Specifically one who is dressed in the garb of a guru, religious leader, or activist: A guide for Jewish women (and other women too).
The talk of the town last week was about a New York Times profile of an (accused) rapist/serial womanizer/wife-abuser ex-rabbi who essentially got kicked out of the Jewish world and has successfully resurrected himself as a new-age guru. His name is Marc Gafni, and I actually know/know-people-who-know women whom he messed with. I heard about him years ago at a Shabbos table — some people who had left his sphere of influence were discussing his move to Boulder and said, “I don’t know why he keeps trying to work in the Jewish world. He should go to the new age — they don’t care about sexual propriety.” Apparently he had the same idea.
It surprises me not an iota that a sexual predator would become a prominent new-age guru. The guru-student relationship is fertile land for sexual misbehavior to flourish in. There are too many guru sexual predators to list, but I’ll highlight a few who were exposed relatively recently: John Friend of Anusara Yoga, Bikram Choudury of Bikram Yoga, Eido Shimano Roshi of New York Zen Studies Society, Joshu Sasaki Roshi of Rinzai-ji, Swami Shankarananda of Shiva School Of Meditation And Yoga, and Doug Phillips of Vision Forum.
They’re not just gurus. There are also mystics, sensitive new age guys, extremely “spiritual” people who are actually lowlifes, and activists/idealists who are in it for the booty. There are certain things they do; certain men they are. Look out for:
The Spiritual Man Who Thinks You’re Special: You are a light in the darkness to him. He is your teacher, and he sees soooooo much brilliance and potential in you. You are what he needs, and he is what you need — spiritually, of course. Or he wants to personally help you. You, more than anyone, are worth his precious spiritual energy and time.
The Spiritual Man Who Wants To See You Outside Of Class: Why would a charismatic, “enlightened” man want to see you outside of class? Why would he invite you into his home, into his inner-circle, into his family, or to his most exclusive retreats? Because he wants to do something inappropriate and he’s getting you used to being alone with him.
The Man Who Wants To Spiritually Connect With You — Through Your Body: This guy can take any scripture of any spiritual tradition and twist it to convincingly to mean that spiritual connection is best experienced through sexual connection. Selling teenagers into prostitution? Having multiple wives and mistresses? He’s got scripture to back it up.
The Spiritual Man Who Pierces You With His Eyes: His gaze is unbelievably powerful. When he looks at you, you swear he can see right to your soul. Why do they always pierce you with their eyes? It’s a move of control and dominance. I once had a creepy swami try to pierce me with his eyes, and I left his ashram within 10 minutes.
The Spiritual Man Who Wants To Touch You: Eyes on you turns into hands on you. He’s so spiritual that he wants to heal you hands-on. Or he invites you in for a private session only to reach up your shirt. Since he thinks he’s G-d, he feels entitled to your body. Question what he’s doing and he’ll back it up with scripture, or explain to you that it’s part of the teacher-student relationship.
The Spiritual Man Whose Love And Non-Attachment Are Superior To Everyone Else’s: He challenges you to be strong enough to handle his love. He’s not sure if you have what it takes to be loved by him, and he wants you to prove it. And/or he is a master of non-attachment. He wants to prove how good he is at not getting attached by getting intimate with you and not giving a crap. He convinces you that you are weak because you have human feelings, and he is strong and enlightened because he is a master of non-attachment. He’s not a womanizer — he’s just really good at not getting attached!
The Humble Man Who Talks About Himself — A Lot: I’ve met way too many of these guys. All conversations lead back to him. He is so humble that he doesn’t even have his own possessions or home — instead, he’s going to mooch off of you and other women. Counter something he says, and he’s going to throw the humble card at you: If you don’t agree with him (or you don’t flatter him), you’re arrogant. Since he is so humble, you are assaulting him by disagreeing with him.
The Very, Very Sensitive New Age Guy: This man has feelings. His feelings are very strong. You must never hurt his feelings, though he is free to hurt yours. He is a master of using psycho-babble and “non-violent communication”. You make him feel a certain way — he is never responsible for controlling his own feelings.
