Moshiach: Setting the Record StraightTranscribed and notated by Alexander
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
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
"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: The
difference between [the concealment of ] Moses, Moshe Rabbeinu, [and the Rebbe]
is that [Moshe Rabbeinu] was hidden for a while from the scene, and that was the
process that happened over there, but the Rebbe... Moshe Rabbeinu - if you want
to make a complete analysis - may have been hidden, [but] he was still around,
and he was revealed again, unlike the Rebbe... I think the difference is [this]:
If you would have told me that the period when he [Moshiach] goes into seclusion
was when the Rebbe was sick, you could have made, I think, more of a case in
point for that. But when somebody dies, that changes it. Even if youíre going to
argue semantically about Bar Kochva - that he had a certain victory and he was
doing certain criteria that qualified him as Moshiach, maybe even Bíchezkas
Moshiach (certainly Rebbi Akiva and others believed that) - once he died,
that changed the whole picture.
What are you going to say [that thereís a difference between]
killed and died? But thatís semantics! Heís not here anymore. He was nistalek
from the scene and is no longer considered Moshiach by the greatest sages of
[Transcriberís note: Sources have been cited to the
effect that after Moshiachís initial revelation he becomes concealed and then is
revealed again and brings the Redemption. This was also the pattern by Moshe
Rabbeinu. Isnít their a major difference though, between concealment and death?
Isnít death a stage beyond concealment? Didnít Bar Kochva lose his Chezkas
Moshiach status as a result of his death? True, the Rambam says that when Bar
Kochva was killed they knew that he was not Moshiach, but does the word "killed"
really exclude a natural death?]
R. Majeski: First of all, [the difference between
"killed" and "died"] is not a little subject. Itís not just a matter of words -
killed, died. Everyone knows - the whole Torah-world - when they study Rambam,
that every word is very precise. And when the Rambam says that if someone is
Bíchezkas Moshiach and then he is killed, it invalidates him - it is very
precise. Only if he was killed [is he invalidated]; not if he passed away.
If you ask me what the reason is, what should be the
difference, I can speculate and say that being that one of Moshiachís criteria
is that he will be victorious over his enemies, then if heís killed by his
enemies, it is the opposite [of meeting the criteria]. But if he passes on,
which is an act of Hashem, that could be part of the process [of Moshiachís
This is not fabricated; this is in Torah. [Including] this
possibility - that the way that heís concealed is in a way that appears as if he
passed away. The Arizal writes - I think I mentioned it - these are his words:
Moshiach will be a human being, born to a father and mother, and Hashem will
give him the neshama of Moshiach. He will be appointed as Moshiach, but
not everybody will accept him. Then [he will] go away, as Moshe Rabbeinu went to
the mountain for forty days and forty nights. Heíll be hidden guf vínefesh,
hidden from us totally, and then heíll come back and the whole world will accept
To us, this is a description of what we [in Lubavitch] are
talking about, and itís a Torah description. So how can someone come along and
even suggest that a description which is in Torah is, chas víshalom, the
opposite of Torah? Itís a contradiction in terms.
[Transcriberís note: 1. The Rambam is known
to be very precise in his wording. Therefore, Ďkilledí means Ďkilledí and it
doesnít mean Ďdied.í Why should being killed invalidate someone from Chezkas
Moshiach, and a natural death not? Because Moshiach must defeat his enemies, not
be defeated by them. 2. When describing Moshiachís temporary concealment, the
Arizal says that it will resemble Moshe Rabbeinuís concealment. We know that
Moshe Rabbeinu was taken to Shamayim, body and soul, and the Satan made it
appear to Klal Yisroel that Moshe had died.]
Z. Brenner: Letís go [to some of our callers]. First to
Chaim in Boro Park. Go ahead Chaim. You have a question for Rabbi Majeski?
