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Understanding The Eternal Life Of Moshiach
By A. Avrohom

There are many misconceptions about the fundamental Jewish concept of chayim nitzchiyim, eternal life, particularly as it relates to the Rebbe Melech Ha’Moshiach shlita. * In response to those who claim that there is no authentic basis for such a belief, Beis Moshiach presents the following article.

Some people say that when the Rebbe spoke about the chayim nitzchiyim of the Nasi, he meant it only in the spiritual sense. How can we be sure that the Rebbe meant actual physical eternal life?

There are many references in the Torah to the continued spiritual life of the tzaddik, but there are also many quite explicit passages referring to the tzaddik’s physical body. These sources, which are of special relevance to our times, are generally divided into three categories:

1) The Rebbe MH”M’s statements about the Rebbe Rayatz (“Yaakov Avinu lo meis,” etc.), concerning which “the Rebbe was speaking about himself”;

2) The axiomatic need for a living Nasi in every generation; and

3) Concepts that are specific to Melech HaMoshiach and his revelation in our generation.

However, as will be explained, all three of these categories contain references to the eternal life, chayim nitzchiyim, of the Nasi of our generation, the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach.

“Yaakov Avinu Lo Meis”

In connection with the first category, “Yaakov Avinu lo meis” (“Our father, Yaakov, did not die”), the following is an excerpt of the sicha of 15 Tammuz 5745 (as recorded on video):

“The Rebbe has been alive b’gashmiyus in the physical world for the past 35 years, each moment of which he grows stronger, healthier, more refreshed, and more alive! There is no rav or judge – absolutely no one – who can change the simple and obvious fact that the concept of yerusha [inheritance] is completely inapplicable, G-d forbid, since ‘he is alive’; one cannot speak of yerusha when he still lives.”

The reason for any misconceptions that might exist on this point is that people tend to judge a situation according to their own perceptions. Or, as the Rebbe put it, “He can only relate to corporeality and materialism; he measures everything according to what his eyes can see and what his physical senses can absorb.” That is why a person might claim, “But I myself participated in the funeral…surely then he is in the World of Truth.”

The Rebbe based this sicha on the saying of our Sages, “Yaakov Avinu lo meis,” and connected it dozens of times to the Rebbe Rayatz. And while there are some explanations of “Yaakov Avinu lo meis” that interpret the statement in the spiritual sense, there are also many commentaries (most notably Rashi’s, which is always the most literal) that explain it as Yaakov Avinu’s continued existence in a physical body. (See page 223 of Volume 35 of Likkutei Sichos.)

To quote the Rebbe: “Some interpret…‘Yaakov Avinu lo meis’ as not signifying a continued physical existence, i.e., that a death actually occurred, and that the statement only refers to the continued life of the soul. But this is problematic for several reasons, aside from the obvious: What is the significance in saying that Yaakov Avinu did not die [but lives on in the spiritual sense], when all tzaddikim possess eternal life in the spiritual sense? Rashi, in his commentary on the Gemara, specifies that he ‘comments on the text; they embalmed [Yaakov Avinu] because they thought he was dead’ and ‘it appeared to them as though he were dead, but he was actually alive.’ Rashi’s contention is that the Gemara is clearly referring to Yaakov Avinu’s physical body, and that literally ‘he did not die, but is alive in the [physical] world.’”

In other words, although whatever was done to Yaakov Avinu’s corporeal body “is true according to the parameters of the Torah,” at the same time “he did not die,” “even as it pertains to the physical body.” (This is similar to what the Rebbe has said about the Rebbe Rayatz: Although “the sun set and the sun rose” [referring to the succession of one Nasi after another], the Rebbe spoke many times about the Rebbe Rayatz’s continued existence in the physical sense.)

How can anyone claim that there is “no proof, or even the hint of proof” of this in all of the Rebbe’s sichos kodesh?

It must be pointed out that the above sicha is not talking about the ongoing influence of a tzaddik on the physical world, but it explicitly refers to a continuation of life in the conventional sense. (The statement in the holy Zohar, “The tzaddik is even more present in all worlds after his passing,” refers to the soul.) The Rebbe’s insistence that the concept of inheritance does not apply also invalidates the contention that the meaning of “he is alive” pertains to spiritual life alone.

In many sichos kodesh (Yud Sh’vat 5726, for example), the Rebbe negates understanding the statement in the Gemara, “just as his seed is alive, so too is he alive,” to mean that the tzaddik is only considered alive since he left descendants. In fact, the Rebbe states that this interpretation is in direct contradiction to the Gemara’s p’shat (literal meaning). The Rebbe even asks, “Why do they want to ‘water it down’?”

In the last volume of Likkutei Sichos published before Gimmel Tammuz 5754 (in the first sicha on Parshas Chukas), the Rebbe explains the concept of “Moshe Rabbeinu lo meis”: It is precisely through Moshe Rabbeinu that the tuma (spiritual impurity) associated with a corpse receives its tikkun, through the total nullification of the very concept of death.

A Physical Nasi HaDor
In Every Generation

In Volume 26 of Likkutei Sichos the Rebbe explains:

“Our Sages say that ‘the extension of Moshe Rabbeinu exists in every generation.’ The neshama of Moshe Rabbeinu clothes itself ‘in the sages of the generation, the eyes of the congregation, of each and every generation,’ most particularly in the Nasi of that generation; and ‘there is no generation that does not have one like Moshe.’ (There must be a ‘Moshe’ in every generation, in which the soul of Moshe is clothed.)

“Despite the fact that it is not Moshe’s physical body that lives, nevertheless, being that ‘the life of the tzaddik is not a corporeal existence but a spiritual one,’ the life of Moshe is not the physical life of his body, but the spiritual life of his neshama. Thus, Moshe’s spiritual life is eternal on the physical plane by virtue of his soul being clothed in the Nasi of each generation.”

