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I've talked to various Chabad Rabbis, and I can say for certain that at least 1 definitely believes that the Rebbe could be Moshiach.

In trying to prove this, he cites Rambam's Mishneh Torah (Melachim Umilchamos, chapter 11, halachah 4):

ד: וְאִם יַעֲמֹד מֶלֶךְ מִבֵּית דָּוִד הוֹגֶה בַּתּוֹרָה וְעוֹסֵק בְּמִצְוֹת כְּדָוִד אָבִיו. כְּפִי תּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב וְשֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה. וְיָכֹף כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵילֵךְ בָּהּ וּלְחַזֵּק בִּדְקָהּ. וְיִלָּחֵם מִלְחֲמוֹת ה'. הֲרֵי זֶה בְּחֶזְקַת שֶׁהוּא מָשִׁיחַ. אִם עָשָׂה וְהִצְלִיחַ וּבָנָה מִקְדָּשׁ בִּמְקוֹמוֹ וְקִבֵּץ נִדְחֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הֲרֵי זֶה מָשִׁיחַ בְּוַדַּאי. וִיתַקֵּן אֶת הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ לַעֲבֹד אֶת ה' בְּיַחַד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר כִּי אָז אֶהְפֹּךְ אֶל עַמִּים שָׂפָה בְרוּרָה לִקְרֹא כֻלָּם בְּשֵׁם ה' וּלְעָבְדוֹ שְׁכֶם אֶחָד: ‏

"If a king will arise from the House of David who diligently contemplates the Torah and observes its mitzvot as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law as David, his ancestor, will compel all of Israel to walk in (the way of the Torah) and rectify the breaches in its observance, and fight the wars of God, we may, with assurance, consider him Mashiach.

If he succeeds in the above, builds the Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Mashiach."

The Rabbi I spoke with asserts that the Rebbe definitely fit into the first category mentioned by the Rambam, the "assumed Mashiach", as he was very well versed in the entire Torah, and encouraged many to properly observe Judaism. In this point I find no discrepancy with what the Rabbi is saying. It's this next point which I'm having trouble with.

This Rabbi also goes on to say that the Rebbe fits into the category of the definite Mashiach, as outlined by the Rambam. "He builds the Temple in its place" -- this refers to 770 ("in its place" need not refer to Jerusalem, but rather to "the Mashiach"'s place, explains the Rabbi). "He gathers the dispersed of Israel" -- this refers to when the Rebbe exported a large number of Jews from the Soviet Union into the land of Israel. The Rabbi explained this all to me.

Why I'm having with this is the Rambam's next clause:

ט: ואם לא הצליח עד כה, או נהרג--בידוע שאינו זה שהבטיחה עליו תורה, והרי הוא ככל מלכי בית דויד השלמים הכשרים שמתו. ולא העמידו הקדוש ברוך הוא אלא לנסות בו רבים, שנאמר "ווּמִן הַמַּשְׂכִּילִים יִכָּשְׁלוּ לִצְרוֹף בָּהֶם וּלְבָרֵר וְלַלְבֵּן עַד עֵת קֵץ כִּי עוֹד לַמּוֹעֵד" (ראה דניאל יא,לה).‏

"If he did not succeed to this degree or was killed, he surely is not the redeemer promised by the Torah. Rather, he should be considered as all the other proper and complete kings of the Davidic dynasty who died."

The Rebbe is no longer alive. This appears to contradict what the Rambam stated just above. However, the Rabbi explains to me that Rambam only specifies "...or was killed," whereas the Rebbe died of natural means (actually, he never directly said that the Rebbe died). Furthermore, Rambam then says he is to "...be considered as all the other proper and complete kings... WHO DIED". To be, this seems to clearly imply that the Rambam isn't simply referring to the Mashiach as someone who wasn't killed, but to someone who hasn't yet died.

All this is one way to look at the Rambam's words, but to me it seems very clear that the Rambam is referring to someone who actually builds the third Beis Hamikdash in Jerusalem, gathers the people of Israel from all over the Earth, and to someone who is actually alive!

How can this belief that the Rebbe is / has the potential to be Mashiach at all be properly justified, considering the clear words of the Rambam? (No offense intended, I just want to know).

EDIT

All of your answers are great, but the best is the one I heard from my real-life Rabbi, "Let moshiach come and we'll find out!"

