need professional help, they should receive it from a real doctor and Hashem should help them to be cured completely and speedily!)
(12/19/2013 5:51:16 PM)
This is a 'Tinok Shenshiba' case.

Their is no guidance and unity in Lubavitch so young Chabadnik's and BT'S are looking for something tangible and that can be felt. In a generation where we want it all here and now, the younger generation cannot just get fed about "look into the Rebbe's books' but rather we need community unity events, chassidic work shops their is none of that here in crown heights, so people seek other places, but if we all came as a community, not saying others will do, and i will join, but rather just do it (like lahavdil this shofar is doing) and all thees Mashapyim who send bochurim to attend go out their in change the bochurs life with chassidus, it will be great.

A Sad irony is that we send over 4,000 Shluchim out of Chabad to spread out chassidus, boy are we so briliant and capable in spreading chassidus in creative ways that even someone who is not religious will be convinced, but whats with us and our children?
(12/19/2013 5:52:52 PM)
To number 7
Please give us a play by play
(12/19/2013 5:55:25 PM)
This paragraph is inaccurate
The ONLY claim see comment 24

Is that one ingredient of meditation is used,
Meditation is a confluence of mental and physical exercises combine

Just as it's inaccurate to say that a BOWL of flower is DOUGH or BREAD, it is equally inaccurate to characterize any relaxation breathing, as proof of MEDITATION.

Even a cursory knowledge of How meditation is practiced will reveal that it is Necissarily a confluence of several irreducible ingredients (mental and physical) in combo!

Now il read, the next paragraph he wrote.

(It would be prudent for Rabbi Schochet to base his initial facts on something other than anonymous comments, especially since some comments seem to be faked to try to discredit COTS, how do I know this? The content of some of the comments loudly claiming to be COTS don't seem to have any first hand info on what goes on.

Yet two comments later, that comment is attacked, by (I suspect the same author) saying "wow, look how brainwashed he sounds"
(12/19/2013 5:57:59 PM)
hes a guru

video trys to make himself look like a guru he not no therapist
(12/19/2013 6:00:47 PM)
to number 11
its mostly the gezhe who are supporting this
(12/19/2013 6:02:51 PM)
Not really understanding the fuss...
Whatever happened to free choice? If people want to go, let them go. If people don't want to go, they should not go?

People, is this really the most pressing issue facing our community these days? I think not.

Personally, I would never attend a seminar where I have to hand over my innermost thoughts and feelings to a stranger, let alone in public. But for people who find it helpful and are interested in pursuing that type of therapy? More power to them.

Not my cup of tea, but that does that mean that it is not allowed to be anyone's cup of tea? What is with the herd mentality here, people?

Live and Let Live.
(12/19/2013 6:03:01 PM)
annoyed at those missing the basics
#7, can you share with us what goes on play by play? Bc no one else is doing so...
I hope all the mechanchim, shluchim and mashpi'im who were supporting this program and are now backing off will learn their lesson that the Rebbe wants things should be run by chasidishe rabonim and not everyone decides how to run lubavitch. Also if they would keep the Rebbe's takona of ase lecha rav, their rav would of had siyata dishmaya and the Rebbe's kochos to see things clear and make the right decision. We don't need to send lubavitcher chasidim to this circus!

(12/19/2013 6:03:26 PM)
Number 7
If you can give us a play by play we are listening. So far no one seems willing. So either put up or ... Either way let's get a reputable rabbi in. Makes sense to me.

(12/19/2013 6:03:47 PM)
Yeshivas Can Destroy People Too
I know people that were mentally destroyed by some "techniques" employed by Yeshivas.
By your logic Rabbi, does that render Yeshivas coming from the Yetzer Harah?
Ideas are absolute, implementing them isn't.
When people attempt to incorporate concepts there's always going to be some room for failure, because people are not perfect.
Seeing things in that polarized sense is myopic.
(12/19/2013 6:04:19 PM)
Do you think they'll ever offer a groupon for COTS?
(12/19/2013 6:04:43 PM)
To #7
Nu? So can you fill the rest of us in?
(12/19/2013 6:08:10 PM)
thank you Rabbi Shochet
a short and to the point piece and the added bits from your brother are icing on the cake.
(12/19/2013 6:08:56 PM)
to 12
Ur the best we want a run down
(12/19/2013 6:11:39 PM)
To number 12
I gave it to friends and family who sincerely wanted to know and not attack. On an iPhone now. Give me an email adress to write to and I will be happy to when I get to a computer if you come across open, sincere and not wanting to bash.
(12/19/2013 6:13:01 PM)
the son of chassidim
After hundreds of comments and thousands of opinions, I would like to make one small note. Thanks to the mesirus nefesh of our Rabbeim I BH have the awesome zechus to be learning Chassidus for quite a few years. Over the thousands of pages (and hours) there is one point, that -at least in my eyes- is absolutely essential, namely dira btachtonim. In this most precious gift granted to us by our holy Nesiim they show us and grant us the ability to serve Hashem all day every day mit an emes.
Nisaveh Hakodosh Boruch Hu lihios Lo yisboreich dira betachtonim is in no way just another quote, it is it is the very fuel of our lives and indeed life itself. To paraphrase the Rebbe Rashab that our entire essence (i.e., our entire beings, the essence and its expressions, etc.) will be [directed] to Hashem himself alone - so that He banish from us every evil and disgusting trait of the natural traits, so that all our deeds and affairs (whether in avoda, i.e., tfilla, Torah and mitzvos, or in matters of the world which are necessary to sustain the body) are in accordance with the true intention, for the sake of Heaven, as per the desire of Hashem, etc.
Unfortunately this ideal is not yet one of the philosophy of cots, instead something out of the thirteen midos of the torah is chosen (to anybody wondering the Rebbe in Dh vayidamer Elokim 5728 explains klal uprat just a bit differently) and the view of Mussar (for example mesilas yesharim) is given for something as central as tachlis Habriah. Chassidim lets learn -and live- chassidus!
(12/19/2013 6:15:46 PM)
Shofar Gives You Practical Tools
Chassidus is beautiful, but the fact is, many people are unhappy. If someone is having major problems expressing love to his wife, he should go learn perek tanya, and that's where the answer is??
Sorry, for most of us, it's not enough. We need Chassidus to be brought out in a more practical way. Shofar is just a powerful, practical way to feel healthy.

end of story.
(12/19/2013 6:18:00 PM)
Re PLAY BY PLAY: There are 2 very good posts capturing the basic syllabus
For those who went, what I'm about to say is obvious.
For those who are (the suspicious type) inclined to conspiracy theories, my following remarks will not satisfy u.

The ice breaking, and trust building techniques used to rapidly bring the group to a genuine spirit of Ahavas Yisroel and Deep respect for the sacredness of another human beings brave vulnerability... (Sorry if this only makes sense to therapists in the field).

For reasons that are commonsese to some, it's irresponsible to share and have ppl expect in advance precisely what techniques will be used to break the ice and encourage unity and needed trust for one another, since heads uppers on these tools, subtract from the desired benefit they are meant to provide.

If someone asked me face to face to detail the exact nitty gritty... I would gladly share it with them, provided that I know they don't plan on going.

I hope the readers respect the wisdom in not ruining the benefit for others, just for their curiosity.

What I can reassure the paranoid types out there is this, each ice breaking tool has been thoroughly examined and approved by many Rabbonim and experts, including those listed on the website.
(12/19/2013 6:24:54 PM)
26 I agree
but why not then let a reputable rabbi in and give an endorsement?
(12/19/2013 6:27:30 PM)
Get the facts
Rabbi Shochet, with all due respect, how can you say your opinion before having found out the details of the program?

Like this, you are depriving many people (who may really need it) from gaining and growing from a proven-effective program.

Please find out the program in its entirety before diagnosing it.
(12/19/2013 6:29:56 PM)
Chassidus = Therapy
If anyone is having sholom bayis issues, just learn Chassidus, and your marriage problems will be solved. Chassidus is the best therapy. Instead of visiting a marital therapist, just learn Chassidus.

Are you depressed about life's struggles?
Hmm...learn chassidus perek chof vav. and
(12/19/2013 6:35:05 PM)
one point nailed it
this is THE major issue with todays generation and unfortunately not being focused on enough:

"But perhaps there is a whole new generation emerging that feel that much more distant and are looking to fill a void. It is undeniable that that void can be readily filled through the study of chassidus."

It is undeniable to someone of your upbringing and experience, yet this isn't what the youth of today feel and are looking to fill a much needed void.
(12/19/2013 6:36:26 PM)
Play by play: many Rabbonim have seen or participated
As Shea Hecht himself acknowledged, "I understand how it's counter productive to the effectiveness of the tools used to announce them in detail to someone who may need its benefits)

The basic outline however has been repeated in several comprehensive comments, if you didn't read those, what's the point in re-posting, you probably won't read it this time as well.

The ONLY confidentiality agreement is re "What OTHERS have shared" that agreement is very reasonable and appropriate!

Everything else, talk to one of the 500 Lubavicher Rabbonim and business men who went, I'm sure most will make the time to fill in your curiosity.
(12/19/2013 6:36:50 PM)
to #2
just a real interesting find, not implying anything but i would like to point out that that maamer chazal was said regarding yaakov and Rabbi Schochets Father is Yaakov. in addition to that that sicha of chaylek lamed hey was said on Chaf Av the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Schochets father
(12/19/2013 6:37:15 PM)
Allowed to discuss
As an attendee who this workshop didn't work for, I have no problem with it, I believe it's completely harmless and can only be beneficial, it simply didn't work for me and this like anything else out there is something one can choose to explore and maybe even try out. My concern is the reaction by the people who swear by it to the point where they believe everyone must go or they cannot be whole. This is a dangerous and severely misguided concept and it must be shut down by anyone who encounters it. Again, COTS can have tremendous benefits for some and can elicit indifference from others. It's really not that big a deal and it definitely isn't anything dangerous. I'll tell you more-this isn't a new concept either, it's been out there for many years just not with the Jewish theme. Now for a testimonial: there is absolutely no meditation, there is absolutely no restriction to discussing the exercises that participants engage in (all of which are completely voluntary), it's actually a healthy form of expression if anything, that most people haven't encountered and thus might benefit from. Why won't I discuss what happens there? I've discussed it with my friends and quote frankly it's awkward and embarrassing or too exposing to just share, also, it's not really comprehensible if you haven't participated in them. One example is you are assigned a partner and the 2 of you must stare into each others eyes for extended periods of time (extremely uncomfortable for the average yeshiva guy) and allow yourself to empathize with the person. Sounds pretty stupid huh? My point exactly..
It's comical how this became such a topic. If you wanna go then go, if you don't then don't, I personally wouldn't go again but I respect people who try to better themselves by giving this a shot if it sounds appealing. It's not that big a deal people.
(12/19/2013 6:39:11 PM)
Avoido and hiskashrus
People should start learning alibo denafshe avoidodike maamorim and start davening mit a bisel geshmak and have shiurim and frabrengens. And most important to learn bikvius the maamorim and siches of the Rebbe the Nossi hador when you are mekusher to the nosi hador you will be happy. (see end of maamar Roni Vesimchi bas tzion maamorim melukotim chelek 4).
(12/19/2013 6:40:00 PM)
Number 7
My friend came back and said that he was told not to say. Right now it's his word against yours. My best friend can't tell me what goes on, you say he made it up. I doubt it
(12/19/2013 6:42:04 PM)
To #19
Yeshivas do NOT destroy people. Sometimes there are people of power that act inappropriately or with a lack of sensitivity towards a bochur that has this bad impact. Or they have another bad occurrence that turns them off. Those bad action come from the Yetzer Hara, as the end result clearly showed. But that is not the Yeshiva as a whole. Those are isolated individual occurrences that came from a bad place and caused harm.
(12/19/2013 6:42:55 PM)
The alter alter rebbe acknowledged that not everyone will be capable of extracting from the Tanya everything it has to offer him
Some ppl a good Mashpia will suffice, for others less fortunate, something boiled down even more to its bare basics will help.

For many, Shofar has helped them DERHER that which chasidus was trying to tell them, but for whatever reason, (emotional or academic) they couldn't DERHER.

The main thing is, that you come in with the Right agenda! A desire to grow and integrate chasidus into your day-to-day life, practically!!!
(12/19/2013 6:42:58 PM)
Two Points
Point Number 1: Call of the Shofar already has "hechsheirim" from rabbanim posted on their website. Are these rabbis not to be trusted? I took the time to look at the website and found these letters easily. Did Rabbi Schochet not see them, not bother to look for them, or disregard them? The letters of approval are from HaRav Michel Twerski, HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, and Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer.

