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 8 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.)

R. Kalmanson: ...Rabbeinu HaKadosh 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 was motzeh them. Can a dead person be motzeh a live person [in the fulfillment of a mitzva]?

Z. Brenner: Well, that’s the agadata’s we’re talking about.

R. Kalmanson: What do you mean agadata? Did it happen, or it didn’t happen? Did Rebbi [i.e., Rabbeinu HaKadosh] come home and make Kiddush for his wife and family? And it says clearly that he came home in a physical body, [though] nobody other than the family had seen it. In other words, everybody else saw a death, and yet he came home, and made kiddush and was motzeh her [his wife]. This is discussed in many, many sources - non-Lubavitcher [sources].

Z. Brenner: By the way, I quoted the story with the Leliver Rebbe. That’s a joke that was said, but certainly we believe, in the case of Yaakov Avinu, and everybody - I think just Eliyahu HaNavi is an exception to the rule - that people died…

R. Kalmanson: I don’t know who’s the "we believe"?

Z. Brenner: We Jews.

R. Kalmanson: No, not we Jews. Torah tells us clearly that what we see to be the demise of the tzaddik is not a demise. Yes, to us it seems so, but you know something, if a person who never saw a surgery in his life, sees a surgery, he can describe to you that he saw a case of murder, he saw five people standing around a table, put on—

Z. Brenner: Rabbi Kalmanson, that’s different than a case where somebody died, and it’s acknowledged that he died—

R. Kalmanson: Can I ask you a question?

Z. Brenner: Sure.

R. Kalmanson: Does a living thing that passes away have to disintegrate?

Z. Brenner: They say the Vilna Gaon, when they picked up his body - I think after the Nazis opened up his grave - and his body was still not decomposed.

R. Kalmanson: How can that be?!

Z. Brenner: So what does that mean? It means he was a tzaddik. It doesn’t mean that the Vilna Gaon was walking around like he was alive.

R. Kalmanson: The reason that a tzaddik’s body does not disintegrate is because neither his life nor his death is [limited to the] physical.

Z. Brenner: [When it says that a tzaddik doesn’t die] it means that he’s still living in our minds, and his Torah is still living-

R. Kalmanson: No, no, no. If I may quote you a Zohar: the Zohar says that when it says, "V’hakitzu v’ranenu shochnei afar," - "inun ilu tzaddikayu d’lo meisu," "these are the tzaddikim that do not die, but rather, sleep." One person sleeps in his bed, the other, the tzaddik may be sleeping in a gravesite, so to speak, but he’s not dead; he’s sleeping. This is a Zohar.

Z. Brenner: I want to hear the sicha from the Rebbe. Let’s hear now the sicha of the Rebbe on this issue.

The Rebbe’s sicha: "...vas is nit, Rachmana litzlan, tzu zugen as s’is geven a Nasi b’avar, nur ‘hu ba’chayim,’ derfar vus ‘zaro ba’chayim.’ B’shas s’iz du chassidim vus lernen zain chassidus, un tuen in aleh ziene takanos, iz ‘hu ba’chayim mamash,’ du l’mata m’asara t’fachim. Vert di […shaaleh?] vus andere fregen - vi der gamara bavurnt es shoin, un brengt es arup: ‘Vechi bichdi chantu chantaya…?’ Es iz duch geven a levaya, v’chantu chantaya, v’chulhu? Veist dus de Gemara, un brengt dus arup, un der maskana iz, az m’zal vissen zein az ‘hu ba’chayim!"

[Translation: "…This is not to say, G-d forbid, that there was a Nasi - past tense - but rather [to quote the Gemara in Taanis], ‘he is alive,’ because ‘his children are alive.’ When there are Chassidim who learn his chassidus, and follow his ordinances, then ‘he is alive’ mamash, down here, in the literal sense.

There are those who raise the [question] already addressed by the Gemara: ‘Did they embalm him…in vain?’ After all, there was a funeral, and they embalmed him, etcetera? The Gemara is aware of this [apparent difficulty] and addresses it, and concludes: everyone should know - ‘He is alive!’]

