Moshiach: Setting the Record Straight
Transcribed and notated by Alexander Zushe Kohn

In reaction to renewed controversy and interest regarding the Lubavitch-Moshiach issue, a small panel of prominent Lubavitch scholars and shluchim, utilized the medium of radio to provide thousands of listeners with a clear picture of the Torah’s position on Moshiach.

The following is Part 1 of a transcript of the program, which aired Motzaei Shabbos Parshas VaYechi, on "Talk-line With Zev Brenner – America’s Leading Jewish Program," WMCA, 570AM in New York, WAXY, 790AM in Miami. "Talk-line With Zev Brenner" airs every Saturday night, midnight to 2:00 am.

"Talk-line With Zev Brenner" was preceded by another program in which the same panel of rabbis introduced some of the basic ideas of the belief that the Rebbe is Moshiach.

Part 1 of that transcript will appear next week, G-d willing.

Zev Brenner: Live in our studio is Rabbi Majeski. He is a lecturer, he is scholar, very articulate, and he will continue the conversation, together with Rabbi Heschel Greenberg, director of the Torah Learning Center of Buffalo, New York, and Rabbi Sholom Ber Kalmanson, director of Chabad of Southern Ohio. We are going to explore some of the issues that have been raised in the last number of weeks…

We are looking at part three of a series that we began a few weeks ago dealing with Lubavitch, Moshiach, the controversy started by Dr. David Berger in his article and also in a book that came out questioning what is going on in the Lubavitch-Chabad movement - at least in the part [of Lubavitch] that views the Rebbe coming back as Moshiach. He [Berger] compared it to Christianity, and because of that he’d like to see the Chabad movement ostracized and [deemed] beyond "the pale of the Orthodox Jewish community," in his words.

With us right now, live in the studio is Rabbi Shloma Majeski…Rabbi Heschel Greenberg and Rabbi Sholom Ber Kalmanson. I want to welcome you all to the program. I know that a little while ago, in the previous program, a presentation was made, articulating the positions of why you believe the Rebbe is Moshiach. You’re quite clear about that.

So let me begin with you Rabbi Majeski. I know there are sources quoted that Moshiach can come from the living, and Moshiach can come from the dead. There are sources, obviously. But the majority opinion in Judaism today holds that Moshiach will come from the ranks of the living. Even the Lubavitch movement held this prior to [Gimmel Tammuz]. Once [Gimmel Tammuz took place] there was a change in theology all of a sudden. For years they said the Rebbe is Moshiach [and] the Moshiach comes from the ranks of the living. When [Gimmel Tammuz happened] they changed the direction. Now all of a sudden they’re quoting sources that the Rebbe can come Moshiach.

Didn’t Lubavitch change its theology?

Rabbi Majeski: First of all, it’s not a change in theology. Even these two opinions - whether he can come from the living or not - are not two contradictory opinions; [rather] they are two possibilities. The Gemara in Sanhedrin, daf Tzaddik-Ches, amud Beis, says: One pasuk tells us that Moshiach is going to come "achishena," he is going to be hastened; in another place it says that he’ll come "b’ita," at a designated time; in one place it says that he’s going to come on a cloud, [while] in another place it says he’s going to come on a donkey. So the Gemara answers [the contradictions by explaining that] both possibilities can take place; it could happen one way [or] it could happen the other way. "Zachu" - if they’ll be zocheh, it’ll be this way; "lo zachu" - it’ll be another way. The same is also in the Ohr HaChayim on Parshas Balak, [on] the pasuk that talks about Moshiach, [the pasuk] "Ar’enu v’lo ata." It says the same thing - that there is a possibility that he can come this way [i.e., min ha’Shamayim, and there is a] possibility he can come that way [i.e., in a natural manner]. So number one, both possibilities are possibilities. Secondly, Chabad is not changing their position. Chabad is consistent. Chabad said [that] the words of the Rebbe are that Moshiach is the Nasi of this generation. And from the talks of the Rebbe it’s clear that Moshiach is already revealed; that Moshiach, as the Rambam describes, [is] a human being, who is a descendent of King David, a leader, a Torah scholar, who will be engaged in a project of bringing all the Jews back to their roots and to observe Torah and mitzvos. [This indeed has already occurred.]