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    @DannySchoemann Yes, it was. I found a more complete link. – Scimonster May 20 '15 at 8:11
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    Interestingly I was just reading Gershom Scholems book Sabbetai Sevi and when describing the response of the believers upon hearing of the death of their Messiah was to quote almost all of the same proofs that lubavitchers do to prove that he was not really dead/transposed/coming back/etc. Very scary – Shoel U'Meishiv May 20 '15 at 13:38
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    @Mefaresh from making of a gadol I was also present when the venerable author, R' Bezalel Landau, held a discussion about this matter with my father during the latter's 5742 (1982) visit to Israel and related that a distinguished rash yeshiva in Jerusalem had accused him of "falsifying the image of the Gaon" by omitting the issue of the Gaon's hithnagduth. R' Landau pleaded with my father, "How can I publicize the Gaon's prohibi- tion on intermarriage with hasidim and possibly cause families to break Up?" – user6591 May 20 '15 at 13:54
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    Cont. He was referring to messianic fantasies simmering in a hasidic circle in Israel, the adherents of that group had fomented a political feud along hasidic-mithnagdic lines - and my father felt that the eventual publication of these chapters would help the general hasidic public shake off the messianics should their fantasy get out of hand. As it turned out, my father's concerns were well founded: a large segment of that hasidic cult did declare its leader to be the Messiah. – user6591 May 20 '15 at 13:55
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    There are several inconsistencies in the messianic reading. He interprets מִקְדָּשׁ as broadly as possible, yet interprets שמתו as narrowly as possible. He interprets כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל as... actually he pretends the word כל doesn't exist! – Ephraim May 20 '15 at 17:11
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As far as I understand the subject, the Rebbe did not teach the idea that he would be considered to have fulfilled the halachic status of "Moshiach with certainty" (מָשִׁיחַ בְּוַדַּאי) even up to this day. According to the Rebbe's teachings, this cannot occur until after the resurrection of the seven Shepherds and the eight Annointed Individuals.

The idea that he met the criteria to be considered "presumed to be Moshiach" as outlined by Rambam in the Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Melachim, chapter 11 is in keeping with the Rebbe's teaching.

This concept of the halachic status of Presumed to be Moshiach as it applies to the Rebbe is built upon the halacha sefer, Yechi HaMelech which carries the approbation of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein among many others. This didn’t even begin to gain ground until 1984. The Rebbe first acknowledged the book’s existence in 1992 as printed in his approbation to the 2nd edition. It is also worth noting that the Rebbe discouraged pushing this view in places that were not receptive to it.

The Rebbe did not teach that halacha (Jewish law, like is found in the Mishnah Torah of Rambam) was to be understood in any way other than according to its plain meaning. And with that said, the second half of Halacha 4 in Hilchot Melachim, chapter 11, meaning building the Mikdash in its place (on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem) has not be fulfilled yet.

For those Lubavitchers who mistakenly claim that the halacha you cite in your question:

וּבָנָה מִקְדָּשׁ בִּמְקוֹמוֹ

means 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York because it is possible to read "בִּמְקוֹמוֹ" as in his place (the place where Moshiach happens to be located at any given time), they are in disagreement with the principle of following the plain meaning as taught by the Rebbe concerning this halacha. (For details of this see Kuntress Davar Malchut: Chiddushim u'Biurim b'Hilchot Melachim, Chapters 11-12, published 2 Iyar, 5751)

The word “מקדש” is masculine and in the context of the sentence (meaning requirements that pertain to acquiring the status of Moshiach with certainty), “מקומו” means it’s place (the place of the Mikdash) in Jerusalem, not his place (meaning wherever Moshiach is found).

It is worth noting that the Rebbe does differentiate and state that following the plain meaning of Rambam regarding acquiring the halachic status of Presumed to be Moshiach, those laws can pertain to his place, meaning his geographic location. He mentions this specifically in the context of fighting G-d's wars in order to acquire the status of Presumed to be Moshiach.

Regarding the status of Moshiach with certainty the text states, “Moshiach will build the Mikdash in its place” and after that gather in the exiles, etc.

The plain meaning is that Moshiach will, after he is presumed to be Moshiach according to halacha build the third Temple in its place, and only after that will the Jewish exiles outside of Israel be gathered into Israel and Jerusalem.

But historically, the Jews of the Soviet Union were leaving under Prime Minister Gorbachev in the early to mid 1980s. The placing of the foundation stone (Even HaPinah) by the Rebbe was in late August of 1988 (which is not in keeping with the Rebbe's explicit teaching that Moshiach's participation in the actual construction would be the final act which completes the construction, not the first). And the lifting of all emigration restrictions was in 1989.

In fact, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 long after the Jewish emigration from there was in full swing .

And everything associated with the Gulf War and how 770 Eastern Parkway was equated with the Mikdash, like is mentioned and cited explicitly by the Rebbe quoting the Yalkut Shimoni on Isaiah took place in 1991 and 1992.

