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 Torahís position on Moshiach.

The following is Part 2 of a transcript of the program, which aired Motzaei Shabbos Parshas VaYechi, on "Talk-line With Zev Brenner Ė Americaís 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.

(Continued from last week.)

Z. Brenner: You say that [the Rebbe] is Bíchezkas Moshiach. The Rebbe was universally accepted and beloved in the Jewish community. Certainly there were exceptions. But the fact is that [the title of] Chezkas Moshiach was bestowed [upon the Rebbe] by the Lubavitch movement. If you go beyond that movement, you wonít [find this term being used to describe the Rebbe.]

[Yet if] somebody is Moshiach and is recognized as Moshiach, wouldnít all Jews recognize it as such?

Rabbi Heschel Greenberg: Let me throw in a little bit of my two cents. This is really circular reasoning, because there are many rabbanim who are not Lubavitcher by birth or by upbringing who did declare that the Rebbe is Bíchezkas Moshiach. But as soon as theyíre quoted, [the antagonists] say, "Well obviously if they say that the Rebbe is Moshiach, then they must be Lubavitcher. So, in effect, anybody who says the Rebbe is Moshiach is already proclaimed to be a Lubavitcher.

Yet thatís not the case. Reb Aaron Soloveitchik said clearly, at least until Gimmel Tammuz, that he believed the Rebbe was Moshiach. Rav Herschprung of Montreal, after Gimmel Tammuz, wrote that the belief that the Rebbe is Moshiach is a hundred percent valid, and - I donít have the letter in front of me, but - itís even stronger than Rav Aaron Soloveitchikís letter. Rav Eliyahu Shmerler, the Sanzer rosh yeshiva, signed a document saying that he believes now [i.e., after Gimmel Tammuz] that the Rebbe is Moshiach. Rav Ovadiah Yosefís son, Rav Yaakov Yosef, whoís not a Lubavitcher but a Sephardic gadol, signed a document saying that the Rebbe is Moshiach. And there are many others. But as soon as their names are mentioned in reference to saying that the Rebbe is Moshiach, they are disqualified; they are automatically called "Lubavitcher." [Thatís] number one.

Number two: Before, Rabbi Majeski quoted sources that say that in the first stage, when Moshiach is active in Galus, in exile, before thereís a Beis HaMikdash, there will be many people who will not accept that person as Moshiach. So thatís not a disqualification. On the contrary, if anything, that confirms the way the process of Moshiach is being described.

[Transcriberís explanation: 1. Some very prominent rabbanim did consider the Rebbe to be "Bíchezkas Moshiach" - some before Gimmel Tammuz, some after Gimmel Tammuz, as well. Ideally, those under the sway of these rabbanim should put aside their personal unease in deference to daas Torah. Regrettably, this does not usually happen. Instead, disrespect asserts itself, and the rabbanim are branded "Lubavitcher," or a shtikel Lubavitcher. In this way, the dissemination of Daas Torah regarding the identity of Moshiach is repeatedly aborted. 2. Those who do indeed know what the Torah says about the revelation of Moshiach, are aware of the fact that the refusal of many Jews to recognize Moshiach for who he really is, is itself described by Torah sources as one of the challenges that Moshiach will have to face.]

[Now] to go back to what you were saying before, about Lubavitch changing its view: Lubavitch didnít change anything. Lubavitch claims that the Rebbe is Moshiach because he is the Nasi HaDor and the Rebbe said that the Nasi HaDor, the leader of the generation is Moshiach.

We were hoping and praying that even though we knew that there were scenarios where Moshiach disappears, that disappearing, that concealment, would be a very mild and benign one. For example when the Rebbe had the stroke, people were saying, "Well thatís probably the meaning of concealment," and even before the stroke, one could have said, [that] the Rebbe could take a vacation for a week and we wouldnít see him [and] that would be the concealment.