Then, this [- Gimmel Tammuz -] occurred, [and] we see from all these sources that there is a possibility that Moshiach can also be hidden, concealed, and then come back and completes the process. So this not a change. This is a continuation of what was begun.

[Transcriber’s explanation: Lubavitch has not changed its theology. Lubavitch follows the Torah’s theology, and the Torah recognizes both scenarios. It’s a matter of emphasis. Before Gimmel Tammuz, it would have been unreasonable to emphasize the current scenario. Now that it has come to pass, however, there can be no denying that the Torah clearly speaks of such a possibility].

Rabbi Kalmanson: Zev, if I may break in, this is Rabbi Kalmanson -

Z. Brenner: Go ahead, Rabbi Kalmanson.

R. Kalmanson: You know what the irony is? That not Chabad changed its philosophy, or ideology, but the rest of the world did. While Lubavitch was saying for years that the Rebbe is Moshiach and [that] the Moshiach will come from the living - because obviously [as R. Majeski pointed out], the Rebbe was there and nobody wanted to talk about anything later [i.e., a Gimmel Tammuz scenario] - the entire world was ostracizing Lubavitch by saying that Moshiach is going to come from "Cloud 9" somewhere, not from the living, but like an angel. And now, all of a sudden, the world is screaming, "he must be from the living!" So the world changed policy over here, not Chabad.

[Transcriber’s explanation: The antagonists of Lubavitch are guilty of the very thing they accuse Lubavitch of doing, i.e., changing their ideology. Before Gimmel Tammuz, they insisted that Moshiach cannot be a person living in our times, as per the anti-Lubavitch "Public Alert" publicized in the name of a prominent rosh yeshiva, and other similar "Public Alerts." Now, after Gimmel Tammuz, they have changed their line of argument, opposing us instead on the grounds that Moshiach cannot be from the dead, but only from the living. This strongly suggests that their opposition to Lubavitch is not the result of sincere concern for upholding the truths of Torah, but rather represents opposition for the sake of opposition.]

Z. Brenner: But Chabad kept saying that Moshiach will come from the ranks of the living-

R. Kalmanson: That’s correct. As a kid to a father, you don’t want to discuss, G-d forbid, what will happen to your father after [a hundred and twenty.] You want your father alive and well. The Rebbe was around, here with us, we saw him with the naked eye, so to speak. Obviously, [under such circumstances,] we are going to emphasize that part [i.e., aspect] of Moshiach discussed by the Rambam. We hoped that we would merit [to avoid] whatever [it was that] facilitated [the occurrence] of that so-called Gimmel Tammuz. However, now that Gimmel Tammuz did occur, and we do not see the Rebbe in front of our face, we cannot discount the fact that it is said in the sifrei kodesh that Moshiach can be prepared, facilitate everything, and then be hidden, if you will, and then come back.

Z. Brenner: Now, I’m not sure if it was you Rabbi Kalmanson, or Rabbi Greenberg - or maybe it was you Rabbi Majeski - who quoted different sources [to the effect that] if Moshiach comes from the ranks of the living then it’s such-and-such, [and] if he comes from the ranks of the dead, most of the authorities that you quoted said [it would be] Dovid HaMelech. In fact, when I think of Adam [it brings to mind that] Moshiach is Adam, Dovid, Moshiach. That’s what we believe is one of the acronyms that Adam stands for. There is even a Midrash that Adam, the first Man, was supposed to live a thousand years, and he gave seventy years [of his life] to Dovid HaMelech; not that he gave it, but [that] he actually came back as Dovid HaMelech - that’s what some authorities hold. This is Moshiach. So if you’re going to look at it that way, [and that] this is a core belief in Judaism, why not say as the sources you quoted say: instead of saying the Rebbe [is Moshiach], why not say that Dovid HaMelech, King David, will come back as the Messiah? You yourself quoted the sources.

