Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Non-Miracle Story!

Mushkie posted about how she wrote the Rebbe and didn't get an obviously miraculous answer.

I do not want to ridicule Mushkie. I just want to point out that this is an excellent example of the non-miracle stories which play very non-prominent role in people's beliefs.

83 comments:

  1. I love your blog, could we blogroll each other? mine is http://geshmacktorah.blogspot.com/

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  2. NO!!!!! Did you notice that I don't blogroll? And I don't think you really love my blog.

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  3. dude thats awsom, you crush all hope right away.

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  4. Played a very prominent part in my beliefs :)

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  5. but I bet it didn't play a role in your deciding whether or not to "believe in Igros."

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  6. lol. e, you are very blunt. i like.

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  7. i guess the story is what the chossid does with the non-miracle.

    Because in Mushkie's case she was looking for an answer (not a miracle) and found it(,despite a response that didn't seem related.)

    The link... didnt reread...

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  8. People don’t use stories as the basis of belief in the Rebbe as the Rebbe. They use them for support. A husband and a wife go through life and just live. And then there are also special moments, once in a while. 20 years from now they will remember mostly the special moments, not every time they were sitting in a kitchen talking about nothing. (Or maybe not…)

    Btw, I read the post you linked to and still don’t get what you were referring too. And I don’t get what the big deal with the sun and the earth is in general. And I don’t get why the Rebbe is citing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which has nothing to do with the question at hand, while he should be citing Galileo.

    Maybe I am an idiot.

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  9. CA: good point. everybody quotes this letter, but not everybody understands einstein. So I don't really know.

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  10. I don’t understand Einstein either. Most people don’t even know what ToR says.

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  11. By the way, I recently realized that most people probably don’t understand the concept of memutza hamechaber either, despite quoting he sicho right and left.

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  12. the theory of relativity basically doesn't allow for a definite answer to whether the sun revolves around the earth and in which direction as this video explains
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wteiuxyqtoM

    according to chassidus the more you learn the more you realize you dont understand. so if you want to make fun of people who quote things that they dont understand go to lakewood because in chabad its ok.

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  13. Hm, I enjoy stories but don't generally use them as a basis of belief.

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  14. e: No, I have believed since I was born through a miracle. And personally, I don't see the big deal in believing in igros. If you believe in hashgacha pratis, then you believe the letter you 'happen' upon is directed straight to you - no?

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  15. every letter that i have seen opened can be interpreted either way. the people will gennerally interpret how they feel.

    recently i heard a story where a bochur wrote into igros wether to marry a girl or not and he got and answer not to. the girl wrote in and got a letter that appeared to encourage the match and bless them with kids. go figure huh.

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  16. Yes and no. The one I got told me quite clearly that I had to do what I didn't want to.

    yes it's hard to figure. some are blessed with clearer answers than others i guess.

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  17. what do you think that couple should do?

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  18. who am i to say what others should do? i'm 15!

    i think they should 'consult an expert in that field'.

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  19. im sure they wont follow what you say but what would you answer them if they asked you.

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  20. 1. Firstly they should think themselves what their opinion is.
    2. They should consult a rav (or other position of chassidishe authority) on what the letters meant.
    3. They should consult a similiar authority on what they should do - not, should they listen to the seemingly conflicting letters or not, but if they should get married or not.

    Please tell me this is hypothetical! It's almost shabbos by me tho...

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  21. u go mushkie!

    good shabbos!

    ahh u guys are so far ahead!

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  22. all the things you said are great. i just don't see a reason for them to be preceded by writing into igros.

    i heard the story as a maise shehoya but you never know with these stories.

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  23. the theory of relativity basically doesn't allow for a definite answer to whether the sun revolves around the earth and in which direction as this video explains

    Dude. That has nothing to do with the Theory of Relativity of Einstein. And that is not what the video says. People have known that from physics perspective it doesn’t make sense to ask “is the train moving or are the trees moving” since Galileo.

    according to chassidus the more you learn the more you realize you dont understand. so if you want to make fun of people who quote things that they dont understand go to lakewood because in chabad its ok.

