It seems that the town of Elkana is in the midst of a debate that has been bugging me for a while. Is Chabad part of Orthodoxy? YNet reported on May 29th that the Rabbanut of Elkana is refusing to adjust their mikveh to Chabad standards because "the Chabad movement is not part of the Jewish Orthodox group and therefore it can not use the facilities of this group".
Them be fightin' words.
The Rabbanut never said such any such thing; they're just thinking it. "Obviously they are kosher Jews, until they begin acting in a compulsive way, all the while refuting the authority of the community rabbi," said Motti Minzer the representative of the Rabbanut.
The problem here is that any small group (Ashkenazim/Sefardim/etc.) are not going to give up and use a mikveh they deem inadequate. The Rabbi feels no obligation to give in - the local rabbanut is the local rabbanut - it's their call.
I agree, but that brings us to the original question. Is Chabad Orthodox?
In short, I'd say no. And so would they. Chabad doesn't call itself Orthodox, they call themselves Hasidic and Jewish, but the label "Orthodox" appears nowhere on their webpage.
If being Orthodox is nothing more than just a label, why does it matter? I personally hate the term, I'm not religious to be Orthodox, I'm religious because it's what Jews do and what Jews believe. If that makes me Orthodox, then fine - I couldn't care less.
What the label provides is a litmus test to gauge everybody else by. That gauge may or may not be the 13 Ikkarim, it may be some other "test". But it seems that whatever the test should include, at the very least more than one group of those calling themselves Orthodox should adhere to it.
Thus, saying strict adherence to R' Teitelbaum is not accepted since nobody outside the Satmar Community would agree. Torah Min HaShamayim probably would go on the test. So what about the Chabad claim that Rebbe as Moshiach? Is this something that can be written off like the followers of some other movements?
I don't believe so. Messianic claims are too important to the klal to be accepted by any part and not the whole. Thus, Chabad (since it cannot seem to differentiate the elements within itself) has eliminated itself from normative Orthodoxy. It is possible, that if Chabad could purge the Messianic elements from its ranks that it could regain its former status. But if, as some scholars have suggested, most Chabad Rabbis are Meshichi or at the very least accept it as a legitimate belief; then no, Chabad cannot be part of the Orthodox community.
So what now? Chabad isn't Orthodox. It's Chabad and I think they're just happy with that. It doesn't necessarily mean to cut off all ties (it may for certain elements); but these Lubavitchers in Israel should either use the current Mikveh or build their own.