Point Number 2: I had never heard about Call of the Shofar until someone mentioned it in one of the comments about Chevra Ahavas Yisroel's recent dinner. Now it's everywhere. What happened?
(12/19/2013 6:43:11 PM)
i agree with 26
I agree with 26 that shofar is healthy for those that need a more practical way to understand themselves and have answers in their life. For those that feel they dont need it dont go. period. why say its a cult for others? that's not fair. Not everyone is on the level of living a healthy productive life on their own. Great for Shea Hecht that he feels he can. Why do people need medicine for depression or a mental health issue? Because they are unable to fully live their life in a functional happy way and in lign with the way they want to treat others and or themselves. If this helps others connect with who they are to fulfill their mission in this world then this should be respected. And it does achieve that as those that went said. It seems to me that at the core of the issue those that are uncomfortable with being in touch with their feelings will easily say its avoda zara thats easier then connecting with themself. All you guys are wrong for being so skeptical and should apologize to Simcha himself!
(12/19/2013 6:45:03 PM)
to 31 and all others
So lets talk business. Can a respectable rabbi come in as rabbi schochet suggests and endorse it? Is that ok?
(12/19/2013 6:45:34 PM)
How about a Chassidus Retreat?
This is not a solution, just an idea. Specifically for those who grew up this way and WANT to keep connecting but got caught up in the velt of business vchulu, this could be a 3 day getaway of just learning Chassidis and practicing Ahavas Yisroel away from the confines of society. Examples from the Besht, AR, etc who would go out into the field alone...
(12/19/2013 6:45:57 PM)
very practical!
This is a man of practice just from his words. People like you should be heard more on these websites!!!!
(12/19/2013 6:45:58 PM)
to number 24
can you send to me my email is Thanks!
(12/19/2013 6:47:29 PM)
to #10
English correction to a frequent error:
The expression is meant to be " I could/couldn't have....", not "I could/couldn't of...."
It's just an eyesore... :(
(12/19/2013 6:47:45 PM)
the son of chassidim PART 2
I am sorry that I cant elaborate more in just how much the Bitul, chayus and geshmak of dira betachtonim is lacking in cots. The very soul of a chosid can be concealed by the klipa that Hashem is here to give me leitiv to another a zulas (and therefore my avoda is as a yesh not a yid). As opposed to the taanug boreh of a yid in chasidus who reaches his real self: literally divine a chelek Elokah mimaal and at the same time it is felt and experienced in a practical and tangible way mamosh. Where have we fallen that musser is being called the real Chasidus, in these weeks before yud shvat marking 64 years of OUR Nosis leadership let us resolve to remain true to his path of light. True, musser is Torah it is emes and it DOES indeed work however WE Boruch Hashem were Given EMES LAAMITO.
(12/19/2013 6:48:06 PM)
Putting Farbregen In Perspective
The purpose of a Farbrengen is to help us digest the information we learn and internalize it. Farbrengen is not a time for a high i.e. an inspiration with no end goal of change in mind, rather it is a time that helps facilitate a change. One who visits a hospital seeing knives and people in while coats will scream murderers. We need to put things in perspective; the joy and happiness being expressed at a Farbrengen cant be compared to the emptiness of the drinking and cursing found in other settings. Everything can be abused, those who seek change focus on finding a real Farbrengen
(12/19/2013 6:51:29 PM)
Prestigious Family
I B"H come from a very prestigious family, and I say that's it OK to go to COTS
(12/19/2013 6:52:22 PM)
to number 30
It sounds like your relationship with chassidus is a bit of a addiction. When people asked the rebbe for sholom bayis i've heard stories the rebbe said - wash the dishes after shabbos for the husband to do. Just to learn chassidus is not the answer for every situation. Putting one's spouse needs first will definitely help a lot more than just learning chassidus.
(12/19/2013 6:53:02 PM)
Denver rabbi
I don't think he pretends to be chabad anymore. I believe he "resigned."
(12/19/2013 6:53:05 PM)
i think its not fair to take away a yids parnosah on the basis of such small issues
(12/19/2013 6:53:50 PM)
The Alter rebbe states in the introduction to Tanya, that Chassidus will answer ALL of ones questions in the service of hashem. The alter rebbe also explains there why he is an authority on lifes problems.

A Jew must serve hashem with Simcha! You want to be a happy Jew, learn Chassidus! This has been proven over and over again. This is the reason certain yeshivas dont allow the study of Chassidus, they are afraid of the change.

THAT is what Tanya is all about. How one can incorporate the service of hashem into feelings for hashem into the heart!
(12/19/2013 6:54:04 PM)
classic schochetism
Deals intellectually with a topic. Smacks down a heretic in denver as only a schochet can do. Finishes on a chassidishe note.
(12/19/2013 6:57:42 PM)
Fallacious dichotomy!!!!!!!
Whoever is suggesting that there exists some sort if clash, or inherent conflict between what Shofar asks ppl to strive for VS what chasidus tells us to strive for...
Those insinuating that NON EXISTENT conflict, are either ignorant of Chasidus,
Ignorant of Shofar,
Ignorant of both!

Not one ROV who has attended Shofar, has concluded that Shofar's Hachlatos (it promotes) are in anyway not aligned with What Torah and chasidus demand of us!!

As others have rightly pointed out,
It is sad, that many of our own so called Mashpiyim, lack the inner convictions, refined character, and discipline to transmit, an authentic example of Chasidus in action.
(12/19/2013 6:58:07 PM)
wow, all u shofar people are really brainwashed
Why is it that anyone who has a problem with the cultish activities of COTS is attacked by their followers as being against all therapy??
No one is suggesting that people who have issues shouldn't get PROFESSIONAL help from QUALIFIED therapists. No one said that Chabad chasidus has all the answers for people that need therapy either. COTS is not the be all and the end all of all mental and emotional health. If that's not brainwashing then I don't know what is.
(12/19/2013 6:58:16 PM)
Reexamining Rabbi Shochet's Article
For some reason when folks have a traumatic incident occur in their lives, like abuse, passing of a loved one, substance abuse, etc. they don't send their children - or whomever it may be- to learn Tanya with a Mashpia, they send them (hopefully) to a professional in the mental health field.

Clearly we believe that in some sense Chassidus may have some practical shortcomings in certain situations.
Chassidus isn't the problem; understanding how to apply it to various situations - which are not addressed clearly in Chassidus- is.
The sweeping generalizations made by people on both sides of this argument are short-sighted and foolish.

Regarding point number 1. On whether only good things being derived from COTS demonstrates it's intrinsic value: How can you say that without understanding all the possible variables which come into play. Just as Yeshivas fail, and so on.

2. Which Chabad house doesn't use marketing techniques? If the premise is that there is something that can help people, why not attempt to attract as many as possible.

3. Regarding the perceived secrecy of those who have attended COTS: Firstly the people I'm acquainted with who have attended (I haven't) have been forthcoming. But that's besides the point. Experiences of such a personal nature are not something people tend to share freely, just as people don't share conversations they've had with their therapists. And as mentioned by some previous commenters, discussing the exercises themselves could possibly perturb some people, being that they're techniques prescribed to make one comfortable with being vulnerable. Previous knowledge of that can dissuade certain individuals.

But most of all, what is infuriating is the lack of integrity by both Rabbis writing on this subject. How can you write an article on a public forum - which sways opinion of the sheep like masses who flock to it - without comprehensively examining this issue?
(12/19/2013 7:03:43 PM)
right or wrong
i think this has to be a question that parents should ask shadchonim if the bochur ever joined this place if the parents are for it then good if they are against then they should really speak to a professional about the long term effects of such things
(12/19/2013 7:05:01 PM)
To #39
Rabbi M. Twerski (not a trained professional in these matters- more renowned for his songs) writes a letter how he spent time talking and discussing the program with Simcha Frischling and he is impressed and endorses him.
Rabbi Kamenetsky's letter is based solely on a conversation he had with Rabbi Twerski.
Rabbi Hopfer seems to have done more due diligence, but again, not many people have experience in these mind methods or psychiatry. If there was a letter there from Rabbi Avraham Twerski, that would carry some real weight.
The rest dont have letters, just blurbs and I never heard of any of them.
(12/19/2013 7:10:49 PM)
Regarding endorements
It should be noted that when they Kabbalah Center published their siddur (about 20 years ago), they had endorsement in there from the Baid Din of Yerushalayim and not other then Harav Kaduri himself! After this came to light and investigations were done, these were both retracted.
(12/19/2013 7:14:03 PM)
Don't make the same mistake as the other Rabbi
Both Rabbi Hecht and Rabbi Schochet made some very noteworthy points, we should thank them for that!
Both, it seems, rushed too quickly to form conclusions, with evidently very little Chakira UDrisha (as required by Torah).

Since soo many well respected Rabbonim from Outside Lubavitch and from within, saw it first hand, and found nothing problematic, it behooves me that Rabbis Hecht and Schochet (despite knowing the existing approvals already on the record) did not bother to follow the edict "vechokarta vedorashta Heiteiv", go check it out for yourself, first hand! No?!

As Rabbi Hecht has since clarified and in certain cases even endorsed it, I anticipate similar clarifications from Rabbi Schochet, as he gathers more detail on the facts.

I would LOVE to be on the weekend where Shea and R. Schochet participate. ;)
(12/19/2013 7:17:51 PM)
fact is
why not give/get a "hecsher for it?
(12/19/2013 7:17:57 PM)
Response to red flag 1:
The vast majority of people who attend are positivily effected and the few that aren't are the Yotzei Min Hakkal.

To use the analogy of a car accident R"L, the responsibility of the accident falls on the driver of the car and not the car model. COTS is a car model. Objective principals are taught. No one is told what changes to make specifically, nor encouraged to decrease on anything positive. Anyone can drive it, however, as they wish. Just as one can have Torah, which is Chochmas Hashem, become Sam Hamoves for him by using it inappropriately, so to can one take a Shofar experience wherever he ANYWAYS already wanted to go.

Which leads me to another important point: Whatever the negative outcomes may be, they are not the result of a single weekend; it cannot have begun there and is definitely been lurking under the surface and has perhaps just risen to the surface. There is a famous proverb "Look not where you fell but where you slipped". If our youth, upon waking up to a deeper part of themselves, find less Yiras Shmaiym, then we must approach those who were supposed to have imbued them with it. To blame the process that happened to have woken this person up to a deeper part of himself is ludicrous.

And this is the Yotzei Min Haklal. The vast majority, upon waking up to a deeper part of themselves, find closer connection to Hashem and only positive things.
(12/19/2013 7:24:34 PM)
Rabbis and Integrity
Today's Rabbis lack integrity; this isn't the catholic church, we don't respect positions we respect individuals.
Is there anyone out there that doesn't generate divergent opinions?
I do't think so.
So Rabbis coming out and stating their opinions will not change the tyranny of the status quo.
Perhaps for some, but not for all. Judging on this esteemed forums commenters, things need to work for ALL!
(12/19/2013 7:25:16 PM)
It has many hechaherim!
Go on the website!

The names of the Rabbinim were also listed in earlier comments ON THIS VERY THREAD!

Apparently Rabbi S. Didn't know who to ask, or Where to see the list on the website.
(12/19/2013 7:25:47 PM)
40 nailed it.
(12/19/2013 7:27:46 PM)
The faith of the believer is not complete unless he knows the meaning and the reasons of his belief. And this knowledge that enables one to fulfil the duties of the heart, is the hidden wisdom that is the light of hearts and the bright effulgence of souls;and concerning it Scripture says (Ps. li 6) "Behold Thou desirest truth in the inward parts and in the hidden, Thou wilt make me to know wisdom." It is only those of weak intellect who are not culpable if they take on trust what it is man's duty to search out. But whoever has the strength of intellect, and the power to sift and prove, is sinful if he neglects to do so, and also even his lack of knowledge is a sin.
(12/19/2013 7:29:13 PM)
Dear 52 read 38
Your both RIGHT!
(12/19/2013 7:34:34 PM)
Response to red flag number 2:
There is no secrecy about the methods used. You have relied on hearsay and already decided to interpret that as a marketing plot. In fact the only secrecy that is demanded is about who was there and what they shared. All other details are readily shareable. I will not write them here for two reasons: 1) some of the exercises are of an intense nature and it requires sensitivity to give over in a balanced and appropriate manner. I would gladly speak to someone in person about it and have. 2) I would hate to ruin someone's experience by giving them a play by play of everything before they go. Most people going want to let go of expectation and experience the full impact in the moment without judgment. This becomes very difficult of I've been analyzing the exercise for a while and thinking about how I will perform it.
(12/19/2013 7:39:45 PM)
Merkaz Anash, where are you??
this is what merkaz anash should be doing.
every anash member, yes even those not on shlichus, or maybe specifically those not on shlichus, needs the opportunity for a "kinnus" where they can leave, for a moment, the physical constraints of a businessman life and immerse themselves into chassidus. this is one of the "maalos" of COTS, and the void, caused by being sunk into the depths of Olam hazeh, that COTS "fills".
chassidus can help a person. fact. but it has to be learnt properly, without stopping every five minutes for a phone call etc. there is more to be said but Ten Lechochom vchu
(12/19/2013 7:40:01 PM)
I am so glad you posted that, now I feel completely confident that I can send my entire family.
(12/19/2013 7:41:26 PM)
IT is the bounden duty of all who are not intellectually incapable of independent thought, to search out the true meaning of the doctrines they accept, and the foundations of these doctrines in Reason.
(12/19/2013 7:46:17 PM)
Response to red flag 3:
See my response to red flag number one. There are people in every group who react in a similar disrespectful way to everyone else. Whether as Lubavitchers, as Chasidim, as Frum, as Jewish, Vs everyone else. This so obviously connected to the individual who has gone and has absolutely nothing to do with anything that is taught there. Again, it is a Yotzei min Haklal. One cannot prove something from a Yotzei Min Haklal as the Rebbe often pointed out, even though the Yoitzei min Haklal is what gets the most attention and stands out the most.
Again, any disrespectful displays by out youth were not learned on a three day workshop and were already there, most probably since childhood; go speak to the ones who were supposed to be Michanech them.
(12/19/2013 7:52:03 PM)
Thanks to collive's generally more mature/sophisticated audience, The gap seems to be narrowing BH!
The narrative and consensus seems to be shifting, which is impressive, considering the impassioned views on both ends of this debate.

