Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chabad - Is the Rebbe Moshiach/A Chasid speaks

The following - very long post - is a valuable contribution to the discussion and is unedited by me

Guest Post: Arthur's comment to "Satmar's rapprochement with Chabad":

A note to the reader: The letter below was originally written to explain this subject matter to my own son. Now I have been persuaded to make it public. I do not intend for this to be a polemic against a particular ideology. Rather, my intention is to help those thoughtful individuals who have open minds and are sincerely seeking for a way to understand and deal with the Moshiach issue.

If you don’t fit this description please don’t read further. I am also refraining from identifying myself as the author in order not to divert attention from the ideas and arguments themselves. I will instead rely on the dictum “Kabail Es HoEmes Mimi Sheomro.”

My Dear Son,

Last night I received a very good report about you from the Menahel of your Yeshiva. I am delighted that you are taking your learning more seriously and that you are focusing on absorbing Darkay HaChassidus. May it be His will that you continue to make good progress.
You asked me to explain to you my view of the controversial Moshiach issue in Lubavitch since you and many Bochurim in your Yeshiva are confused about the matter and feel very uncomfortable about it. After the report I received I decided not to wait until you come home but to spend the time and write this letter to you with my thoughts on the matter.

Let me begin by stating that the general notion (you will see below what this actually means) that the Rebbe is Moshiach is not something new that was discovered in the late Tof Shin Mems or the early Nun’s (1990’s). It was something that I also grew up with as a young Bochur living in Crown Heights in the early Chof’s. However it was talked about on rare occasions such as at a Farbrengen, and even then, only late at night when only a few people were left.

In this context I also recall hearing at those times that really for us Chassidim the title Rebbe was more important and relevant and even perhaps more choshuv. I well understood that this was a chassidishe hergesh that, as Chassidim used to say about krias Shma sheal hamitah, it belongs “unter di koldres” - under the blankets. This means that if you recite a serious krias Shma al hamita in a way that others are able to observe you and know about it then you have defeated the whole meaning and purpose of a real chassidishe ‘krias Shma al hamitah.’

The point is that this kind of a belief is a personal chssidishe hergesh (a Chassidic feeling). A Chassidishe hergesh is something that if one truly does have this feeling it remains mostly inside of ones self and is kept within the limits of a Chassidishe environment. The purpose of a chassidishe hergish is to be a personal motivator for a Chosid to enable him to do that which is demanded of a true Chosid and not to be used as an ornament or display item. Keeping something in a pnimis does not in any way mean that we are ashamed or afraid to make it public rather it is something that is inherently meant to be internal. After all, the notion of keeping something in a pnimius is the very hallmark of Chabad avodas Hashem.

An example of this is when the Rebbe would say something at a Farbrengen but later delete it from the edited printed version. The matter was indeed appropriate for a Farbrengen but was not appropriate for a wider general audience. (It seems to me that this inclination to erase the classic distinction between the inner and outer spheres in Chassidic life is an indirect influence from the secular world where the boundaries between the private/personal and the public domains have been completely obliterated.)

The above comments do not, in any way, affect anything the Rebbe directly told us. The drive to bring Moshiach was an integral part of the Nesius of the Rebbe from day one. Over the years the Rebbe became more and more vocal about promoting the idea of Moshiach in general and in the later years the Rebbe progressed even further to state and publicize that hinei hinei Moshiach bo. However, at no point at any Farbrengen or in print did the Rebbe ever cross the line into identifying who is Moshiach, as I will conclusively demonstrate to you later.

Now let me get down to the issue itself.

There really are a number of different aspects to your question.

a) Do we believe that the Rebbe is Moshiach?
b) If the answer is yes, what does that mean and in what way is it so?
c) Is it proper to identify who is Moshiach which includes saying Yechi?

Let me begin by defining the context in which I will answer the question.

Torah is comprised of four different categories of understanding; Pshat, Remez, Drush and Sod (Pardes). Each of these is an entirely different realm and operates on different principals. Likewise, Halacha is also a separate field with its own parameters. Most of the confusion that exists today in Lubavitch concerning Moshiach stems from the co-mingling of these separate fields in Torah; Halacha, Midrash and Kabbalah/Chassidus.

The very idea of Moshiach can be viewed from the vantage point of Midrashim, maamorie Chazal, Kabbalah/Chassidus or Halacha. Indeed there are ‘shivim ponim l’Torah (seventy facets of Torah) even within each category of Torah and each one is equally ‘divrie Elokim chaim.’ However, when it comes down to the reality of this world there can be only one way for us to act in our daily lives and that is “Halacha brurah u’psuka” clear decided Halacha.

I will only deal here with two general ways to look at Moshiach one is the Halachik perspective and the other is the ruchnius i.e. Kabbalah/Chssidus perspective.

First let us look at the matter from the point of view of Halacha.

The most elaborate and clear discussion of this subject is in a Sicha of the Rebbe from Tamuz 12, 5727.

First the Rebbe emphasizes that the immutable and final word for all the Halachos concerning Moshiach is the Rambam. The Rebbe cites the klal in Halacha that where no other posek disputes the Rambam, the Rambam is the final psak halacha. And so it is in the halachik arena of Moshiach. The Rebbe also notes that since the Rambam is a sefer of Halacha “there can be no pshetlach” ( i.e. it says what it means and it means what it says). The Rebbe continues “when the Rambam writes the word ‘Torah’ he means Torah and when he writes ‘studies diligently’ he means literally learning and when he writes ‘like Dovid his father’ he means like Dovid (HaMelech).”

The Rebbe goes on to explain the Rambam’s psokim in the following two areas.

1. The order of the events as they will happen when Moshiach will begin his activity:

The first thing that will happen is;
a) yaamod Melech (a king will rise), then
b) Yokuf kol Yisroel (he will coerce all Yiden to follow Torah), then
c) Yilchem milchemes Hashem (he will wage the war of Hahsem).

If he succeeds in accomplishing these three points he becomes b’chezkas (assumed to be) Moshiach. After this if Yivne Bais Hamikdosh and then Yikabet nidchei Yoisrel (he will build the Bais Hamikdosh and then gathers in the exiles) then he is Moshiach vadia. Each of these events must be fulfilled in their entirety and in this precise order.

(Because every aspect of the Rambam is exact including the order of the halochos the Rebbe emphatically rejected the idea that the State of Israel could be considered aschalto d’geulah. Since the order of his actions must be, first yokuf then yilchem and then yivneh Bais Hamikdos and only after can there be kibutz Yisroel and the fact that the establishment of the State of Israel didn’t follow this order means that according to the Halacha of the Rambam it cannot be aschalte d’geulah.)

2. The meaning of the words in the Rambam:

a) “Yokum Ish - a person, with 248 limbs and 365 sinews and he will be seen with physical eyes and it will be possible to ‘ontapen mit di hent’ (felt with hands) and he will be seen in all aspects as a person is seen.”
b) Melech literally means a king; “men darf a kuk ton tzi halt er fun democratye.”
c) Yokuf kol Yisroel - “yederun fun yiden” (each and every Jew) ‘kefiah dosis’ (religious coercion). (The Rebbe explains that because bechira will still exist there may be a Jew who will not want to be mkayem Torah and Mitzvos Moshiach will force him.)
d) Yilchem milchemes Hashem - means literally a war “a (real) war but in a way of peace.”

Now let me turn to events that happened in 5751-2. (Understanding these developments is very important because it was the origin of the entire debacle and still underlies much of the erroneous ‘new’ ideology.) The tempo of the Rebbe’s fervor during his talks about Moshiach began to reach a crescendo. In response to this some Chassidim, (who for years had been pushing this agenda on their own anyway) especially in Israel, went overboard and openly declared that the Rebbe was Moshiach.

It was at this point that the fateful and tragic error of some (perhaps well meaning but misguided) Chassidim/Rabbonim come to be. They began to assert and then actually paskened that the Rebbe was already b’chezkas Moshiach in accordance with the Halachik psak of the Rambam and made public pronouncements about this claim setting off a world-wide furor that continues to this day. After Adar 27 all of this activity escalated even more.

Now, in order to make the Rebbe fit the criteria of the Rambam they brazenly distorted the clear meaning of the words of the Rambam (i.e. Melech - king, no longer meant king but Rabonon (which the Gemora compares to kings); yokuf – force, no longer meant force but persuasion; kol Yisroel no longer meant every Jew but some of them (a lot of them? or a majority of them? – apparently they were totally oblivious of the fact that there are 5,000,000 non-observant Jews in the US alone with a fifty percent intermarriage rate) and yilchem – war, no longer meant war but an information campaign about the seven Mitzvos for non-Jews.