Chaim: ÖThey did not refute Dr. Berger. Dr. Berger said
that the Rambam says, "a king will arise from the house of David," [but] the
Rebbe was no king... The second point is that even with all these minority
[sources] - Sanhedrin, Abarbanel - go deep down [and youíll see
that] there is no source to say that the Redeemer will start the Redemption,
die, and then continue the Redemption. [Yet] according to Lubavitchers the Rebbe
started the process of Redemption and then..., and then will come back to
continue. That is Dr. Bergerís central point, and they never answered it. They
have destroyed the legacy of the Rebbe with all their scholarly interpretations
Z. Brenner: Chaim, you raise interesting points and weíre
going to let Rabbi Majeski respond to you. Go ahead Rabbi Majeski.
R. Majeski: [Your question is essentially] It says that a
melech will rise - thatís what the Rambam writes - "a king," and the
Rebbe was not a king. The answer is in the Rambam itself. The Rambam uses the
example of Bar Kochva. Bar Kochva was not a king. [He lived] in a time when we
didnít have kings in Israel. It was after the Churban Beis HaMikdash. So,
obviously, the term "king" in this context means a leader, like Bar Kochva was;
even though he was called "Ben Koziba HaMelech," it means a leader.
Weíve said a number of times already, that there is no source
in Torah to what Dr. Berger says. This is his own fabricated thing, and there is
no basis for it. He writes himself that there is no source for it. The only
basis that he has is the vikuach of the Ramban. In the vikuach
of the Ramban, if youíll look there, youíll see that [Dr. Bergerís
interpretation] is also a distorted interpretation of what the Ramban says.
[This is] besides the fact that itís known what the Gemara says in
Menachos, and what the Gemara says in Bava Basra - that when
it came to debates with heretics, even with Jewish people who were heretics,
like the Tzedukim [for example], the Rabbis did not give them the real
reasons [for their views]. [The Rabbis] did not tell them things the way they
really were, because they dealt with these kinds of people.
[Transcriberís note: 1. The Rambam uses the term
"Melech," i.e., "King," when speaking of Bar Kochva, despite the fact that Bar
Kochva did not have the halachic status of king. This is very significant in
light of the fact that the Rambam actually derives the laws for identifying
Moshiach from the Bar Kochva episode.
Moreover, the Rambam cannot possibly be referring to someone
with the halachic status of king, for he already pointed out at the beginning of
that very chapter ("Hilchos Melachim," chapter 11), that Moshiach himself
will be the one to restore the kingship. How can a king arise, who may later
prove to be Moshiach, if the kingship has not yet been restored?
The argument that a king may be appointed by a navi, together
with a 71-member Sanhedrin - there are opinions that the Sanhedrin will be
restored prior to the coming of Moshiach, and according to the Rambam, prophecy
can be attained nowadays, as well - is not relevant to our discussion, because
if a navi would appoint someone as king, that itself would prove that he is
Moshiach, as just mentioned, and their would be no need for the rest of the "Bíchezkas
Moshiach" simanim. (Based on the Rebbeís notes in Likkutei Sichos, volume
8, page 361.)
2. Berger bases his claim that Moshiach cannot be from
those who have passed on, on a statement made by the Ramban in "Vikuach
HaRamban." However, It is a well documented fact that when Torah scholars would
debate representatives of other religions and philosophies, they would often
give them false interpretations, in order to silence them. ]
Z. Brenner: Let me just digress for one moment before we
get to our phone calls: Iím quoting from Beis Moshiach, the weekly
magazine thatís put out by those who believe the Rebbe is Moshiach, and it says,
"Long live the Rebbe King Moshiach forever and ever," on the cover. This is a
weekly publication, glossy, very well produced and done. Thereís an article by
Rabbi Simon Jacobson, who I didnít realize was very vocal in his talking about
the Rebbe as being Moshiach, and he talks about the Tomchei Tímimim,
[i.e., the bachurim of the Lubavitcher yeshivos], and he talks
about the conquering of the world - [that] the avoda of the Tímimim
in the seventh generation is to conquer the world. This is a [transcript of]
a lecture that he gave, and he says that there are two categories that the Rebbe
has. The first stage would be the war against the enemies of Hashem, who mock
[Him], that is, the Maskilim and Reform. Stage two will be the war
against those who fulfill Torah and mitzvos but are in the category of,
"They mock the footsteps of Your anointed one." The Tímimim were going to
be in the vanguard of this war. The question is: [Am] I, as an Orthodox Jew,
complete if I donít believe the Rebbe is Moshiach?