It migrated from "massive hysteria, suspicion and fear" to a growing consensus. That we ought to look to Chaaidua/our Rebbe for clarity on how to sort this out, and that tools can and should be (safely and verifiably) extracted from their use for AZ and instead, utilized for the good!
Then the consensus seems to be resonating that? There is NO inherent conflict between chasidus and leading a happy meaningful existence, that within chasidus The answers are imbedded! The narrowing point of departure seems to be, on How accessible is Tanya to the average bachur today, how easy or difficult is it for a bochur to find a REAL chossid/oived/Mashpia worthy of that title?

hakol modim, that if your lucky enough to be taught chasidus by a Real Chossid, then your that much more likely to be able to extract much of the answers and life enhancing benefits, directly from Tanya, sichos, Igros, Farbrengens, involvement in Mivtzoyim, Chitas, Rambam etc etc.

Bottom line:
Authentic chasidim/Mashpiyim (truly refined, balanced ppl)
are the best, generator for more young ppl to see the light in chasidus and apprehend it in a applicable way,
To the extent that the above is lacking, I think, we will need to resort (no pun intended) to Shofar-like programs to spoon feed that which we failed to impart and imbue directly via the (not so perfect) system.
(12/19/2013 7:59:12 PM)
I'm still amazed
After reading this op-ed, I am once again amazed. How is it possible that our own yeshiva OT 's Mashpiim attended such a thing and even worse, sent our own IMPRESSIONABLE BOCHURIM there.
And also, to use creepy tactics of having boys sit in the dark and 'tell their secrets'! Using tactics like locking bochurim in a room until they swore to follow fanatical behaviors- who is taking responsibility for this? Why have there not been people fired? Why has there not been an uproar? Does no one give a da-- about our precious kids!?!
(12/19/2013 8:01:34 PM)
To 16 and in General RE "Live &..........
"Live and Let Live" is not a Jewish a Jewish notion, there is a Mitzvah of . When you see a fellow Yid doing something wrong we ought to inform them about it.

We live in America and it is technically a free country based on the priciple of "Live and Let Live". But as Yidden we must strive to inform people in a respectful way if they are practicing wrong idea behaviour etc etc.

no one can force you what to do that is where comes in. But those that see must "protest" in a respectful way.
(12/19/2013 8:03:22 PM)
He has only one letter from Twerski in Milwaukee and I tried speaking to him and he said he has 0 comment.

Rabbi Kaminetsky who is close to 90 has no clue what he wrote just that if Twerski says its good them its ok....

We need a Bais Din to decide a neutral BD to go and attend a session and see. Till then its like eating food without a Hescher
(12/19/2013 8:08:52 PM)
l kolom
no support if it was a cult
(12/19/2013 8:10:11 PM)
The site has a list of Rabbinic Advisers!!
Did R' S not even look at the site and see the
Board of Rabbinic Advisers?
Rabbi Michel Twerski Congregation Beth Jehudah, Milwaukee, WI
Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Breitowitz Yeshivas Ohr Sameach, Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer Shearith Israel Congregation Baltimore, MD
Besides there are endless testimonials from Rabbis that attended.
Also why is Shofar being described as a substitute for chasidus? it is about achieving better emotional health!! One of the means for some may be a need to examine ones relationship with hashem and reproaching it from a healthier standpoint that is actually now MORE in line with the ways of chassidus... The only void they are filling is the pain and struggle of individuals that are not being acknowledged when every chabad leader says learn more pnemious Hatorah that will solve everything....
(12/19/2013 8:20:28 PM)
disallowing rabbis isn't true-from a participant
I have participated in COS. COS allows rabbis to check its programs. I saw rabbis that participated and benefited from the program. I'm not sure where Rabbi Schochet got his information. It is sad that there is such misrepresentation. Also, the 'secrecy' has nothing to do with hiding. It's a matter of keeping "spoiler alerts" at bay. Just like if you saw a movie, you wouldn't want to know each step. Many people tell their families and friends about the "secrets" after the workshop and no one is harmed. The whole smear here is very sad.
(12/19/2013 8:20:46 PM)
Where are the "Rabbis & Mashpiam?"
To all those who comment about many Rabbis and Mashpiem went...

Let them post an article or comment with their name and giving their hechsher for people looking for self help and wellness to go!

Anyone can say that many Rabbonim and Mashpiyim went, that is meaningless until they come out and voice their opinion...

Also if a Rabbi or Maspia went for his own self help and wellness perhaps he will not be objective and then one would need, as the Rabbi points out a Rav hamachsher healthy and able to be objective.

Or maybe both should happen, list all the Rabbis and Mashpiem who went and what they think and then have a Rabbi go and observe, but not participate....

In our History there were impostors to our nation and cause many yidden to go astray, I hope we be very careful before jumping to a unknown figure for help in our wellness both mind and spirit....
(12/19/2013 8:32:16 PM)
I heard that COTS change the life of shlucim ,mashpiim!!
What kind of shliach? COTS changed his life more than the Rebbe ans chassidus?
(12/19/2013 8:33:03 PM)
A big Cots fan! And fan of Rabbi Schochet's main point
Now that questions were raised behasgacha pratis, the protocol for a chossid is to now consult proper authorities.

Let's do it!!

Letovas Haklal, either it's already OK Kosher, or needs to be Modified and then Certified!!

A glaicheh zach! Since this itself can increase the amount of ppl who need it but wouldn't go without a hechsher!
(12/19/2013 8:33:12 PM)
I never heard of this shofar (COTS) thing until all these heated articles appeared on collive.

I am not sure what the big commotion is about. My summation from reading all these posts is that mainly CAY and other modern or lubavitch 2.0 people enjoy this COTS stuff.

Just as CAY does what it wants regardless of mainstream Lubavitch, so to they are doing what they want now. I would safely assume that not too many bearded tzitizis wearing proper Lubavitchers show up. It seems to be mainly the type that go to CAY or are involved in lamplighters or frock swaps and mimulo functions.

They are a different community, one where they feel that regular Chabad chassidus does not apply to them, They feel they want more Bal Shem Tov style Chassidus such as spooky Havdalahs and Dancing by Davening with Ahvavas Yisroel pouring out of their hearts. It is about them feels. IYH one day a modern day Alter Rebbe will teach the tanya and chassidus chabad and hanhogas chabad to Chabad 2.0, perhaps it will be published as an ebook. Who knows?

But until then there is no reason to continue this discussion, let us get back to discussing the pictures of the CAY dinner, I love the major shomer negiah that was going on in the selfies.

(12/19/2013 8:45:41 PM)
74 Vague and ambiguous accusations (indicate u r hiding something)
For everyone's benefit, why don't you kindly share with the public (to whom u spewed the vagaries u did) what specific fanatical Hachlatos were made by the bachurim who attended that "Spooky" (Summer camp) farbrengen?

Since 74 doesn't want to share with the public (the specifics of his accusation) what "dangerous" radical Hachlata the Camp Farby produced, I will share it here, are u ready? Rrrrrrrr,
I will not use the internet, TV, or Movies for entertainment purposes whatsoever!!!!

Ty 74 for revealing ur true, strange and bitter colors
(12/19/2013 8:46:12 PM)
rabbi heller said that
If a mashpiah or roah yeshiva goes there because he needs help he should he let back in the yeshiva . he said that a person who is a mashpiah and needs help shouldnot be a mashpia on bochurim. He did say tthat call of the shofer which he did not attend and only based his knowledge of people hebsop
(12/19/2013 8:47:10 PM)
A ll the emotional disturbances caused buy the Yechi, the Rebbe is G d, " I see the Rebbe walking in 770" Sunday dollars, and all these behaviors, can find balance is COTS
(12/19/2013 8:56:15 PM)
Too much pride
I want to make a disclaimer: I have never been to COTS, i do not like or agree with their outlook etc. i am writing this simply to add my opinion on a bit of a different spectrum..

The comments speak for themselves of a confused generation who has no one to turn to. That is a problem. For a generation of thousands of people youth and adults, there SHOULD be leaders. Especially since we know who we are, where we come from. we have a mission a purpose that the Rebbeim and the Rebbe specifically, lived for screamed for...we cant afford to loose anyone.
There is a REASON people are not finding what they are looking for in within the daled amos of Lubavitch. There is no room for pride here. People who say that "chassidus is the best is should be the only thing the best thing" are merely strengthening the issue. Because deep down people know that already. What they DONT know is where and how to find it. The leaders who range to hundreds of thousands of rabbis, shluchim and rabbanim. Must stand up. But not in the political, controlling, etc etc way which you know what i am referring to....because it doesnt work. But in a way of reaching out to one person at a time. showing them. And a question we must ask ourselves: what is our purpose? a simple question with a simple answer. to bring back as many lost neshamos as we can and eventually light up the world. But we must first reach IN. It is the mission of EVERY SINGLE MECHANECH/ RABBI/ RAV/ SHALIACH... and dont let your pride get in the way.

(12/19/2013 9:01:04 PM)
42 and 46 Good
42 and 46, you are right.
I saw the website has some rabbinic endorsement. However, I think that often nowadays, people who don't learn chassidus in depth look for shortcuts, and they try to kosherize things that cannot be made kosher. Or, even if indeed neutral, without the bittul of kedusha...I hate to think about this. Time for all of us to learn more chassidus Chabad in depth. Get off those dumb cell phones!
(12/19/2013 9:16:00 PM)
response to 81,
Read 54

Please don't insinuate a false assertion, that there is an either or choice (clash) between chasidus and Shofar
(12/19/2013 9:22:00 PM)
this place needs a FULL-TIME MASHGIACH
a haskama is not enuf.
(12/19/2013 9:23:13 PM)
to #78
are these rabbis what you call EXPERTS? and not just in the halachik ramifications but also of these techniques?? are they maybe just one and not the other??

like the Rebbe said regarding the microphone some are experts in science and not halacha others are experts on halacha and not science, where as the rebbe said he knows both!

you need both criteria to make such a thing kosher. do these rabbis have both? why arent they known as EXPERTS in brainwashing or cults as well as being rabbis?

as rabbi schochet said, "a reliable rabbi --one who is thoroughly familiar with such sorts of trends as well as the associated relevant halachos-- to have access to what goes on."- he has to know 'such trends' as well as the 'relevant halachos'
(12/19/2013 9:27:18 PM)
I Attended and participated in the COTS
I found the 3 day event deeply rewarding. I feel more loving to my wife and children as a result., and my commitment to matters I consider most important seem strengthened. I do not recall being told to keep secret any matters other than the confidentiality of the participants, which is, in my opinion, appropriate. I think every Jewish man is welcome to attend. So there are no secrets being withheld from rabbis or anyone else. I found the teacher to be humble and without pretense. The principles seem to me sound. It is a valuable program.
(12/19/2013 9:33:12 PM)
87 says it best
Well written point.
(12/19/2013 9:36:56 PM)
Oh your assumptions are aooo off kilter from fact!

There is a FULL SPECTRUM of chabad attendees represented at COTS

In my group this past May, there was every age, from 18 to 70!!!
From ultra chasidish Mashpia (yes a real Mashpia) to guys 18 yo guys who left yeshiva and have just joined Jets in CA

The full gambit! there is no particular monopoly by the CAY types,

For a second your post sounded like a troll, trying to stirr up the political equivalent of class warfare,

Your assumption, as to the types of chabad guys predominating Shofar, is cute to here, but factually not so

Lemai Nafaka Mina?
shofar, the "tool" it is, is able to produce value for anyone who didn't have a perfect childhood, at home, in school, socially, academically,

What's amazing is how similar everyone's baggage turns out to be! And how surprised the Jets kid is to see Chasidishe ppl, he used to fear, and prejudge, suddenly embrace him as an equal, and vice versa
(12/19/2013 9:39:13 PM)
To #91 and similar thinkers
Ok, so tell us which rabbi you would trust as an expert. Something tells me you'll never be satisfied.
(12/19/2013 9:40:13 PM)
to #80
rabbi sternberg from oholei torah is a mashie who has gone to COTS and encourages bochurim to attend as well. Perhaps he can detail for us his reasoning so we can hear the "other point of view" because clearly it is the exact opposite of what has been done for generations in Lubavitch.