The Religious Man To Whom The Rules Don’t Apply: He sure knows all the rules. He can recite them backward and forward, in multiple languages (Sanskrit! Hebrew! Hindi!). He is fastidious in tiny details that inconvenience other people (his special way of washing his hands! his special diet!), but when it comes to, you know, like, not raping people, the rules don’t apply to him. His spiritual position entitles him to exploit you however he wants to!
The Crusader For Justice Who Makes You Feel Dumb: This man knows everything about justice. He knows the key to world peace. He quotes Marx, Mandela, and Maimonides in the same sentence. He knows Angela Davis personally. If there was a big protest, he was not only there but he was on the front lines fighting the cops and he has a scar on his inner thigh that he wants to show you to prove it. This man is committed to The Cause above all. So lofty is his goal that he doesn’t need to be nice to regular people like you. He can be nasty, denigrating, rude — all in the name of The Cause. Call him out on it and you’re siding with the oppressor.
The Married Man Who Tells His Marital Problems To You: This spiritual master has a spiritual advisor — a very famous guru — but even that guru can’t empathize with his marital problems. Thank the goddess that you can, though. It turns out that in every way that his wife lacks, you are just brimming over. Why can’t his wife be more like you, he asks you.
The Enlightened Man Who Tells You All About How Men & Women Are Supposed To Relate To Each Other/How Women Should Be: This guy is an expert on gender. He knows every religious or spiritual reason why women should be subservient to men. He presents his “knowledge” as absolute truth. If you don’t relate to him on his terms, he’ll educate you on how to be a better woman. He’s on a special mission to teach very young women (even girls) how to be women.
The Clergy Man/Guru Who Wants Your Money: He can convince almost anyone (and especially women) to financially support his “mission”. If it’s not by promising salvation if you give him money, it’s by inviting you to very, very expensive retreats. Want private healing sessions or lessons in spiritual practice? One way or another, you’ll pay for them.
Anybody Who Ideologically Justifies Polyamory: If he’s really “progressive”, this man can quote The Ethical Slut. And since his predecessors in his spiritual lineage had multiple wives, certainly he should have them. While he is free to enjoy his spiritually-sanctioned dalliances, you’re in big trouble if he even thinks you’re cheating on him. After all, it’s Tantra! Or it’s Christianity! Or Abraham had more than one wife! He has so much spiritual mojo that he is simply gifting it to all the women he’s intimate with. How dare you refuse his gift!?
The Healer Who Has A Special Treatment Just For You: This man has identified that something is wrong with you. There is something wrong with you that only he has identified because he is so enlightened. It is critical that he, and only he, heal you. What? Having sex with him is part of the treatment? How surprising!
A final word: These creepy guys are out there in droves, and almost everyone who is involved in religion and/or spirituality will meet one at some point. Nobody who is on a high spiritual level will pressure you for sex. Period. People who are genuine spiritual teachers or activists will speak to you respectfully. Full stop. There is a big difference between being wowed by the intelligent way a man speaks and being treated respectfully by that man. Trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable, get out.
|EXCLUSIVE: Rabbi Mendel Morosow, a Crown Heights Lubavitcher, speaks to COLlive about his "intuitive powers" used by thousands - including rabbis and mashpiim, and why he kept them secret for years.|
Rabbi Mendel Morosow, Uses Powers to Heal
R' Mendel, how did you discover this "intuitive" or "empathic" healing powers?
For many years, my wife and I had no children. We went to all kinds of doctors, including highly recommended experts on alternative medicine. A homeopath noticed I could sense the effects of the remedies he was suggesting, and asked whether I could sense details about him and his family. With great reluctance, I described what came to mind, and he said I was right on target.
How did you feel about it?
I was the biggest skeptic! I come from a rational, intellectual background. But I began to see it was true; I really could discern things about people, feel the root of their problems and how they might be helped.
Did you notice this ability before?
Actually, throughout my life, I seemed to pick up on people's moods or feel their aches and pains, without realizing what it was. I didn't realize it was the states of other people that I was experiencing. I thought it was me.
That must have been strange...
It was indeed confusing. I understood various situations intuitively, but learned not to talk about it, because others laughed at me: How could a youngster know things that required real life experience? So I learned to keep my mouth shut.