R. Kalmanson: The answer is very simple: Yes. But let me
make this clear. You said today in the Haftora of todayís portion: Dovid
HaMelech, when he first became king, also had a battle of a good number of
years, where not everybody excepted him. Eventually he became the melech
of Klal Yisroel. Moshiach is going to have the same problem, as well. As
mentioned already earlier in the program, at first there are going to be the few
that are going to latch on to him, and then eventually, im yirtzeh Hashem,
the whole world will pick up on this, as well.
Z. Brenner: Rabbi Majeski, based on what I quoted from
Rabbi Simon Jacobson, about the Tomchei Tímimim, [who are] in the
vanguard of the Rebbeís directive to conquer the world, do I as an Orthodox Jew
have to be brought to the belief that the Rebbe is Moshiach in order for me to
be fulfilled? Is that the case, Rabbi Majeski? Am I missing something in my
belief if I donít say the Rebbe [is Moshiach]? If I donít say, "Yechi
Rabbi Majeski: Thatís not what it says there. Let me
explain what the point is: When the Rebbe Rashab, [that is], the previous
Rebbeís father, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad, spoke about this a hundred years go -
in fact itís precisely a hundred years ago - he said that at that time [i.e., in
the second fifty-year period] there will be people who will come out in a
negative way, and who will laugh at the talk about Moshiach. [The Rebbe Rashab
said that] even though theyíll give all sorts of Torah reasons why theyíre doing
it, the real reason will be because there will be a weakness in their emuna
in Moshiach. In other words, what weíre saying is that if a person has a problem
with the subject of Moshiach, heíll find this reason, heíll find that reason.
But whatís underneath it, whatís really behind it, underlying, is a weakness in
the belief in Moshiach. Thatís the issue.
For example: The Previous Rebbe, in the 1940ís, during the
war, started to speak about Moshiach. There was tremendous opposition. What was
the opposition then? The opposition then was - by also certain people who
were frum people - they said, "Itís not a Jewish thing to talk so much
about Moshiach. Itís more of a non-Jewish thing." That was their point. Thereís
a famous thing that the Previous Rebbe wrote, where he said that the basis of
Judaism is Moshiach. "Why do you want to give this away to the non-Jews," [he
asked]. Will we stop talking about Shabbos because there are Seventh-Day
Adventists? Would we stop talking about other things because goyim do it?
That was then.
In the 1980ís, when the Rebbe began to speak about Moshiach
very strongly - again the same thing: "Jews donít talk a lot about Moshiach!"
The argument then was not about saying that the Rebbe is Moshiach; just the
subject [of Moshiach in general]. The argument was: "Moshiach comes bíhesech
haídaas; youíre not supposed to talk about Moshiach."
Then came a time when the Rebbe said to shout "ad masai,"
and by the farbrengens the Rebbe himself would say, "ad masai,"
"We want Moshiach now," "Yidden have to demand Moshiach." [Along] came
the opposition: "No! Youíre not supposed to demand Moshiach. Itís a chutzpa
to tell Hashem what to do. Hashem knows what Heís doing, and weíre not
supposed to demand it. And the Rebbe brought all the sources - that you are
supposed to ask, and how itís in davening, and how itís so many times in
In other words, at every stage of the game their was
opposition. This opposition indicates that itís coming from something else. Itís
coming from the fact that when a person has a weakness in the belief and doesnít
believe that itís actually reality, and that itís happening now, then
automatically all sorts of mental blocks will come up, with one reason or
another why not to accept it.
[Transcriberís note: In the above-mentioned sicha
of the Rebbe Rashab, he makes it clear that the opposition to Moshiach issues in
general will stem from a weakness in the belief in his coming. The current
opposition to identifying the Rebbe as Moshiach, therefore, is a symptom of a
much larger malady. The past fifty years of opposition have demonstrated this