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A Good Resolution About Moshiach / Many Lubavitchers Thank The R.C.A.
Many reasons to applaud the
R.C.A. Resolution about Moshiach.
The Rebbe stressed that this
issue is already resolved in Halacha : the Rambam's Mishna Torah,
Hilchos Melochim 11:4.
The Rambam But They Are Easily Refuted.
The Rebbe Insisted This
Halacha Is Exact And Unchanging.
The Rebbe stressed that 1) all Poskim agree with the Rambam, 2) the chain of events of the redemption is exact, 3) it is foolish and wrong to cite other sources to dispute this, and 4) there is no doubt whatsoever about the qualifications for Moshiach and the order of his coming.
Four eye-opening quotations
from the Rebbe's penetrating teachings.
Debunking The Phony
The Rebbe explained: Sources
which state a deceased tzadik will be Moshiach really mean only that his
soul will be enclothed in Moshiach, who certainly has to be
a different person, born to different parents.
G-d Has Many Agents To Be
Moshiach -- Have An "Open Mind."
Neither Gemora, Sedei Chemed,
or Abarbanel support the Messianist claim.
The Zohar and Kisvei Arizal
refer to Moshiach ben Yosef, or to Moshiach's exceptional spiritual elevation.
The Ramban: "Death is
completely inoperative against Moshiach."
Understanding the Rebbe's
sayings regarding the previous Rebbe.
Conceit and hubris -- the
root of the whole problem.
A Motto For Our Times:
"Nishmoso Bi" -- "His Soul Is In Me."
The Moshiach Campaign Can
Succeed --If It Stops Insisting The Rebbe Is Moshiach
Belief in a resurrected
Moshiach is rooted in pagan cults.
The Messianists are living in
Speak out and denounce the idea of a "second coming" for Moshiach.
1. The faction of Lubavitch which is asserting that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l is Moshiach can only expect derision and ridicule from Jewish communities everywhere, since abhorrence for the notion of Moshiach needing a "second coming" is so ingrained in traditional Jewish mentality. The history of the past hundreds and thousands of years has permanently impressed this truth upon the entire Jewish nation, and Jewish leaders repeatedly stressed this among the populace and even in their disputations with Christian theologians. Prof. David Berger and the R.C.A. were entirely correct to base their recent resolution on this collective Jewish experience.
The relative tolerance so far directed toward this group of Lubavitchers clearly demonstrates the overwhelming sympathy and compassion Jews have for their fellow Jews, and their kind-hearted recognition that some people will have to traverse a difficult period of emotional adjustment and healing to cope with the tragic loss of the towering figure of the Rebbe.
Really it should be unnecessary to publish a long and detailed refutation of the ideas of the "Messianists," since their arguments are so blatantly false and hypocritical. When the Rebbe was alive they insisted just the opposite, that he must be presumed Moshiach since he was the greatest living Jewish leader at the time, and Moshiach must be from the living (see for example Rabbi Sholom Dovber Wolpo's "Kabalas Pnei Moshiach Tzidkeinu," p. 25-31, Rabbi Herschel Greenberg's "Shlichus: Teaching About Moshiach," p. 71, and in many places). Yet now they have entered a world of sheer fantasy, and acting as though the entire issue was never addressed before!
Also, I am sure most readers must be sighing at the ludicrous spectacle of Rabbis Butman and Silberstein giving themselves away by writing such open lies as their assertion that all Lubavitchers feel the way they do. Not a single day goes by when they are not severely excoriated by other Lubavitchers, and the leadership of Agudas Chassidei Chabad, speaking for the majority of Lubavitcher Chassidim, has published numerous renunciations of their mistaken belief in all the media.
However people are forgetful, and sometimes presume "silence is admission," so it is possible that some unsophisticated observers might misinterpret a low-keyed response as meaning that belief in a second coming for Moshiach is indeed acceptable within Judaism. To counter this, many responsible Jews feel it is proper to stand up for the honor of Torah and the Rebbe, and set the record straight by publicly rejecting this assertion -- especially since perversion of the concept of Moshiach can ultimately result in very unfortunate consequences, as history has abundantly shown.
Responding to these distortions might not be so necessary if it were not for the "in your face" attitude of the Messianists. It would be bad enough if they just chanted "Yechi" in shul, but they do much more, publicly bombarding us with a massive propaganda crusade everywhere we look, complete with radio and TV spots, newspaper and magazine advertisements, pamphlets, books, billboards and bumper stickers. This type of all-out campaign cannot simply be ignored.
Further, answering these misinterpretations is at least equally an expression of Ahavas Yisrael, for by rejecting and refuting these grief-induced misconceptions one automatically demonstrates sympathy and compassion for the majority of Lubavitchers who are deeply embarrassed and distressed by the behavior of their neighbors making these preposterous claims.
Frankly, as things stand now, many Lubavitchers like myself are so sickened by what is happening that we can barely take even entering the main synagogue at 770 where this new clique, with its cult-like practices, is strongly entrenched. Are we being too sensitive? Well consider what we have to put up with. When we explain our feelings to the Messianists, they condescendingly accuse us of having "little faith," and of being the most harmful of "heretics," who scoff at the greatness of the Rebbe. All of a sudden, because we refuse to go along with their fantasy, they lash out against thousands upon thousands of admirable Jews.
Consider all of the scandalous abuses that have taken place, like the horrible disfigurement of 770's elegant cornerstone memorial to the Rebbe zt"l, which until today cannot be fixed due to them. Where do they get off thinking they have the right to curse and terrorize any members of the community who wish to appropriately sanctify the Rebbe's memory in the traditional Jewish way?! How long do we have to be intimidated by their attitude?! It is enough already! Shouldn't the Messianists be criticized for their resolution to treat us with contempt, along with effacing and tearing down any of our attempts to honor the Rebbe as Torah teaches us to do?