This means that the chronological order is wrong for the status of Moshiach with certainty according to the plain meaning. What happened historically is not the clear fulfillment of the halachic requirements for anyone, including the Rebbe, to be Moshiach with certainty.

So how is all this to be understood according to the teachings of the Rebbe, who appears to be presumed to be Moshiach ?

The Rebbe did teach, like all the Rebbe's before him, that everything which exists in the physical, has its precursor and source in the spiritual.

This is nothing unique to Lubavitch. It is a consistent principle in Torah throughout the ages.

In the Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu to parshat Bereshit and the commentaries there, this is the reason behind the basic repetition in Bereshit about the story of creation, the first time with G-d’s name, Elokim and the second time with HaShem Elokim. The beginning is the spiritual precursor and the second is the literal, physical expression according to the plain meaning.

In the case of the building of the Temple in its place, meaning on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by Moshiach, the spiritual precursor to its literal, plain fulfillment was the laying of the cornerstone to 770 by the Rebbe himself. There is an interesting and relevant discourse connected to this idea found in Sefer Karnayim by Rabbi Aharon of Kardina and the commentary Dan Yadin of Rabbi Shimshon of Ostropolia, Discourse 14 and also in Sefer Kehillat Yaacov by Rabbi Yaacov Tzvi Yolles, ערך מצפ״ץ.

The source for this concept was explained in the Rebbe's kuntress entitled, "Mikdash Mi'at Zeh Beit Rabbeinu she'ba'Bavel" from 20 Marcheshvan in the year 5752. But it is not the plain fulfillment of the law mentioned above.

In a similar fashion, the ingathering of the exiles mentioned in halacha has a spiritual precursor.

This is why the ingathering of the exiles appears before the return of the (nascent) Sanhedrin, the rebuilding of Jerusalem including the third Temple, and the full reestablishment of the monarchy of David through the "sprouting" of Tzemach David in the Amida prayer (meaning the Shemonah Esreh).

The order that appears in the Amidah is not identical to the order in halacha as found by Rambam in the Mishnah Torah. And those differences are discussed extensively in Kabbalistic writings and in Chassidic teachings, in particular within Chabad Chassidut.

This spiritual ingathering is supposed to be the ingathering and final tikkun, or "elevation of the Sparks of Holiness" from all of the mitzvot done by everyone from the beginning of creation until the completion of the process called "birrur HaNetzutzot".

This process is also described in other places as the reason for going into exile. The Jewish people went into this exile in order to gather these sparks.

But this principle and this language is nothing new. It is the same language and teaching we have in regard to the first exile of Egypt and the first redemption with Moshe Rabbeinu. When the Jewish people left Egypt, it was empty like the bottom of the ocean. The sparks had been collected and taken out from there.

This is also the teaching of the Alter Rebbe as found in letter 130 of volume 1 of Igrot Kodesh of Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber, the 5th Rebbe. The Alter Rebbe is explaining there the view of the Ari z"l as found in Eitz Chayim.

But this is also not unique. It is also the teaching referred to by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato as found in section 2 of Derech HaShem, Hashgacha HaIshit (Divine Supervision of Human Beings), section 8 which says:

ואולם סידר האדון ב״ה שהשלימים וחשובים יוכלו לתקן בעד אחרים וכמ״ש ותפגע בהם מדה״ד תחת פגעה בכלל העולם ואמנם כיון שהם בעצמם שלימים וראוים לטוב שהם מתיסרין רק בעבור האחרים ודאי שתתפיס מדה״ד במועט בהם כמרובה בחוטאים עצמם ולא עוד אלא שעי״ז זכותם נוסף וכחם מתחזק וכ״ש יכולים לתקן את אשר עיותו האחרים והיינו כי לא די שיתקנו למה שבבני דורם אלא גם לענין כל מה שנתקלקל העולם מאז נהיו בו חטאים ועד עתה ובודאי שאלה יהיו אח״כ בקיבוץ השלימים ראשי הראשונים והיותר קרובים אליו ית״ש.

The mechanism for this final elevation of the sparks of Holiness is accomplished by the Moshiach dieing and his soul ascending. These sparks ascend through their attachment to the soul of Moshiach.

The Rebbe discussed this concept in many contexts over many years.

One of them was in his Chassidic discourse entitled, "Zeh Yitnu mi'Chatzit HaShekel" in the year 5748, parshat Mishpatim. There he said that the leader of this generation, the last generation of exile and the first of redemption, would descend to death in order to remove death from the world.