(12/19/2013 9:40:22 PM)
to no. 85
you took the words out of my moouth. i was going to say that yes these young people of the generation might be ooking etc. ar unhappy so they went thre, but what about the older chevre, mashpiim who did absorb so much of the Rebbe's teachings , farbrengens etc. how come they feel an urge to go there. that is the big question and a scary one too. How can they be of help or mashpia on the younger generation
(12/19/2013 9:41:59 PM)
Another rabbi endorses COTS
I haven't seen anyone mention this yet. Rabbi Avraham Sutton is well respected. His articles appear on, where his bio says, "For over 25 years, he has been learning and teaching Kabbala, Talmud, Midrash, prayer and meditation."

He also endorses Call of the Shofar, and you can watch him speak about it in this video:

I am not connected with COTS in any way. I don't plan to participate in their seminars, but it seems clear to me that Rabbi Hecht and Rabbi Schochet unfairly smeared COTS without looking deep enough into what they're all about first. If Rabbi Schochet had spent any reasonable amount of time researching COTS before writing this article, he would have known that Rabbi Sutton enthusiastically supports it.

I fully expect that Rabbi Schochet will issue a "clarification" just as Rabbi Hecht did. And I believe he should.
(12/19/2013 10:05:12 PM)
84 call a spade a spade!
Gut gezugt!

(12/19/2013 10:06:48 PM)
NLP is hypnosis without the trance but just as affective by just talking that's the secret of their success
Mendel Marozov
(12/19/2013 10:13:24 PM)
Anyone notice?
How most of the comments in support of Call of the Shofar contain "I didn't attend COTS and don't plan to"
LOL! You people are so transparent. Did you send another mass email to participants asking them to comment here?
Come on, have some self respect!
(12/19/2013 10:14:14 PM)
to 101
Paranoid much? Imagine someone who never went to COTS and doesn't plan to, yet finds their treatment unfair. What are they supposed to say if not that?
(12/19/2013 10:22:49 PM)
To #24
Please email
Me at
(12/19/2013 10:26:05 PM)
i was there
shofar s a cult. i was there. people in support group now hate me since i told some friends how bad it really is. keep away. i cant say more.
(12/19/2013 10:30:56 PM)
to 83
yo you rock
(12/19/2013 10:33:34 PM)
wow 83 you rock
i really agree with u
(12/19/2013 10:33:55 PM)
COTS member PLEASE explain
Why DOES it SEEM THAT every one COMMENTING in favor or COTS the last FEW days LIKE TO use CAPITAL letters EVERY few words. IT must be the loony PUNCH you were given to DRINK!
(12/19/2013 10:33:56 PM)
What Rabbi Heller Shlita said
Their is only one real letter which people have tried contacting this Twerski and his shul phone answers voice mail. He is a posek and really never attended the thing at all and now that professionals have brought to light problems he needs to clarify how acquainted he is with their inerworkings. Also Kaminetsky only writes that since twerski said its good its ok but Kaminetsky did not do any Dreisha or Chakira of his own.

Rabbi Heller said yesterday in Kollel that any Rosh Yeshiva or Mashpiya who went for personal help should better be fired and work at B&H and NOT as a guiding light or Mashpiya for young impressionable bochurim. He also said that COT should only be used by people who have tried other means of healing to no avail and this is last straw for possible help.

(12/19/2013 10:35:18 PM)
shout out
83 whats your number i love u!!!!
(12/19/2013 10:37:29 PM)
one important piece of info
One must dance on a mattress blindfolded with music and if you fall off the mattress you get pushed back on. You must reveal matters of the past, get angry at an idividual who wronged you and while you so called"scream" at them Mr. Simcha guy is punching a mattressand screaming so hard his face literally turns purple! no exaggeration saying something like say "I MATTER! I MATTER! louder I MATTER!I MATTER! then when Simchas kishkas finishes exploding he does it all over again with the next "victim" Reveal your issues like :What did your father do to you when you were six years old that you didnt like. Now scream "I matter" while Mr. Simcha dude is once again pounding the mattress vehemently, turning purple....what an absolute horrible scene . And this is done on Shabbos noch dertzu! We need Manis Friedman, Yossi Jacobson, Rabbi Majeski, Rabbi Yitzchok Shochet etc. to guide the way until Moshaich will finally REALLY NOW show up!
(12/19/2013 10:39:32 PM)
This was posted on a respectable site about COTS
It seems to fit within the same parameters as para-church Christian therapy organizations like the Great Life Foundation or the Landmark Training Group organizations that I'm more familiar with. Call of the Shofar is based explicitly in Landmark practices.

These groups use high intensity sessions, personal disclosures, unusual or excessive physical contact and long hours to give people an 'experience'.

I did some poking around and while the content seems to be close to straightforward Orthodox practice and teaching the behavior of the leaders and presenters of the program would result in a cult-like experience. These groups often end up challenging existing religious leadership as their popularity expands the leaders ego.

I would call it a cult.

To display my biases, I had techniques from these kind of groups used on me in my own religious upbringing and I'm quite solidly opposed to them. Make your own evaluation and decision,
(12/19/2013 10:39:39 PM)
Mashpia = Therapist
If you need help, go to your mashpia.
(12/19/2013 10:43:11 PM)

(12/19/2013 10:45:04 PM)
97 (think with moichin degadlus)
U sound very scared,
Assuming your panic is something deeper (for a second),
Is it possible, that your real fear is this,
For soo many years, u held this cherished belief, that chasidus will make u happy, u believe u have a proper balanced grasp of chasidus, and now your still miserable, maybe your parnasa, your status, or some other construct to which u tie ur value and identity to, depends on the assumption that u know chasidus, and that chasidus should be working for u, and that COTS is contrary to chasidus....

Think about that......
Let it sink in for a whole,
How would it make u feel if ur concept of Chaaidus is misguided, incomplete, out of balance, distorted until today!!!
How scary is that (theoretical abstract) possibility?
What would that discovery mean to u, how do u think others would view u? If they found out? That u, who r supposed to know chasidus, u who r (perhaps) supposed to have it together, have all the answers.... And ppl find out u don't!!!
Are u afraid that they will reject u????
Consider u, a fraud?? Unacceptable?? Not good enough?? Not worthy of respect or ur position anymore???
What does it mean to u (when u imagine) other ppl finding happiness (in what u imagine is) elsewhere? Outside of (ur understanding of) chasidus?????

Munch on that for a while,
Breath into that, deeply!!!!! How does that feel?.......
What voices do u here everyone saying about u?
Ur really a Gornished??? Ur a phony?? Ur not worthy of being looked up to anymore?? U now longer matter???? Ur worthless now!!!!
Feel what that feels like........

Let's skip to the end, u are Loved by H! Unconditionally! U deserve to be loved!!! Ur DO MATTER!!!! Say it like u mean it!!

Skip 20min again

With every fiber of ur being u now recognize how we all accept u and embrace u just as u r!! U r good enough!!! Don't listen to those voices, what's the Emes???? U matter!!! ... " say it" "I matter !!!!!! .....

Skip to end!


In three short days of Shofar's crazy shtick, they can successfully help u discover ur false limiting toxic beliefs (that have no bases in Torah or Fact) they can help u get rid of those toxic thoughts!!
Or at least put u in a much stronger clearer place from which to notice them and be less under their stifling spell!

For the first time, u will be able to feel love, for ur inner neshama, and thus (Komocha) feel love for others!!!

Do things Really Leshmah and not bec Morah Basar Vedam
(12/19/2013 10:46:48 PM)
Shofar is Powerful
Why do people feel so threatened by the program? Just admit you're not perfect and can use help.

Anyone who is open-minded can use the Shofar techniques in order to help you overcome challenges.

How do you feel when a client, co-worker, or friend decides to emotionally hurt you? Do you read perek hey of tanya to help you get over that? Well shofar is tanya in a practical, hands-on way.
(12/19/2013 10:55:30 PM)
107 If u went to cots
Perhaps u would not be name calling, "loony"
Perhaps u would be/sound less bitter
(12/19/2013 11:05:49 PM)
Can't wait
I can't wait for the next entertaining article on COTS by Rabbi Manis Friedman
(12/19/2013 11:13:31 PM)
I think the reason no one says what goes on, and why people are embarrassed to write "play by play" of cots,on a public website without their name, is because they are very uncomfortable to express to others what they did....and only felt comfortable then, and now are a bit embarrassed...

P.s. I heard,(and this is a rumor) that they sit very close together with peoples legs touching, so like this everyone feels more comfortable with each other...again, i heard this, doesnot mean its true...good luck with whatever your doing, and may u be involved in torah, like u are with these comments:)
(12/19/2013 11:15:29 PM)
To 101 little do u know
More than one of the Mashpiyim u just mentioned actually went down and checked it out first hand, if u consult him one on one he will help u figure out if u need it
(12/19/2013 11:16:24 PM)
Dear 110
Re The Experts you list, talk to them privately
You'll be surprised!!

I know for a fact some of them checked it out and ow encourages ppl he counsels to go.
(12/19/2013 11:19:26 PM)
WAKE UP CALL, of the "shofar"!
This comment is a general one, not specifically directed towards this issue, and can be applied, to all the disgruntled OpEds of recent.
Yet another new day, and yet another new symptom, illustrating that "Lubavitch" (internal communities/schools) desperately needs "Chabad" (external storefront) style tactics and effort, to save itself from imploding and/or fading away. For all the innovation and ingenuity in really helping the "outside world", you would think this avante garde organization would be able to care for its own, but alas, it's like the proverbial shoemaker, who's own kids go barefoot. For all the talk of the new Chabad 2.0, it's certainly time for some real Chabad leadership 2.0 to stand up and save a nation. Until then, please realize what "the system" won't unfortunately tell you, until you're at the finish line: "every man for himself".
(12/19/2013 11:23:15 PM)
Wow! If half the time attention and energy that has been spent on this were to be directed to what is today, in my opinion, THE crucial issue for all of us. Moshiach would surely come, please G-d, immediately.

And what is that issue? The immediate return TO THE LIBRARY IN CROWN HEIGHTS of the Rebbe's Holy Books and Manuscrips currently illegally being incarcerated by Russia. THIS is an issue worth getting worked up about and more importantly - doing something about. REALLY! Is fighting with opinions about COTS "DOING WHAT YOU CAN DO TO BRING MOSHIACH NOW?" It's time to get out of the sandbox and into action and create a major TUMOLT that "WE WANT THE BOOKS BACK, NOW!"
(12/19/2013 11:23:37 PM)
I have a question.
how come all the cots lovers yell that the rabbis questioning it have "no right too" because they weren't there or don't know enough about it, and as one person commented "is unfairly swaying the masses", when cots itself publishes endorsements from the likes of R' Shmuel Kaminetzky (in an attempt to sway the masses). I'm gonna go out on a limb here and assume that those Rabbis never participated in these "shabbatons". Seems like a double standard. That cots lovers can't handle a little questioning makes me wonder if they were at all helped in the area they all claim to be so "changed for the better", namely self esteem and security.
(12/19/2013 11:24:10 PM)
to #112
what do you do when your mashpia sends you to COTS? I believe that when mashpiim become therapists they cross into territory that they have no business being in
(12/19/2013 11:26:55 PM)
Agree with 116
Sounds 107 sounds very scared and threatened

Scared ppl need Chasidus, since that's not working for him ?(Directly from the book) I think he's a good candidate for shofar! ;)
(12/19/2013 11:27:31 PM)
its not lubavich!
N o mashpia in tomchei tmimi has a heter of


they cheng one

(12/19/2013 11:29:53 PM)
Saying things in Rabbi Heller's name
Watch out! I just spoke to him, he admits that he does not know enough about it to pasken anything!

Sounds like Rabbi Sternberg is suspending his view until a competent authority removes all and any fears of AZ or danger
(12/19/2013 11:32:11 PM)
to #71
you sound like the Maskilim ... bordering on apikorsus, we received the Torah from Mount Sinai many years ago from a Source higher than your and my intellect.
Nazis also used "Reason" their reason... sorry but its not the jewish way
(12/19/2013 11:36:25 PM)
To #0......
It upsets me very much that people are bashing Rabbi Schochet, especially for no reasons.

1. I would like to thank Rabbi Schochet and his brother for giving us guidelines on how to give things validity. These guidelines can help us now for this situation and forever more.

2. Rabbi Schochet explained clearly that his statement is based on little knowledge and that COT should be looked into and verified, properly.