In no other area of Halacha would anyone have the chutzpa to make such drastic changes in the meaning of words and argue that it is still Halacha. Let us compare this for example to a Halacha from hilchos Shabbos. The Shulchan Oruch states that one may be mechalel Shabbos if there is a sakonas ever (danger to a limb). Now, let us consider, does it really mean an actual danger to a limb or perhaps it means when there is severe pain in the limb it can also be considered a danger that permits desecrating Shabbos? Any Rov who would pasken like this would be ridiculed and dismissed outright. Danger to a limb means just that a danger to the limb and nothing less.
Perhaps even more egregious than this is that by this psak they contradicted the Rebbe’s own explanation of the Rambam in the Sicha quoted above where the Rebbe insisted that the words of the Rambam are to be understood entirely literally “on pshetlach.”
(It is no wonder that one of the mazkirim reported that when he informed the Rebbe about this psak the Rebbe commented “m’hechin dantuni? (What is the basis for this?) can one rely on all their other pesokin like on this one?”)

Bear in mind that once you permit yourself to play around with the literal words of the Rambam then the order of the halochos can also can be tampered with and then you have destroyed the Rebbe’s entire foundation for rejecting the State of Israel as aschalte d’geulah!
Many Chassidim who had adopted this (mistaken) view realized immediately after gimul Tamuz that they had made a serious blunder; they admitted it, and publicly changed their views. Others, unfortunately, did not have the intellectual honesty and moral integrity necessary to make such an admission. This was, substantially if not entirely, because they had already paskened the Rebbe was b’chezkas Moshiach so how could they now change a pask din of Halacha?

Even more troublesome for them was the Rambam’s conclusion in the very same Halacha that if the one who is thought to be b’chezkas Moshiach did not succeed in achieving this or is killed then he is not Moshiach. This conclusion, of course, they were unable to accept. Had they not ventured into the Rambam and Halacha in the first place they would not have had this dilemma but now they were stuck with it. In desperation they began to make all kinds of outlandish interpretations of the Rambam (such as, that the Rambam writes ‘if he is killed’ he is not Moshiach but, they suggest, if he dies it is not so. Plainly the Rambam uses the term “if he was killed” because he is talking about a king waging the ‘war of Hashem’ and being killed is what usually happens in a war.)

They also had to find some other contortion to evade the Rambam’s opening statement “im yaamod Melech - if a king will arise” which means that he is alive! (to use the Rebbe’s language “m’ken iym ontapen mit di hent.”)

Desperate for a way out of these conundrums, they began to cite various medroshim, the Zohar and various meforshim (the Abarbanel and others) to support their claim that a person can be Moshiach even after a histalkus. The problem is that none of these sources have anything to do with halacha. As the Rebbe said in the same Sicha the Rambam knew of the Gemorra, the midrashim, the Pesukim and all other sources and nevertheless did not pasken according to them. This means that on the level of Halacha all other sources are irrelevant and there is only one valid possibility, the psak of the Rambam.

Here is another paradox that resulted from this. Until gimmel Tamuz these very same people argued that the Rebbe absolutely must be Moshiah because the Rambam paskenes that Moshiach must be a living person and there is no one else worthy of being Moshiach in this generation so the Rebbe is absolutely b’chezkas Moshiach. The moment gimmel Tamuz occurred they immediately did a one hundred and eighty degree about-face and said no! Moshiach al pi Halacha can also be of the dead even according to the Rambam. The only way a person is able to do such an instant turnaround without a moment’s hesitation (or embarrassment) is because of the way they think about this issue. They begin with a conclusion and then try to make the Torah fit their predetermined conclusion. The dishonesty is breathtaking.

In conclusion; the answer to the first question “is the Rebbe Moshiach according to Halacha” the answer is unequivocally no, the Rebbe never was b’chezkas Moshiach according to Halacha and is today certainly not Moshiach according to Halacha, period.

With this in mind you will now be able to understand why the Rebbe never referred to this Gemora (Sanhedrin 98) ‘Im Mimesaya’ in any Sicha as a proof that the Frierdike Rebbe could be Moshiach. In tof shin yud aleph (1951) when the Rebbe wanted to explain why he said ‘Hu Yigolaynu’ about the Frierdike Rebbe he used a different Gemorah which states that “katne sheboch mechaya maysim” (even the least of you can resurrect the dead) which refers to the notion of Techiyas Hamasim as a phenomena of golus times having nothing to do with Moshiach and the techias Hamasim that will come then. Why didn’t the Rebbe simply refer to the Gemorra in Sanhedrin and say that is why the Frierdike can be Moshiach?

The reason that the Rebbe did not do this is because the Gemora in Sanhedrin was not accepted by the Rambam as Halacha and therefore the Rebbe did not want to use it to explain his position which he wanted to be possible even according to Halacha. Take note that over the course of over forty years the Rebbe never once quoted the Gemora ‘im mimesaya’ to explain why the Frierdike Rebbe could be Moshiach.
In light of the fact that according to the Rebbe, the only possible way the Frierdike Rebbe could be Moshiach is after a special nes of techias hamasim indicates that until such a nes actually occurs the Frierdike Rebbe cannot be considered Moshiach by Halacha.
Now let’s go over to the second view of Moshiach, the ruchnius one.

The Rebbe spoke about a lot of inyonim of Moshiach in regard to the Frierdike Rebbe. Clearly they were not about the matter of chezkas Moshiach or the gashmius of Moshiach but rather they were all in the realm of ruchnius. This category of Torah encompasses most of the references to Moshiach in the Sichos of the later years. When the discussion is shifted to the realm of ruchnius the whole notion is different. Moshe Rabaynu, Dovid Hamelech, the Baal Shem Tov, the Alte Rebbe, the Frierdike Rebbe all are Moshiach to a greater or lesser degree. After all, if the Nosi Hador is Moshiach then every dor has its Nosi who is Moshiach.

Considering that we have had over one hundred and fifty generations since mattan Torah there are at least one hundred and fifty Moshiachs. (Chassidus even suggests that every Jew has a spark of Moshiach in his neshomo.) Indeed it is so, and yet there is no conflict between them at all. Because in the realm of ruchnius, neshomos can be part of each other, integrated together or invested in each other and one does not exclude the other as it would in gashmius. The nitzus (spark) of the neshomo of Moshiach is invested in all these individuals. We can not know or determine who has more and who has less of this nitzus. All we can say is that our Nosi, our Rebbe, has it.

Another implication of this ruchnius perspective; when dealing with Halacha (which operates specifically in the realm of gashmius) a histalkus (which is a gashmius event) causes a major change in Halachik status. However in ruchnius, a histalkus (a gashmius event) has no effect. And this is precisely what the Rebbe said about the Frierdike Rebbe. On one hand the Rebbe said that after Yud Shvat nothing has changed but on the other hand he said that according Halacha he was obligated to recline at the Seder table.

This also explains the various remozim hints which one can find in the sichos about Moshiach which are used to somehow prove that the Rebbe himself (c”v) changed his views or that a new era had arrived and it was now permissible to identify and publicize the Rebbe as Moshiach. Once again, in these instances the Rebbe was talking in the world of ruchnius.

Remember, you cannot apply the rules of Halacha to the world of ruchnius and you cannot apply the notions of ruchnius to Halacha. Mixing or confusing the two is a fatal error which has misled many.

Understanding this fundamental ‘hanocho’ is essential to understanding the Rebbe’s approach Moshiach and most of the Sichos in that regard.

I want to add here, that in learning the Sichos one also needs to bear in mind that at times the Rebbe was speaking in terms of a bracha and a hope or wish and not a ‘metzius’ (reality) even though he used absolute terminology. Often these distinctions were rather subtle and it required some clarity (and objectivity) of thought in order to discern it. Actually, this also applies to printed (muga) sichos, particularly, those of the last years. (I can well understand that those who were at the Farbrangens in 5751 and ’52 became overwhelmed by the kind of terminology the Rebbe used in the Sichos and had difficulty picking up on these distinctions and as a result some unfortunately ended up with bizarre ideas and conceptions.) An example of this is when the Rebbes spoke about chaim niyzchiyim (ever lasting life). The Rebbe was talking about a brocho and a wish that it should become so in actuality not that it was definitely going to be so.

Another example of this is the Sicha of Shmos 5752. The Rebbe says “after we have already a king of the house of Dovid who studies Torah and is engaged in fulfillment of Mitzvos like Dovid his father….and he will coerce all Yisroel to go it in it’s ways and to strengthen its structure and will wage the war of Hashem- and he is in the assumption of being Moshiach he should immediately become the certain Moshiach.” What they won’t tell you is the beginning of that paragraph begins with the words “Yhi Rotzen” (may it be His will) this is a plea and brocho not a declaration.

Now, let’s take a look at a Sicha like (Sefer HaSichos 5752, Mishpotim) that is often used to ‘prove’ that the Rebbe acknowledged his status as chezkas Moshiach.

