A Hopeful Sign for Chabad?

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167 Responses

  1. Ori says:

    May I ask about the principle behind this? At what point are wrong beliefs reasons to reject a convert? It seems to me there is a spectrum between beliefs that have nothing to do with religion to those that are complete kfira (= heresy). At what point does a belief disqualify a convert?

  2. Harry Maryles says:

    Now, the latest, from Eli Soble: “Our Rebbe is the messiah.” Troubling, to be certain… but how authoritative a representative is this author?

    The greater question is how can anyone intepreate the words Eli Soble quoted from the Rebbe as anything other than a virtual proclamaiton by the Rebbe himself that he is the Messiah? Can any Lubavitvher be blamed for being a Meshichist? What differecne does it makes who the one qouting the Rebbe is? It is the quotes that are troubling… not the messenger who brings us those words.

  3. Mordechai says:

    Of course you are being excessively optimistic.
    Eli Soble’s article only outlines what is very well-known to every Lubavitcher Chossid (and many outsiders):
    The last Lubavitcher Rebbe himself emphasized in his “inaugural address” in 1951 (on the first Yahrtzeit of his predecessor) that at that time (marked by his assuming the position of Rebbe) was the begining of the “seventh generation” – in which Moshiach will definitely come.
    Eli Soble explains further (as is also well-known) that in 1991 and 1992 the Rebbe made many remarks which were clear hints to his followers that he himself is Moshiach.

    Not mentioned by Eli Soble:
    This belief actually has its roots in the primary thesis of the First Lubavitcher Rebbe – in “Tanya” – where he wrote that Moshiach will come “in the seventh generation”.
    In fact, there is a widespread story among Lubavitcher Chassidim, relating that – more than 100 years ago – when the Lubavitcher Rebbe was less than 3 years old – his father-in-law (HaRav Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson – who was the predecessor of the seventh Rebbe) instructed the Rebbe’s father to make sure to give him an exemplary Chassidic-style education – because HaRav Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson had only daughters, and this young Menachem Mendel would have to marry one of them and become the seventh Rebbe. Further details of this story include the explanation that this was because the sixth Rebbe knew (obviously) what was written in Tanya (cited above) and he felt that therefore he must prepare to have a successor who is descended in the Male line from the first Rebbe, and through him (according to Lubavitch tradition) from Dovid HaMellech.
    (I first heard this from somebody in the Lubavitch movement more than 40 years ago, around the time of the Yom Kippur War in Eretz Yisroel.)

    The bottom line is that any Lubavitcher Chossid who does not believe that (1) The Rebbe is Moshiach and (2) the Rebbe is still alive (and therefore we are STill in the seventh generation today – is denying the teachings of both the first and last Lubavitcher Rebbes.

    So how can anybody hope that these people will ever change from this belief – which was taught to them by the first and last Lubavitcher Rebbe’s?

    Today’s Lubavitch leadership is only pretending to the outside world that this is not one of their essential core beliefs. That’s why they didn’t present this viewpoint to the media (and they allowed Eli Soble to present it instead.)

    (And one more question: There is such a widespread belief among Lubavitcher Chassidim that one has only to ask the Rebbe for whatever we need – instead of asking HaShem – and the Rebbe will grant it.
    Isn’t this clearly Avodoh Zoroh – which is obviously even worse than believing that a deceased Rebbe is Moshiach?)

    I personally saw in a Lubavitch text for non-religious Hebrew-School students that Gimmel Tammuz is the day when we could “no longer see the Rebbe” – right after the same text had listed the dates when the previous 6 Rebbes “died”. (That’s an important distinction.) I also saw in a Lubavitch “Teachers’ Guide” for use in such Hebrew-Schools that the students should be taught that whenever they need something they should just ask the Rebbe for it because the “Rebbe is everywhere” and he will hear you and give you what you want.

    Rabbi David Berger has (reputedly) stated publicly that he is not against Lubavitch – only against these erroneous beliefs. But the fact is that these beliefs (that Moshiach must come during the lifetime of the seventh Rebbe and therefore he must still be alive today) are a part of the core-teachings of both the first and last Lubavitcher Rebbes.

    Don’t allow your optimism to fool you.

  4. David says:

    I would not put too much into JPOST’s choice of who they publish.
    a)the article title is provacative and polemicizes agains Dr. Berger, good for attracting readers and
    b) JPOST will publish whatever they can get. I’ve seen other instances (regarding coverage of Ramat Bet Shemesh) where they speak to one rabbi from the neighborhood and thats it. No research to find out who the non-charedi rabbis are and no mention of them.

    David

  5. yy says:

    No, Harry, it is both. And especially the latter. For at the heat of the moment, and with veiled language, a tsaddik may be forgiven for his overly zealousa language. But AFTER the fact, when the facts are cold and hard, it’s the die-hard interpretors who bear the brunt. Comparisons with Rav Kook, zts”l, should come to mind.

  6. Bob Miller says:

    Differences about the desirability of widely publicizing a belief are not the same as differences about the belief itself.

  7. Ori says:

    Does Eli Soble report the Rebbe’s words accurately and in context, and did the Rebbe say them while still in full possession in his mental facilities? What is more important, would the Chabadniks in a generation or two have such doubts, or would they also be likely to accept that the Rebbe was mashiach?

  8. lacosta says:

    i think this is a bit naive. i would venture one could find hundreds of shluchim world wide who would gladly write a polemical column and end it with yechi. this just happesns to be who wrote in. but your hopeful naivete stems from great ahavat yisrael….

  9. Yossi G. says:

    You clearly are being overly optimistic. It is this constant tempering of condemnation, rationalizing about all the “good” things, that has enabled the lunatic fringe there to take over the asylum. Had this been strongly and loudly condemned from the onset, I believe things would be very different.

    Yes, they did (and sometimes still do) good things. Yes, the Rebbe a”h was a talmid chacham.

    But someone needs to take a stand. Dr Berger cannot accomplish this by himself, and the Gedolei Torah seem to be afraid.

    Why does no one have the spine to condemn either Chabad or “Rabbi” Boteach? Why the need to always qualify negative comments?

  10. Toby Katz says:

    Lubavitch does amazing things with great mesirus nefesh. They operate all over the world, reaching out to Jews who would otherwise be lost and forgotten. Every Chabad house is like an oasis in the desert, giving water to needy travelers who are dying of thirst.

    And while they are saving all these Jews with the water of Torah, they are slipping a few drops of poison into every cup of water — a bit of sheker, a hint of a suggestion of avodah zarah — just a few drops, like a homeopathic dose, slipped into the water.

    Does the poison outweight the good they do? That is hard to say. Meanwhile they are saving the lives of people who are dying of thirst, and no one else is out there doing what they do. The few drops of slow-acting poison possibly are batul in the life-giving water. I honestly don’t know.

  11. Ori says:

    Yossi G.: Why does no one have the spine to condemn either Chabad or “Rabbi” Boteach? Why the need to always qualify negative comments?

    Ori: Probably because there are already enough divisions in the Jewish people. Imagine you were a Meshichist Chabadnik and some non Chabad Gedolei Torah told you that the Rebbe was wrong, your own Rabbi is a heretic and your community is no place for a frum Jew. Would you:

    1. Leave your community and seek some another group.
    2. Ignore the Gadol, and rationalize that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about.

    I think they are following Hillel in Avot 2:5 because they don’t think the rebuke would work anyway.

    ואל תאמר דבר שאי אפשר לשמוע וסופו להישמע

  12. shmuel says:

    Rebbitzen Katz
    Does the poison outweigh the good they do? That is hard to say. Meanwhile, they are saving the lives of people who are dying of thirst, and no one else is out there doing what they do. The few drops of slow-acting poison possibly are batul in the life-giving water. I honestly don’t know.

    There is a fundamental principle of hilchos taaruvos. Ain mevatlin issur l’chatchila (one may not allow even a minute mixture of an unacceptable ingredient where it can be avoided). We can not allow someone to put poison in the water even in homeopathic doses. It is incumbent on everyone else to quench peoples spiritual thirst sans the poison. Hamelacha meruba.

  13. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Shmuel,
    This is not lechatchila. Non-Chabad rabbis who are silent are not taking a lechatchila position but b’dieved b’shas hadchak, i.e. post facto in a difficult situation which was created without the concurrence of the normative Jewish community or its rabbis. They are what they are and we love them despite their errors.

  14. Michoel says:

    Toby Katz,
    Is it not true that a little bit of Avodah Zara is also y’hareig v’al ya’avor?

  15. Aaron Feldman says:

    a)Just who is this “Eli Sobel”? None of my acquaintances, including a good number of Lubavitchers, have any clue about his identity. Nor has anyone verified the authenticity (including context) of his alleged quotes. Is it possible that he is a “plant” to cast aspersions on Chabad and in a cynical way support Dr. Berger?

    b)Will Mordechai (comment at 12.56) please provide sources for his (non-existent) citations of Tanya and the “story” about the Lubavitch Rebbe’s childhood? He is obviously not a “plant” but self-evident antagonist. I am surprised that his creed made it past screening!

    Aaron

  16. Moishe Weiss says:

    This issue has been debated ad naseum even in this forum, I doubt anything I will add will change anyones set mind. It seems every Lubavitcher, Moshichist or not, is painted with the same vile brush, the fact that within Chabad there is extreme anger and even purging (witness the recent court case against the M’s in 770) is meaningless. The fact that any reader here can walk into a Chabad House throughout the USA, and in 99% of the cases will find not one hint of Yechi,Moshiach etc. is meaningless, The fact that at the recent Kinus, attended by over 3500 Rabbis and 1500 lay leaders and not one hint of Moshiach was uttered, is meaningless, to this august crowd of contributors, who continue to fill this and other prominent Blogs with their venom nothing else matters.
    How many times have I read, of writers who while grudgingly admit that the Rebbe was “a Talmid Chacham” never even saw one of his, over a hundred, published works in all parts of Torah, Kabbala, Halacha, etc. yet heard from someone that heard from someone that he knew a little how to learn.
    How many times have I read of writers who dismiss Chabad work and wax knowingly about the type of Rabbis and communities they establish, and what they do there without even once visiting a Chabad house, or even meeting a Shliach. They rely on heresay, on fragmented stories, on admittedly true stories but of disturbed individuals who perhaps never even learned in a yeshiva but has decided to don a Kapote and wear a Borsalino and a beard. In a recent Blog, I read a comment by one who heard that someone visited someone, not a Rabbi, and before he made Kiddush friday Night he kept looking at the Rebbes Picture. Shoin!! Chabad is Ovdei Avoda Zoro. This is so ridiculous, laughable even, had it not reached such harmful proportions.
    How many readers, before they solemnly write out a segment of Klal Yisrael, a huge group of dedicated, good hearted, knowledgeable, nice families, who’ve dedicated their lives, in sometimes extreme conditions, to helping lost souls of Klal yisrael, even bothered to drive thirty minutes, and spend a Shabbos at a random Chabad center, or two or three and see for themselves what really goes on.
    I came to Sherman Oaks California 21 years ago, there was nothing anywhere near my area, I was the only Frum Jew within 5 miles. I put up signs and some Yidden walked in. we have had a kosher minyan ever since. I gave a shiur in Chumash Rashi before davening, a dvar Torah before Mussaf, and a shiur at mincha, I gave a tuesday night shiur, and my wife gave a monday night womens shiur. We started an afternoon and Sunday Talmud Torah, ultimately sending dozens of students to the local orthodox day school, which in turn cemented the parents and the whole family to stricter Torah observance. We built a new building with a Mikve, the only mikve in the immediate area for women and the only mens mikve in the entire east valley open daily. we now have over 120 people coming each Shabbos to Daven, we have a minyan 3 time daily with shiurim every morning and evening before mincha. on Yomim Noroim we have 2 minyonim, Ashkenaz and Sefard, wiith an aggregate of close to 800 attenedees, no membership. On Monday nights there is a shiur Torah in Russian on Thursday nights in Hebrew and Tuesday nights in english in addition to lunch and learn. we have a Talmud Torah with over 60 children and a Bat Mitzvah club every year of Bat Mitzvah girls, we have a womens shiur and monthly tehillim groups , and we constantly have speakers on relevant Torah topics. Oh, and Boruch Hashem, we are an established stop for many meshulochim, collecting for decidedly non chabad institutions daily. Of course they don’t seem to have any problem soliciting our funds, I guess Money is not Metame’
    The past president of the local elementary school, the largest in the west, walked in to our shul years ago, now he, a full Baal Teshuva and others on that same board as well who are mispallelim at other local Chabad institutions, give back tremendously to the community at large.
    there is more, but I wont bore you. Just in The Vally there are 21 such Chabad houses and centers. some more succesful (Agoura Ca., Encino, Tarzana)) some less.
    Does anybody reading this realize any of this? before they so willy nilly tar and feather Chabad off the Jewish map?
    And yes, we talk about our Rebbe, we teach and learn his Torah, and we inspire people to follow his example of leading a selfless life of Torah and Mitzvos. We are Chassidim, we are connected to a Rebbe, we are proud of that. were it not for the Rebbes inspiration, I would have simply joined my families’ buisness and sat on Blogs all day.
    and no, were not perfect not even close, we in Chabad, as in every single group, have their bad rotten apples, doesnt everybody?
    I do however, want to express my extreme disgust at “Rebbetzin” Katz, and her vile remarks, in this forum and others, ugly snide words cloaked in backhanded praise wondering whether the poison in every drop of water justifies the good. Afra Lepuma, I take personal offense. I am the Rov of a Chabad Shul, I receive no compensation, I have a business, I receive tens of Shaalos a week from Jews of all valley communities, as it seems that I am the only one available, and I have merited to good Shimush, I am asked to adjudicate disputes, I have shiurim for hours daily, I have Kashered kitchens and put up mezuzos, i have brought unfortunate people to kever Yisrael and attended more Shiva calls than you can even imagine there being. i have visited children and siblings of frum tradiitional homes who have landed in prison, I have made loans and donations to all types of Jews knowing I will never get it back, I have interceded on behalf of single mothers and other unfortunates to all types of schools, camps and institutions for free or reduced admittance and you dare to accuse me and my dear wife and children of instilling poison??? who are you and how dare you even think words like that! let alone write such spiritually murderous poisenous words? how does a Jewish daughter even say such things? your Father was a Gerrer Chosid, does that make you an authority on Chassidus? you should be ashamed of yourself! what kind of warped chinuch did you recieve? I do not ask you or anyone on this forum to become a Lubavitcher Chassid, nor do I care what you think, nor do I even delude myself that there is not very valid criticisms of many in Chabad, nor would it bother me if anyone were to ask questions about my Rebbes opinions and teachings, but to write words like that? on what basis? you met a few nut cases or misguided lunatics and you judge a whole Eidah? would you judge other communities similarly.

    I totally understand the troubling Moshiach issues and its difficulties. I am the total opposite of a Moshichist, I and my friends and all that I associate with oppose it and will not allow any of their philosophy in our shuls, we have instructed young men who have desired to engage our congregants to leave the shul and we do not allow placement of any publications mailed to us, I also have read recently on another popular Blog where to my surprise a seemingly non chabad writer asked the self proclaimed “Halachist specialist” Blog master if there is anything in pure Halacha that would oppose believing that a person dead or alive is Moshiach, and to my amazement this honest and fearless blog master kept on refusing to answer, until he was seemingly forced to write that admittedly Halacha does not find anything wrong with that position, But its wrong and dangerous and etc etc. because its against the Torah and could lead to other problems. Without even realizing that this exact position was the reason all the Gedolim of yesteryear were vehmently against the MO rabbinate, including RYBS, and others, becasue it could lead…
    I and multitudes of my colleagues, who BTW, bear the brunt of the justified backlash of the group of Meshichisten around, tend to flocks of Yidden, teach them Torah, introduce them to HKBH and his Mitzvot, in many cases seeing them continue on their journey in another more established community. You should all be ashamed of yourselves, the shmutz I read in this blog and others, is shameful. Learn a little about Chabad and its Rabbis, open up a Sefer of The Rebbe in its source, not what some former student or dropout or single person interprets his words. Realize that as with any discipline especially mystical, one has to understand the context and vocabulary used. Visit a Chabad House or two, and look at the type of Far Far off Jews on the front line these Rabbis have to deal with in way off communities and see what they have to work with. See how they live financially, see what it takes to educate their children properly, the hours and expense incurred to do car pool to the city etc. the mesirus for life in a foreign environment then try to emulate them and do something positive.

    I know I went too long. But enough is enough! you cannot continue to murder an entire Eidah Kedosha on lies.
    Moishe Weiss

  17. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >b)Will Mordechai (comment at 12.56) please provide sources for his (non-existent) citations of Tanya and the “story” about the Lubavitch Rebbe’s childhood?

    I am not a great baki in Tanya so I can not verify the assertion but I can say that it does not ring true. Without a specific citation, it is not worth much.

    Further, I highly doubt you will find any such verifiable story. For one thing, the Rebbe Zt”l’s father was an independent mekubal, more of a contemporary of the Rebbe Rashab than a chassid of him. He used to give his own maamarim, something that, in chabbad, is reserved for the Rebbe. There was an underlying tension between the families which is probably why the Rebbe never met the Rebbe Rashab. It is also impossible that the Rebbe Raayatz instructed the Rebbe’s father in anything when the Rebbe was only 3 years old. As I said, the chabbad Rebbe at the time was the Rebbe Rashab who passed away when the Rebbe was 18 years old (in 1920). The Rebbe Raayatz was NOT highly regarded during these years as a great leader of any sort. Some even predicted at the time that the lubavitch line would end with the Rebbe Rashab (see R’ Bezalel Naor’s excelent introduction to “God’s Middlemen: A Habad Retrospective”, isbn 188399117X). The idea that the Rebbe’s father would take any such advice from the Rebbe Raayatz is absurd.

  18. Dovid Eliezrie says:

    I do not want to enter into a long debate but there are few points that need some clarification.
    1. No one in Chabad has ever heard of Eli Soble. After some investigation its seems he is a guy from a frum family, who drifted a bit and is now a baal teshuva. He works in business and daavens in a Chabad Shul. He is not a thinker, a player or has any role in the Chabad in any official or unofficial way. The Post was quite diseengenous by labeling him in their byline “active in the movement educational programs” He is not.
    2. Now on the she said/he said. Is there some great underlying insidious philosophy that threatens the Jewish world. What there is is Chassidim debating and arguing trying to remain Chassidim after as we guys call it Gimmel Tammuz, (the Rebbe’s passing). Attempting to remain connected to the teachings and ideals of the Rebbe in a confusing time. So we have all kinds of expressions of that connection. Some sadly have distorted, and misquoted, as Eli Soble did, the Rebbe’s talks and teachings to a place that the Rebbe profundly did not agree with. For instance when I asked the Rebbe directly about identifying someone is Moshiach he unequivocally rejected it.
    Last night I went to a Farbrengen to celebrate the birthday of a Chabad Schliach in California. At the table where local bala batim (anash in our lingo), Shluchim, and some others. From the group of 25 or 30 in the room I could only identify one Moshchist in the lot. He is quite sane, a Yirash Shmayim, does not believe in half of what Soble wrote, goes to the Ohel to daaven, (which means he fully recognizes that the Rebbe passed away on Gimmel Tammuz). This guy believes in Gemara in Sanhedrin that indicates that there is Shitah in Torah that says Moschiach can come from those who are not alive. He is mehader in kol siman of Shulchan Aruch etc. etc. But what really drives him( and I know him well and constantly say nu, when are you going to to drop your crazy ideas) is he is searching for way to be a Chassid.
    So you can find a guy to write an article of put up a poster on a wall. But I think the group last night was quite representative of most Chabad communities at least in the US.
    3. I am deeply insulted by Toby Katz’s words of of “poison”. I run a Chabad Center in California, and have hundreds of friends who are Shluchim who do the same. And while people sit comfortable in Lakewood and B’nai Brak they sacrifice every day to teach Torah, raising their kids in difficult lonely places for the sake of Yiddiskiet. What we do is to teach Torah, Halacha, Gemara with Chassdidesh insight. There is nothing except Torah and Halacha. Soble ideas have no role, his corruption of the Rebbe’s words no place. It may be that Chassideshe kvetch that so troubles Katz and others. It seems the enmity of centuries of Misnahgdim has raised its ugly head again on this blog.

    Dovid Eliezrie

  19. Aaron Feldman says:

    Many thanks for posts 16-17-18. Words of truth spoken to the point. Unfortunately, though, for the antagonists who bash Chabad, and invariable haven’t a clue about it beyond the well-known propaganda and “party-line” of certain sources, and are fully blinded and deafened by these, the basic principle of “kabel et ha’emet mimi she’omro”is unknown – and the laws of “loshon hora” and “motzi shem ra” are twisted and convoluted to justify their calumnies. But fortunately, in the end, netzach Yisrael lo yeshaker!

  20. Levi says:

    As an avid fan of Toby’s comments and as a Lubavitcher chosid, I understood Toby’s comments in the context of a “v’im timtzo loymar” rather than her stating a halachik opinion on such. (which she would never, as an orthodox woman, have the chutzpa to do)

  21. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Rabbi Eliezrie writes that “Soble’s ideas have no role, his corruption of the Rebbe’s words no place.” Even if Soble is an independant operator, a loose cannon who, on his own initiative, sent a piece to the Jerusalem Post, his ideas are hardly unique or even extreme within Chabad. Some years ago, Kehot Publications, the official Chabad publishing house, published a volume “The Time For Your Redemption Has Arrived.” It was a collection excerpts of the Rebbe’s speeches and writings designed to convey the impression that the Rebbe believed he was Moshiach, and that he would favor Jews regarding him as such even after his petirah. Kehot also publishes the Siddur Tehillas HaShem, and I remember one edition published after the petirah, in which was printed a statement declaring the Rebbe was and is Moshiach. I have seen meshichist posters in both Oholei Menachem, the Lubavitcher cheder in Crown Heights, and the yeshiva building on Crown Street and Albany Avenue. There are meshichisten who have had important positions in the Chabad hierarchy. While I won’t get into a discussion as to what proportion of Chabad is meshichist, I would argue that it is there, it is noticable and significant, and that it permeates a part of the official organs of Chabad.
    Even Rabbi Eliezrie has admitted “we do have meshcistim” (Cross Currents post October 21, 2007). It’s time to admit that they are more than just a extremist fringe element.

  22. Michoel says:

    Rabbi Moshe Weiss wrote:
    “…enough is enough! you cannot continue to murder an entire Eidah Kedosha on lies.”

    Rabbi Weiss, some, including myself, want desperately to see the good in Chabad. But instead of truly owning up to the issues, all we hear is “stop picking on us”. You have to take responsibilty. Not only for the meshichist stuff but for the entire way in which Chabad has been conducting itself for years. Are you not aware that most frum people find it insufferable when Chabad attempts to make them Frum? Where is the kavod for other drachim? You seem to think that the criticisms are based on hearsay, mere lashon hara from people that never stepped in a Chabad house. But we ALL know Chabad first hand.

  23. YM says:

    If Chabad is the meanace that some of the commenters say it is, then I would look for a psak by the RCA, the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of the Agudath, or at least a psak by a promienent posek. They would say that Chabad is not part of Judaism, that it is assur to daven in their shuls, etc. But, it hasn’t happened, as far as I can tell. Therefore, I will continue to daven in their shuls when I travel (even though the big photo of the rebbe in the lobby of each shul makes me uncomfortable), and I will continue to admire their outreach work and caring for each Jew.

  24. Yaakov says:

    Some years ago, Kehot Publications, the official Chabad publishing house, published a volume “The Time For Your Redemption Has Arrived.” It was a collection excerpts of the Rebbe’s speeches and writings designed to convey the impression that the Rebbe believed he was Moshiach, and that he would favor Jews regarding him as such even after his petirah.

    Abslutely untrue, and another attempt to discredit mainstream Chabad. The only volume by that name a)was not published by Kehot, but by Machon Lubavitch in Israel (1991, 2nd ed. 1992). b) Part One deals with the Rebbe’s expositions on the themes of Mashiach, ge’ulah, Rambam’s Hilchot Melachim (on these themes), and Part Two is citations from the whole range of (non-Chabad) gedolei Yisrael on anticipating the Messianic redemption.
    There is not even the slightest hint in the whole volume to any of the things you mention.

    Kehot also publishes the Siddur Tehillas HaShem, and I remember one edition published after the petirah, in which was printed a statement declaring the Rebbe was and is Moshiach.

    Again falsehood. Nothing ever published by Kehot contains any of these things. For a while, after the Rebbe’s petirah, there was a rogue Meshichist outfit that republished official Kehot editions of sidur and other sefarim, using the Kehot logo, and inserted their nonsense. Kehot took them to court (as they refused to go to Bet Din) to protect their logo as a legal trademark, and the court ruled that all their remaining
    copies (of all their publicationsof Chabad works) were to be confiscated and issuing an injunction against them to do so again. They tried to do so again in Israel, but there too same injunction was issued against them.

    I have seen meshichist posters in both Oholei Menachem, the Lubavitcher cheder in Crown Heights, and the yeshiva building on Crown Street and Albany Avenue.

    Correct, even as you see them in 770 and elsewheres. There definitely are meshichist elements in these institutions, even as there are anti-meshichist elements. These are not official proclamations.

    There are meshichisten who have had important positions in the Chabad hierarchy.

    I don’t know what you mean by “Chabad hierarchy”. Please be more specific. Secondly, even if correct, the operative word is your own reference to “have had.”
    No one denies that there is a meshichist group, especially in Crown Heights and in certain places in Israel. What else is new? The point is that you are trying to smear and denigrate a whole movement and their activities. Korach was a great man, and attracted 250 prominent leaders – did that cast aspersions on the whole nation? And do you know how many genuine gedolei Yisrael, whose Torah we study to this day, originally signed on with Shabatai Tzvi? Therefore????

    It’s time that the ledig-geyers who utilize every opportunity to bash Chabad finally get a life. Their motivation is not the Mashiach-issue, for they bashed Chabad way before that became a bone of contention. Their pretense of “caring for Yiddishkeit and Torah” rings more than hollow when noting their abundant violations of the halachot of lashon hara and motzi shem ra. They will not and can not stop Chabad and its work throughout the world, thus are merely preaching to their own choir, which in plain terms simply means the additional violation of devarim beteilim. If you really care, then go out and set up your own mosdot to spread Yiddishkeit – not by negating others but by glorifying the Torah! Even on their assumption that Chabad is wrong, remember the adage of the rishonim that you can’t fight darkness except by bringing light – the ner mitzvah veTorah or!

    Yaakov

  25. Moishe Weiss says:

    a few short (Bli Neder…) comments.
    to post 20. – don’t know you, I cannot understand how you can take her comments (and as an avid fan, you know of the others) in any other context than what they were. poison. She clearly wasn’t presenting another possible theoretical view, go back and read the comment and the ones following and concurring, (even using hilchos Taaruvos). If you, as a Lubavitcher, are being Mekarev Yidden, She is saying you are including poison and Sheker into your kiruv.
    to post 22. your thoughtful post merits a few important counterpoints. there ARE Moshichisten in Chabad, and in Crown Heights, and they are very vocal and aggressive that is the serious problem. If they would be meek and shy it would not have reached these serious proportions. These elements have attempted to do many things including publishing, in official Chabad name and to project the impression that they are representing official Chabad policy.
    To Chabad leadership credit, and probably not known, are the lawsuits regarding copyright and official “Kehot” logo, and the succesful prosecution of groups called “Otzar” causing them to refrain from things. Possibly they re the group that publishd ” the time etc.” To my knowledge, I am not aware of such an edition of the siddur, even one (since banned and my understanding is, that there are thousands sitting in a basement in crown heights) printed illigelly by “Otzar” contained something like yechi. In Israel today, there have been numerous posters and ads in mainstream Chabad journals (like Kfar Chabad magazine) from Bais Din Rabbonei Chabad prohibiting anybody especially other Rabbis from setting policy and exhorting the public to ignore unofficial proclamations.

    As one who is extremely knowledgable in Chabad I can tell you that, in Chabad hierarchy, the highest level is that of Shliach. They are the elite, even many Rabbonim are official Shluchim, witness Rav Yossi Shusterman of Chabd Beverly Hills. For the most part, with admitted minority exception, the Shluchim and those “on top”, such as Rabbi Krinsky and Rabbi Kotlarsky and Rabbi Shemtov are notoriously anti Moshichist, and in fact terribly villkified and feared by the Moshichisten as they have been at the forefront of the succesful legal battles against these elements.

    to post 22. I have been informed today, of correspondence that I personally have seen, that to the contrary, the above organizations, while they do have very legitimate questions and concerns regarding the extent of the Moshichist attitude prevalent in Chabad, are in fact against any sort of condemnation of Chabad, quite the opposite, they are aware of many of the above points I’ve made, recognize the tremendous work of Chabad in communities worldwide, and are desirious to clarify the issues and continue a good working relationship with the legitimate and responsible elements of Chabad. Hopefully this will come out in the near future.

    Moishe Weiss

  26. Dovid Eliezrie says:

    Sorry to bother with the facts. After Gimmel Tammuz the Meshichistim attempted to create their own publishing using the name of the Lubavithcher publishing house Kehot. They claimed that they are Chabad. Chabad then went to court successfully to stop them from using the the emblem and trademark of Kehot. The siddur that Mr. Reisman is refering to, and if I recall correctly the book on redemption were both published by this renegade group before Kehot prevailed in court. Since them the group has become defunct.

    The Meshichistim have been dramatically marginalized. They have no roles in the leadership. None of them serve on the boards that run Chabad. Be it Merkos L’Inyonie Chinuch, which oversees the international network of Schluchim, Agudas Chassidei Chabad Haolomis which is mandated to oversee the Chabad communty, or Vaad Rabbonie Lubavtich Haclali which serves as the Beis Din for the movement. They not given positions in Schlichus, their views are banned from the conventions of the Shluchim and Shluchos.

    And wso e are back to the old “he said/she said”. As I wrote before anyone can put up a poster on a building. Its the people who run the multi million dollar institutions who carry the true weight. You guys find a guy like Soble who has no role in Chabad and say “ah I caught you”. We wonder who Soble is and know he has no influence. You guys find a sign on Kingston avenue and gee wiz it must mean that this is the truth. And we sue these characters to minimize their influence.

    And Mr. Reisman is right. I did say that we have Meshistim in Chabad. but I can not admit what is not true. They are not running the store. And if you talk to them you find that they feel marginalized and pushed aside.

    So I wonder what to you guys want. As I told once a top leader of Aguda the hostility to Chabad predates the Moshiach issue. Lets get real we differed on many issues, limud Hachassidus, the strategy for Jewish survival, how to deal with the broader Jewish world, Kiruv, ( now we have the absurd assertion by the the Litvasher world claiming they created it.), Eretz Yisroel-Shalimus Haaretz, lifetime Colel and other issues. Chabad took a different approach then much of the Yeshivish world. What better to say “guess what we know it all along these guys are beyond the pale. and now we discovered this nefarious theological agenda and they are poison etc.”.

    It would be a lot wiser for the Yeshivas community to debate the real issues. Then we can deal with substance instead of theological blood libels.

    Dovid Eliezrie

  27. mb says:

    Rabbis Weiss and Eliezerie,

    You are both in Southern California. Are you denying that the main Chabad institutions on the West Coast are run by overt Meshichistim?

    Perhaps I am confused by the definition of Meshichistim.

  28. Moishe Weiss says:

    mb- Chabad of California is headed by HaRav Boruch Shlomo Eliyahu Cunin who is definitely NOT a Moshichist. Although I don’t own a (connected) Television set, but I believe that on the much celebrated telethon, which he (and his staff) successfully produce annually, there would be an opportunity in those six hours to amply “spread the word” and not one word of “Yechi” or other buzz words is mentioned not one picture not one slogan – NOTHING. I am even amazed at the allegation, it shows you have absolutely no idea who you’re dealing with.
    Nevertheless, do not confuse Moshichism with a strong and healthy belief in the imminent coming of Moshiach and the constant spiritual influence a Chossid has of his Rebbe which Rabbi Cunin, as indeed I would expect from every Jew ( and chosid re rebbe), has. He literally lives his life inspired by those beliefs, and to great success as is well apparent.
    The other main figure in California is HaRav HaGaon R’ Ezra Shochet Shlita who is well known for his vehement opposition to anything even smelling of Moshichism, a former talmid went to another yeshiva and became a moshichist, Rabbi Shochet will not talk to him and ejected him from the Yeshiva when he comes to visit. I myself was present years ago when a speaker spoke, quite innocuosly I thought, on the subject and Rabbi Shochet jumped out of his chair and literally had the speaker sit down.
    The Rov is Rabbi Shusterman of Beverly Hills, not anything Moshichist there.
    The other main Shluchim, Rabbi Gordon, Rabbi Eliezrie, Rabbi Hecht, Rabbi Fradkin (of S. Diego) etc. are all opposed completely to Moshichisten and Moshiachism. And are not ashamed to say it.

    So, the short answer is yes I deny it, and so would you if you even bothered to speak with them. If you had the honesty to admit that you don’t even know them.