[Transcriber’s explanation: The panel is quoting sources to the effect that Moshiach can be from those who have passed on. The very same sources, however, name tzaddikim other than the Rebbe - like Dovid HaMelech, for example. If you are going to rely on those sources, then don’t you have to be consistent and state that Moshiach will be Dovid HaMelech, or whatever other tzaddik is mentioned in the sources that you quote?].

R. Majeski: First of all the Rebbe himself - as mentioned in Likkutei Sichos, cheilek Lamed-Hei, Parshas VaYigash, the first page in that sicha - the Rebbe asked this question, [namely] why can’t it be Dovid HaMelech himself. The Rebbe’s answer is that based on how the Rambam describes Moshiach, [and the Rambam] is halacha, Moshiach will be a person who, prior to bringing about the total Redemption, will already have begun certain activities related to Redemption - in that time [period], which is the time of Redemption, in that generation. And therefore, what we’re saying is - and again this is based on the fact that the Rebbe had already said in his sichos, and I mentioned the references before - that Moshiach is the leader of this generation.

The Rebbe clearly spoke about himself [as Moshiach] in the sichos. The Rebbe said, in many places, "Menachem shmo." This can be looked up, and I can give the sources in the Seifer HaSichos, Tav Shin Nun-Beis. So once it’s been established - we’re talking now of Lubavitcher Chassidim - by the Rebbe, that he is going to take us out of Galus, [then] this has been established, and there’s no basis to say that anything has changed, because what’s going on now is perfectly consistent with the sources that say that there’s a possibility that Moshiach will come, be concealed, and then finally, bring the final Redemption. And I must add that the Rambam in "Hilchos Melachim," the "Laws of Kings," writes that nobody knows exactly the order [of ] how it’s going to be, and therefore, we can’t really put so much [weight] on the order of things. But these [views] are clearly written in Torah sources, as I just mentioned. So this is a continuation of everything that’s been said until now - it’s not a change.

[Transcriber’s explanation: Three points are made: 1. The Rebbe explains that according to the Rambam, Moshiach must do certain deeds in the time period immediately preceding the Redemption. These deeds, which make him "B’chezkas Moshiach" must continue to transform the world until it is ready for the Beis HaMikdash to be built, and for the exiles to be brought back to Eretz Yisroel. The deeds of Dovid HaMelech and the other tzaddikim of the past did not accomplish this. The Messianic deeds of the Rebbe on the other hand, are clearly and unequivocally, growing in impact, and at an astounding rate. So, while it is clear from the Torah sources that Moshiach may be from those who have passed on, it is at the same time clear from the Rambam that he must be someone from that very time period. As for the sources which refer to Moshiach as Dovid HaMelech, Moshe Rabbeinu, etc., the meaning of these references will be discussed in future installments. 2. The Rebbe made it clear that he himself is going to take us out of Galus. Gimmel Tammuz cannot change the Rebbe’s words; Gimmel Tammuz is perfectly consistent with Torah sources. 3. One cannot call others heretics simply because the order of events doesn’t suit him. This is particularly unacceptable in light of the Rambam’s statement that no one will know the order of events until they will actually occur.]

(To be continued.)


...the entire world was ostracizing Lubavitch by saying that Moshiach is going to come...not from the living, but like an angel. And now the world is screaming, "he must be from the living!" So the world changed policy, not Chabad.

—Rabbi Sholom Ber Kalmanson


The going to take us out of Galus...and there’s no basis to say that anything has changed, because what’s going on now is perfectly consistent with the sources.

—Rabbi Shloma Majeski



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