    There is a difference between a cow not knowing what’s inside a black hole and an astrophysicist not knowing. I am talking about everyone making a big shturem about the famous sicho and really not exhibiting understanding of the pshat of what Rebbe Rashab meant when he introduced the concept. It’s not “the higher you go, the more you realize how little you know”; it’s poshut ignorance.

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  24. There is an opinion that it is a bad idea to write into Igros. Not because it doesn’t work, but because “tomim tihiye”.

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  25. 2. They should consult a rav (or other position of chassidishe authority) on what the letters meant.
    3. They should consult a similiar authority on what they should do - not, should they listen to the seemingly conflicting letters or not, but if they should get married or not.


    I am an ignoramus, so please bear with me. What area of Halacha does this pertain to? I.e., what halachic weight does writing into Igros have, one way or another?

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  26. I don't see the big deal in believing in igros. If you believe in hashgacha pratis, then you believe the letter you 'happen' upon is directed straight to you - no?

    Not necessarily lady. If I believe in hashgacha pratis then I believe that if I "happen" to open up the New York Times to a certain page, God intended for me to see that page. But I don't know why god wanted me to see that page. Similarly, if I happen to see a black cat, certainly god arranged that on purpose. But that doesn't tell me what god's purpose is.

    And if I happen to open up the Igros to a certain page, it certainly was part of god's plan. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the Rebbe wrote this letter to me.

    Saying "everything is hashgacha pratis" isn't the same as saying, "If I open the Igros at random, the rebbe will make me open up to a letter in which he tells me what to do."

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  27. CA: So how takeh do you understand the Rebbe's letter about the sun and the earth? The Rebbe totally makes it dependent on Einstein.

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  28. If you’re interested in getting the Rebbe’s advice on marriage, why not read the letters that the Rebbe wrote on the topic directly to people who asked him (bearing in mind the context)? I’ve seen enough letters, in which the Rebbe wrote about specific questions regarding shidduch (parnasa, age difference, not sure, cold feet, sefardi vs. ashkenazi, long engagement, rich wedding, etc.).

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  29. I also don’t understand what the Rebbe means when he says there is not evidence for Theory of Evolution. Or pretty much almost everything that’s quoted in Mind over Matter.

    Nu.

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  30. I mean, I don’t understand.
    Fakewood: observe how the most scientifically learned among us doesn't claim to understand the Rebbe's letter.

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  31. Here's a shtikel heresy: maybe when the Rebbe wrote about science, he simply was talking about something outside his field of expertise?

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  32. It’s too difficult to have this discussion with a clear common set of axioms on who the Rebbe is, what the Rebbe is, and what his opinions are. There are many different answers, some more heretical than others, and some maybe very kosher.

    The difficulty for me is that the Rebbe was writing specifically to scientists or secular people or frum Jews, but those who were approaching this from secular point of view. I.e., he was not quoting where it says in Chassidus that a candle’s light goes out because the air is too heavy. All the inconsistencies between Torah and science are not difficult to deal with. But the Rebbe was speaking about pshat of science, as understood by modern science itself.

    If you want to operate in the Universe, in which the Rebbe’s words were words of a “mere mortal”, it’s still hard for me to imagine that the Rebbe would say something that he had not researched in detail. Evolution is one thing, but Einstein and Heisenberg are quite another. But the problem is: it’s hard for me to operate in this Universe, because that’s not what I believe.

    So, bottom line: ich veis nisht. I don’t lose sleep over this. Never have, even when I was just becoming frum. I am more concerned with the Rebbe’s opinion about kids going to college. Or having kids right away. Because those are the real-life decisions I’ll have to make soon (iyH).

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  33. without a clear common set of axioms*

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  34. To long to get into right now but I'm putting together to explain what I meant and sourcing it as well.
    Fakewood

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  35. I actually did like your blog.

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  36. Wow, look what happens over a nice quiet (ha!) Shabbos. Interestingly

    fakewood: i don't see a reason either. i think igros should be the last step.

    ca: i agree with your bottom line. precisely what i might've said.

    e: hashem will guide you to a letter that speaks about what you're talking about. hashgacha pratis or not? what makes it the rebbe speaking to you is that you've chosen to open his letters. which letter you get is hashgacha pratis. and i would like to know whether your 'heresy' is such. can you research it?