    Due to editorial mix up, I will reluctantly reply to Michoel post 22. { as the number 22 I mentioned was not him it was really nos. 21 and 23.}

    Michoel: all I have to “take responsibility” is myself, my family, and my Kehilla. Although I learnt in yeshiva that we are to a certain extent all responsible for one another, I am no more responsible for what goes on in “Lubavitch”, arguably one of the top three largest Jewish organizations around, than a talmid of YU or Lakewood is responsible for whatever actions a graduate of those institutions commits.
    I’m only slightly amused, one one Blog I’m accused (Since I’m as Lubavitch as you can get, when they say “Chabad” it’s me)of not even being Jewish let alone Frum, I’m told that we are begrudgingly tolerated as a part of Klal Yisrael, My Shechita and wine is seriously questioned. and you here accuse me of preaching to frum yidden to be more frum! which is it? You can’t have it both ways.
    Finally, I highly doubt you know Chabad at all, let alone first hand. I doubt you even know anything about Chabad first hand. So I will reiterate what I wrote above. Take the time to visit a few Chabad Shuls, incognito, see if what I am saying is true, and then lets talk. I’m that confident.
    I neglected to mention this above. When I was in Kolel in NY, I wanted, for various reasons, to get to know and understand what YU really is about. I heard so many various contrasts. So I took a train and spent a couple of days wandering around the YU campus in Washington Heights. I spoke to the students and some Rebbeim. I bought around a hundred tapes of Rav Hershel Shechter (which are fascinating) and I saw what I needed to see. ever since, I have developed a fascination for the Rav’s Torah, I own all his Sforim and have a standing order at Biegeleisen for anything that comes out.I own over a hundred tapes (ask Nordlicht) and can quote shiurim and Drashos of the Rav better than most YU grads. I devoured all the books about YU and the Rav that exist (Rakeffet, Lamm, R’ Shechter, etc) and to top it off I have around 250 tapes of Rabbi Rakeffet-Rothkoff who everybody knows treats the Rav like a Chabadnik treats the Rebbe. I understand the philosophy and issues better than most. and I have made what I feel is an educated decision of what the world of YU etc. is. Nobody can fool me and Nobody can con me. I know it.
    I wish, some of the truly well meaning writers and valid honest critics would do something close to that. They obviously care deeply (good or bad) about Chabad, it bothers them it weighs them down. There is deep philosophy here, why the Rebbe wanted Shluchim to go out to all corners, Why the Rebbe kept on relentlessly pushing the Moshiach concepts. I don’t need you to agree with it, but at least, if you are going to write about it, try to learn it. Try to understand it. Then you will at least have an educated decision.
    BTW, Michoel, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home, where every Godol every Rebbe was respected. My Father was friendly with Rav Shneor Kotlar, Rav Moshe, Rav Berel Shwartzman and Rav Gedalia Shorr to name just a few, as well as all Rebbe of Chassidus who stayed in our home and made theri Tishes there Friday Night. Im not sure negating another Derech is unique and exclusive among Chabad, it all depends on how you educate your children and students. My children and congregants hear Direi Torah across the Gamut (some of my best Drashos stem form sayings and stories of the Ponovitcher Rov ZT”L, one of my heroes – who BTW the Rebbe praises highly in his letters)I wonder how do you or will you educate YOUR children?

    Moishe Weiss

  29. Omer says:

    IT is high time for the respected and valuable lubavitcher rabbis to stop the reaction “the old misnagdim” and see the issues that most jewry rejected for thousands of years, the identification of a deceased person in particular as THE messiah. It is a fact and just as you wish to be respected in your positions you should respect the belief of jews for thousands of years. (it was muksteh machmas mius to say the least)

    Likewise, it is time for you to realize that people interact with lubavitchers in REAL life and not only on blogs. THey know and see how meshichistim have infiltrated chabad and their message is heard and not the the corporation lubavitch.

    FOr all the talk an anger writing, can they point to a choshuver person in chabad that decried the position of the meshichistin in terms of theri theological positions? Please do not come back with the long articles about denying the denial of the passin of the REbbe. IT is a shame that 35% or more of the movement holds a position that there was no passing and other 25% feel that this position should be respected.

    BUt more to the point; You will NOT find a choshuver person in chabad telling *their* own people or even telling the world at large how they differ with the meshichist positions on issues about MASHIACH IDENTITY. And please; do not tell me about those who state that these provlmations should not be made in public becuase they are not for “public consumption”. What is wanted is to see how CHOSHUVER RABBI was allowed to state that there is no basis to identify the Rebbe as the mashiach.

    YOu can see; DR. berger wrote an article and the BOteachand then Soble. All of you in the corporation Lubavitch claim “‘who is this Soble…?” you know what; You have so much power and connections and RAbbi ELiezrie at times wrote in JPOSt why don’t we see some of the choshuver rAbbis writing that SOble post are untrue and explain publicly how they were distorted? why don’t the youth in chabad know in their yeshiva how the meshichstm are wrong about their interpretations of the Rebbes talks in these matters? why are they not given the explanation why many jews have a riht to feel that these beleifs are wrong? Why do you educate them that this is all “misnagsihe hate? Why is that “hate” and your educatin them about the lack of yidishkeyt at others frum jews “love” and ‘the list goes on…

    Yes, you do tremendous work. Messirut nefesh. but that is not a carte blanche excuse for creating a new religion or poohpooin those who decry the birth of a forein beleif in judaism.

    HAve the courage to write in jPOSt as a lubavitch speaker explaining how they are wrong and you will do a service for your cause more than coming here an other bloa and condeming all your critics as “haters” and adding enmity and sinah and divisness as opposed to ahavat yirael that you claim to be to carry a your man mssion.

  30. nachum klafter, md says:

    Rabbi Meken:

    You write: “Perhaps the fact that the JPost could find no more prominent an authority than a “former rabbinical student” who is “active in the movement’s educational work” to declare the departed Rebbe the Messiah is a hopeful sign.”

    The point is that you cannot find ANY spokesperson or authority figure in Lubavitch to say the following: “The Rebbe is NOT and WILL NEVER BE the Messiah.”

    Dovid Eliazrie says: “I wonder what you guys want.”

    Well, what I want is for you to say: “The Rebbe is NOT and WILL NEVER BE the Moshiach.” That is the definition of an anti-Meshichist.

    Moishe Weiss: Most of what you say is entirely untrue, and I will note that you say “I am the opposite of a Meshichist.” But you do not say, “The Rebbe is NOT and WILL NEVER BE the Messiah.”

    mb: No, you are not confused about the definition of a meshichist. The ones who are confused and Dovid Eliezrie and Moishe Weiss. Their definition of an anti-Meshichist does not require that someone rejects the Rebbe as a viable candidate for Moshiach.

  31. Toby Katz says:

    I taught in a Lubavitch school in Melbourne Australia (Bais Rivka H.S.) for three years in the 1980’s — I was the only non-Lubavitcher on the kodesh staff. I got to know a lot about Lubavitch then, and what an eye-opener it was. My husband has Lubavitch cousins in Postville and my brother in law went there for a family bar mitzva — another eye-opener. Now I live in North Miami Beach, surrounded by numerous Lubavitchers,and have been to quite a few ladies’ gatherings and seen quite a bit of Chabad literature and heard amazing things. I could write a book about every false thing that I have heard stated in the name of Chabad, the list is a mile long.

    But for now I will mention just one: I have heard MANY times from Lubavitchers that “To be a chossid you MUST believe your rebbe is Moshiach. If your father didn’t believe that the Gerrer Rebbe was Moshiach then he wasn’t really a Gerrer chossid.”

    Falsely stating that “all chasidim believe their rebbe is Moshiach” they then go on to argue that the only difference between Chabad and every other chassidus is “WHO IS THE REAL MOSHIACH?” and bring evidence that the Lubavitcher Rebbe has a far greater claim than the Gerrer, Bobover, or Satmarer Rebbe. If I say that no other chassidim make this claim about their rebbe, they look at me pityingly, thinking that I obviously don’t know anything about chassidus.

    I have also heard some Lubavitchers state with equal conviction that not only other chassidim, but also Litvaks and Sefardim, believe that their Rosh Yeshiva or their Rav is Moshiach, and they bring a Gemara to “prove” that ALL Jews have ALWAYS believed their rebbe/rav/leader is Moshiach. And again, the only argument is, who has the best claim among all the competing candidates?

    A closely related statement that I have heard too many times to count, from Lubavitchers in many places, is: In order to fulfill the mitzva of “believing in Moshiach” — in order to say “Ani Ma’amin” sincerely — you MUST have a particular candidate in mind. If you do not have someone in mind, you have not fulfilled the mitzva of “believing in Moshiach.” I heard this, for example, in a lecture given by an extremist Lubavitcher woman here in NMB on the supposed “halachos of believing in Moshiach.”

    If you say you don’t believe the Rebbe is Moshiach, they challenge you with, “So who IS Moshiach?” and if you then respond, “I have no idea” they come back with, “Then you do not believe in Moshiach at all.”

    In particular I have heard numerous Lubavitchers say that David Berger “obviously” does not believe in Moshiach.

    Unfortunately I know a LOT about Chabad and have read a lot, and I have a lot of Lubavitcher relatives, and a LOT of Lubavitcher friends and neighbors. I was also at a number of farbrengens in Crown Heights when the Rebbe was still alive (and yes, I understand Yiddish)and once spent Simchas Torah there in the early ’70’s. Chabad has changed tremendously since then (although there were some subtle hints even then of things to come.)

    It is impossible for you to tell me that they are not teaching small bits of sheker all the time, along with the truly outstanding work they do. I am very conflicted about all this, because I do honor them for what they do and I do acknowledge that no one else has people out in the field all over the world doing the work they do with such mesirus nefesh. The sheker is so small in comparison. Does it really matter? Does it matter if they teach “To believe in Moshiach you must have in mind an actual person, a name and a face”?

    And many Lubs do NOT teach that, but only say, “Nu, what’s so bad about teaching that? Is it the end of the world if the picture of someone comes into my mind when I say Ani Ma’amin bevias hamoshiach?”

    Well, is it so bad?

    Variations are, “If you don’t believe, you are delaying the Ge’ulah” and “So what if he said that, is it such a big deal? Does it undo all the chessed and mitzvos he does?”

    BTW I know someone who left Chabad over these issues, but who was mekareved by R’Eliezrie and continues to regard him as his rebbe, and continues to speak of him with great respect and reverence. This person tells me that R’ Eliezrie is definitely not a meshichist and also told me that if the other Lubavitchers he had come across were like Rav Eliezrie, he would still be a Lubavitcher.

    The final straw that caused him to make the break was a trip to 770 a couple of years ago.

  32. Bob Miller says:

    Rabbis Weiss and Eliezrie:

    Have your organizations worked with any organizations led by Shmuel Butman or distributed his or their materials?

  33. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    “After Gimmel Tammuz the Meshichistim attempted to create their own publishing using the name of the Lubavithcher publishing house Kehot. They claimed that they are Chabad. Chabad then went to court successfully to stop them from using the the emblem and trademark of Kehot. The siddur that Mr. Reisman is refering to, and if I recall correctly the book on redemption were both published by this renegade group before Kehot prevailed in court.”

    Which court and when? If this is the case, then I was definitely wrong as to the issue. However, I would like to look at the court records.

    “As I told once a top leader of Aguda the hostility to Chabad predates the Moshiach issue. Lets get real we differed on many issues, limud Hachassidus, the strategy for Jewish survival, how to deal with the broader Jewish world, Kiruv, ( now we have the absurd assertion by the the Litvasher world claiming they created it.), Eretz Yisroel-Shalimus Haaretz, lifetime Colel and other issues. Chabad took a different approach then much of the Yeshivish world.”

    No dispute there. And I will be the first to admit that Chabad was not only right about the kiruv issue, but changed the mindset of all Orthodoxy in the process (and I said as much in a letter to the Jewish Press published in its June 29, 2007 edition). However, as with any other group of human beings, Chabad has had its failures and shortcomings, and its adherents have shown a tendancy to exagerate the achievements, downplay the shortcomings and failures, and denigrate the very real contributions of others. And please don’t label me prejudiced against Chabad. I have had a 36 year long relationship starting with my college years in Cleveland. In the past 15 years, I have volunteered my time and efforts getting federal income tax exemptions for two Chabad houses in Ohio, Chabad of Cyberspace (where Yossi Kazen put me on his board of directors), and one other organization. I have donated time, money, and books to Rabbi & Mrs. Kazen’s Chabad house in Beechwood, Ohio. So when I speak, I speak objectively.

  34. Ori says:

    May I point out what appears to be a logical inconsistency? Almost everybody here accepts the importance of kiruv – guiding Jews who are far from the Torah and its Mitzvot into greater observance. This is true regardless of how far away they begin, and whether or not they are showing any progress. I think the underlying assumption is that if G-d keeps somebody alive, that person is capable of spiritual growth.

    This isn’t just empty talk, either. I am Heterodox and I am not shy about my non Halachic thoughts and actions. We get into many arguments, but no fights. You all make me feel welcome here. You truly and really believe in kiruv.

    You see the potential in an intemarried Shabbat descecrator like me, and you realize that friendship and gentle persuasion are the best way forward. Anything else would drive me away.

    Chabbad Meshichistim are a lot closer to Orthodoxy than I am, both in terms of behavior and beliefs. If you think that friendly kiruv is the right way to respond to me, why isn’t it the right way to respond to them? OK, so they make a mistake about the Mashiach – how is that different from Rabbi Akiva’s, except for the fact that when Chabbadniks make that mistake nobody dies?

  35. Omer says:

    “Well, is it so bad?”

    I would think that the cutoff point where it is “so bad” is when they come across with statements like so “…’so an so don’t really beleive n moshiach”. Then it crossed their line an motto of Ahavas Yisrael. Then all teachings that lead to this (meaning all sheker) are to “so bad”.

  36. Dovid Eliezrie says:

    I for one do not believe that to be a Chassid than you must believe your Rebbe is Moshiach. And I think that this is not the issue of a ‘new religion” but rather the struggle about how to be a Chassid after Gimmel Tammuz. And while some here want all kinds of ideological statements the issues are much more gray and confusing.

    As for Shmuel Butman, his actions on behalf of the Meshichistim marginalized from the Chabad establishment. Due to my public condemnation of him in the New York Times he will not even say hello to me. He has no real influence in the movement or leadership role.

    The court case was if I recall correctly Kehot Publication Society or Merkos against Ozar Sifrie Lubavitch. I don’t know in what court but I do know that Ozar lost big time and the judge ordered all the books taken off the market. I could attempt to find out, email me privately and I will try: [email protected]

    There is no question that in Chabad we are guilty as other groups of seeing our own accomplishments and downplaying others. In fact I wrote an article in the a Chabad magazine about two years ago about how the how the Litvahser world, artscroll, feldheim etc. and in particular Rabbis Dovid Goldwasser & Berel Wein, and others have rewritten recent Jewish history to exclude Chabad. In the piece I stated that Chabad does the same not recognizing the accomplishments of others in the Orthodox world.

    To me Chabad is what the Rebbe taught and lived. His ideals and principles. In my mind these are Kodesh. Sadly many have distorted these teachings, be in in the struggle to be a Chassid, looking for ways of connection. Most are guilty of a bit to much enthusiasm and passion in the wrong direction. Their ideas have foundation in Torah, as much as I may disagree with them.

    I still think the real divisions between Chabad and the Litvahse Yeshiva world are deeper and rooted in other issues. As I heard yesterday a certain Litvashe Gadol telling a Talmid in a major Yeshiva that was learning Chassidus during the Mussar time while his friend was reading the New York Times. “At least the Times is true”.
    Dovid Eliezrie

  37. Yossi Ginzberg says:

    “I have also heard some Lubavitchers state with equal conviction that not only other chassidim, but also Litvaks and Sefardim, believe that their Rosh Yeshiva or their Rav is Moshiach” (Toby Katz)

    Back in the 70’s, years before this whole thing even started, I heard from a Rosh Yeshiva a prediction that Chabad would become a religious problem, eventually. His reasoning? Very simple, he said- If there was an incontrovertible Bat-Kol from heaven that Chacham X was Moshiach, or the X Rebbe, or the X Litvish Rav, every Jew in the world would accept it…EXCEPT CHABAD, who would not accept it unless their Rebbe was named.

    Does anyone disagree? I don’t think so!

  38. Moishe Weiss says:

    I’ve said what I have to say, I’ll let the readers judge. judging from the plethora of private emails I’ve recieved in the last two days, from people
    I don’t even know (I assume Non-Lubs.) I think I accomplished what I intended to.
    I will only quote the following from Nachum Klafter, a very strange statement from one who I thought (as evidenced by his recent pontifications on other Blogs) seems to value honesty and integrity.

    I quote:
    “Most of what you say is entirely untrue, and I will note that you say “I am the opposite of a Meshichist.” But you do not say, “The Rebbe is NOT and WILL NEVER BE the Messiah.”
    I’d demand to know:
    1) what I said exactly that is untrue, I was describing myself and my beliefs and activities. I did so very honestly, and with true candor, check me out. People probably know me. I am just as good an example of what Lubavitch produced and does, as anybody, I studied exclusively in Chabad upper schools, I went on Shlichus and I do what I think is what my Rebbe wanted me to do, and I feel that I, and many of my close friends, understand and believe to be My Rebbes viewpoint on many critical issues, and I live my life accordingly.
    you made a strong statement, back it up.
    your Second statement is even more Bizarre. Insulting even. Why in the world do I have to proclaim anything?? Why, for example, would I have to say, “I am not an Idol worshiper”? what Chutzpah! what gives you or anyone else the right to judge others you don’t even know? who do you, or anyone else here, think they are, to judge me or any other Chabadnik, whom they have absolutely no idea who they are or what they believe? or what they’ve accomplished and how many Jewish lives they’ve touched? If you feel, as I’ve heard others do, that every Lubavitcher Chosid, even a learned shomer Torah and Mitzvos, not to mention a Rov, has to appear before a Bais Din and proclaim that he is… well then, you, my friend are a large part of a hideous problem, then there truly is a witch hunt and you’re the witch.
    all this is besides the point, Its laughable. I went out of my way, and said, I am not a Meshichist, and I describe at great length what I don’t allow or do in my Shul, What type of publications and speakers I will NOT allow, etc etc as I wrote EXTENSIVELY above, I assume you know how to read? So in your opinion, thats not enough, I need to “proclaim” something, Maybe have it written signed and notarized? then I assume you will say (ala’ Katz) that I have a “little” just a little Sheker and I’m not telling the truth anyways, and I don’t really understand what a Moshichist is etc. where does it stop?

    To give an example of how childish you sound, and forgive me if I am out of line here, I mean no disrespect, truly. I only mean it for illustration sake. Would anyone expect every Rabbi associated with NCSY or Yeshiva Torah Temimna, wonderfully fine institutions, who have done great things, a few years back to proclaim, “I am NOT a … in order to stay “in good standing”?
    Lubavitch IS doing more than most realize to combat “Moshichism”, and they have had success. unfortunately the battle is far from over.

    BTW, this will also serve to answer post Number 29, Omer, (hint -use the spell check and edit feature) if you bother to read my posts above you will see that some very “Choshuver” Rabbonim have taken very public stances to negate “Moshichism”. Rabbis Shochet etc. are as Choshuv as you get.

    I am beginning to feel that as I said in the first line of my first post, that to a certain group of people,albeit some with well intended but misguided preconceived notions, nothing I say will ever change their mind.

    I am lowering my standards, because quite frankly I’m disgusted with the pontificaters who think they’re sitting on a perch and have a few pages of Gemmoro (or even Tanya) under their gartel, and maybe even know or are related to a few Lubavitchers etc. and they are going to save the world from Lubavitch, although they love and admire them so much.

    To Bob Miller – a fair question, I personally have no use or value for anything Rabbi Butman says or does. He does not speak or write on behalf of mainstream Chabad. Certainly not his paid articles in the Jewish press. I believe other Shluchim feel the same, although I recall him to be a talented orator he is never (to my knowledge) asked to speak outside of his limited circles in NYC. I don;t kow if he was allowed into the Shluchim banquet, certainly not in a respected position. so, he’s just another loud mouth talent, who says his opinions.
    And here is where it gets very interesting. R’ Butman is ostensibly the director of “Lubavitch Youth”, I’m not even sure of what they do, other than put up a Sukka across from the UN every year, a wonderful thing) they publish the L’Chaim Magazine, that is available from Chabad Lubavitch of cyberspace (thank you Mr. Reisman) and widely distributed even here in California.
    I pulled up this weeks edition. the Rebbe is mentioned numerous times as “The Lubavitcher Rebbe” no appendage re Moshiach at all, nothing. Although there are moshiach themes throughout the issue,and a beautiful sicha re the trees Yaakov Avinu planted that were used for the planks in the Mishkan I believe they are well within the range of simply discussing those topics as they relate to the parsha and time of year (Month of Adar etc) even the “Directors” essay only talks about seventh af Adar and the need to “hasten” the coming of Moshiach, clearly in this directors mind Moshiach has NOT come yet.
    As everybody knows, and is well publicized, the Lubavitcher Rebbe spoke incessantly about Moshiach, there is no debating that, and people don’t understand the reason, but I don’t believe that is the topic at hand.
    Bob, the problem in Chabad is, being an outreach organization at heart and soul, every person feels the need to reach out with his viewpoint. I don’t know if something similar exists in other organizations Aguda for example. the members of Aguda feel perfectly happy to leave matters of publicity in the very capable hands of Rabbi Shafran. Chabad is different, thats the battle the leaders of the organization are faced with.
    finally, Mr Reisman, be assured that there was indeed such a court case and injunction, they were actually very talented printers, and their publications (incl. siddurim and Tehillims) were of a very high quality. Something that even anti-moshichists wanted to aquire, nevertheless as I’ve mentioned, for the most part they are sitting in a storehouse somewhere under court injunction forbidding their sale. perhaps a lexus-nexus search would yield the desired case I would input “Kehot” or Merkaz L’inyonei Chinuch vs. Otzar Sifrei Chabad” and see what comes up.

    Moishe Weiss

  39. Fern R says:

    I have attended Chabad shiurim, Chabad Shabbos services, and even worked for a Chabad organization, and I have never once detected even the slightest inference from a Chabad shliach that the Rebbe is the Messiah. Not once. The only place I have ever heard it discussed is on the web by people who are anti-Chabad.

    Some of you are so quick to bash Chabad but clearly know nothing about what is actually going on. Have you thought about the harm your words could do if your words were read by non-frum Jews? How do you think it would be perceived by a Jew in Southern California (an area I know very well) if they stumbled across this post and read all the incorrect things some of you have said about Chabad? There are no other outreach organizations outside of Los Angeles, and yet there are tens of thousands of secular Jews here. If you paint Chabad as believing and teaching things outside of Judaism, you are risking the possibility of ruining the reputation of the only outreach organization available to Jews in many, if not most, parts of the world. You should be one million percent sure that what you are saying is true before you risk tarnishing the only portal through which most secular Jews have to go back to Torah and mitzvot. I know I wouldn’t want to have it on my conscience that I sullied the name of a good kiruv organization and because of my lashon hara even one Jew who would have become frum, didn’t.

  40. Omer says:

    Dear Rabbi Weiss,

    A few points: 1) Has Rabbi Schochet spoken publicly about this issue the past ten years? Has he written about it the past ten years that we can verify and publicize his writings to the Jpost and others. You will be doing a great service if that is the fact. I haven’t seen nothing about it on this vein in the past years (only perhaps that he attached his name to a booklet that denies and rejects the denial of the Rebbe’s passing).

    2) Does R. Butman help subsidize the MItzvah tanks that go around the year in NY? They always have many of them plastered with “yechi…”.

    3) Can you point to a particular writing in one of the Chabad public and official magazines (like Kfar Chabad) that explains how the position of the MEshichisn regarding the identity of Maashiach is incorrect (not because it damages the funding, but because it simply incorrect)?

    4) I will just reiterate something Rebbetzin KAtz mentioned. I have witnessed. Many of them went further than that. They existed in the real world. Messirat nefesh and good works do NOT excuse Onnaat devarim an machlokess. Attacking the victim of suchoccurrences will not make that go away. THe way to remedy it is to teachan educate your youth how this is wrong (even if you do the wonderful messius nefesh work onaat dvarim and halbanas pney chaveyroy and machlokess are not excused or exonerated by mesirat nefesh).

  41. mb says:

    “I have attended Chabad shiurim, Chabad Shabbos services, and even worked for a Chabad organization, and I have never once detected even the slightest inference from a Chabad shliach that the Rebbe is the Messiah. ”

    Never? In Southern California? Even Rabbis Weiss and Eliezerie would not deny that Chabad institutions here are rife with Mesichinists.

  42. Asher Heber says:

    First a disclaimer 1)I am not a Mesichist 2)I am a Chabadnic but I speak for myself and in no way am I speaking in a official capacity that represents Lubavitch or anyone else.
    I do not know Rabbi Weiss personally but I know about him through my son- in-law who is a Rav and Dayan in Melbourne Australia.
    As Rabbi Weiss states very clearly in one of his posts , it is a chutzpa to ask him or Lubavitch in general to have to prove that we are all not Mesichistim and to come out with an official Kol Koreh to that affect.With all due respect, do all the Litveshe Yeshivishe crowd have to declare, by putting an ad in the NY Times’ that they are not Roshei Hayishivos worshipers as many of them are?
    The greatest Mesiras Nefesh that most of the Chabad bashers have is what color designer gatges to put on in the morning and they have the audacity to villify Chabad and its Shluchim.
    Its interesting to note that Yeshiveshe crowd who normally would look down at Berger because he is a YU graduate and modern Orthodox now use his book profusely in their villification of Chabad.
    One more thought.I challenge any of the bashers to come to Crown Heights and and go to ninety nine percent of the Shuls and listen for the words “Yechi………”.The answer is you will not hear these words .The only place its heard is in the headquarters of the lunies downstairs in 770 but not for long.

  43. Yaakov Menken says:

    To all sides: we are trying to let through most comments, to provide a fair opportunity for all to have their say. But this dialogue could quickly degenerate. Please try to keep it productive.

    In response to my other, newer article, a comment asks “Yes the Shulchan Oruch HaRav is a major acharon, but he’s not the only one and the halachah is sometimes not like he says. Is Chabad prepared to acknowledge that?”

    If a person has a Rebbe Muvhak (Rebbe in the classical rather than Chassidic sense), and follows his opinion in all areas, then the student is allowed to follow that opinion. I have never heard it argued that the Shulchan Aruch HaRav is a *rejected* opinion, any more than I have heard Gedolim say that Satmar Chassidim shouldn’t follow the shitos of the Satmar Rebbe. If you are claiming that Chassidei Lubavitch must accept that there are other de’os, that is of course true. But you can’t say “the Halachah is not like” the Shulchan Aruch HaRav for his students.

    At the same time, some of the Lubavitch writers seem to be spending far too much time and effort denying the existence of a problem obvious to all. For Rabbi (?) Heber to try to compare “Roshei Hayishivos worshipers” is simply silly. Having learned in Lakewood in two countries, the Mir in Yerushalayim, and now having a close connection to many Talmidei Ner Yisroel by living in Baltimore (and all of this after being in Ohr Somayach for over two years), I’m in a good position to question where he found these mysterious worshipers, whether among the Ba’alei Teshuvah or the FFB (Orthodox-born).

    Even in terms of hero-worship he’s completely off-base; searching a “Litveshe Yeshivishe” home for a larger-than-life photo of their Rosh Yeshiva would come up empty. You’ll not find a picture of said Rosh Yeshiva on most every wall of a school, much less a continuous video loop of various talks and events at which his presence was recorded.

    And unfortunately, in this discussion we are speaking about a limited group who have reached an entirely different level of worship, Avodah Zarah mamash — people who call the Rebbe “Boreinu” and teach children to pray to him (l”a!) and look at his picture before saying Shema. So please keep comments about “worship” out of the conversation unless you intend it in its most literal sense.

    There are three reasons why one cannot ask why other groups don’t need to say anything publicly to rebut this, that or the other. First of all, you don’t have a significant sub-population engaging in Rosh Yeshiva-worship, much less any of the other things mentioned, or claiming that they are a positive good. You can claim from today through next week that the Meshichistin are a Miut D’lo Chashivi (insignificant minority), but they are making far too much noise and finding themselves in far too prominent positions for them to simply be ignored. From the people running 770 to the people running Lubavitch in cyberspace (at least around the time of the Rebbe’s passing) to the Director of Chabad Lubavitch of Illinois — who penned a reply to HaRav Keller shlit”a calling all these beliefs “normative” even if he does not share them — there are far too many people claiming this is all completely acceptable, if not desirable, for them not to be shouted down. And who should be doing the loudest shouting, if not those closest to them?

    Second, when it comes to what a Rav said, did, or believed, it is simply not true that people don’t rebut. If any paper carries a misquotation of one Rav or another, you’ll have multiple published letters from Talmidim correcting the record. This is on far more mild stuff than whether or not someone claimed to be Moshiach! The same happens outside our circles as well, of course. If someone misquotes Churchill or Einstein or most anyone, some historian who knows better will set the record straight, publicly. Why on earth shouldn’t there be widely-published articles about what the Rebbe actually said?

    And finally, the consequences are simply too grave for silence to be the appropriate answer, even when addressing those outside Lubavitch. For some 2000 years, one of the key differences between Judaism and Christianity was that Judaism is simply not looking for a dead person to be the Messiah. Our vision of the Moshiach is that he will be an anointed king from the line of David, who restores the kingdom in Jerusalem, builds the third and final Bais HaMikdash, and ushers in an era of peace for Israel. He will not be proven Melech HaMoshiach through signs and wonders, nor will he die half-way through the mission and come back later to finish the job.

    Fifteen years ago, all of this changed, literally overnight. The Meshichisten represent a splinter we haven’t seen in 2000 years, and when there are ads proclaiming his imminent return, you have the Evangelicals publishing ads reading “If he doesn’t come on Sunday, come see us on Monday!”

    You don’t have a problem with that? Of course you do. One thing is for certain: if Lubavitchers were more vocal about it, Rabbi Dovid Berger wouldn’t be able to write about “the scandal of Orthodox indifference.”

  44. mb says:

    “One more thought.I challenge any of the bashers to come to Crown Heights and and go to ninety nine percent of the Shuls and listen for the words “Yechi………”.The answer is you will not hear these words .The only place its heard is in the headquarters of the lunies downstairs in 770 but not for long.

    Comment by Asher Heber — February 10, 2008 @ 2:05 am ”

    I have never been to 770 but have heard Yechi chanted many times. How could that be? Come to Los Angeles, you will hear it often.
    But the absence or not of the chanting of Yechi, is somewhat irrelevant.
    As is the Chabad Shuls that still say the Rebbes Psalm ( numbered for his next birthday, or the calendars that say Happy Birthday on 11th of Nissan)
    How many faxes are delivered to the Rebbes grave daily? Those who send them having been told to ask the Rebbe and he will answer? Or seeking answers in his collection of speeches and letters? And many other examples of belief in the continued presence of the Rebbe and his imminant return as Moshiach, whether resurrected from death or revealed from some hidden place but still very much alive.
    What is relevant is that nobody is screaming stop this nonsense.

  45. Asher Heber says:

    I beg to differ with some of the points made by Rabbi Menken in his previous post.I work in a non Lubavitch Chinuch organization and come in contact with many Litveshe yeshivashe individuals who act and speak about their roshei Hayishivos in the very same manner that we are accused of speaking about the Rebbi.There is nothing wrong with holding one’s Rebbi or Rosh Hayishiva in awe but lets remember that this is a two way streat.
    As to pictures on the the wall,I don’t know which houses Rabbi Menken has visited but almost all houses I have visited have at least one picture and in some cases almost entire walls covered with pictures of gedolim, Roshei Hayishivos,,Rabeim etc.Again there is nothing wrong with this but lets not make this a benchmark as to who worships what.
    Just to give an example about how far this Lubavitch bashing has gone, one talkback poster in the one of the recent articles in the Jerusalem Post on this subject, one who signs himslf in as a “Rabbi” and “posek”, states the following “Lubavitch has gone of the rails since 1922 when they were the only ones that did not heed the command of the Chofetz Chaim for all Jews living in Communist dominated Russia to leave”

  46. Yaakov Menken says:

    I have to ask, again, that we try to address the reality instead of distorting it. The comment about pictures is emblematic. Of course you find pictures of Gedolim on walls. My wife has a wall in our living room with 17 Gedolim on it (admittedly, five are combined in one picture).

    And that’s the point, there are fourteen 8×10 (or smaller) photos of seventeen different Gedolim (none of whom were alive when the pictures were posted). This is very different than walking into a house and finding a single larger-than-poster-sized frame, taking up more than double the wall space of 14 8x10s, of one larger-than-life picture of one Rebbe. You do not walk into “Litveshe” homes or schools and find the same Gadol’s picture on most every wall in every room.

    And what’s more, I am absolutely certain that Rabbi or Mr. Heber is well aware of the difference, if he comes into contact with nearly as many Lubavitchers and Litvaks as he claims. This is, as I said, emblematic of the response to the whole issue: far too much time and effort spent denying the existence of something far too obvious to ignore.

  47. S. Breslow says:

    A few comments on the comments…

    1. [removed by Editor]
    2. The gravity of the meshichist problem is overstated, and has become a rather convenient excuse for some old ‘ahavat chinam’ to resurface…
    The fact remains that while the meshichisten are guilty of distorting the LR’s words and teachings, they are hardly guilty of kefirah or avoda-zarah, simply of supplanting the ‘hichesa limeshicha’ of the Rambam, with what has always been a very marginal view. Were there to be a real problem, c”v, of this magnitude, don’t you think a single posek would have issued a definitive ruling – give our gedolim some credit.
    All that has been said is that foolishness is not an aveira, and it isn’t. As for the future of Lubavitch, let the ones who built it maintain it, grow it, fix it, or whatever. Johnny-come-latelies from the outside generally do more harm than good.