3. The article starts off by saying that COLlive asked Rabbi Schochet to shed some light on the situation. Therefore he did not go out of his way to write about COT.

4. Rabbi Schochet point about chasidus and COT is simply saying that any time that people are going, religiously, to somewhere out of Lubavitch for a solution spells trouble.

But haters will hate.
The louder you scream and the more comments you make, doesn't make COT proven right.

Thank you Rabbi Schochet for your well written article and your dose of life lessons.

(12/19/2013 11:37:01 PM)
Elder of zion
Why are so many pro shofar people condecending to anti shofar people. Some people are against it but they are not against the people that went. It seems that the people that went are upset with the opposition.
(12/19/2013 11:41:58 PM)
I have personally participated in this program and have actively participated in almost all of the programs that have been given by call of the shofar during the last two years.
I have witnessed, time and time again, the deep and authentic committment the leadership of this organization has to each participant translate into astounding and positive results in the well-being and healthy relationships experienced by the participants, including myself.
Most of all, in my view, the ultimate goal of this work is the consciously co-created experience of d'vakus with Hashem; and, humility and gratefulness for the priviledge to be granted life itself and the opportunity, please G-d, to do whatever i can make His world, person by person, into His home, His pleasure garden.
(12/19/2013 11:43:27 PM)
The tone of those threatened by COTS don't sound healthy nor chasidish,

Can whoever you are, pls take some deep breaths, say Chitas, talk to your Mashpia abt how this is affecting you emotionally, explore your "worst case scenario" fears with him, try to consider where that might really be conning from? Hey you never know what a good Mashpia + sayaata dshmaya can help you get in touch with and discover abt yourself, if you still feel stuck on this subject and can't seem to leave it alone, the I suggest it maybe time for therapy to start digging!

Bec such sinas chinum aint "as it seems to u to be purely" mitzad hakdusha! Kedusha does NOT call the names you've been calling, Kedusha doesn't resort to the bitterness and hostility that keeps popping up disproportionally from those scared and threatened.

Stan: if shofar guys, were happier than you, and growing in yiddishkeit, and don't seem to care much re what for your approval, does that make you feel angry at all?
(12/19/2013 11:43:47 PM)
Greatly wrriten
Rabbi shochet is as sharp as his name! keep it up rabbi! such clarity and intelligence!
(12/19/2013 11:56:53 PM)
rabbi heller said it in kollel
(12/20/2013 12:02:27 AM)
elder of zion
i was in a yeshiva that the mashpia had the 7 habitof highly effective people in his desk for all to see it was a very big shock for me the first time a saw it. bochrim say he went to the shofar and he definitly had a yerida.
(12/20/2013 12:07:44 AM)
Why soo much hostility from supposedly Chasidisher anti cotsnikes??
I have gone to Cots, I have gained, and still enjoying it's fruits, Ben Adam lamakom and Ben Adam Lachavero

It really saddens me to notice, all the fear out there by fellow brothers who think that chabad is under attack, if you yourself simply followed the derech of chabad, then you'd be living with far less anxiety and fear! Yes wer in a choishech kaful umechupal!!
Yet don't you trust the Rebbe's proclamation? "This is Doir Acharoin of Galus... Dor rishoin...!!" Don't you believe the Rebbe?? A chossid who personally truly follows the Rebbe, without picking and choosing according to his personality preferences, will surely see others in the light the Rebbe taught us to, did you finish all your shiurim for the day yet?
Have you already some your nightly short cheshbin hanefesh? Have you thought about Gadlus H' to prepare yourself for Krishmah?
Have you consulted your Mashpia lately? Has he told you to spend your time attacking R Shloimy S?
Is what your doing in line with Torah? Halacha? chasidus?
Did your Mashpia approve?

To be truly chabad, truly chasidish, is allot harder than just dressing it and sounding it, When was the last time you asked your Mashpia what avoida you need to work on? How is that going? Did you up date him?

Let's be Truly chasidish, not the what too often today passes for chasidish!
(12/20/2013 12:12:33 AM)
TO 83
If you would go to COTS your would not be so negative about touching of genders at CAY, we must respect each other. Boundaries and not touching only matter if you have bad thoughts. COTS will heal you if all you have is bad thoughts..Live and let live dude!
(12/20/2013 12:21:33 AM)
This quote demonstrates how wide and common the misperceptions re COTS are
"Any time that people are going, religiously, to somewhere out of Lubavitch, spells trouble!"

Firstly, Rabbi Hecht now seems to think it's ok (for those who need it).
Secondly, please don't perpetuate the fallacy, that going to shofar = represents "going outside of our teachings"

First complete your thorough investigation, then decide if shofar is "outside" or very much "inside"!!!

It's ONLY outside the construct of pseudo Lubavich, ie much of what claims to represent/follow the Rebbe, namely some schools in "our" system, who call themselves chabad, yet closer scrutiny reveals that (by the criteria of following the Rebbe and Chasidus) they are a far stretch from chabad!! Way further than shofar in fact!

Yes, shofar in many ways, is more closely in alignment with authentic chasidic teachings than much of the "strayed moisdos".

True Avoda?
True Bitul?
True Ahavas yisroel?
True dedication to growth?
Too many unfit pseudo Mashpiyim lacking the above chabad basics in "our" Mosdos!
(12/20/2013 12:26:49 AM)
Meyer Clapman
I beg of JEM / WLCC to release all the rebbi's sichos and videos right away so us chassidim can have access to all the rebbis teaching in a visual manner (specially for the younger bochrim)...
why the hold back and whyjust the release of a few minutes, when we have thousands of hours. maybe this would spare some from soul searching. (if its because of lack of capital they can reach out to me and i can help them raise the funds!).
(12/20/2013 12:36:00 AM)
to 129
A public forum like this one is not the place for a respected rabbi to speculate. Let him first research and form an educated opinion before speaking publicly rather than prematurely airing a laundry list of loaded questions. We all know that shailos themselves can make something seem treif.
(12/20/2013 12:36:41 AM)
People who didn't go to shofar, seem to be projecting their motives...
When a shofar grad, defends the program as beneficial, or gets upset by slanderous roomers, you seem to assume that his motivation to set the record straight, stems from insecurity and defensiveness!
That is an Understandable assumption on your part!
How shocked would you be if the "magic" of shofar has these guys, not particularly bothered by your disapproval, and are merely "setting record straight" for the good of others who may be scared off by scary misinfo.

If that sounds impossible to you! That is understandable too!

With love!
(12/20/2013 12:41:26 AM)
Someone keeps commenting
Trying to link, CAY, and MINGLING against Halacha to those seeing merit in cots.

Nice try, readers like me see right through your shtick, to pretend your pro COTS then you say something pathetic to make it seem COTS are brainwashed or Less frum than you!

You obviously don't know too many ppl who went! Most were "nichnas beshalom" and therefore yatza beshalom!

"Bderech sheAdam Rotzeh... Shom molichin oisoi"

I could speak for myself and those I know personally well! Those who went in with the right Hashkafos and hanachos processed everything from within a Chasidisher frame of reference, yes, it's not for everyone, some who lack any clue of what chasidus really is, may be exposed!
(12/20/2013 12:52:38 AM)
Responsibility and Disclosure
Many rabbis give endorsements to out of a strong desire to help people, but because of the demands placed on them by so many people in need, do not or cannot investigate thoroughly. However, responsibility demands more due diligence than having a chat or three. To paraphrase Rabbi Schochet, why should something involving your mind or mental health fall under less scrutiny than kashrus? As for disclosure of what goes on at these three day, sealed-off events, I suspect that the refusal to specifically disclose what goes on is for fear of public reaction. If you want to talk about red flags, this one is deep crimson. Why not have the rabbis mentioned in earlier posts actually attend one of these retreats, or, at least, surreptitiously have a trusted advisor with no bias and with recognized rabbinic standing do so? Why not invite Rabbi/Dr. Avaraham Twerski to attend one as well so that a world renown and respected psychologist/psychiatrist could assess whether this is therapy, a cult, a dangerous business, good, bad, or what have you. I'm sorry, but I do not buy the line that disclosure would not be good for future participants. If this Shofar thing is anything like Landmark, which it has been accused of being, it might be helpful to watch a French documentary entitled "Land of the New Gurus." The video is available on line, and it is quite disturbing. I don't think it's a good idea to allow yourself to be subjected to what has been described as "an intense experience" that clearly is aimed at altering people's mental and emotional state by those who apparently have no verifiable credentials other than that they attended groups that have been accused of practicing mind-control and of being dangerous cults. As of now, I think community leaders should exercise their responsibility of protecting the public by suggesting people not take part in this until all is known
(12/20/2013 12:53:08 AM)
Have a respected psychologist check out COTS
The correct person to investigate the validity and safety of Call of the Shofar is a psychologist.

What I find alarming is that there is no licensed psychologist or social worker on staff at Call of the Shofar. That is a MAJOR RED FLAG RIGHT THERE!
(12/20/2013 1:06:21 AM)
With all due brotherly love and respect to post 143
You mention casually (as fact) a few gross inaccuracies about cots "confidentiality agreement"

Here is what you wrote (revealing some important inaccuracies with with your facts):
You wrote:
"As for what goes on ...sealed-off"

Then You wrote:
"I suspect that the refusal to disclose" must be "for fear of public"

Then you continue:
"If you want to talk about red flags, this one is deep crimson"

Then you continue:
"Why not have the rabbis mentioned in earlier posts actually attend one of these retreats"

Now for the facts:

Every single assumption you made above, is just that assumption, a completely inaccurate one!

Other than an agreement not to gossip, about other participant's personal or private things he shared with you,
There is absolutely NON whatsoever of the Red Flags you insinuated.

Even the rapid ice breaker techniques have been sisclosed, much to the chagrin of Rabbi Hecht and those who understand the benefit of such curiosity compromising it's usefulness.

As Rabbi Schochat had the decency to acknowledge, that he has little first hand research on the actual program

You too should be, less casual with your assumed facts.

Thank you!

Gut Shabbos!!
(12/20/2013 1:25:33 AM)
bahahahahahah! thank you for that, it's been a while since I laughed out loud
(12/20/2013 1:33:19 AM)
Rabbi Heller updated his position
Rabbi Heller is admitting he has not done close enough first hand Chakira to say anything for sure!
(12/20/2013 1:52:43 AM)
NLP at work in a lot of the comments here being posted by COTS guys
to 107 capitalizing or otherwise highlighting certain words is an NLP trick to get to your subconscious. The highlighted words on their own carry a message together on their own if you get rid of the rest of the text which because the conscious mind doesn't see it, goes straight to the subnconscious. There are other tricks which either sort of aggressively tease and challenge the reader or listener to get him where they want him to go. And there are what are called in NLP language "anchors" which are key words or ideas that are implanted in the reader or listener without them realizing that it's a slight of hand trick with words and concepts to manipulate people. I'm not an expert and it's complex. But anyone can google NLP and get some idea of how powerful it is and also how dangerous it can be.

This manipulation doesn't always work right away and some people are effected slower than others, so they drill away with this shtik till they get (almost) everyone. They are doing it here in a lot of the comments. It's usually the comments that are using words very well and are very well organized and dynamically and dramatically and repetitively knock in a point with force like a hammer knocking in a nail. A lot of the guys who went there are also following directives implanted in them to protect COTS image. If you google on "Landmark mind manipulation" and the like you should find some interesting things.
(12/20/2013 2:32:23 AM)
Chassidim have a good sense of smell
An old Chasidishe vort says that "Chasidim have a good sense of smell (chush ha'rei'ach).

It seems that in this matter "something doesn't smell right." Nobody has yet to put their finger on it. But something here is off.

Why did this program explode like this? Is this a prelude to Moshiach? Is Rabbi Frischking bringing Moshiach? Is he succeeding in "opening the eyes" of his participants?

Something smells wrong.

Why would someone like Rabbi N. S. a leading Oholei Torah mashpia and member of Vaad L'hafotzas Sichos go to COTS?
Even if we were to assume that this is a "kosher" non-cult-like program, why would someone of this ranking be suckered in or perhaps willingly go?

Something is strange here. Either the program is unholy or he is.

Something smells wrong here.

It's not about whether some people were helped or not. It's not about whether people feel more empowered or whether they come back selfishly inclined. It's about our accute sense of smell and sharp aversion to things questionable (even when they are sometimes beneficial).

As Chassidim lets let our chush ha'rei'ach do some judging.
(12/20/2013 2:53:35 AM)
Someone mentioned Rabbi Sternberg attended. I know that he sat with several bochurim in a darkened room on several occasions (weekly intervals?) in Oholie Torah taking them some sort of procedure, which, it now appears is the COTS program. Whatever the merits or otherwise, should that be happening in yeshiva?
(12/20/2013 3:18:23 AM)
Reality Check
Rabbi Shochet did NOT say don't go to COTS. He said simply that in order to understand its validity one needs a reliable rabbi.