Here is the language of the Sicha; And so also the psak din of the Rabbonim and Morei Horo’oh among Yisroel that the time of your redemption has arrived, that “a king will arise from the house of Dovid etc., with the assumption (chazoko) that he is Moshiach” until (yet) further the situation of ‘this is certainly Moshiach.”

They try to interpret that the words about a pask din of Rabbonim is referring to the aforementioned pask that the Rebbe is chezkas Moshiach. This is patently not so. If the psak is referring to the one that chezkas Moshiach is already here then what do the words “until (yet) further the situation” mean. The Rebbe here is joining the two situations. If one (chezkas Moshiach) is here already then the second one (certainly Moshiach) is here too. Since the second scenario (Moshiach vadia) is yet to come in the future the first one (chezkas Moshiach) is also yet to come in the future. The psak Rebbe is referring to, is a psak din of Rabbonim (which the Rebbe personally asked many Rabbonim to make) that time of redemption has arrived (higiah zman geulaschem) and Moshiach should finally come.

This should serve as an example of how they try to subtly distort the Sichos to fit their preconceived conclusions and aims.

Now if we go back and ask the question “is the Rebbe, as the ‘nosi hador’ of our generation, the Moshiach of our generation”? The answer for a Chosid I believe should be yes. (Despite that fact that we find in the Sichos numerable times where the Rebbe refers to the Frierdike Rebbe as the Nosi of our generation who will lead us ‘toward’ Moshiach implying that the Nosi is not necessarily Moshiach.) But what this means is that he is so in ruchnius not Halacha and such a ruchniusdike notion has no place being trumpeted in the streets.

Much (if not all) of the opposition in the world at large to the idea that the Rebbe is Moshiach stems from the assumption that we are talking about the actual Halachik consrtuct. Indeed, most non-Lubavitchers do not know much about Moshiach or anything pertaining to ruchnius in general and certainly they know nothing about the difference between Moshiach al pi Halacha and Moshiach in ruchnius and this is where a lot of the confusion and rejection comes from. They think you are talking about Moshiach in actuality meaning b’gashmius - in Halacha, while you are talking about Moshiach b’ruchnius. This disconnect has caused most of their antagonism and resulted in much of the trouble we have encountered.

One Litvishe Rosh Yeshiva wrote in a letter that his main objection to the claim that the Rebbe is Moshiach is that it conflicts with the psak Halacha of the Rambam. The moment you tell them that we agree that the Rambam is the final Halacha but we believe that the Rebbe is Moshiach b’ruchnius the whole issue becomes moot. However, because of all the shouting and publicity about who is Moshiach no intelligent communication has been able to take place about this point to this very day.

Will the Rebbe be Moshiach in actuality? As Chassidim, we have a right to hope that it will be so (I once heard that this was the terminology the Rebbe himself concluded with when he orally explained to someone the issue of v’hu yigolaynu; “meg zich a chosid azo vintshun un geloiben (a Chosid may permit himself to wish and believe that it will be so”) ‘V’anaan ma ne’eneh a’basray.’ But remember all of this remains a hope and ‘chasidishe hergesh,’ as explained above, no more and no less. By no more I mean that it can never rise to the level of a belief. A belief is a certainty and an absolute while a hope is wish.

Now, if you will ask how is it possible for this hope to actually become a reality? The Rebbe himself gave us the answer. If a miracle of techias hamasim will occur before the time of Moshiach (and completely not related to the geulo and the techias hamasim that is related to it) then he will indeed be ‘of the living’ and then he can become Moshiach. In fact, the Rebbe goes even further in the Sicha of 12 Tamuz 5727 and says that all the steps of the coming of Moshiach listed in the Rambam can happen in one moment! However, the fact that a miracle has to happen in order for a person who is not alive to become Moshiach means that until such time that this miracle actually happens the person cannot now be considered Moshiach according to Halacha.

Is Moshiach here now? The Rebbe in the Sichos seems to say Moshiach is here already and all we need to do is open our eyes. (You should know that this same language was already used by the Rebbe Reshab and the Frierdike Rebbe many years ago.) The answer is that the Rebbe (and the previous Rebbes) is talking about a ruchniusdike phenomenon (about which we also have precious little understanding) and we accept that it is whatever the Rebbe says it is. But if we are asking what the status is according to Halacha, Moshiach is absolutely not here. We are not even at ‘aschalte degulah’ on the contrary; the fact that some people claim that we are in ‘aschalte degeulo’ places us, according to the Rebbe, in the darkest part of golus.

Is one able to feel geuloh and Moshiach now as in no other time before this? The Rebbe said yes and so it surely is, if (and ‘if’ is a very big word) we open our eyes.

Have any of us actually opened our eyes? I don’t want to judge other people but let me say that I am very very skeptical of anyone who goes around and trumpets such a claim. The old rule should apply here; der vos zogt halt nisht derby; der vos halt derby zogtnisht (the one who says is not there and the one who is there does not say).

At this point it is also important to note that making the issue of the Rebbe being Moshiach (in any which way) into an ikar in our world view and daily life is in itself a gross distortion of Torah and Chassidus. The Torah not only teaches us about the Will of Hashem but also prioritizes these values and practices. This system of priorities is a most critical part of Torah and any time we change or even mildly tamper with this delicate balance we wreak havoc on all of Torah. For example, if one does not know that an essa takes priority over a lo saseh you end up with an entirely different Torah life. This same kind of gross distortion of the priorities of Chassidus is being perpetrated on us by these people.

There are two additional concepts taken from the Sichos of the Rebbe that are also misused to justify some of the new self-made ideology, Dor Hashviyi and Chaim Nitzchiyim.

Contrary to the common understanding, Dor Hashviyi does not refer to a literal generation of twenty five years (or so) nor does it refer to the literal life span of one individual. The proof for this is in the very same Midrashic source of this concept quoted in the Maamar. The Midrash states that Moshe Rabaynu was the one who ushered in the Dor Hashviyi and brought down the Shchina to this world. From that time onwards (over 3,300 years age) to this very day we are all still, as the continuation of the Dor Hashviyi, struggling to finally complete the task of bringing the Shchina down below “ten tefochim!” No where is there a suggestion that we have entered into an eighth generation. Obviously, the idea of Dor Hashvyi is not meant to be taken literally in every aspect.

It is likewise concerning the concept of Chaim Nitizchyim (everlasting life). Chaim Nitzchim and the idea of Histalkus are two matters that seem to be completely mutually exclusive which has led some of the extremists to formulate radical (to put it mildly) new ideas about Gimul Tamuz. However, as usual, with some additional knowledge this too can be put into some perspective. The Noam Elimelech (in Devorim, Voeschanan) asks this exact question. “If a Tzadik has Chaim Nitzchiyim how can there ever be the Histalkus of a Tzadik?”

The answer he provides is that the devakus of the Tzadik to Hashem, which is what gives the Tzadik Chaim Nitzchiyim, becomes momentarily disrupted (he doesn’t explain how) and at that moment the Histalkus takes place. I am not suggesting that this is exactly what the Rebbe meant because I recognize that these matters are far above me and I don’t really know much about such lofty matters.
But what these examples clearly demonstrate is that we must never take the liberty to project our ideas on the holy words of the Rebbe and to avoid at all costs distorting and polluting the pure and holy ideology that was given to us by the Rabbayim.

While mentioning ideology I want to point out that Chassidim always knew that “nisht ales ken men farshtayn, un nisht ales darf men farshtayn.” The Rebbayim, in all generations, said things that were beyond us and our meager comprehension and Chassidim accepted it with tmimus. Since gimul Tamuz we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation which has raised many new questions.

The best reaction to this is to admit that we indeed have questions but since we don’t have to understand everything it does not bother us and certainly it does not interfere with us continuing to live our lives as Chassidim and doing what the Rebbe instructed us do. The worst possible reaction (and unfortunately this has become quite prevalent) is for us to make up our own answers and create new ideology.

Now let us look at how the Rebbe reacted to those who began to publicly identify who they believe is Moshiach. This also included singing about the Rebbe being Melech HaMoshach.

Here are a few (of many) of the Rebbe’s own written responses to this behavior.

From a tzetel from Adar I 5752:

“There is no obligation to search for who is Moshiach etc. but there is a positive mitzvah of the Torah to love each and every Jew, and to avoid fights etc. absolutely – and certainly not to intentionally do the opposite.”

From a Tzetel, Iyor 5744:

It seems that he is acting as if he doesn’t understand what I answered him before that it is possible to do considerably damage, G-d forbid, to Chabad and to Hafotzas Hamayonos by writing about etc. – and which my intention was primarily to him v”dal.
I hereby warn him that he should stop speaking or writing and certainly not to distribute and certainly not to print concerning the subject of Moshiach – whether in his name or in another name, by his Shliach or something similar, – nor through any other trick and not in any shape or form. And if G-d forbid, he will do anything like this he should know with certainty that this is a war against me specifically and generally.”