    3. As for the pictures, Rabbi Menken, I’ve seen plenty of mega-pictures of R’Schach, R’Ovadya, and the Gerer Rebbe in many homes – so what ? Visit Flatbush, Deal, Bnei-Braq, and you’ll see what I mean. But what of it ? This is what you call avoda-zarah ? There is ample support for this type of thing going back (at-least) centuries. While the following seforim may not be very well-known outside chassidic circles, their standing is certainly beyond reproach. The Arizal (see Chida- midbar kedemos, ‘tziyur’) instructs that difficulties in torah-learning can be overcome by conjuring up a picture of one’s rebbe. Sar Shalom of Belz said that when in trouble or need, one should visualize the image of a tzaddik and he will surely be helped (see Lev Sameach – R’Chanoch Henoch m’Olesk). And the Palgei Mayim (end 16th century) writes that he kept a picture of his rebbe in his bet-hamidrash to fulfill the verse ‘vehayu einecha ro’os es morecha’. So having children look at the picture of a tzaddik before saying shema at night doesn’t sound like a very big deal, EVEN if said tzaddik is the Lubavitcher Rebbe. To conflate this with avoda-zarah as you do (“Avodah Zarah mamash — people who call the Rebbe “Boreinu” and teach children to pray to him (l”a!) and look at his picture before saying Shema”)is dishonest, and runs the risk of running into the same situation confronting Mrs. Katz. Ask yourself, is it worth it ?

  48. Asher Heber says:

    Again I disagree with Yakov Menkens previous post.If you enter the home of any Chosid, be he Satmar ,Gur,Bobov,Belz etc.You will find pictures of only their Rabeim.Again I see nothing intrinsicly wrong with one picture, many pictures big or small.I don’t see this as a major Avlah that is always brought up when a Lubavitch bashing session is in progress.
    Apparently MB is not very familiar with the age old custom of placing a Pidyon Nefesh at the kevorim ,graves of Gedolei Yisroel.
    As to saying a Kapital,chapter Thillim on the birth date or every day for a tzadik lilui nishmoso as an example of our iniquities ,is nit picking in it’s purest form.Wishing the Rebbi “happy bithday” ,this is a new one to me.What will they come up with next? I agree that using the Rebbi’s letters to find answers to ones problems is stretching things a bit and many Lubavitcher Rabbonim Have publicly and vehemently come out against this practice.
    As Rabbi weiss has put it so succinctly,all this will make no difference to those whose mind set is to dig up all the dirt they can against Chabad.
    There is a Yiddish expression “az men zucht gut gefunt men.Az men zucht shlechts gefunt men” If one sets out with the idea of looking for the good in something he will find it and those who set out with the idea of finding the negative in the very same object will find it.As exemplified by the incident of Yehosha,Calev and the rest of the Spies sent by Moshe. One thing for sure. This entire “discussion” about who or what Moshiach is continued villification of Chabad will certainly not hasten his coming

  49. mb says:

    “Apparently MB is not very familiar with the age old custom of placing a Pidyon Nefesh at the kevorim ,graves of Gedolei Yisroel.”

    I’m not? Hmmm. I have a feeling I have been around Orthodoxy a lot longer than you, and I’m well immersed in Chabad practices. What you didn’t respond to was the common call to”fax the Rebbe” and he will answer your problem. And commenting on saying Tehillim for the Rebbe’s next birthday is not nit-picking. Is is observing a most peculiar custom of those who in your opinion say the Rebbe is dead and not coming back.
    Please do not be disingenuous.
    I’m still waiting for the leadership to scream “Stop these rediculous practices”

  50. moishe Weiss says:

    mb – now you’re, (like others), simply not writing the truth. I never said, nor even suggested that Chabad, in California, Is “Rife” with M’s. Neither did Rabbi Eliezrie. We, not like you, were simply writing truthfully that there are M’s. go back, if you’re sincere, read my posts. and apologize publicly, for misstating what I wrote, otherwise I will feel that the credit I gave you for asking an honest question was missplaced.
    from your further posts, it seems you were just baiting me and others. I have nothing further to say to you. You have wasted my valuble time.

    Rabbi Menken: you are of course right in many of your points. I will not deny many of the things you write, although I do think that you are greatly minimizing a) the current glory of Chabad, witness the multitudes of new Yeshivos and the success of the many Heichal Menachem institutes for learning chassidus that are very succesful in heavily populated Boro Park, Bnai Braq and Yerushalayim. The Chassidus on line phone shiurim are at capacity even in places like Lakewood. There is much greatness in Chabad currently, much Torah and Yiraas Shomayim, you are making it sound that Chabad is an old relic, a history. Every week Kovtzim of deep Chidushei Torah appear from Chabad institutions, some are available on line. do some more research.
    b) you greatly minimize the “cult of personality” aspect, of the type that has so stigmmatized Chabad all these years, that has permeated other groups as well, sometimes to an extreme, that was not there years ago. This is a fact that you and others choose to ignore, but it is there. Customs. minhagim, and even publications surrounding the great Gaonim Rav Eliyashiv and Rav Chaim Kanievsky and the like, that would have been unbheard of a generation ago, booklets and (now videos! shades of Chabad!) that chronicle their every waking moment, books of even the most ridiculous questions posed to these gedolim that, would they appear from Chabad, would be the source of derision in every web site from hirhurim to Yeshiva world. I have in my posession books written about the lives of recently deceased Roshei Yeshiva that i showed excerpts to a good “yeshivish” friend of mine, a talmid Chochom, and asked him to tell me who they are takling about, he knew I was testing him so he didn’t comment, when i showed him the cover he flipped and quipped “it must have been written by a chabadnik” he was of course joking but he admitted he ahd no idea.
    I will record a story I heard first hand, last summer, personally from the leading Rabbi of Chinuch Atzmai, a gerrer Chasid, who was seen by Rabbi Shach as a Chabad sympathizer. He would always field questions from the aforementioned Rov and tried to answer as best he could. He once entered the rovs chambers and the Rov literally pounced on him (his words) with a copy of “sefer minhagim chabad” folded to a certain page, there it says that chassidim have a custom to place a picture of the Rebbe (original content was referring to previous rebbe, but obvious that it also meant the then current rebbe) under the head of a baby at a bris, Says Rabbi Shach, Nu! what do you say about this? isn’t this Avoda Zoro? The Chinuch Atzmai rabbi answered “Rosh Yeshiva. are you aware that they do similar things in Bnai Braq every day with your picture?” and I myself witnessed it? Rabbi Shach said “Ach now you’re just making letzonus” he said “no, I’m not”. and Rabbi Shach was silent. These are not the rantings of a blind chasid, I subscribe to a multitude of publications that are sent to me, I am extreemly aware of what is going on in the Jewsih, Chareidi, world. With due respect, you are minimizing this newfound phenomenon. It’s there, but you only see, as perhaps you should, the good in it, not the insidious you perscribe to Chabad.
    Re somethings you wrote in your other original piece. You are surely aware of the severe pronouncements and appendages litvisher Gedolim placed on The Rebbe and Chabad in general (curses and statements I will not repeat), these were in PRINT, and even moreso in private, even regarding to their wine and shidduchim with them, over thirty, forty years ago, and not relating to Moshiach, These statements public and private were seen as an extreme affront to Chabad and its Chassidim, certainly not becoming of “Gedolim”, how much were these statements responsible for a “wagon train” mentality among Chabad? and how many of these same horrid statments (BTW NOT relating to Moshiach, for example a proclamation that the “Kat” is organizing a Lag Baomer Parade in the streets and saying Shma etc. and prohibitting any school to join this prohibbitted gathering) this caused a knee jerk reaction among chassidim. Don’t make it sound that the Litvisher world were just some innocent lambs being bashed by chutzpadik Lubs. There was stuff, bad stuff, flung from both sides, I was there, I heard it and suffered it myself.
    I spoke to early students of Yeshiva Tora V’daas and their Roshei Yeshiva were denigrating the previous rebbe (jokes about him being in a wheel chair etc.) in the early 40’s. please don’t make it sound that Lubavitch is entirely guilty and the Yeshiva world were not acting more than a little disgusting as well.
    Re the fact that Lubavitch is the only group villified. It seems you are simply not aware of the severe issues confronting the chareidi yeshiva world today, and how MANY groups simply hate (no other words for it) and fight and completely dismiss each other, to an exttreme level.
    Rabbi Menken, you surely must be aware of what is going on in Ponovizh? the two factions that literally use hands and fists and fight, to the point that there were not any Hakafot in the Yeshiva one year. or Satmar (very extreme) or of the feelings between Sfardim and Ashkenazic TORAH leaders in Israel, not too mention the recent fights, that literally led toliteral bloodshed in the streets of Williamsburgh between Satmar and your beloved Belz? in the mid 70’s.
    To this day I am not sure if a Belz and Satmar would do a shidduch. There have been serious issues in Ger, causing the opening of a seperate Bais Yaakov in Bnai Brak, because the teachers at Wolf would tell the Gerrer seminary students not to marry Gerrer boys.
    Or of the feelings between Belz and the Eidah Hachareidis, who are not shy in their condemnations.
    What do you think they are fighting about? whose Kugels are better? there are deep rifts among Frum Jews today and yesterday, Its not only about Lubavitch.
    Maybe, since we are still in Golus and takeh, need Moshiach, and soon. for all this terrible hatred, especially among TORAH yidden, to stop. Maybe we ALL should examine our Battim and see if there is mold!

    with Respect, Rabbi Menken, because i think your intentions are more than noble.
    Moishe Weiss

  51. omer says:

    1) How can one compare putting up pictures and similar things to DECLARING with certainty who IS THE MESSIAH (as for example Soble and many other messianists did for the ENTIRE WORLD) in JPost and other similar venues?

    2) Not *one* Chabad Rabbi has the courage to come out in the same venue (Jpost for exapmple) FOR THE PAST 13 YEARS (i have to retract this: for there were two individuals who did so (in the past) and they were vilified and one of them still vilified till today!) and explain how the writer was wrong in declaring this things in general, and as a Chabad Chassid and shliach in particular and especially as he came out quoting the words of the Rebbe as he made all those claims that Soble said he did? The same goes for all similar announcements done in public. How many times has an ad in the NYT come out declaring the Rebbe as the Messiah by Lubavitchers and in the name of the Rebbe and how many rebuttals in the same venue?

    3) Writers come back swinging at the audacity of questioning the approach of the non messianists, after so much messirut nefesh (depicting incidentallyperjorativley other jews -as another custom of chabad of late- the gatkes colors other jews choose to put in the morning) as if this has to do with the discussion. The discussion is: What are you doing to dissasociate from the message for the past 13 years ? Zero! (It is probably not fair to write this about the present writer as he did in the recent past try hard to express his position of outrage at those…But that is not the response of anyone in an *official* capacity).

    4) At the end of the day: 770 is run by messianists. Dancing at lecho dodi every friday night with yechi for a long time. Announcements of yechi at aliyas, before and after davening. At the end after all the 90% of the synagogues put together they do not fill half of 770. No Rabbi can have the audacity to express an opinion different that theirs inside these circles (we are not talking about private conversations). (And the same goes for numerous places outside of 770 where similar customs exist).

    5) And at the end of the day: Mesirat nefesh and good work, do not condone creating a new religion THAT AFFECTS OTHER JEWS (precisely because influences jews at large), does not exempt offending people; and creating divisiveness amongst Jews in most sensitive issues (that are not mandated by the Torah; on the contrary).

    The messirat nefesh and good work lubavitch earns is when they work for the cause; not when the cause (of bringing Jews to Torah and Hashem; to help Jews, to bring us all closer to Mashiach) is a medium to the name of Lubavitch. Messirat nefesh to bring unity amongst all jews; not to stir the pot to divide jews.

  52. mb says:

    mb – now you’re, (like others), simply not writing the truth. I never said, nor even suggested that Chabad, in California, Is “Rife” with M’s. Neither did Rabbi Eliezrie

    I never said you did. I said you didn’t deny that the Chabad institutions are rife with M’s.
    I’ll ask you again. Do you deny it?
    Or shall I name names?

  53. Toby Katz says:

    “I have attended Chabad shiurim, Chabad Shabbos services, and even worked for a Chabad organization, and I have never once detected even the slightest inference from a Chabad shliach that the Rebbe is the Messiah. Not once.”

    >>>>>
    This statement cannot possibly be true. I have attended Chabad shiurim, speeches, simchos, local Miami fabregens, Shabbos meals at the homes of Lubavitchers, and hardly ever have I NOT heard something either straight out or hinted that the Rebbe is (or “COULD BE”) Moshiach.

  54. Moishe Weiss says:

    Rabbi Menkin; Allow me to address your fixation on the picture/video issue.

    The Rebbe was once asked by a lady who strongly criticized and questioned the Rebbes call for unmarried girls to light Shabbos candles,
    being that her family custom was that young girls do not light Shabbos candles. The Rebbe answered, (printed I believe in Vol 16 of LS) “Your Grandparents didn’t wear make up or go to movies either, so when one adds in darkness one needs to add in light.”
    Personally I could care less whether you have ten or twenty pictures of Gedolim in your living room, something which once again was absolutely anathema to Yeshivish crowds of yeteryear, but with all the influences in the HOME and the STREET and the CHEDER and the YESHIVA that kids are subject to, I for one would rather them be bombarded with pictures and videos of Gedolim and Rebbes (whoever they are) than the other stuff. our kids (and we adults as well I might add) need whatever help they can get from WHEREVER they can get it. The Midrash quoted by Rashi that Yosef was saved from sin due to recalling his fathers image.
    As for the child looking at the Rebbes picture and then saying Shma, I’ve never seen it happen and at the Chadorim and Yeshivos I went to they don’t teach it, but allow me a different perspective.

    In the sefer Raishis Chochma Shaar Hakedusha it tells us that during “Tashmish” (marital relations), one should have the “tziur” picture of a taddik in mind. He bases this on the Gemmoro that relates that Rav Yochanan would sit in front of the Mikve (Bais Hamerchatz) so that the women immersing would see his face and think of his form, and “have beautiful children like me” the intent, as is obvious there, beautiful children spiritually.
    Again, Im not advocating or teaching anything, but if I heard that my childs mind was filled with the “tziyur” of the Rebbe, instead of what he may readily snatch from the ‘net or youtube etc, Rachmono Litzlan, I would be overjoyed. I truly feel we live in a very different era even from when I was growing up just a few short years ago, even when we had TV and Movies, its very very different now. I wouldn’t belittle anything that leads and adds to yiras Shomayim.
    When newly religious congregants come to me for advice how to “convince” or transform their spouses or immediate families, to become religious, I invariably tell them, “forget it” you will never convince anyone, but here is what I want you to do, place mezuzas on all the doors, get as many religious items and symbols and books in your home as possible, and live that life in a pleasant way, you will see that little by little it will have the desired effect. It has worked many times, at least to break down resistance. (this is BTW the Rebbes reason for the public Menorahs).
    I would rather a video of the Rebbe be playing non-stop than another type of video. and maybe for variety I’ll even sign up for the monthly Rav Eliyashev video. if you add in darkness, you must add in light.

    BTW. my brother had a mechutan who was extremely close to Rav Shach, he passed away and a sefer Zikaron was printed recently for him by his children in Lakewood, he was a very special man. my brother spent Shabbos at his home in flatbush he had a huge life size picture of HaRav shach in his breakfast room of all places, as well as in other strategic locations, there was an interesting story re this maybe for another time.

    Moishe Weiss

  55. Zalman Raskin says:

    You will notice with all the time defending our selves from the vile accusation of Avoda Zara, it’s difficult to get into the discussion of the supposedly “kfira” beliefs. It’s not clear out Avodah Zorah by any stretch and saying so wont make it, though some in the Litvish velt continue to insist it is without bringing any clear-cut proof and without any public support from major poskim. They bring the Rambam that says if Moshiach is killed we then know he isn’t anymore Chezkas Moshiach.

    Lets quote the whole Rambam Hilchos Melochim Chapter 11 seif 3: “And don’t assume that the king Moshiach has to do miracles and wonders and create new things in the world. The matter isn’t so. For behold Rabbi Akiva [one of the] great[est] sages from the sages of the Mishna, and he would hold the instruments of Ben Kuziba [Bar Kachva] the king. And he considered AND ALL THE SAGES OF HIS GENERATION that he [Ben Kuziba] was King Moshiach. Untill he was killed because of his sins. When he was killed it became known to them that he isn’t [king Moshiach]. And the sages didn’t ask from him [Ben Kuziba] no sign and no wonder. And the fundamentals [of the Torah] are such. Because this Torah, it’s statutes and it’s laws are for ever and ever, and we don’t add to them and we don’t retract.”

    What do we learn from this Rambam. First of all it’s perfectly legitimate to consider someone as a candidate for Moshiach without any miraculous “Missanic” events. He just has to fulfill the criteria of the next paragraph which I quoted above, which basically says he has to strengthen Yidishkeit; nothing miraculous.
    So lets take this a step at a time. Before the Rebbe passed away was the Rebbe a possible candidate? Many Chasidim and many, many non-lubavitch people would of answered Yes. There are even accounts of Litvishe Gedolim insinuating that mayby the Rebbe is the best candidate.

    So to say before Gimmel Tamuz that this is appikursos is simply wrong and vicious.

    Now, after Gimmel Tammuz, the belief that it MIGHT be possible that the Rebbe retains his previous status, at first glance in the Rambam seems wrong. The Rambam says that if Chezkas Moshiach is killed – its over. But some Meshichistim will argue the Rambam says if he was “killed” not died implying that in the case of natural death he might still retain his previous status.

    OK, I’m not saying that they are right. I’m saying it’s not against Yidishkeit such a belief. I have heard there are sources that such a possibility is possible, though to be honest I don’t know the sources off hand. The reason I don’t is because that’s not what I believe the Rebbe wanted from us. The Rebbe was upset when people proclaimed publicly that he is Moshaich. I know this much: the Meshichistim might be wrong and foolish but they are not apirkusim. (And all this “boreinu” stuff is pure LIES. I haven’t seen a single chabadnik say this boreinu stuff. That is pure lies and pure hate-slander.) That is why even Litvish Gedolim have refrained of paskening that this is apirkusos because it might be wrong and it might be very damaging and very foolish and it’s AGAINST the Rebbe’s wishes but it falls short of being apirkusos.

    And all these hate-mongers demand :Chabad should get up and declare that the Rebbe is not Moshiach.” They can’t declae that, the same way they can’t declare that Dovid Hamelech is not Moshiach, The same way you can’t declare the Mahral of Prauge is not Moshaich. THe same way you can’t declare ELIYAH Hanavi is moshiach. (By the way there are many arguments in the Gemmoro about Moshiach. There is even an argumant that Moshiach won’t come, though that is not accepted as halach. But the Amora who said that wasn’t an apikores. And Rabbi Akivah wasn’t an apikores. An Apikores is someone who belives in Avodah Zara and This ISN’T Avodah Zara). You can’t declare that. The times of and the actual events of Moshiach is a mystery and NO ONE knows (NOT EVEN CHABADNIKS know) WHO Moshiach is. We can only say such and such is or was a CANDIDATE of Moshiach.

    And when Chabad try to explain the difference between chezkas Moshiach and Moshiach Vadai (which most in the Jewish world assume that when a meshichist is saying the Rebbe is/was moshiach they assume he means Moshiach vadai.) But these subtleties get lost in the hubris and vilification thats gets thrown around. If one approaches the subject objectively and studies the sources in depth one will come to the conclusion, that though the Meshichist view might be incorrect, it nevertheless is not Apirkusos. (Of course if you read Berger’s book you come to the opposite conclusion. But there has been 2 books printed to rebut his accusations and it seems no one in the Litvish Velt bothered to read them and come to the subject with an open mind). But all the defense is pointless when one has already decided and come to a verdict beforehand.

    Who are all these laymen who are not poskim or Gedolim to sit in haughty judgment over a fellow yiden if he is kosher or not?

    It seems, in the litvish velt, everyone who has a different shita, a different hashkafa are guilty until proven innocent. Maybe the Litvish should do a bit of introspecting about the way they treat their fellow yidden. Chabd is no good, Chasidish are no good, the medina is trayf (but it’s OK to take the medina’s money and then to refuse to serve in their treyfe army) You won’t normally find Chabad tearing apart the whole Yeshivish life cycle, even though there are plenty of errors haughty attitudes that have to be corrected. Chabad have better things to do all day then to sit a judge other kehilos. But sometimes when we are pushed into the corner we have to defend ourselves and show you guys a mirror. It would be nice if you guys did some introspection and root out some of the evil midos in your midst. Every community can improve and you are no exception.

  56. Michoel says:

    Re Rabbi Moshe Weiss in comment 28
    “Michoel: all I have to “take responsibility” is myself, my family, and my Kehilla.”
    Fine. But you are choosing to defend Chabad in general. So therefore others can ask you questions about why Chabad, in general, does certain things.

    “and you here accuse me of preaching to frum yidden to be more frum!”
    I did not. I accused Chabad (not you) of trying to make frum people into Lubavitchers (not more or less frum), and of showing a disrespect for other drachim.

    “Finally, I highly doubt you know Chabad at all, let alone first hand.”
    A frum Jew wrote that he knows Chabad first hand and you wrote that he is not telling the truth. WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU DO THAT?! I davened every other shabbos in the Chabad shul in New City NY, for around 3 1/2 years. I use the same mikva that is used by a large group of bochurim from the Chabad Yeshiva in Baltimore every morning. I have stepped into three different Chabad mosdos here in Baltimore on different occasions. When I was in Yeshiva in Monsey, I went to a shiur in Tanya with a Chabad mashpia and I went to a few fabrengens in the old Chabad Shul in Monsey. Many other experiences. I have been to CH and my main chavrusa in Chaim Berlin was a Sklar, an old Crown Heights Chabad family.

    How will I be m’chanech my children? I am glad you asked. I have learned the Satmar Rav at my table, I have said over a bit from Rav Kook, I say a lot of Chafetz Chaim, Reb Moshe. But I have a big feeling for the Shem Mishmuel and he sometimes brings understandings of the Baal Hatanyah that are DIFFERENT from Chabad understandings. I would like to know if you children learn p’shatim in Tanyah that are different than current Chabad understandings. The Ponezer Rav is one of your heros. But would you say from Rav Shach?

  57. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Rabbis Eliezrie and Weiss have assured me there are court cases in which Merkos and Kehot sued to block the unauthorized use of their trademarks for the publication of Mechischist propaganda. I was able to find two cases in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. In Merkos v. Mendel Scharf, (01-CV-6711), Merkos sued to prevent distribution of an authorized publication of the Rebbe’s Igros HaKodesh. In Merkos v. Otzar Sifre Lubavitch (01-CV 7406)Merkos sued to prevent publication of an unauthorized publication of the English translation of the Siddur Tehillas HaShem. In both cases, Merkos won. However, both cases were copyright cases, not trademark infringement cases. In other words, Merkos was trying to stop the publication of materials under its copyright, not the unauthorized use of its trademark. The siddur I saw was a Hebrew-only siddur, and wasn’t the subject of the litigation to which I was referred. However, it was labeled “Siddur Tehillas HaShem HaChadash,” which I had never seen before, nor have I seen since. I will allow that the siddur I saw with a meshichiste declaration was a rogue publication.

    The book “The Time For Your Redemption Has Arrived” bore the Kehot stamp. The publication date was clearly after the Rebbe’s petirah, and it referred to the rebbe as “The Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach.” The introduction stated that the Rebbe had declared himself Moshiach, and was a collection of speeches or excerpts which purported to support this declaration. I have not seen the book in stores recently, and it is not listed on the Kehot website. So I will allow, barring any further evidence, that it, too, was a rogue publication. However, I have seen no evidence that Merkos or Kehot has gone to court to block the unauthorized use of its trademark in its publication.

    I must also disagree with Rabbi Heber’s assertion that “If you enter the home of any Chosid, be he Satmar ,Gur,Bobov,Belz etc.You will find pictures of only their Rabeim.” In the houses of nearly all chasidim I have entered, I have seen no pictures at all whatsoever, or very small, discreet pictures. My son went to yeshiva in Stolin, Klausenberg, and Boyan, and there were no pictures of the rebbe on any walls anywhere. Ditto with the Bobover and Klausenberger camps. I have been in the Satmar and Gerrer yeshiva buildings in Boro Park; no pictures there, either. In Williamsburg and Boro Park, I have attended simchas in halls in schools run by Satmar, Belz, and Vizhnitz, and have never seen a picture of the rebbe. Compare this to Oholei Menachem, where you enter the front hallway, and a video is showing tapes of the Lubivtcher Rebbe nonstop. Pictures of the Rebbe abound on all the walls outside the classrooms; his presence is impossible to escape.

  58. Yaakov Menken says:

    I would prefer not to close the comments by executive fiat. For the discussion to continue, it is up to contributors to keep their tone in check — we have squelched comments from all sides. I appreciate Rabbi Weiss’ recognition that we are trying to be fair to all parties (note that comments from Chassidei Chabad constitute the vast majority of the content here). One simple hint: address the audience, not the individual. References to a singular “you” are needlessly confrontational.

    Let me clarify that I am not in any way “fixated” on the issue of pictures and videos. If one reads back in the discussion, I was replying to a comment referring to “Roshei Hayishivos worshipers.” In that regard, I said “Even in terms of hero-worship he’s completely off-base; searching a ‘Litveshe Yeshivishe’ home for a larger-than-life photo of their Rosh Yeshiva would come up empty.” I asserted, and stand by the assertion, that the level of “hero worship” of Lubavitchers towards their Rebbe is even towards the extreme end among most Chassidim (and I have more than a passing acquaintance with many of their homes). That Rabbi Weiss says that there is an interesting story behind the one case where a person has a life-size picture of Rav Shach zt”l is evidence of my assertion. It’s not normal.

    But I didn’t say the behavior is wrong, or ossur (forbidden), or (ch”v) apikorsus. I said it’s an unusual level of hero-worship, and that’s all. Rabbosai, it is!

    I then said that in the current discussion we’d best restrict use of the word “worship” to its literal sense. As far as that goes, I also want to clarify my statement that “we are speaking about a limited group who have reached an entirely different level of worship, Avodah Zarah mamash.” I did not mean to imply that this is the primary subject of our conversation, but merely a very small part of it. The small group who are truly beyond the pale are enough that we shouldn’t use the word “worship” right now unless that’s truly what we mean. No one davens to the NY Giants. At least, I hope not.

    The issue remains to what extent the Meshichistim are a problem. The Chabad contributors insist that they are a small group and others within the movement are actively opposing them. But then at the same time, Zalman Raskin says he is not a meshichist but goes through a whole limud on the Rambam in Hil. Melachim [Laws of Kings] defending their interpretation. You can’t have it both ways; if it isn’t against Judaism, then you cannot oppose it as being against Judaism.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I really do not understand why the issue should be what the Rebbe wanted. The issue is that until 15 years ago, no one attempted to read into Hil. Melachim a distinction between a candidate who was killed versus one who passed away from natural causes. The Rambam says repeatedly that the Moshiach isn’t about signs and wonders, but about completion of his great mission. In that context, the obvious disqualification is not the cause of death, but the fact of death.

    If there are much older sources for this, I’d very much like to know what they are, but you don’t find them in common use. Is following such an opinion letting the Torah guide their thinking, or is it trying to find sources to match their belief? I once called a posek in an entirely different situation, confirming that he had been badly misquoted. He dismissed the group who had misquoted him by saying: “when you go to learn Torah, you learn Torah; when you’re looking for a place to hang your hat, you find a nail.”

    This is not the place for unloading old baggage about Chabad this and Litvaks that and Chassidim some other thing. I don’t see people accusing Meshichistim of being idolators, merely of being wrong — and dangerously so. Dangerous for all Jews, because of what Evangelicals can do with this stuff, but dangerous for no one more than those most concerned with Chabad’s image and Chabad’s future. To be concerned about that is anything but Sinas Chinam.

    I began this discussion with the contention that finding no one more prominent than Soble to espouse this opinion in the JPost is a good sign, but I’d count myself among those who still believe more aggressive opposition is needed. Who else should be opposing these people, if not Rabbis within Chabad?

  59. Asher Heber says:

    MB,”I have a feeling I have been around Orthodoxy a lot longer than you, and I’m well immersed in Chabad practices”.I don’t see how this statement of yours relates to the discussion at hand but since you brought this up let me tell a little about myself.1) I am a fourth generation Lubavitcher Chosid on my father Z”L’s side and a Alexander Chosid on my mother Z”l’s side for I don’t know how many generations. 2) My family lived In Paris during the late thirtys and we very close to the yet to be Rebbi ZT”L who was then a student in Paris.In fact the Rebbi and the Rebitzin were Kvaters at my Bris. 3)I received Smicha,Yoreh Yoreh,Yadin Yadin from Rav Yitzchok Piekarski Z”L a talmid of Rav Menachem Ziemba HY”D and the Koziklover Rav HY”D.4)I was a Talmid in the in the Lubavitcher Yeshiva from the time I was in kindergarten till I received Smicha.5) I have been involved with Torah Chinuch in non Chabad Torah institutions for over fourty years.
    All this is really irrelevent but gives me some knowledge about Chabad,Chasidus in general,Yidishkeit,and last but not least,Halacha.
    The fact that you are unaware of certain Minhagai Yisroel that go back generations does not negate them.Please show me how and why these Minhahagim that you make so light of are not al pi Halcha.
    As to faxing or calling in to someone at the Rebbi’s Ohel with a Pidyon Mefesh by one who cannot be there him or herself for a refuah or any or any other problem has been and still is not only a Lubavitcher Minhag.To be mispalel at kivrei Tzadikim is a time honored tradition by all branches of Torah Jewery.
    I think it’s time that we stop quibbling about these imagined or unimagined issues and concern ourselves with the real problems we face with assimilation,alienation of our youth,and physical annihalation loi aleinu.

  60. yy says:

    Excuse me, honorable yidden. I’ve just gone thru about 90% of these comments and my head is swirling. More importantly, my heart is aching. ACHING. Crying actually. But I’m afraid to let the tears flow. Where will it stop??

    I’m not new to this controversy. My first Rav, zts”l, was an adamant critic back in the 80’s & 90’s of the insanity that he saw taking over “one of the most noble movements Judaism has ever had.” And my first Rebbe, ztsvk”l (Slonim), once served as a Rosh Yeshiva of Chabad in Tel Aviv. And the present Slonimer shlit”a has mentioned a chabad related idea or antecdote to me a couple of times in private meetings (to illustrate a contrasting perspective) in a very respectful tone. Then there’s my brother who became frum thru chabad about the time I did, in the early 80’s, and we haven’t been speaking for almost a decade now. No it’s not entirely because of chabad, but definitely is connected. And then there’s my fair share of reading the latest chabad print-out as well as my fairly consistent learning of seifer HaTanya…

    So I must tell you,with all this background, the one most disturbing part of the above commentaries is the combativeness that borders on outright, almost laughable arrogance. I’m not going to do a bunch of splice and pastes, so let the following little quote suffice:

    “Nobody can fool me and Nobody can con me. I know it.”

    Please, Yhudim nichbadim. Let us get above all this. Who are ANY of us? Isn’t the bottom line of what we’re ALL fighting for Ahavas Yisroel? So let’s start DOING it, right here. In every word and inuendo.

    If the American presidential campaign is quickly revolving around who’s political manner is the most honest and noble … shouldn’t we take heed?

  61. Moshe Shulman says:

    I have been reading these comments and wondering if it is really worth it to step in and add my comments. Hoping that I am not mistaken, let me say a few things.

    First, those who are not Lubavitch (as I am not) must recognize that especially under the present situation they must understand that when stating their views the distinction between ‘not being my derech’ and ‘not being Yiddish’ does not always come across. (If you cannot understand the difference between lighting candles on Friday night for girls over 3 and people saying the late Rebbe is still alive and is Moshiach, then you have a problem. And it is not with Lubavitch.)

    Second, whether we like it or not, there is a serious issue of hypersensitivity in Lubavitch to those who disagree with them. The reason is not relevant. But anyone reading the posts here sees examples of it. And now when there is a legitimate problems, and people within Lubavitch trying to deal with them, this can lead to a ‘circle the wagons’ mentality. This is probably the reason why the gadolim who will speak in private against the meshichistin have been unwilling to be public about it and openly castigate these Lubavitchers.

    Third, Lubavitchers need to understand that just because some people do not think that their derech is ‘superior’ or the like, doesn’t mean that they are ‘haters’ of Lubavitch, or that they don’t admire things Lubavitch has done.

    Fourth, Lubavitchers need to understand that no matter what they will say, nor what seforas they will bring, non-Lubavitchers will never accept the meshichist positions as being an issue of different derech. They will see it as opposition to Torah.This would include believing that it was still possible that the Lubavitcher Rebbe could be Moshiach (except by gilgal nashamos.)

    Finally, These disagreements, are only a clear outward sign that Moshiach has yet to come. The gemara states that Moshiach will come only through tshuvah. We should all look within ourselves to correct what we need to do, and help others when we can to become ovdai HaShem.

    As an after note, I saw a picture lately of the Satmar Rov Shlita, who was in Palm Springs and dovened at a Chabad House. Just think about that.

  62. berl, crown heights says:

    I am not a meshichist and I do agree that by and large the meshichisten are not the some honest seekers of the ‘truth of what the Rebbe’s message really was’, they are simply “looking for a place to hang their hat.” They have made up their mind and are only looking for mekoros to support their views.

    However, there are sources that support the possibility (not the certainty) of some of what they say. That being the case, all Lubavitch can really do is protest against these people representing the Lubavitch position, but that’s about it. There is no halachic basis to do anything else. (The few nuts that have crossed the halachic red lines where rejected by the meshichists themselves.)

    Moshe Shulman, there are statements (I do not have the source right now) made about a tchiyas hameisim of tzaddikim / yechidim prior to the coming of Moshiach. Why exactly is is ossur (or as you put it ‘against Torah’) for the meshichisten believe that this is how the Rebbe will still qualify?

    My point is that fighting meshichisten on the purely halachik basis will not work. And what other basis do we really have? The Rebbe left clear instructions how things should be done ‘after his 120’ (and those are on tape!) – all decisions have to be made by 3 Rabbonim. But who wants to follow this? There is a huge risk that these Rabbonim might order things done differently then people would like… Indeed, avdo behefkeiro nicho lei!