Our perspective is that it is clearly a mitzvah to challenge the ignominy taking place around us, and to remove stumbling-blocks from the path of innocent, unlearned individuals who might otherwise be coaxed and manipulated into accepting a non-Jewish belief. Hopefully, too, efforts to provide sober intellectual confrontation will also ultimately benefit even the most enamored proponents of this belief, since their return to reality and rationality can only be attained through staunchly striving to enlightening them with the immutable judgment of Torah.
Accordingly the R.C.A. deserves great commendation for their declaration. In my opinion the only unfortunate thing about the resolution is that it has taken so long for a Rabbinical organization to make such a statement. Those who oppose the R.C.A. resolution and refuse to condemn this strange belief strike me as being very insensitive to the plight of the rest of Lubavitch, which as a result is suffering additional mistreatment. They remind me of the way centuries ago some Jewish leaders refused to condemn those who believed that G-d has a "body," despite how ridiculous and repugnant this idea is, since those who held this belief were influenced by Scriptures and Midrashim that speak about the "hand of G-d" and the "eyes of G-d," etc. (see the Raavid's incredible annotation on the Rambam, Hilchos Teshuva 3:6).
I have been a follower of the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l for more than twenty years, much of that time heavily involved in translating and publicizing his teachings, and therefore I am particularly upset about the way they are now being so totally distorted. The Rebbe can no longer speak for himself, but his writings remain and speak for him forever. To refute the ideas of the Messianists all one has to do is read what the Rebbe himself distinctly taught. And since they asked for evidence in halacha, we will give them indisputable evidence in halacha:
2. The Rebbe countless times stressed, as forcefully and earnestly as he could, that many details about Moshiach, including whether or not he can come back from the dead, have already been definitively codified in Jewish law, especially in Rambam's Yad Hachazoka, Hilchos Melochim, ch. 11. Therefore, al pi Torah, it is best to start a discussion of the topic with the Rambam's unambiguous ruling.
Briefly, the halacha states that Moshiach must achieve his whole mission, build the Beis Hamikdosh, gather the Jews from exile, and bring true peace to the world all as an outstanding but normally appearing human being. The halacha also stresses that if a person presumed to be Moshiach dies before accomplishing all of this , he cannot return to his body for a "second coming" to finish the task. Rather, his death is evidence that "he is not the one the Torah promised, but he is only like all the righteous and proper kings of David's lineage who died." At the appointed time there will be another leader, "the King Moshiach will truly arise." In the Rambam's words at the end of ch. 11:
"And if a king will arise from the House of David who studies Torah and does mitzvos like David his father, according to the written and oral tradition, and if he will compel all of Israel to go in its ways, rally to its restoration, and fight the battles of G-d, then he is presumed to be Moshiach. If he does this successfully, and he vanquishes all the nations around him, builds the Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, then he is definitely Moshiach.
"But if he does not succeed to this extent, or if he is slain, it is known he is not the one the Torah promised, but he is only like all the righteous and proper kings of David's lineage who died. The Holy One blessed be He only raised him in order to test the multitude, as it says, 'And some of the men of understanding will fall, to try them, and to refine and whiten them, even to the time of the end, because it is still for the time appointed' [Daniel 11:35]. . . When the King Moshiach will truly arise, and he will succeed, be elevated and exalted..."
3. The believers in the Rebbe's resurrection as Moshiach, although they include individuals who may otherwise be considered highly intelligent scholars, have nevertheless unwittingly failed the very test that the Rambam indeed has prophetically foretold, for it truly applies to them what is written, "some of the men of understanding will fall," for they have stumbled and fallen into acceptance of this definitely non-Jewish tenet. But because they are so cleaver and conniving, they have also become extremely adept at producing a smoke screen of false reasoning to make it seem that they are correct -- just as the Gemora relates, specifically Talmud scholars were able to invent hundreds of reasons to purify an insect, which regardless of all these reasons remains impure. Hopefully they will soon come to their senses and forego offering outlandish reasoning to falsely bolster their belief.
Most of the Messianists first attempt to skirt the plain objection to their belief from the above ruling of the Rambam by trying to hide the fact it even exists. By doing so they are following in the footsteps of the Christian censors during the Dark Ages, who ruthlessly deleted these words from publications of the Rambam since they so totally shatter any credibility for belief that Moshiach requires a second coming.
When forced to confront this ruling they initially refuse to acknowledge its plain meaning. They try to argue it means only that one who "is slain... is not the one the Torah promised," and that this does not include one who succumbs through natural causes. However this ploy quickly crumbles since the Rambam also expressly and primarily wrote regarding one who "does not succeed to this extent... who died" (and only secondly did he add the words "or is slain"), which specifically excludes from being Moshiach anyone who dies even a normal death before he succeeds in building the Temple and gathering the dispersed Jews to their Land.
Then the Messianists try to magically manufacture a word that is definitely not in the Rambam's original text -- "he is not yet the one the Torah promised." They argue that it cannot be said that the Rebbe did "not succeed," since his emissaries are still carrying on his campaign to bring the redemption. They pretend that there is nothing in the Rambam's ruling which precludes their understanding. However this requires a totally unbridled imagination, since the Rambam wrote his halachic work in "clear and concise wording," as he explained in his introduction, which the Rebbe also stressed countless times, and in this ruling he clearly emphasized just the opposite.
Then they switch to the argument that the Rebbe is not really "dead," since he is like Yakov Avinu a"h and Moshe Rabbeinu a"h, and our sages o.b.m. stated that they "did not die." They refuse to see that this is clearly a metaphor, and that numerous other sayings and even verses of Torah state explicitly that they surely did physically die. Certainly no one can deny that as far as halacha is concerned, both Yakov and Moshe had to be buried, mourned, inherited, etc., according to the laws of a deceased person, and all of this thank G-d was correctly carried out for the Rebbe too.