When did you start actually developing this talent, instead of hiding it?
That homeopath asked for my help in order to get a better reading of some of his clients. Sometimes he asked me to use my energy to "deliver" a remedy to them.
How does this work in practice?
When I "tune in" to people, I sense things about them. I might see an image, or actual words run through my mind. Sometimes I just "know" something – I have no idea from where. For instance, I may see a place or object, or feel some emotion.
What sort of problems can you help?
I've helped with all sorts of problems: health, emotional issues, shalom bayis, chinuch, parnassa and business decisions, and many shidduchim issues. Of course, if it's a serious health issue, I tell them to visit a doctor, as well.
When you get a call, how do you approach the issue?
My approach is two-fold: First, I ask the person to describe his or her problem in brief. Then I "tune in" to see what might be causing it. Even if it's a health issue, sometimes it has a psychological or emotional basis.
Can't you tell automatically what the problem is?
I could, in theory, but people may have several issues, and it's best when they tell me which one to focus on. Also, using intuition requires mental energy, which I would rather save for addressing the problem itself.
What comes next?
After identifying the source of a problem, I get a sense of how to fix it.
And how do fix it? What do you do in actuality?
It can be any of a few options. It could be as simple as recommending a change in routine or advice that an outsider might think of commonsense. Often I feel something is wrong in the tefilin or mezuzos, so I advise getting them checked by an expert sofer. Or I focus energy on a problem to correct it.
A spiritual technique?
No. I don't feel that my intuition itself is ruchnius and never did any training or took any courses or studied "healing." Rather it's an ability to "pick up" and understand reality, like radio waves traveling to a cell phone – definitely something physical, not spiritual. Various themes discussed in Chassidus may make this easier to understand, but the actual ability is not necessarily spiritual.
Have you had Halachic concerns?
I have asked Rabbonim whether I may use this ability and talent. Those of them familiar with the concept told me I'm allowed to use it, especially in order to help people. However, I try to keep away from sensing the future, as that can get complicated from a Halachic point of view.
Do you have reservations about giving advice on what to do about serious matters?
Naturally, dealing with serious personal issues is a huge responsibility, and I can't honestly accept responsibility for people's life decisions. I can only ask leading questions, give suggestions and encouragement, and hope to point people in a good direction.
For example, a client once traveled overseas, where he checked out certain properties with an eye to investment. He called me – giving the places nicknames, because I don't need addresses – and I told him something bothered me about one property, which seemed to be on the border between neighborhoods. My client returned to check on it in the evening and discovered that, although it was in a good neighborhood, it was close to a bad one, and at night it became a noisy hangout, with music blasting and neighbors complaining the noise disturbed their sleep. When he told me about another place, I felt it to be full of sunshine, with young couples moving in, a neighborhood that was up and coming. He found that too to be true.
But wouldn't anyone with real estate buying experience have noticed all that?
Indeed, and many of my ideas turn out to be plain common sense. The difference is that for an expert in the field it's common sense, while with me it's pure intuition. Besides, that investor lived far from those places, so he wouldn't have time to check them thoroughly. He might have missed the clues, so he was glad he had asked me.
How many people have approached you for advice?
Over the 10 years I've been doing this, I've probably had thousands of cases, including thousands involving tefilin and mezuzos. I have helped many, many members of the worldwide Lubavitcher community, as anyone can ascertain by asking around. My clients have included prominent rabbonim from communities around the world and mashpiim. Rabbi Manis Friedman, for example, has referred people to me.
How much time do you spend with clients?
Usually it's up to the individual. Some need just a few minutes, especially if they get straight to the point and immediately follow my advice, in which case they soon see results. Others need more time, particularly if they don't immediately follow my advice, in which case they'll keep coming back. I also work over the phone, which adds a layer of privacy and helps people feel more at ease. After discussing the problem with them, I may continue thinking about them, sending them "energy" to help with the problem. At the beginning of Likutei Diburim, the Rebbe RaYYaTz explains that thinking about someone can help him.
What is your success rate?
Boruch Hashem, I have been blessed with abundant success. I've never taken the time to measure it in exact numbers, but great numbers of people feel they have been helped and their problems resolved. The fact that I get many referrals from previous clients is the best testimony.