  63. Dovid Eliezrie says:

    Just a short note to Lawrence Reisman. Chabad did sue and pursue very costly litigation for both copyright infringement and the Kehot trademark. I was able to finally have the talk with person involved in the cases. For additional details please email you contact information I will fill you in. [email protected]

    And one final note. We can sue them, keep them out of positions of leadership, challenge them etc. etc. I don’t know what us we can do. And the most important case of all is coming to conclusion over the control of 770. In a ruling in late December Merkos L’inyonie Chinuch and Agudas Chassidie Chabad where given legal control over 770. The group that has been there, yechie banners and all has appealed. That appeal has little merit and will fail in the coming months. Then we plan on transforming the Shul downstairs in 770, pull down the banners and bring it back to the way it was. We spent a large amount of money on this case.

    For some you this action will have a strong symbolic value, for others I don’t know what we can do to sastify you. And there times that I wonder if its worth or even try to explain since some of you have your minds made up about Chabad.

    What we plan to do in 770 is not for your benefit or for some pr spin. It for our children and ourselves. We want to be able to walk into 770 and at least have sense of the what we experienced there and how special it was. And hopefully transfer to our children the richness of the Rebbe’s teachings and the passion for Yiddiskiet he instilled in us.

    Dovid Eliezrie

  64. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    “there are sources that support the possibility (not the certainty) of some of what they say. … there are statements (I do not have the source right now) made about a tchiyas hameisim of tzaddikim / yechidim prior to the coming of Moshiach. Why exactly is is ossur (or as you put it ‘against Torah’) for the meshichisten believe that this is how the Rebbe will still qualify?

    If the Moshiach is to come from the dead, he has yet to come. Since he has yet to come, he has not come at this time. The meshichisten, do not claim do the rebbe will be Moshiach, but that he already is Moshiach. In doing so, they are stating (even if only implicitly) that Moshiach has already come. And to state that Moshiach has already come when we do not have the geula, the end of golus, the bais hamikdash rebuilt, and the re-establishment of malchus bais dovid, is to state that Moshiach did not do these things. And that is tatamount to not believing in Moshiach, no matter how many times one states “Ani Maamin.”

  65. Dovid Eliezrie says:

    My understanding of the Shitah of the meschichistim is that the Rebbe will be Moshiach. And as the saying goes, “some of my best friends are ….” The ones I debate on these issues are quite clear about their position. They hold the Rebbe “will be” Moshiach. This seems to be the dominant view in the that camp. Using the sources in Chazal mentioned in earlier posts. I think Mr. Reisman has misunderstood what the majority of them hold.

    Dovid Eliezrie

  66. Moshe Shulman says:

    “Moshe Shulman, there are statements (I do not have the source right now) made about a tchiyas hameisim of tzaddikim / yechidim prior to the coming of Moshiach. Why exactly is is ossur (or as you put it ‘against Torah’) for the meshichisten believe that this is how the Rebbe will still qualify?”

    1. The idea Techiyas hameisim before Moshiach comes, has nothing to do with Moshiach being in that. The myriad discussions of nishmas Moshiach and how it will be migaglgal/mibbur requires no further discussion.

    2. As to the issur. I am not a Litvak. Chassidim do not subject ikkarim to seforas and pilpul.It is as issur as it would seriously discuss whether HaShem has a guf or not.

  67. berl, crown heights says:

    Lawrence,
    I do not want to get involved in defending the meshichisten, my point was merely that they can provide sources for the plausibility of their ideology. However, I now feel I must address the problems with your assertions:
    1) While it is true that the meshichisten are far from a homogeneous group of people, I have never encountered any among them that claim that moshiach already came, save for an extreme group of “bittul hatzomos” crazies that were repudiated [in writing and publicly] even by the Rabbonim that belong to the meshichist camp. The rest do not claim that moshiach came;
    2) They believe that techiyas hameisim coming before the geuloh means that all those people that will get up in techiyah will be considered chayim and the principle of moshiach min hachayim will be preserved;
    3) On this thread and everywhere on the Jewish blogs, one hears demands that non-meshichist Lubavitchers declare that the Rebbe “CAN”T be Moshiach. This demand is also implicit in your comment. What is the basis for this certainty, I ask? Furthermore, if the Chabad Rabbonim would make such make an arrogant pronouncement about the certainty of the future they can’t possibly KNOW, would they not be in the same category as the meshichisten?

  68. mb says:

    Asher Heber,

    I never said I was unaware of Kvitels at graves. And praying at the graves of Gedolim, is not what I’m questioning.
    It is the seemingly uniform custom in Chabad to fax the Rebbe and expect him to solve the problem. I am not imagining this I assure you( and you know it) It is not quibbling, it is the crux of the issue.
    As I keep stating. I am waiting to hear somebody from Chabad’s leadership screaming “stop this nonsense.”

  69. Dr. E says:

    Rabbi Eliezrie:

    Cutting through all of the rhetoric of Meshichists/Non-Mechichists, who “officially” speaks for Chabad and not, if I would have to hazard a guess as to what outsiders have against Lubavitch it’s this. We live in the year 2008 more than a decade after the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s passing. As Jews we learn and abide by the Torah. So, why all the Rebbe-centrism? Why the post-mortem birthday celebrations with the large banners? Why the billboards with his picture on our highways? Why the replicas of 770 around the world? Why is it that the only kever in the entire word worth visiting for prayer, inspiration, and answers to questions about what one should do in life? What’s up with the letters read at weddings? Why do I have to sit opposite his portraits in many restaurants when eating my dinner? And more fundamentally, why is the Rebbe the medium through which all Torah and its understanding flows?

    Many people have their own Rosh Yeshiva, Rebbe, etc. But many have more than one mentor and revered figure, living band not. Ask the average Lubavitcher (Meshichist or not) to name three contemporary figures who are Gedolei Hador and you’d have him stumped. Must every discourse, written or spoken contain a statement or reference to the Rebbe? Where are the Pnei Yehoshua, Sefas Emes, Rav Kook, R. Chaim Ozer, or the Chafetz Chaim? It’s as if they never lived or wrote a sefer.

    What most admire about Lubavitch is their Mesiras Nefesh, their resourcefulness, and their ability to get things done without much buerocracy. Their PR is outstanding. But, what are they selling? Chumash, Tanach Gemara/Rashi/Tosfos which are the focal points of us as Jews? An intellectual Mesora? Or is it merely the Chabad “brand” that is merely a façade without a solid foundation?

    With some more intellectual diversity and openness in Chabad, the movementmay just get some more respect.

  70. S. Breslow says:

    Dear Rabbi Menken,
    While I understand your inclination to be partial to certain posters above others, seeing as you run a site where important issues are discussed, and in the natural heat of these debates strong accusations are leveled, certain questions deserve (at least) an airing.
    You write “I don’t see people accusing Meshichistim of being idolators, merely of being wrong — and dangerously so.” Might I draw your attention to post #10 “And while they are saving all these Jews with the water of Torah, they are slipping a few drops of poison into every cup of water — a bit of sheker, a hint of a suggestion of avodah zarah — just a few drops, like a homeopathic dose, slipped into the water”, which is what seems to have inflamed this debate. My question, then, to you as the facilitator, and to the author of the comment, is this;
    Where does halacha permit a mass-smear of thousands of Jews with accusations of sheker & avoda zarah, or is this in-fact forbidden, in which case an apology might be in order ?
    Oh, and one more question;
    If the ‘meshichist’ lunacy is indeed the critical danger some seem to think it is, why haven’t the poskim issued rulings dealing with this issue – why has it fallen to people in the blogsphere with no halachic authority, to address this ? Might it just be that there is nothing halachically wrong with being a fool, and that the poskim therefore prefer to let the meshugas fade on it’s own…?

  71. Dovid says:

    Dear Zalman,

    You wrote:
    “Now, after Gimmel Tammuz, the belief that it MIGHT be possible that the Rebbe retains his previous status, at first glance in the Rambam seems wrong. The Rambam says that if Chezkas Moshiach is killed – its over. But some Meshichistim will argue the Rambam says if he was “killed” not died implying that in the case of natural death he might still retain his previous status”.

    This is where some of falsehoods are spread in chabad circles: You quoted Halacha 3. The Rambam though continues there on Halacha 4 stating the Halachik requirements for Cheskas Mashiach -which contain a few Halachik exact conditions, he states that this status can be broken. He writes: “ואם לא הצליח עד כה או נהרג, בידוע שאינו זה שהבטיחה עליו תורה, והרי הוא ככל מלכי בית דוד השלמים והכשרים שמתו”. (If he did NOT SUCCEED to the previous requirements (winning the battles over the enemies of the Jewish people, building the Temple, and gathering the dispersed Jews to Erets Yisroel) it is KNOWN that heis not the one prmised by the Torah, and he is like all Davidic Kings complete and Kasher, WHO DIED!).

    Thus, it is clear that the Rambam does not write *only* about someone who was killed, but about someone who did not succeed to bring to the final redemption. And as seen by the concluding statement, “meyssooh” is certainly the measuring rod upon which to know whether he “succeeded” in this task or not, as he DOES state clearly “meysooh” in this Halocho (which is *the* halocho that deals with proper identification of Mashiach).

    In addition to the above, there is a clear directive how one can identify with CERTAINTY WHO WILL BE THE MASHIACH. Anything that is not included in those guidelines is counter to the directive and Halacha of the Rambam.

  72. Dovid Eliezrie says:

    Visit any Chabad center or Yeshiva and you will have the answer to your question. What we teach is Torah. For instance in our weekly Chumash class a week ago it was a maklokes between Ramban and Rashi on Avrohoms telling claim that Sara was his sister. Or the class Sunday morning, filled wtih many from the local Reform Temple on the 13 Ireiri Emunah of Rambam, yesterday was prophecy.

    To me the Rebbe teachings give me direction, perspective and a world view that enriches my life and gives me a derech in avodas hashem. In my days in Yeshiva the Gedolim where given great respect, be it Reb Moshe, Reb Yaakov. Others, whom I choose not mention, views on Chabad did not create much respect in return. And sadly just as we are yesomim and lacking a degree of leadership, I think the Gedolim of today, as one very prominent litvahser leader told me, I had Reb Moshie, today its different, are not in the league of those greats of the post war era.

    To us the Rebbe was the read deal and we are his Chassdim. And as Chassdim we study his teachings, his insights and seek our inspiration from him. There is nothing wrong or incorrect about this. People put up the Rebbe’s picurre, be it in a restaurant, or house because it gives them inspiration. I begrudge you not who you put on the wall. And if a Gerer Chassid chooses to put up his Rebbe Tovah Ualav Bracha. There is no campaign to put of Rebbe pictures, its a personal choice of the guy who owns the restaurant. Adn the same goes for Keverim. My wife just returned from Eretz Yisroel and visit many Kvarim of a wide variety, and my daughter just was in Ukraine a few weeks ago visiting Kvarim culminating with a Shabbos at the Shul of the Baal Shem. Truth is there is no real Keviri Tzadikim here in the US, thousands come to the Ohel because they find it a haven of holiness. A makom Tefillah.

    The real question is why does it bother you so. If a guy in a deli has hthe Rebbe’s picture on the wall why should you be troubled. Its his choice and he finds direction or inspiration.

    There is a deeper question why take for example Artscroll only after much pressure and tumult have they begun to use some of the Rebbe’s Chidushim. They refused due to “pressure from Lakewood” and for “some its controversial”. Why should it bother a Litvasher guy if the Rebbe’s insight gives deeper understanding to a piece of Gemara or a Rashi in Chaumash. Read Berel Weins history books who act like Chassidim barely exist, and if they do they are on the margins. Or for instance there was a book about Gedolim who brought Judaism to American published by Shaar press-a division of Artscroll. I was asked to write a biography of the Rebbe Rayatz, since I was deemed Chabad PC by a member of the Moetzes (A Talmid Chacham who I greatly respect). Fifty biographies, and one, my piece on the Friekdeke Rebbe on Lubavitch. Not one bio on any Lubavitch Shluchim, Roshie Yeshvia, and of course not the Rebbe himself that would be too much. Every little Roshe Yeshiva is mentioned. And the first section was some 60 pages on the organizations that brought Yiddiskiet to America. Funny thing there was stuff on Aguda, Young Israel, OU, Beth Yaakov, Yeshivath Torah Vedaath, they just forgot one thing, Chabad. And as the editor told me “because of the article of the Rebbe Rayatz you wrote I lost a major donor from Lakewood”

    I know there is a parochialism in Chabad. But there is a stronger one in the Litvahse world to exclude Chabad.
    Dovid Eliezrie

  73. Moshe Shulman says:

    “3) On this thread and everywhere on the Jewish blogs, one hears demands that non-meshichist Lubavitchers declare that the Rebbe “CAN”T be Moshiach. This demand is also implicit in your comment. What is the basis for this certainty, I ask? Furthermore, if the Chabad Rabbonim would make such make an arrogant pronouncement about the certainty of the future they can’t possibly KNOW, would they not be in the same category as the meshichisten?”

    Berl, as I said ikakrim from emunah that have been makabl me dor doros are not up for discussion. I will onyl state that if you say that teh late Lubavitcher Rebbe can still physically rise from the dead in the techiyah and be Moshiach then you have crossed a line. It is not even up for debate, just like HaShem’s incorporeality is not up for debate, no matter how one misunderstands sources. If you contend that he had nishmas Moshiach when he lived and hence will in some way be Moshiach when he comes, I can’t argue that, nistorus l’HaShem elokechem.

  74. Moishe Weiss says:

    Rabbi Menken: Is it fair to bring up an issue, that wasn’t germane to the discussion at hand, namely the bridge Chabad has to cross in historically not respecting other Derachim only to then state, when I respond point by point, its not helpful for me to bring up old issues? Is it fair to say that nobody else has life size pictures and then say OK, maybe one guy. (there’s more). don’t open a sensitive box and then close it when the stuff comes pouring out. thats not right.

    I wont comment anymore on this subject, as it simply seems that even when I say something that agrees with my detractors, it is used against me and therefore Chabad in General. an example is the poster, who is, nebach, not talking to his own brother for ten years, using my words, that brought out the respect I gained of another Derech by personally investigating itto somehow criticize me.

    I will conclude with a comment and a request to Dr. E., who so cruelly repeats the same canard I’ve heard for years, namely. “Is it Torah or Chabad?” “Do you teach Chumash/Rashi or just Chabad?” and then brushes it all away, the learning, the davening, the kiruv, the transformation of entire families and communities, with the following gem “the Chabad “brand” that is merely a façade without a solid foundation?”

    Will it interest you to know that I’ve given a daily shiur in Chumash Rashi for years and years? that Rabbi Gordon in Encino has a daily Chumash Rashi Shiur, after Shacharis, for around an hour with attendance reaching thirty people on some days, Would it interest you to know that I give a Gemmoro shiur weekly and daily between Mincha Maariv?
    Go to the Chabad of the Valley website and click on schedule of classes and see just how many shiurim in classic subjects there are daily and weekly.
    What does one say to you? shame on you? the lies you spread about the type of Torah we teach? I doubt you care, you are probably only repeating what your Rebbes have told you for years, and it makes you feel so warm and fuzzy inside so good and serene, after all, what is their Mesirus Nefesh worth if its only PR and a facade.

    But, if I’m totally mistaken, and you are sincere, and its just hyperbole’ and I just don’t get your humor, so here is my request.

    If you live in the L.A. area, and you truly value honesty, first go into their Yeshiva on Waring, you’re probably a twenty minute ride at most, look at the Seforim, the Talmidim learn and use, listen (if you are a Ben Torah and can follow them) to the Shiurim of the Roshei Yeshiva there, ask to see the volumes of thick Kovtzei chidushei Torah printed by them twice a year, look at them and tell me how many times the Pnei Yehoshua and Reb Chaim etc. are mentioned, and explained, speak to the students and see if they are proficient in Chumash Rashi etc. and Rambam and Tanach. and of course Gemmoro Tosfos, see if they have learnt the Achiezer from Rav Chaim Ozer, or the Mishna Brura of the Chofetz Chaim, See for yourself what they are “selling”. I’ve frequented there, there would be much for you to learn if you truly value honesty.

    Then do me one more favor, take a Shabbos off wherever you daven, and Drive down, Friday afternoon to Sherman Oaks California, stay in the Marriot nearby, come incognito, listen to the shiurim and speeches, look at the well used Seforim in the many bookcases, or come during the week before shacharis (6:30 AM) or between Mincha Maariv (dusk), or dare i say, come after shacharis till around 9:30 AM and see groups of Jews learning Chumash, Mishnayos, Tanya and Shulchan Aruch. and see for yourself, then talk to me about facades and foundations, and intellectual openness and perhaps about a little honesty.

    Moishe Weiss

  75. Mendy Chitrik says:

    BH

    The comments of Dr. E. in message 69 are terribly misleading. Do you think that Chabad chassidim don’t learn in their Yeshivas Gemoro with Rashi and Tosfos, Rosh, Rif and Rambam or other Rishonim and Achronim? Chabad Shluchim do not teach Gemoro with Rishonim and Achronim? I give a Chumash class here in Istanbul, Turkey, do you think that I don’t use meforshim on Chumash?! What is this non sense?!

    Mendy Chitrik
    Istanbul, Turkey

  76. Asher Heber says:

    MB,”It is the seemingly uniform custom in Chabad to fax the Rebbe and expect him to solve the problem. I am not imagining this I assure you( and you know it) It is not quibbling, it is the crux of the issue”
    No I don’t “know it” and I really don’t know what your premise is about a”uniform custom in Chabad to fax the Rebbe and expect him to solve the problem”.
    I have answered your question twice quite clearly but I don’t think you are looking for an answer.The reality is that I have answered all three of your original questions but you have not answered my one.Show me where it it his Hallachicly
    forbidden to do any of the three “issues” that you seem to be fixated with.
    Perhaps you think that we expect to get an answer from the Rebbi by fax, phone,telegram etc.The answer is no.
    This discussion is ended from my point of view because as I said to you previously you are really not looking for an answer you are simply baiting me and others on this forum as stated by Rabbi Weiss in one of hihis posts.

  77. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Both Rabbi Eliezrie and Berl deny that the Meshichisten claim that Moshiach has come in the person of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. But if he is only going to be the Rebbe in the future, why refer to him as “Hamelech Hamoshiach” now? And why do so many of them claim that he is vadai moshiach, and that he has satisfied [a very loose definition of] the Rambam’s requirements for being vadai moshiach?

    What we would like to hear is an acknowledgment that moshiach has not yet come because the requirements for bias hamoshiach have not been met. We would like to hear that whoever moshiach is, his coming is still in the future. We would like to hear that this being the case, it is totally improper to claim that someone already identified (i.e. the Lubavitcher Rebbe) either was, presently is moshiach. And further, whether or not he will be moshiach in the future is no more than a matter of conjecture.

  78. Ori says:

    Can we please declare a teiku (in Hebrew, a draw in a contest) and move on?

    If you are meshichist, you believe that one day the Rebbe will rise from the dead and be the mashiach. That could happen today, tomorrow, next decade, or long after you die. Until that day you need to follow mitzvot and learn Torah to the best of your ability.

    If you are not meshichist, you believe that one day G-d will send the mashiach. That could happen today, tomorrow, next decade, or long after you die. Until that day you need to follow mitzvot and learn Torah to the best of your ability.

    Either way, when G-d decides to send mashiach, He will not be secretive about it, in much the same way He was not secretive about the giving of the Torah. We will be informed, and it will be clear and unambiguous – correct? People who had the wrong idea will see that they were wrong and learn the right answer – correct?

    So what’s the big deal, that members of the other camp make a mistake about the identity of the future mashiach? It’s not as if they suggested that the laws of Torah have been fulfilled and no longer need to be followed(1), or that we should get into a hopeless fight with the greatest Empire in up to that point in history(2). They merely made a mistake.

    BTW, if there is anybody here who didn’t figure it out already, I chose the term “teiku” on purpose. It’s Hebrew for “Tishbi (= Eliyahu) will explain questions and riddles”. It’s a term used in the Talmud when the sages cannot come up with a solution. It means that when G-d will send mashiach, He will also send Eliyahu the prophet, and Eliyahu will answer the question. We can wait until then.

    (1) Any Christians reading this, I apologize if offended you, but this is what Christianity looks like to Jews – a belief that since the mashiach came, the laws of the Torah no longer apply.

    (2) Bar Kochva, which Rabbi Akiva thought to be mashiach, rebelled against the Roman Empire. It ended badly.

  79. Michoel says:

    Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie writes:
    “I know there is a parochialism in Chabad. But there is a stronger one in the Litvahse world to exclude Chabad.”

    You say yes, I say no, you say stop, I say go go go.

    And furthermore, so what? If you agree that you have a moom, so fix your moom. I have heard Satmar chasidim, real kannoyim, refer to Modern Orthodox Jews as “shomerei shabbos” in the most effectionate, positive sense of the expression, even though they might look down on a lot of the hanhagos of the MO community. But still there is a certain kavod. I have heard Chasidim say things like, “that guy is a real Litvak, he really knows how to learn.” And of course most Litvaks have kavod for the chassishe derech of hislavus, and other aspects of avodah. Only from Chabad have I gotten the consistent impression that they feel that being anything other than a chabster is bedieved. Nebuch, a Litvak. He was never toem taam of Toras Chabad. And the Rebbe himself said as much about the Chazon Ish, after his petriah.

  80. Aryeh says:

    First a disclaimer: I do not hate Chabad. My bris mila was arranged by them, I have seen first hand the excellent work that chabad shluchim do and have helped to make minyan at the local chabad house countless times. All the bad blood between litvaks and Chabad has no relevance to me as it all happened long before.

    Having read all the above posts, I would just like to add a point that, fundamentally, I (and probably most others) do not understand at all about Chabad. If you reply, that this is what Chabad believes and there’s nothing you can do about it, so be it, but at least understand where we’re coming from.

    Leaving the Moshiach question aside, almost (so far I have found 1 exception) every Chabad person that I have come across believes and claims with certainty that the rebbe was and is the “nassi hador,” and “the Moshe Rabbeinu” of our generation. Not a nassi of chabadniks or moshe rabbeinu of chabadniks but of the entire Jewish people. And no one else even comes close. This is the core belief that obviously is very problematic if you are not a Chabadnik. Maybe not from a halachic point of view, but it displays traces of arrogance and disrespect for others. I haven’t met any non-chabad chassidim who told me that their Rebbe was nassi hador of everyone, nor any litvaks who told me that R’ Shach was the moshe rabbeinu of our generations (before R’ Shach were R’ Aharon Kotler and the Brisker Rav, with him was the Stepler, just to give a few examples). The concept of a gadol hador among non-chabadniks is that of a “first among equals,” at least among his own generation. And no one will claim that their leader should be and is in fact the undisputed leader of all Jews.

    So this, by itself, provokes enough hostility in others. But unfortunately, this leads to other things (whether unfortunate side effects or these are deliberate, I don’t know). For example baalei teshuva being taught that the “Rebbe is the acknowledged leader of the Jewish people” (a quote I heard from a student of Hadar Torah, a very fine guy in all respects). I replied to him, that while I didn’t have a leader meter, to say that he was “an acknowledged” leader is false, since most observant Jews did not acknowledge his leadership.

    In another example, my wife recently got a call from a relative in one of the former Soviet republics who wanted to congratulate her on the occasion of the day of “the rebbe being elected to be the leader of the Jewish people.” This relative knows that we are not chabadniks, but based on what she was taught/saw by the local chabad chief rabbi of her city (who was extremely successful in organizing the Jewish life over there) she assumed that even non-chabadniks would be aware and celebrate such an important date. She was completely taken aback by the fact that we had no clue what she was talking about. To draw the parallel, everyone knows that zayin adar is the important date in Moshe rabbeinu’s life. But only chabad considers their leader’s life as important as that of Moshe Rabbeinu and apparently important enough for even non-chabadniks to celebrate.

    So basically, you have a situation where many, many baalei teshuva ARE being taught that yiddishkeit is chabad. And again that’s a natural outgrowth of considering your leader “the Moshe rabbeinu of our generation.” Non-chabad kiruv instituition don’t teach that their derech is the whole Torah (or even 90% of it) although naturally, each one emphasizes certaing things, because they don’t consider their leader to be the “Moshe rabbeinu of their generation.”

    Lastly come the numerous references from the local shluchim about the Rebbe being the “nassi hador.” The implication being not the “nassi hador of chabad,” but “nossi hador shel kol israel.” To a chabadnik they are very natural.

    So with all of the good works that Chabad does, they have to understand why the others treat the claim that the leader of 10-15%(?) of the observant Jews is the “Moshe rabbeinu of our generation, nassi hador and Rosh Bnei Israel” with irritation and hostility. The other things discussed above, such as the cult of personality of the Rebbe and Moshichims of all stripes are the natural development of making the Rebbe into Moshe rabbeinu.

    Perhaps R’ Eliezrie will say that these beliefs are not normative and he does not believe that the Rebbe was/is the nassi hador of all Jews and the Moshe rabbeinu of the entire generation (again of all Jews), but what can I do? My experience (and apparently that of many on this forum) has been totally opposite. And only chabadniks can change this. And if they can’t, at least let them understand that what they believe (and how those beliefs play out) is something that the rest of us can not accept.

  81. Zalman says:

    Quote by Lawrence M. Reisman
    “What we would like to hear is an acknowledgment that moshiach has not yet come because the requirements for bias hamoshiach have not been met. We would like to hear that whoever moshiach is, his coming is still in the future. We would like to hear that this being the case, it is totally improper to claim that someone already identified (i.e. the Lubavitcher Rebbe) either was, presently is moshiach. And further, whether or not he will be moshiach in the future is no more than a matter of conjecture.”

    I would say that is EXACTLY the position of anti-Meshichist Lubavitchers who are the vast majority of Chabad. Moshiach has NOT yet come. The Rebbe is NOT moshiach Vadai. And who will be Moshaich in the future “is no more than a matter of conjecture.”

    I am saying this as a Chabad Chosid. And I think this is the position of the Chabad mainstream and Leadership.

  82. Yaakov Menken says:

    Because I prefer to be quoted both accurately and in context, I must object to Rabbi Weiss’ lifting a passage from my later post, “The Power of Chabad,” and replying as if it applied here. That post reflected upon the good that Lubavitch is doing — one [Lubavitch] responder began his comment: “very nice to see some positive comments about Chabad on the internet for a change.” In that post, I said that there is a divide to be crossed within the Orthodox world, and stated a number of reasons why I believed “that must be attributed to Lubavitchers rather than those who have criticized them.”

    Those who wish to contradict me will find that the appropriate place. In this discussion, it is a red herring and a distraction.

    And I have a more profound observation to make:

    The Meshichistim are not a Lubavitch problem.

    In many different postings, in many different ways, comments from Chassidei Lubavitch treat the Meshichistim as an internal Lubavitch matter. We are repeatedly assured that they are a tiny and marginal group, and, furthermore, that anyone drawing attention to their existence, much less saying they are a large group, must be anti-Chabad for a host of other reasons.

    They are Klal Yisrael’s problem. Anyone concerned with the fate of unaffiliated Jews, with Kiruv, with Messianic evangelists, with the relationship between Judaism and Christianity — not to mention plain old Toras Emes L’Amito — has a problem with the Meshichistim. It’s not Sinas Chinam, it’s not age-old discord between Chassidim and Misnagdim, it’s not finding some excuse; it’s addressing an overwhelming and very public distortion of what Judaism believes in an area that could hardly be more critical in a majority-Christian country.

    Perhaps some are guilty of accusing most every Lubavitcher of being a Meshichist, and of the Meshichists of being a first step down the slippery slope to Avodah Zarah [idolatry]. I hope I’ve made it abundantly clear by now that I am doing neither of the two.

    Outsiders may well perceive the group as far larger than it actually is. Please do not respond by acting as if they hardly exist. While the lawsuits may be coming to a successful conclusion, the fact remains that they are large and prominent enough to control 770 at this moment. It is reported that “Yechi” is not only said, but woven into the Paroches. Since I haven’t heard it myself or seen the Paroches, I can only rely upon second-hand sources, but I’ve heard it more than once from people who sounded like they wished they were making it up.

    I mentioned this discussion to a friend living in Israel. He is a Yemenite. Sometimes he wears a knitted kipah, and sometimes a black one. At one point he had long peyos, now he doesn’t, but he’s learning for semichah. He’s also a gentle mentsch with no bones to pick. And he responded with sincere surprise to much of what has been said here. He says he has yet to find a Chabad congregation in Israel without a substantial population of Meshichistim.

    The question of “why the poskim haven’t spoken” is a non-sequitur, since they have. Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller, Rosh Yeshivas Telshe, wrote a pair of articles in the Jewish Observer several years ago, decrying the “Elokistim” who believe that one can pray to the Rebbe, and those who tried to defend their beliefs as “normative.” He wrote: “the Rebbe progressed in the eyes of one faction within the movement [emphasis added by him, to point out that he is not speaking against Lubavitch but against this faction] from being a navi to being the most probable candidate for Moshiach, to being ‘bechezkas‘ Moshiach, to being Melech HaMoshiach, to being a dead Moshiach who has not died, to being ‘omniscient’, ‘omnipotent’ and being ‘the Essence and Being [of G-d] enclothed in a body!’” His clear implication was that each of this steps is a new and serious error (the era of Nevuah [prophecy] ended 2500 years ago).

    Rabbi Aharon Feldman shlit”a, Rosh Yeshivas Ner Yisrael and a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, wrote a Teshuva [responsum] in which he says that the “Elokistim” are Apikorsim, deniers of Torah, while the “Meshichistim” are “lacking a true understanding of Torah values” — rendering it impossible to rely upon their judgment in Torah matters having nothing to do with Moshiach.

    While Rav Feldman took pains to classify the Elokistim as a minority within Chabad, he was unwilling or unable to say so about the Meshichistim. I am sure he would be as delighted as all of us to learn the extent to which the Meshichistim are being shouted down and pushed out. In the meantime, please excuse our inability to rely upon more than what our eyes and ears tell us. If we are your allies in the effort, please treat us as such.

  83. Asher Heber says:

    “And the Rebbe himself said as much about the Chazon Ish, after his petriah”.
    Michoel,
    Can you show me and all on this forum documented proof as to where and when the Rebbi spoke about the Chazon Ish after his Petirah?

  84. Zalman says:

    Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie writes:
    “I know there is a parochialism in Chabad. But there is a stronger one
    in the Litvahse world to exclude Chabad.”
    Michoel writes:
    “And furthermore, so what? If you agree that you have a moom, so fix
    your moom.”

    For some reason it’s perfectly reasonable to publicly berate Chabad for
    their faults. It’s true Chabad has faults; which community doesn’t? And
    maybe we should accept constructive criticism. But there are soooooo many faults by the frumer velt (Hint…throwing rocks….refusing to serve in their “treyfe” army, but then complaining if they don’t give money for all the Yeshivos, the strange new custom of whole communities learning all day in Kolel and the wife becomes the breadwinner, which contradicts pirkei avos “Torah im derech eretz…., and just plain non-menshlachkeit toward the secular Israeli’s calling them Goyim and tamei etc ….)

    Maybe the frum world should focus on their own faults. When you have fixed your own faults (which effects all of klal yisroel, and reflects badly on all Orthodox yidden even if they don’t poses said faults) before going and looking into the next persons plate.

  85. Moshe Shulman says:

    “The Meshichistim are not a Lubavitch problem.”

    R. Yaakov, I must strongly disagree with this, and I contend that my view is the one taken by the overwhelming majority of gadolim. There are two reasons/proofs for this:

    1. Almost none of the gadolim have openly gone out against Lubavitch meshichistan in the same way as they do for any other pertzah that requires fixing within our communities. (for example, wigs from India or the problems with tap water in New York.)

    2. It is not our problem because the belief that a dead man will rise to be Moshiach is outside of Yiddishkeit, and our mesoras, whether chasid or Litvak, Cheredei or Modern Orthodox. It is no more an issue for discussion or serious comment then if one would proclain that HaShem had a physical body.

    Don’t fool yourself. If the gadolim thought as you think they do, there would be a cherem against it worse then what came out against the first talmidim of the Baal Shem Tov, who they were choshad as being Shabtzei Tzviniks.

  86. Zalman says:

    Quote
    Rabbi Aharon Feldman shlit”a, Rosh Yeshivas Ner Yisrael and a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, wrote a Teshuva [responsum] in which he says that the “Elokistim” are Apikorsim, deniers of Torah, while the “Meshichistim” are “lacking a true understanding of Torah values”

    Chabad leadership agree with this. They have published numerous announcements which say exactly that.

    The problem is many Chabad detractors are saying the M.s are avoda zora. And for THAT claim they are wrong and Motzi Shem Ra. And they have no backing from the poskim. They are twisting the poskim words and callously making all M.s idolaters.

    Yes elokistim are Idolators. But I haven’t ever seen one. I’m a 5th generation chabad chossid going back to the times of the Alter Rebbe. And I’ve been in 770 hundreds of times. My father is a shaliach in Australia. And never seen EVEN ONE . If they ever existed they are practically now extinct.

  87. Yaakov Menken says:

    Two great comments, one from each side, both wrong. 🙂

    R’ Zalman appears to conflate all Charedi Jews into one entity. From non-Orthodox Jews this would not be a surprise; from a Lubavitcher it’s more than a small one. The group throwing rocks is hardly the one who sends the husbands to kollel all day. And for that matter, if R’ Zalman doesn’t think we care about both of these issues, he hasn’t been reading Cross-Currents.