When these mirages evaporate into thin air the Messianists try a different tactic. They attempt to dupe people into believing they have proof that the Rebbe interpreted the Rambam as not requiring that Moshiach must be a living person, since in a footnote on a transcript of the Rebbe's speech (Sefer Hasichos 5751, p. 496), where it was originally written that "according to the Rambam's ruling (Hilchos Melochim end of ch. 11) 'if a king will arise from the house of David...' -- it must be that he is 'from those who are alive in the present,'" the Rebbe crossed this out and amended it to read something entirely different.
However the phoniness of this argument is plainly evident, and discussing this point will surely make them eat their words . Anyone who looks at the source can see that the main text, to which this footnote is appended, clearly states just the opposite, with boldface in the original, that this is precisely the Rambam's meaning:
"MOSHIACH IS PRESENT IN THE WORLD, IN THE TEMPORAL AND SPATIAL CONSTRAINTS OF THE EXILE... as it says in the Gemora... 'MOSHIACH IS FROM THOSE WHO ARE ALIVE IN THE PRESENT'... which is what the Rambam rules, 'a king will arise from the house of David...'"
The Rebbe's opinion cannot be stated any clearer than this. Therefore, obviously, since it would have been repetitive to say the same idea again in the footnote, the Rebbe changed what was written there to simply add an additional idea. This type of correction is very typical and commonly occurs when editing the first transcript of a speech. There is absolutely nothing mysterious about this at all, as anyone even vaguely familiar with writing is fully aware.
4. When everything else fails to convince people they are right, the unscrupulous Messianists will even stoop so low as to unabashedly and unbelievably state that both the Rambam and the Rebbe later changed their minds! My dear friends, it cannot get any crazier than this! The Rebbe himself explicitly and frequently focused on the Rambam's ruling, always stressing that it is certainly not subject to doubt, and without qualification endorsed it as the correct Torah position.
As you read the following free translations from samples of the Rebbe's statements, bear in mind how the Rebbe repeatedly emphasized that:
1) This is the universally accepted halacha , agreed upon by all Poskim.
2) The chain of events for the redemption is also specific and universally agreed upon, and there is no suggestion at all that Moshiach might need a second coming to complete his efforts -- but just the opposite.
3) It is foolhardy and wrong to attempt to argue based on one's understanding of the Gemora, Midrash and commentaries that the redemption will occur any differently.
4) And although the Rambam himself also wrote in the next chapter that some aspects of the redemption will remain unknown until they occur -- as he also explains in his non-halachic epistles Igeres Taimon and Igeres Techiyas Hamasim -- however this applies only regarding the details he added in ch. 12, but there is no doubt whatsoever regarding the qualifications for Moshiach and the order of his coming enumerated in ch. 11.
Events of the second category are dependent on the degree to which Israel will "merit," and then G-d will correspondingly "hasten" the redemption through miracles and wonders, or the degree to which they will "not merit," and then the redemption will come "in its appointed time" through completely natural means. The Rebbe clearly explains all of this in many places (see Likutei Sichos vol. 27, p. 191 ff.; Shaarei Hageulah 155-174; Sichas Shabbos Parshas Shmini 5742, sec. 7), and when he often said that the redemption could come miraculously, and that Moshiach may come instantaneously, he certainly was in no way invalidating any of the qualifications for Moshiach: He will be a man, not a spirit, and he will arrive on the scene by being born of a man and a woman , not through the process of being resurrected from the dead.
5. The following is a small sample of four representative excerpts from the Rebbe's eye-opening writings (with parentheses and boldface as they appear in the original):
1) In a conversation with a prominent halachic authority, the Goan Rabbi Efriam Eliezer Hakohen Yoles zt"l (on the 2nd day Chol Hamoed Pesach, 5742, as reported in Lubavitcher publications, "Kfar Chabad Magazine," and the books "HaRebbe - Shloshim Shnos Nesius," p. 134, and "B'tzail Hachochma," p. 169-70), the Rebbe said:
"The Rambam in Hilchos Melochim describes the order of Moshiach's coming: 'he will fight the battles of G-d... and vanquish all the nations around him (the last words were deleted by the censor), build the Temple in its place, and -- only afterwards -- gather the dispersed of Israel.' Hence it is absolutely impossible for the final gathering of the exiles to come first, contrary to what the Rambam wrote, as that would be a difference from one extreme to the other, and especially since the Rambam actually states this twice, at the beginning and end of ch. 11.
"In ch. 11 of Hilchos Melochim, after the Rambam writes the order of Moshiach's coming, that he will fight the battles of G-d and build the Temple in its place, he continues and states (end of halacha 4, the portion deleted by the censor) -- 'if he does not succeed to this extent (after he already did a certain number of things) it is known that he is not the one the Torah promised, but he is only like all the righteous and proper kings of David's lineage who died, and the Holy One blessed be He raised him only in order to test the multitude' -- and the situation remains EXILE! The very same predicament as before! This indicates very clearly that, Chas V'Sholom and Chas V'Sholom , it cannot be said we are in the 'beginning of the redemption.'
"There are those who argue that it is written in the Talmud Yerushalmi (beg. of Brochos) and in Midrash (Shir HaShirim Rabba 6:10) that Israel's redemption will be like the rising of the dawn -- 'bit by bit' -- but I answered them: Why are you arguing this point with me, go to the Rambam -- the Rambam also knew the Yerushalmi... yet nevertheless he ruled explicitly what the order of Moshiach's coming will be.
"Then a wise-guy contended that the Rambam himself wrote in ch. 12 (halacha 2), 'no one knows how all these things and their like will happen until they will ultimately take place,' and therefore, seemingly -- this person maintained -- the very same thing can be said regarding the chain of events that will transpire upon Moshiach's arrival.