Z. Brenner: Rabbi Majeski, so what is the Rebbe saying?

Rabbi Majeski: The Rebbe is saying that although by Yaakov Avinu there was a funeral, there was a burial, and they embalmed him, the Gemara nevertheless says, "Hu ba’chayim." And again, Rashi says that this means that it only appeared to the others that he passed away.

I want to read a few words from the "Tzitz Eliezer" - not a chassid, not a Lubavitcher, [but] a posek. This is what he writes. It’s in chelek "Yoreh Deia" siman Tzaddik-Ches. He says that the strongest thing that validates something to a person is vision. When a person sees something, that’s the strongest thing to him. If he sees something, even though there are other proofs [showing the matter to be] otherwise, he will always go by what he sees.

However, for a Yid, the strongest validation of something and what defines reality for him is Torah. And these are his words: "[It says], Yaakov Avinu lo mes," [yet] they buried him, they embalmed him, they eulogized him?" And he answers: "[The Gemara says], "mikra ani doresh" - these are his words - "I go by what it says in Torah, and all these other things don’t change my reality."

So, those people who want to say that the Gemara is agada and it’s not real, and some sort of an up-in-the-air thing - they have the right to their opinion, and there are such interpretations, but there are certainly all these sources [that say otherwise], and again, the Rebbe certainly spoke that way about the Previous Rebbe, namely, that he’s "ba’chayim"; "Yaakov lo mes" means literally "lo mes." ‘

[Perhaps] we don’t understand it, we saw something different, and because of what we saw and what we see there are certain ways that we have to conduct ourselves, but in reality he’s alive. To give an example: in Moed Katan, daf Chaf-Vav - it was mentioned before - Resh Lakish says to Reb Yochanan: How come Elisha ripped kria when Eliyahu HaNavi left him? And Reb Yochanan answered that since he didn’t see him anymore, "legabei didei k’mes dami" - for him [Elisha] it was as if he passed away. In other words: in reality Eliyahu HaNavi was alive, but because in our visual experience we don’t see him anymore, therefore he tore kria.

Z. Brenner: Okay we’re going to take a short break. We’re going to come back with some closing thoughts, we’re running out of time. We spent, I think, three hours, talking about this. It’s still not enough time, it’s certainly a fascinating topic, and I know we have a lot of phone calls - we’ll see if we can squeeze in a couple more.

After the break:

Z. Brenner: And we’re back. Our final few moments. We’re dealing with a hot topic, and as I said - three hours and -whoa!- we’re still going strong. We apologize to the many phone calls that we couldn’t get to tonight.

Closing thoughts: I had mentioned to you off the air, Rabbi Majeski, that I do get Beis Moshiach Magazine, which proclaims the Rebbe is Moshiach. One of the issues after the Rebbe passed away - they had a poster saying, "On the third day he shall arise," which certainly is what the Christians also use regarding their "savior." Is this something that - again -this is what some of the critics of Lubavitch have pointed to and said, "Listen, there are a lot of Christological aspects to saying that the Rebbe is Moshiach. We spoke before about the "second coming," [for example]. But this poster I saw, about, "On the third day he shall arise," also has raised the eyebrows of many people.

Rabbi Majeski: It’s a pasuk: "Yechayeinu mi’yomayim u’ba’yom ha’shlishi yekimenu v’nichyeh lefanav," which means that on the third day there is going to be T’chiyas HaMeisim. The way the Gemara explains it, it means: "Yechayeinu Mi’yomayim" - two days, as referring to Olam HaZeh, this world that we’re living in now, and Olam HaBa, which is the world where the neshama goes without a body, after its passing. "Ba’yom ha’shlishi - the third time period, is the time of T’chiyas HaMeisim. What they [Beis Moshiach Magazine] were alluding to is that Gimmel Tammuz, the third day, is connected to the time of T’chiyas HaMeisim.