    Like it or not, Meshichisten are a fault in the frum world, too. And this is where my friend R’ Moshe is mistaken as well. Gedolim have a talent for saying a p’sak when people will listen to the p’sak. It is a fact that the reaction to the Ba’al Shem Tov had an impact (apparently, the third Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, said Chassidim owe the Gr”a their thanks). How many Litvaks or Bobovers or Rachmastrivkers believe the Moshiach could be a recently-departed Rebbe? So for these people, no p’sak is needed, much less a cherem. Rav Keller wrote two articles in the JO, while no contrary position has appeared there. We all know what they hold.

    Meanwhile, do you think a Lubavitcher Meshichist would listen to someone we regard as a Gadol, but isn’t their Rebbe? Of course not.

    And now that Rav Aharon Feldman has issued a p’sak saying the Meshichisten have no understanding of Torah, how many Meshichisten are coming to Rav Feldman for questions on anything else? The answer is, probably not many fewer than before, since Rav Feldman is in Baltimore, MD. He had to say something, because he was asked, and because he takes a more moderate position against them than Rabbi Dovid Berger in his book. But for anyone else to join in would be a classic example of doing more harm than good.

    It doesn’t mean the view of the Meshichisten isn’t incredibly dangerous. It doesn’t mean Yaakov Menken shouldn’t write an article expressing optimism when only a no-name ex-Morristown-bocher pens an article in the JPost to call the Rebbe the Moshiach. It means it doesn’t take any new p’sak or cherem or public statement of the Moetzes to tell us what we already know.

  88. Zalman says:

    Quote:(the era of Nevuah [prophecy] ended 2500 years ago).

    By the way, The Rebbe did refer to himself as a Novi. Look up Sefer Hasichos parshas Shoftim. 5751.

    And Yes. The Rebbe did prophesize many things. The most famous examples are when he foretold before the six-day war, when most of the Jewish world were petrified there might be a second holocaust, the Rebbe foretold, and this is on video on Lag B’omer about two weeks before the war, that we will witness miracles, and there will be a great yeshua very soon.

    And the next famous one in the Gulf War WHILE THE SCUDS WERE FALLING the Rebbe said, (caught on video) Eretz Yisroel is the safest place and “einei hasem elokecho bo m’reishis hashana ad acharis hashana” and therefor there is nothing to be afraid at this time. And not ONE person died as a direct result of the 39 scuds. (Some say one person did die, even so compared to the massive danger, this is minuscule. And compare it with ANY other war -over 700 Israeli soldiers in six-day war, over 3,000 in Yom Kippur war, only one fatality, is a BIG, MASSIVE miracle.

    And there is more. Not enough room on this blog

    Many Lubavitchers would be embarrassed to say this to a Chabad detractor because he knows his words will be twisted and used against him.

  89. Moshe Shulman says:

    “Like it or not, Meshichisten are a fault in the frum world, too. And this is where my friend R’ Moshe is mistaken as well. Gedolim have a talent for saying a p’sak when people will listen to the p’sak. It is a fact that the reaction to the Ba’al Shem Tov had an impact (apparently, the third Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, said Chassidim owe the Gr”a their thanks). How many Litvaks or Bobovers or Rachmastrivkers believe the Moshiach could be a recently-departed Rebbe? So for these people, no p’sak is needed, much less a cherem. Rav Keller wrote two articles in the JO, while no contrary position has appeared there. We all know what they hold.”

    Not to argue too much with my Friend R Yaakov, however he is in error with regards to the gadolim and how they would and do react. Silence to their own people is not because they will not listen with regards to the meshichitan. He in fact agrees that they know that it is outside of Yiddishkeit. The exceptions that he quotes only proves the point. It is not really an issue. My kids are a good example of this. They are very kind to the meshichistan and just consider them insane, rather then outright heretics.

    As to your writing an article, in the least it has given the opportunity for some sane Lubavitchers to set the record straight. even if they may harbor a false hope/belief that it may be possible that the Lubavitcher Rebbe could come back as Moshiach, I don’t think any of them are of the view that it must be him, and that if someone else would come (i.e. the Moshiach who is here now for this generation) and accomplish what needs to be, that they would reject him because he wasn’t their late Rebbe.

  90. shmuel says:

    Yaakov Menken wrote:
    “And now that Rav Aharon Feldman has issued a p’sak saying the Meshichisten have no understanding of Torah, how many Meshichisten are coming to Rav Feldman for questions on anything else?”
    A better question might be how many other people come to Rav Feldman with any serious halachic issues, and the correct answer would be, probably not many. Rav Feldman is a great rosh yeshiva, NOT a posek. Ditto for Rabbi Keller. This erroneous conflation opens the door for a whole host of confusions plaguing large parts of the yeshiva world, and is beyond the scope of this discussion (i think). The poskim of today, depending on ones affiliation, are Rav Elyashiv, Rav O. Yoseph, Rav Eliyahu, Rav Z.Nechemia Goldberg, Rav Menashe Klein, etc. The difference is crucial, and can not be overstated – a Rosh Yeshiva is NOT a posek.

  91. shmuel says:

    Yaakov Menken wrote:
    “Rav Keller wrote two articles in the JO, while no contrary position has appeared there.” Actually, Rabbi Immanuel Schochet wrote a lengthy response to Rav Keller’s article, raising serious questions about both the substance and style of that article. Unfortunately, the JO declined to print his response, which was then publicized elsewhere.
    See http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol02/v02n094.shtml#07 for an article which lends some clarity to this whole issue. I’d be interested in your thoughts on the points made.
    Thanks,
    Shmuel

  92. Asher Heber says:

    To lighten up on the rhetoric and recriminations posted I think a bon mot would be in place (at the chance of raising the ire of Toby Katz).
    The following story was told to me by my Gerrer cousins and a number of other Gerrer Chassidim. The Bais Yisroel of Ger ZY”A, who was well known for his sharpness and wit, would take a daily constitutional usually together with a number of his Chassidim. During one of these walks his followers turned to him and said “De Lubavitcher Chassidim halten az zeyer Rebbe iz Moshiach”.(“The Lubavitcher Chassidim claim that their Rebbi is Moshiach”) To which the Bais Yisroel retorted , without batting an eyelash, with the rhetorical question “un etz haisd Chassidim?” (and you consider yourselves Chassidim?”).The second version is that he asked “Un iyer hot emitzin bessers?” (“and do you have anybody better?”).

  93. Zalman says:

    After reading the link one poster put up a responce by Rabbi J Shochat, (besides the disindigenous position Rav Keller seems to be making) it comes out Rabbi Minkowitz was NOT defending the (admittedly idolatrous) elokistim, which Y. Menken claim he was doing, he was defending the MESHCHISTIM’s practice to be within normative Judaism. The whole letter of Rabbi Shochat has to be studied, together with the letters of Rabbi Keller, and the letter of Rabbi Minkowitz.

    Saying “he said this” “he said that” without actualy reading what he wrote, and then accusing him of saying something he didn’t say is disingenuous to say the least, and has many issurim of Lashon Hara, Motzi shem ra. And as Rabbi Shochat wrote and quotes many sources , causing and aggravating machlokes is WORSE than Avodah Zorah!(see Sifre, Nasso, sect. 42, and Bereishit Rabba 38:7)

  94. Chaim Wolfson says:

    This thread-that-never-ends shows every sign of setting the record for the most commented on Cross-Currents post. The idea of being part of history appeals to me, so I couldn’t resist adding my two cents. For the sake of brevity, and because I do not claim to be an expert in Chabad philosophy, I will limit my remarks to comments on a few of the comments here.

    1) Am I the only one who finds the fixation of some of the commenters here with “the litvishe velt” and “the Yeshivishe velt” strange? Does the perception really exist in Lubavitch circles that all criticism against them is orchestrated by some vast “right-wing” conspiracy? Dr. Berger is not a member of the “yeshivishe velt”; Toby Katz has on numerous occasions professed not to be [though I don’t believe her :)]; I don’t think Lawrence Reisman and Dr. E. would characterize themselves as part of of that world. The truth is that in the Yeshivos with which I am familiar (including the “Avi Avos…”, Lakewood), Lubavitch stopped being a topic of conversation almost twenty years ago. I don’t know, maybe things are different out west.

    2) The reference to “misnagdim” is beyond strange; its just silly. As Rabbi Menken pointed out, the “litvishe velt” (whom I assume the commenters consider the spiritual descendants of the original “misnagdim” and the propogators of their views) has absolutely no problems with chassidim. As I know from the time I spent in that bastion of the “yeshivishe velt”, Lakewood, a good portion of the student body is comprised of chassidim, and the town contains “shtiblach” representing every imaginable type of chassidus, from Ger to Breslov, and, yes, Lubavitch. Today, “misnagdim” exist only in history books, and, it seems, in some people’s imagination. Those who insist on defining contemporary disagreements in terms of a dispute from 200 years ago are, I think, reading too many Artscroll books, or Kehos books, or whatever. They do a disservice to their own cause, because it takes away from their credibility.

    3) Rabbi Weiss, WADR, the story about Rav Shach (comment #50) seems very hard to believe. The circles I identify with are often accused of living in denial, but really, about the only thing that would surprise me more than that story would be if you would told me that people were putting the picture of the famous uncle of the leading Rabbi of Chinuch Atzmai under the baby by the “bris”. And does it really say in “sefer minhagei chabad” that there is such a custom? Many years ago I heard that Rav Yaakov Landau of Bnei Brak, who was certainly a “baki” in the minhagim of Chabad (at least as practiced through the times of the Rashab), stormed out of a “bris” in protest when he witnessed a picture of the Rebbe being put under the baby. Maybe I was misinformed.

    4) I’m not sure whose point Zalman (comment #88) was trying to prove with his comment that “By the way, The Rebbe did refer to himself as a Novi.” The fact is that “nevuah” was taken away from us after the first generation of “bayis sheini”. As for the two examples Zalman gives, in the first one also “proves” that the analysts of the CIA were “neviim”, because they predicted that the Israelis would win in seven days. And in the second example, Rav Chaim Kanievski said the exact same thing.

  95. Michoel says:

    To R. Asher Heber,
    Thank you for asking for documentation. If we would all to that, it would make the entire phenomena of blogs a zillion times better. The statement I am refering to was said by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in a sicha on Purim 5716. It is on recordings that you can find aroudn the web.

  96. Michoel says:

    comment 84 by R. Zalman,
    “For some reason it’s perfectly reasonable to publicly berate Chabad for
    their faults. … But there are soooooo many faults by the frumer velt..”
    You are comparing apples and oranges. Problems with Chabad are issues of Das. They are issues that touch the very heart of Mesoras Klal Yisroel, the continued acurate transmition of the means for Hashra’as hashchinah in this world. Rocks, army, etc can certainly constitute an enormous chillul H’ but the they problems of a different nature. And furthermore it is not “perfectly reasonable to publicly berate”. This is a public forum for discussion of serious issues. Your average Litvak spends his Sunday learning, if he is a masmid. Or going to the zoo or whatever. Not sitting around blabbing about Chabad.

  97. Dovid Eliezrie says:

    To: Rabbi Menken

    I have tried patiently to respond to many questions here. But I finally had enough. Its the absolute lies repeated here saying there is so called “alokisim”. It is a blood libel. I repeat a blood libel. I was the person who dealt with the Jewish Observer with Rabbi Kellers outrageous and false article came out. It troubles me greatly to see these lies repeated here on this blog that I thought was a site for honest debate and conversation. Even Rabbi Moshe Sherer, how was ill at the time, from his hospital room expressed to me great regret about the printing of that article. “If I would have been well it would not have been printed.”

    Rabbi Keller a long history of hostility to Chabad dating from many years. He is far from an objective observer and the falsehoods he wrote make him Pasul Ledos. Your repeating them here questions the ability of us to have conversation.

    If you want to have an honest interaction I am all ears. I have been quite willing to be very open. I don’t care which Roshe Yeshiva you want to quote. There is not Alokist movement. Its a lie. And this is one of the main problems we have dating back to the infamous Avigdor who lied about the Alter Rebbe which caused his being put into prison. And don’t tell me about one or two mentally ill people like the guy in Tzefas who tried to murder the Rav of the community and ended up in a mental hospital. There is not such movement. You want to talk then stop repeating lies.

    Dovid Eleizrie

  98. Moshe Shulman says:

    shmuel, You seem to be under the mistaken POV that what Rav Feldman says is a daas yuchid. I suggest that you learn to accept that it is the daas of Gadolim outside of Lubavitch.

    I have read the R. Schochet answer, and quite frankly I think that both R. Keller and R. Schochet are writing for an audience. I can only state that I know of who was the Chassidic Rebbe who was consulted. Since for some reason he does not want his name revealed (and considering the attacks I have seen on R. Keller I understand that)I will only say that he is highly respected, well known, and qualified to make an opinion on these issues.

  99. Hyim Ber says:

    Yaakov Menken wrote:

    “Rav Keller wrote two articles in the JO, while no contrary position has appeared there.”

    This matter was discussed–from more than one perspective–in Jewish Action, the OU’s flagship news-magazine…

    Here is an article by a well-respected Lubavitcher Possek and rabbi of Congregation Sherith Israel, Nashville, Tenessee for 40-plus years.

    http://www.ou.org/publications/ja/5763/5763fall/JUSTBETW.PDF

  100. Dovid says:

    Shmuel,

    1) I hope you would be writing to lubavitch today about their relying on words of “Mashpiim” to decide issues that relate to halacha (mashiach etc.).

    2) But Chabad is not entirely correct when they attack another group by stating that only Posskim are entitled to decide certain matters of Torah, because there is precedent where; Rav chayim brisker who was not a possek in the regular sense; yet t was he who decided many matters that were connected to Halacha on a grand scale. the same with for instance, Rav Velvel.

  101. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Rabbi Eliezrie (post 65) writes that, “My understanding of the Shitah of the meschichistim is that the Rebbe will be Moshiach. … They hold the Rebbe “will be” Moshiach. This seems to be the dominant view in the that camp.”

    Berl (post 67) writes that “I have never encountered any among them that claim that moshiach already came, save for an extreme group of “bittul hatzomos” crazies that were repudiated [in writing and publicly] even by the Rabbonim that belong to the meshichist camp. The rest do not claim that moshiach came;”

    Neither has answered why the meshichist slogan refers to the rebbe as moshiach in the present tense. Neither has
    answered why the need to present tortured interpretations of Rambam’s Hilchos Mlachim to explain why the rebbe fits the definition of vadai moshiach now. And when I ask for a declaration that the rebbe was not moshiach while he lived and is not moshiach now, Zalman claims that this “is EXACTLY the position of anti-Meshichist Lubavitchers who are the vast majority of Chabad. Moshiach has NOT yet come. The Rebbe is NOT moshiach Vadai. And who will be Moshaich in the future “is no more than a matter of conjecture.”

    If I put the three quotations together, it would appear that the only difference between the meshichisten and the anti-meshichisten is the extent to which one can identify who moshiach will be.

    Now, those of who have read meshichist literature, and not just the crazy fringe, either, (I’m thinking Rabbi Hersh Fogelman of Worchester, who built a kehilla out of nothing) would disagree with the characterization of the meshichisten. Putting that aside, however, the implication is that there is very little difference between the two camps. And that is a very frightening implication.

  102. Aaron Feldman says:

    The recriminations and accusations are depressing. People self-admittedly unable to “pasken” daily relevant questions of kashrut, hilchot Shabbat etc. suddenly are expert authorities on hilchot avodah zara and “hilchata limeshicha”! How depressing to see meaningless polemics on this and
    other blogs whenever the terms Chabad or Lubavitch flashes on the screen. They preach to their own choir, feeling ever so heroic for having “bashed” the other, but with few notable exceptions don’t have the guts to identify themselves. Why so shy when you think to speak the truth? Polemics is all about “scoring points” against those you oppose for whatever real or imagined reasons. Mostly there is no reasoning, no proven facts, only sophistry and innuendos, and trying to be as negative as possible, instead of spreading ner mitzvah vetorah or. They claim that they want to “protect the world from pernicious ideas,” when style and content demonstrate ulterior motives. You don’t like Chabad? Fine, do your own thing. You care about Shulchan Aruch? Fine, but remember that Shulchan Aruch cares just as much as what comes out of your mouth (or keyboard) as it does about what goes into your mouth!

    Especially disturbing are the anecdotal references, or non-explicated innuendos, of misdeeds, cited in Toby Katz’s posts, without any evidence (which is one of the biggest defects in Prof. Berger’s book as well). I happen to daven in many Chabad synagogues, including some with a good representation of Meshichists, thus have been exposed to every possible kind of manifestations. NOT ONCE did I witness any one of the incidents mentioned in those, nor,
    for that matter, have ANY of my numerous Lubavitch friends with whom I often discuss these issues (and not because they are trying to hide it from me – as they frankly discuss with me more serious issues).Yes, I have heard the “yechi”-mantra, and yes I have seen and read much of the rightfully condemned statements and proclamations cited, but not once any of the nonsense of meditating on the Rebbi’s picture before,during or after davening, tefillin etc. If only the aforementioned claim to have witnessed such, there is something basically suspicious and wrong about these reports.
    Aaron

  103. shmuel says:

    This cannot be over-emphasized. A posek is not only one who has (obviously) ‘yadin-yadin’ and extensive shimush – he is one who’s life is psak halocho. This is not a lubavitch, chassidish, litvish, or any other ‘ish’ concept. When confronted with a halachic issue, one asks a posek, NOT a rosh yeshivah. Same as one goes to a surgeon for a tumor removal, as opposed to a researcher, no matter how great. This is a very basic foundation in formulation of halacha, and needs no elaboration for anyone (even) remotely familiar with psak.

  104. abba says:

    I have a simple question for those who believe that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, ZT”L, is presently in the Olam HaEmess and is a likely candidate for Moshiach.

    If you maintain that Moshiach can come from those who have died, wouldn’t you agree that as great as the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT”L, was, he doesn’t compare to the Rishonim, and surely not the Amoraim, Tannaim, Naviim, etc.?

    Am I mistaken, or is it not a universal mesorah that the later generations can’t possibly compare to the earlier ones?

    If I am correct, then how does the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT”L even get into the running?

    (If one holds that Moshiach will be someone presently alive, obviously, this is no problem.)

    Kol Tuv and Sholom al Yisroel.

  105. Bob Miller says:

    Some visitors with Chabad-Messianic inscriptions on their kippot occasionally show up at our plain-vanilla-Ashkenaz shul. So far, they have been able to get aliyot during the Shabbat Torah reading. This could be because of a tolerant policy, or maybe because there is no policy.

    Can anyone point to an existing policy about this in any “non-Meshichist Chabad” shul?

  106. Aaron Feldman says:

    Dr. Klafter writes: “Well, what I want is for you to say: “The Rebbe is NOT and WILL NEVER BE the Moshiach.” That is the definition of an anti-Meshichist.

    Dear Dr. Klafte: The first half of your definition is 100% correct and fair. The second half, however, is arrogant presumptuousness. The first half is correct, as Lawrence Reisman rightly points out: “If the Moshiach is to come from the dead, he has yet to come. Since he has yet to come, he has not come at this time. The meshichisten, do not claim do the rebbe will be Moshiach, but that he already is Moshiach. In doing so, they are stating (even if only implicitly) that Moshiach has already come. And to state that Moshiach has already come when we do not have the geula, the end of golus, the bais hamikdash rebuilt, and the re-establishment of malchus bais dovid, is to state that Moshiach did not do these things. And that is tatamount to not believing in Moshiach,no matter how many times one states “Ani Maamin.”

    The self-evident absurdity of any one claiming that there was already a “first coming of Moshiach” is to deny the explicit ruling of Rambam which the Lubavitch Rebbi declared to be definitive and authoritative as no one argues with Rambam on that point. Thus they reject the Rebbi’s position as well. As for the second half, however, would you (to be consistent) also demand that they declare that Moses will never be Mashiach? Or King David? Or Daniel? Or R. Yehudah Hanassi? Or Rashi? Or the Maharal? etc. Of Moses the Midrash says that Moses is “go’el rishon and goel acharon!” Of King David our prayers on Hashanah Rabba state Moshiach “hu Dovid atzmo!” The perushim re ibbur haneshamot and gilgul haneshamot will not work for the view of gedolei Yisrael (Rav Saadia Gaon etc.) who rejected these Kabbalistic premises, leaving us with “peshuto shel mikra”!

    The possiblity of Moshiach coming from the dead is a legitimate view in both Bavli and Yerushalmi. Rav (tanna hu upalig) is certainly a legitimate authority, and no source rejects his view. It is not the normative perception throughout the ages, but a legitimate (albeit far-fetched) possibility nonetheless. Thus how can any believer in G-d, who is the One and only One who decides and determines the choice of Moshiach, preempt G-d’s prerogative and declare categorically that G-d will not and cannot appoint Ploni ben Ploni to be Mashiach when the time comes – in whichever way He decides to do so, whether from those living at the time or from those of whom tradition states that they will be resurrected before the Messianic redemption starts [as cited in Eliyahu Rabba, the Ritva, Rashba, Ramban and Radvaz]???????

    Ultimately no one knows what will be. All and any discussions to pinpoint (or reject!) the identity of Moshiach is arrogant nonsense and, to paraphrase Rambam, a sheer waste of time that gets you
    nowhere.
    Aaron

  107. Michoel says:

    R. Aaron Feldman writes (in the same vein as many other Chabad supporters):
    “They preach to their own choir, feeling ever so heroic for having “bashed” the other”,

    HOW THE HEY DO YOU KNOW HOW THEY FEEL? Maybe they feel awful having to object to what they find objectionable. And should we then assume that every time (of the inumerable times) a Chabad Chasid uses the expression “snag” he feels heroic?

  108. Yaakov Menken says:

    If there is one thing that I have learned from this dialog, it is the range of Lubavitchers who are united in their strong opposition to these Meshichisten and their craziness. I, for one, would be delighted to know that the “Elokistim” don’t exist. I appreciate Rabbi Eliezrie’s vehement denials, and as far as them not constituting a “movement,” I believe him. But I don’t understand his insistence that they don’t exist at all. I am certain he is well aware that I did not make this stuff up. And neither did Rabbi Keller.

    Neither of us founded the Shofar Association of America Inc., which was responsible for the publication of a full-page advertisement in the New York Times called “The Third of Tammuz is Not the Rebbe’s Yahrzeit,” which said that now that the Rebbe is “no longer bound by physical limitations,” all “can turn to him with their innermost thoughts and deepest prayers.” Neither of us publishes Bais Chabad in Israel, which featured the story of a child who fell into a well and, before he was rescued unharmed (B”H, Ki L’Olam Chasdo), “prayed to the Rebbe to come and save me.”

    And finally, neither of us published Bais Moshiach, which featured the original article which prompted Rabbi Keller to write his article. I hardly dare repeat what the article said, but here goes. “So who Elokeinu? Who Avinu? Who Malkeinu? Who Moisheinu? Who Yoshianu V’Yigaleinu Shaynis B’Korov? The Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach. That’s who.”

    Ribbono Shel Olam! I feel Rabbi Eliezrie’s frustration, because, as we all know, it is impossible to prove a negative. The most outrageous lie imaginable, if stated vaguely enough, cannot be proven false. But that’s not what is going on here. These are direct quotations, direct evidence which must be discounted before labeling the whole concept “outrageous and false.”

    Shmuel is very much mistaken on the role of a Rosh Yeshiva vs. a posek, especially as Rav Aharon Feldman is both. On issues of fundamental Hashkafos, it is the Roshei Yeshiva we turn to. Who sits on the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, taking positions on the most fundamental issues facing Klal Yisroel today?

    Speaking of which, Rabbi Shochet’s unfortunate response to Rabbi Keller asks, “Who are these ‘widely respected Gedolei Torah’ [who encouraged publication of Rabbi Keller’s article]? Why does he not identify them?” Moshe Shulman has already pointed out why Rabbi Keller didn’t identify them. And the final word on what hits the pages of the JO is not Rabbi Nisson Wolpin’s, nor was it Rabbi Moshe Sherer’s. V’Hamayvin Yavin. R’ Moshe (Shulman) is mistaken when he says the Gedolim haven’t spoken about this.

    Rabbi Keller’s second article, which Rabbi Shochet claims he cannot understand why it was necessary, was necessitated by the response to his first article by Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz, Regional Director of Chabad of Illinois. Now, when you write a letter responding to an article, you are, of course, responding to the article. Rabbi Shochet cannot claim after the fact that Rabbi Moscowitz wasn’t talking about the article. That is as illogical as his assertion that one of the five bullet-point issues in the second article “had not even been mentioned in Rabbi Keller’s first article.” I’m sorry, but a ten-year-old child could draw the lines from his five bullet points to the statements he made in his first (quoted as paragraphs three & four of his second article).

    Let me reemphasize that no one (credible) is talking about a “movement” of Elokists. On the contrary, Rabbi Keller emphasized that he was talking about “ONE FACTION WITHIN THE MOVEMENT.” Admittedly, he blurs the distinction between the Meshichisten and the true crazies — I would prefer to think that he was optimistic that both groups would be pushed aside, rather than Meshichistin still holding on to 770 fifteen years after the petirah.

    But as I said, Rabbi Keller’s second article was necessitated by Rabbi Moscowitz’s response to his first — specifically because it did not denounce those who would publish a full-page article inviting prayers to the Rebbe as a “lunatic fringe.” Instead, Rabbi Moscowitz “circled the wagons,” exactly as some have done here by attempting to deny the Meshichisten are a significant subgroup when we see them popping up all over.

    As I said, these groups are not just a Lubavitch problem. If you agree that rock-throwing goons in Beit Shemesh are a charedi problem, and yeshiva drop-outs are a charedi problem, and shady dealings and tax evasion by charedi businessmen are a charedi problem, then the only way you can claim these Meshichisten are a Lubavitch, but not charedi, problem — is to say that Lubavitchers are not part of charedi Judaism. I’m not saying that. Rabbi Keller, for all his “long history of hostility to Chabad,” did not say that. Are you saying that?

    So, please. Everyone take a deep breath. I think it is time to be much more restrictive in the posting of further comments. Unless you have something new to add that will not inflame passions on either side, please don’t bother.

  109. Bob Miller says:

    Aaron Feldman said, “The perushim re ibbur haneshamot and gilgul haneshamot will not work for the view of gedolei Yisrael (Rav Saadia Gaon etc.) who rejected these Kabbalistic premises, leaving us with “peshuto shel mikra”!”

    There’s a world of interpretive nuance falling between “these Kabbalistic premises” and “peshuto shel mikra”.

    Not only that, even the pshat itself is not always transparently obvious to someone on our level. For example, let’s consider as one package all the above citations about past sages becoming Mashiach:

    Does the pshat mean that all of these named sages of the past will be Mashiach? How can that work? If the pshat means that only one of the named sages of the past will be Mashiach, what, then, about all the others named; are we to consider the statements cited about them to be false? Does the pshat then mean only that they all have some chance to be Mashiach? We’re dealing with declarative statements that don’t look like maybes!

    All of the above options require us to read something additional into the cited words!

  110. Ori says:

    Michoel: I did not. I accused Chabad (not you) of trying to make frum people into Lubavitchers (not more or less frum), and of showing a disrespect for other drachim.

    Ori: Anybody here who is interested in doing kiruv, please read Michoel’s post, internalize it, imagine yourself Michoel and think about what it means. Michoel is upset because he thinks Chabad is claiming itself to be the “one true Judaism”, and that it rejects the Jewish Mesorah he got from his parents and educators.(1)

    When you go to do kiruv, you are talking with Heterodox Jews who see all of Orthodox Judaism the way that Michoel sees Chabad.

    Hopefully this is not inflame passions on either side, or if it does will inflame both sides against me rather than each other. I think this is a tremendous learning opportunity.

    (1) Please ignore for the moment whether this is true or not. That is irrelevant to my point, and I think it’s a point that is worth making.

  111. Aaron Feldman says:

    Re post 109 by Bob Miller: Thank you. You provide astute observations, raising valid questions. I would answer simply: if these varying identifications were made by the same authority, or “bistama” without naming an authority, we should indeed be perplexed when ignoring the Kabbalistic premises [as in Arizal’s explanation re Mosheh, and the Yaavetz’s explanation re King David, or the Lubavitcher Rebbi’s comment (as I understand it) that all the nesi’ei hadorot are merged in the neshamah of Mashiach, etc.] which readily reconciles all views.
    I venture to say that those who rejected the Kabbalistic premises can easily avoid the dilemma by pointing to “machloket”, differing views by different authorities, just as we have in so many other cases of halachah and aggadah. Needless to add, Rambam (and others) already noted that in matters which have no practical bearing to our conduct (kum ve’assei or sheiv ve’al ta’aseh) there is no decisive ruling as to who is correct. This applies especially to so many details re the Messianic redemption (including the “fundamental” [?] question whether the prophet Eliyahu will come before or after Mashiach), as elaborated by Rambam in Hilchot Melachim, and how much more so re the identity of Mashiach.
    As for an earlier question why any one of later times could be Mashiach when earlier generations were greater, this is a very valid point as well. But this does not mean that it is impossible, for this is something that only Hashem will determine – who, what, when, how – in His inscrutable wisdom. The validity of the question relates only to the absurdity of any one of us deciding and declaring that “I know who Mashiach will – or will not – be.”

  112. Michoel says:

    I’d like to suggest something that I think would really provide a toeles gadol toward increasing shalom between Lubavitchers and their critics. Let someone of authority in Chabad who knows how to learn, take all the statements of the Rebbe that meshichistim and non-Chabadsters claim as evidence that the Rebbe was declaring himself Moshiach, and one by one, show that this is not what the Rebbe meant.

  113. Hyim Ber says:

    Michoel wrote:

    Let someone of authority in Chabad who knows how to learn, take all the statements of the Rebbe that meshichistim and non-Chabadsters claim as evidence that the Rebbe was declaring himself Moshiach, and one by one, show that this is not what the Rebbe meant.

    Rabbi Sholom Ber Levin, the head librarian in the Agudas Chabad Library in NY, has done something along these lines. In case you winder, he is a tremendous Talmid Chochom with dozens of his own Seforim, AND he has undertaken monumental projects such as re-typesetting the complete Shulchan Aruch Horav and adding in all the footnotes from Gemora, Rishonim, Achronim etc! In any event, after the Rebbe’s passing he–along with others such as Reb Yoel Kahn, who truly needs no introduction among those who appreciate Torah and Chasidus–published a series of booklets called “Moshiach uGeulah”. I encourage you to read through them.

    The booklets can be found on this page in PDF form:

    http://www.chabadlibrary.org/books/pdf/

    Hyim Ber

  114. yy says:

    “an example is the poster, who is, nebach, not talking to his own brother for ten years, using my words, that brought out the respect I gained of another Derech by personally investigating it to somehow criticize me.” (#74)

    R’ Weiss:

    Yes, it’s nebach. Want to know how it began? You challenge everyone’s sincerity so quickly, how about showing it a little here about a very real, very human problem, that occured from within the crossfire of this ideological battle that is tearing at the fabric of our holy nation…

    It took off during the Gulf War. He was fresh out of the Kfar Chabad BT program. I had been keeping Mitzvos before him for a couple of years and then spent about a year in his vicinity when he just started tasting Yiddishkeit (mainly thru Chabad). I was thrilled to see his progress! He was thrilled to share this new world of truth with me! I then moved to Israel, started learning, including shiurim in general and chabad chossidus. He came a couple of years later, for my wedding, and started learning in Kfar Chabad. He married the next year.

    A few years we’re both with a couple of little kids, bla”h. Then comes the Gulf War. The news is rife about unconventiontional weapons about to strike us. I’m living in a fairly vulnerable area. The government tells us to acquire all kinds of newfangled safety kits, inlcuding these terrible little plastic tents for our infant twins. etc, etc. Tensions mount. Fanily abroad is getting on edge and begins suggesting we’re irrationally risking our children’s future. Etc, etc. My brother makes it clear that THE Rebbe has declared all is safe, so he is fine. No plans to take any precautions.

    I begin to do homework. At one point I read an article by HaRav Shach about the historical given that international war threats can be real threats to even the biggest tsadikkim. He brings Mekoros. I find it fascinating. I begin to wonder whether I owe it to my family to get the kids out of this battlefield. I call my brother to share the thoughts… All HELL breaks lose. he screams and rants that this “Rav” is no Rav and anyone who listens to him is deluded, etc, etc.

    That’s the short version. I say this not denying that there’s much more here than pure chabad issues involved. But this is REAL Jewish pain, my friend. Nothing to be dismissed by “nebach.” For those in the know, this is the kind of nafka mina of these machlokosim that cut at the heart of our people. To use a phrase you repeat incessantly, “if you were honest” about your ahavas Yisroel… how could you not be showing a litte more care here.

    In fact, the essence of my concern in that note (#60) was NOT to criticize any of the contents of your points (I leave that to others) but to question, from the depths of my heart, whether your and other’s tone are betraying your claims of purity.

    Let’s begin doing some genuine ahavas Yisroel, one Jew at a time.

  115. yy says:

    btw, I have plans to be in LA at the end of March and would be glad to meet you, as per your many invitations. Perhaps it could be an opportunity for bringing Moshiach near via a little, real life avoida.

  116. Dovid says:

    Aaron writes,

    “The self-evident absurdity of any one claiming that there was already a “first coming of Moshiach” is to deny the explicit ruling of Rambam which the Lubavitch Rebbi declared to be definitive and authoritative as no one argues with Rambam on that point. Thus they reject the Rebbi’s position as well”.

    The Rebbe felt that Rambam was the only *Halachik* authority on this matter, for he is the only one who rules on these matters in terms of Halacha. MEdrash, Talmud does not count for they are not the Halachik conclusion.

    SO the second part of your writing is not fully understood: ” As for the second half, however, would you (to be consistent) also demand that they declare that Moses will never be Mashiach? Or King David? Or Daniel? Or R. Yehudah Hanassi? Or Rashi? Or the Maharal?”