"However, according to that interpretation one could argue, Chas V'Sholom, that the entire subject of Moshiach is uncertain, Chas V'Sholom!
"Clearly the explanation is: Granted, the Rambam wrote (in ch. 12) regarding some things 'no one knows how all of these things and their like will happen until they will ultimately take place,' however this does not include the things that the Rambam already wrote (in ch. 11) EXPLICITLY how they will occur."
2) In Likutei Sichos, Vol. 5, p. 149, the Rebbe explains:
"See the Rambam's CLEAR PSAK DIN (Hilchos Melochim, end of ch. 11) regarding this: 'a king will arise from the House of David who studies Torah and does mitzvos... and he will compel all of Israel to go in its ways and rally to its restoration and he will fight the battles of G-d... If he does this successfully..., builds the Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, etc. (and, as known, the Rambam was also specific regarding the ORDER of his words; see also the beginning of chapter 11).
"Further, NO POSEK disagrees with this, for it is a known principle (see Mishna L'Melech on Hilchos K'loyim 9:11, and in the works cited in the Sedei Chemed, Klolei HaPoskim, sec. 6:1) that in places where the commentators on the Rambam do not dispute him IT PROVES THEY AGREE with his words. As this applies to our topic this includes the Raavid, the Kesef Mishna (the Beis Yosef, our master the Mechaver), the Radbaz, etc.
"Further, a Psak Din of PRACTICAL HALACHA must be taken specifically from the works of Poskim, and not from the Midrashim of our sages of blessed memory, nor even from the most binding tractates of the Talmud. It is ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the Rambam knew the sayings of our sages in Sanhedrin and in the Yerushalmi, beginning of Brochos, etc. -- so I am astonished that anyone would claim that specifically he understands the sayings of our sages in Sanhedrin, etc., and he is qualified to disagree with the explicit Psak Din of the Rambam, the Raavid and our master the Mechaver, etc."
3) Similarly, in Likutei Sichos, Vol. 15, p. 493, the Rebbe writes:
"Hopefully all our brethren the children of Israel will realize that 'blue- colored vegetable dye' is not the correct 'blue dye' to be used for tzitzis -- although its color is similar -- and hopefully no one will hang strings on his garment that are 'vegetable-dyed' and claim they are 'true-blue.' That would be an immediate violation (see Tosefos on Babba Metzia 61b).
"Similarly no one should falsify the correct Psak Din in the Rambam (Melochim, end of ch. 11) regarding the end of the era of exile and the beginning of the era of redemption, where he writes the CHAIN OF EVENTS that will occur: 'a king will arise from the House of David who studies Torah... according to the written and oral tradition, and if he will COMPEL all of Israel to go in its ways, rally to its restoration, and fight the battles of G-d (and even then it is still not certain he is Moshiach, but only AFTERWARDS) If he does this successfully..., BUILDS the Temple in its place (for no one else will accomplish this), and gathers the dispersed of Israel (for until then they will still be dispersed) -- then he is definitely Moshiach.'
"Not one Posek disputes this -- and anyone who argues that based on what can be found in Scriptural commentaries and the like it is possible to disagree with the above law is comparable to one who would want to observe the sanctity of Shabbos 'from morning to morning' [as opposed to the halacha, 'from evening to evening'] since the Rashbam, who was also a Posek, offered such an explanation in his commentary on the Torah.
"MOST OBVIOUSLY the Rambam knew of the sayings of our sages in the sections dealing with Moshiach in Sanhedrin, the Yerushalmi, etc., and yet he RULED THE LAW CLEARLY as stated above."
4) Again, in Likutei Sichos, Vol. 19, p. 533, the Rebbe makes this crystal clear:
"Your honor wrote -- regarding the order of Moshiach first being victorious, then building of the Beis Hamikdosh, and then gathering the exiles -- that 'there is much contention in the matter.' However, since it is clear that the Rambam wrote this in Hilchos Melochim ch. 11 (twice), and since none of the Rabbinical commentaries on this section indicate any objection, it must be that this also concurs with their opinion (a standard principle of the basic rules of interpreting the Rambam). This includes the Raavid, the Beis Yosef, the Radbaz, ETC. How can anyone be so brazen as to dispute all of them?!
"CERTAINLY AND ABSOLUTELY the Rambam and all the authoritative Rabbinical commentators mentioned above were not ignorant, Chas V'Sholom, of the well known sayings of our sages in Talmud Yerushalmi and in Shir Hashirim Rabba -- concerning which one is allowed to expound, explain and discuss, etc., in the same way that is done regarding the words of Beis Shamai -- however, with regard to the Psak Din for how to conduct oneself in reality 'they are not Mishna' [Brochos 36b].
"And as for the contention that what the Rambam wrote there -- in ch. 12, that there are things which are in doubt, etc. -- this refers only to the items he ADDS in ch. 12, but not in reference to what he wrote in ch. 11, which he wrote EXPLICITLY and repeatedly, etc."
6. From all the above it is absolutely incontrovertible that the Rebbe would immediately reject everything the Messianists have been saying. They blindly make the very mistakes the Rebbe so strenuously warned of, and all their so- called sources from Gemora, Midrash and the like, even if they were interpreting them correctly, which they are not, would have no bearing whatsoever for reality since the issue is already resolved in unanimously agreed upon halacha.
An extreme example is that there even is an opinion in Gemora (Sanhedrin 98b and 99a) that there will be no Moshiach: "R. Hillel [not the famous Hillel, but a brother of R. Yehudah II] said: There shall be no Messiah for Israel [G-d will Himself redeem Israel and reign over them -- Rashi] because they have already enjoyed him in the days of Hezekiah." Does the fact that this is recorded in the Gemora (and see Sefer HoIkrim, ch. 1) justify anyone citing this today as proof that non- belief in Moshiach is "not outside the pale of Judaism"? Certainly no religious Jews accept this, and the Reform movement's assertion to this effect is routinely and justly criticized by all Torah observant parties.