I would agree that rabbis gave their approval BUT when I read a name like Kaminetzky, the man is 90 years old. He is a RY in Phili. He knows NOTHING of these things. Someone should call Rabbi Twersky and ask him for clarification. If it is true, as stated earlier, that he too has now taken a step back then that too must be verified. Can someone call him? Can he issue a statement of clarification? Just the tip of the iceberg here.
(12/20/2013 3:21:20 AM)
Rabbi Sanchez
We need moshiach!!!!#
(12/20/2013 3:43:44 AM)
do people realize that there are still some good human beings in the world?!
139 - MEYER CLAPMAN is ofering his good honest services (i happen to know he is a true baal tzedokah), really wants the good for chabad chasidim, and all people care about is criticizing and defending COTS!
instead of just talking and doing nothing why not act and do -at least whats in your capability- to understand, help, resolve, the true opinion of chabad and normal life
(12/20/2013 3:48:05 AM)
Read carefully the Rebbe's letter, re Hypnoses
For this who don't know, (and to Mendel Marasaw),
There is an important difference between,
1. Hypnotic
2. Hypnoses

The language the Rebbe uses re the problematic type of hypnoses is Davka, any Hypnotic method which hands over ones own Control of their free will into the hands of another Basar vedam.

NLP, self hypnoses, etc, while Hypnotic to the physiology, is not Necissarily the same as what psychotherapists use (the Rebbe mentions psychotherapists specifically, since their method of hypnoses, Necissarily. H das over ones bechira to another human being.

Sitting by a Farby, singing a geshmakeh chasidic niggun, with eyes closed and full voice... This commonly induces a hypnotic state, yet the Rebbe had no qualms with this hypnotic variation, since it doesn't involve the suspension of one"s ability to exercise free will.

The rebbe is clear, the issue is "the suspension of free will

Not all hypnotic/NLP require the handing over of one free will into the hands of another

Clarity is important.
(12/20/2013 3:48:12 AM)
whoever does the Proffessional Vetting of this program
Should also investigate, if it is true (anonymous claims on this website) stating that people got messed up by COTS"

whoever, has posted that claim is being asked to present that claim to a Rabbi Shea Hecht, who has been actively trying to track down this supposed case.

If it does exist, i would expect this case to cooperate with Shea, wouldn't this person want Others to be spared?!

so far, no such case has been produced, yet in this OPED, this allegation has been cited as a given fact, along with other erroneous rumors and misrepresentations,

however, to his credit, at least Rabbi Schochet, made a disclaimer of his lack of facts and research.
(12/20/2013 4:31:32 AM)
to 114
"getting rid of toxic thoughts through shtick"
The reality is that people have many complex reasons they don't FEEL good. A mashpia can help- just someone to listen to you and give a bit of perspective, in some cases, and in all cases is beneficial. BUT there is a thing called science, and many valid forms of therapy that have an understanding of human behavior, brain science etc. nonsense may shake you or shock you out of a way of thinking for a short time, but it has no recognition or strategies for diagnosing and treating real problems. When getting treatment from professionals you need to be selective of what type of therapy, but there are certain boundaries that are illegal to cross and a certain amount of training you know is there. Going to a non-licensed person for this type of help is pretty dangerous in the first place because of the complexity and vulnerability of the issues and people involved. The practices of this group seem to me to be based on....?????
(12/20/2013 7:06:18 AM)
R. Schochet didn't say chassidus has the answers to personal problems. He merely highlighted a void snf a yearning that exists in some and who might be pursuing cots for that purpose. They can fill it with chassidus. That is undeniable.
(12/20/2013 8:17:17 AM)
Important information for people to know
Five people have developed the following Ganges, loss of self control in general and particularly in speech, an exppression of a semi drunk person, looking happy from the outside but very worried in the inside, is attached a little bit from reality, hard to concentrate when reading and learning, confusion in everything in life of the past. I suggest that top notch psychiatrists should independently investigate this entire movement and find out what exactly they are doing, and see if it is safe.
(12/20/2013 8:26:49 AM)
The most important information re: COTS
The Internet is an amazing educational tool. Everyone (including many COTS attendees on here) agree that this is based on Landmark and other such programs. Go to and look up Landmark. Read the testimonials and interviews. Read the lawsuits and research. If you plan to go to COTS at least go there to educate yourself before going to this life-altering experience (which is why you are going in the first place).
One important thing about modern day cults: if most people going there had no impact or a negative impact, word would spread quickly and they would be bankrupt in a month. Most people will feel this (short lived) euphoria and 'life improvement' emotionally etc. However there are those whose minds are vulnerable to harm from these methods. If there was a drug out there that the FDA got reports that people were getting sick after taking, they tend to freeze the production of that drug. You don't hear about that very often because drugs go through years and years of supervised clinical trials and professional tests and evaluation before being released to the public (again under the guidance of being administered by certified professionals). I do not believe COTS meets any of these criteria. I am not saying they can't. But until they do, normal, rational people need to take pause and investigate. Not base their opinion of pseudo-testimony from an anonymous commenter.
(12/20/2013 9:52:29 AM)
(12/20/2013 10:06:13 AM)
To # 83 - Only non-bearded people show up
In my group of 40, I would say there were 35 with beards. That's right, regular frum chabad 1.0 lol.
(12/20/2013 10:32:43 AM)
Mashpia?!?!? Rav?!?!?
are you guys serious? Mashpim and rabbonbim these days are the most un-in touch, and poor examples in our communities. Besides, we need to stop convincing ourselves that a Rav is a therapist who can solve your kitchen problems, your marriage and your business concerns. The only people qualified to comment on the COTS program would be someone like Rabbi Twersky, and the likes, not clueless Mashpim who learnt samach vav, and daven late.
(12/20/2013 10:33:37 AM)
Although I know nothing about call of the shofar I do know this- for people who are emotionally not in tune and who are unhealthy or unaware when their deep pain , hurt or issues are brought out.. they willl feel worse at first!!!! Because before they were pretending it wasnt there. It takes a LONG time to heal and work on yourself so just because some people feel worse after therapy does NOT mean anything. On the contrary maybe it means it actually stirred something inside of them

For people who have issues (we all do) but are unaware and need therapy to help them understand where its coming from , etc- NO davening and saying chitas and going to a farbrengin is NOT the answer. of course thats important to but you cant say that that is enough!

sadly alot of yeshivas and mashpiim are the ones that messed uo these people in the first place.

If you read and learn what chabad meaning what the rabbeim have taught about education is all about it is many time the OPPOSITE if these "chabad" yeshivas mentalities.

The rebbe taught HEALTHY messages- dont judge. Love. Every acyion and mitzva you do is special.. etc

He never taught being juggemental. He never taught being rude to kids who struggle. he never taught negativity and looking down on somone when they are not as frum or as tznius as you, he never felt guuilting kids into doing stuff...

if you read what The Frierdiker Rebbe says about education- sadly its quite the opposite in many yeshivas nowadays which is many times the reason why people feel the need to go to call of the shofar in the first place. So No people shuld not go back to the people who gavee them issues in the first place for healing.

They should go to people who are emotionally in tune and who can help them overcome the many unhealthy negative messages they were taught growing up! It will hurt and be painful but with time... they will become better happier stonger people with communication skills! (which they were never ever taught since in these chabad yeshivas many of them have inexperienced teachers who have no idea how to teach proper communication or even to communicate themselves)

Who knows why its a secret? who knows if its a cult or not? YES we should find that out but a bigger issue is not why are people not turning o farbrengens a bigger issue is what are we doing wrong as parents and teachers that SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many people are searching for happiness and health and peace.

People need to open their eyes and face the truth.
(12/20/2013 10:37:11 AM)
To #135
Seven habits if highly effective people is an excellent book that has NOTHING to do with COTS or any mind manipulation. It presents excellent tools with which one can incorporate true chassidus in ones life. More importantly bitul is a factor not the selfcenterdness focus of "me".
(12/20/2013 10:39:06 AM)
Rabbi Shochet
On the particular topic of cults -and I am not suggesting that COTS is-- one must bear in mind that most are unfamiliar with the methodology and tactics of cults.

Only earlier this week, a self-styled rabbi in Denver who purports to be Chabad, wrote in a public forum in support of the Kabbalah Center. Notwithstanding his obvious ignorance of cults and apparent total lack of knowledge of the halachos associated with the study of Kabbalah, the argument that he finds much positive upside in the center (even as he acknowledges certain things wrong as well) goes against the very basics of Judaism.

The end hallows the means is a pagan concept. Robin Hood is not a Jewish role model. It only proves the point how anyone can make a gross error of judgement.

(12/20/2013 11:10:32 AM)
i think
seriously people,
doesent anybody work?
(12/20/2013 11:10:47 AM)
like rabbi jacobson says if you want to be bittul there has to be a YOU to be bitul! first is metzius then bittul thats why ANI and AYIN are the same hebrew letters. learn some chassidus ;)
(12/20/2013 11:14:59 AM)
So sad
So sad to that so many of our chevra got duped into this. When I was a 770 bachur in early 90's, a bachur got caught up in a cult. and I worked with Hechts team to get him out. Then these things were hush hush. Hopefully the Internet discussion will serve to save some from ever getting involved.
(12/20/2013 11:15:59 AM)
THEY WOULD GET SUED! if it was based on Landmark!
LAndmark has a very active legal team!

Just bec anonymous comments, keep repeating the claim that this is Kosher Landmark, doesnt make it a FACT

as others have pointed out,
there are some very clear differences, between Landmark, "Sage on the stage" approach, VS this

online research, without seeing it first hand, can be misleading.
(12/20/2013 11:16:37 AM)
wow! soo much deliberate Misiformation being pushed about COTS by people who never saw it first hand
To those, trying to spread inaccurate, or misinformation re COTS (or repeating over and over the same lie) that it is thr same as Landmark,

only base your facts on first hand knowledge, not on what, haters, who are very irresponsible are perpetuating as facts.
(12/20/2013 11:21:58 AM)
False Dichotomy #2
some ppl (who obviously have no direct, first hand facts) are perpetuating the assumption that Cots is against or instead of, Professional treatment, or Mashpia.

having been there,
i can confirm, COTS very much advocates to "get professional help" and a "Life Coach" (aka Mashpia).

so pls dont put it out there, that its either or.
(12/20/2013 11:29:52 AM)
Rabbi Schochet, the time to act is now.
As Moshe said to Pinchas, The one who reads the letter is the agent designated to carry out its instructions.

Rabbi Schochet, please contact Call of the Shofar and request to inspect their operation for the purpose of either endorsing or rejecting it. You made the suggestion publicly, and hama'aseh hu ha'ikar. You've raised enough questions, and it's time for some answers.
(12/20/2013 11:55:49 AM)
83 best comment
So refreshing for some laughs during these heated debates.
(12/20/2013 11:58:52 AM)
can everybody just get a life (including collive)!!!!!!
(12/20/2013 12:00:23 PM)
out of towner
This is just symptomatic of the rapid "Americanization" and cultural assimilation that is befalling Lubavitch.There are at least 3 reasons this is happening: 1:There is no Rebbe to put the brakes on phenomena that is not appropriate to Chassidus Habad .2. The huge influx of balei teshuvah brought with them many deos kozvos ,some bordering on a"z.Eventually these ideas entered mainstream Habad.3.Many shluchim out in Amerika she beAmerike became close to many reform and non religious Jews and were either consciously or uncosciously influenced by them and their psychological ideas.May I add that the breakdown of Yiddish as the spoken language among hasidei habad has also removed a major barrier to the outside world. I personally think this is a very sad moment.
(12/20/2013 12:18:25 PM)
to 149
Apparently maybe the bad smell is ourselves, the chasidim ourselves, and not COTS. Wake up and smell the coffee, as is said. Good point you make: something smells. But the debate here is what smells. These comments show that COTS has given us an opportunity to be introspective. We should thank COTS for this.
(12/20/2013 12:31:56 PM)
Beautifully written!
So smart and sharp. Really intellectual. We need more rabbis like this
(12/20/2013 12:32:22 PM)
Deliberate misinfo Coming from ppl who didn't go
Pls guys stick to facts pls!

Landmark is not the same.

I've been to both.

Is there overlap? The overlap also overlaps with what chasidim call a Chasidishe Farby, being real and authentic, not pretending that we have no struggles,
(12/20/2013 1:35:24 PM)
I hear you. from the way people are responding to this article you may be right.

People seem to responding on impulse, with emotion and with little clarity. Therefore, it seems that the people that are replying and bashing Rabbi Schochet are those that feel they have to defend themselves. The other commentators are just commenting regarding the general subject of COT.

When is a better time for a respected Rabbi to give us guidelines on how to speculate about thing, new things?!
Rabbi Schochet is clearly just doing that vs stating an opinion.

An interesting point that shallos can make things appear treif. A valid point as well.