    OF course if the Rambamis understood to reject these possibilities!

    “.. Of Moses the Midrash says that Moses is “go’el rishon and goel acharon!”
    Obviously this is out of the question, Moshe Rabbeynu cannot be literally considered the mashiach b’guf shel Moshe RAbeynu as he is a Levi and Moshiach has to BEN DAVID! And obviously “goel rishon hu goel achron” means that his neshama will vest himself in the body of mashiach and unite with the soul of mashiach. But if one declares that he is the Mashiach literally of course that statement is rejected!

    And like the meaning of “goel rishon goel achron” is themeaningof this other statement “Of King David our prayers on Hashanah Rabba state Moshiach “hu Dovid atzmo!” What do you think: that all whopray hoahsna rabboh is declaring LITERALLY that Dovid is THE mashiach?!? Of courseeven you claim that no knows who exactly is the messiah? How can you interpret that they meanliterally that he is themessiah of all generations??

    You: “The perushim re ibbur haneshamot and gilgul haneshamot will not work for the view of gedolei Yisrael (Rav Saadia Gaon etc.) who rejected these Kabbalistic premises, leaving us with “peshuto shel mikra”!”:

    In pshtoy shel mikra there is certainly no problem, for it means allegorically + literally that David’s lineage will redeem the people representing David himself. How can you say that all jews declare with certainty that he himself is certialny the messiah?

    “The possiblity of Moshiach coming from the dead is a legitimate view in both Bavli and Yerushalmi. Rav (tanna hu upalig) is certainly a legitimate authority, and no source rejects his view”.

    It is not definite. One canreda the Rambam as saying that and ruling that the messiah is only from the living. That is the impression he gies: That the redemption will take place by someone who is already alive and certainly the innovation of resurrection (even from the few) will happen after he already begun his activities!

    ” Thus how can any believer in G-d, who is the One and only One who decides and determines the choice of Moshiach, preempt G-d’s prerogative and declare categorically that G-d will not and cannot appoint Ploni ben Ploni to be Mashiach when the time comes – in whichever way He decides to do so,”

    The *Rambam* (who is the only halachik authority on this matter when not contradicted by another Halachik authority) rules otherwise: He states with certain and categorically that certain individuals are KNOWN THAT THEY ARE NOT THE MESSIAH THAT THE TORAH PROMISED!

    ” whether from those living at the time or from those of whom tradition states that they will be resurrected before the Messianic redemption starts [as cited in Eliyahu Rabba, the Ritva, Rashba, Ramban and Radvaz]???????”

    Obviously the Rambam knew of these traditions and yet he: a) seems to rule that the messiah will come from the living asmentioned earlier, b) he rules out CATEGORICALLY AND DEFINITELY people who were thought to be the messiah (cheskas mashiach) and then died without succeeding to bring about the redmeption, rambam rules categorically and unequivocally that “בידוע שאינו זה שהבטיחה עליו תורה…”ת that he is not the mashiach that the Torah haspromised.

  117. Yaakov Goldberg says:

    After reading Yaakov Menken’s comment (post 109) I pursued the link in post 91 and am astonished to note his disingenuous distortion of that article. Here are the relevant passages from it, and let the readers see for themselves how truthfully they were rendered by YM:

    “Rabbi Keller states that a response to his first article was circulated by Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz of Chicago, and adds that he does not intend to respond to it. I took the trouble to contact Rabbi Moscowitz and asked him for a copy… Rabbi Moscowitz informed me that he sent a copy to Rabbi Keller and to a few people who approached him about that article. His response dealt exclusively with a defense of two principles that Rabbi Keller found objectionable. It is then certainly astonishing to find Rabbi Keller attacking Rabbi Moscowitz and his letter without the public knowing about its contents… He condemns Rabbi Moscowitz for not repudiating the offensive statements of the Messianists (which was beyond the scope of his response) and takes direct issue with one part of his reply.
    Moreover, Rabbi Keller attributes to Rabbi Moscowitz a defense of five issues as “normative.” Four of these are not mentioned at all in Rabbi Moscowitz’s letter, and one of these had not even been mentioned in Rabbi Keller’s first article… ”

    Let us debate and discuss, but please no distortions!
    Yaakov

  118. Robert Lebovits says:

    One rather simple, though effective, method for determining a group’s beliefs, ideals, philosophies, and priorities is to examine what children of the group are being taught at the basic level of education. It is basic instruction that lays down the foundation of thinking and believing upon which more complex concepts and structures are built. While children are hardly learned representatives capable of explaining the nuances of a group’s believe system, their innocence, concrete thinking, and absence of guile make them valuable reporters of the group’s mindset.
    It’s a simple enough “experiment” to ask elementary school children from various frum day schools what they have been taught about the Rosh Hayeshiva, Rebbe, Spiritual Leader, etc., under whose aegis the school was established, to know what critical ideas are passed on to the next generation. Given the enormity of the debate as to where mainstream Chabad is in regard to Meshichist/anti-Meshichist thought – and for that matter what ideas about the person of Mashiach have been put forward in other frum groups – it seems worthwhile to examine such data. Perhaps it might lay some concerns to rest or offer valuable facts as to what is being heard, despite what people may think they are saying. Of course, the challenge would then be to accept the facts and not reject them if they do not conform to a priori assumptions.
    Robert Lebovits

  119. Moshe says:

    Chaim Wolfson writes:
    “As for the two examples Zalman gives, in the first one also “proves” that the analysts of the CIA were “neviim”, because they predicted that the Israelis would win in seven days. And in the second example, Rav Chaim Kanievski said the exact same thing”

    1)So what is Chaim saying? The Rebbe had a spy network akin to the CIA and thats how he knew there will be a yeshuo?

    2)People were making life and death decisions based on the Rebbe’s words. The Rebbe knew that. How could the Rebbe take responsibility for all his Chasidims lives and the many others who took comfort from the Rebbe’s words, if he was just “analyzing” the situation? What if it turned out the “analysis” was slightly off and the Egyptians managed to bomb Tel Aviv or Jerusalem killing thousands of civilians?
    How could he “analyze” not one of the scud missiles will kill thousands of people even though many hit their targets? That the scuds wont contain poison gas? One missile hit the gas works in Tel Aviv. Miraculously the gas network was switched off a couple of days earlier for standard repairs. Had it been on, as per usual, half of Tel Aviv would of gone up in smoke. And with each missile their are many more miracles told. And the Rebbe took all this responsibility by advising people to stay. Answering a women who wanted to bring her only son back to America, the Rebbe said “all the Yidden in Eretz Yisroel are like my only son.”

  120. Michoel says:

    R. Hyem Ber,
    Thank you very much! I found that enlightening. So all those that are arguing that “Moshiach being from the deceased” is a normative belief, are being cholek on the Rebbe’s shita. I encourage everone, Chabadnik and others to see the first PDF in the Moshiach V’Geula section, in the link referenced by Hyim Ber in post 113 above.

  121. S. Breslow says:

    Dovid,
    I have never heard of anybody in Lubavitch, to quote you, “I hope you would be writing to lubavitch today about their relying on words of “Mashpiim” to decide issues that relate to halacha (mashiach etc.)”, and have no reason to believe this actually happens. If it did, it would be exactly the same type of foolishness as asking a RY for a psak-halacha, yes. A mashpia is for questions in avodas-hashem, not halacha. Having never seen this (and I’ve been around quite some time), I’ll assume you made it up, or magnified an exception. Please excuse my ignorance, but could you share with me some examples of “Rav chayim brisker who was not a possek in the regular sense; yet t was he who decided many matters that were connected to Halacha on a grand scale. the same with for instance, Rav Velvel?”

    Moshe:
    I have no idea whether Rav Feldman’s opinion is a ‘daas yochid’ or not, but it’s of no practical relevance. Every RY in the world might share an opinion about something, and that still wouldn’t constitue a binding ‘psak halocho’ (unless you’re speaking about policy for the particular bnei-hayeshiva, obviously). The confusion about this issue is a disaster. This is not to say that there haven’t been (or aren’t) Roshei Yeshiva who have also been poskim, only that these have been rare, and in today’s world of psak, the ‘poskim hamekubolim’ are pretty-much the ones that Shmuel mentioned.

    Yaakov:
    You write that “Shmuel is very much mistaken on the role of a Rosh Yeshiva vs. a posek, especially as Rav Aharon Feldman is both. On issues of fundamental Hashkafos, it is the Roshei Yeshiva we turn to. Who sits on the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, taking positions on the most fundamental issues facing Klal Yisroel today?”. With all due respect, where do get this from ? The world of psak is not one of “shivim ponim latorah”, rather the opposite- “beis shammai b’mokom beis hillel aino mishna”. while the yeshiva world obviously is (pilpul vs. psak). If someone is a talmid of Rav Aharon, and routinely follows his directive in practical halacha, then yes, in any matter of psak he would be obliged to follow Rav Aharon’s opinion. Yet clearly, Rav Aharon is not a major posek- where are the shaalos-utshuvos ? I imagine he spends most of his day in learning, not ‘libbun shmaatsa aliba deHilchassa’. IMHO, the tragedy of today’s torah-world is that most yeshiva bochurim have never even heard of the ‘Yad Malachi’, let alone studied it. There, one will find the rules of halachic determination, as well as relevant guidelines for psak – and they’re very different than those required for a pilpul in ‘shnayim ochazin betallis’. In the litvishe-velt, THE posek is Rav Elyoshiv. I’d imagine that these issues should be paskened by him, that is, if these things are actually ‘nogea l’halocho’.

  122. Moshe says:

    To Michoel (and all):
    I just had a look at the Hebrew Artscroll Sanhedrin 98b, and in footnote 40 on that amud, they learn pshat in Rashi not like R Levin, rather that Doniel himself can be Moshiach. And to explain how that can be – they bring the Yeshuos Meshicho (Iyun Beis Perek Alef) that Moshiach can arise with Techiyas Hameisim.

    I wonder what Michoel and others have to say on this.

  123. Moshe Shulman says:

    “Here is an article by a well-respected Lubavitcher Possek and rabbi of Congregation Sherith Israel, Nashville, Tenessee for 40-plus years.
    http://www.ou.org/publications/ja/5763/5763fall/JUSTBETW.PDF

    I found the article very good except that he felt the need to justify what is unjustifyable. There are two problems:

    1. Even were one to justify a false belief with ‘valid’ sources'(like that HaShem has a body) that would not mean the one believing it is not outside of Judaism.

    2. The source he mentions in Sanhedrin does not mean what he says it does. The gemara says with regards to Moshiach that if he is from the living he is Rebbenu HaKodesh and if from the dead Daniel. Now Rashi has a problem which he tries to explain. (As everyone knows Rashi does not say anything unless there is a problem.) The problem is that How can two different people be Moshiach? The first answer of Rashi is that it is only referring to the character traits of Moshiach. The second states that in Daniel’s time he would have been the Moshiach if they had been worthy of it. (Just like Chezkiyahu and the other Rabbis mention on that blatt.) There is not an unlimited list of candidates who could come back and be Moshiach. There is a person who if the generation is worthy would have been (will be) Moshiach.

    It seems to me to be a contradiction for a chasid to seek to justify a view of someone who claims to be a follower of the same chassidus which he, himself claims contradicts his Rebbes teachings.

  124. Dovid says:

    “a mashpia is for questions in avodas-hashem, not halacha.”.

    Excellent. So may I ask you: Were chabadniks and their rabbis after 3 tammuz analyzing whether the Rebbe is Mashiach on Halachik terms or as a result of the Mashpiim’s decisions (or any other chassidic consideration) that the Rebbe IS mashiach? Chabad should be the lasts to claim how others have used other powers than a Halachik Possek to decide matters, since they built their whole theory after 3 of Tammuz on an issue that should be reserved for Posskey and Gedoyley Haposskim (for they are the first to be contacted on the metahalachik issue of the redeemer of the Jewish people) and yet they decided to take it upon their own hands and to improvise (and distort) halacha (and/or to ignore it) so that other Hashkafa that they created for years should continue to exist.

    Rav Chayim was not the town’s possek (another Rov was the active possek in town) and yet in matter of Klal yisroel he was from the rosh hamedabrim (whether the stance to Zionism and the like). The lack of being an active possek did not take from him the quality of “leassukey shantsso aliboh dehilchesso”. ( In a differrent vein the Lubavitcher Rebbe was not an active Possek and Moreh Horooh and yet when he felt that his voice was needed to decide Halachik matters he certainly voiced his opinion).

  125. Moshe Shulman says:

    “I have no idea whether Rav Feldman’s opinion is a ‘daas yochid’ or not, but it’s of no practical relevance. Every RY in the world might share an opinion about something, and that still wouldn’t constitue a binding ‘psak halocho’ (unless you’re speaking about policy for the particular bnei-hayeshiva, obviously). The confusion about this issue is a disaster. This is not to say that there haven’t been (or aren’t) Roshei Yeshiva who have also been poskim, only that these have been rare, and in today’s world of psak, the ‘poskim hamekubolim’ are pretty-much the ones that Shmuel mentioned.”

    The same sevorah will posul any Rebbe. 🙂 However poskim are defined by what a community accepts. Some are accepted more or less universally (BTW none of those you mention carries much weight where I come from.) However, I doubt any of them would have significantly differed on this issue, if they decided to openly say anything.

  126. Moshe says:

    Here we have the interesting situation of a Chabadnik (R Levin) learning pshat of Sanhedrin 98 and Rashi that Mshaiach can NOT come from those that have died, (thus the Rebbe can not be Moshiach);
    While we have the Artscroll (the bastion the litvish/yeshivish velt) learning into the same Gemmoro and Rashi and bringing support from the “Yeshuas Meshicho” that Moshiach can come from those who have died. And he’ll arrive with Techiyas Hameisim.

    Many Chabad detractors contend this is not within “noramative” Judaism. So then why does the Artscroll (!) bring this Meforash if this scenario is “out of bounds” from “normative” Judaism?

    This might explain the almost complete silence of the poskim on the issue of the M.’s.

    What can we learn from all this? Maybe one thing we can learn is to withhold judgment until one has THOROUGHLY learned all the relevant Gemorras, Rashi, Meforshim, Rishonim etc.

    It turns out there IS credible sources for such a belief. Though by no means conclusive evidence to prove the M.’s case, there is room for support of their beliefs within halachic, agadaik, and meforshim and Rishonim. (Where I as a chabad chosid believe they go wrong is placing the Rebbe as CERTAINLY moshiach, instead of being humble

    This is by no means an exhaustive in depth study of Moshiach and all the different agados that are part of the mesora of topic “Moshiach”. To study all Torah texts from the Talmud to the Zohar on the Topic of Moshiach would be like learning hilchos Shabbos. The amount of texts on the subject of Moshiach is exhaustive.

    Most of this blog saw opinions and emotions running high with very little actual quoting from Torah sources. Both sides should step back and debate by QUOTING from TORAH sources and leave politics and preconceived judgments for the politicians.

  127. Moshe says:

    Here we have the interesting situation of a Chabadnik (R Levin) learning pshat of Sanhedrin 98 and Rashi that Mshaiach can NOT come from those that have died, (thus the Rebbe can not be Moshiach);
    While we have the Artscroll (the bastion the litvish/yeshivish velt) learning into the same Gemmoro and Rashi and bringing support from the “Yeshuas Meshicho” that Moshiach can come from those who have died. And he’ll arrive with Techiyas Hameisim.

    Many Chabad detractors contend this is not within “noramative” Judaism. So then why does the Artscroll (!) bring this Meforash if this scenario is “out of bounds” from “normative” Judaism?

    This might explain the almost complete silence of the poskim on the issue of the M.’s.

    What can we learn from all this? Maybe one thing we can learn is to withhold judgment until one has THOROUGHLY learned all the relevant Gemorras, Rashi, Meforshim, Rishonim etc.

    It turns out there IS credible sources for such a belief. Though by no means conclusive evidence to prove the M.’s case, there is room for support of their beliefs within halachic, agadaik, and meforshim and Rishonim. (Where I as a chabad chosid believe they go wrong is placing the Rebbe as CERTAINLY (vadai)moshiach, instead of being humble and realizing it’s arrogant to say you know who Moshiach is especially after Gimmel Tamuz, especially when the Rebbe expressed displeasure about such public announcements. And especially when it doesn’t fit Rambam’s Halacha.)

    This is by no means an exhaustive in depth study of Moshiach and all the different agados that are part of the mesora of topic “Moshiach”. To study all Torah texts from the Talmud to the Zohar on the Topic of Moshiach would be like learning hilchos Shabbos. The amount of texts on the subject of Moshiach is exhaustive.

    Most of this blog saw opinions and emotions running high with very little actual quoting from Torah sources. Both sides should step back and debate by QUOTING from TORAH sources and leave politics and preconceived judgments for the politicians.

  128. Michoel says:

    Shalom Moshe (post 122),
    “I” have nothing to say on it. I am cetain that Rabbi Levin deals with that g’marra and explains how the Rebbe understood it. Your should ask your question to him.

  129. Dovid says:

    “I just had a look at the Hebrew Artscroll Sanhedrin 98b, and in footnote 40 on that amud, they learn pshat in Rashi not like R Levin, rather that Doniel himself can be Moshiach. And to explain how that can be – they bring the Yeshuos Meshicho (Iyun Beis Perek Alef) that Moshiach can arise with Techiyas Hameisim.”

    1) Who says *they* are right?
    2) Most importantly: Even if they are right, that Rashi (whichever way you read) is no support whatsoever to Chabad’s assertions, that *the Rebbe IS Mashiach*. There is no source or even allusion in the Gemara that if you can “estimate” (which obviously even the most liberal explanation in that Rashi) that *Daniel* would be the Messiah, that that feeling is equivalent to a definite ASSERTION AND PROCLAMATION THAT HE IS THE MESSIAH. It is clearl that Rav nachman has not made declarations “yechi melech hamashiach Daniel leolom Vaed” or any other declaration of that sort!

    And there is another point which Lubavitchers always miss and confuse: This Gemara clearly does not DECLARE SOMEONE to be Mashiach, and even as to say “he is GOING TO BE THE MASHIACH” (no matter how you learn it), for you see clearly that the Gemara allows for *two* possibilities: a) from the living, b) OR from the dead. Lubavitchers go a million steps further: They claim and declare unequivocally that the Rebbe is the messiah (now or in the future). Don’t Lubavitchjers realize that when they do so, they are RULING OUT THE POSSIBILITY THAT MASHIACH MAY ARISE FROM THE LIVING. BY doing so they cotravene even this source in the Gemara!

    Incidentally: The Lubvitcher Rebbe would always make a point that the it is of extreme importance to believe and assume that it is POSSIBLE for a Mashiach to arrive in natural means (“veal yaaleh al hadaas”), based on the writings of the rambam lehalacha and here the Lubavitchers declare with a certainty that there is no other way!

    In sum their assertions are contrary to this Gemara as well, according to any interpretation that you read the Rashi.

    (In addition: If one can learn anything from that source is: IF you are going to identify a MEssiah from the dead it must be: a) either Daniel!, b) OR someone from the PAST, for the Gemara did not offer any candidate from the dead from their own times!).

    3) MOst importantly: Even if the Talmud Sanhedrin WOULD (make sure to read “would” because it is NOT) be a source, it does not help Lubavitchers, being that the only source for matters (matters of Halacha) is the Rambam and the Rambam: clearly:

    a) rules out identifying with a certainty anything that does not fit his conditions,

    b) appears to rule out a messiah from the dead,

    c) appears to rule out with definite cetainty someone who was thought to the messiah in the past and has not succeeded to redeem the jewish people before his death.

  130. Bob Miller says:

    Possibly, this discussion thread will meander on until the Mashiach arrives. All the more reason to pray for his speedy arrival.

  131. Dovid says:

    “It turns out there IS credible sources for such a belief”.

    There is NO source for being able to DECLARE in uncertain terms a certain to be the Mashiach (even for the “future”) by one’s own wish. The Talmud there does not declare anyone to be CERTAINLY the Messiah as the nature of that statement is CLEARLY (not even as the most liberal interpretation of the ArtScroll Gemarrah) not declaring ANYONE to be the messiah with certainty, as the statement there is clearly “אי (מחייא)…אי (מיתיא))”ת”, which means that he was not declaring with a cetainty whether Rabbeyno Hakodosh or Daniel. Lubavitchers have taken this Gemorooh compltely out of context to allow people the legitimacy to DECLARE so and so is the Messiah!

    ” Though by no means conclusive evidence to prove the M.’s case, there is room for support of their beliefs within halachic,”

    No room whatsoever, and no “evidence”, not “conclusive” and not even “inconclusive”: a) there is no room to support the belief that one can declare and determine who is the messiah before his coming, b) no room to even guess about someone in particular who is no longer alive, besides the prophet Daniel (and if already one should learn from there that any guess about one the deceased, then the guess should be about someone who is from the past), c) And certainly dead wrong according to Rambam who ruled: a) one cannot identify who is the messiah unless he did the jobs he enumerated; b) he seems to rule out the messiah to be from those who have departed, c) he seems to rule OUT with utmost vehemence and certainty a person who was thought to be the messiah and left the world without finishing the job to be the messiah THAT HE CANNOT be the messiah..

    SO:”… wrong is placing the Rebbe as CERTAINLY (vadai)moshiach, instead of being humble and realizing it’s arrogant to say you know who Moshiach is ….especially when it doesn’t fit Rambam’s Halacha.)”,

    not only is it wrong for being “arrogant”; but it is wrong because Halacha rules that there is no other way to *declare* someone to be certainly (in the present or the future) other than the *Halachik* ruling by Rambam, especially when, they (not only do “not fit”, but) are RULED OUT by Rambam.

  132. Ori says:

    Bob Miller: Possibly, this discussion thread will meander on until the Mashiach arrives.

    The Web site: Comments for this post will be closed on 29 February 2008.

    Ori: I realize I lack emunah, but don’t you think it’s a bit optimistic to assume Mashiach will arrive before March 1st?

    Shabbat Shalom / Shavua Tov,
    Ori

  133. Zalman Raskin says:

    Dovid:

    I agree with Dovid 100% that it’s wrong what the M.s are doing. They have a shita and then look to see if there are any meforshim that allow their belief.
    And as R levin proves there shita doesn’t even fit with the Rebbe’s who follows the Rambam for halachos of Moshiach. And for them to decide that the Rebbe IS moshiach is very wrong, very foolish, and self defeating on so many levels. (as I wrote above in the edited version of my post #127)

    Having said that, It’s also VERY WRONG to say that the M.s are “out of bounds from Judaism” or worse they “spread poison” or worse it’s “avodah Zorah”. These statements are simply LIES. (As explained above the Artscroll (!) brings such a scenario – although not as halacha.) These statements are not made by poskim. And the poskim have a good reason. The M.s are foolish. But it’s not “avodah zora” to be foolish.

    These statements, for the most part, are made by people who have a bone to pick, and who have no authority in terms of Halacha.

    Moreover, the statements are made against all of Lubavitch. When the vast majority of shluchim are not meshichist, is it fair, is it ETHICAL to state they “feed poison with every glass of water”? Such statements are totally immoral. And they must be condemned.(Besides, that statement ITSELF involves many sins…Lashon Hora,… Motzi shem ra…)

  134. S. Breslow says:

    Moshe Shulman:
    “The same sevorah will posul any Rebbe. 🙂 However poskim are defined by what a community accepts. Some are accepted more or less universally (BTW none of those you mention carries much weight where I come from.)”
    Indeed. Which might be why Rebbes aren’t in the business if issuing halachic rulings. So I’m not sure what your point was?

    “However, I doubt any of them would have significantly differed on this issue, if they decided to openly say anything.”
    This is useless speculation. We can only address what has actually been said / written. Bimchillas kvodo, your ‘doubts’ don’t change reality one way or the other.

  135. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding the comment by Ori — February 15, 2008 @ 6:19 pm

    Ori, why not?

    Actually, I missed the notice about Feb. 29. Anyway, it should be clear to all that our knowledge can’t rule out any month, even this one!

  136. yy says:

    Folks – since the closure of this Jewish Pandora’s Box is just about here, I hope you’ll forgive me for peeking back at where this thread started getting out of control with Reb’n Katz’s remarks(#31 clarifying 14 and 10):

    “If you say you don’t believe the Rebbe is Moshiach, they challenge you with, ‘So who IS Moshiach?’ and if you then respond, ‘I have no idea’ they come back with, ‘Then you do not believe in Moshiach at all.'”

    Once again, I could bring more quotes, but my message is precisely about stopping the “proof” mongoring. About questioning why so many feel they have to upshlug the other? The simple issue I’m taking from this one quote is: who is ANYone to tell another about what they r-e-a-l-l-y believe? kol sh’ken one frum Yid and yirei shomaym to another!

    Similarly, who is ANYone group or movement to take possession of such koidesh terms like ahavas Yisroel and tsipia l’Moshiach, EVEN when they use it within moderation? This is the kind of stuff that leads to a perpetration of sinas chinam on the deepest level.

    We dismiss the other as invalid. Dishonest. Worthless. Evil…

    Undoubtedly, this is problem that cuts much deeper than the Lubavitchers exagerated love affair with messianism. It’s a problem that has been haunting our nation since the Churban. It’s a problem that I had hoped to overcome in a miniscule bein-adom-lchaveiro way when I extended a hand towards Rabbi Weiss…

  137. nachum klafter, md says:

    Moshe Weiss writes: “Why in the world do I have to proclaim anything?? Why, for example, would I have to say, “I am not an Idol worshiper”? what Chutzpah!”

    You are attempting to persuade us that Messianism is a minority deviationist element in your Hassidic community. If you, a self-proclaimed “opposite of a moshichist” will not state that you do not believe that the Rebbe is or will ever be the Moshiach, then it undermines your position. Furthermore, I did not accuse you of being an Idol Worshiper.

    Moshe Weiss writes: “I’d demand to know… what I said exactly that is untrue, I was describing myself and my beliefs and activities. I did so very honestly, and with true candor, check me out.”

    I was not talking about your descriptions of your kiruv activities (which I do not doubt) when I said that most of what you say is untrue. I was referring to your inaccurate and misleading characterizations of critics and criticism of Messianisms. Your lengthy statements boil down you accusating those who object to Lubavitch messianism with the following:
    1) Ignorance of the Rebbe’s teachings
    2) Ignorance of Hassidus
    3) Sin’as chinam
    4) Lack of familiarity with what Habad does, for example never having spent shabbos at a Chabad House
    5) lack of hakaras ha-tov for what Habad has accomplished, and the self-sacrifice which endurced in the process
    6) inability to recognize the anti-messianist activities from within Habad against the messianists
    7) inability to recognize that the shluchim are for the most part not Messianists (though I am doubtful about this assumption behind this particular accusaiton)

    All of these accusations are untrue and misleading. Perhaps it would be convenient for you to believe this in order to dismiss all those who object to Lubavitch false-Messianism. But it is not true.

    In my case, I used to count myslef among ana”sh. I studied briefly in a Lubavitch yeshiva in Yerushalayim, Toras Chayim, but left for a different yeshiva because there was not a suitable chavrusa or shiur at that time. I have studied all of the Hebrew Likkutei sichos (I don’t read yiddish), many of the Hisviaduyos and Toras Menacham (though not the majority), Inyana Shel Toras Ha-Chassidus, ha yom-yom, countless Iggros, countless hisvadiyos from Toras Menachem, selected ma’amarim from Sefer Ma’amarim Ha-melukat (not near the majority, but a good number), all of the Tanya with shiurim be-sefer ha-tanya and Yekutiel Green’s Maskil le-eisan, selected ma’amarim from Likkutei Torah and Torah Ohr by the Alter Rebbe, Derech Mitzvosecha from the Tzemach Tzedek, major sections of Reish Samech Vav, smaller portions from Ayin-Beis (though I am looking for a chavrusa), Likkutei Dibburim, Basi Le-Gani, the Rebbe’s Ma’amarim on Basi le-gani, Kuntres U-Maayan, Ve-yada’ata (Moscow), and more. (The Rebbe Rashab is my personal favorite author.) Actually, I have given shiurim in Likkuttei Sichos, another on Hassidus and Kabbalah in general, and in Tanya. I do not claim to be a baki in Habad Hassidus, but I cannot be fairly characterized as an ignoramus either. I have spent countless shabboses at Habad houses in many cities. I am aware of exactly 2 shluchim in all of the world who will privately admit to me that they do not believe that the Rebbe IS or ever WILL BE the Moshiach, but they will not admit this to their colleagues. (One of them did not believe the Rebbe was or would Moshiach even before 3 Tammuz.)

    Make no mistake about it. We talking about the belief that the Rebbe could be, most probably will be, or definitely will be the Moshiach, and we are claiming that this is not a legitimate belief within Judaism. (When I say “we”, I mean opponents of Lubavitch false-Messianism). I also strongly object to the belief that the Rebbe is still physically alive, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion. The belief of some more extreme meshichistim that the rebbe is currently the Melekh Ha-Moshiach and that we are living in the times of redepmption is so preposterously stupid that I will not bother to comment on it, except to clarify that this is not the sole topic of our objections, and also to clarify that this is what many, many of the meshichistim believe.

    Aaron Feldman writes the following, directed specifically to me: “…Would you (to be consistent) also demand that they [the false-Messiansists] declare that Moses will never be Mashiach? Or King David? Or Daniel? Or R. Yehudah Hanassi? Or Rashi? Or the Maharal? etc. Of Moses the Midrash says that Moses is “go’el rishon and goel acharon!” Of King David our prayers on Hashanah Rabba state Moshiach “hu Dovid atzmo!”

    This is an interesting question. I will refer you to the following source by the Rebbe, zy”a. Likkutei Sichos, Volume 35, p. 206, note 6 (Vayechi 3). THE REBBE SAYS VERY CLEARLY THAT MOSHIACH CANNOT BE KING DAVID OR MOSHE RABBEINU. He cites both of the sources that you are mentioning about King David and Moshe Rabbeinu, and many, many others about King David in particular. There is a Yerushalmi which states that if Moshiach is from the dead he will be Dovid Ha-Melekh. The Rebbe says this Yerushalmi cannot be taken literally because it would contradict the Rambam in Hilkhos Melachim 11:4. He also explains that “Moshe go’el acharaon” cannot be taken literally because Moshe is a Levi and Moshiach must be from Shevet Yehuda. This means that the Rebbe would reject all of the implausible dochek pshetlach by the Meshichistim on the Rambam’s hilkhos melakhim.

    By the way, before you start telling me that I don’t understand this sicha, I verified my reading of it with Rabbi Leibel Altein, the editor of Likkutei Sichos (i.e., the person who actually condensed the Rebbe’s addresses into the format of Likkutei Sichos and then ran them by the Rebbe for further editing and approval). Rabbi Altein, in a telephone conversation that took place during Chol Moed Sukkos in 5763, assured me that I am correct in my understandingn of this. I also asked Rabbi Altein what the Rebbe would say about the gemara in Sanhedrin which states that if Moshiach is from the dead, he will be Daniel. Rabbi Altein gave a very complex and lengthy response, distinguishing between this statement in the Bavil and the Yerushalmi about King David. It is two involved to go into in this setting where most of the readers will not be familiar with all of the sources, but the punch line is that the Rabbi Altein stated the Rebbe would be forced to either 1) reinterpret this gemara non-literally as he did with the Yerushalmi, or 2) conclude that this gemara in Sanhedrin and perhaps Rashi’s first peshat (depending on how one understands it, the word “haya” is problematic), was rejected by the Rambam. I.e., we do not poskin l like this gemara le-halakha. It is the equivalent of the statement in Sanhedrin that Moshiach already came in the times of Hizkiyahu, and that there will be no future redeemer for Israel. I.e., it is a belief that was espoused by a signle Amora which was rejected by the rest of the Sages.

    (When I show this source to Meshichistim, they invariable point me to many, many sources where the Rebbe seems to suggest that the previous Rebbe, his predecessor might or will be the Moshiach. Many of these are in Toras Menachem, and then there is the Kuntres Beis Rabbeinu She-Be-Bovel. All of those sources are misunderstood and taken out of context. The rebbe is clearly referring to his predecessor’s legacy, which he himself was fulfilling by succeeding him and continuing his leadership role of Habad Hassidism. I.e., when the Rebbe said “Ve-Hu Yigaleinu” about the Previous Rebbe (the 6th Rebbe), he was stating that he (the 7th Rebbe) would lead Habad to the Redemption, or perhaps that he would lead the entire Jewish People to the redemption. In any case, this is how all Lubavitchers understood these words at the time. The never imagined in a million years that a deceased person could be the Moshiach. This was even stated explicitly by the messianist believers at the time of the Rebbe’s illness, who claimed that he cannot die because he is the Moshiach, and Moshiach cannot come from the Dead.

    Aaron Feldman writes further: “Thus how can any believer in G-d, who is the One and only One who decides and determines the choice of Moshiach, preempt G-d’s prerogative and declare categorically that G-d will not and cannot appoint Ploni ben Ploni to be Mashiach when the time comes…”

    Well, the Rebbe felt perfectly comfortable doing so when he ruled out Moshe and David Ha-Melekh despite the statements in chazal which appear according to a literal reading to suggest that they could be candidates for Moshiach. Your kashya on me can be equally directed to the Rebbe, himself.

    Furthermore, the Rambam in Melakhim 11:4 is so completely clear about this that I will not bother quibbling with you. If you do not see that the Rambam rules out ANYONE who has not brought the complete redemption during his lifetime (im lo hitzliach ad koh) then you simply don’t want to understand the Rambam and there is no point in discussing it with you. Clearly, the Rebbe read the Rambam as the rest of the Torah world has always understood him, and as Habad has always understood him before 3 Tammuz. If not, why would he rule out King David? But since you assert that we can’t rule out King David, you clearly don’t agree with the Rebbe’s reading of the Rambam.

