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 7 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.

(Continued from last week.)

Z. Brenner: Okay. Let’s go to David in Brooklyn. Thank you for waiting patiently, David. Go ahead please. You have a question or comment for our guests?

David: I’d like to make a comment. I’d like to quote a couple of Torah sources… First of all, it says in BaMidbar - the Rambam quotes it - "Darach kochav mi’Yaakov v’kom shevet mi’Yisroel, u’machatz passei Moav, v’y’karkar kol bnei Sheis." Now, this is the only pasuk that talks explicitly about Moshiach. The Targum, which is a kabbala of Reb Elazar b’Reb Yehoshua, says, "V’yishlot b’chol bnei enasha," meaning that Melech HaMoshiach is going to rule the whole world. The Rambam refers to this at the end of "Hilchos Melachim," where he say that all the nations are going to speak one language and are going to recognize one G-d. Now, the fact is that to date, the Lubavitcher Rebbe has not fulfilled this requirement; there is no machlokes about this.

Now, the fact is that the reference of Christianity [i.e., "Second Coming"] is that anyone who says that a human being who lived and did not fulfill what Moshiach has to fulfill, is going to come back and do it when he comes back - that’s a Christian concept. Not the fact that he can come back from the dead or living; that’s not a problem. The problem is saying on someone who is not Moshiach Vadai [that he is Moshiach Vadai.] According to the Rambam, if he did not build the Beis HaMikdash he is not Moshiach Vadai. Now when the Rambam says "B’chezkas Moshiach" [about someone who did not yet build the Beis HaMikdash], he means that he could be Moshiach. Bar Kochva could have been Moshiach. They [Lubavitch] made from could’ve been Moshiach - which the Gemara in Sanhedrin says [about Daniel] - and they said the Rebbe is B’vadai Moshiach, even though the Rebbe never did "v’yishlot b’chol bnei enasha," and never built the Beis HaMikdash. The problem with [saying] that he’s going to do it when he comes back [is that it’s] a Christian concept. That’s the first point.

[Transcribers Note: Dovid’s problem, in brief, is that Lubavitchers believe that the Rebbe is definitely Moshiach, even though he did not yet meet the requirements, given by the Rambam, for Moshiach Vadai, i.e., he did not yet build the Beis HaMikdash, and does not rule over all of mankind. The resolution to this ‘problem’ is that Lubavitcher chassidim’s certainty that the Rebbe is Moshiach, stems from the Rebbe’s own teachings, and from the teachings of the six preceding generations of Chabad chassidism. A thorough treatment of the subject is, obviously, beyond the scope of this transcript. Suffice it to say that the Rebbe Rayatz in his last maamer, and the Rebbe MH"M in his first maamer, leave no room for doubt that the Seventh Chabad Rebbe is the long-awaited redeemer.

(For a more extensive treatment of this subject, please e-mail]

The second point [is this]: They say the Rebbe is alive and they quote this Gemara in Taanis that "Yaakov Avinu lo meis." Now if they’d be patient enough to take out a Chumash and look at Kapitel Nun in VaYechi, pasuk Tes-Vav, [they would see that] it says, "Va’yir’u achei Yosef ki meis avihem," - "The brothers of Yosef saw that their father [Yaakov] died." So it’s a mefureshe pasuk in the Torah that Yaakov Avinu meis. You cannot argue on a pasuk in the Torah. That Gemara is an agadata. When they asked him [the Tanna of that Gemara,] "How can you say he didn’t die?" he answered, "Mikra ani doresh," "I’m telling you drush." Of course he died. The Gemara goes on to say, "ma zaro ba’chayim, af hu ba’chayim," - "Because his children are alive, he is still alive."

[Transcribers Note: The Rebbe completely rejects the position that "Yaakov Avinu lo Meis," and "Lo meis Moshe" are not to be taken literally. Among the Rebbe’s many proofs is the fact that otherwise there is no chiddush, for all Jews live on eternally in the spiritual sense. As for the statements in the Torah that speak of Yaakov’s death and Moshe’s death, the Rebbe explains that the Torah is speaking in the language of Man, describing the scene as it appeared to the human eye. As R. Kalmanson points out a little further on in the discussion, there are many other such instances in the Torah, like the pasuk for example, which says about the angels visiting Avrohom, "Va’yocheilu (and they ate)," when in reality, according to Rashi, they merely appeared to be eating."]

The fact is that the Rebbe was a very ehrlicher person; he had very sincere intentions, and these things that we heard tonight are a total distortion of Torah sources. The fact is that the Rebbe can come back, but to say that he is Moshiach Vadai now is Christianity, because the Rebbe in his lifetime did not fulfill what Moshiach has to do according to Kabbalas Reb Elazar b’Reb Yehoshua in Targum, and according to the Rambam. Everything they [the Lubavitchers] are quoting is agadata.

[Also], when Moshe Rabbeinu was ne’elam, he did not die. He was nistar; he went up to Shamayim and he came back down. But he did no die. The fact is that the Lubavitcher Rebbe… and he was buried, and he was a big tzaddik in his time. He could’ve been Moshiach. If the Lubavitcher Rebbe were alive today he would not be Moshiach; he would be eligible to be Moshiach, just like any Jew can be Moshiach.