Here is a message that the Rebbe sent to one of the very first and most prominent promoters of identifying the Rebbe as Moshiach (DN) during Tishrie of 5752:

“I hereby prohibit him from being active in matters of Moshiach now and in the future!” Did this stop him? No! He continued to do these same activities to this very day.

Here is what the Rebbe told Shluchim at the last Kinus Hashluchim (and the last Sicha directed specifically to Shluchim) before the Rebbe became ill parshas Chaiya Sara 5752:

In the unedited galley of the hanacha submitted to the Rebbe this is what was written “every Shliach needs to prepare himself and to prepare all of the Jews in his place and his city etc. to receive Moshiach Tzidkaynu by explaining the subject of Moshiach and who is Moshiach in a way that is acceptable to everyone according to his ability to understand.” The Rebbe crossed out the words “and who is Moshiach” and inserted the words “as is explained in the written Torah and the oral Torah.” In the next part it said that every aspect of Shlichus should be ‘openly’ permeated with how this leads to Moshiach. The Rebbe crossed out the word ‘openly.’

Could the Rebbe have been any clearer than this? Moshiach should be the inner motivation of everything we do but it should not be evident on the outside. This one word deletion of the Rebbe should be the guiding principal of our entire approach to the Moshiach issue.
The worst part about the ‘meshugayes’ (and I use this term advisedly) of identifying the Rebbe as Moshiach is that it has utterly destroyed the credibility of the entire Moshiach campaign. As we know the Rebbe desperately wanted us to teach Yiden about Moshiach. The only way it is possible to do this is if we present the idea of Moshiach to them as a part of their own heritage which they should know about. People are very open to such an approach. Now however everyone is convinced that our intention is not really to teach people about Moshiach because it is their heritage but rather we are trying to sell them something of our own – our Rebbe. As a result, the Moshiach campaign has about the same degree of credibility as a salesman selling a product.

Another egregious casualty of these irresponsible Chassidim is the indisputable fact, which the Rebbe himself stated more than once, that many people (it would not be an exaggeration to say hundreds of thousands) have been turned away from learning Chassidus and having any association with the Rebbe and Lubavitch because of the Moshiach controversy. There were those who tried to deny this years ago but today anyone who does not recognize this fact is simply living in a fantasy world. The accumulated damage to the Rebbe and Lubavitch from all of this is absolutely incalculable and they bear the full responsibility for this. It is appropriate to apply here what the Rebbe said about those who proclaimed that it is aschalte d’geulo “they are the ones delaying the geulah from happening.”

To sum up this point; this whole misguided effort of identifying Moshiach has to its credit the destruction of the credibility of the Rebbe’s Moshiach campaign and the alienation of many thousands from the Rebbe and Chassisdus. It is not unreasonable to suggest that this mistake has actually delayed the coming of Moshiach!!

Finally, I want to explain to you additional reasons (besides that it is a way of identifying Moshiach and leads to all the negatives the Rebbe himself attested to) why it is wrong to say yechi. The most important reason is simply that the Rebbe never told us to. The Sicha that the Rebbe said about Yechi haMelech was said in 5746. The Rebbe never once instructed Chassidim from that day on to say it and indeed it was never said by anyone (until after Adar 27th).

Had the Rebbe wanted us to say it he would have given us precise and unambiguous instructions to do so as he did with declaring ad mosai or other such declarations. Furthermore, what the Rebbe was talking about in the Sicha is only about the words ‘Yechi HaMelech’ it has nothing to do with the new formula that was hatched by a few overzealous Chassidim. The very notion of Chassidim doing things like this on their own is utterly foreign to Chabad.

While it is true that the Rebbe encouraged the singing of Yechi during his illness the fact remains that no one received any explanation or guidance from the Rebbe about this. (This is particularly significant to those who attended to the Rebbe during this period and understood the unique condition and situation that existed during this painful time.) As such, one can only attribute it to the extraordinary circumstances and conditions of the time and surely it cannot serve as a precedent to reverse everything the Rebbe said and taught up to the 27th of Adar.

I would also note the answer the Rebbe gave to one of the Shluchim during the month of Iyar 5752 (1992) when he was asked “is it necessary to indicate who is Moshiach” the Rebbe vigorously shook his head to indicate no! This is further strengthened by the fact that we witness daily the destructive impact it has on our task of hafotzas hamayonos and this is the criteria that the Rebbe established in his tzetlach and instructions us prior to Adar 27.

Now, even if, for what ever reason, one could justify singing/saying yechi before gimmel Tamuz after gimmel Tamuz simply has no place. It has no logical meaning and no ruchnious value. Let me explain this a little further.

In the sicha where the Rebbe spoke about Yechi haMelech he said “which by this we mean hokitzu v’ranenu shochne ofor.” This seems to be incomprehensible. If the intention is that the Melech needs to be given more life how can he be a shochne ofor (dead) and if he is a shochen ofer then he needs techias hamasim not additional life?

The answer can be found in the explanation according to Kabbalah that the Tzemach Tzedek gives to the idea of Yechi haMelech. He says that Yechi refers to the sefira of bina and Melech is the sefira of Malchus. Usually for any hashpoah to flow from Bina to Malchus it must pass through, and become limited by, all the intervening sefiros of Daas, Chesed, Gevurah etc. and that is how the limitations of the world comes about including the limitation of life and ultimately death. However, there can be a special situation where Bina and Malchus are attached and the flow goes directly from Bina to Malchus without any tzimtzum at all.

It is from this second unlimited process that chayim nitzchiyim and techias hamasim both come from. When the words Yechi and haMelech are contiguous to each other it represents this connection and process.

Now you can understand why the Rebbe used the idea of Yechi haMelech to mean hokitzu v’rannu shchne ofor because this is where techias hamasim comes from. However, when the words Yechi and Melech are separated by other words as it is in the contrived Yechi declaration the entire meaning of the phrase is lost. This is the difference between a Rebbe (who knows what he is doing) introducing something or Chassidim (who don’t know and yet audaciously) do it on their own.

Let me emphasize again that besides all of the above the most important objection I have to pointing to the Rebbe as Moshiach, in any which way, is that (as the Rebbe said) it alienates people from the Rebbe and Chassidus. Talk to any Shliach and you will hear the same sad story. Fortunately, today more and more Lubavitchers realize the huge damage that has been caused by all of this and have to a greater or lesser degree stopped promoting this. Unfortunately, we still suffer considerably because of the past and from the few remaining irrational fanatical zealots.

I know this is much more than you were expecting and probably a little over your head but once I got started I wanted to do a complete job. You don’t have to understand all of it now but I am sure that bit by bit it will be helpful to you.

This Op-Ed reflects the views of its author. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CrownHeights.info nor of its Editors.

A reader that wishes to make his or her voice heard on any topic of their desire is welcome to submit his or her Op-Ed to News@CrownHeights

41 comments:

  1. I have only encountered Chabadskers who have twisted the Rambam. To this end, I am very grateful that at least some in Chabad acknowledge that such a reading is untenable and deeply dishonest.

    However, based on my learning, it would seem that ruchnius flows from halacha, and, if halacha dictates one outcome, the world of ruchnius would not yield a contrary position. That is, if the rebbe is not Moshiach as a matter of halacha, he would not be moshiach al pi ruchnius, either. Everything flows from halacha, not vice versa. As such, the Rebbe could not be moshiach al pi halacha even later on because his status as moshiach al pi ruchnius remains unaltered. In addition, I would assume that the Rambam would not agree with the position that Moshiach can come back in techias hamesim, because he already died. Since he passed away, in the words of the Rambam, he is not the Moshiach that Hashem promises us. It would be very odd to suggest that this designation can change.

    The main toeles in the post, however, is that is strengthens my trust in Chassidei Chabad. My encouter with Chassidei Chabad have been extremely dissapointing, with the majority of the apologetics revealing profound chisronos in learning in general, a lack of amkus in learning, and profound deficiencies in moral character, i.e., severe problems with honestly reading a Rambam, in particular. This post shows that at least some are not like this and that this was not, in fact, the Rebbe'e way, either. My crisis of faith in the Rebbe is somewhat ameliorated at this moment. I thank you for helping look at the Rebbe with a modicum of the respect he deserves, even though I deeply believe, based on my knowledge, that some of his teachings were incorrect. I am also disappointed with the fact that some of the things he said at farbrengens were covered up, so to speak. As you can imagine, that makes things quite suspicious.

    There is still a lot that we can do to bridge the gap. Acknowledging the Rebbe is not moshiach is a very good start. Recognizing others mehalchim toward serving Hashem is the ultimate goal. My understanding of Chabad is that chassidus--i.e., Chabad--is superior, and that the Rebbe, obviously, is the greatest. Such thinking has to go, too. Eventually.