Regarding Moshiach coming from the dead however, even a cursory examination the Messianist so-called "sources" reveals that truly none of them provide any support for their thesis at all. These sources -- Gemora, Midrash, Sedei Chemed, Abarbanel, Zohar and Kisvei Hoarizal -- are clearly speaking about the soul of Moshiach, not his body; Moshiach ben Yosef, not Moshiach ben David; or the lofty spiritual elevation Moshiach will attain in his arduous quest to bring the redemption:
7. On the Gemora, Sanhedrin 98b, "R. Yehudah said in the name of Rav, In the future the Holy One Blessed Be He will raise up for them another David... R. Papa said to Abaye, But doesn't Scripture say (Yechezkeil 37:25) "and David, My servant, their leader forever"? [and Abaye answered] He will be like a Caesar and Vice-Caesar" -- the Rebbe himself explained (Likutei Sichos 5751, Parshas Vayigash, note 6):
"It is certain that King David himself cannot be the King Moshiach referred to here who will be 'their leader forever,' for Moshiach's activities must begin RIGHT BEFORE the redemption, as the Rambam ruled (Hilchos Melochim, ch. 11, halacha 4), and certainly before the resurrection of the dead (even of the tzadikim who will arise immediately, as in the saying of our sages (Yoma 5b) 'Moshe and Aaron will be with us').
"But seemingly contradicting this, the Yerushalmi, Brochos 2:4 (see Pnei Moshe there), and Eicha Rabba 1:51, state regarding the King Moshiach, 'If he is from the living his name will be David, and if he is from the dead he will be David himself.' The liturgical poem Ometz Yeshacha (for Hoshana Rabba) says 'the voice of Tzemach... who is David himself.' The Yefeh Anaf on Eicha Rabba, ibid., interprets that this concurs with the opinion that Moshiach's coming will be after the resurrection of the dead. And the Radak on Yechezkeil, ibid. (and similarly on Yirmiyah 30:9), says 'or this is a hint to the resurrection of the dead.'
"However the explanation is that these sources only mean that King David's SOUL will be ENCLOTHED IN the King Moshiach -- in a manner similar to the explanation of the saying 'Moshe, the first savior, he will be the final savior' (Shmos Rabba 2:6; Zohar I 253a; Shaar Hapesukim, Parshas Vayechi), which, since Moshe is a Levy and Moshiach must be from the tribe of Yehudah, has to be understood as meaning only that Moshe's soul will be enclothed in the final savior (Ohr HaChaim, Vayechi 49:11)."
The Rebbe's explanation definitely delineates that these sayings refer only to the spiritual embodiment of the deceased leader in Moshiach, and clearly excludes the idea of Moshiach actually being bodily resurrected this way.
In a very revealing confession, even Rabbi Weisberg, appearing on Rabbi Butman's show "Moshiach in the Air," conceded that here the Rebbe clearly disposes of most of the sources the Messianists have been citing.
8. By convoluted reasoning however, Rabbi Weisberg tries to explain that the Rebbe is not totally excluding the idea of Moshiach coming from the dead, but only stating that he must live close enough to directly influence the redemption, and this can still be considered as being "right before the redemption" -- similar to what he wrote in his "Open Letter" in the Jewish Press, "Until an individual who manifests the qualities of the neshama klalit is identified, the Rebbe retains this role in the eyes of his Chassidim."
First of all, Rabbi Weisberg, there is nothing in the Rebbe's words to indicate your interpretation, but just the opposite. Secondly, more than two years have already passed -- just how long are you prepared to wait? And thirdly, why is it that this phenomenon of Chassidim clinging to belief in their deceased Rebbe as Moshiach has never occurred before in Israel's long history, except among followers of Shabatai Tzvi and the early Jewish Christians? On the other hand, lehavdil legamrei, Breslover Chassidim, although they never accepted another "Rebbe," nevertheless do not expect Rebbe Nachman zt"l to be bodily resurrected as Moshiach.
And since when must the tzadik with the "neshama klalit" be immediately recognized by any of the Rebbe's Chassidim? Doesn't the Torah teach "lo almon Yisrael," "Israel is not forsaken" (Yirmiya 51:5), and "harbei shluchim lamokom," "G-d has many agents" to be Moshiach? If the redemption is not brought through one person, it is certain that "relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place" (Esther 4:14). Each generation has 36 hidden tzadikim worthy of being Moshiach, and "When R. Akiva died, Rebbe [Yehudah Hanasi] was born; when Rebbe died, Rav Yehudah was born; when Rav Yehudah died, Raba was born; when Raba died, R. Ashi was born. This teaches that a righteous man does not depart from the world until another righteous man like himself is created, as it is said, 'the sun rises and the sun sets': before Eli's sun was extinguished the sun of Samuel of Ramoth arose" (Kidushin 72b).
Don't you know that based on the tradition (also discussed in the Sedei Chemed and Abarbanel) that "on the day the Temple was destroyed the savior of Israel was born" the Rebbe explained (Likutei Sichos, Shabbos Chazon, 5751; Shaarei Geulah, p. 107-9) that Moshiach's soul can quite literally reside even in a new-born infant?! The Gemora (Shabbos 119b) explains this too, "'Do not touch My Moshiachs ,' these are the little school children." They are all "without sin" and they are all potential Moshiachs. Why not have an open mind ("hesech hadaas," Sanhedrin 97a), and trust in G-d to fulfill what He promised?!