    Dovid Eliezrie: You attempt to portray the Meshichistim as a minority abberation within Lubavitch. You ignore the countless rabbnonim, dayanim, mashpi’im, roshei yeshiva, and maggidei shiur, in Crown Heights, Kefar Habad, and Tzefas who are openly meshichistim and who articulate beliefs about the Rebbe’s continued ability to perform miracles many years after his histalkus. These are the rabbinic leaders of the kehillos. Do you really deny this? Do you want me in my next post to list dozens of prominent Lubavitcher rabbinical leaders who are openly meshichistim? I can easily do so, with detailed references to periodicals and other publications. Many of these sources are not just messianic, but are idolatrous. I only refrain from doing this because of the chillul HaShem involved, and my fear that some Lubavitchers reading this post will take these absurd declarations seriously. In fact, I am in possession of a letter which was sent by an anti-Moshichist chossid to prominent rabbonim which documents dozens and dozens of statements that are true avoda zora be prominent Messianist rabbonim who hold leadership positions in Lubavitcher institutions. Survey the faculty of Ohelei Torah in Crown Heights, or the Lubavitcher Yeshiva in Kefar Habad. Are there ANY teachers at these institutions who deny that the Rebbe is Moshiach? Do you deny that it is every teacher at these two yeshivos, or at best the vast, vast majority of teachers with very few exceptions, who believe either that the Rebbe IS or that he WILL BE the Moshiach? Are these not the largest yeshivos in the two larges population centers of Lubavitcher Hassidim? Write to me privately and I will gladly supply you with this information. Now, tell me, why do anti-Messinaist shlichim send their sons to be influced by the shiurim in chassidus by Rabbi Charatonow in Ohalei Torah or Rabbe Levi Yitzchak Ginsberg in Kefar Habad?

    I was not miskarev through Habad alone, but certainly some shluchim were instrumental in helping me become obvservant. One of the most painful chapters of my life was was that the shaliach who was my Rav during 5753-5754 (and who is one of the most talented teachers and writers in all of Lubavitch), unraveled before my eyes psychologically. He was a rational, brilliant, and giving man, who has been moser nefesh for Torah and kelal yisroel his entire life, who knows all of sha”s, Rashi, Tosfos, midrash, shulchan aruch, shaylos and teshuvos, kabbala, and chassidus. He came to believe that the Rebbe knows the thoughts of all people simultaneously, that he single-handedly was responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union and the U.S. victory in Iraq, and countless other world events, that he did not physically die, and that he IS Melech Ha-Moshiach currently, but in a hidden state which is about to be revealed to the world. I moved to Philadelphia, which is supposedly anti-Moshichist territory, but even the card-carrying anti-Meshichistim there are only anti-Meshichistim in the sense that they think it’s terrible to reveal publicly. Privately, they believe the Rebbe is the Moshiach, or that he most likely will be the Moshiach. Then I moved to Cincinnati OH–I will not specify anything else, but it is here that I disaffiliated from the movement. Then there is also the issue of a very prominent teacher and writer in Lubavitch that I knew in Yerushalayim in 5753-5754. I will not say his name in this forum, but he is definitely a name you know. He has translated more seforim in to English than any other person in Lubavitch, possibly more than any other person on the world. He did not believe the Rebbe was Moshiach before 3 Tammuz. He told me that the Hassidim will be shocked and he’s not sure if there will be another Rebbe, but that Lubavitch will be mekadesh shem-shamayim by showing the world that Yahadus does not believe in a second coming. To my great dismay, this individual now believes the Rebbe is Moshiach.

    There is NO ONE in the rest of the Torah world who takes seriously the belief that the Rebbe might be Moshiach, will be Moshiach, or is Moshiach, as an expression of legitimate Jewish beliefs about Moshiach. There is a debate as to whether it is just nonsense, or whether it is heresy. There is also a practical debate as to whether it is productive to spend effort on delegitimizing Lubavitch false-messianism, or whether it is best to simply ignore it. I personally believe it is best to delegitimize it. I admit that it may be that the majority of rabbonim have not come to this conclusion. However, it is not clear if the majority will continue to adopt that stance. But we are talking about a disagreement in the Torah world about tactics, but not one about ikkarim and beliefs. Note that the only people who say “Yes, it’s silly and stupid, but not dangerous and it’s counterproductive to draw more attention to them” are Lubavitchers. That is essentially the position of Rabbi J.I. Shochet’s and Dovid Eliezrie. If you think that the “silence of the gedolim” is any indication that they approve of the belief in the Moshiach as a proper or correct Jewish hashkafa, or whether the Rambam Melakhim 11:4 can possibly be construed as somd of you would like it to be, then I encourage you to test these hypotheses out by asking any of the following individuals: Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, Rabbi Shlomo Miller, Rabbi Moshe Shapiro, Rabbi Feivel Cohen, Rav Elyashiv, Rabbi Gedalia Schwartz, Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Rabbi Avram Chayim Levin, Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon, Rabbi Aaron Feldman, Rabbi Aaron Schechter, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, Rabbi Sholom Kamenetsky, or Rabbi Dovid Cohen. (This is quick list of prominent leaders and posekim off the top of my head. I do not claim to be ranking, comparing, or including all gedolim for these purposes.)

    The Rebbe was a great ga’on and tzadik, and had a tremendous influence on all of kelal yisroel by making Kiruv the norm for Orthodoxy. And I do not say this “grudgingly” as Moshe Weiss asserts above. I absoluitely adored and admired the Rebbe. By the way, the Rebbe gave me a beracha for success in medical school and as a physician. I also had the zechus of dovenning from the Rebbe’s siddur on the Thursday mincha before my chasena. The Rebbe handed me the siddur directly. I had my ufruf in 770, and got shlishi (or maybe shishi, I forget) on parshas Balak in 5753 at the minyan outside the Rebbe’s room. There are countless more like me, who have disaffiliated because of false-messianism. I understand why it is attractive for you to pretend that it is “misnaggedism rearing its ugly head again” but that is simply not true. The most vociferous voices against messianism are former friends of Habad, who feel betrayed by it. You are fooling only yourself if you think this is based on hatred of Habad. Those who hated Habad originally find all of this mildly amusing and uninteresting. It is those of us who took Habad very seriously, and who were deeply inspired by the Rebbe, who are greatly troubled by the messianism. (I will admit that my enthusiasm for him and my assessment of this judgment is blunted the leadership vacuum that he left behind. I am definitely not a hossid.)

    Finally, from everything written above, I have no idea if Dovid Elizrie, Moshe Weiss, or Aaron Feldman believe that the Rebbe may be or probaby will be the Moshiach. If the most vocal anti-messianists will not disavow the belief that the Rebbe will return and redeem the world as the Moshiach, this causes me great pessimism (in contrast to what Rabbi Menken sees as a “hopeful sign” for Habad).

  138. k.shostak says:

    Nothing new here.
    Anybody familiar with the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s torah is well aware that the Rebbe considers the Rambam the final word on ‘hilchos moshiach’, and that the sequence listed by the Rambam is 100% correct. Although there ARE certainly other, valid, opinions (Abarbanel, etc.), the Rebbe did NOT adopt their reasoning. An even cursory glance at the Rebbe’s explanations for why zionism can not be considered ‘aschalta digeula’ makes this clear. Anybody is, obviously, free to believe what they want, but to imply the the Rebbe was at all vague about this is simply false. Mrs Katz’s comments were uncalled for, and poured fuel on a fire that will soon enough burn itself out anyway. Though it’s not hard to see why those with a history of antagonism to Chabad screaming about the ‘meshichisten’ provoke the predicted backlash. Why can’t we just leave this thing alone, let the ‘meshichisten’ spout their thing – the truth always emerges regardless. And the demand that the ‘anti-meshichist’ rabbis “explicity state that the rebbe CANNOT be moshiach” is absurd. Considering the (albeit slim) possibility that the Abarbanel was right, how and why should anybody undertake any such statement ?!

  139. Ori says:

    Bob Miller: Actually, I missed the notice about Feb. 29. Anyway, it should be clear to all that our knowledge can’t rule out any month, even this one!

    Ori: You’re right, it could be this month (especially since IIRC it says somewhere that it will be in Nissan – which starts pretty soon). Besides, the Web site now says the comments will be closed March 2nd – maybe it will stay open until the day comes.

    I find it hard to believe, but I do lack emunah.

  140. Eli Soble says:

    I am the author of the article in the Jerusalem Post.

    First I’d like to clarify Dr. Klafter’s references to the Rebbe’s footnote. As background this footnote is on a sicha which introduces a novel explanation on a gemera Sanhedrin 98 b about Kaiser and palgai kaiser, illustrating the point that Moshiach has two roles and two phases , one natural and relative to the normal process – this is how Moshiach is called Nasi – prince, and a second as he is called Melech – King, which will be miraculous beyond the natural order. See the sicha there in depth.

    In the midst of this discussion there is a posuk which states “and dovid my servant will be nasi for them forever” and here is the footnote translated which speaks to the possible implication that the posuk is talking of Dovid Himself.

    ” and seemingly we are forced to say that dovid hamelech himself is not king moshiach that he would be the “prince over them forever” because the beginning activities of Moshiach occur before the Geula as it is explained in Rambam (laws of kings 11:4) and definitely before the resurrection of the dead (even the Tzadikkim who will arise right away , as the sages say (yuma 5: ) Moshe and Aharon will be with us)
    However see yerushalmi brachos (2:4) and eicha rabba 1:54 that king Moshiach “if he is from those that are alive dovid is his name and if he is from those that are dead dovid is his name” (if he is from the living dovid will be his name and if he is from the dead it will be dovid himself , – from the commentary of pnai Moshe) and in the piyut ometz yishecha (of hoshana rabba) “the voice of tezemach…this is Dovid himself” – and in yafe anuf to eicha rabba there he explains that this is according to the opinion that the coming of Moshiach is after the resurrection of the dead. Iyun sham. And see radak on [the posuk in question above in] yechezkal (and also in yirmiyahu) “..or this is a hint to the resurrection of the dead”
    And we can say the intention of this is that the soul of Dovid Hamelech will invest itself in king Moshiach just like the idea that “Moshe is the first redeemer and last redeemer” – even though Moshe is a Levi and Moshiach is from the tribe of Yehuda – that the intention of this is that the soul of Moshe will invest itself in the final redeemer”

    Before I offer my humble opinion as to why this footnote not only does not object to the case of the those that believe the Rebbe is Moshiach but rather enforces it, I think its important to bring up the issue of the concealment of Moshiach in general.

    Based on Medresh Rabba, part of the process of Moshiach’s coming is; at first a revelation of his identity to a believing segment, then a concealment to be followed by a final and full revelation to all Jews and mankind.

    This is found in the writings of Rabeenu Bchai , the Chasam Sofer and the sfas emes , you can also find it clearly in Rashi Daniel 12:12.

    As an aside, I hate to bring this up but I think it deserves mention. If you would see a xtian take one of these sources and use it as a proof text for his or her false belief would anyone question Rashi or the Medresh from where it is based??

    Interestingly in Lukatai sichos book 9 page 105 the Rebbe writes in a footnote that we cannot prove that the Rambam doesn’t hold of the concept that Moshiach will be revealed/concealed/revealed since Rabbi Akiva said on Ben Koziba that he was Melech Hamoshiach and Ben Koziba was hidden in caves during his war campaigns.

    This is an important statement in understanding a few things. First of all the Rebbe learns the Rambam in a way that there can be a concealment of Moshiach, second , not everything that occurs to Moshiach is spelled out in the Rambam and three, we see , as is evidenced by the writings of Rishonim (which I will reference later), that the Rambam’s Halacha of chezkas/Vdai Moshaich is based on the model of Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kochba.

    In the same sefer on page 381 in a footnote the Rebbe parallels the phases of Moshiach’s revelation/concealment/revelation brought in midresh to the phases in the Rambam chezkas and V’dai. In other words according to the way the Rebbe is teaching the Rambam , Moshiach achieves the status of chezkas but before fully completing all tasks and accomplishing V’dai there is this concealment which the midresh and the many commentaries speak of.

    The question is, can this concealment be the passing of Moshiach after he has accomplished many of the prerequisites that the Rambam details?

    When I look at this footnote what strikes me is that the Rebbe simply does not say Dovid cant be Moshiach since he passed away. Rather we say that Moshiach’s career must start before Geula and Resurrection. This certainly means the stage of chezkas Moshiach must be the beginning of Moshiach’s career. Which rules out Dovid in being Moshiach for if it was Dovid , his messianic mission would have to start with resurrection. But what of Moshiach that achieves Chezkas and then passes? How can we know that this passing is not what the midresh is speaking of when it talks of Moshiach’s concealment? Perhaps this is what R Chaim Vital, student of the Arizal means when he writes in chapter 13 of Shar Hagagulim pg 31 that after Moshiach is first revealed before everyone recognizes him he will be hidden body and soul in that piller just as Moshe went up to heaven body and soul…

    Its also important to see the opinion the Rebbe brings of yafa anuf, which can be found in eicha Rabba, that there are those who holds Moshiach comes after resurrection, this is not the halacha of the Rambam nor is it how the Rebbe learns these concepts (gilgul) and it certainly is not what the messianic lubavitchers are claiming, but I would think this might calm some of this hysteria.

    There was a psak Din that established the Rebbe qualified as chezkas Moshiach. Whatever ones opinion may be, the Rebbe cited the psak din verbally and in writing as an important development in the process of Moshiach’s revelation.

    There are two description of war the Rambam uses in his Halacha, the wars of G-d in the chezkas period and conquering all the surrounding nations in the V’dai period.

    this relates to the “Vim Lo Hitzliach ad KO”, there is a Rishon from the early period of the Baly tosofos, Rabbi Yackov Chazon Mlondarz who recounts the Rambam’s halacha and clearly indicates that the “Vim LO” is referring to an unsuccessful attempt at conquering all the surrounding nations, which is a component of the missions of V’dai. Therefore this Rishon learns the Rambam to mean that if Moshiach accomplishes chezkas and then he begins the war component of Vdai and either fails to achieve military victory or is killed in the war we know its not Moshiach. This Rishon also indicates Rambam’s Halacha is based on the seqence of Rabbi Akiva and Ben Koziba.

    (I am sure the Orach Chaim knew this Rambam when he wrote his commentary to Bamidbar 24:17.)

    In the sichos of 5752 the Rebbe spoke and recorded in writing that the wars of G-d the Rambam speaks of in the chezkas portion are spiritual. This can also be found in igrot Moshe of R’ Moshe Feinstein orach chaim chelek 4 simon 81, also see metzudas Dovid in zacharia 9:10.

    The Rebbe also stated and wrote in 5752 that many of these wars of G-d have already been won.

    It comes out that we have two phases in the Rambam, chezkas and V’dai and two different types of wars. This corresponds with the two phases of revelation of Moshiach as the midresh and later commentaries speak of.

    As far as calling someone Moshiach before they have completed their Mission. This is what Rabbi Akiva did, and of course he meant the potential Moshiach V’dai , but yet he still called him Moshiach.

    In 5751 The Rebbe discusses this phenomenon of identifying who Moshiach is as brought down in the Gemara sanhedrin 98b the many examples of talmidim that named their Rav as Moshiach, and the Rebbe mentions and writes the tradition of Chassidim who viewed their Rebbe as the potential Moshiach of the generation.

    Nobody within Lubavitch claims that we have Moshiach V’dai,this is what we are praying for 3 times a day in shemona esrai. But that is different than identifying Moshiach – as with Rabbi Akiva.

    Sadly though I think many of you miss the real point.

    Whatever you may think of the Lubavitcher’s who believes the Rebbe is Moshiach, it is near unanimous that the Rebbe was world renowned as a Tzaddik and great Goan in Torah. He told us that we are the generation of Geula. That Moshiach is truly about to come. That if we look in the world we can see the signs and all we need to do is the final push to complete our long and painful exile and see the redemption. He instructed us not to make peace with the exile; no matter how good it is for us, for we really don’t belong in exile and its time for our redemption. He tasked us with focusing on this above all other matters no matter what difficulties this may entail. Learn about the Geula. Learn about Moshiach. Make it truly part of your life in all its depth. Kol Yemai Chayech Lahavie Liyamos hamoshiach – the Rebbe explains the Remez here is that all your days have to be to bring Moshiach. We are going to get to this point in our days; lets do it in a way of chesed and Rachamim. Lets ask Hashem with achdus and understanding for our fellow Jews, to end this exile once and for all! Ad Mosai??

  141. Moshe Shulman says:

    I was going to go down the list of posts and answer each one, but I think Nachum Klafter has already done more then I could have. I will only add two points:

    1. The view of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe he cites is actually the one based on Kaballah which says that Moshiach would be gilgal/nitzos of Davod, Moshe etc.

    2. I would like to add that they can consult any Rebbe, and his Rabbanum and Dayanim, and get the same view as to the non-existence of the belief of a dead man physically rising and being Moshiach.

  142. Dovid says:

    K. Shostak,

    1) Please tell *your students* (not the bloggers who show you how meshichism is wrong) how the Lubavitcher Rebbe was not “vague” about his position on declaring someone who departed from this world to be in future the messiah. Tell *them* how the Sichos they are tuaght do NOT say that he declared or “hinted” that he would be the declared messiah if a 3 of Tammuz would happen. To come *here* and tell your legitimate critics that he was not “vague” and to turn around and tell your students how he “hinted” (belashon sagi nahor) that he was the declared messiah for ever is the highest of hypochrisy and gnevas daat.

    2) likewise your approach to attack the legitimate critics by “pouring fuel on a fire” that will soon burn itself out anyway is disingenous and dishonest and filled with the same spirit of falsehood that is propagated by your meshichism twins. Read Nacchum Klafter’s post and take it to heart. Just repeating the message of falsehood ad naseum will not make the disease of living in a false world go away. Listen: Lubavitch with it’s teachings on mashiach after 3 tammuz has attempted to change the way jews beleived for thousands of years, without any backing from previous and certainly no backing of current, RAbbinic and/or Chassidic authority to advance such a change.

    They employed in the interim tactics of distortions, half-truths and ways that involve offending other jews. Telling other jews they don’t believe in Mashiach, and lying about the practices of Jews and their beliefs in the past (that every group looked upon their leaders as the potential messiah) and doing the same for those within their group who dared disagree with them in the most vehement of terms. (SOmetimes nasty slashing of tires was not spared).

    3) And no, the truth will not “”always emerge regardless”; you will always have more and more of the lunatics you cultivated that will bring more and more of the cadillacs proclaiming the Rebbe as the messiah. And in your movemnet more and more recruits will be drafted to spread the word that the Rebbe is the messiah and you will catch more and more people to this cult.

    And no: stating *publicly* that although it may appear from one source in the Abarbanel that he interpreted Sanhedrin 98 literally; in another source he did not interpret it to be literally; and likewise, stating that Abarbanel did not sanction identifying with a certainty who will the messiah if he will be from the dead. The only Halachik method Jews have is the method of the Rambam. He rules that out. Therefore it is important to tell your srudents that this wqrong.

    Bbut most importantly, as *Halacha* is ruled not by Abarbanel but by Rambam, therefore it is important to tell others and your children how Rambam “undertook” on himself to rule out such a notion with the utmost vehemence. Similar to how it was important to rule out the notion that we are living in “aschalta dgulah”, for who cares and “considering the (albeit not so slim) possibility that the medrashim and Yerushlami etc. are right in the process of geulah” “how and why should anybody undertake such a statement?”, yet the Lubavitcher Rebbe felt that one should undertake such a statement, how much more so, one can undertake a statement that states that Halachikally it is wrong to declare someone who departed from the world to be the messiah or to identify him with certainty that he will be the messiah in the future!

  143. nachum klafter, md says:

    Moshe Shulman:

    I would like to clarify one element of this statement you made: “1. The view of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe he cites is actually the one based on Kaballah which says that Moshiach would be gilgal/nitzos of Davod, Moshe etc.”

    The Rebbe’s view is a rejection of the literal reading of the Yerushalmi and the other sources that appear to suggest that King David may be the Moshaich because such a notion contradicts the pesak halakha of the Rambam in Melakhim 11:4.

    Yes, the Rebbe’s resolution of these contradcitions does resort to the concept of gilgul neshamot, which is of course based on Kabbala and is prevalent in Hassidut. But his view is actually based on halakha and mesorah about identification of the Moshiach. A messianic contender who fails to redeem the world and dies is rejected by the Jewish people as the Moshiach. This is an important (not the only important) dividing line between Judaism and early Christianity. This is why the Rebbe rejects the literal reading of these sources. Moshe can be rejected as Moshiach because this also contradicts the Rambam, but in addition Moshe is a Levi and Moshiach must be from Shevet Yehuda.

    In my coversation with Leibel Altein, I attempted to assert that the Rebbe would also need to reject the Gemeara in Sanhedrin about Daniel along similar lines. Rabbi Altein countered as follows:
    1) Yes the Rebbe probably would have rejected a literal reading of Daniel as a possible Moshiach in the times of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi because he contradicts the Rambam, and would have interpreted this to mean that Daniel’s soul will be nitgalgel and absorbed into the soul of Moshiach.
    2) It is possible that the Rebbe would accept the literal reading of this Gemara (as most people assert that Rashi’s first reading on this page suggests, though I personally do not understand Rashi in that way). However, the Rebbe would conclude that this gemara was rejected by the Rambam as far as pesak halakha. The Yerushalmi, however, and the piyutim for Shavuos, the piyutim for Hoshana Rabba, Eicha Rabba etc, which all discuss King David as a potential Moshiach cannot be dismissed as simply a different pesak that the Rambam because the Rebbe would not have accepted the possibility that so many sources could assert a possibility about Moshiach which is not the majority opinion in the halakha. Therefore, according to Rabbi Altein (who, again, condensed the Rebbe’s teachings into Likkutei Sichot including this sicha in particular, and then reviewed them with the Rebbe) it is conceivable, though less likely, that the Rebbe would accept a literally reading of the gemara in Sanhedrin about Daniel. Even if this is the case, however, he would still adhere to the pesak of the Rambam and would conclude that this de’ah is lo ke-halakha.

    Therefore, all of these considerations are really halakhic and not kabbalistic.

    Again, the source we are discussing for those interested is Likkutei Sichos 35, p. 206, note #6.

  144. nachum klafter says:

    I will respond to Elie Soble, but mainly for the benefit of the readers as I do not believe he will be open to any persuasion.

    Out of his lengthy comments (#140), I will respond to two points.
    1) He asserts that no Lubavitchers beleive the Rebbe is “Moshiach Vaday” (certainly the Moshiach, at present).

    2) He asserts that the Rebbe’s comments in the Sicha I quoted do not indicate that the Rebbe understands the Rambam, Hilkhos Melakhim 11:4 to be a definitive pesak that a Jewish leader who dies without redeeming the world cannot be the Moshiach.

    Assertion 1 is demonstrably false. Assertion 2 is entirely without merit and can easily be refuted.

    As far as his first assertion, I will refer readers to a number websites:
    http://longlivetherebbekingmessiahforever.com/
    The biography on this website starts as follows: “The Rebbe King Messiah who lives forever, is the first born of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak and Rebbetzin Chana. Born, in Nikolyev, in a holy atmosphere of torah and “love of your fellow Jew”, on the sixth day of the week, on the 11th of Nissan 5662….”

    http://www.kingmessiah.com/

    http://www.beismoshiach.org/Moshiach/moshiach269.htm
    On this website is a translated text of the preposterous “psak din” which messianists rabbis in Lubavitch have signed which indicates that the Rebbe is the Moshiach. This website makes it clear that the signatories of this document all believe that the Rebbe IS Moshiach Vadai. Here is one characteristic quote by Rabbi Lifsh: “In our present situation after Gimmel Tammuz, when we don’t see the Rebbe, it is important to stress two points — that the belief that the Rebbe is Moshiach hasn’t changed, and that we are talking about Moshiach Vadai…”

    Here is a different sort of source, by an academic anthropologist who studied Lubavitch of Stamford Hill:

    Dien, Simon. “Mosiach is here now: just open your eyes and you can see him,” Anthropology & Medicine, Volume 9, Issue 1 January 2002 , pages 25 – 36
    The abstract of his paper reads as follows: “Religious groups deal with failed prophecy in different ways. This paper examines messianic expectations among Lubavitch Hasidim in Stamford Hill and their response to the death of their leader whom they held to be the Messiah. It is based on eight years of participant observation in the community. In agreement with Melton’s theory, when the Rebbe died, Lubavitchers held that the Rebbe was more powerful in the spiritual realm without the hinderance of a physical body. However some have now claimed that he never died. Several even state that the Rebbe is God. This is a significant finding. It is unknown in the history of Judaism to hold that the religious leader is God and to this extent the group is unique. There are certain Christian elements which apparently inform the messianic ideas of this group.”

    I could go on and on.

    Now for Elie Soble’s second assertion. He suggests a highly convoluted and implausible reading of the Rebbe’s sicha (LS 35, p.206, note 6), and the attribution to the Rebbe of an implausible reading of the Rambam in manner which would yield the exact opposite of the Rambam’s clear intent in Melakhim 11:4.

    The Rebbe says that Moshiach cannot be King David. If he were to be King David, he would have to be resurrected before the redemptive process starts, and we know that the resurrection will not take place until after the Redemption. The Rebbe’s source for this is Rambam Hilkhos Moshiach, 11:4.

    This is what the Rambam says in that halakha:

    “If a king arises from the House of David who is immersed in the study of the Torah, occupies himself with the commandments as did his ancestor King David, observes the commandments of the Written and Oral Law, prevails upon all Israel to walk in the way of the Torah and to follow its direction, and fights the wars of God, it may be assumed that he is the Messiah. If he does these things and is fully successful in defeating the nations which surround him, rebuilds the Third Temple on its location, and gathers the exiled Jews, he is beyond doubt the Messiah. But if he is not successful to such an extent, or if he is killed, it is clear that he is not the one which the Torah has promised.”

    So, this section of the Rambam is the source form which the Rebbe decided that King David cannot be the Moshiach. The rebbe says “The Moshiach must commence the process of redemption before resurrection, even the resurrection of unique Tzadikim which will take place at an earlier time.” The reason the Rebbe says this is to rule out the possibility of reading the Rambam in a manner which would allow one to posit that Moshiach can be a deceased Jewish leader who is resurrected and who then fulfills the requirements of the Moshiach.

    There is no other plausible way to read these very, very clear sources.

    I will also point out, again, that I ran my understanding of this by Rabbi Leibel Altein, whose opinion should be definitive on this since he is the one who actually wrote down this sicha (based on the Rebbe’s discources), and who selected the precise wording of this footnote. You are free to call him and run your reading by him. He is found during office hours at Heichel Menachem. I assure you he will tell you that you are wrong.

  145. nachum klafter says:

    By the way–I do not claim that the Hassidim studied by this antrhopologist are typical of Lubavitchers at all. However, it does belie Elie Soble’s claims that “no one in Lubavitch believes…”

    Finally, just to point something else out–This entire debate on the Rebbe’s sicha is a distraction.

    It came up because Aaron Feldman claimed that I have no basis to assert that King David or Moshe Rabbeinu, for example, cannot be Moshiach simply because they are deceased. After all, there are sources about each one which appear to indicate that he will be Moshiach.

    I responded with this source by the Rebbe to show him that even the Rebbe was quite comfortable ruling out King David or Moshe based on the Rambam Melakhim 11:4.

    Now, Elie Soble attempts to save the Rebbe’s messianic candidacy from the Rebbe’s writings himself. His attempt is based on faulty and implausible readings of sources, but that is beside the point. Our tradition makes it clear that we are to be extremely skeptical about Messiahs. We have a long history of false Messiahs. The Rebbe studiously avoided saying he was the Messiah. He clearly did not achieve any of the signs of the Moshiach aside from being a great leader and Torah scholar, descended from the House of David. He was not a king. He did not rebuild the Temple. He did not defeate the enemies of Israel. He was not a military leader. He did not bring the Redemption. There is simply no reason to speculate that the Rebbe might be the Moshiach.

    It should not be me who is saying this. It should be Lubavitcher Hassidim themselves. I do not believe anything I have said or written is “anti-Lubavitch” or disrespectful of the Rebbe. In fact, Messianism should trouble Lubavitcher Hassidim much more than it bothers me.

  146. Aaron Feldman says:

    Dr. Klafter, thank you for your response. If you re-read what I wrote you will see that we agree on everything but one point. The Rebbe obviously rejected that the persona of Mosheh or King David will be Mashiach. Re Mosheh he follows the view of the Arizal who raised the question of Mosheh being a Levi and explaining that it will be by “ibbur haneshamah.” As for King David (hu David be’atzmo), the Ya’avetz and others say that it will be by “gilgul haneshamah.” (Incidentally, the Yerushalmi – unlike the piyut of Hoshana Rabba – does NOT say that it will be David himself, but that Mashiach’s NAME will be David, whether he will be from the living or the dead.)

    Moreover, when the Rebbe said of his predecessor that “hu yigaleinu” (he will redeem us), most of the time (in speech and in writing) he added “veyolicheinu likrat Mashiach tzidkeinu” (and he will lead us toward the righteous Mashiach). Thus he clearly distinguished between the previous Rebbe and Mashiach as two different individuals! Elsewheres he also explains re Mosheh being the “go’el acharon” that this is in context of Mosheh’s generation: Mosheh was buried outside the Land of Israel to remain with his generation, so that when the redemption occurs Mosheh will lead his charges toward Mashiach. And the same is with the leaders of all generations.

    However, as I wrote, all this is good and fine if and when one accepts the Kabbalistic premises of ibbur and gilgul. There have been gedolei Yisrael who did NOT. How would they deal with the words of our sages re Mosheh and David? They would have to take them literally, thus a resurrected Mashiach (or less likely – rejecting them).

    We simply disagree on the POSSIBILITY (vs. probability!) of a resurrected Mashiach. You cited Rabbi Imanuel Shochet. I have audio-tapes, and also one video, of his lectures on the topic from before 3 Tamuz, thus the Rebbe’s lifetime(!), in which he states categorically: “Any claim that the Rebbe is or will be Mashiach is sheer stupidity, ignorance and arrogant self-glorification – and no less so, and for the SAME REASONS, any claim that the Rebbe will definitely not be Mashiach.” I agree with that wholeheartedly. All I say is that (theoretically) the same applies after 3 Tamuz. I do not believe, nor do I think it reasonable, that the Rebbe will “probably be Mashiach”. All I said, and affirm, is that there are no halachic or hashkafic grounds for a legitimate and categorical dismissal of that theoretical “possibility” however far-fetched it may be.

    You are right in stating that opposition to Lubavitch meshichism is not necessarily based on opposition to Chabad or Chassidism. It can be (and is) very legitimately rooted in Halachic and Hashkafic reasoning (as evident from the fact that most knowledgeable and scholarly Lubavitchers are of the same opinion). Even so, it is indisputable that many of the attacks against it (in the blogosphere and elsewheres) are blatantly based on ignorant anti-Chabad bias. The most virulent attacks and accusations (and especially when they mix in the Chassid-Rebbe relationship, or “hishtatchut” on the Rebbe’s grace-site, or reading the Rebbe’s “kapitel” in Tehilim or his letters etc.) display beyond a shadow of doubt the same crude ignorance of facts and Jewish traditional premises as is noted in the “meshichist” arguments.
    Aaron

  147. Dovid says:

    Eli,

    Your theories are full of holes…”parutz merubeh al hoomed”!

    The issue of ‘concealment” has got NOTHING but NOTHING to do with the issues under discussion. Whether or not the Rambam agress to such a scenario is really irrelevant to the words that the Rambam chose to use as the measuring stick, as to whether or not someone can should or should NOT be considered the mashiach.

    Whether or not “not everything that occurs to Moshiach is spelled out in the Rambam”; it still does not negate what he clearly REJECTS OUTRIGHT as being rejected, period.

    And whether or not the Rambam’s halacha is of chezkas/Vdai Moshaich is based on the model of Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kochba does NOT allow one to decide and to present novel interpretations that are CONTRARY to the open statements of the Rambam. (IN fact, one can actually state with much greater clarity of logic, that based on the fact that the model is “BarKochba that the Rambam was clear to set guideliness to rule out dragging of a moshiach candidate for a long period of time when the results are not seen in front of our eyes in terms of actual redemption then that person is disqualified. But we will not play the game. We want to see what the *Rambam* ACTUALLY WRITES).

    NOw (I’m not really interested on these games, but just to present how out of context you guys build pseduotheories), you build a whole mountain out of a molehill by writing “In the same sefer on page 381 in a footnote the Rebbe parallels the phases of Moshiachâ��s revelation/concealment/revelation brought in midresh to the phases in the Rambam chezkas and Vâ��dai. In other words according to the way the Rebbe is teaching the Rambam , Moshiach achieves the status of chezkas but before fully completing all tasks and accomplishing Vâ��dai there is this concealment which the midresh and the many commentaries speak of”.

    Please, forgive me, but this is bobbeh maysses: The Lubavitch Rebbe is NOT saying that “cheskas mashiach” IS equal “concealment”, ribonoy shel olom, and does not mean that according to the Rambam moshiach MUST conceal himself (if he works within “cheskas mashiach”). It is utterly ridiculous to claim that the Rambam meant that “cheskas mashiach” means that mashiach conceals himself when nothing of the sort is even merumaz birmiza dermiza in the Rambam. On the contrary, we might be talking about a person who is very visible and engaged in waging the wars of G_d and fighting Nasrallah AND NASSRALLAH KNOWS WHO IS FIGHTING HIM! What the Lubavitcher Rebbe is probably alluding to: That we have stages in Mashiach and in our sources we find these stages in different contexts “cheskas” and then “vaday”; “nichsseh”” and then “nigleh” but it does not mean that “nischsseh” MUST mean “cheskaas” and conversely that “cheskas” must mean “nichsseh”. This pure rubbish and amhoratzuss!