Alas, we went to a stage beyond that, [in which] the Rebbe is concealed in a way that we canít see him physically. That is something that we were hoping and praying would not be necessary and that we would have seen the culmination of the process years ago. That didnít happen. But it doesnít mean that we change any of the scenarios. The only reason a Lubavitcher will quote the Gemara in Sanhedrin and other sources that [say that] Moshiach can come from the dead is not because we believe the Rebbe is going to come from the dead to be Moshiach; [rather] itís only to respond to those people who believe that Gimmel Tammuz is to be taken literally; that there was a process of physical departure from this world. [The Gemara and the sources are presented in order] for them to know that even that is not contrary to Jewish belief; that there was always that type of a scenario; that it was always envisioned by the Sages and by gedolei Yisroel of all generations that this could happen. Lubavitch [however], certainly believes that the Rebbe is still the Nasi HaDor. No matter who youíll ask in Lubavitch, even the most vocal person who speaks out against saying the Rebbe is Moshiach - [if] youíll ask him, "Who do you believe is your Nasi, is your leader and the leader of this generation?" he will certainly say that itís the Rebbe. And that belief is the universal belief of all Lubavitch and many people outside of Lubavitch, who daven Nusach Ashkenaz, who follow non-Chabad minhagim, who do not consider themselves to be Lubavitch. But many of them are afraid to come out openly, and to say that thatís what their belief is. Although some of them have.

[Translatorís explanation: The response to the question about Lubavitch changing its view from "Moshiach from the living" to "Moshiach min haímeisim," is that the only reason Lubavitch cities sources to show that Moshiach can come min haímiesim, is to demonstrate to those who understand Gimmel Tammuz in the literal sense that "passing away" does not negate the possibility of the deceased person being Moshiach. However, as far as Lubavitchers themselves are concerned, the Rebbe has never departed. There may be some disagreement as to the exact nature of his current presence, but all unanimously consider the Rebbe to be the Nasi HaDor. And according to the Rebbe, Moshiach is the Nasi HaDor. So from a Lubavitcherís perspective, the fact the Rebbe is Moshiach is a given. The nature of the Rebbeís existence in the world until his complete revelation is entirely of a secondary nature.]

Z. Brenner: Rabbi Chaim Dalfin - heís also an author and is coming out with a book to counter Dr. David Berger - made a point [on our program last week, on] which I wanted to get your input, as well. The point that he made was that the Rebbe was Moshiach, didnít finish his task, died, will come back as Moshiach - [i.e.,] the second coming - to complete the task that he started. Which is what you basically said - that the Rebbe started doing his task, was Bíchezkas Moshiach, started doing what he had to do, and is going to finish it. Thereís a period of time in which he goes away and [then] he comes back. This is what he [Rabbi Dalfin] said.

The problem that Dr. David Berger and others have with that is that the Jewish community, for thousands of years, have said, that what separates Judaism from Christianity is that [in Judaism] the Messiah will come once and get it right the first time; [he] wonít need a second time, wonít need a second coming. Now, here Lubavitch is coming and basically has embraced the concept which was alien to Jewish thought for thousands of years, saying [that] the Rebbe is going to come a second time.

[Transcriberís explanation: Based on what has been said above, it seems that Lubavitchers ascribe to the notion of a "second coming," something that Jews have always considered a strictly Christian belief. Is this really the case?]

Rabbi Majeski: This argument, that for two thousand years Jews have rejected "oso haíish" because of this reason, [i.e.,] that he died and [requires] a second coming, reminds me of something that happened just recently.

Rabbi Greenberg and I were recently at a [certain non-Lubavitcher] yeshiva, speaking about the subject of Moshiach and Geula, and a yeshiva bachur was [putting forward] this [very] argument - that for two thousand years we rejected him because he died. Rabbi Greenberg said to this bachur, "So tell me, if thatís why they reject him, that means [that] if he would still be alive today, [because] letís say he didnít die, would you accept him now as Moshiach?" It was quite shocking to hear his answer: "Yes."

This is totally against [Torah]. Weíre talking Torah sources tonight, [and] the Torah source for this is the Rambam. In the "Laws of Melachim, the Laws of Kings," chapter 11, the Rambam clearly states that the reason [Yeshu] was rejected was because he did not have the criteria for Moshiach to begin with. He did not satisfy the criteria for Moshiach, because he did exactly the opposite of what Moshiach stands for. Iím reading from the Rambam now: "Moshiach will restore the Torah [whereas Yeshu] changed the laws of the Torah; Moshiach will bring all the Jews together to Israel [whereas Yeshu] caused them to be scattered all over the world; Moshiach will bring peace to the world, [whereas Yeshu] brought bloodshed." In other words he is the exact opposite of what Moshiach stands for.