But the most significant idea from this teaching was that the Rebbe associated this spiritual concept as a prerequisite for the literal, plain fulfillment of the mitzvah to rebuild the 3rd Temple.

This is in keeping with the principle taught by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero as found in Biurei HaMekubbalim b'Niglah on Tehillim 90:17, which quotes Sefer Gerushin 91 at the end.

There it states that the 3rd Temple is required to be perfect not only in regard to itself, meaning in regard to its physical structure, but also in regard to those who build it. If those who build it are not perfect both spiritually and physically, the 3rd Temple would not be perfect.

The Rebbe says that to resolve the two (seemingly conflicting) views between Rashi and Rambam as to whether the 3rd Temple is built by G-d (meaning the third Temple descends from Heaven built by the hands of G-d) or by Moshiach (meaning that Moshiach will build the third Temple in a material, physical way, according to nature and in keeping with the plain sense of the halachic requirement), Moshiach will hang the doors to the third Temple, which according to halacha is considered completing the action of its construction which was started by G-d.

But as he points out, this still leaves the problem that by Moshiach doing the actual building while not in a state of spiritual and physical perfection, removes the perfect and eternal aspects from the third Temple like when it is built directly by G-d. The Temple is the product of the one who makes it.

The physical body of those who build the 3rd Temple (if they have a body) must be perfect. And as the Rebbe explains at great length in the Chassidic discourse, "L'havin Inyan Techiyat HaMetim" found in Sefer HaMa'amarim Meluket, vol. 3, pg. 321, this condition is only possible when G-d resurrects the human being. Such a resurrected human being then becomes The sprout of My field, the work of My hands for praise. (See Isaiah 60:21), like Adam HaRishon before the sin.

But this idea that Moshiach, after he has attained the halachic status of Presumed to be Moshiach, must be resurrected is really no surprise because as the Rebbe points out from Sukkah 52b quoting Zechariah 2:3 which says:

ויראני ה' ארבעה חרשים מאן נינהו ארבעה חרשים אמר רב חנא בר ביזנא אמר רבי שמעון חסידא משיח בן דוד ומשיח בן יוסף ואליהו וכהן צדק

and Micah 5:4 which says:

והיה זה שלום אשור כי יבא בארצנו וכי ידרוך בארמנותינו והקמנו עליו שבעה רועים ושמנה נסיכי אדם מאן נינהו שבעה רועים דוד באמצע אדם שת ומתושלח מימינו אברהם יעקב ומשה בשמאלו ומאן נינהו שמנה נסיכי אדם ישי ושאול ושמואל עמוס וצפניה צדקיה ומשיח ואליהו:

and Yoma 5a and numerous other sources, we know that at the very least, the 7 Shepherds and 8 annointed individuals are to be resurrected at the beginning of the days of Moshiach because they are needed in order to build the 3rd Temple. Among those named as being amongst the first 15 to be resurrected are Eliyahu the prophet, Moshe Rabbeinu and Moshiach ben David.

And in that context, it is no surprise that the Rebbe said explicitly in the Chassidic discourse, "Gadol Yiyeh Kevod HaBayit" from the year 5722 as found on page 343 in Sefer HaMa'amarim Miluket, volume 4, that, "this is among the reasons that the first activity of Moshiach after he will be 'presumed to be Moshiach' (a halachic status that must be understood according to its plain meaning) is building the Beit HaMikdash. Because this is the root of all the concepts that follow afterward."

And this follows the precise wording and order in the halacha brought by Rambam concerning acquiring the status of Moshiach with certainty according to its plain meaning.

Regarding your question about what difference it makes between being murdered or simply dieing as it relates to the halacha, it is the distinction made by the Rambam.

As explained in the non-censored versions of the Mishnah Torah, this law excludes Jesus from consideration as the Messiah because he refrained from fighting G-d's wars in his place and was also killed. That is to distinguish him from Bar Kochba, who did fight G-d's wars in his place but was unsuccessful ultimately in his wars and was killed in battle.

The concern of some over Rambam's pasak was because tradition taught that there was the possibility that Moshiach ben Yosef would be murdered.

But as we know from the Vilna Gaon, as recorded in Kol HaTor, Chapter 1:6:1, pg.24 in the 1994 Edition, due to all the prayers over the ages, that decree was overturned. And so, that detail of the halacha stands.

In this context it is worth pointing out that the Rebbe wrote in a letter in 5704, as recorded in a kuntress called Torato Shel Moshiach related to this idea, that the view of Rambam as found in Mishnah Torah appears to be that Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben David are one and the same individual.

