R. Mendelle Vizhnitzer Proclaims Tail Doctrine

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”.

R. Mendelle urges his adherents to not be ashamed of the slavish doctrine and to not answer or talk about the doctrine to anyone inquiring about it:

Don’t be ashamed. My goal is that you should not be moved by the street [gossip]. Part of the tail doctrine is to comport oneself with integrity, without veering and without external influences by the street… Whoever is not my hosid in his 248 bones and 365 veins –in thought, speech, and action– let him withdraw his children from the holy institutions. I did not build them for bachies (Hungarian pl. “bacsis”; a “bacsi” is, literally, an uncle, but the word is used to connote a persnickety, fastidious, independent person). I demand 24-hour sacrifice.

Regarding a Rebbe’s potentially questionable behavior:

Even if it seems that the Rebbe is transgressing a clear halokhoh from the mishneh beruroh, does not pray in public or not at all, or even if he does things that our forefathers did not do such as igniting a cigar in public or in the midst of a holy discourse –he [the hosid] remains clinging to his holy and pure rebbe… with a fealty of heart and soul, to him and to his pure path.

The Rebbe reportedly said to a follower who has been childless for twenty years:

You know why you don’t have children? It’s because of the folks who are not shvantzonim (tail-men). Go ask them: why does it bother you that I should have children?!

R. (Menachem) Mendel Hager is the son of R. Moshe Hager (“Moshelle”, d. 2012) the late Vizhnitzer rebbe of Benei Berak, Israel. For decades in the 80’s and 90’s R. Mendelle had been deemed heir apparent to his father’s rabbinic throne, after his elder brother R. Yisroel (“Srultsche”) had been expelled from Benei Berak at the urging of their mother. But in R. Moshelle’s final years he stunned the world by reconciling with his rival brother R. Mottelle of Monsey and inviting his son R. Srultsche to return from exile to Benei Berak and prepare to take over the reins of the Vizhnitzer court after his passing. R. Mendelle was forced out of power around ten years ago, and dragged a small but hard-core coterie of adherents with him. He opened a new shul nearby in Benei Berak and launched a full slate of congregational institutions for his followers.

R. Mendelle is being buffeted on all sides over his new stance, even as he asserts that it’s not new at all, attributing it to his father. Apologists insist that the tail doctrine has been a mainstay in Vizhnitz since time immemorial, but has simply never been recorded and disseminated to the wider public prior to the advent of social media. Detractors are wondering whether R. Mendelle has become unhinged, is doing it in order to draw attention, is venting a long-bottled-up grudge, or has perhaps been affected somehow by his recent lap band surgery.

Critics note that R. Mendelle is deeply disgruntled over his ouster from power ten years ago. Although he had managed to retain the allegiance of a small group of ardent devotees, and even spotty loyalty of small groups of Vizhnitzer hasidim abroad, he had lost the crown jewel of the Benei Berak Vizhniter kingdom, namely the home base of the movement in Bene Berak –and this after painstakingly bracing himself as successor for decades.

In recent years he has witnessed with burning envy his brother R. Srultsche’s ascendancy and flourishing, while he remained stagnant. R. Srultsche is currently in the process of erecting a magnificent new building and is expanding. R. Mendelle’s followers have been comparing notes with their rival faction, sporadically visiting his rival’s shul and institutions, and vying for followers. R. Mendelle is also in a state of war with his uncle R. Mottelle’s Vizhnitz in Monsey and is incensed when his American followers go there. Advisers have ostensibly approached the Rebbe with reform ideas for how to be more attractive to those on the fence and would-be defectors. The Rebbe, has finally had enough of the unremitting second-guessing and criticism. With his recently enunciated doctrine, he is seeking to put an end to the self-doubt. He is saying emphatically and resolutely that fringe Hasidim are useless to him. Those who want to “dance at two weddings” and seek to extract concessions from him for their loyalty had better stop. He won’t be suffering the bachies any longer.