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  37. Mushkie: I really did not understand what you said. Who says this letter is directed to you individually?

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  38. BS"D

    I just got a response that while not an answer to my exact question was a strong condemnation of something that I do (namely only drinking and not eating mezonos before davening).

    Strange, yes, but tomorrow and from now on I will have oatmeal (I don't eat white flour except on Shabbos, YT and at simchas) with my tea before I go to shul in the morning.

    And it won't shock me one bit if for instance I find that I end up losing rather than gaining weight from doing this as the letter ended with a brocho for both health and success.

    As for evolution, Darwin himself said his theory cannot explain the human eye, for instance. And when I look at a tiger or zebra, I can't believe for one moment that they "evolved" like that to allow them to hide in the grass. If that were the case they'd be drab and ugly, not creatures that seem to exist only to testify to the beauty of creation: "ma rabu maasecho Hashem". If anything, since according to evolutionists we are just part of the evolutionary process, they evolved incorrectly and not according to Darwin's plan because they are too attractive to us and in our way besides and therefore prey for human hunters. (In fact we did a nice job of pretty much wiping out the tiger both because it is in our way and especially now for its pelt).

    And then again there are always creatures like Ahmadinejad, the late unlamented Arafat, Al Sharpton etc who seem to prove that some strains of the human genome are DEVOLVING to lower species!!!!

    So, Rebbe 10, Darwin 4 at best.

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  39. I'll try from a different view.

    Everything you see is directed at you directly. Correct? If not, I'm wasting the next 30 seconds of my time.

    Therefore, if you choose to open a letter of the Rebbe, it is directed at you. The fact that it is the Rebbe writing to you is quite simply because he is the one who wrote the letter.

    Nemo, me?

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  40. As the story goes "the miracle is I'm still a chossid"

    CA: Ah... but who's the cow?

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  41. Mushkie: If you open a chumash at random, is Moshe Rabeinu speaking to you? If you're curious what Ezra has to say about your life, would you just open a Divrei Hayamim at random?

    In general, we don't create hashgacha pratis. We live our lives normally and if god feels like it, he gets involved with some HP.

    On a slightly unrelated note, the Rebbe never said that he would communicate to us through this medium. By deciding that the letter you open to is the letter the Rebbe sent you, you're forcing the Rebbe to use a specific means of communication.

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  42. 1. these kinds of "forced hp" need to be done according to some ancient and accepted procedure. If some rabbi in 1994 makes up a new goral hagra, it ain't worth much.

    2. If one would say, "Moshe Rabeinu told me to sell my house" b/c that's what he divined from goral hagra, you'd agree that he's a bit off.

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  43. Isn’t there also a whole discussion about Eliezer and his simanim for Rivka? All meforshim seem to work very hard to show that he wasn’t in fact throwing a lottery or relying on a chance or forcing h"p, but that it was something else (or, that in the worst case scenario, in case of Yitzchok, it was justified).

    Plus, there is an idea of not forcing Eibeshter to do too many unnatural things for you. Who said you’re meritorious? And if you are, you’re going to waste it like this?

    Finally, I think I heard from Rabbi Paltiel (who doesn’t seem averse to the M-camp) that the idea of writing into Igros is against the concept of tomim tihiye, even if it (probably) works.

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  44. Der Shygetz, I know it’s a very heretical idea, but in modern science, people rely not on hergesh, but on hard evidence. I was under impression that, lehavdil, in Yiddishkeit it’s also the case (replace hard evidence with mesoira), but I know much less about Yiddishkeit than about modern science.

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  45. Mushkie, is the New York Times "directed at you?" If anything, it is even more directed at you because it is written to appeal to large audiences whereas the Rebbe was writing specific letters to specific individuals in specific circumstances...

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  46. the books e- mentioned (Ezra, D"H,Chumash) them should read "open them at random and claim G-D is talking to you" no?

    In that case it makes more sense to ask the Rebbe than to ask Hashem, no?