And this seems to be one of the messages from the Haftorah to parshat VaYigash found in Yechezkel 37:15-17, which says:

וַיְהִ֥י דְבַר־יְהוָ֖ה אֵלַ֥י לֵאמֹֽר׃ טז וְאַתָּ֣ה בֶן־אָדָ֗ם קַח־לְךָ֙ עֵ֣ץ אֶחָ֔ד וּכְתֹ֤ב עָלָיו֙ לִֽיהוּדָ֔ה וְלִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל חברו [חֲבֵרָ֑יו] וּלְקַח֙ עֵ֣ץ אֶחָ֔ד וּכְת֣וֹב עָלָ֗יו לְיוֹסֵף֙ עֵ֣ץ אֶפְרַ֔יִם וְכָל־בֵּ֥ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל חברו [חֲבֵרָֽיו׃] יז וְקָרַ֨ב אֹתָ֜ם אֶחָ֧ד אֶל־אֶחָ֛ד לְךָ֖ לְעֵ֣ץ אֶחָ֑ד וְהָי֥וּ לַאֲחָדִ֖ים בְּיָדֶֽךָ׃

And even with that aside, it is worth noting that, in fact, there was an attempt to assassinate the Rebbe on the bridge crossing from Manhattan into Prospect Park, Brooklyn by Rashid Baz in 1994, the actual year of the Rebbe’s passing. This corresponds to the nullified decree that Moshiach ben Yosef would be murdered.

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    "it is the distinction made by the Rambam" This is false. – Double AA May 28 '15 at 2:45
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    I'm not sure what you are referring to about it being Rambam's distinction only and being "false". Please see Daniel 11:14, 34-35 and comments from Malbim, Radak and others. And if you are implying in Halacha, there are not a lot of sources to point to for other views. Although Aruch HaShulchan HaAtid, in spite of quoting Rambam almost verbatim, drops this detail entirely. – Yaacov Deane May 28 '15 at 4:00
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    I'm just saying Rambam makes no such distinction. The position of all of traditional judaism, rambam included, is that someone's death is proof they are not mashiach. (I have no idea what your pointing to in Daniyel or in Malbim there. I don't have Radak's commentary available but I feel quite confident it will be similarly unenlightening.) – Double AA May 28 '15 at 4:17
  • In regard to the question of what you list as halacha 9 of chapter 11, it is actually the censored text of the Halacha 4 brought above it. The comment, "if he is not successful to this extent or is murdered", is referring to Moshiach with certainty which begins with same wording. – Yaacov Deane May 29 '15 at 22:48
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    @YaacovDeane It can't contradict the Talmud as it is the position of traditional Judaism, or which the Talmud is a prime contributor. – Double AA Feb 23 '16 at 3:37
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I'm going to answer this question indirectly. I have had discussions with several Lubavitchers who have come up with some compelling (to them) reasoning how the Rebbe זצ"ל can be Moshiach, which leads inexorably to the conclusion that he must be Moshiach. I'm not going to attempt to express the arguments here, even though you have asked for them, because I personally am unconvinced by them (to say the least) and will therefore not be able to make a good case to answer your question directly.

But I will make the point that when the Rebbe was on his death bed, there was not a single Lubavitcher (that I know of) who brought any of these rationales to explain that even if the Rebbe would die, he would still be the Moshiach. As one meshichist said to me at the time, "Just as it is clear to me that the sun will rise tomorrow, so it is clear to me that the Rebbe will not die - and you will see he is Moshiach!"

In other words, all these arguments "proving" that Moshiach could be someone who has already died were all formulated only after they became necessary. They are all post-rationalizations. To my mind, this in itself makes the arguments specious; it has all the markings of a massive case of cognitive dissonance, where the pain involved in admitting that they were wrong was so great that the meshichistim had to come up with some kind of explanation that allowed them to hang on to their previously held beliefs. To be clear: cognitive dissonance is not a mental disorder; it's something that affects every single human being on the planet. So it shouldn't be surprising that normal, healthy people should react in this way to an occurrence that seems to challenge a deeply held belief.

To summarize my answer: you asked, "How can this belief... be properly justified" - and my answer is: There is no limit to the acrobatics that the intellect can perform when driven by cognitive dissonance.

  • @ShaulBehr That no one at the time the Rebbe was”laying on his death bed” was discussing if he died is no proof at all. The appropriate, traditional Jewish response when someone is seriously ill is to pray fervently to G-d, who is the “Healer of everything”, to heal that person completely & to trust completely that G-d will hear, accept and answer that prayer without delay and in a way of open & revealed good both physically & spiritually. – Yaacov Deane Nov 22 '18 at 16:26
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See Gil Students tremendous treatment entitled "Can The Rebbe Be Moshiach?"