Sometimes things are innocent until proven guilty and sometimes it is better off that things are guilty until proven innocent; treif until proven kosher (for our safety and protection).
(12/20/2013 1:37:21 PM)
Chasidim do things based on smell?????
I'm pretty sure a chossid's approach is,
Aseh Lecha Rav
Consulting a Yedid Mavin
And then to follow their psak bekabolas oil even if to you it smells
(12/20/2013 1:41:06 PM)
to #154 NLP can take away bechira just like regular hypnosis
If you'll do some research on the web there's lots of material about this.

As a bochur in Lamed Ches I was in northern California for a while helping a shliach. Dr (Jud) Yehuda Landes asked me to make a shiur with him in Tanya. He used hypnosis in therapy and was well known for it in his region. He showed me the Rebbe's letter to him about opening a clinic for meditation and he also told me about this letter from the rebbe to him to be careful not to take away people's free choice. NLP was not yet known or heard of. But the point is not to take away bechira which can be and is is done with NLP just like with hypnosis. There are also some dangers with NLP and hypnosis if not used carefully especially when used unethically to get people to keep coming back and to recruit others which many are doing just like in Landmark on the web there is some stuff on how Landmark does this by embedding one word Enroll..

Did anybody wonder how it is that guys going away for a weekend can come back with the changes some guys claim happened to them, when therapy for months and years usually can't accomplish this, nor can any coaching programs, etc. The answer is simple, hypnosis or NLP can accomplish these feats, but of course with some dangers, see above paragraph. If you want more convincing info google on cult tactics and the like.

Another observation, I was wondering how come non of the guys who went can give a picture an explanation of what exactly was so amazing about this program. Then it hit me. Sure they can't give an explanation because they don't know themselves what really took place to give them this this feeling. It's subliminal mind manipulation techniques that were used on them to make them feel this amazing exciting feeling and this unbelievable focus, etc. etc.

Mendel Marozov
(12/20/2013 1:41:21 PM)
to #167
You write: "like rabbi jacobson says if you want to be bittul there has to be a YOU to be bitul".

I would like the Rabbi to point to a place in Chabad Chasidus and show us where this says.
(12/20/2013 2:15:46 PM)
we dont have mashpiim
We don't have real mashpiim, role models today
this is the truth to be told
I mean, you can count them in one hand
This is one of the main problems in the system
And now we see the results
Even the mashpiim go to COTS to " change their lives"?
How can I consider this rabbi a mashpia, if with all his experiences, learning, hiskashrus with the Rebbe he has, he has to go to COTS to "change his life"?
The main shliach of my place went to COTS with his son. He said it "changed his life" ,Then COTS was running a 3 day program, He sent email in the community email list saying that he recommended and that he was going to participate (thousands of people in this email list) "life changing" promise
How serious people are going to view this shliach if he himself needs to "change his life "with COTS?
Head shluchim hanholas in Yeshivos have to move very fast, and remove these people for a while until they get rid of these ideas and prohibiting them their involvement in COTS because It is giving a bad name for the shluchim and yeshivos
(12/20/2013 2:35:14 PM)
Shminis sheShbishminis
Yesh mi sheohev

When it says chanoch Lenaar al pi darko,
According "darko" experts, stage one of a human being's development requires Unconditional love (in maamer klalei chinuch... The term "Darchei chiba" is used)
Educationa experts call stage one "nurturing stage" unconditional love.

Only after a human being has received this stage, can he than mature and graduate it healthy

Some big minds can use chasidus to compensate for this missed stage by recognizing and internalizing the love from H' who is like our father.

Either way, this stage of receiving love and becoming a fully born and individated self is a prerequisite to moving onto the next stage of being mevatel that Healthy self and dedicating it to H

If u don't have it, u can't be mevatel it!

There are many more mekoros
To come
(12/20/2013 2:39:24 PM)
Chasidus works
In some cases chasidus will require u (via Aseh Lecha Rav) to utilize experts, the seven habits or cots
What your Rav says has sayaata dshmaya
According to the Rebbe
Provided that ur Rav is a
Gomel chasan

And all of these are blatantly present in the Rav (without a need for a private investigator or Dan Lekaf zechus)
(12/20/2013 3:08:34 PM)
Some ppl are full of fears

(12/20/2013 3:14:11 PM)
To 181
As an attendee, I think the reason I and many others are so enlightened upon return is because we were guided to think into our past and what causes us to feel certain ways.

Eg sometimes I get angry about something and I know there's no logical reason why I should be getting angry about this and it bothers me that I can't get away from this anger. When I am shown the method of identifying the source of this anger, I'm in a more powerful place to choose how I react and the "mystery" of this anger is revealed. This is a very uplifting expirience. As chazal tell us "Ain simcha kibirur hasphekos"
(12/20/2013 3:26:06 PM)
A jew
THE Rebbe wanted leaders COTS makes robots period. the point is not inspiration but ation and result and even when a farbrengen dosent last very long dosent take zway from re gaonig the perception
(12/20/2013 6:01:58 PM)
To 184
So if my parents and the system didn't gimmy the unconventional love, then ur saying some ppl know how to get that love via learning chasidus?
And some who don't know how to get that love via learning chasidus, they SHOULD go to shofar?

I thought shofar is about teaching you how to give real love?
(12/21/2013 5:33:53 PM)
why I think it was amaizing
I was taught very practical life skills I thought I knew.
How to listen really listen to what the person is really saying, what they're underlying need behind the words they are saying

Another useful tool I picked up is to allow myself to feel love, sounds crazy but most of think we know what being intimate or loving is.true love is something chasidus wants us to have, experience and give
But it's something most men lack a healthy example of in their immediate surrounding growing up
(12/21/2013 6:11:13 PM)
"I was taught very practical life skills I thought I knew.
How to listen really listen to what the person is really saying, what they're underlying need behind the words they are saying"

You needed someone to scream until he turns purple while you jump up and down blindfolded to teach you that? What's amazing is that you paid $750 for that! I'll do it to you for 50% off. The first step to self awareness is admitting that you have been taken for a sick ride.
(12/21/2013 6:51:54 PM)
Landmark Forum
Anonymous says:
October 21, 2009 at 9:57 am

I know someone who did the landmark/est/whatever. He tried to aggressively make me see that I was being inaccurate in mourning my wifes death, as according to est teachings, everything bad that happens to you in life is your own fault, and somehow my wife developing a terminal liver disease linked to diabetes was my fault.

There is an article posted on 03/05/08 in the Huffington Post called "Inside The Landmark Forum" by Karin Badt with a long description of a Forum session. Because I think it's a cult and complete and utter nonsense, as well as a despicable and dangerous approach to group therapy IMO, I don't want to put you into that head space by virtue of reading it. With that caveat, you can decide whether or not to look it up and read it. Here's an excerpt from near the end:

This was brainwashing. ... I now went to the microphone, and asked my question. I had noticed that all questions objecting to the Forum were turned into problems of the self: the ad hominem argumentative strategy seemingly working on all 150 participants, who cheered as any person with an objection was pushed to confront the fact that their own lives were a wreck, from whence came their question. ... I noted I agreed with the basic tenets of the program, but I questioned the slippery propagation of these tenets: the idea that these tenets were original to the Forum, rather than an intelligent hodgepodge of the best of East and Western philosophy; the evangelical emphasis on telling our friends; the insistence that integrity should be applied to us spreading the word of the Forum, rather than to beliefs we already had developed in our lives and professions. ... "Are you always so arrogant? Are you always such a know it all?" Sophie moved closer, circled to me next to the mike, and looked deeply into my eyes. "Tell me Karin, do your friends run away from you? Do you know how self-righteous you seem to them?"
(12/21/2013 6:55:16 PM)
Why are ppl knocking it?
I went, I agree it's a good Idea to get as many Rabbonim and experts to examine and improve anything that can be improved

What's entertaining and sad at the same time is the cute misleading summaries by those trying to scare gullible ppl who draw conclusions based on anonymous posts knocking cots
"Don't go they will blindfold u throw u onto a mattress yell at u to not stop jumping till u say u were abused by ur daddy
Too late to misrepresent it, too many normal ppl went and saw what and why...
(12/21/2013 7:27:28 PM)
To 187
Guided to your past, or the past they made you believe is the past?
(12/21/2013 7:29:22 PM)
Very stupid
this is a disaster
not for lubavitch
(12/21/2013 7:57:05 PM)
Repeat the lie 1000x doesn't make it true
Saying its Landmark doesn't make it so.
If it was like landmark, that automatically contradicts Rabbi H who said cots is a (kosher) colt
Landmark won every lawsuit against those who tried to prove their a colt

Make up your mind
If it's like landmark, then much bigger cult experts testified that landmark is not a cult
If it is like landmark, landmark's very active legal team would have gladly sued COTS for ( 500x $650.) every cent simcha charged.

Truth be told,
I agree with I think all fellow lubavichers who attended cots, I think no one has any objection to the good idea of imroving or correcting cots to the satisfaction of Rabbi's experts, and professionals

It's always wise to invite Rabbis and experts to check it out and learn from their input and certainly change whatever needs to be changed! If In fact they find something that needs to be removed.

No one is against that I hope
(12/21/2013 8:08:12 PM)
196 = Finally a sensible comment
your probably right, i dont imagine any cotsers are arguing against getting a hechsher

also the Rebbe's letter re Kosher retreats promotes the idea of continuously seeking to modify adapt and improve the program with instruction by experts and rabbis
(12/21/2013 8:32:35 PM)
You Hope?
so after all your ranting you agree with Rabbi Schochet. Let a rabbi in. And if they refuse then you have concerns
(12/21/2013 8:45:37 PM)
Is it even legal?
Maybe the department of health should investigate?
(12/21/2013 8:48:39 PM)
As Chasidim, Follower of our dear Rebbeh, we ought to agree that whenever shaalos are raised re any matter, even one we personally dont have any doubts about, we are instructed to present those concerns (even those others raised) to a compidant Rav,

in this case, even i, -someone who has BTDT- and have gained valuable practical tools, will consider it a must, that every detail and technique be examined (modified/kept as needed) so that it satisfies the unequivocal Hechsher of experts on the subject.
(12/21/2013 9:49:22 PM)
To 134 re B&H and Rabbi Heller
I am appalled at such a comment!! Myself and many other Lubavitcher work at B&H and there is nothing wrong!! Many of us learn more chassidus then all those kollel section 8 shnorers! We daven 3 times a day and do all the shiurim. All the "Teachers" and "Mashpim" do not work a day in their life, they are the lower ones. The nerve of you to equate working in B&H as some lowly thing!!
(12/21/2013 9:57:35 PM)
I would like to develop a similar program with chabad rabbis
(12/21/2013 10:09:18 PM)
No 16 said it best:
Not really understanding the fuss...
Whatever happened to free choice? If people want to go, let them go. If people don't want to go, they should not go.

People, is this really the most pressing issue facing our community these days? I think not.

Personally, I would never attend a seminar where I have to hand over my innermost thoughts and feelings to a stranger, let alone in public. But for people who find it helpful and are interested in pursuing that type of therapy? More power to them.

Not my cup of tea, but that does that mean that it is not allowed to be anyone's cup of tea? What is with the herd mentality here, people...

Live and Let Live.
(12/21/2013 10:17:41 PM)
#187 who wrote to #181
You write "As an attendee, I think the reason I and many others are so enlightened upon return is because we were guided to think into our past and what causes us to feel certain ways."

If I was looking for something that is in total contradiction to the teachings of the Rebbe, this is it.

In numerous letters the Rebbe continuously instructs people to never look back at their past.

Thanks for enlightening me.
(12/21/2013 10:56:29 PM)
missing from the comments...
I gave up after the first 142 comments, but up to there I do not see a single comment by an actual Lubavitch rabbi or mashpia endorsing this activity, despite the many comments stating that rabbis and mashpiim have attended and recommend the activity to others. In view of this I am disinclined to believe that mashpiim are recommending it.
(12/22/2013 6:16:05 AM)
opposite of Chassidus
-Iggeres HaKodesh of Tanya, chapter 11, says all of the pain and yessurim come directly from Hashem and are really hidden good and to deny this is like denying Hashem CV" And when one realizes and thinks deeply on this, that all of the pain, and apparent bad things in their life are all from Hashem, and are all really good-- with complete Emunah-- then the good will become revealed.

-Screaming about all the "pain" in one's life without acknowledging that it is all from Hashem and realizing that only good comes from Hashem-- and without acknowledging the "hashgacha pratis" that this perceived "pain" in one's life was "packaged made" from Hashem to you-- (and was perhaps some sort of tikkun or cleansing of your neshamah etc.)--- is this the way of chassidus?

-People are also ignoring that many of these techniques/practices/ideas being promoted by this group come directly from Scientology-- which is a christian group-- as well as zen buhdissim: lookup "landmark forum", "EST", "emclear", and "scientology" and you will see exactly where all these things come from.

-there are trained professional therapists/psychologists/psychiatrists people can go to, as well as group therapy sessions, that have always been there to deal with people's psychological/emotional issues. Therapy is work over time-- not a one-time "instant fix-all"

-If one thinks about it critically it is quite obvious that this thing is being run like a money-making scam-- don't be duped-- don't fall for it!!!!

