A Preface to
Moshiach: Setting the Record Straight
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 an interview aiming at shedding light on the oft-neglected subject of Moshiach & Redemption, clarifying the views of Chabad. * A preface to the discussion on "Talk-line With Zev Brenner," whose transcript continues in this issue.

Good evening, this is Dovid Shalom Pape. We’re here to talk about Moshiach, Geula, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Torah reality.

In the past few weeks, people have been speaking about the issue of Moshiach, and topics have been aired that need to be clarified. And so we’re here tonight to continue the discussion and throw some light on important issues about Moshiach and Geula purely from a Torah perspective.

We have in the studio Rabbi Shloma Majeski, dean of Machon Chana Women’s Institute. We’re on the line with Rabbi Sholom Ber Kalmanson, shliach of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in southern Ohio. And we have Rabbi Heschel Greenberg also with us. A gutt voch, everybody.

Rabbi Majeski, I would like to address the first question to you. What makes you feel, after all that has been said, that tonight these issues must be addressed again?

Rabbi Majeski: The subject of Moshiach and Geula is a very important and relevant subject. But there’s a lot of confusion, because of a lack of knowledge. Even Torah scholars who are knowledgeable in other areas of Torah are unfortunately ignorant on this subject, simply because they never studied this subject from Torah sources. People have ideas that come from feelings, emotions, or hearsay. In fact, in most yeshivos it is not part of the curriculum to study the Torah sources about Moshiach.

Many times, people have preconceived ideas. When they see a Torah source that says something different from what they believe, they actually think of how they can interpret the Torah source so that it will be consistent with their preconceived ideas.

Therefore, we are here tonight to discuss the Torah sources on Moshiach. The topic of Moshiach is just like kashrus and Shabbos - a major part of Judaism. We have to know what the Torah says about this topic. In fact, one of the first directives of the Rebbe, in Parshas Tazria-Metzora in Seifer HaSichos of 5741, is that we should make shiurim to study the subject of Moshiach and Redemption from Torah sources. And when you study the Torah sources - Torah is light, and the confusion is gone.

Rabbi Pape: Thank you Rabbi Majeski. Rabbi Kalmanson, are you there?

Rabbi Kalmanson: Yes, I am. I do want to start before we get into the program, if you can permit me for a moment.

I think the Torah says that the disciples of a Rebbe have to stand up for the kavod, for the honor and prestige, of that Rebbe. Since this is a response to discussions that have taken place before on these very same airwaves, I think that it is incumbent on us to express a machaa and protest the words of an individual like Dr. Berger (and I know not any credentials this man has whatsoever in dealing with the matter of Moshiach and Geula to become an expert on this kind of issue).

To me, his entire book seemed to have been written from a Christian perspective, very, very far from the derech haTorah, and therefore, he owes an apology to all of world Jewry, not only to Chabad. He has only brought separation and division among the Jewish people. And yes, it is true that anyone who brings separation and division among Jews can become a leader, and if that’s what he is trying to achieve, ach and vei is to him.

We have to remember that although his title is "doctor," people will not consider him a medical physician, and therefore, I say the same thing: because he has a pen in his hand and found a publisher for his book, it does not make him an expert on this particular issue.

Chabad over the years has lived through Communism and other difficult issues, and I’m sure that we will withstand this problem, as well. The Torah says that anyone who is megaleh panim in Torah shlo khalacha (anyone who brings down issues of Torah against Torah law)... I don’t want to conclude what it says, but anyone can open up Pirkei Avos (The Ethics of our Fathers) and see what it says about an individual like that.

I guarantee that it would be easier to convince him and thousands like him to convert to Christianity than it would be to find and convince one Chabad chassid to drink chalav akum.

The Rambam, in Hilchos Melachim, Perek Yud Alef (Laws of Kings, ch. 11) writes about Yoshke that although he did what he did, he has helped pave the way for Moshiach. That credit I will give to Dr. Berger; thanks to what he is doing now, people are becoming more interested in the topic of Moshiach, and perhaps he will help clarify the issue so people will know what the issues of Moshiach and Geula are, perhaps, thanks to tonight’s program and to other programs in the future.