In Chapter Five called What Counter-proofs can be Brought? Rabbi Student brings the arguments that many meshichist lubavitchers use to argue that the Lubavitcher rebbe was/is/will be Moshiach. From the beggining of the chapter:

There are two types of proofs that are brought for the claim that a dead person can be Moshiach. The first type is passages from primary sources and the second is commentary on these sources. The former tries to demonstrate that Chazal considered it possible, or maybe even likely, that a resurrected figure can serve as Moshiach. The latter attempts to show that regardless of what we think the primary source actually says, there were commentators who may have thought differently. This distinction is important because it highlights that the value in a commentary’s statement rests totally on the weight of who the commentator is and not on what text the author is explaining. For example, if a relatively unknown twentieth century rabbi wrote a commentary on the Talmud Yerushalmi in which he says that Moshiach can come from the dead, we can only conclude from this that this obscure modern commentator thought the idea was possible. We cannot deduce any more than that. This clarity in the relative value of proofs is crucial in making a final evaluation of the evidence.

The texts that are generally brought revolve around statements that either Daniel, King David, or Moshe will be the future Moshiach. Since these righteous men are deceased we can infer that there is nothing in Judaism that contradicts the idea that Moshiach can come from the dead. Since, as we proved in the previous chapter, Moshiach cannot come from the dead, the burden is on us to explain these apparently explicit statements to the contrary. As we shall see, this has already been done by those much greater than we.

in chapter four he discusses the Rambam quoted by the OP:

He initiated an unparalleled tshuvah movement that brought many, many Jews back to observance. He fought the spiritual battles of G-d against assimilation and secularism by sending out mitzvah tanks and armies of youths. Thus, these people conclude, he is at least bechezkas Moshiach. Some will even claim that he accomplished 4 and 5. He built a monumental holy place – 770 – in his place and helped bring about the mass immigration of Russian Jews to Israel. Thus, these people argue, the Rebbe is not only bechezkas Moshiach, he is vadai Moshiach.

Yet, there are problems with this theory. First of all, none of these tasks are done. The Rebbe did not fully succeed in any of these. There is still monumental ignorance and lack of observance among Jews throughout the world and Israel is still under siege by terrorists and Arab armies. The Temple Mount remains under Arab control and the majority of Jews still reside outside of Israel. The Rebbe's accomplishments were glorious and awe-inspiring. However, they were not sufficient to fit the Rambam's criteria for Moshiach. In fact, the Rebbe has not fulfilled any of the criteria for being Moshiach except being a Torah scholar and religious man. Let us look at the criteria again: 1. Compel all of Israel to walk in the way of Torah 2. Repair the breaches in observance 3. Fight the wars of G-d

Furthermore, it is a basic rule of learning that the Rambam was very precise with his language. As many will argue regarding the difference between “to die” and “to be killed”, we must read each of the Rambam’s words with great care. The Rambam writes that in order to be bechezkas Moshiach one must be a king from the house of David. Only by a wild stretch of the imagination – and a careless reading of the Rambam – can the Rebbe be considered to have been a king. Contrast this with Bar Kochba for whom there is archaeological evidence that he ruled as a king and was punctilious in his observance of mitzvos. The Rambam also says that one who is bechezkas Moshiach will fight the wars of G-d. In which battle did the Rebbe fight in the army? In fact, the Rebbe wrote in Likkutei Sichos vol. 16 pp. 304-305 n. 49 that the Rambam’s language here of “fight the wars of G-d” means literal wars including the destruction of Amalek.

It is not merely a figure of speech. But the Rebbe did not fight a war and did not destroy Amalek. The Rambam's definition of a failed Moshiach is quoted above from halachah 5. Note that the Rambam says “did not succeed… or was killed” so someone's not succeeding in completing the messianic task is sufficient to disqualify him from being Moshiach. But how can the Rambam list not accomplishing these five items as rendering someone definitely not Moshiach? Maybe he will be resurrected and finish these tasks? Or maybe he will complete them in his trips to this world from under the Seat of Glory? No one can ever fall into this category if the Moshiach can come back from the dead and finish his messianic tasks. We must say that, according to the Rambam, Moshiach cannot come back from the dead to complete the criteria. Otherwise, half of this halachah is impossible. We would never be able to declare someone who is bechezkas Moshiach as being definitely not the promised Moshiach for not succeeding. If we allow for the possibility that someone can come back to this world and finish these tasks, then we have nullified the Rambam's words in this halacha. Rather, when someone who is bechezkas Moshiach dies we unfortunately discover for certain that he is not Moshiach.