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  2. Is this the same Arthur who referred to Rav Shach as worse than Hitler and the tzror hayehudim?

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  3. As I commented previously, this post is an Op-Ed post on CrownHeights.info. It can be found at http://www.crownheights.info/index.php?itemid=13388

    The responses in the comments there have been largely negative. Both the article and the responses are illustrative that the problem in Chabad is very real and not simply the creation of misnagdim who hate Chabad.

    By and large, the author of the post makes sense. I do have a few comments, some technical, that I feel are worth pointing out.

    "the general notion... that the Rebbe is Moshiach is not something new that was discovered in the late Tof Shin Mems or the early Nun’s (1990’s). It was something that I also grew up with as a young Bochur living in Crown Heights in the early Chof’s."

    If the claims that the LLR was/is moshiach was not supported by the LLR, as claimed by our anonymous author, then it is clear that there was a major failure in leadership to allow this situation to arise. This is especially true if the situation began as early as our author claims, when the LLR was fully capable of acting to control the situation. Although, later in the essay, our author does give some examples of resistance of the LLR to the messianic claims, the examples he gives are not of aggressive leadership.

    …Melech literally means a king; “men darf a kuk ton tzi halt er fun democratye.” ...

    Yokuf kol Yisroel - “yederun fun yiden” (each and every Jew) ‘kefiah dosis’ (religious coercion). (The Rebbe explains that because bechira will still exist there may be a Jew who will not want to be mkayem Torah and Mitzvos Moshiach will force him.)


    While I generally agree with our author’s analysis of the Rambam, I want to raise two issues:

    Firstly, regarding the term “melech” – what halachic meaning can this term have? It would seem to me that any conventional halachic concept of a “king” would require a “kingdom”, i.e. authority and power akin to that of a government. Yet, how can this occur prior to even chezkas moshiach? It would seem to me that we have to understand the Rambam’s use of this term in some broader way, but I’m not sure what that would be.

    Secondly, regarding the term “yochuf” – which our author is translating as coercion – it would seem clear that the use of coercion, per se, is not essential for the definition of moshiach, as that would leave us with the absurd conclusion that if every Jew cooperates willingly with the potential moshiach that he cannot be moshiach. Clearly, “yochuf kol yisrael” means simply that he will turn every Jew towards full observance, willing or not.

    ” Much (if not all) of the opposition in the world at large to the idea that the Rebbe is Moshiach stems from the assumption that we are talking about the actual Halachik consrtuct. Indeed, most non-Lubavitchers do not know much about Moshiach or anything pertaining to ruchnius in general and certainly they know nothing about the difference between Moshiach al pi Halacha and Moshiach in ruchnius and this is where a lot of the confusion and rejection comes from. They think you are talking about Moshiach in actuality meaning b’gashmius - in Halacha, while you are talking about Moshiach b’ruchnius. This disconnect has caused most of their antagonism and resulted in much of the trouble we have encountered.” (Emphasis added)

    Here our author falls into the pattern of many other Lubavitchers, of discounting the broader Torah world as simply incapable of understanding the deep spiritual concepts taught by Chabad. In my opinion, this attitude is one of the root causes for the problems Chabad is experiencing today.

    Moreover, it is very obvious – being that it is the point of the entire essay – that numerous Lubavitchers can’t seem to grasp this distinction as well. In fact, when non-Lubavitchers criticize Chabad for messianism, it is either because of statements by Chabad Chassidim that explicitly insist that there is no such distinction, or because of statements by non-messianic Lubavitchers defending the messianists. It is NOT because we are too spiritually crass to understand the difference between ruchni and gashmi concepts.

    It is amazing to me that even in an essay that clearly acknowledges the nature of the problem in Chabad, the author is incapable of acknowledging that the outside critics may actually know what they are talking about.

    ” The worst part about the ‘meshugayes’… of identifying the Rebbe as Moshiach is that it has utterly destroyed the credibility of the entire Moshiach campaign. …
    Another egregious casualty of these irresponsible Chassidim is the indisputable fact… that many people… have been turned away from learning Chassidus and having any association with the Rebbe and Lubavitch because of the Moshiach controversy. … The accumulated damage to the Rebbe and Lubavitch from all of this is absolutely incalculable….
    To sum up this point; this whole misguided effort of identifying Moshiach has to its credit the destruction of the credibility of the Rebbe’s Moshiach campaign and the alienation of many thousands from the Rebbe and Chassisdus.”


    Oh, and it’s also an incredible chillul Hashem. Wouldn’t want to forget that!

    (About 13-15 years ago a choshuve talmid chacham told me, “Only Lubavitch could make moshiach into a dirty word.”)

    And our author repeats this sentiment again later:
    ” the most important objection I have to pointing to the Rebbe as Moshiach, in any which way, is that (as the Rebbe said) it alienates people from the Rebbe and Chassidus.”

    It alienates people from Hashem and His Torah! It makes them think that frum Jews are a bunch of crazies! It is, in short, a chillul HASHEM! Despite your commitment to your chassidus you should be able to recognize that “the Rebbe and Chassidus” is not synonymous with Hashem and His Torah.

    In conclusion, while the post shows that there are still some (anonymous) Lubavitchers who are resisting the messianic trend, it also demonstrates many of the core problems that have led to the current disaster.

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  4. Respecting the simple meaning of the Rambam? But wasn't it the rebbe himself in a very famous sicha who said (and wrote) that "bone mikdash b'mkomo" means "b'mkomo shel moshiach"? Is there any greater corruption of a simple reading of the Rambam than that?

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  5. "Despite your commitment to your chassidus you should be able to recognize that “the Rebbe and Chassidus” is not synonymous with Hashem and His Torah."
    I beg to differ with you."Chassidus"
    which is based on Kabbolah or "pnimius Hatorah" is definitently synonymous with Hashems Torah whether it's Tanya,Noiem Elimelech,Zohar or any other Chassidus espoused by Chasidic or Kabbolah giants in the same mold that any of the great Mussar seforim are.

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  6. Rabbi Eidensohn,

    Your works have given sme postive fruits as this letter by the author shows.

    However, as the letter itself remains anonymous and as most comments to this letter project to us that their work is still a long long way to the desired state.

    As others have commented the nature of the letter itself aso shows how far they still need to go to reconcile themselves to get out of their self-inflicted mess and with a new ideology that they have innovated.

    The author of the letter works hard to erase some of the mistakes of their ideology. But he leaves behind some of the blunders in his package.

    While he does a good job in trying to divide between Halacha chassidic hergesh, he fails to prevent two general problems that still crop up from the ideas espoused in the letter:

    1) Failure to stem the boundaries of what appropriate for "chassidic hergesh" in the realm of chassdic drush. There is no authority in chabad that has the capability to set limits for what is considered chassidic hergesh and what is not.

    2)Most importantly: The divide between Halacha and other areas of TOrah/ruchniyut is in itself a problem and a source for many problems. Halcha is "Dvar Hashem" that "loy tihyeh nuchlefet" it is the essenceof truth of the words of Hashem and that is invested in all areas of torah; in all areas of the creation of Hashem, in all areas of Gashmiyut and Ruchniyut.

    Therefore: Although there can multitudes of mashiach's in ruchniyoot terms; nevertheless being in halachik there is one mashiach only ultimately, it must also reflect so in the ruchniyut terms, that ultimately the mashiach will be one which the essence of embodiment of mashiach will be vested in him.

    Also: if actually Halacha dictates or suggests that mashiach in actuality may not be this or that iindividual it must also be reflected in the other realms as well and therefore one should not delve in the idea that this or that individual may in the future become the embodiment of the halachik mashiach. Especially if Halachik terms it may b appear that the person will not Halachikally be the mashiach then certainly one should not venture that there still may be the mashiach.

    If Rambam claims that a person that was accepted as mashiach and departs the world without concluding the job is not the redeemer then this is the truth in all levels. IF Rambam rules in Halacha that mashiach will come from the living then all talk about the resurrection of tzadikim does not help to change the reality in the world of halacha which is then the ultimate truth that the initial activities of mashiach will be before any resurrection of the dead.

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  7. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 4, 2008 at 12:07 PM

    Request: Would it be possible to ask that the term "Chabadskers" be dropped as a term because of its inherently offensive, derogatory, demeaning, insulting, belittling, ridiculing and devalueing nature!?

    Two wrongs do not make a right. If Lubavitcherrs wish to refer to Litvishe yeshivishe people as "snags" that is far from the basically honorable term "misnagdim", then that is their problem.

    But for those who often claim to be holding the hashkafic and halachic high-ground, and launch into attacks against Chabad (be it based on facts or fancies) the reality is that one demeans and lowers oneself by using what is essentially a put-down against one's fellow Jews.

    I have never heard the term "Chabadsker" used in a positive fashion. Chabadnik is ok, if rather informal, but "Chabadsker" like "Lubab" (pronounced: "Loobarb") are downright insulting and patronizing if not dehumanizing.