    There are OPEN answers daily in my family from the Rebbe through Igros. When I'll meditate on my what my parents think when they open: not so grub like us, yes asking the Rebbe in an indirect fashion, dont think they are talking to the Rebbe, looking in his tshuvos randomly,ready for a miracle...

    They seek encouragement and perhaps a critisicm more than to gain practical direction, perhaps.

    ( and I heard that the Rebbe specifically had these letters published...)

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  47. Arguing with MyselfDecember 1, 2009 at 12:32 AM

    CA: much earlier this that you point out the Rebbe's idea that evolution is ruled out is patently false.
    I have read the letter and it says that intra-specieal evolution is a fact, one which is plainly visible and observable, whereas INTER-specieal evolution is not.
    Mind Over Matter should not meccessarily to be taken as the Rebbe's opinion, rather a book of one man's opinion of the rebbe's opinions.
    For example, Dr. Brower a proffesor in Montreal who is quoted in that book says that the book is almost entirely distorted.
    As far as ideas brought in chassidus that seem irrational like the heavy air or that hair is the overflow of brain waves is not meant to be taken literally bit metaphors illustrating points and these examples being that they were meant for people of that time were illustrated according to the way the world was understood at that moment.
    Therefore don't tale the "science" of chassidus too seriously.
    ( that was based on a discussion I had personally with proffessor Brower)

    the idea that the rebbes letter answers a question definitely depended onqho it was an answer to.
    For example there is the standard " rebbe's idea of evolution" but it is known that professor velvel Greene posseses another letter elaborating it much more and addressing certain issues and that this lettter is not publicly available to my knowledge.
    And this wad true not just of science, but also for many other areas, for example, the rebbe was very much against giving away land, but a much fuller and more specific political plan was only discussed with Israeli politicians privately and directly.


    Finally, who cares which way the sun goes?

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  48. ChayaAiz - you may have "open answers daily" in your family, but I have never gotten an answer. Am I doing something wrong? Why does it work only for people who are "not so grub like us?"

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  49. omg not daily but a lot (mistake)

    and I dont really get answers either

    I want to, sometimes...

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  50. Am I a karaite if I mention all the various prohibitions against these things in Deuteronomy?

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  51. ChayAiz: Rather quick 180 degree turn.

    Modeh: Your attitude is backwards. We believe Deuteronomy because of the Rebbe. So if your understanding of Deuteronomy takes people away from the Rebbe, it's obviously wrong.

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  52. nisht nispoel fun gashmiusDecember 2, 2009 at 12:32 PM

    ChayAiz: they are open answers. You just need to recognize how the answers are really open

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  53. Nisht nispoel:

    If they are open answers, why aren't they recognizable without a process of trying to recognize them? How would opening the Igros to a letter about the sun revolving around the earth answer a question about which person you should marry, for example? How is that an open answer? Why should an open answer require you to spin the text of a letter not only from it's actual meaning, but from any intent the Rebbe could concievably have had when composing the letter?

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  54. My point is, the processes through which people arrive at open answers have within them an inherent selection bias and confirmation bias.

    People choose to accept the part of the letter which they deem relevant, disregarding its context. They ignore all parts of the letter besides the one or two sentences that tell them what they already wanted to hear.

    If there is hashgacha protis in opening up to a particular page, how do you know that the hp is limited to that line or two? How do you know that the Rebbe didn't want you to take into consideration every word on both sides of the page? Why not take things in their entirety?

    People tend to assume specific responses from general answers. If the page says that something will be good, they automatically assume that the Rebbe wants them to buy a certain house. Assuming the Rebbe wrote this letter knowing that it would be opened one day for advice on a real estate transaction, how do they know that this is the intention of the Rebbe? Maybe the Rebbe means that it will be good to ditch the deal? Maybe the Rebbe means it will be good but they can bargain to a lower price.

    I have rarely heard an Igros story claiming an open answer which actually excluded any other possibilities (I don't want to use the word 'likelihood').

    Furthermore, I've heard plenty of explanations for why people get non-responsive answers from their Igros attempts: too grub of a person. Insufficient preparation (how much do you need already? You already learned a maamar for an hour and a half!!). Use of lined paper. Etc., etc., etc.