9. At any rate, aside from the Rebbe directly disposing of the Messianist source from the Yefeh Anaf which Rabbi Silberstein cited in his "Chillul Hashem" article, the Rebbe hereby also precludes the immediately previous passage in Sanhedrin 98b: "If he [Moshiach] is from the dead, he would have been Daniel, 'the most desirable man.'" Based on the Rebbe's assertion this is seen to actually mean only that Daniel's soul will be enclothed in Moshiach -- or as Rashi explains in other words, Daniel is a model or prototype for Moshiach -- since he lived as much as eight centuries before the Rabbis of the Gemora.
Automatically the Sedei Chemed and Abarbanel also cannot be used as sources for the Messianists, since they both only very briefly cited this Gemora and there is no reason at all to suppose they understood its meaning any differently than as just explained. Quite the contrary, for before the Rebbe died these same Lubavitchers in fact often cited the very same letter of the Sedei Chemed as proof that Moshiach must be from the living, since the whole length and tone of his letter emphasizes this point.
Similarly, one of the basic themes of Abarbanel's whole Sefer Yeshuos Moshicho is to refute the idea that Moshiach had already come and only has to return from the dead to finish his job. Further, Abarbanel already explained his position a few pages earlier (p. 93-4), that such sayings of our sages only mean that Moshiach will have in him reincarnations of the souls of deceased tzadikim (Adam and David) -- exactly identical to the above explanation from the Rebbe. Finally, on page 104 Abarbanel is merely presenting part of an explanation which, when he introduced it on the previous page, he explicitly stated he was writing it although "it is insufficient and incorrect " -- and as anyone familiar with Abarbanel's style knows, he often explains opinions of others even better than they do themselves, even though he himself strongly disagrees with them, as he clearly writes in this case.
Incidentally, it is a wonder that the Messianists are citing these Gemoras and Midrashim as proof that the Rebbe can be Moshiach. Even when wrongly understood according to their strict literal meaning, don't they actually state just the opposite, that Moshiach will be someone who lived in the distant past -- either specifically Adam, Moshe, David or Daniel? How can proof be extracted from any of these sources that specifically the Rebbe, from modern times , is the redeemer?
10. As for the Zohar that was cited, Bolok 203b, and the Baal Tanya in Sefer Hamamarim 5568, p. 283, these sources explicitly speak about "Moshiach (ben) Yosef," and not about "Moshiach (ben) David," two separate people, as anyone who bothers to look inside will readily see (and see Sukkah 52a and 52b). The concept of Moshiach ben Yosef is well known from many places. This refers to a righteous leader who dies while fighting the wars of G-d after already accomplishing so much that he was presumed to be Moshiach.
Perhaps this might apply to Bar Kochba, who was presumed to be Moshiach when he fought to rebuild the Temple about fifty years after its destruction (according to Abarbanel this is actually what Rebbe Akiva thought). About Bar Kochba the Rambam writes (Hilchos Melochim 11:3), "Rabbi Akiva and all the sages of his generation assumed he was the King Moshiach until through sins he was slain, and when he was slain it became known to them that he wasn't." The idea of Moshiach ben Yosef is perhaps also apparent in the words of the Rambam brought above, "if he does not succeed to this extent, or if he is slain, it is known that he is not the one the Torah promised, but he is only like all the righteous and proper kings of David's lineage who died" (see Zohar I, p. 25b, and elsewhere, that Moshiach ben Yosef is also from David's lineage, for due to the intermarriage of the families he has ancestors from both Yosef and David, only since in the end he is unsuccessful, he is more closely identified with Yosef).
One reason he is termed "Moshiach ben Yosef" is because although he is a savior of Israel, he does not complete the job, but leaves them still stranded in exile -- like the first Yosef, who saved the children of Israel, but left them stranded in Egypt. Moshiach ben David, on the other hand, will accomplish a complete deliverance, in a manner reminiscent of King David his father, who successfully defeated Israel's enemies, and ruled the Jewish nation in their Land.
There is a more to say on this fascinating topic, only space does not allow elaboration here -- but it is important to note that according to Saadia Goan's Emunos V'daos, Ben Yehoyada on Sanhedrin 98, and the Gra's Kol Hator, since the exile has already drawn out so long, it is certain that even Moshiach ben Yosef will not die.
Meanwhile, the remaining sources from the Zohar and Kisvei Hoarizal also certainly do not say Moshiach will die, rather they speak only of his being "hidden" or having a "spiritual ascension," comparable to the experience of Moshe Rabbeinu on Mt. Sinai -- who specifically did not die when he was up on the mount.
11. As for what the Ramban (Nachmonides) stated in his celebrated disputation at Barcelona, Rabbis Weisberg and Silberstein had better reexamine the text of Vikuach HaRamban. At the end of paragraph 39 the Ramban clearly states: "As far as Moshiach himself is concerned death is completely inoperative against him, thus Moshiach will live thousands of years or forever."
The Rebbe also said innumerable times that Kabbalah and Chassidus fully endorse the tradition of Moshiach's absolute immortality, even over the Rambam's opinion in the preamble to his famous formulation of 13 Principles of Faith (Commentary on the Mishna, Perek Chalek), that after rebuilding the Temple, bringing enduring worldwide peace and living an unusually long life as King of Israel, "Moshiach will die and his son and son's son will rule in his stead," while he will then go on to everlasting life in a "spiritual paradise." Thus according to the Rambam, Ramban, and all the sages of Israel, Moshiach will certainly not die before finishing his task.
The Rebbe clarified this repeatedly, stressing that there is no need for Moshiach or his entire generation even to experience any interruption of bodily life even for the slightest moment in order to experience the world to come. For example, in Sefer Hasichos 5751, page 496 (just two paragraphs before the first quote from the Rebbe brought above in sec. 3), the Rebbe states (as punctuated in the original):
"There has to be 'rise and return,' specifically SOULS (which inherently rise) IN BODIES (which inherently return) [even as the eternal life of the future (and with regard to our generation -- without any interruption in between*), specifically life of the body, and in a manner that the soul receives vitality from the body]...