    Noone would imagine that in a discussion about race relations in America the vile term "niggers" would be used, even though American Blacks use the term freeely among themselves, but that does not and would not give any White the freedom to use it under any circumstances. Likewise, Jews should be triply-sensitive to demeaning nick-names.

    So let's start by trying on the blog to blot out the usage of the words "Chabadsker" or "Chabadskers" (or "Lubab" or "Lubabs") because it does not help to solve any misunderstanding but only drags matters down and devalues the nature of the dialogue one wishes to have to ostensibly make things better between Chabad and the world.

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  8. Rabbi Eidinsohn,

    Please note that in other blogs, Arthur has claimed that Rav Shach is "worse than Hitler" in sheer "hatred" toward Jews and called him a "tzror layehudim." He refused to recant his views.

    As such, Arthur is a mumar, and his opinions on Torah should not be treated with any credulity. His opinions on Chabad Torah, as they are not within the realm of Torah, are fine, but, as noted above, suffer from enough inherent problems of their own to be rendered sufficiently meaningless in this thread.

    Until he retracts his hatred toward Jews, I don't believe his post should be on this blog.

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  9. "rebbe himself in a very famous sicha who said (and wrote) that "bone mikdash b'mkomo" means "b'mkomo shel moshiach"?"

    that in a remez form. On top of the very literal meaning of it in halachik terms that the Rebbe also stressed in other places he added a remez that relates to a ruchnisdike meaning of "mekomoh".

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  10. Lasher,

    This is not easy for me, but its a bit meglomanical to suggest that the makom hamikdosh, in the "ruchniesdike" sense, is 770. To say the least. You are just burning the bridge with an explanation like that.

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  11. Arthur said...
    "Chassidus" which is based on Kabbolah or "pnimius Hatorah" is definitently synonymous with Hashems Torah whether it's Tanya,Noiem Elimelech,Zohar or any other Chassidus espoused by Chasidic or Kabbolah giants...."

    Imagine a yeshiva headed by a very prominent gadol who is greatly admired by his talmidim for his profound Torah teachings and numerous important Torah works.

    A scandal arises within the yeshiva! It apears that the yeshiva has been engaging in fraudulent practices. There is reason to believe that the rosh yeshiva himself was involved, but no one is certain.

    A talmid comes out and says, "The worse thing about this is that it will drive people away from our rebbe and his Torah."

    What's wrong with the talmid's statement? Very simply, he is missing the big picture.

    As great as his rebbe and his rebbe's Torah may be, they are only a small part of the glory of Hashem and His Torah. A chillul Hashem casts dishonor and shame over Hashem Himself! It turns people away from ALL of Hashem's Torah.

    To forget this and focus only your own parochial concerns about your own rebbe and his teachings indicates that you either (1) have no understanding of the broader impact of the situation or (2) have begun to displace Hashem with your rebbe.

    The tendency expressed by the author of the essay above to forget the broader picture of chillul Hashem and instead focus on the negative impact this disaster has had on the popularity of the LLR and his teachings should be very disturbing to any Torah Jew.

    Incidentally, when the author of the essay refers to "Chassidus", he specifically means the teachings of the LLR. He is not referring to the seforim of other Chassidic masters. Quite frankly, he would not consider even the study of early Chabad seforim as true "Chassidus" if they were not accompanied by the the teachings of the LLR.

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  12. While the author makes a fine case against the LLR being Messiah, his view places him outside of the Lubavitch mainstream. I was once on the Chabad Shaliach list and invited to Rabbinical functions etc, and my refusal to accept him as a dead-man Messiah had me removed.

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  13. Could the author show me where the Rebbie said that in the instance of Mashiach the halacha is like the Rambam. The Rebbie did cite the Radvaz and ritvah who state that techiyas hamesim for some will come before the time of the Mashiach. The Rebbie stated many times that the rambam in the Yad holds that techiyas hamesim will come after the time of the M, but, the Radvaz etc. He did send mixed signals on this subject regarding the previous Rebbie. The Rebbie discussed all opinions over the years.

    The author has a nice opinion, but, it is the first time I have heard such an idea. I saw a note from the rebbie that a person should be careful that what they say be understood. One cannot say I mean this and the words they use imply the opposite. The Rebbie was careful.

    I am sorry that I cannot agree with you on your interpretation. It is just that and no more.

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  14. "Despite your commitment to your Chassidus you should be able to recognize that “the Rebbe and Chassidus” is not synonymous with Hashem and His Torah."

    Lazer, it's very simple, not the dichotomy that you are twisting it to be: Chabad Chasidim believe that the Chabad Rebbeim teach the word of Hashem. Toras haChasidus is part of the Torah which is from Hashem. So therefore alienation from the words of the Chabad Rebbeim is a form of alienation from the words of Hashem. Thus, it is a form of chillul Hashem. That's the author's point in his letter to a fellow Chossid. Got it??

    As for the (alleged) impact upon the way people look at all Orthodox Jews, the reason the author doesn't discuss that is (not because it's not important to him ch"v, but) because that impact is much less. People out there know that there are many sects within Orthodox Judaism. The main disgrace caused by bad behavior is to the name of one's own subgroup, especially when it is done in the name of that subgroup.

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  15. "Please note that in other blogs, ----- has claimed that ------- is "worse than Hitler" in sheer "hatred" toward Jews and called him a "tzror layehudim." He refused to recant his views. As such, ----- is a mumar, and his opinions on Torah should not be treated with any credulity. Until he retracts his hatred toward Jews, I don't believe his post should be on this blog."

    I'm waiting for those who so arrogantly use such language against the Lubavitcher Rebbe to be condemned in this way and banned from posting in this blog!

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  16. To all those who have found certain quotes from the above letter not to their liking especially Lazera.Methinks that for want of a better term,this is nit picking.I'm quite sure if the letter writer would have made all the statements "demanded" of him by his critics they would find some other "avlehs" to complain about,but we in Chabad are used to this situation where people "demand" of us to explain the various iniquities attributed to us.
    One would think that all the critics above are the epitomes of perfection.If I or anyone else were to take the time and effort to review many of the criticisms posted, many mistakes could be found.That was not the point of this posting.
    Believe me it must have taken a lot of guts for this father to put his thoughts in writing ,knowing the backslash he would get from the meshichistin.I don't know who the writer is but many do,so this is not a an "anounymous" letter where the author can hide behind his anonymity.
    Lazera wrote much of the feedback the author received on CH info was negative,which of course proves that most Lubavitcher are meshichistin.On the contrary the silent majority of Lubavitch is definitely NOT meshichisti.The crazies and rabble rousers make the most noise and therefore the preponderance of feedback was negative.
    It's about time for the yeshiveshe,Litveshe,chreideshe oilom to stop "demanding" of Lubavitch to explain their derech and minhagim to everyone's satisfaction.Lets do a little introspection,each into our own communities.We all have areas that can be corrected.Lets not make demands on others to correct their perceived avlehs before we correct our own.That will certainly hasten the coming of Moshiach tzidkeinu whomever he may be.

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  17. The "village voice" reported an interview with Professor Berger who is now claims that Lubavitch has theological underpinnings to state that the Rebbie is the mashiach and he can lead from the beyond. He has abrogated most of his book. Perhaps, we can learn a lesson from him and stop attacking one another.

    Maybe, a whole post can be devoted to this. Perhaps, Dr. Berger can be interviewed again. Clarification is in order.

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  18. Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver said...
    "Chabad Chasidim believe that the Chabad Rebbeim teach the word of Hashem. ... So therefore alienation from the words of the Chabad Rebbeim is a form of alienation from the words of Hashem. Thus, it is a form of chillul Hashem."

    I think my point, in this regard, has been made sufficiently in my previous comments. In the face of a chillul Hashem of this magnitude, no other frum group would be busy obsessing about the loss of prestige to their particular group and its leader. They would be distressed about the dishonor caused to all of Torah Judaism.

    "As for the (alleged) impact upon the way people look at all Orthodox Jews, the reason the author doesn't discuss that is (not because it's not important to him ch"v, but) because that impact is much less. People out there know that there are many sects within Orthodox Judaism. The main disgrace caused by bad behavior is to the name of one's own subgroup, especially when it is done in the name of that subgroup."

    Well, it is true that there is an increasing general recognition that Chabad is becoming something quite distinct from mainstream Orthodox Judaism. In a sense, I guess that sums up the whole nature of this tragedy.


    "I'm waiting for those who so arrogantly use such language against the Lubavitcher Rebbe to be condemned in this way and banned from posting in this blog!"

    To my knowledge, no one on this blog has compared the LLR to Hitler or even used any language that is even slightly similar.

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  19. Levi said...