From this quote it is clear that there must be an actual, living Nasi in every generation, which expresses the eternal life of Moshe Rabbeinu.

Similarly, the Rebbe stated in the sicha of Shabbos Parshas Shoftim 5751:

“…The Nasi of the generation (‘the Nasi is everything’ and ‘the tzaddik is the foundation of the world’) is similar to the Even HaSh’siya (foundation stone upon which the ark stood in the Beis HaMikdash), in that the Nasi is fixed in a particular location in the physical world and is unchangeable. He always exists without any modifications or changes…like the judge and prophet who always exists (eternally) in every generation. This is a sign of the constant and continual revelation of G-dliness in the physical world upon which the entire world is established.”

This quote, as well as the one above, leaves no alternative but the most literal of interpretations: The foundation stone is a physical manifestation – a real rock as opposed to a spiritual one that exerts some kind of influence on the physical world. So too, there must be a Nasi HaDor who lives b’gashmiyus in every generation.

In Volume 24 of Likkutei Sichos there is a reference to “a person who can be seen and heard.” (The quote states the expression in this manner as opposed to stating “a person who exists.”) Now that, unfortunately, we cannot see and hear the Rebbe, some people claim that this phraseology is deliberately being ignored, raising the question: Are we to interpret the above statement in a more abstract sense – that the Nasi exerts an influence on the world, but not necessarily through a physical body?

To respond, it must be clarified that the aforementioned quote from Volume 24 of Likkutei Sichos is not in reference to the concept of the Nasi HaDor as he exists in every generation in a physical body; it is, rather, a general description of Moshe Rabbeinu’s function of connecting the Jewish people to G-d. In Volume 26 of Likkutei Sichos, however, the Rebbe does make reference to the necessity of the existence of the Nasi of the generation in a physical body.

In fact, the difference between the two sichos is not only in the expressions that are used, but in content, as well. In Volume 24, the Rebbe is speaking about the function and effect of the Nasi HaDor with respect to the people; this is something that obviously changes from one generation to the next. (See maamerV’Ata Tetzaveh,” which explains how Moshe, Mordechai, and the Nasi act as the “revealed Raya Mehemna for all members of the generation.”) In contrast, in Volume 26 of Likkutei Sichos the Rebbe talks about the essence of the Nasi HaDor as a continuation of the life of Moshe Rabbeinu, which expresses the concept of “Moshe lo meis,” which is a concept that is not subject to change. For if it were, it would mean that there could conceivably be a generation in which “the life of Moshe Rabbeinu” is not completely manifest, G-d forbid.

What benefit is there in having a Nasi HaDor we cannot see or hear? The answer could fill an entire article. The same question could be asked concerning previous generations in which the “Raya Mehemna of all members of the generation” was not openly revealed or in which people did not know his identity. The same question could have been posed before Gimmel Tammuz: What benefit was there to a Jew on the other side of the world who never saw or heard the Rebbe MH”M in person? In order to answer these questions, one has to fully understand the concepts of Rebbe and Nasi HaDor.

Even the proverbial “five-year-old who has just started to learn Chumash” can grasp the distinction between physical and spiritual reality. A person is starving and has no food to eat. Someone offers him an injection of vitamins and minerals that will keep him alive. What should he do? Should he refuse the injection because it will not give him a sense of fullness and satiety? Should he reject it because the only thing he will feel is the prick of the needle?

The presence of Moshe Rabbeinu in every generation connects the higher spheres to the lower spheres and unites G-dliness with the created worlds. There must be an ish Elokim, a neshama within a physical body, that is present in the world. Even if we cannot “see or hear” the “injection of vitamins and minerals,” or even if we don’t understand how the process works, it doesn’t detract from the efficacy of the “medication.” The injection will still have its effect on all the limbs of the body.

The Chaim Nitzchiyim
of Moshiach

The third issue is the eternal life of Melech HaMoshiach that continues without interruption from the time of Galus and into the Geula.

The concept itself, that Moshiach lives eternally, is, of course, not an invention of the Rebbe, but is well-established in many Midrashim and in the Zohar. The ideas presented in these sources is that Moshiach will become revealed at the very end of the exile and continue to live eternally during the Messianic era. (For further information and an exhaustive compilation of sources, refer to the book Yechi HaMelech HaMoshiach.)

The writings of our Sages are replete with references to Moshiach being “revealed and [then] concealed.” The Arizal writes explicitly that Moshiach’s concealment before his final revelation is likened to a state of “sleep,” yet specifies that it will not be a “histalkus” of the neshama from the physical body. (See the beginning of V’Hu Yigaleinu for a more comprehensive explanation.)

Furthermore, the Rebbe specifically stated that the concept of Moshiach’s “revelation and concealment” does not contradict the psak din of the Rambam concerning the revelation of Moshiach. (See pg. 105 of Volume 9 of Likkutei Sichos.)

Nowhere in the Torah does it state that Moshiach’s “concealment” before his final revelation is a contradiction to his “eternal life.” The possibility of concealment has always existed, and we are still assured that G-d will fulfill His promise in Chapter 21 of Tehillim: “He asked life of you, and you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.”

These sources must not be disregarded, as they are elements of our holy Torah. The Rebbe gave a directive that the “the most direct way” to bring about the final Redemption is through learning about Moshiach and Geula “as these subjects are explained in the Written and Oral Torah.”

(Click here to continue.)



The same question could have been posed before Gimmel Tammuz: What benefit was there to a Jew on the other side of the world who never saw or heard the Rebbe MH”M in person?


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