    The only question is: “The question is, can this concealment be the passing of Moshiach after he has accomplished many of the prerequisites that the Rambam details?”

    ABSOLUTELY NOT! The *Rambam* is the arbiter for this question, not some dream by an obstinate group who want to distort what he wrote:

    The Rambam writes “×�×� עש×� ×�×�צ×�×�×� ×�×�× ×� ×�ק×�ש ×�×�ק×�×�×� ×�ק×�×¥ × ×�×�×� ×�שר×�×� – ×�ר×� ×�×� ×�ש×�×� ×�×�×�×�×�×�….×�×�×� ×�×� ×�צ×�×�×� ×¢×� ×�×�…×�×�×�×�×¢ ש×�×�× ×� ×�×� ש×�×�×�×�×�×� ×¢×�×�×� ת×�ר×�, ×�×�ר×� ×�×�×� ×�×�×� ×�×�×�×� ×�×�ת ×�×�×� ×�ש×�×�×�×� ×�×�×�שר×�×� ש×�ת×�!”:

    Rambam is clear and adamant: That if he was already “cheskat mashiach” so there only two choices available: a) if he proves himself to bring success till the very end (building of temple and ingathering of jews…) then vaday mashaich, b) If G-d forbid, he did not succeed “Ad koh” (meaning until the final stage discussed right before: ingathering of jews to israel) he is NOT THE ONE PROMISED BY TORAH!

    The measuring stick for “success” and “non success” is certainly attained at time of passing (not only because this is the most rational way to measure it, but most importantly, because) the Rambam concludes the statement by saying that if there is no success he like other kosher kings WHO DIED! clearly pointing out that passing is the time when one can measure whether or not there was success in the undertakings of mashiach.

    The Lbavitcher Rebbe does NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS because this is CLEARLY RULED BY THE RAMBAM!

    Lubavitcher REbbe deals with a messiah appearing resurrected and then *starting* his activities (prior to cheskas mashiach!) and here the LR claims too, that Rambam ruled that out as well!

    You also wrote:
    “There was a psak Din that established the Rebbe qualified as chezkas Moshiach. Whatever ones opinion may be, the Rebbe cited the psak din verbally and in writing as an important development in the process of Moshiachâ��s revelation”.

    The Rebbe did NOT cite this pssak Din! the pssak Din he cited was that we have reached the times of the redemption, and therefore we should experience “Cheskas mashiach” and “vaday mashiach”. Just like he did not say that we fulfilled the pssak din of mashiach vaday so too he did not mean that we already fulfilled the era of cheskat mashiach. What you wrote is one of the many distortions of the meshichistin.

    You also wrote:
    “There are two description of war the Rambam uses in his Halacha, the wars of G-d in the chezkas period and conquering all the surrounding nations in the Vâ��dai period”.

    They are one inyan: Cheskat mashiach talks about his endeavors to fight the enemies of G-d (and the Jewish people). Vaday Mashiach is when he actually succeeded to win the war.

    You continue:
    “this relates to the â��Vim Lo Hitzliach ad KOâ��, there is a Rishon from the early period of the Baly tosofos, Rabbi Yackov Chazon Mlondarz who recounts the Rambamâ��s halacha…”:
    Can you quote the entire recounting of this rishon in Hebrew?

    You continue:
    ” and clearly indicates that the â��Vim LOâ�� is referring to an unsuccessful attempt at conquering all the surrounding nations, which is a component of the missions of Vâ��dai. Therefore this Rishon learns the Rambam to mean that if Moshiach accomplishes chezkas and then he begins the war component of Vdai and either fails to achieve military victory or is killed in the war we know its not Moshiach. This Rishon also indicates Rambamâ��s Halacha is based on the seqence of Rabbi Akiva and Ben Koziba”.

    Anyone can read the Rambam, he is crystal clear: “ad koh” refers to ALL stages enumerated right before this: haltzlcha in winning the wars, building temple, ingathering of jews! and he also writes clearly that passing is a time when one knows if he is vaday mashiach or vaday not mashiach. If he failed to succeed in one of the above tasks he is not the one promised by the torah.

    You also wrote:
    “In the sichos of 5752 the Rebbe spoke and recorded in writing that the wars of G-d the Rambam speaks of in the chezkas portion are spiritual”.

    This is also part of the distortions of your studies: IT simply CANNOT mean that “wars of G_d” is ONLY referring to spiritual wars. Lubavitcher Rebbe himself writes elsewhere that the wars against Amalek is part of these wars. This is actually something very simple that a person who is familiar with the language of the Rambam knows that *in Halachik* terms “wars of G-d” refer to fighting the enemies of the Jewish people and refers to physical wars. Just start learning the beginning of Hilchos Melachim and see for yourself (unfortunately you only learn chapter 11/12 and are ignoramus of the basic meaning of these and other words as employed by the Rambam).

    When you wrtite:
    “It comes out that we have two phases in the Rambam, chezkas and Vâ��dai and two different types of wars”, it is one long bobbeh maysseh. Rambam speaks in halachik terms of the same wars: The fighting of the Arafat’s, Nassralah and Ahmadjeniad of the world. Cheskas talks about the attempt to fight these wars. Vaday speaks of the times when Mashiach succeeded in winning these very same wars. Read Rambam again slowly without preconceived bobbeh mayssos.
    You also wrote:
    “In 5751 The Rebbe discusses this phenomenon of identifying who Moshiach is as brought down in the Gemara sanhedrin 98b the many examples of talmidim that named their Rav as Moshiach, and the Rebbe mentions and writes the tradition of Chassidim who viewed their Rebbe as the potential Moshiach of the generation”.

    It is mostly explained and elaborated in his Kunress Beys Rabbeyno Shebavel. It is obvious that we are not talking about a *definite* mashiach, not even *cheskat mashiach* but an “hashara” a rough assessment of the potential mashaich. This has got NOTHING TO DO WITH CHESKAT MASHIACH.

    In fact, my friends in Lubavitch tell me that just a few years before 5752 (5748) a Rabbi told the Rebbe that he is “”cheskat mashiach” and the Rebbe strongly admonished him: “mehechan dantuni” (and inquired if other of his ruling are done in the same manner?)

    Lehovi limot HaMashiach does NOT mean to invent a new religion; to change the way Jews beleived for thousands of years; to create unncessary strife and disunity amongst Jews. And at the end you cannot encourage your friends to even accept the true message of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to prepare ourselves to the redemtion when you are busy in making up a new religion!

    One thing you did accomplish: That you pushed the anti messianists to the wall to see how far they go. You succeeded in that most of them shy away and do not confront you head on to show your falsehoods and distortions (they merely repeat the mantras and slogans how you are not a chabad spokemsman; but these spokespeople do not have the courage to show how distorted and false your position is. But you should now, that your theories are filled with falsehoods and distortions and they caused unnecessary great pain to and machlokess and divisiveness to large numbers in klal yisroel and they certainly do not add in ahavat chinam that is so necessary to bring Mashiach.

  148. Dovid says:

    the part in hebrew that unfortunately does not show: “…im ossoh vehitzliach, ubonoh mikdosh bimkomoy, vekibetz nidchey yisroel – harey zeh moshiach bevaday…veim loy hitlizach ad koy…beyadua sheeynoy zeh shehivticha alav torah, veharey hu kechol malchey beys david haksherim SHEMEYSSOOH”.

  149. Yaakov says:

    Eli Sobel’s creative “interpretations” of the Rebbe’s sichot speak for themselves for anyone acquainted wit the sources, thus I won’t bother to respond. I am disturbed, however, by his putting words into the Rebbe’s mouth which the Rebbe never uttered.

    The “psak” the Rebbe referred to was a “psak” that “kolu kol hakitzin and Moshiach has to come”, and not one that the Rebbe is Moshiach. In fact, there is a well-known written response of the Rebbe (not too long before the Rebe’s stroke) to a very well-known Chabad rabbi (presently deceased) who “paskened” that the Rebbe is/will be Moshiach. The Rebbe replied sharply: “What are his halachic sources? Are all his piskei halachah of the same kind?”
    That speaks volumes, far beyond any exotic “interpretations.” Moreover, in the very heat of “Messianic speculations”, a few months before the stroke, a journalist (IIRC from CNN) asked the Rebbe directly(during “dollar distribution”) “Are you the Messiah?”, and the Rebbe answered him with an unambiguous and categorical ‘NO!” There is a video-tape of this!
    Yaakov

  150. Moshe says:

    I want to register my protest, as a lubavitcher. Eli seems to believe in the mantra if you can’t convince them with facts or brilliance, baffle them with high-minded rhetoric.

    The thing that is most troubling is: Who gave you a right to speak on behalf of Chabad to the media? There are so many Rabbonim etc. who know more than you who have come to opposite conclusion than you, according to you they don’t know how to read the Rebbe’s sichos?

    If the Rebbe was alive would you have the chutzpa to go write an article proclaiming the Rebbe as Moshiach without the Rebbe’s permission. So many times the Rebbe was upset when people did these things and now you have decided YOU know best what the Rebbe wanted! Are you a Rov? A Posek? Such Chutzpa!

    And what have you accomplished? Have you brought more yidden to stronger emuna in Moshaich. More achdus? You have just caused a huge chillul Hashem and caused people to desecrate Chabad’s name and the Rebbe’s name R”L.

    The meshiechisten have caused such destruction, even promoting the Rebbe’s message that Moshiach is comeing is now associated with meshugaaas. The Rebbe didn’t ask to promote the Rebbe as Moshiach. That’s the M.s own invention. They twisted the Rebbe’s instruction causing damage instead of spreading the real message. Most Chabad can’t even mention the word “Moshiach” without being looked as an apikores. The very word “Moshiach” has a negative connotation thanks to the M.s meshugaasen.

    Now the rest of Chabad has to spend energy fixing the damage that you have caused.

    May Moshiach come and take us out of the real troubles that are facing klal Yisroel.

  151. A K says:

    Eli Soble wrote “In the sichos of 5752 the Rebbe spoke and recorded in writing that the wars of G-d the Rambam speaks of in the chezkas portion are spiritual. This can also be found in igrot Moshe of R’ Moshe Feinstein orach chaim chelek 4 simon 81′

    I read through Rav Moshe Z”TL’s teshuva, and I could not find the above there. All I did find that the (real, physical)wars will be won without humans needing weapons.
    Where do you see more than that?

    Also, would you kindly give a precise quote of where the Lubavitcher Rebbe Z”TL says that the wars won’t be physically?

    Thank you

  152. A K says:

    Eli Soble continued “also see metzudas Dovid in zacharia 9:10”

    I did. It seems quite clear that Moshiach will subdue all nations, but rather than with military force, through his words. BUT, nowhere is there any allusion to a ‘cheskas’ period or a Moshiach who won’t complete his whole mission.

    Or am I missing something?

  153. Chaim Wolfson says:

    Thanks to Eli Soble and others who have been considerate enough to take the time to clarify their positions, I realize that I have been grossly mistaken about the “Meshichistin”. None of them (except for a few “crazies”) believes that the Rebbe is moshiach. Rather, the Rebbe is “b’chezkas moshiach vadai mi’safek”; i.e., he is possibly the presumed definite moshiach.

    March 4 cannot come soon enough for me.

  154. abba says:

    Comment by Moshe — February 19, 2008 @ 9:00 pm
    “The Rebbe didn’t ask to promote the Rebbe as Moshiach.
    So many times the Rebbe was upset when people did these things and now you have decided YOU know best what the Rebbe wanted! Are you a Rov? A Posek? Such Chutzpa! Now the rest of Chabad has to spend energy fixing the damage that you have caused.”

    Where is clear coherent publicly documented evidence of any official Chabad spokesman spending energy to decry, for example, this psakdin?

    http://www.beismoshiach.org/Moshiach/moshiach269.htm

    Or do you maintain that none of the signatories are Rabonim/poskim etc. ?

  155. Yaakov says:

    Though everything has already been said and clarified, demonstrating beyond a shadow of doubt (citing the actual sources, chapter and verse)the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s view on the issue (which tuns out to be the very opposite of the claims made by the “meshichists” and their allies/kindred spirits, i.e., the perennial Chabad-bashers),I woud like to ad just one more anecdote of another incident occuring during dollar-distribution – and verifiable by the extant video-tape thereof:

    Someone handed the Rebbe an envelop addressed to “kvod kedushas admu”r melech hamoshiach shlit’a.” The Rebbe looked at it, did not open it and said to the man: “When Moshiach will come I will pass it on to him!”

    Yaakov

  156. eli soble says:

    Hi A.K

    The citation’s from Igrot Moshe and Metzudas Dovid were to illustrate that Milchemes Hashem and the wars related to our soon to be seen redemption are not defined, initiated or won solely on a physical battlefield in the traditional sense.

    Yes physical wars against the nations are part of the process but there is also ideological wars (kiruv , sanctity of the land of Israel, who is a Jew, spreading the monotheistic tenets of Judaism and 7 noahide laws to the outside world etc.) and they can and will be initiated and won using spiritual weapons , i.e. prayer , call to teshuva, shluchim etc.

    It is the Rambam who separates the initiation of milchemet Hashem into the period of chezkas as apposed to the full victory of milchemes hashem and the war of “conquering all the surrounding nations” which is in the period of v’dai. In fact the words “Im Asa V’hitzliach” refer to the completion of all items in chezkas including milchemas hashem and then comes the item of -” vnitzach kol hoomos shbsivuv” both are part of the items of V’dai together with building the bais hamikdosh and ingathering the Jewish nation.

    chezkas is initiation and V’dai is victory.

    So by spiritual war – I mean physical and religious battles fought and won without weapons as I think the sources I brought illustrate.

    This all relates to the aspect of the psak din of chezkas moshiach. That to qualify the candidate must exhibit fighting the wars of Hashem and not complete victory, which the Rabonim who signed the psak din regarding the Rebbe determined took place. And as you can see from the quote in my previous post (I dont see my previous post , I am not sure if they removed it) , the Rebbe also said clearly these wars have started to take place and some victories have been won.

    In terms of Moshiach being concealed/interrupted before he finishes his whole mission. I will quote a few items that I think will illustrate this pretty clearly.

    First the Chasam Sofer

    ” Why have you sent me? Moshe made this dependant on his own sin as if he wasn’t worthy thats why he asked Hashem why have you sent me. But in truth the the atonement for the sin of Israel was not complete and this was a great test that Moshe was concealed for 6 months, and so it will be with Moshiach Tzidkainu , he will be hidden after his revelation…”

    how long can concealment last?

    As Rashi brings on Daniel 12:12 based on the piyut of R’ Eliezer Klar Moshiach will be hidden “shvuim shiva” (G-d please hasten it) – R’ Yackov Emden in his pirush explains this can be literally 7 shmito’s. That certainly is quite an interruption between the beginning of his mission and completion. May it be G-d’s will, they should be no more delay!

    There is a sefer called Pirkei Teshuva Ugeula written by R’ Shachna Zohn – he explains the process of Moshiach’s revelation in a manner of steps based on the neviem and the Rambam, in it he writes that he asked R’ Moshe Feinsten Z’T’L since all the signs for the time of Moshiach are here why dont we see Moshiach , he records the answer by R’ Moshe Feinstein Z’T’L “Er is Shoin Gevis Da” = “he already is surely here” – see that sefer in depth for the very nice explanation.

    As far as R’ Moshe’s post and those that take his line of reasoning – I dont think anything productive will come If I respond to them point by point at this juncture. It is my hope that we can turn down the rhetoric and dramatic accusations (which can easily go both ways) and return to an objective analysis of the full and complete directives of the Rebbe regarding the imminent coming of Moshiach and redemption.

    Moshiach now!

  157. eli soble says:

    The editors wrote me a post where I quoted the sichos of the Rebbe was too long to be posted so I will only bring the quote that is most relevant to A.K’s question (if I can condense the old post enough I will send the quotes relevant to our entire discussion) – this is from a sicha checked and edited by the Rebbe from 5752 parshat chai sara said to the national convention of shluchim. You can see the original full sicha yourself at http://www.otzar770.com under the section called hisvadious. []indicate my words.

    “…and we see in actuality how it has already been accomplished the “ and he will fight the wars of hashem “ and has been victorious in many many inyanim – and specifically through a war (milchomo) of peace (shalom). And this victory is also from the language of everlasting (netzach-nitzchius) connected to the revelation of “netzach” nun = revelation of the 50th gate , tzadik = the 90th year (as the jewish people are calling this year , [the 90th year of the Rebbe] and ches – the revelation of Moshiach Tzidkeinu connected to the number 8…”

    We see the Rebbe clearly said this aspect of chezkas has been fulfilled.

    There is alot of hearsay on both sides of this discussion. Thats why for anyone who has a sincere interest to come to an objective understanding, it is my humble opinion, that it is crucial to learn the edited and checked sichos of the Rebbe from 5751/5752. From these, in full, you will be able to determine the opinion of Chabad, what our belief is and what we should be telling the world (and by no means does that make the teachings/directives in any other of the Rebbe’s works or years any less important – this is only a reference for out current topic).

    Moshiach Now! Have a good Shabbos.

  158. Dovid says:

    Eli wrote:

    “The citation’s from Igrot Moshe and Metzudas Dovid were to illustrate that Milchemes Hashem and the wars related to our soon to be seen redemption are not defined, initiated or won solely on a physical battlefield in the traditional sense”,

    They may not necessarily be won *solely* on the battlefield; but they clearly *must* entail the fight and victory over the *enemies of the Jewish* people! and it must be visible and perceived by *all* (mainly the enemy) that the one who fought him was the Mashiach. If there is no battle to destroy Arafat, Nassrallah etc. the person is lacking the qualities to be “cheskat mashiach”. (Whether or not there may *additional* “milchamot Hashem in the realm of Halcha and in the meaning of the Rambam can be debatable but there can be no interpretation that excludes this fight as being the main theme of Milchmamot Hashem of Rambam in his halachik language).

    ELi writes: ” It is the Rambam who separates the initiation of milchemet Hashem into the period of chezkas as apposed to the full victory of milchemes hashem and the war of “conquering all the surrounding nations” which is in the period of v’dai”.

    The difference is only: that cheskat M. represents the *beginning* and attempts of the candidate to win the wars, and mashiach vaday represents the victory of the *same wars* that were initiated by the one who was deemed “cheskat mashiach.

    Eli writes: ” In fact the words “Im Asa V’hitzliach” refer to the completion of all items in chezkas including milchemas hashem and then comes the item of -”vnitzach kol hoomos shbsivuv” both are part of the items of V’dai together with building the bais hamikdosh and ingathering the Jewish nation”

    Wrong! ” veim ossoh, vehitzliach venitzach umos shebisvivov. ubonoh mikdash bimkomoy…”‘ are not two separate things; the “venitzach is the description of the “hatzlacha” in the milchamot that he wages: If the was successful in the *previous wars* that he initiated and brought them to their final outcome (destroying ALL ENEMIES SuRrOUNDING THE JEWS!) then he is the messiah vaday. To be cheskat mashiach he must wage war to DESTROY ALL ENEMIES SURROUNDING THE JEWS!

    Eli wrote: “chezkas is initiation and V’dai is victory.”

    Here you got it right: cheskat is initiation of the wars against the (all) enemies that surround the jews; vaday: is the victory of *these SAME * wars!

    Eli writes: “the Rebbe also said clearly these wars have started to take place and some victories have been won’.

    The Rebbe did not say that we have *Halachik* *cheskat mashiach*. This is Similar to a statement by the Lubavitcher Rebbe that we had “”kbbutz galuyot” where it did NOT mean that the *halachik* kibutz galuyot made by *mashiach* has happened, but this relates to events “meeyn” similar to those which will actual happen by Messiah, but he did NOT write that we have reached the times of the Wars needed to become “cheskat mashiach” which will be *fought* by mashiach and the enemy will *perceive* that mashiach is fighing these wars! (not that he needs ELie Soble to tell Nassralah that a certain person is fighting against him).

    Eli writes:”In terms of Moshiach being concealed/interrupted before he finishes his whole mission. I will quote a few items that I think will illustrate this pretty clearly”.

    They have no bearing on messiah being deceased.

    Eli quoted from Sichos: “…and we see in actuality how it has already been accomplished the “ and he will fight the wars of hashem “ and has been victorious in many many inyanim – and specifically through a war (milchomo) of peace (shalom). And this victory is also from the language of everlasting (netzach-nitzchius) connected to the revelation of “netzach” nun = revelation of the 50th gate , tzadik = the 90th year (as the jewish people are calling this year , [the 90th year of the Rebbe] and ches – the revelation of Moshiach Tzidkeinu connected to the number 8…”

    Dovid writes: He does NOT write that we have reached the Halachik level of someone who *is* cheskat mashiach halachikally, as Shnat Hatzadik does not describe mashiach kposhutoy in halachik lvel, as Shar HaNun does not describe the mashiach person kpsutoy in halachik level, so too is the language employed in the other part of sentence not talking about the *literal halachik* description of the person who is “cheskat mashaich* but only about accomplishments similar to those which will be accomplished by the one who has the title of “cheskat mashiach”.

    It is ironic how you can bring statements that were not said and written to be meant literally in the world of halacha and will not think for a moment: where in all talks of 5751-2 do you find a statement like: “…we have already reached a time where we have a person who is a cheskat mashiach that the Rambam codified as halacha…”. Let me ask you better. You probably know the Kuntress Beys Rabbeynoo Shebavel by heart, I assume: How come he does not write there, that we have already someone that is not only assumed to be messiah like the talmidim of cheskiyah etc. but actually we have now already a person who is cheskat mashiach! Nothing, but nothing about it in kuntress beys rabbeyno shebebavel. The most you have there is the talmud in sanhedrin where one could have assumed during the lifetime of Rabbeynu HaKodosh that he would become the mashiach (if it would arrive in his lifetime!). But why does he not write *one* sentence about *cheskat mashiach*?

    You know why? Because it has got NOTHING to do with the halachik cheskat mashaich. Go and learn again that sicha! and the rambam as it would be learned by anyone who studied other parts of the rambam and find one Rabbi who agrees with your interpretation of it (i mean find a rabbi who is not from chabad and tell us his name and tell us that he agreed with your interpretation in the exact halachik meaning of “milchamot Hashem” and report to us back with the rabbis name etc.).

    Eli wrote: “…that it is crucial to learn the edited and checked sichos of the Rebbe from 5751/5752. From these, in full, you will be able to determine the opinion of Chabad, what our belief is and what we should be telling the world …”:

    Dovid writes: Yes, and when you learn them without the “interpretations” of the …you will see that *NOTHING* of what they AND YOU write were actually said by him and they are NOT the opinion of Chabad!

    Eli writes:
    Moshiach Now! Have a good Shabbos.”

    Dovid writes:
    amein VeAmein!!

  159. nachum klafter, md says:

    I must agree with every detail of what Dovid has written above in his lengthy responses to Elie Sobel.

    I find it exhausting and counterproductive to bother debating each point with the meshichistim. Their belief is not based on their best attempt to understand sources. It is based on a wish for something to be true. Therefore, all plausible rules of study and interpretation are suspended. Wild midrashim are taken literally like the halakhic prose of the Rambam, but the clear halakhic prose of the Rambam becomes a medrash to interpret wildly. The reason for this is because they are attempting to deny reality, and to construct an alternative metziyus.

    We are not redeemed. There is no beis ha-mikdash. There has not be a kibutz galuyos accomplished by the Rebbe. There have not even been milchamos Ha-Shem fought. There was not nitzach kol ha-umus she-sevivav. There is no nevu’ah. There was a histalkus. He was not yakof kol yisroel leilech ba u-lechezk bidka. In fact he was not a melekh and did not evern have the power of kefiya at all.

    To add to Dovid’s points: It is clear that the Rebbe did not fulfill Chezkas Moshiach in his lifetime. But even if an individual does fulfill chezkas moshiach in his lifetime, this “chazaka” means that we may presume that he will go onto fulfilling the prophecies of the redemption which are outlined in the “vaday” requirements. Once that individual passes away without having fulfilled them, the “chezaka” is no longer applicable. The “Melekh” must be a normal, human, living functioning king in order to be in the ballpark of being “presumed” to be the Moshiach. Once that king dies, the idea of retaining a “chazaka” is meaningless. It is like saying that Reb Moshe Feinstein ztz”l retains his chazaka as the rosh yeshiva of Tiferes Yerushalayim, or Rashi is still the legal owner of his vineyard, or that Rambam retains his chazaka as the Sultan’s physician or as the leader of Egyptian Jewry.

    Even the whole idea of a “moshiach she-be-dor” (the potential Messiah-in-waiting, who exists in every generation), which is a Hassidic term, is based on the idea that Moshiach MUST be from the living. It follows like this: Since Moshiach could come at any moment (akhishena) if we merit it, and since we know that Moshiach must be from the living, it follows that at every moment there must be a tzadik in the world who, if our generation merits redemption, is capable of being the Moshiach. That individual is the Messiah of the Generation (moshiach she-be-dor).

    This concept has no meaning if Moshaich can come from the dead. If so, then there is no such thing as a Moshiach she-be-dor. If Moshiach might be Dovid Ha-Melekh, then it no longer follows that there must be a potential Moshiach in our generation. A “deceased Moshiach she-be-dor” is an oxymoron.

    It is therefore very puzzling to me that Reb Yoel Kahan, allegedly an anti-Meshichist, would still consider the Rebbe the Moshiach she-be-dor. This term has no meaning for a deceased Jewish leader. The Moshiach she-be-dor is an individual who is alive in a normal human sense. Reb Yoel is a ga’on muflag and what I am saying cannot possibly be a hiddush to him. It is, however, a vivid demonstration of the implausible acrobatics necessary to maintain the Rebbe’s messiah status 14 years after his histalkus.

    Finally, there is an idea or argument that is mentioned above. The claim has been made, “If it’s not the Rebbe, who is it?” That claim is valid only in a Hassidic framework, where the “Nasi HaDor” (the leader of the generation, or THE godol ha-dor) is automatically the Moshiach she-be-dor. From the Rambam’s Iggeres le-Teiman, it is clear that the Messiah may himself not realize that he is the Moshiach until he receives a nevu’a which informs him as such. Therefore, there is no halahkic basis to assume that the potential Moahiach must be the “Nasi Ha-Dor”. That is a totally seperate hassidic idea, which has no bearing on the halakha. Those who are educated with a Hassidic mesorah should realize that this idea is foreign to the rest of the Jewish world.

    However, non-Hassidim should have some respect for the fact that this assumption that the Nasi Ha-Dor is the potential Moshiach is part of their ABC’s in hashkafa. It is actually quite reasonable to imagine that the individual who emerges as our Moshiach might already be a dynamic, inspiring spiritual leader. The Rebbe urged them to cultivate a belief in the imminence of the ge’ula. It is only natural that the Rebbe became the subject of their messianic dreams. It should have all stopped on 3 Tammuz.

  160. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Dr. Klafter writes that “in a Hassidic framework, … the “Nasi HaDor” (the leader of the generation, or THE godol ha-dor) is automatically the Moshiach she-be-dor.”
    Outside of Chabad, where does he find this? I’ve never heard of it in any other chassidus.

  161. Bob Miller says:

    The comment by Lawrence M. Reisman — February 25, 2008 @ 12:18 pm leads into a related subject. When Chabad people claim that “Chassidus says…”, they typically mean “Chabad Chassidus says…”, seemingly oblivious of different opinions on the topic held by different groups of Chassidim.

  162. Sholom says:

    “I have also heard some Lubavitchers state with equal conviction that not only other chassidim, but also Litvaks and Sefardim, believe that their Rosh Yeshiva or their Rav is Moshiach, and they bring a Gemara to “prove” that ALL Jews have ALWAYS believed their rebbe/rav/leader is Moshiach. And again, the only argument is, who has the best claim among all the competing candidates?”

    I have spent a significant amount of time amongst Lubavitchers, even living (and learning) in Crown Heights for a period of time. I too have heard these arguments. Unfortunately you are correct.

    But be aware that part of the fanaticism over the “Rebbe being the messiah” extends from troubling aspects of chareidi Judaism in general–most significantly the treatment of your Rebbe, Gadol, whatever, as effectively infallible.

    When the Rebbe made statements suggesting that he viewed himself to be the messiah (or at least a prophet), few people in Lubavitch were prepared to think otherwise, because, hey, the Rebbe is as close to infallible as your going to get, right?

    With all the book bannings, and decrees made by the predominantly Israeli chareidi leadership, legitimate voices in halachah are effectively silenced. Thus it’s now “Daas Torah” to view Talmudic science as infallible, even though there were Gaonim, Rishonim, and Acharonim–of greater stature than our current Gadolim, who thought otherwise. But because of the religion of “Daas Torah” Jews can’t even consult authentic Jewish sources from within out own masorah to investigate legitimate issues of hashkafic, or halachic, import.

    Time was it when we could look to the responsa literature from our great poskim to at least understand their basis for ruling in a particular fashion. Now we are left with flyers that discuss the “fear and trembling” of our leaders at the “breach in our community” but with little content or reasoning justifying the position, as well as its parameters.

    An Adam Gadol is entitled to his opinion, but we Jews are also allowed a healthy skepticism, at the very least if it’s backed up by legitimate Torah sources. Readers from other segments of the chareidi world had better view Chabad as a lesson–such issues are already happening, on a smaller scale, in your communities. And they will eventually become massive issues for the Jewish people, as the most right wing segments of orthodoxy achieve numeric hegemony.

  163. a k says:

    “Readers from other segments of the chareidi world had better view Chabad as a lesson–such issues are already happening, on a smaller scale, in your communities.” Comment by Sholom — February 26, 2008 @ 10:19 am

    This has to be the most frightening post to date. Does anyone have a countervailing opinion?

  164. Malka says:

    I have lived among Lubavitch for over 20 years. I know many of the families very well. It is clear to me that Lubavitch has evolved into a splinter group of Judaism with the characteristics of early christianity. Lubavitch is using their dead Rebbe as an intermediary to Hashem and in many cases praying to and asking for help only from their dead Rebbe himself. This is a major violation of halacha and of our fundamental principles. Many Lubavitch communities are secretive and dishonest about their belief in the Rebbe as Moshiach. They are concerned that if they appear cultish, then they will not be able to insure monetary donations from secular Jewish sources. Outreach and kiruv is a wonderful thing but not when ignorance is misleading Jews. If the Lubavitchers are waiting for the Rebbe to come back from the dead to save the world they will be waiting forever just as the christians are waiting for jc. I implore Lubavitchers all focus on learning the Torah meant for this world. Study the principles of our faith, learn about the criteria of moshiach and the messianic era. This a difficult problem because the belief in the Rebbe as Moshiach is so pervasive and ingrained that many Lubavitchers have lost the ability to listen to and understand the truth. They should stop making excuses for and defending themselves on the matter. They should stop grouping themselves with all other Chassidic sects as a way of validating their position.

  165. Yaakov says:

    When Chabad people claim that “Chassidus says…”, they typically mean “Chabad Chassidus says…”, seemingly oblivious of different opinions on the topic held by different groups of Chassidim.

    Comment by Bob Miller

    When Rabanim and/or Roshei Yeshivot claim “Halacha says…” [or “the peshat in this matter says…”], they typically mean “My view of halacha, or my possek says…” [or “my view of peshat”], seemingly oblivious of different opinions on the topic held by different groups of poskim.

    Get the point?

  166. Asher Heber says:

    Malka writes “I have lived among Lubavitch for over 20 years. I know many of the families very well. It is clear to me that Lubavitch has evolved into a splinter group of Judaism with the characteristics of early christianity. Lubavitch is using their dead Rebbe as an intermediary to Hashem and in many cases praying to and asking for help only from their dead Rebbe himself. This is a major violation of halacha and of our fundamental principles. Many Lubavitch communities are secretive and dishonest about their belief in the Rebbe as Moshiach” “They are concerned that if they appear cultish, then they will not be able to insure monetary donations from secular Jewish sources” etc. etc. A hundred sixty three supposedly intelligent posts and we are back to square one . Look at what has come crawling out of the woodwork (the message not the messenger)
    This sounds like a preamble to the “Protocols Of The Elders of Chabad” and one wonders why we go into wagon train mode?

  167. henya laine says:

    I didn’t have a chance to read all the comments, but I read enough to feel that I could respond. I am a Lubavitcher from birth who had private audiences with the Rebbe since I was 6 years old. The Rebbe loved and helped every single Jew without discrimination. A Satmer women told me that she went on Sunday to ask the Rebbe for a Blessing without her husbands knowledge,and the Rebbe smiled and blessed her. She grew up in a home where they only critisized and cursed the Rebbe. Yet when she needed help, she knew in her heart that only the Lubavitcher Rebbe could help her.
    Today we don’t have the z’chus to see the Rebbe every Sunday giving dollars,but many people travel all over the world and take advantage of the infrostructure the Rebbe put together for Jews.
    My children who are on Shlichus in far corners of the world are there for YOU. They strugle with parnoso, they have to send their children away at a young age to learn in a Yeshivah, they have to strugle to get Kosher food,they miss family simchas and much more. All of you complaining about Lubavitch, remember YOU will end up needing US at one time or another. How will you be able to face yoursrlves in the mirror at thaat time?
    How many of your off- the- derech children has Lubavitch saved? Of course we are not perfect but neither are you. I could dig up lots of undesirable thing on every facet of JEWS. But is this what we are here in this world? If we were perfact MOSHIACH would be here! So the evil inclination pushes you to speak loshon hora, to delve on the negetive. Stop and think have you been touched by Chabad? So where is you appriciation(HAKORAS HATOV)? Even Moshe was not permited to hit the earth because it protected him.
    I have more to say but will leave it for another time.

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