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There are strong suggestions within Chabad literature that the Rebbe was considered to be a prophet (Devar Malchut, see below). Some suggest that the Rebbe himself didn't do enough to discourage his followers to stop thinking that he was moshiach. It could be that he simply didn't know if he was or not. He did however, make attempts to admonish the practice (Sichos Kodesh, Parshas Noach 5752):

Schneerson responded by writing "It has come to pass that because of his [Wolpo's] activities ... hundreds of Jews have stopped learning Chassidus, and now oppose the Baal Shem Tov and his teachings in actuality. It appeared to some that the Rebbe finally approved of the declaration of the Rebbe as Messiah at a public talk on the 6th of Iyar 1991 when young Rabbi Dovid Nachshon and others repeated Yechi also on the hebrew date of the 15th of Iyar the Rebbe for the first time encouraged the singing of "Yechi", the slogan about the Rebbe being the Messiah." In fact, however, several months later on the 4th Cheshvan 5752, at a farbrengen (Chassidic gathering) on Shabbat Parshat No'ach, the Rebbe publicly admonished those who were singing that song. He threatened to leave the farbrengen, and only stayed so that it would not dissipate.

After having been given some texts (see images below, from Davar Malchut, Mishpatim) of the 'messianic rhetoric' it appears that there are heavy references to the Rebbe (throughout his sichot) that gives the impression that he is not only a prophet but the 'chosen one of Hashem'. Other literary examples include: "the shofet, yoetz and navi of our generation", "we are obliged to listen to him [as a prophet]", "we are not allowed to doubt his prophecy", "they are not only the words of a navi, rather the words of the Lord through this prophet!", "all people in this generation must recognise, that we have merited that Hashem has chosen…", etc.

Although not mentioning it explicitly, the sicha strongly suggests that he is the chosen messiah. (Whether this is considered normative Judaism is not the scope of this question, related). These books were written in his lifetime and purportedly endorsed and checked by the Rebbe himself (source needed! I heard this from a Chabad chasid that I was discussing this with).

Does this mean that he agreed that he was a prophet and the messiah? Or were his followers over zealous in this claim?

(related 'relations with messianists')

(related wiki article, chabad messianism)

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it is important to note that many Talmudic Rabbi's saw their teachers as having messianic qualities, furthermore see this book by Rabbi Gil Student proving the Rebbe is not Moshiach from the Rebbe's own works: – Efraim May 14 '14 at 21:54
@bondonk – Double AA May 14 '14 at 22:10
The way this was explained to me is that there is a "choshesh of moschiach" where someone has the potential to become moshiach if the generation merits it. The precedent usually given is Rabbi Akiva believing this about Bar Kochba. The Rebbe and the Rebbe's followers believed that Rebbe had "choshesh of moshiach" but was not actually moshiach when he was alive. However, now that he has died without becoming moshiach, we assume that this is "choshesh" has expired or passed to a different gadol. – Tatpurusha May 14 '14 at 22:20
@Tatpurusha The Lubavicher that I spoke to said that it was 'accepted' that he was (and is), amongst Chabad, the mashiach. The Rebbe downplayed it because he felt it was turning people away from Judaism, but, purportedly, did not deny that he was. Messianists will challenge his death as not being a deciding factor, citing the gemara which mentions that a messiah coming from the dead will be like Rabi (or Rabbi Yehuda?) i.e. it is possible. – bondonk May 14 '14 at 22:28
@bondonk I think the 'yellows' like to imagine that their doctrine is really held by all of Chabad, but fairly adamant denial that the Rebbe is moshiach has been very common: the explanation I just gave was given to me by a teacher at a Chabad yeshiva. If the Rebbe really believed that he had "choshesh of moshiach" then it would be difficult for him to deny that he was moshiach. – Tatpurusha May 14 '14 at 22:49

3 Answers 3

According to a number of biographers who have carefully sifted through his writings and researched into private conversations, R. Schneerson never explicitly stated that he was a prophet or the messiah. As Simon Dein has stressed, however, in Lubavitcher Messianism, the Lubavitcher Rebbe made many statements during his life, particularly reiterated by followers before the end of it, that were interpreted by a growing branch of Chabad as hinting of his messianic identity:

Among such statements were these: that his father-in-law, whose soul he was believed to have shared and who was consequently understood as a surrogate or code for the Rebbe himself, was the prince (nasi) of this generation and would redeem us; that the prince of the generation was the Messiah of the generation; that this was the generation of the Redemption; that the metaphysical process of separating the sparks of holiness from the domain of evil had been completed; that the Messiah had already been revealed, and all that remained was to greet him; that the messiah was coming right away; that 'the time of your redemption has arrived'; that the final Temple would descend from heaven to a spot in Crown Heights adjoining Lubavitch headquarters, and that only then would the two buildings be transferred to Jerusalem; and finally, that the messiah's name was Menachem. (Dein 55)

Nevertheless, when discussing the messianic fervor others had for him, the Lubavitcher Rebbe seems to have responded disparagingly and/or dismissively of the movement. Chaim Miller, in his biography Turning Judaism Outward, cites multiple letters and speeches from the Lubavitcher Rebbe denouncing Chabad adherents who claimed that he was the messiah. This includes, for example, the farbrengen incident cited in the question, in addition to his threatening to close the Kfar Chabad magazine for wanting to publish an article on the identity of the messiah; additionally, he gave a sermon lambasting meshichist "overzealous Chabadniks (shpitz Chabad)" for being antithetical to Chabad Chassidut (cf. Miller 404-407).