    If you need to come up with so many excuses for why something doesn't work most of the time, your system might just not work (not to say that a few biases can't fix the empirically unproven).

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  55. e: Ah, but if you believe in the rebbe because of Deuteronomy that's different. (Of course then you're a snag)

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  56. So, I just realized that I hate Arnie Gotfryd. Not as a Jew, but as a popularizer of Yiddishkeit. I am sitting here and reading his article attempting to prove historical veracity of Mattan Torah, and I am realizing that had this been back in my apikorsis years, I would tear every sentence apart. And all his articles are the same.

    The same goes for Tzvi Freeman, but for a different reason (too hippy and mellow).

    Why don’t these people realize that they are doing chillul Chabad amongst intelligent Jews?

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  57. thanks i finnally find someone who agrees with me on this. i think you forgot to include yy in that rant.

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  58. Had I written this back in the early days of my exposure to Chabad Chassidus (six years ago), I would include Yanki Tauber. But he grew on me.

    Who is YY?

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  59. I venture to speculate that the opening of the Kotzker Rebbe's remark did not serve merely as an anecdotal introduction to his statement concerning the value of a broken heart. Rather, the process of climbing the crooked-yet-straight ladder of life requires, according to master of Kotzk, a heart complete in its brokenness.

    Gevalt. How can people write in English professionally not having read Elements of Style by Strunk and White?

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  60. Where can you find this elements of style? And that piece of 'writing' was awful.

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  61. The newest edition of Elements of Style can be found in most bookstores or, e.g., on Amazon. Just search for it.

    The old version can be found online here. I don’t know if it has all the chapters (about the flow of thought, etc.). And some of the stuff is outdated.

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  62. CA: good point.

    In Tzvi Freeman's defence, he isn't trying to appeal to the intellectuals. Arnie Gotfryd, on the other hand, thinks that he knows better than the real scientists.

    And YY is horrible. I'm continually amazed that he's so big.

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  63. The jokes were in bad taste about your comment regarding YY.

    Tzvi Freeman was here actually. In the middle of his pre-kabbalos Shabbos dvar Torah, I excused myself for a bathroom break and just stayed upstairs learning a sicho. And then again during the dinner. His divrei Torah are some Jewish version of Vogon poetry torture. Misha liked him though. Maybe he appeals to sensitive people (musicians, not gay).

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  64. To Mr. Arguing With Myself:
    proffessor isn't spelled like that, or proffesor, but professor.

    that's my opinion on the whole matter.
    and I forget who said something about paltiel and igros, but IYH I'll ask him tomorrow.

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  65. yeah, so... that's an hour plus shiur.

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  66. 41:30. "As far as Igros -- if a person is writing a letter to Igros, in my opinion it is exactly what you're not allowed to do." But you have to listen to Ramban and Ibn Ezra before this to understand the context.

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  67. ok, I spoke to paltiel this morning all about it. his opinion: I'm careful not to laugh at the people who put their letter in the Rebbe's Igros, because of all the crazy stories you hear" but he himself does not, and he told me about other ways the Rebbe himself said a chossid can figure out what the Rebbe would say in a certain situation... which he told me one, and how it worked for his brother...

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  68. Well, in his shiur he had said that it's not that he doesn't believe in the potency of the method, he doubts whether it's not against halacha to continuously use the power of tzaddikim or neviim.

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  69. i think ppl that dont get answers
    are against it

    they are adults so they are right

    i am young can learn from my parents

    at this rate the open hashgacha in the answers to my father concernign shlichus are once a wk approx

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  70. And at what rate does he get non-open answers?

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  71. good question
    he doesnt elaborate on the non open answers but i think about the same rate (as he writes to the rebbe, he gets open answers)

    so to answer: usu finds open answer

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  72. i think ppl that dont get answers
    are against it


    It's like saying that the only Republicans are rich people.

    It is not necessary to find ulterior or emotional motives in everything. Sometimes people think that something is objectively wrong, whether or not it personally concerns them one way or another.

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Forth shall ye all hold.