"*And the elevation of 'to dust you shall return' is (spiritual) through the humility of 'let my soul be as dust to all'..."
The Messianist writings from before the Rebbe's passing are loaded with many more sources for this (for example, see Rabbi Wolpo's "Yechi Hamelech Hamoshiach," p. 136-139, which was written when the Rebbe was ill and they steadfastly asserted he would never die). Can they honestly be so forgetful of what they themselves so widely publicized such a short while ago?
12. Lastly, let's examine what the Rebbe said regarding his predecessor, the previous Rebbe zt"l: If one examines the statement Rabbi Butman referred to in Likutei Sichos Vol. 2, p. 517-8, the obvious subterfuge is evident. The Rebbe did not say as alleged that "Moshiach will rise up among the select few resurrected before the redemption," but that "the previous Rebbe will."
The Rebbe continues by expressing the wish that he, the previous Rebbe, "will redeem us," not as Moshiach, but as the Rebbe of his generation -- similar to what it says in Seforim, that Moshe Rabbeinu will redeem the Jews of his generation since he was their Rebbe. Then, as the Rebbe added on other such occasions (for example Toras Menachem 5711, pages 52 and 327), "he will lead us to meet Moshiach," who from this wording is obviously understood to be a different person. When the Rebbe was alive not one Chossid ever interpreted these statements any other way.
Just think of how preposterous it is: These people have suddenly turned around to assert that throughout his 44 years of leadership the Rebbe thought and taught that his deceased father-in-law would be resurrected as Moshiach. And absurdity of absurdities, they simultaneously assert that the Rebbe, in his very first discourse, hinted that specifically he, as leader of the 7th generation of Lubavitch, was going to be Moshiach! What a glaring and shameful contradiction! They know the Rebbe never called the previous Rebbe "Melech HaMoshiach," and if they were honestly interested in following the Rebbe's example they would write after his name "zeicher tzadik livrocha" (Mishlei 10:6; Yoma 38b) or the like, as the Rebbe consistently did for his revered predecessor -- as well as for Yakov Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu aleihem hasholom, despite the Midrashim that say they "did not die," as stated above.
Speaking of nonsense: It is absurd for the Messianists to claim that the continued expansion of Lubavitch since the Rebbe's passing is a result of their belief that the Rebbe will be resurrected as Moshiach. Quite the contrary, what they are doing is destroying everything the Rebbe worked so hard to build. If Lubavitch is expanding it is despite them, thanks to the efforts of Agudas Chassidei Chabad and the majority of Chassidim who are diametrically opposed to this rebellion against the Rebbe's wishes.
13. Worst of all is the conceit and hubris of Rabbi Weisberg's vicious slander -- "it would take less to cause Dr. Berger and a thousand like him to convert to Christianity than it would take to cause one Lubavitcher to eat Chalav Akum." This is completely revolting, especially for one who claims to be motivated by love and unity. Saying something like this, especially in a public letter, is totally against the manner of all the Rebbeim zt"l and the Shulchan Aruch, and much worse than "eating Chalav Akum." It also happens to be absolutely untrue, for as everyone knows there are woefully plenty of examples of people born to the purest Lubavitch pedigree who became lax in observance of mitzvos and went on to abandon Orthodoxy -- even in the Rebbe's own family.
Shame on this egomaniacal snobbery and haughtiness! This is what "repels the Shechina"! This is the root of the whole problem, that some people are so proud and self-righteous that they cannot see their faults and admit they were wrong. Dr. Berger and his thousand thousands, who would surely rather die than convert G-d forbid, are unquestionably due an immediate apology.
It is not the R.C.A. and their supporters who are causing unnecessary strife and contention, but these sanctimonious, pugnacious "Chassidim." The resolution adopted by the R.C.A. is unquestionably correct and justified, and those who join them in adopting similar resolutions deserve a hearty thank you and yashar koach!
14. Jews the world over are pleading: Have rachmonus already. Have pity on us, the rest of Klal Yisrael, who are weary of hearing all of these futile rallying cries. Have pity on the Rebbe, for what he has had to endure. But most of all have pity on yourselves. Come forward and admit your error. No one will despise you for it. Quite the contrary, this is what we pray for and you will be showered with praise.
It is time to heave out your bereavement for the Rebbe. If crying out is necessary, let it be accompanied with the positive kind of sobbing, with bitter tears that cleanse the soul -- the Rebbe cried too at the loss of his Rebbe. Let the spark of your inner goodness, your ever-eager and eternal child of G-d -- who the Rebbe believed in -- shine forth and prevail over the darkness.
There is hope. "Hope in G-d, be strong and let your heart be valiant, and hope in G-d." Cry out instead "nishmoso bi," "his soul is in me" -- as the Rebbe called on all Chassidim to do when the previous Rebbe departed, and as the previous Rebbe said to do when the Rebbe Rashab zt"l departed (Toras Menachem 5711, p. 326). Make this your motto and surely no one will stand in your way. Go joyously with the blessings and strengths of the Rebbe, with the precious treasure he has bequeathed us. Quite simply chazak ve'ematz , go forth and bring the redemption. All of Israel will gladly go with you.
That was the previous Rebbe's resolution. That was the Rebbe's resolution. That is our resolution. We hope now it will be your resolution too.
The following is a reprint (with minor changes) of a letter that appeared in Country Yossi Magazine, December, 1994:
1. Tragically, a small number of Lubavitchers are misinterpreting a number of Torah sources, as well as the Rebbe's words regarding the previous Rebbe, and from what even they say are hints , they are trying to start a belief that goes against what the Rebbe himself openly stated is the absolute halacha from every Posek of all the generations. This new aspect of the "Moshiach Campaign" must be recognized for what it truly is, "interpreting the Torah in a manner contrary to the halacha," with all the gravity this entails!