While the Lubavitcher Rebbe was deeply devoted to learning about and and bringing in the messianic era, the evidence available suggests that he did not agree with Chabad messianics claiming that he was the messiah. It is important to remember that Chabad messianism also escalated after the Lubavitcher Rebbe's paralyzing stroke, when his passivity to "Yechi" chants was seen by some as approval of their beliefs. As to Chabad messianics' claims before his stroke, Yehuda Avner's memoir The Prime Ministers offers a potential insight into the Lubavitcher Rebbe's otherwise acquiescent approach:

Relaxing, he fixed me with those eyes, and with a surprisingly sweet smile, said, "Now tell me, Reb Yehuda, you visit us so often yet you are not a Lubavitcher. Why?"

Still trying to absorb what he had said, I sat back, stunned at the directness of the question. It was true. This, probably, was my fifth or sixth meeting with the Rebbe. Over the years I had become a sort of unofficial liaison between the various prime ministers I served and the Lubavitch court.

Swallowing thickly, I muttered, "Maybe it is because I have met so many people who ascribe to the Rebbe powers which the Rebbe does not ascribe to himself."

Even as I said this I realized I had presumed too much, and I could hear my voice trailing away as I spoke.

The Rebbe's brows knitted, and his deep blue eyes grayed again, into something between solemnity and sadness, and he said, "Yesh k'nireh anashim hazekukim l'kobayim" [There are evidently people who are in need of crutches]. The way he said it conveyed infinite compassion. (Avner 445)

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As a Lubavitcher, I just want to clarify some things about the sources you are quoting. The sicha you have in the picture is the Rebbe's own teachings. Likkutei Sichos, Sefer Hasichos 5747-5752 (5750, 5751, 5752) - are all considered purely the Rebbe's chassidus. The Rebbe approved of every word in those sfarim. (That is an undisputed fact.)

(There are other sforim that were written up by chassidim based on the Rebbe's farbrengens and sichos (talks), but were not looked over by the Rebbe himself. Some examples would be Sichos Kodesh, Hisvadios)

The sicha you have in the picture is what the Rebbe endorsed to be printed.

If you want to know what the Rebbe's opinion is: Based on the approved ("muggah" in Chabad terminology) sources, the Rebbe himself pretty clearly states that the Nossi of the generation is the Moshiach of the generation (for example here - Parshas Mishpatim 5752), that our generation is the one that will actually bring the Final Geulah, and that the Rebbe is considered a Novi (see the sicha you quoted).

I need to link the sources.

Regarding those instances you mention- that is true. However, based on my understanding - it is clear that the Rebbe says that he is a prophet, and almost explicitly says that he is Moshiach, but what is argued is that it is not our task to go telling the world that the Rebbe is Moshiach. If you know it for yourself, or if someone figures it out themself - fine, but no mitzva to publicize it if that will turn yidden away from Yiddishkeit.

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I'm not sure that "it is an undisputed fact" is evidence to claim veracity – bondonk Feb 11 at 6:21
Also, since he is never explicit about this point exactly it leads many to assume that his mashiach/prophet status was a hope of his chassidim, nothing more – bondonk Feb 11 at 6:23
About Prophet status: Learn the Sicha of Shoftim 5751 - it's quite explicit. – 11213 Feb 11 at 6:24
@bondonk Just an example: Shabbos Mishpatim 5752- the Rebbe said that the current events of that Friday, where the United Nations decided to give money for agriculture instead of for arms, "״וכתתו חרבותם לאתים - is a direct cause of Moshiach Tzidkeinu's affects on the world, and the fact that the UN is in New York is significant - it is because the Rebbe, Moshiach, came to NY and began elevating it. -Take it as you wish, and you don't have to trust me. [Learn it in the source][5]. – 11213 Feb 11 at 6:44
@bondonk He's pretty explicit about the Frierdiker Rebbe being Moshiach – Shmuel Brin Feb 11 at 6:50

On 12th Adar 1, 5752 (1992) a representative from the women's group (Mrs. Chava Cohen) gave the Rebbe a tambourine. Plastered all over it was the phrase Yechi etc. As she handed it over she said "This is for the Rebbe, Shlita. With this tambourine the women danced yesterday with joy that breaks through all limitations. With a deep trust in the revelation of the Rebbe, Shlita, King Moshiach, immediately and actually to the complete Redemption." The Rebbe answered with a radiant smile, "This [tambourine] you are most probably leaving with me." The Rebbe handed her a second dollar (this event took place at dollar distribution)and referring to psalm 150, said, "This is for the 'Clanging Cymbals'. This is how it is referred to in Tehillim. It should be in a good time." The headline to the picture which shows this actually happened states "The Rebbe approves our acceptance of him as King Moshiach."

I believe mixed messages have been given out deliberately to confuse those who ask this question. It is documented that the Rebbe stated his father-in-law was Moshiach (and that they shared a soul) therefore he the 7th Rebbe was Moshiach - also he was the prophet of the generation and one is forbidden to ignore a prophet. Is it not a fact that prophecy will only return when we are in Eretz Yisroel?

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Do you have a source for this? Or did you see it? – Danny Schoemann Apr 21 at 7:02
@DannySchoemann: There's a video of this happening I don't see this video as answering the question. Although messianics tout this as evidence that the Lubavitcher Rebbe claimed to be the messiah, I think it's another example of equivocation that I discuss in my answer. – Aryeh Apr 21 at 13:06
@Aryeh - thanks! I agree about the "mixed messages" in the video, though not sure I agree with "to confuse those who ask this question". Maybe he was simply humoring them. So "equivocation" yes, "evidence" no. – Danny Schoemann Apr 22 at 8:35

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