-this is the case of the "treasure buried under our feet"-- we don't need to look elsewhere-- we have chassidus-- the crown jewel-- the deepest secrets-- we need people in our community thinking new creative ways how to make the chassidus more applicable/practical/real etc. Perhaps a weekend retreat that makes people apply chassidus to their lives in a new way and to deal with their problems/challenges etc.-- but coming from people who are immersed in learning chassidus-- not from people pulling from christian and buhdists sources and trying to masquerade it as Jewish. What are we coming to????
(12/22/2013 10:08:49 AM)
Respectful Rebuttal, Clarification to a beautiful comment #206
1. You wrote:
all of the pain and yessurim come directly from Hashem and are really hidden good
to deny this is like denying Hashem CV"
So your way of applying that Igeres11 is to say that Going to a treatment which helps us get free from the pain Advil- is Denying that its from H and good?
The Rebbe himself cried, screamed, from pain, when chalanged, he said, VEN ES TUT VEI, SHRAIT MEN
Another time in the Lameds, the Rebbe yelled at farbrengem Bist A Moro SHchoirah? NEM PIL
The Rebbeh was never against using Psycholodical or Psycheatric or Even Meditational Methods to help calm ones anxieties and nerves (from past Trauma)

You wrote:
when one realizes and thinks deeply on this, that all of the pain, and apparent bad things in their life are all from Hashem, and are all really good-- with complete Emunah-- then the good will become revealed

Just bec Oidcha H Ki Onafta be doesnt mean that the trauma does nat need healing and a way (tools) to rise above it. Using tools to rise above Trauma, does not deny, that they were hidden good from H, perhaps a tikun or a way to appreciate and stop the pain of others!

You wrote:
without acknowledging the "hashgacha pratis" that this "pain" in one's life was "packaged made" from Hashem to you-- (and was perhaps some sort of tikkun or cleansing of your neshamah etc.)--- is this the way of chassidus?
Granted, One of the points COTS teaches you, is that perhaps the good in benefit of tou recognizing the Trauma you suffered from, can and will BHP. Help you save others from that suffering! There is no judgement that this suffering is itself not BHP, the main focus is to not allow it, (the pain of the past) to cause more pain today and to others in the future.

You wrote:
these techniques are based on AZ
Isent it the Rebbes shita, that tools (even meditation and nerve healing tools) used by AZ are not betzem Bad, and can (and should) be separated, extracted, elevated from their use by AZ cults, and instead used for their inherent value and benefit to as many ppl as possible who can gain from it.

You wrote:
Go to Longterm Psychologists etc not an "instant fix-all"
Cots agrees with that,
And encourages those who have the need, to seek longterm psychological/Psychiatric treatment.
Cots, gives awareness and tools, Not instant solutions.

You wrote:
-this is the case of the "treasure buried under our feet"-- we don't need to look elsewhere-- we have chassidus-- the crown jewel-- the deepest secrets-- we need people in our community thinking new creative ways how to make the chassidus more applicable/practical/real etc. Perhaps a weekend retreat that makes people apply chassidus to their lives in a new way and to deal with their problems/challenges etc.-- but coming from people who are immersed in learning chassidus
This last point you wrote I agree with 1000%
However, until that happens Cots should be used at least for those who get Haskama to go, since many of the principles and Hachlatos are in perfect alignement with chasidus. (unless someone is to klein kepeldik to see how, either bec he knows not chasidus, or doesnt comprehend whats taught at Cots, those types weak intelligences- Takeh shouldnt go)
(12/22/2013 2:34:38 PM)
Many are missing the point!
No need to reinvent the wheel when there is so much research out there already.

Again I encourage anyone who really wants a deeper understanding to go to and read about Landmark, EST etc.

Techniques like these should ONLY be used if someone, in the midst of real therapy with a certified clinical psychiatrist, is told to go there by their psychiatrist for some additional boost to their therapy. Some people can actually have a psycho-psychotic mental breakdown from these techniques and unless evaluated, it can be very dangerous. To quote from a study done on Lifespring (another one of these groups):

A study on Lifespring found that "although participants often experience a heightened sense of well-being as a consequence of the training (ADDED BY POSTER: SOUND FAMILIAR???), the phenomenon is essentially pathological", meaning that, in the program studied, "the training systematically undermines ego functioning and promotes regression to the extent that reality testing is significantly impaired". Lieberman's 1987 study, funded partially by Lifespring, noted that 5 out of a sample of 289 participants experienced "stress reactions" including one "transitory psychotic episode". He commented: "Whether [these five] would have experienced such stress under other conditions cannot be answered. The clinical evidence, however, is that the reactions were directly attributable to the large group awareness training."
As mentioned numerous times, these methods are used by cults and others because it creates the temporary sense of euphoria and a transitory high. For those with a more addictive nature, you end up chasing that high and going back to these weekend retreats again and again.

Needless to say, this is indicative of society today as a whole and Chabad in particular. Today we life in an instant world. We want everything done as quickly as possible or we move on. You have issues from you past life? We dont want to go to therapists and/or mashpiem and spends hours and hours working it through over a long period of time (as required). We want to go to a weekend retreat, use these large-group Awareness Training techniques, these deep, self-hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming and hope to morph into the new you. Torah, Chassidus and, lehavdil, every professional sport or achievement tells us that real change is the result of long, hard work practiced over and over again over many years.

It is no doubt sad that in the world of Chabad we have a void and a sense of a lack of leadership, that many feel the need to look for gratification elsewhere. When you take Chabad, that is very centered around our Rebbe (whom many feel that lack of connection as a result of not having grown up with him) and combine that with the instant gratification needs of today and it makes for an unhealthy combination.

I do not have all the answers and I am not sure what the answer is within Chabad itself. I do know that COTS is not one of the answers though.
(12/22/2013 3:11:04 PM)
Well Stated
Right on point, #208 This should be discouraged. However, I doubt that any legitimate therapist would ever recommend a patient to attend one of these retreats if for no other reason than they are run by non professionals, and that would be malpractice...BIG TIME.
(12/22/2013 4:38:45 PM)
Past Attendee in the midwest
I do not think they are a cult. They never took away my cell phone and not talking was just recommended and there were plenty of people talking especially the staff. The shabbos meal and singing were like being back in yeshiva. There are just the jewish version to Landmark which is a self improvement workshop. End of story. If Landmark is a cult which it isn't maybe you would be right.
(12/22/2013 9:21:15 PM)
rabbi Kamenetzkys endorsement
I learned in Rabbi Kamenetzkys yeshiva of Philadelphia. When I Started learning chasidus and became involved in Lubavitch many years later I happened to meet the esteemed Rav. He asked me why I became Lubavitch. One reason I said was that when yeshivaleit leave yeshiva they go down hill. I told him many former yeshiva people In my large out of NY community have televisions. He answered me seriously but the Rebbe is on television when they air the fabrengens. Then he said the Rebbe is an old man he probbably dosent know. Now I know cots is not for chasidim. I think I heard that in russia when they couldnt ask the Rebbe they asked a misnagid and did the opposit.
(12/22/2013 9:51:14 PM)
mashpiam educators leave ot if u went to cots
211 right on
any educator that went to cots needs to leave the yeshiva now!
thry are poisoning our children.
(12/23/2013 1:42:35 PM)
Delusional and Manipulative Rishus
It is soooo sad to see someone post a comment comparing this man to other "great" people who "went against the establishment." There is no thought in this whatsoever. It's merely an expression of someone rationalizing away all of the arguments and evidence. This man is a martyr! Really? He has sucked hundreds of thousands of dollars out of sincere people after causing them to suffer and then healing them. He has also left the country! Whether or not he is a scam artist or just a disturbed individual is not up to us to judge. But his methods and his arguments are open for scrutiny. And scrutinized they should be!

The mekor of this philosophy or therapy is virtually all m'tumah d'avodah zarah, and anyone who calls himself a rav or a mashpia that matirs these issurei tumah for the klall or even a yachid is being m'tameh others and himself.

There are now stories coming out of bochurim who have become frei from this, R"L, either from the pain this man and his methods inflicted or from the underlying philosophy, which is 'I' "I matter, I matter, I MATTER!!!" I matter, yes. We all matter. But to cause people to be blindfolded and cry out in paint "I MATTER!" while screaming and turning purple in the face, is pathological. And it is a method of control based in rishus---"your parents caused your pain, but you take responsibility for it" How ould anyone feel toward their parents if they had were led to believe they had caused them such pain? Saying "I take responsibility" won't remove that logical and normal reaction. A very dangerous contradiction and an undermining of a yesod of Yiddishkeit... Kibbud Av V'Eim!!!

This "pain" that no COTS coach can possibly know whether it is true or simply a manifestation of something else, such as peer pressure, or looking for a cop out, or maybe the power of suggestion on people who have been seduced into dropping their defenses and suspending their critical thinking? It is no wonder that people are being injured by this, and the most severe ones losing their Yiddishkeit because they have been coached into thinking taking responsibility means never doing anything except that which feels good without having to think about it. It's mashma from the inyun and will only make them feel sicker and sicker all the while as they convince themselves that they are on some path to enlightenment. It is pure yetzer hara that can ultimately destroy, R"L.

We have a Torah direct from the Eisbishter Himself. That is the height of feeling good and nothing needs to be added. "He who adds subtracts." The seducciim, the kraiim, the minim, we have been here before, and we have seen where this philosophy leads.

Our Holy Mesorah is what has kept us in existence and what constitutes our kedusha. We are all, each one of us, Kodesh. And the Torah says "Kedoshim Ti'hi'yu, Ki KODESH ANI! ANI Hashem!!! Not "I matter."

I matter because we are bonim atem l'Hashem Elokeihem!

Love each other? If we realized each Yid is called a child of Ha.Kadosh Boruch Hu would we not love him or her? Isn't this what the Rebbeh taught us above all things! Do we need to learn this from sources drawn from seducciim, kraiim, minim, ovdei avodah zarah and apikorsim?

Gevalt! Yiddin!!!!!!!!!!!
(12/23/2013 11:36:02 PM)
A Grateful Wife
I told my husband about the Shofar and to his credit, he went. He came back a changed person, for the BETTER. Less false walls, more real, more sensitive, we were able to talk about things that were eroding our relationship (for which he apologized profusely) and the relationships he shared with some of our children. Women out there will know what I mean. He heard the pain of others and we both cried for their pain. I am a Lubavitcher woman with no ties to anything else, I don't want anything else. But don't tell me, 'learn Tanya'. The men who run the Shofar help guide the men through an intensive introspection where most men were able to reach deep inside, reach a pain, address it (FINALLY), and make peace with it - console it. My husband is a child of Holocaust survivors, dai lemayvin. He learns Chitas every day, Rambam, the whole works and he THINKS about what he 's saying! But I'll say that the Shofar made him stop in his tracks for three days, and finally deal with things that needed addressing. The Shofar is successful because these men have taken some time out, removed themselves from their comfort zones and daily routines. They've created an eitz ratzon so to speak.
I say, BH.
Stop the hysteria. Embrace the healing. It's not a mitzvah to perpetuate the pain buried within us.
(12/24/2013 1:12:11 AM)
an amazing side effect from this discussion
From reading all the comments, it suddenly dawned on me that the hurt I experienced as a child and until now had been unable to get past was probably the result of something I did in a previous gilgul, and thinking further about it I even came up with a hypothesis as to what it might have been. That was yesterday. Last night I B"H slept wonderfully and today was a very productive day. So thanks very much to those who pointed out how we have to look at these things in a chassidish way.
(12/24/2013 3:35:03 AM)
To #214
"The Call of the Shofar is a diversion; we are too focused on one tree instead of the forest. Our reaction to the issue is the true issue."

Check out the new Op-Ed on Collive

"The Call of the Shofar is a diversion; we are too focused on one tree instead of the forest. Our reaction to the issue is the true issue."#cotsisnotacult #cotsisacult
(12/24/2013 8:53:09 AM)
209, you are completely wrong. 210, you are completely correct.
My involvement in Shofar (now COTS) was at the strong recommendation of a frum psychiatrist, with decades of practice, who himself was involved (for many years).

As 210 says, this is Landmark in a frum environment. It is certainly not a cult. Anyone wanting further info of the philosophy should look at Jean-Pierre Weill's book, The Well of Being, which gives an excellent overview of what is being taught at COTS.
(12/24/2013 10:30:52 PM)
"My involvement in Shofar (now COTS) was at the strong recommendation of a frum psychiatrist, with decades of practice, who himself was involved (for many years)."

Nebbech. What's his name?
(12/25/2013 10:09:44 AM)
I've never read anything by this rabbi before
As I heard The great rabbi in Berlin - forgot name - said about the Rebbe- "da vaks an Adam gadol"
(12/25/2013 7:39:14 PM)
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