    The "village voice" reported an interview with Professor Berger who is now claims that Lubavitch has theological underpinnings to state that the Rebbie is the mashiach and he can lead from the beyond. He has abrogated most of his book. Perhaps, we can learn a lesson from him and stop attacking one another.

    Maybe, a whole post can be devoted to this. Perhaps, Dr. Berger can be interviewed again. Clarification is in order.
    =============================
    these are the words cited in the VV article.
    ===========================


    "It violates common sense and makes the movement seem insane," says David Berger, a historian and the author of /The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference/. "They think it turns people off to Hasidic teaching, and it's a sincere concern."

    Berger, himself an observant Jew, says that while researching the book, he watched videos that were filmed at 770 after the rebbe's death. In one, people cleared a path across the synagogue to allow the invisible rebbe to walk to his chair. "When people tell me that the kind of scene I just described is crazy," he says, "I react by saying that there are millions of people in the world who are perfectly normal and intelligent people, who believe that the priest is holding a piece of bread and that this bread is the real presence of Jesus of Nazareth."

    With the Lubavitchers as with Christians, messianic beliefs are nuanced, Berger says. He thinks that most Luba- vitchers, either secretly or openly, do believe that the rebbe is the messiah, but that only a small fraction believe he is still alive.

    That contention has made Berger the target of severe attacks in the Lubavitch world. And though he staunchly opposes the movement, he says that there are strong theological underpinnings both to the messianism and even to the "seemingly crazy assertion" that the rebbe really didn't die.

    "Judaism says that in every generation, there is a righteous person that connects the world to the divine energy," he explains. "If there is no leader, the world would actually cease to exist. So the fact that the rebbe has died and that the world continues to exist is a conundrum to them, and it leads them to believe that the rebbe must not have died. But even people who believe he did die find this to be a challenging question." They resolve it, he adds, by opining that we're living in strange times, or that the rebbe is still providing the divine connection from his grave.

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  20. Lazera said
    "To my knowledge,no one on this blog has compared the LLR to Hitler OR EVEN USED LANGUAGE THAT IS SlIGHTLY SIMILAR". Then your knowledge is somewhat limited.
    "His opinions on Chabad Torah, as they are not within the realm of Torah, are fine" This is of course eloquent praise of Chabad Torah.

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  21. "In the face of a chillul Hashem of this magnitude, no other frum group would be busy obsessing about the loss of prestige to their particular group and its leader. They would be distressed about the dishonor caused to all of Torah Judaism."

    Again, you see it this way because you see some sort of dichotomy. We do not, because we do not see Chasidus as an individual group or the Rebbe as an individual leader. We see Chasidus as the pnimiyus of all Torah and the Rebbe as the leader of all Jews. You are starting from a different premise, so you are led to a different conclusion.

    "To my knowledge,no one on this blog has compared"

    there have been comments of similar tone against the Rebbe that I have no intention of reposting.

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  22. I am increasingly amazed at how obtuse some of these comments can be.

    Arthur said...
    "...we in Chabad are used to this situation where people "demand" of us to explain the various iniquities attributed to us."

    You are the one who posted a lengthy essay describing and attempting to explain the current crisis of messianism in Chabad. Are you now upset that we read the article?

    Unlike at CrownHeights.info, the response here has been pretty positive. My own comments were somewhat critical, but I was pleased that at least someone in Chabad is willing to put his (anonymous) foot down.

    "Believe me it must have taken a lot of guts for this father to put his thoughts in writing ,knowing the backslash he would get from the meshichistin."

    Yes, of course, the ordinary people who represent the dominant shita in Chabad today are not able to express their opinions because the tiny minority of crazies won't let them. Can you please explain how a tiny minority of crazies has been able to silence the overwhelming majority of Lubavitchers?

    "Lazera wrote much of the feedback the author received on CH info was negative,which of course proves that most Lubavitcher are meshichistin."

    No, read what I actually wrote. I never said a word about the relative size of the Mishichistim in Chabad. I have no idea. In fact, I don't think even Lubavitchers know because the non-Meshichistim are afraid to say anything.

    My point was quite clear. Despite the claims of some Chabad apologists, the article and the response proves that the crisis of Chabad messianism is quite real.

    "It's about time for the yeshiveshe,Litveshe,chreideshe oilom to stop "demanding" of Lubavitch to explain their derech and minhagim to everyone's satisfaction."

    Discussion of the divergent derachim and minhagim in Klall Yisrael is engaged in throughout the Torah world. Nobody questions such activity, which is, in fact, part of limud haTorah.

    I suspect you are using "derech and minhagim" as cover for criticism of Chabad messianism, which has been criticized for a long time. I fail to see how you can fault non-Lubavitcher's for criticizing a development which you yourself acknowledge is serious problem.

    Are we supposed to "butt out" because "it's none of our business"? Hundreds, possibly thousands of Jews are careening wildly off course, and we're supposed to ignore it? Perhaps you don't feel that we non-Lubavitchers are part of your version of the Jewish people; we however, have not given up hope on you.

    Moreover, the longer the problem continues, the more relevant it becomes for those of us outside of Chabad who need to assess the halachic status of Lubavitchers who are serving religious functions in our communities. This is a profoundly unpleasant situation, but as the problem progresses and the supposed majority of non-Meshichist Lubavitchers continues to be a "silent", it is becoming more and more difficult for the non-Lubavitch Torah world to avoid coming to some very unpleasant conclusions.

    "Lets not make demands on others to correct their perceived avlehs before we correct our own."

    There is a strange, almost schizophrenic, nature to Arthur's comments. On one hand, he posts a lengthy essay that clearly describes a serious problem in Chabad. Then he acts as if there is no problem - "perceived avlehs" - except in the imaginations of non-Lubavitchers.

    P.S. Arthur, if you really think that a nasty (and unjustified) comment about Chabad Torah is the equivelant to calling a major Torah leader "worse than Hitler", then perhaps we truly are no longer following the same religion.

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  23. >>Again, you see it this way because you see some sort of dichotomy. We do not, because we do not see Chasidus as an individual group or the Rebbe as an individual leader. We see Chasidus as the pnimiyus of all Torah and the Rebbe as the leader of all Jews. You are starting from a different premise, so you are led to a different conclusion.

    Its nice that you percieve Chassidus as the pnimiyus of Toah, but that does not mean that it is. Similarly, when the Rebbe suggested that Tanya is the pnimius of Torah, and that even the greatest talmid chochom of his time is jealous of children who learn it because he did NOT learn Tanya (on the contrary, avers the rebbe, he was AGAINST it--a TOTAL fabrication), that does not make his statement correct. Even more outrageous is the notion that the rebbe is the leader of all Jews. I am sure you mean this in the "ruchniesdike" world, right? Because, as far as the facts are concerned, he has an extremely limited impact on charedi judaism outside of chabad. He is not my leader, the leader of my community or of the great yeshivos in which I have learned. No one in the entire yeshiva world benefited in any way from the Rebbe. And they never will. So go on insisting with your view that he is the leader of all jews. But don't expect others to look at you askance and wonder aloud what is your problem and why is it that the rebbe would teach you to think in such a way.

    In fact, based on my readings and the learned comments made by some here and in other scholarly books, it would appear that the rebbe was a kind of reverse misnagid. This is a very objective reading of the rebbe's defense of a drunkard who made an inappropriate comment about the helige CI, zy"a. Someone who does not learn Tanya is missing the boat; well, according to you that's just extolling the Tanya. Someone saying that one who does not learn Nefesh HaChaim is missing the boat--well, that's just racist, according to you.

    So, there you have it. Some people see the rebbe as saying offensive things, having what appears to be reverse-misnagid opinions which are taken as fact by his chassidim. Those comments are found to be outrageous and perverse, and someone who comments that its outrageous and perverse is like suggesting the rebbe is worse than hitler.

    "To my knowledge,no one on this blog has compared"

    there have been comments of similar tone against the Rebbe that I have no intention of reposting.

    There has not been one comment similar in tone or nature against the rebbe on this blog. I would add that Arthur was incredibly brazen when a very good hearted, thougtful fellow who clearly knows a lot more Torah than Arthur encouraged him to do teshuva and withdraw such an insane statement, Arthur became even more belligerent and hateful, and, in the process, revealed an incredible level of hatred toward anyone who is not within Chabad.

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  24. >>"His opinions on Chabad Torah, as they are not within the realm of Torah, are fine"

    This is offensive? The rebbe suggests that the Chazon Ish missed the boat and is jealous of little boys learning Tanya because Tanya is included in the word Talmudo in Chazal's famous dictum, Ashrei mi shebo lkan, v'chu, and is the pnimius of Torah, and that's fine according to Mr. Oliver. This means that everything else the CI is not the pnimous of Torah--kol hatorah kulah. But to suggest that something else is not the pnimius of Torah, Torah, or, at least, that some anonomous writer's ramblings about what Chabad Chassidus, at least, is not Torah--that's just disgusting, right?