See the first link above for more on this topic.

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    Unfortunately I cannot +1 this as this proves why they are wrong, the OP was looking for an argument to prove them right. – user6591 May 20 '15 at 14:03
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    @user6591 Actually I will +1 this, because he does bring the arguments used by the meshichistim. In the same breath he quotes the counter-argument, but that's beside the point... :) – Shaul says I Support Monica May 20 '15 at 17:00
  • מן הלאו אתה שומע הן – Shoel U'Meishiv May 20 '15 at 17:00
  • "Wars of the Lord". Watch here:youtube.com/watch?v=fsADqkXyALk. At 1:30, the Rebbe uses the phrase to refer to real wars. – Ephraim May 29 '15 at 4:41
3

See Bereishis Rabboh 98 where Yaakov Ovinu thought that Shimshon would be Moshiach.When he saw that he died, he said: "This one also died (i.e. and therefore can't be Moshiach)? Liyeshuoscho Kivisi HaShem"

2

Just for redundancy's sake, I'm included here a citation from מדרש רבה on ויחי that clearly shows that a messianic candidate is disqualified by death:

ויפול רוכבו אחור יחזרו דברים לאחוריהם לפי שהיה יעקב אבינו רואה אותו וסבור בו שהוא מלך המשיח כיון שראה אותו שמת אמר אף זה מת לישועתך קויתי ה

See Menachem Kasher's תורה שלימה for parallel midrashim.

  • Please translate – anon May 29 '15 at 4:51
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    The words of the Midrash are: "Since Yaakov saw that he would die"- That's "die" and not "killed". Yaakov proclaimed לישועתך because he saw Shimshon "die"- how he died is irrelevant. (In any case, Shimshon wasn't killed- he committed suicide.) – Ephraim Jun 2 '15 at 16:37
  • מת is generic at best. It can mean הרג or not. It depends on the context of usage. In the context of the Midrash Rabbah, Yaacov Avinu is referring to what is described in Shoftim. Shimshon precipitated his own demise. That is more specifically called נהרג. Whether it is "suicide", as you say, is a whole other discussion. Suicide is prohibited. Shimshon prayed to HaShem to allow him this final battle with the Palestinians. HaShem granted his request. It doesn't suggest a violation of the prohibited act of suicide. – Yaacov Deane Jun 4 '15 at 15:54
0

As one meshichister told a friend of mine, The Rambam explicitly says 'if he is killed'. Dying comfortably of old age or sickness doesn't fit the bill.

Disclaimer: the views posted are not the views of the poster.

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    Doesn't the OP already mention this pseudo-diyuk? – Double AA May 20 '15 at 13:24
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    If we are allowing for resurrections to come finish the job, then why does killed vs died of old age matter? Can killed people not be resurrected? – Double AA May 20 '15 at 13:25
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    @YaacovDeane Does Rambam even believe in Mashiach ben Yosef? – mevaqesh Aug 1 '16 at 19:34
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    @YaacovDeane he writes והכופרים בביאת הגואל the particular article indicates that there is only one Messiah. And he lists it separately from a kofer baTorah.|| In halakha 17 he writes that there are 3 categories of denial of the Torah. denial of the Written Law, Oral Law, and claim of abrogation. One can debate whether the Messiah is included in the Written or Oral laws, but that says nothing about Mashiach ben Yossef || I guess that Rav Saadya Gaon z"l is a kofer according to you. – mevaqesh Aug 1 '16 at 23:40
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    @YaacovDeane Interestingly, you yourself claim over here: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/4454/… that Mashiach ben Yosef is the same person* as Mashiach ben David according to Rambam. So essentially, besides for the Mashiach ben David that Rambam tells us about, there is not another mashiach... – mevaqesh Aug 1 '16 at 23:42
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A Proofless answer:

The Rebbe is dead and can no longer effect the Messianic age. But YOU can. So he appointed agents (shalichim) to appoint other agents, to appoint you do do Mitzvos and learn Torah so someone can be the Moshiach on his behalf.

  • This doesn't seem to really answer the question. – Alex Nov 21 '18 at 5:15
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    Just like when your agent buys an item, YOU are buying the item, when your agent effects the Messianic Era, YOU are the Messiah! – Clint Eastwood Nov 21 '18 at 5:20
  • Then perhaps clarify in you answer that you are arguing that the Rebbe is the Messiah. – Alex Nov 21 '18 at 5:22
-1

Rabbi Hillel of Sklov, a student of the Gaon of Vilna, wrote Kol Hator based on the Gaon's teachings. This answer is based more on the title of the question than its content.

