Reaching Bobby Fischer

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at
Image courtesy of zirconicusso at

Bobby Fischer could be considered the King of Chess. He was the “Rock Star” of chess for many and made it cool to be a chess nerd. There is also a movie entitled Searching for Bobby Fischer (see YouTube link below to see a preview of the movie) that tells the story of the hunt for the next Bobby Fischer.  He was also a conflicted man with demons and doubts just like the rest of us. His meltdown, however, occurred for all the world to see.  According to an excellent article in Tablet Magazine, he was misogynistic. He was mentally brilliant but sometimes overwhelmed psychologically by his brilliance. He was troubled. He was anti-Semitic.  And, oh yeah, Bobby Fischer was Jewish.I know the last two sentences are problematic.  How could Bobby Fischer be both anti-Semitic and Jewish? Well … he was not the first.  Proposed lists include Baruch Spinoza, Karl Marx, Noam Chomsky, etc. Attributes for such designation for such a title appear to include denying your Jewish heritage, speaking/writing hateful and vicious lies about the Jewish people, advocating hatred towards God’s Chosen People. Bobby Fischer did all three.

However, it is not this aspect of Fischer’s character that has spurred the writing of this blog post. It was what Jonathan Zalman wrote in his article regarding the last leader of the Lubavitch Hasidic movement, Menachem Schneerson’s request to chess champion Samuel Reshevsky that he reach out to Bobby Fischer and seek to return him to Judaism. Zalman in his article for Tablet Magazine includes the exact quote from Schneerson’s letter to Reshevsky which reads …

…he did not appear to have the proper Jewish education, which is probably the reason for his being so alientated from the Jewish way of life or the Jewish people….  I am writing to you about this since you are probably better informed about him than many other persons, and perhaps you may find some way in which he could be brought back to the Jewish fold, either through your personal efforts, or in some other way.

In a strange way, I was touched by Schneerson’s outreach to such a man. Schneerson was willing to go to any lengths to find the one Jewish soul who was wayward and bring him home.  Schneerson died in 1994 and this post has written much about his life and the legacy of the Chabad/Lubavitch movement … including the heartbreak that they almost have the truth but are eternally missing it. For his followers have continued Schneerson’s teachings, and will go to any lengths, including Mitzvah Mobiles, to bring a Jewish person back to observing rabbinic Judaism. I cannot criticize their efforts and how their schliachs (emissiaries) will go around the world spreading the message of Schneerson, even while lamenting their spiritual lostness from the true Messiah — Jesus of Nazareth.

My ultimate question after reading this article and considering the sad life of Bobby Fischer is simply two-fold — (1) Where were the Christian witnesses to Bobby Fischer? He died in 2008 and is buried in an Icelandic church cemetery but apart from his dalliance with the then-cultic Worldwide Church of God, one cannot find any indication that Bobby Fischer became a believer in Jesus? and (2) Why are the Lubavitch more concerned about Jewish souls than Christians? Should it not be the other way around? Just something to think about ….


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