If these people are serious about striving to deserve the title "Chosid" they should start by saying boruch dayan emes, and by accepting and obeying the Rebbe's own words regarding the halacha of how Moshiach will come. By espousing that Moshiach must be from the dead, these people are demonstrating how extremely hypocritical they are, since before the Rebbe's passing they endeavored to disseminate and publicize as widely as possible the precisely opposite point, that Moshiach must be from the living.
Belief in a "second coming," in a resurrected Moshiach, is rooted in the dogmas of pagan cults such as those of Attis in ancient Phrygia (in Asia Minor), Osiris in Egypt, Adonis in Greece and Tammuz in Babylon. Historically, such beliefs sprang up among Jews only in cults centering around false Messiahs, which rejected essential elements of Judaism, as happened at the birth of Christianity, as well as among the followers of Shabbati Tzvi and Jacob Frank.
These errant offshoots were always vociferously rebuked by mainstream Judaism. For example, we find that as early as the second century CE, before the codification of the Mishna, Tryphon the Jew, in a disputation with Christian apologist Justin Martyr, stated: "We [Jews] all expect that the Messiah will come into being as a man from among men: (Jewish Encyclopedia, under the heading "Disputations"). Similarly, in his famous disputation at Barcelona, the Ramban (end of par. 39) stated the Jewish belief that the true Moshiach will not die, " death is completely inoperative against him." The Jewish position regarding Moshiach was long ago codified in halacha (in the Rambam's Yad Hachzoka, Hilchos Melochim 11:4), and unanimously, throughout the generations, Jewish scholars have avowed that Moshiach will not need a "second coming"!
2. When one encounters those who still maintain the Rebbe is Moshiach, and one presents them will the true facts about Moshiach having to be from the living, some of them respond with annoyance and abuse, while others ultimately admit they are basing their belief on their own personal feelings, not reason and logic. Thus, unquestionably, and by their own admission, this is a case of people's hearts prevailing over their minds, leading them down an unfortunate path. This can be attributed to a psychological aberration known as denial , a mental condition most often encountered among sufferers of emotional trauma upon the loss of a loved one.
[Recently a friend related that he was an only child, and when his father suddenly passed away, for years he continued to believe he was really alive, he was just hidden from sight in a locked room, and he would come out when no one was looking. That a child behaves this way is one thing, but when adults too start acting this way, surely something is drastically wrong.]
In this case we see a group of the Rebbe's followers denying the reality of the Rebbe's death, and because of the number of people sharing this fantasy, and their reinforcement of one another, it is easier for them to remain under the spell of their delusion. Those with questions and doubts often feel too intimidated to express themselves, out of fear that they will be ridiculed, reproached and cast out from the group's inner circle. These tendencies are also bolstered by an unfortunate trait of egoism, such that these people find it difficult to admit they were wrong in claiming the Rebbe was definitely Moshiach. This in turn is fortified by fear and uncertainty of facing the future without the Rebbe. Many feel that by acknowledging the Rebbe's death their entire world would crumble, and they would have no power or will to carry on.
These people must understand, however, that this is no way for any person to live, and surely not a Torah-observant Jew. We have no other option than to go forward, and surely, with G-d's help, we shall succeed.
3. I am not writing this because I enjoy causing controversy and conflict. The conflict, which I am not responsible for, already exists, and on the contrary, it pains me deeply to have to express myself on this topic. However, I hope that at least in this way I will be able to contribute positively toward ending the conflict, by pointing out just how untenable this strange belief truly is.
Rabbonim and Mashpi'im from all sectors of the Jewish community, not just from Lubavitch, have been tolerating this aberration for too long already. It is high time for them to speak out vigorously and publicly denounce all attempts to persuade Jews to continue to accept the Rebbe as Moshiach even after his death -- before more damage is done, G-d forbid. With the help of everyone concerned for the honor of G-d and the honor of the Rebbe, perhaps we can waken our mistaken brethren from their trance, so they realize they are deluding themselves and letting their imagination lead them astray.
Now all Chassidim must face reality and bless the True Judge, for G-d has taken the Rebbe from our midst -- though we will continue forever to study his teachings, pray at his grave-site, and long for reunion with him in the end of days. However, any "hints" anyone has regarding the Rebbe being Moshiach must remain what they always were, just hints as to what might have been had we only merited. The halacha, meanwhile, is clear and inescapable, and may G-d forgive any of our greatly beloved brothers who presently deny this, and may He comfort each and every one on the loss of the Rebbe, and strengthen us to open our eyes and purify our hearts to serve Him in truth.
I plead with my fellow Chassidim to stop insisting they are privileged to know the Divine secret of Moshiach's identity. Surely they can see that thereby they are only causing division among Jews, not unity, which was always the Rebbe's most noble goal. Surely they remember that the Rebbe many times instructed his emissaries to disassociate his name from the mitzvah campaigns in instances where this might hinder their success. How much more so in this matter, at the very least, surely they can understand that it is counter- productive to continue naming the Rebbe as Moshiach -- and especially as the Rebbe himself never once stated outright that he was.
We must have kabolas ol to accept Moshiach, whoever he may be, no matter from what sect of the Jewish people he may originate. Certainly Moshiach will transcend all divisions like Chossid, Misnaged, Sefardic or Ashkenazic and certainly he will be equally concerned for the welfare of all Jews.
Let us strive to put aside our differences and truly unite in love with all our fellow Jews, for only in that way will we merit to the auspicious time when "suddenly he will come to his chamber" (Malachi 3:1), when G-d, may He be blessed, will mercifully send His righteous Moshiach and take us all out of exile -- may it be His will, very soon indeed!
May The Rebbe's Soul Be With Us And In Us
And Lead Us Speedily To The Redemption