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I was recently referred to a popular Chabad Rabbi and towards the end of the lecture he just totally shocked me. He started claiming that the Rebbe is moshiach, potentially never died, could get resurrected, etc. I couldn't believe I was hearing this from an orthodox Rabbi.

So in short, my question is, does him claiming that the Rebbe is moshiach move him into the heretical territory?

marked as duplicate by DonielF, Ploni, mbloch, Danny Schoemann, Scimonster Jun 6 '18 at 10:42

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  • Possible duplicate judaism.stackexchange.com/q/38340/759 – Double AA Jun 5 '18 at 21:15
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    @DoubleAA Note your comment there. – Alex Jun 5 '18 at 21:46
  • According to many Chaba"dnikers that I've spoken to, the Rebbe z"l was aware that some people were referring that he was or hinting that he should be the Mashiach, and I understand that he was upset by this accolade. Thus, now that he has passed (except for those that believe that he has not), it seems that those that still think of him as Mashiach, seems to me, that they dishonoring him even after his death. – DanF Jun 5 '18 at 22:00
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    @DanF I wish it were that simple – ezra Jun 5 '18 at 22:41
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    @Dude Actually the gemara does not say this. You're misleading or misunderstanding what the actual gemara was talking about. They were asking what type of person could have been moshiach and bring up a list of people who could have been even though they are deceased. The conversation was about what level did a person need to be, not oh even though he died he could still be moshiach. FYI, I learned this part of Sanhedrin personally, perhaps you should too. This is the way my Rav teaches it as well. – YFYF Jun 10 '18 at 3:48
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Is saying "the Rebbe is (was?) Mashiach" worse than saying there will be no future Mashiach at all?

Sanhedrin 99a

ר' הילל אומר אין להם משיח לישראל שכבר אכלוהו בימי חזקיה

R. Hillel said: There shall be no Messiah for Israel, because they have already enjoyed him in the days of Hezekiah. (Soncino translation)

Was R. Hillel a heretic? Though the Talmud immediately cites R. Yoseph as strongly rejecting R. Hillel's view, it does not say that it is heretical. In fact Rashi there explains R. Yosef's outburst as:

ימחול לו הקב"ה שאמר דברים אשר לא כן

God should forgive him for saying things that are not true.

It seems clear from Rashi that the problem was that the statement was false, not that it was heretical.

Indeed several rishonim (e.g. R. Joseph Albo in the beginning of Sefer Haikkarim, R. Isaiah the Younger in his commentary to Sanhedrin) cite this as a proof against Rambam that disbelief in Mashiach is heretical, because it is inconceivable that R. Hillel was a heretic.


I saw that R. Yehuda Herzl Henkin has a responsum on this question and he cites the same Talmudic passage as evidence that it is not heretical.

Shu"t Benei Vanim 4:26

מה שרבים מחסידיו מדמים שהגאון רממ"ש ז"ל הוא מלך המשיח הוא הבל ושטות אבל איני יודע איזו מינות ואפיקורסות יש בזה הלא הם מצפים למשיח ומאי איכפת לן שלדעתם הטועה כבר היה ומת ועתיד לחיות שוב ולמלוך סוף סוף הם מצפים למשיח שיבוא ועדיפא מרבי הילל במסכת סנהדרין דף צ"ח עמוד ב' שאמר אין משיח לישראל שכבר אכלוהו בימי חזקיה עכ"ל ולא נידון על כך כאפיקורס ומה שהם טועים בזהות המשיח אינו אלא כמי שמדמה לעצמו שהמשיח לא יהיה אלא מי שיש לו שיער אדום וששוקל כך וכך שכל אלה הם דברי הבל ושטות אבל אפיקורסות אין ולכן בטועים אלה אם הם מקפידים במצוות אין חשש לאכול משחיטתם ושאר העניינים שהזכיר במכתבו

That which many of his Hasidim imagine that the gaon R. Menachem Mendel Schneerson of blessed memory is the King Messiah is nonsense and folly, but I don't know any heresy that is involved in this. Do they not yearn for the Messiah? So who cares that according to their mistaken ideas he has already come and died and will in the future live again and reign? At the end of the day they yearn for the Messiah to come. And it is better than R. Hillel in tractate Sanhedrin 98b who said "there is no Messiah for Israel because it was already used up in the times of Hezekiah", and he was not judged to be a heretic on account of this. And that which they are mistaken in the identity of the Messiah is merely like someone who imagines to himself that the Messiah will only be someone who has red hair or weighs a certain amount which is certainly nonsense and folly but not heresy. Therefore, when it comes to these mistakers, if they are careful about mitzvot there is no concern with eating from their slaughter or any of the other things that he mentioned in his letter.

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