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Jun 27, 2018

The Shvantzonus - the Tail Doctrine

One of the new Vizshnitzer Rebbes has been running a campaign to teach his hassidim about some new approach to life that he calls "Shvantzonus" - the tail doctrine.

It has been in the Haredi news a lot recently, though I haven't really understood what this was about, and assumed it was just another chassidishe thing that I didn't get. The website "Hasidic News" has now written about this and explains it to us non-hassidim, though I am not really sure it makes all that much more sense now.

Basically, the Tail Doctrine is teaching the chassidim to view themselves as tails with him, the rebbe, as the head. They are to follow like tails that don't understand what the head is doing or why and they just follow along, accepting whatever the head does without asking questions or complaining.

An excerpt, with the main points:
The haredi sector is astir over the recent revelation that R. Mendel (“Mendelle”) Hager is promulgating a new and bizarre precept that he has named “the tail doctrine”. The doctrine urges his followers to think of themselves as tails with respect to their rebbe: just as the tail follows the body and cannot sever itself from it, nor control it –so ought a hosid follow his rebbe without any digressions, vacillation, or doubt.
News of the new doctrine began spreading around two weeks ago when a discourse of the Rebbe to his followers was recorded and leaked into the Hasidic WhatsApp sphere. In his speeches R. Mendelle preaches unprecedentedly radical and bizarre ideas of unflinching loyalty, faith in him even if he’s seen doing something that seems to transgress halokhoh, and complete subordination of all hasidim to him in their entire bodies at all times. Such ideas may have been commonplace in the Hasidism of hundreds of years ago, but they seem anachronistic and outright loony in modern times.
In the recent Tail Doctrine campaign R. Mendelle teaches his hasidim a new song to be sung before reciting the Psalms and after evening toroh lessons: “we believe in the holy opinion of the holy Yeshuos Moshe (viz. his father, so named after a book that he composed), namely shvantzonus (the practice of being a tail; tail-ism)”. If anyone leaves the study hall in the middle of the song, decrees R. Mendelle, “tell him that he no longer has anything to seek among us”.
I love how he is preparing his chassidim for the day he goes and does a bunch of things against halacha, but they are already ingrained with the training that they are just tails and  dont understand the head and have to just accept it without understanding, but not complain...he's very smart to get ahead of this..

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  1. If his Chassidim accept this, will any Rav make a public declaration that they are clear Ovdei Avodah Zarah?

  2. why is this any different from regular chareidi daas torah? The gedolim also violate issurim, it doesnt make a difference.


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