On the air, a few weeks ago, someone quoted a pasuk in Tanach, and someone attacked him - "Whoa! You’re quoting Tanach. You’re a missionary."

Torah is ours. We don’t give them [the gentiles] away our Moshiach, we don’t give them away Shabbos, and we don’t give them away Torah and Neviim. So, if someone quotes a pasuk in Tanach, that doesn’t turn it into Christianity. And the one who quoted it probably doesn’t even know that someone else [i.e., the Christian faith] uses this phrase. The Christians always used Torah to support their beliefs. They took the words from the Tanach and distorted them to fit their beliefs.

Z. Brenner: But the point that I made - and we’re going to close out in just a moment - is that now, this year, or since Gimmel Tammuz, the discourse has changed. I said this earlier, but I’ll repeat it briefly - and if you look at Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, and you look at the [Ramban’s] Disputations, or any of the Jewish scholars and thinkers over the course of time, they made this very clear - what was the difference between the Jews and the Christians - they said the difference was that we believe the Messiah will come only one time to do what he has to do, and he won’t need a second chance, a second coming. This is clearly what has been [the belief] down through the ages. Comes Lubavitch, after Gimmel Tammuz, and all of a sudden, introduces new elements. You call it histalkus, he’s in hiding, he’s not here. But the fact is that he’s going to come a second time to complete his mission, and you hear this from Christian missionaries - they’re saying, "Hey! Lubavitch is saying what we’ve been saying for two thousand years." You hear that. This changes the discourse of what’s been Jewish philosophy-

R. Kalmanson: Are you saying that T’chiyas HaMeisim is a "second coming"?

[Translator’s note: Given that sources from the Gemara and elsewhere, regarding the coming of Moshiach "min ha’meisim" have already been provided, the equation of the Lubavitch position to the Christian position implies that a Moshiach who arises "min ha’meisim" is a Moshiach of a "second coming."]

Z. Brenner: No.

R. Kalmanson: But that is what we [Lubavitchers] are talking about.

Z. Brenner: When your coming back to complete your task, which you didn’t finish the first time-

R. Kalmanson: Christians use that language. We call it - I already mentioned it to you - "Moshe v’Aharon u’banav imahem," [i.e.,] T’chiyas HaMeisim [of Moshe, Aharon, and all the other great tzaddikim, who the Gemara says will arise from the dead, prior to the building of the Beis HaMikdash]. It has nothing to do with "second coming." This is a concept of T’chiyas HaMeisim before the final Redemption. It has nothing to do with a "second coming," regardless of those who want to pervert the expression.

Z. Brenner: Rabbi Kalmanson, you heard Rabbi Majeski say before too, [that] you believe the Rebbe started his mission, he was B’chezkas Moshiach in your words, he was here, he is now hidden from us, and he’s coming back again to finish his job.

R. Kalmanson: I didn’t say the words, "he’s coming back again." I said that he will be here, and he is gong to build the Beis HaMikdash, because if "Moshe v’Aharon u’banav imahem" and all the tzaddikim u’nesiei Yisroel of the past are going to come back, the Rebbe, [who] was definitely a tzaddik, and a Nasi B’Yisroel and a Gadol HaDor, is surely going to come back. And since he did meet the criteria of B’chezkas Moshiach, then he stands as the foremost tzaddik to build the Beis HaMikdash.

Z. Brenner: Rabbi Majeski?

Rabbi Majeski: I think we went through all the sources, and there’s no point in reiterating them once again. The bottom line is that there is no source in Torah that says [that Moshiach cannot be from those who have passed on] - aside from the fact that people are hysterical with the term "second coming."

I don’t know what it says in history books, I know what it says in Torah. We quoted all of these sources. The fact that Moshiach can come from those who passed on is clear in the Torah. The fact that he comes and there’s an interruption, and then he completes the job is clear in the Torah, and this idea that you can’t have the two things [1. a physical Moshiach 2. who arises min HaMeisim] come together is just someone’s fabrication, invention, because they’re hysterical, and it has nothing to do with Torah sources. That’s the bottom line.