I just want to conclude that the only truth in Dr. Berger’s book seems to be the fact that he writes that every Chabadnik, regardless of who he is, believes in Moshiach and believes everything we were taught in the holy books all through the ages about what Moshiach is, who Moshiach is, and the fact that we have to wait for his coming literally today.

Rabbi Pape: Rabbi Majeski, can you tell us some introductory information about what constitutes Moshiach in Jewish belief?

Rabbi Majeski: First of all, Moshiach is one of the Yud-Gimmel Ikarim, one of the 13 basic principles of Jewish belief. As the Rambam (Maimonides) says, there are 13 principles, and all of Judaism is based on them. One is the belief in Hashem, one is the belief in Torah, and one is the belief in the coming of Moshiach.

There are two parts to the belief in Moshiach. One is the belief in the era of Redemption, and the other is the belief in the person - that there will be a person, Moshiach, who will lead us to the Redemption. The Rambam says that believing in the era and not in the person is heresy.

In Hilchos Melachim (Laws of Kings), chapters 11 and 12, the Rambam discusses the era and the person. The era is when there will be spiritual and physical bliss - no hunger, no poverty, and no wars. Moshiach is a person who will bring the creation of the world back to its complete and perfect way. The Malchus Beis Dovid (the Kingdom of King David) will be restored, the Jewish people will all be brought back from all over the world to the land of Israel, the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt, and all the mitzvos will be observed by all the Jewish people - not only the mitzvos we’ve been observing throughout the Galus (the exile), but all 613 commandments. That’s what Moshiach will accomplish.

Rabbi Pape: Rabbi Majeski, if that is the era of Moshiach, I’d like to turn to Rabbi Greenberg now. Rabbi Greenberg, could you please summarize for us how Maimonides summarizes and describes the person of Moshiach, how we will recognize him, what is he supposed to do. What are his credentials, so to speak?

Rabbi Greenberg: Rambam (Maimonides) makes it very clear what Moshiach has to do to demonstrate that he has the capacity to bring about the Redemption. The whole concept of Redemption in Judaism is not just a redemption from suffering and hardship, but it’s about bringing the Jewish people back to the state of existence the way it was before we were exiled, before we were driven out of Israel, and before the Temple was destroyed. In other words, Moshiach is going to restore the integrity of the Jewish people and the integrity of Torah and all of its commandments.

Since we were driven out of Israel, it’s been impossible to fulfill all of our requirements because of impediments that are a result of living in the Diaspora. As a result of certain [halachic] legal impediments, we can’t build the Temple, we can’t offer the sacrifices, we can’t observe the Sabbatical and Jubilee years, and so on and so forth.

Moshiach’s role is to restore the integrity of Torah, to make Torah the way it was intended to be. Since that is his goal, Moshiach has to be a living example and a personification of Torah ideals.

The Rambam presents the qualifications in a very clear way. Moshiach has to be a leader. Moshiach has be somebody who is steeped in the knowledge of Torah, who is totally committed to the observance of Torah and its commandments. If he were not totally committed to that, it would be the most obvious invalidation of his status of Moshiach.

Besides the fact that he has to be a descendant of King David, Moshiach has to work and devote his life and energy to bring all the Jewish people back on the path of observance of Torah and all it’s commandments. Moshiach has to fight against all of the evil - to fight the wars of G-d. The Rambam uses that expression, which is a very broad term that means to fight against all those obstacles that stand in the way of all the Jewish people observing the commandments, and [against] the impediments to the subsequent building of the Temple.

