Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Group Dynamics, Black Sheep, and Likeability: Why Chabad is Effective in Making Believers Reject Yeshua

So I'm not going to give an overview of the field of psychology known as Group Dynamics.  I couldn't if I wanted to because I accidentally took a benadryl this morning instead of the 24 hour allergy medicine (whoops).  I'm just going to briefly discuss my impression of how Group Dynamics functions when someone (e.g. Christians, Messianics, etc) visit a Chabad synagogue.

When you visit a group there are certain forces that immediately begin to affect you.  Each group has its own system for determining who is likeable.  The Veterans of the group are typically seen as most likeable because they have expertise (authority) which is helpful for protecting the group.  So when you enter a group as a novice or a uninitiated visitor you are on the lowest rung of likeability.  Furthermore, you might even be seen as unlikeable if the group sees you as an existential threat.

No one wants to be unlikeable.  We all want to be accepted.  And this explains the tendency of Assimilation, the desire to conform to a group, to accept the authority of the group's leadership structure, and not be labeled as a Black Sheep.  

So how does this apply to a Christian or a Messianic who happens to visit a Chabad synagogue?  Here's what happens:  both Christians and Messianics come from non-Hasidic social groups but they both use a similar system for establishing Veteran status of a group member--Scriptural Expertise.

The Chabad rabbis are experts in Torah.  A Christian who waltzes into a Chabad synagogue thinking he'll dazzle them with his knowledge is in for a rude awakening.  The Chabad rabbis know their stuff (and chances are they know your stuff too).  It is fair and safe to say that most Christians have no idea the level of Scriptural Expertise that some of the Hasidic rabbis have achieved.  Same for most Messianics.  A Chabad rabbi is like a samurai and a typical Christian or Messianic is like a child wielding a bokken--a wooden, practice sword.  Within a matter of moments of attending a Chabad synagogue, most Messianics and Christians will become painfully aware of the level of authority wielded by the leadership of the synagogue.  The need to appease the group, to not be seen as a Black Sheep, the need to be likeable, to be accepted by the group, the need to assimilate---given enough time it is unavoidable.  

To attempt to resist these effects is like trying to stay warm in the winter without using a coat.  It's silly to disregard nature.  The thing to do is to recognize where the dangers exist and to plan accordingly.

Christians and Messianics both need to be in One Law congregations if at all possible.  Otherwise, you'll end up becoming like the existing group with which you most closely identify.  

Well, hopefully, this will help someone despite the fact that I'm writing this under the influence of Benadryl.  : )

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