4

This may seem like a silly question but I never have been able to get a straight answer from anyone.

Rabbi Schneerson is a figure of extreme controversy in that his name has been thrown around with the title of Meshiach. During his life, there was a population of followers who genuinely believed him to be the Meshiach and would invest their time in trying to get others to believe.

After his death, that talk obviously faded but I still hear this topic come up from time to time whenever I'm discussing Judaism with my friends/community.

Did Chabad as an organization endorse this possibility or was this simply the opinion of devout individual followers of the man, Rabbi Schneerson?

I was just curious if someone could finally give me a clear answer. I'd appreciate it.

  • 2
    "Did Chabad as an organization" What does that mean? What is the official Chabad organization that would make this declaration? – Double AA Jan 17 '17 at 5:18
  • 3
    Possible duplicate: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/25946 (cc @DoubleAA) – msh210 Jan 17 '17 at 12:27
  • 3
    When you say "the institution of Chabad", what exactly are you referring to? There are and have been many different organizations within the world of Lubavitch since World War II. There is not today one single entity that represents all of Lubavitch or Lubavitcher teachings and views. That function was, in the past, the exclusive domain of the Rebbe himself. There is no one who lays claim to have succeeded the Rebbe in that role. – Yaacov Deane Jan 17 '17 at 17:43
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Sep 18 '17 at 12:50
3

First of all, it is not a silly question at all, because a big part of being a religious Jew is believing in Moshiach, In fact it is one of the 13 principles of faith from the Rambam.

Now to get things straight we need to define two very common words that sometimes get mixed up.

Geulah – The era of redemption which we are waiting for.

Moshiach – The person who brings the Geulah to the world.

In the time of the Gemarah it was very popular for a Chasid to believe that his Rebbe is the Moshiach, so it would be easy to believe that the idea that ‘The Rebbe’ is Moshiach was something that was made up by some of the Chasidim, but that is not so.

It is the Rebbe himself who stated in his first Ma’amar that all the generations before us lead the way, and the job of our generation is to bring Moshiach himself. When the Brisker Rov (Rabbi Yitzchok Zeev Soloveitchik) heard that he said “דער יונגערמאן, מיינט אז ער איז משיח" (He thinks that he is Moshiach).

As the years passed, the Rebbe became more and more explicit saying many times that the Nasi of the generation is the Moshiach of the generation and he has no problem if people understand that he is Moshiach because this is the truth, that he is a prophet, and that his main prophecy is that we are the last generation of the Golus, and the first of the Geulah.

Later on, the Rebbe announced that Moshiach is already here, and we just need to open the door and usher him in the room, noting that big news happening then, such as the peace treaty between the U.S and Russia in regards to nuclear weapons, the falling of the Iron wall, and the Jews coming to Israel, are part of the Prophecies that our sages promised us and finishing off with saying that Moshiach’s name is Menachem! and 770 (the Rebbe’s synagogue is the place of the Shechina until the Geulah being a replacement for the Beis Hamikdash.

As a direct result the majority of the Chabad Chassidim believe that the Rebbe is the Moshiach that we are waiting for, and the main difference in opinions between the ‘Messianics’ and the ‘Anti-Messianics’ is to publicize or keep it as a known secret.

After ג' תמוז תשנ"ד, there was a lot of shock. And it was then that each Chabadnik had to make a very big decision. Should I believe what I just saw (The Levaya), or what the Rebbe and the Torah say (that he is Moshiach and Moshiach can’t die).

Now back to your question:

Did Chabad as an organization endorse this possibility or was this simply the opinion of devout individual followers of the man, Rabbi Schneerson?

Chabad as an organization is the Rebbe, and no one else can speak in the name of Chabad as a whole.

Did the Rebbe endorse this possibility? Yes.

===

P.S In case it is not obvious I am a Messianic, and I would be happy if someone from "the other side" would reply and explain what he thinks, or maybe mistakes I may have made.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation about whether the moshiach can come from the dead has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Jan 18 '17 at 1:31
  • I'm pretty sure the accurate translation of the one word "geulah" is the one word "redemption". What you offered is a description which you should source. Source for "in the time of the gemara..."? Also, "make a very big decision. Should I believe what I just saw...?" You can't be serious. – Oliver Sep 19 '17 at 13:02
  • @Oliver I believe he's taking about a gemara (I ajussi can't remember where) which talks about how the students of each academy would say the Mishiachs name is the head of the academys. – Orion Jun 15 '18 at 3:43
  • @Oliver I fail to understand the difference between 'redemption' and 'the era of redemption', the idea is that Moshiach is a person, and not a time. As for your second question (Should I believe what I just saw), every religious Jew probably encountered a similar dilemma, when pondering how many years our world exists, do I believe what I just saw (Dinosaurs, etc.) or what the Torah says. – Rabbi Shuki Gur Jun 15 '18 at 4:21
  • @RabbiShukiGur I'm merely pointing out the obvious once you're attempting to "get things straight" and define the word. Re. the second q; I can say quite confidently - I haven't encountered such dilemmas. And, FWIW, I disagree with your assumption that "every religious Jew probably [did too]". – Oliver Jun 15 '18 at 4:39
-2

Let's start with some background here: Rambam writes in his Laws of Kings that a Jewish leader could start doing all the right things to be "a potential Mashiach"; we only say for sure that he was the one if he succeeds in building the Third Temple and achieving peace for Jews worldwide. For instance, ~1900 years ago Bar Kochba looked like he was headed on the right track, and thus Rabbi Akiva thought him a potential Mashiach; when Bar Kochba lost to the Romans, it turned out he didn't make it all the way. Centuries earlier, the righteous King Hezekiah was positioned to become Mashiach, and again, it didn't work out. Still a great man, still a righteous leader. So was Hezekiah Mashiach? No. Was he "obviously not Mashiach?" Also no. At one point he could have been, but it didn't work out that way.

Thus, when Rabbi Schneurson was alive, the vast majority of his followers felt he was a strong potential Mashiach. (I don't believe it was ever an official platform statement published by Chabad-Lubavitch institutions; but most followers felt that it was implied by some of his public speeches, and at Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Brooklyn, chants of "long live our leader and rabbi, the Mashiach", could be heard.) Once he died, one could easily argue that God had decided that this potential Mashiach would not make it all the way to success -- maybe the time wasn't right; maybe we weren't worthy; who knows. That's what we'd call a mainstream opinion, and non-Lubavitchers don't find it particularly offensive. The fringe view -- that Schneerson isn't really dead, or that he gets a second coming to be the Mashiach -- is not something I've seen endorsed, or even publicly implied, by the next generation of Lubavitch institutional leaders.

  • It would be helpful to bring the actual language you reference from Rambam together with exact citations. The Mishnah Torah of the Rambam is a book of law and according to the Rambam's own introduction is very precise in its use of language, like the Mishnah of Yehudah HaNasi. Although the Rebbe did not limit his discussions of Moshiach to the Mishnah Torah, he did emphasize that clearly understanding Rambam's precise language was very important. – Yaacov Deane Jan 17 '17 at 17:34
  • 1
    Probably more helpful is to remove the entire first paragraph, which is irrelevant. (The parts of this post that do address the question are entirely unsourced and basically just your own speculation.) – Double AA Jan 17 '17 at 18:53

You must log in to answer this question.