So Moshiach’s role, in short, is to restore the integrity of Torah to the Jewish people. When he succeeds in doing these things, he is to be presumed - he is to be considered - to be the Moshiach. That doesn’t mean the Redemption has actually begun. That means that in exile, Moshiach has demonstrated his qualifications, his eligibility, if you will, and his worthiness of being the Moshiach. The next stage - as Rabbi Majeski referred to it as the era of the Redemption itself - is when he actually brings an end to the exile by rebuilding the Temple, gathering all the Jewish people, bringing them back to Israel, and ushering in an age of universal peace.

He doesn’t have to do all these things to prove that he is Moshiach, because he is already presumed to be Moshiach when he starts to do them. The next stage is when he completes the task and changes the status from exile to Redemption.

Rabbi Pape: If I can summarize, one point among the many points you were making is that in the first stage, Moshiach will be here. We’ll have the existence of Moshiach, and yet we will still be in exile.

Rabbi Greenberg: Absolutely. Moshiach is not synonymous with Redemption. Those two terms are interconnected, but not synonymous. "Moshiach" means the person who is anointed (meaning designated by G-d), the Jewish leader who will take the Jews out of exile and bring about the age of Redemption. But before he does that, he has to be a human being born into the world at the time of exile, and he has to live within the conditions of the exile. He has to be a leader when exile is still very much the fact of life and the reality. Moshiach works within exile to change it, to bring about a transformation of all the negative things by education, by promoting the values and the ideals of Judaism in the most prominent way.

When he succeeds in demonstrating that he is the Moshiach, the next step, the second stage, is when he receives the G-d-given ability to rebuild the Third Temple, to gather the Jews to Israel, and to usher in an age of universal peace. Moshiach is already Moshiach, and he functions as Moshiach, in the period of exile.

This is analogous to Moshe Rabbeinu, the first redeemer of the Jewish people. When did he become the redeemer? When did he get that title, if he had to call himself by the title of redeemer of Israel? When he stood at the burning bush and G-d told him, "Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Let my people go so that they may serve me.’" Moses, when he finally accepted that role (he was reluctant at first, but he finally accepted it), was the Goel Yisroel. He was the proclaimed redeemer of the Jewish people.

Before there was any relaxation of the slavery, before Moshe even spoke to Pharaoh, and even after he spoke to Pharaoh, the Jews were still in exile and things got even worse. Even after the plagues began, they were still in exile. Not until the day we now celebrate as Passover did the Jewish people finally leave Egypt. That was the redemption. But Moses was proclaimed the leader, the Moshiach, if you will, before the redemption even began. There was a redeemer, a leader of the Jewish people in exile, paving the way and doing the things that had to be done to prepare the Jewish people and the rest of the world for the period of redemption.

The same is true of Moshiach.

Rabbi Kalmanson: If I may add, there are sources throughout Torah, but I’m just going to mention the Netzach Yisroel, the Maharal of Prague, who bases this comment on the verse, "Kimei tzeischa mEretz Mitzrayim": The redemption to come is a reflection of the redemption that already took place. He writes that the redemption to come is going to be a 40-year natural process - from the time that Moshiach starts displaying his qualifications, which Rabbi Greenberg described. This is a task that is going to take him at least a 40-year period. It’s not that someone is going to show up one fine morning and say, "I’m Moshiach," and tomorrow there’s going to be a redemption. As Rabbi Greenberg pointed out, it’s going to be process - a 40-year process - for the individual to do all these things. So the fact that there is an individual who functions and is preparing to show the world his credentials, does not mean that Redemption has taken place yet.

(To be continued.)


Moshiach works within exile to change it, to bring about a transformation of all the negative things by education, by promoting the values and the ideals of Judaism in the most prominent way.

—Rabbi Heschel Greenberg


Even Torah scholars who are knowledgeable in other areas of Torah are unfortunately ignorant on this subject, simply because they never studied this subject from Torah sources.

—Rabbi Shloma Majeski



The only truth in his book seems to be the fact that he writes that every Chabadnik, regardless of who he is, believes in Moshiach...and the fact that we have to wait for his coming literally today.

—Rabbi Sholom Ber Kalmanson


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