Can you give examples of your success?
I have hundreds of stories, some of them really amazing.
A teenager once told me his ankle gave him constant severe pain, for which he needed an operation. From across the table, I focused energy on him for a few minutes, and he told me the pain was getting less and less, until it disappeared. When I met him a year later, he told me the pain had never returned, and he no longer needed any operation.
At a L'chaim [engagement party], I had a farbrengen with some bochurim. One mentioned that he suffered from gout, which caused him constant acute pain in his leg. For a few minutes, I focused energy on him and the pain disappeared. He was skeptical about it and didn't believe he would long remain free of pain. But when I met him again over a year later, he reported that, "strangely enough," the pain had never returned!
A few years ago, a man aged around 60 was limping painfully. He had had a knee-cap replacement, and needed another one on his other knee. I focused energy on his problem several times, at personal meetings and during phone conversations. Since then, his pain has disappeared and he hasn't needed a replacement for his other knee.
Give us an example about tefilin.
One man often experienced sudden blackouts, causing him to lose consciousness, fall down and get hurt. It wasn't epilepsy, said his doctors, but they didn't know what else it could be. As I spoke to him, an image of tefilin came into my mind, then the kesher of the shel rosh [knot of the head tefilin]. I asked whether he placed the kesher on the correct part of the head. He replied that he did, but added that, six years earlier – which happened to be when his problem started, of course – someone in shul, not a Rov or sofer but just a well-meaning person, had told him to change where he placed it. I advised him to check with an expert. As soon as he changed back to his original placement of the kesher, his blackouts stopped. That was the first time I advised resolving a problem by ensuring correct observance of tefilin or mezuzos.
So it was your mind's image of the kesher that helped resolve his problem?
Yes. People may not realize that problems with tefilin and mezuzos involve more than just the written text.
For example, the Alter Rebbe (in his Shulchan Aruch and Siddur) points out a common problem: In the lower area of the tefilin shel rosh, glue is used to keep the parts of the bayis together. But often, while the tefilin are being formed and the glue is still wet, it can spread upwards between the four compartments, where it can render the tefilin non-kosher. In my experience, about 70% of tefilin have this problem, and most soferim aren't trained how to check for it and fix it.
Also, the batim of tefilin have to be perfectly square, but many are not, and not all soferim always check for this. Also a small scratch in the black paint of some parts of the retzuos [tefilin straps] can be very serious.
Another problem with tefilin and mezuzos is with the two tagin [short vertical lines attached to a letter] on top of every lamed letter. According to Halacha, the tag on the right should extend slightly higher than the left one. Kabala explains the underlying reason for this: The right tag represents chessed [kindness] and should therefore be higher than the left one, which represents gevura [severity or judgment], in order to ensure that the flow of Divine kindness overwhelms any possible "judgments."
A lot of soferim usually don't look for this problem unless specifically asked to do so, because it's time-consuming. But when it's not fixed, it can have a negative effect on the wearer and his loved ones. In fact, every detail of tefilin can affect not only the wearer but his wife, young sons and unmarried daughters.
Often I advise someone to recheck even several times for problems with tefilin and mezuzos, because, as in any other field, not all soferim are equally thorough.
Can you give an example of a case about shidduchim.
A certain girl was already beyond the usual age for shidduchim, yet nothing was moving for her. I asked if their home had a balcony. Yes, and their balcony had two sets of doors. I advised bringing a Rov to check whether the mezuzos were placed correctly. He found them to be on the wrong sides of the doors. They were changed, and the girl became engaged within a few months.
Placement of mezuzos can make a huge difference for shidduchim, health and other areas. When an expert is invited into homes to check on mezuza placement, he finds problems in over 90% of homes, in my experience.
What advice would you give people in general?
People often create their own problems through excessive worry and fear. My intuitive energy approach can help with that, but I also advise people to increase their emuna and bitochon in Hashem. When negativity is removed, healing takes place, parnassa flows, health blossoms, and relationships heal. As the Zohar says, "When someone is happy, it opens up all the Divine sources Above."
Thanks for speaking with us
It is my pleasure. I can be reached at TheHelpingRabbi.com