    You are so incredibly misguided and hypocritical, its simply astounding. Own up to the Rebbe's mistake, or accept that people would make the same "analysis" on your "Torah"

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  25. Stop this silly ranting. Besides for the few people who read this blog there are very few people who understand the arguments set forth. Stop fooling yourself into believing that these arguments are those made by others. It is simply not true and really is above most people’s comprehension of the inyan.

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  26. Stop this silly ranting. Besides for the few people who read this blog there are very few people who understand the arguments set forth. Stop fooling yourself into believing that these arguments are those made by others. It is simply not true and really is above most people’s comprehension of the inyan.

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  27. The disrespectful tone of the last posts (which seem to be posted by the same person) makes them beneath deserving a response, which is aside from the fact that I've already responded to the points in them (which have been rehashed here yet again, along with the blatant misquoting).

    My point to Lazer was not that he should adopt this view, but simply that he should see where Chasidei Chabad are coming from.

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  28. "Chabad Chasidim believe that the Chabad Rebbeim teach the word of Hashem. Toras haChasidus is part of the Torah which is from Hashem. So therefore alienation from the words of the Chabad Rebbeim is a form of alienation from the words of Hashem. Thus, it is a form of chillul Hashem. That's the author's point in his letter to a fellow Chossid. Got it??"

    Didn't get it. Since the idea of Rebbe is to teach the word of G-d, it is even more incumbent that when one wants to impart the dangers of a certain path, he should invoke how this leads to the desecration of G-d and in the long article almost no reference is made to this! Why talk about the medium to the Almighty and not mention the Almighty Himself!

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  29. "Could the author show me where the Rebbie said that in the instance of Mashiach the halacha is like the Rambam".

    He clearly wrote in LS that the Halacha is like the Rambam in issues where no one argued with him. (Btw, being that when there are disagreements with Rambam the Halacha may not be like him, therfore it is understood that when the Rebbe wrote about Navi outside of Erettz Yisroel he was not necessarily referring to literal Halacho being that many Rishonim argue with Rambam on this point).

    "The Rebbie did cite the Radva and ritvah who state that techiyas hamesim for some will come before the time of the Mashiach'.

    This is a gross misinformation many Lubavitchers make that is either dishonest or comes from lack of learning: LR did not say that Rambam holds that there will not be techiyat hamessim prior the times of redemption of yemot hamashiach. On the contrary, when he proved that according to Rambam mashiach cannot be from the dead (LS35) he clearly took into considration that possibility and still REJECTED the possibility for mashiach to come the dead according to Rambam. SO citing ritva and radvaz is a non sequitor in our discussion.

    "The Rebbie stated many times that the rambam in the Yad holds that techiyas hamesim will come after the time of the M,"

    Not in LS 35 where he proves that Rambam holds mashiach is not from dead. There he clearly states that even if there will be resurrection in these times still mashiach cannot be from the dead according to rambam.

    " He did send mixed signals on this subject regarding the previous Rebbie".

    Not true! He either spoke in cryptic terms but when explained what he meant he clerly ommitted theliteral meaning of the term! (that he is referring to the fct that he will be mashich kpshutoy).

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  30. The real fact is that although a very positive phenomenon is seen by this letter as it is actually posted in some of the websites, it must be stressed: a) such an article would NOT appear in an official magazine like Kfar Chabad, b) the writer remains anonymous and would NEVER be able to write it if he wrote his real name. No matter how much twisting the apologists do the fact remains that no one of importance has the courage to put his name and signature. And the number of comments who criticize the article far outnumber those who silghtly justify or slightly agree. This is the reality of the real numbers in L. But let us hope that actions like this or other letters (depsite hteir problems as pointed out by many commenters) will bring forth some of the needed "Change" in that system.

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  31. A question to the writer of letter: Where in our tradition do find that followers of a Leader teacher or Rebbe "hope" that their Rebbes and mentors be Mashiach?

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  32. Your view is wrong, as a matter of FACT. The rebbe is not the leader of all Jews, never was, not even close. There is nothing wrong or obnoxious about a fact. And if reality is beneath you, it demosntrates a great deal about you, no one else. Stop trying to be pretend that you are a victim when you and your ridiculous beliefs are to blame.

    If you find someone finding the rebbe's assertion that Tanya is the pnimius of Torah and someone who did not learn is jealous of little children learning the same incredulous "obnoxious", then the problem is yours. You only expect that others see where you are coming from, but when perfectly obvious examples of profound ethnocentrism are raised, you play victim. Frankly, that's just cowardly, and, in the final analysis, intellectually dishonest.

    The only thing beneath a response is, in the end, you.

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  33. >>I'm waiting for those who so arrogantly use such language against the Lubavitcher Rebbe to be condemned in this way and banned from posting in this blog!

    Arrogance? Chas Ve sholom. The good faith comments about the Rebbe's errors were made respectfully and with great mesiras nefesh and yiras/ahavas hashem.

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  34. >>I'm waiting for those who so arrogantly use such language against the Lubavitcher Rebbe to be condemned in this way and banned from posting in this blog!

    Arrogance? Chas Ve sholom. The good faith comments about the Rebbe's errors were made respectfully and with great mesiras nefesh and yiras/ahavas hashem.

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  35. yossef said...
    "A question to the writer of letter: Where in our tradition do find that followers of a Leader teacher or Rebbe "hope" that their Rebbes and mentors be Mashiach?"

    This idea is, for the most part, an invention of Chabad. The entire premise, that we should even consider identifying our particular rebbeim as moshiach is absurd.

    The talmidim of R' Akiva certainly did not consider him a possible candidate for moshiach. That did not detract from his stature in their eyes!

    The same is true for the innumerable great gedolim troughout history who, for one reason or another, were never even possible candidates to be moshiach.

    We seek out rebbeim and gedolim based on their gadlus in Torah and yiras shamayim, nothing more.

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  36. There are sources and seforim that do cite that some pupils considered their Rebbe to be possible candidates to be mashiach. Sdey Chemed brings this. Chassam Sofer writes that people were meshaer and assessed about someone who pissibly would be the mashiach. But where is the source for "hoping" (or praying) that someone would be Mashiach (which is G-d''s choice)? Do we find such a paralel about Moshe or Dovid (where there an election capign who would be chosen by G-d)?

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  37. The purpose of my posting of the above letter on this blog was to bring some modicum of intelligent and respectful discussion about Chabad and the meshichistin.Apparently I was wrong.All it did was open a pandoras box of all kinds of recriminations,accusations and turned into a slugfest ad ein lidovor sof, and I'm talking about both sides of the fence including myself.Had I the opportunity to change things I would have never posted it.

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  38. Arthur,

    Posting the letter was a positive thing which helped my crisis of faith in the rebbe; being dishonest about what exactly happened when you wrote that Rav Shach is worse than Hitler undermined the purpose of the letter. If you would have been grown up about it, now, if not then, there would be nothing to complain about.

    The fault lies entirely on you.

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  39. YY,
    I'm not going to bother with answering your above allegation that I am a liar because as mentioned above,ein ledovor soif.I would suggest however that you go back to the original blog where I committed the so called crime and review the various posts that led to it.Here is the the post on that blog in "honor" of Gimmel Tammuz ,the Rebbi ZTL's yohrtziet that started it all.
    "Today is Reb Shneur Kotler zatzals yahrtzet. it is also the day that the shabsai tzvi of the 20th century was finaly silenced B'H. its sad how many yidden are brainwashed into that cult." It speaks for itself.
    As far as I am concerned this is my last post on this subject.Enough with the accusations and recriminations.

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  40. The letter is an interesting history of the Chabad approach to Moshiach and I hope that this (almost) rational approach represents a significant number of Chabad Chassidim.

    There is another issue that the author misses and that is the way that the Chabad redefinition of the requirments of Moshiach has given ammunition to Christian Missionaries.

    I even found a booklet written for christian missionaries telling them how to use Chabad as an argument to encourage Jews to adopt foreign beliefs.
    I posted extracts of the booklet here:
    http://betweenjerusalemandtelaviv.blogspot.com/2008/09/chabad.html

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  41. Arthur:

    I am not sure about the purpose of your last response. There are two important answers to that post.

    One, the anonomous talmid chochom and kind hearted fellow who tried to admonish you to do teshuva stated that he was NOT the anonomous poster who made that remark. Tzig can easily confirm this. Either way, his tone was at all times respectful. Yours became increasingly worse and, to this date, you refused to retract your comment.

    Second, I still do not see any post wherein anyone, anonomous or otherwise, learned or ignorant, ever made a remark about the LLR wherein he was degraded as being worse than Hitler. Yours is the most evil comment I have ever seen in my entire life. I can safely state that I have never seen a frum Jew write this way about a Gadol Hador.

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