And in terms of [the argument] that the Jewish belief was that itís going to be completed [the first time] - again, I canít reiterate this enough: Jewish belief is defined by Gemara, by Torah, by the sources of Torah. How do we know what people believed for two thousand years? The only way to know that is by looking at what they write. If Rashi writes this, and the Midrash writes this, and all these different sources write this, the Sífas Emes writes this, and all the different sources [that] we mentioned before [write this], then this [is what] constitutes Jewish belief.

[Transcriberís explanation: The assertion that belief in a resurrected Moshiach is a strictly Christian belief, is contrary to the Torah sources, as explained earlier. Moreover, Judaismís rejection of Yeshu as the Messiah, is not based on the fact that Yeshu died before bringing the Redemption. The Rambam explains, in no uncertain terms, that Yeshu was not only a sinner, but was in fact the very antithesis of everything that Moshiach represents. He "accomplished" the opposite of Redemption.]

Z. Brenner: What do they [i.e., the Torah sources,] write - that there will be a second coming?

R. Majeski: Chas víshalom. "Second coming" is a Christian terminology, [and] itís foreign to Jews. The idea in the words of the Torah [is,] "nigleh vínichseh vínigleh" - heíll be revealed, concealed, and then revealed again, which means that when he comes [again after his concealment], itís a part of the process. Moshe Rabbeinu, [when] he came to Mitzrayim, was revealed. "Revealed" means he told the Jewish people, "Iím taking you out." Then he told Pharaoh, "Let the Yidden out of Mitzrayim." That means he was revealed.

By the way, thatís another mistake. I recall you asked a question last time: "How can you say heís revealed? Look at the state of the world!"

Just to quote the words of the Sífas Emes, in Masechta Rosh HaShana, daf Yud-Alef: The revelation of Moshiach and the Redemption are two separate issues. [We see this by] Moshe Rabbeinu [as well, the Sífas Emes adds]. [Mosheís] revelation was when he came and said to the Jewish people, "Iím taking you out of Galus. When he came to Pharaoh and he said, "Let the Jews out," that was the revelation of Moshiach [i.e., Moshe, the redeemer.] Redemption only began later, because as we know, not only didnít the [Jewish people] go out of Galus [after Moshe announced that he had come to redeem them, but in fact] the Galus got worse. Moshe Rabbeinu [even had to] plead with Hashem, "lama hareiosa?" So actually, [the fact] that he was revealed as Moshiach is one thing. And then came the second stage. So this is what it says happened with Moshe Rabbeinu. It wasnít a "second coming," but a part of the process. Over there, it took a few months and then he appeared again and took the Yidden out of Galus, whereas here itís taking longer. But this is not a "second coming," [rather] it is part of the process. And the Torah says this is the process.

[Transcriberís explanation: 1. "Second coming" is not a Jewish term. The fact that Moshiach becomes concealed after his initial appearance, however, is mentioned explicitly in various Torah sources, such as the Midrash Rabba on Shir HaShirim, which says "Moshiach will be revealed, concealed, and again revealed." It is also mentioned in the writings of the Arizal , the Ramak, the Zohar, the Baal HaTanya, and the Sídei Chemed, among others. It is also stated explicitly by Rashi, at the end of Daniel. 2. Torah sources, like the Sífas Emes, for example, also point out that the appearance of Moshiach is not immediately followed by the complete Redemption. There is some sort of hiatus between the two. It is reasonable to suggest that it is during this hiatus that Moshiach is concealed. 3. At this point it should be mentioned that the Rebbe himself states explicitly that Moshiach can be from the resurrected. See Likkutei Sichos, volume 2, pages 517-18.]

(To be Continued.)


This is really circular reasoning, soon as theyíre quoted, [the antagonists] say, "Well obviously if they say that the Rebbe is Moshiach, then they must be Lubavitcher... Yet thatís not the case.

óRabbi Heschel Greenberg


With Moshe Rabbeinu, it took a few months and then he appeared again and took the Yidden out of Galus, whereas here itís taking longer. But this is not a "second coming"; it is part of the process.

óRabbi Shloma Majeski



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