[Transcribers Note: The caller’s last statement, of course, is plainly inaccurate; "any Jew" cannot be Moshiach. What about all the unique requirements listed by the Rambam in the very same halacha Daled being cited above? What about being from shevet Yehuda, a descendant of King David, an extraordinary Torah scholar, etc. ]

Z. Brenner: Okay. We’re going to let you [Rabbis] respond. By the way, Rabbi Majeski, do you say "zecher tzaddik livracha" when mentioning the Rebbe, or not?

R. Majeski: I quoted the Rebbe himself before and mentioned the sicha, that the Rebbe, all the years when he spoke about the Previous Rebbe, as a matter of principle, never said, "zecher tzaddik livracha."

Z. Brenner: So you don’t say that.

R. Majeski: Right. And the Rebbe gives a reason. He says that "zecher" is for someone who is no longer here, but you don’t say zecher for someone who is not gone.

Z. Brenner: We’ll let you respond to Dovid. He raised some interesting points. You mentioned before that Yaakov Avinu, Jacob the Patriarch, didn’t die; he’s living. And people have called me up and said, "The Rebbe is still here." And we’ve had people who’ve said that they saw the Rebbe "not too long ago." Do you believe that the Rebbe died, Rabbi Majeski?

R. Majeski: I believe exactly what it says in the Gemara: "Yaakov Avinu lo mes." And this is something that the Rebbe himself said so many times regarding the Previous Rebbe. In fact, we have a tape here, just to hear a few of the Rebbe’s words regarding the Frierdike Rebbe.

Z. Brenner: But you believe that the Rebbe died or didn’t die. We’ll hear the tape, but do you believe that he died or didn’t die?

R. Majeski: No [he didn’t die]. What does that mean? It means what the Gemara says: "Yaakov Avinu lo mes." Torah defines our reality.

R. Kalmanson: Zev. When Avrohom saw the three angels eating in front of him, did he see them eating or not?

Z. Brenner: They appeared to be eating.

R. Kalmanson: They appeared. But did he see them eating?

Z. Brenner: What does that have to do with—

R. Kalmanson: It has to do, because as you see yourself, the Torah shows you that there are certain things that eyes of flesh and blood see, yet they are not the reality.

Z. Brenner: So you’re saying that it appeared that the Rebbe died, but—

R. Kalmanson: The Rebbe spoke about this in regard to the Frierdike Rebbe. There’s a sicha of 1986, in which the Rebbe says that somebody came and told him that he was at the funeral of the Frierdike Rebbe - the Frierdike Rebbe had passed away 35 years earlier - and he’s not here anymore, but rather, sitting in Gan Eden. The Rebbe said that that’s a total distortion of reality. That person is looking at the Frierdike Rebbe like one looks at his bank account. "Mit fleishige ogen [eyes of flesh]," are the words the Rebbe used. And the Rebbe said, I’m quoting [his words],"He is here, alive and well. And since the 35 years, he has gotten healthier, more energetic, and more forceful than he was before." These are the words of the Rebbe - you can check it in the sichos.

Z. Brenner: Bottom line, Rabbi Kalmanson - you don’t believe the Rebbe died.

R. Kalmanson: I didn’t say that to you. I said that when a person sees something, not everything that he is seeing is what the reality is. Yes, there was a Gimmel Tammuz. Yes, there was a funeral. Yes, there was a burial, and yes, there is a kever. The fact that I saw it is because I’m a grubba yung, who look at things with my physical eyes, as opposed to [seeing] the reality [as it really is].

When halacha seems to contradict reality, a chassid knows that Torah is real, and now you have to find out why the reality appears to be different [than what Torah says]. Not [the other way around, i.e.,] that because I saw a death I’m going to give up and say that Torah is false.

Z. Brenner: One second. Quick question: Do you believe he died or didn’t die?

R. Kalmanson: I believe that the Rebbe is alive.

Z. Brenner: He’s alive.

R. Kalmanson: Correct. He’s right here in this physical world, yes.

Z. Brenner: Fine then. So you believe he’s alive and he didn’t die even though it appears that he died—

R. Kalmanson: Did Rebbi, Reb Yehuda HaNasi, die or not?

Z. Brenner: Did Yaakov die?

R. Kalmanson: It says, "Yaakov Avinu lo mes." It was merely "nidma" (appeared) that way to the Mitzriyim and to the brothers [as Rashi points out there].

Z. Brenner: His words of Torah live on, but he actually died. He was buried - it says that in the pasuk, too.

R. Kalmanson: That’s correct. And in the very same place [in the Gemara], it says that to the onlookers [who], again, [see things] with eyes of flesh and blood, it seemed to be so [i.e., that Yaakov Avinu had died]. But no he did not.

I’m asking you a better question: Rebbi, Rabbeinu HaKodesh, past away; they buried him just like anybody else. Everybody saw that. Yet he came home Friday night, made Kiddush for his wife and family and he was motzeh them. Can a dead person be motzeh a live person [in the fulfillment of a mitzva]?

(To be continued.)


The Rebbe said that that’s a total distortion of reality. That person is looking at the Frierdike Rebbe like one looks at his bank account. "Mit fleishige ogen [eyes of flesh]," are the words the Rebbe used. And the Rebbe said, "He is here, alive and well.

—Rabbi Sholom Ber Kalmanson


I believe exactly what it says in the Gemara: "Yaakov Avinu lo mes." And this is something that the Rebbe himself said so many times regarding the Previous Rebbe.

—Rabbi Shloma Majeski



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