The Gaon considered King Cyrus, the two Hebrew midwives in Egypt, and others are considered to be on a divine mission, a mission of Moshiach ben Yosef.

I can't explain it very well, but what I heard is that the Moshiach ben Yosef fixes what's broken, and the Moshiach ben David polishes what is already whole.

The ben Yosef gets his, or her, hands dirty in fighting etc., and the ben David is more like Shlomo haMelekh, i. e. ruling without really fighting.

I think that different people have different amounts of the ben David or the ben Yosef quality. I also think its clear that the final Rebbe of the Lubavitch dynasty doesn't match the description given by the Rambam and the prophets of Israel for the Messianic era. Shabbetai Tzvi and J**** of Nazareth also didn't match these requirements, but the Lubavitcher Rebbe achieved more than either of those failed messiahs (obviously).

If the Hebrew calendar corresponds to 6 days of creation, the year 1990 C. E. corresponds to high noon on Erev Shabbat.

In Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 97b, it is said that for two thousand years there was tohu, two thousand years the Torah flourished, and (footnote: Messiah will come) in the next two thousand years. So we can expect the Messianic era some time between 240 and 2240 C. E., well after the Bar Kochba revolt failed.

To quote Kol Hator,

  1. [c] [Isa. 60:22] “in its time, I will hasten it.” Our Sages interpreted this principle to mean that, if they [the People of Israel] merit it, I will hasten it [the Redemption]; if not, I will bring it in its own time (Sanhedrin 98a).

I think there were opportunities that were missed.

Again in Kol Hator,

The basic approach of the Gaon is encapsulated in the principle “Yosef is still alive, ” meaning that the Mashiach ben Yosef is still alive and will live, because, as it is written, every aspect of the beginning of the Redemption is dependent on him. Thus the decree regarding his murder by Armilus the Wicked will be canceled. It will be canceled by extending the period of the exile, by afflictions that the Mashiach ben Yosef will suffer and diseases he will bear, and also by deeds that he will accomplish with great devotion, such as gathering in exiles, which is his mission. What will also help are messianic pangs and afflictions connected with Eretz Israel, and our regular, daily prayers for the life and success of Mashiach ben Yosef. Those who occupy themselves with gathering in the exiles, lighten the afflictions of Mashiach ben Yosef during the period called “the footsteps of the Mashiach.” The decree regarding the death of Mashiach ben Yosef will be nullified by subdivision into small parts, as in the parable recounted in the Midrash. There is a parable of a king who became angry with his son and swore to throw a big stone at him. Afterwards, he regretted what he had said, and had compassion on him. In order to fulfill his vow nevertheless, he broke up the big stone into many small ones and threw all these small stones at his son one by one. Thus the son was not killed, yet he suffered from the small stones. These are the pangs of the Mashiach: the suffering will come gradually, together with the 999 footsteps of the Mashiach, in such a way that the decree is divided into 999 small parts.

https://web.archive.org/web/20130528151557/http://www.yedidnefesh.com/kaballah/kol-hator/index.htm

I'm comfortable with believing that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was one of those 999 parts.

Apologies if this doesn't make sense, is off-topic, or is offensive.

  • It's a nice d'var torah, and nothing about it was offensive, but it kind of sidesteps the question. The question is not whether the Rebbe Z"L was part of a process leading up to Moshiach; it's a question of whether he was/is the Moshiach, and how it's possible to reconcile that with the apparent disqualification for the job inherent in being dead. – Shaul says I Support Monica May 20 '15 at 11:35
  • I would say that my answer is/should be that the Rebbe was not the Moshiach ben David, but that the fact that he died puts him more in the ben Yosef category. – user4651 May 20 '15 at 11:55
  • OK, as I said, it's a nice d'var Torah, but it is off topic. – Shaul says I Support Monica May 20 '15 at 12:23
  • And for those who like quoting the Vilna Gaon teaching as brought by Rabbi Hillel of Shklov, how do you incorporate it with what the Gaon teaches in regard to the concept of the Nachash HaKadmoni. The Gaon emphasizes that the Nachash starts from a single tail, splits into two bodies and then both heads return to bite the single tail and become one again. The Gaon explains in many places that this is what the concept of Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben David is about. Details can be found in his commentary to Tikkunei Zohar Chadash, Sifra d'Tzniutah and L'Shem Shevo v'Achlamah. – Yaacov Deane Jun 1 '15 at 19:01
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    @Dude How can someone be from two tribes at once? – Double AA Jun 24 '16 at 4:38

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