In the meantime, word of Mendelle’s eccentricity has gotten out into the wider haredi world, including Lithuanians. Musicians are now flippantly playing the newly composed Tail Song at weddings, even while Mendelle’s actual shvantzonim are singing it reverently in the course of their hasidic routine, as commanded by their rebbe.

The song is sung to the same tune of, and is a play on, the decades-old Satmar song. The lyrics of that song begin with “di shittoh hakedoshoh fin di heilige vayoel mosheh” (the holy opinion of the holy [R. Yoel Teitelbaum, author of the] Vayoel Mosheh), and refer to the original “holy opinion” –that of the Satmars urging separation from the wicked Zionists and their sympathizers. Now R. Mendelle is appropriating that sentiment and invoking the same bravery in the face of persecution and scorn that Satmar was forced to withstand in the early post WWII years, to apply it to his own “persecuted” underdog status.

Read the KaveShtiebel thread, in Yiddish.

Watch a clip of Berry Weber singing the new tail song at a joyous event:

16 Responses to R. Mendelle Vizhnitzer Proclaims Tail Doctrine

  1. Neitre Rabbi says:

    Considers Mendalism the most stupid form of paganism.


  2. Chatztatzkar Rabbi says:

    Sings that he needs a doctor with pills and an injection in hospital immediately and all will be fine…


  3. Listen to Mendaleh Himself says:

    As they say from the horses mouth. You have to push the link on the second headline, it will download to your computer the song is by the end of his speech.


  4. Rabbi Joel Labin says on Twitter: says:

    “לעניות דעתי טאר מען נישט זינגען ביי חתונות דעם שוואנצאנות שפאט ניגון. עס איז הלבנת פנים אויף א מורא’דיגע פרהסיא’דיגע וועג. א עדה אידן דארף זיך גענוג ספראווען מיט בושות, אבער טאנצן און שפרינגען אויף זייער בלוט? א אידישע שמחה איז בעסער פון דעם.” https://twitter.com/LabinJoel/status/1009760171810271232?s=19

  5. Mendele's sis Belzer Renetzin says:

    Sings this stupid song as well…


    Watch and puke:


  6. Mendele Hager is a new Jesus Heretic says:

    Here is the text how he says that even if i sin myself against the Torah i am still your only godly leader and connection to life!

    Wow Seeing is believing this text is circled in the link

    שוואנץ אמיתי – הרבי אינו צריך להיות גדול בתורה, ואינו צריך לשמור על אבריו ומידותיו ויכול להתנהג נגד ההלכה – בעולמם של חרדים http://www.bshch120.com/%d7%a9%d7%95%d7%95%d7%90%d7%a0%d7%a5-%d7%90%d7%9e%d7%99%d7%aa%d7%99-%d7%94%d7%a8%d7%91%d7%99-%d7%90%d7%99%d7%a0%d7%95-%d7%a6%d7%a8%d7%99%d7%9a-%d7%9c%d7%94%d7%99%d7%95%d7%aa-%d7%92%d7%93%d7%95%d7%9c/

  7. Young Mendalisten says:

    Threaten somebody who captures them dancing their new song on the grave of Reb Moshele…

    If they are so ashamed of it, than why do they do it?…

    But you cannot ask a tail anything…

    פרחחי כת השבתאים השוואנצונים מאיימים על הצלם – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diOLJ0i7GaY

  8. Tail song now used for hasdic exercise... says:

    מנשה לוסטיג באכעוועט אריין די הייליגע שוואנצונעס ניגון………. – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXQru3Ga3Y0&feature=youtu.be

  9. The Dog says:

    Loves Mendahle’s new crazy “Tail” song…


  10. Lipa Shmeltzer says:

    Stole Mendaleh’s Tail song and made it into Litvish Chufetz Chayim Song against Gossip


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  12. Lovely just what I was looking for. Thanks to the author for taking his clock time on this one.

  13. Very descriptive post, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a part 2?

  14. Not a Spammer says:

    Watch this new SEXY Shvantzunes song…. Only if you are not a gay Mendalist…


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