Z. Brenner: Gentleman, we just barely scratched the surface-

R. Kalmanson: Zev, if I can just make a final comment in closing.

Z. Brenner: Okay.

R. Kalmanson: You know, all the years the world was laughing at Chabad, at the Rebbe. I’m talking about [as far back as] the early fifties, when the Rebbe asked us to go out on the streets and reach out to other Jews. And they went even further [than laughing] - they actually said that it’s bittul Torah, and so on, and so forth. Today, the prize game of every [Jewish] movement in the world, Litvish or otherwise, is kiruv. The same thing applies to many of the Rebbe’s other activities. [The world was] laughing, saying you shouldn’t do it, [yet] they became part of Achuzas Yisroel; they became part of the heritage of gantz Klal Yisroel, [and] everybody is very much involved in it. I have a very strong feeling that also in this inyan of Moshiach this is going to be so.

In the [general] inyan of Moshiach, for sure it is so. People are speaking about it, almost every tape that has come out in the last ten years, plays only songs about Moshiach, and [this refers to] non-Lubavitcher tapes, and that is [what’s] happening. And I’m telling you that shortly, this will be the fact about the Rebbe being Moshiach - everybody is going to end up saying this, as well.

The main thing is, as the Rebbe himself begged, that in order for one to know the concepts and reality of Moshiach, one must learn the inyanim of Moshiach and Geula, so as to become acquainted [with the teachings] from Jewish sources and not from history, and other sources, and not from Berger.

The only thanks I would like to give Dr. Berger is that he has now spread the concept of Besuras HaGeula even more, so that more and more people are interested in knowing what it’s all about - sincere people, at least.

Z. Brenner: By the way, the fact that people may disagree with the Rebbe as being Moshiach, or that he’s still living, doesn’t take away from the very good works that he has done, and that Lubavitch [has done]. I admire what Lubavitch has done throughout the world and is continuing to do. They live in far-flung communities spreading the Jewish message to the Jewish world, and - I think people don’t realize it, but - I think the fastest growing movement is Chabad Houses around the world, where they’re literally springing up all over and bringing people back to Yiddishkeit. It’s certainly a tribute to the Rebbe and to the Lubavitch movement.

But this [Moshiach issue] is a separate issue - if he’s Moshiach or not, or if he’s still among the living, or did he die. These are things that I think befuddle many people within the Orthodox community, the general Jewish community, and the general community at large.

R. Kalmanson: Again, because of lack of knowledge.

Z. Brenner: Okay - whatever you’re going to call it, it befuddles the people, and our phone lines are jammed, and I’m sorry we couldn’t get to that. We appreciate your coming tonight, and we hope you’ll come back a second time. I don’t know if we’ll call it a "second coming—"

Rabbi Majeski: The message is: People should learn. "Let my people know."

Z. Brenner: Gentleman, thank you very much, Rabbi Sholom Ber Kalmanson and Rabbi Shloma Majeski, for being on the program.

[Note: The week after this Moshiach program aired, the same station aired a live interview with the individual who ‘merited’ to put these issues on the front burner again. In the course of describing his ‘problems’ with Lubavitch and with the Gedolei HaDor (for not coming out against Lubavitch), he also presented his personal understanding of some of the teachings on Geula and Moshiach. In the coming weeks, b’ezras Hashem, we will address these points from a true Torah perspective.]


"Inun ilu tzaddikayu d’lo meisu," "these are the tzaddikim that do not die, but rather, sleep." One person sleeps in his bed, the other, the tzaddik may be sleeping in a gravesite, so to speak, but he’s not dead – he’s sleeping.

—Rabbi Sholom Ber Kalmanson


For a Yid, the strongest validation of something and what defines reality for him is Torah...
"I go by what it says in Torah, and all these other things don’t change my reality."

—Rabbi Shloma Majeski



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