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 Not To Hold Back About Moshiach

My husband, Matthew, and I began to study Torah in the summer of 1990. We were in our middle thirties at the time, and had been attracted to Torah by a student of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. We began to read basic Jewish writings, and I attended Rebbetzin Jungreis’ lectures when I could. Just before Chanuka of that year, we met Lubavitchers for the first time, and we spent many years as “friends of Chabad.” We sent our children to Chabad schools, davened at Chabad shuls on Shabbos/Yom Tov, and gave the overwhelming bulk of our tzedaka to Chabad.

Our Lubavitcher friends in the USA are wonderful people, and we have retained loving friendships with them, despite the fact that we have lived in Eretz Yisroel for over six and a half years. They opened their homes to us, and one family in particular “adopted” us and guided us patiently through the difficulties of changing our whole lives around.

When we moved to Eretz Yisroel, boruch Hashem, our good fortune continued, as we found yet another special Chabad rabbi. We went to his shul for five years, and our friendship and admiration for him continues, as he is an extremely special and holy man.

These mentors, in the USA and Eretz Yisroel, all have several things in common. They are fabulous role models, unbelievably kind, extremely learned, and generous and patient. The other thing they have in common, though, is what I felt to be a certain reserve when it came to the Rebbe. Their love for the Rebbe was obviously intense, but for some reason, it never “rubbed off” on us.

Throughout the first five years I spent in Eretz Yisroel, I felt uncomfortable about the Rebbe. I have an American girlfriend, who felt the same way. When we went to a Chabad women’s event together, we were perturbed by stories of the Rebbe’s miracles, or by the guest speaker who spoke of her dreams about the Rebbe. We were turned off by the Moshiach campaign, and my friend actually took some of her children out of Chabad schools. My husband told our rabbi that we loved Chabad, but were not Chabadniks; rather, he said, we are “friends of Chabad.” Our Rabbi told my husband that we are truly Chabadniks, and not to worry about feeling uncomfortable with the Rebbe-is-Moshiach talk. It did not occur to us to take our children out of the Chabad schools; due to our love and admiration for the Lubavitcher families we knew, we wanted our children to be educated by Lubavitchers. However, we did not think of ourselves as Lubavitchers.

At the end of five years, we moved to Jerusalem. As it turned out, Hashem put us in a neighborhood where the Chabad rabbi is a mishichist. This rabbi is incredibly enthusiastic and certain about the Rebbe being Moshiach. We told him that we didn’t believe it, but that did not stop him from being himself at all times (i.e., full of joy that Moshiach is here) and singing “Yechi” at shul. This rabbi is another delightful person (in every way), so we continued to daven in his shul despite the fact that we did not accept his approach about Moshiach.

Shortly after this move (late summer 1998), a neighbor took me to the Jerusalem Chabad Library, where two classes are taught in English on Tuesdays. The second class is a Tanya class taught by Rabbi Dovid Morris.

Soon after I began attending these classes, Rabbi Morris saw that none of us in the class had any idea about what the Moshiach era is about, nor did we have a clue about Moshiach himself. So Rabbi Morris began to conduct vigorous discussions about this, and he gave out Talmudic source sheets, showing us that the concept of Moshiach coming from one who is not among the living was nothing new (Sanhedrin 98b, and Rashi’s commentary to it). He broke through our resistance, which was caused mainly from our extreme antipathy for the X-tian concept of Messiah.

Also, we thought that Moshiach would come with a big bang. We imagined that Moshiach would appear on his donkey one fine day, and all troubles would be over. Rabbi Morris explained that the era of Moshiach is a process, and that the process has already begun. He gave logical proofs that we are in Moshiach’s times and that the Rebbe is Moshiach. I went home and repeated these explanations to my family, and we understood and accepted the truth (although, to be honest, it did take a while). 

My husband and I began to study Chassidus much more intensely. In addition, we have benefited greatly from the surge of biographies about the Rebbe in English. We were shocked to find how far-reaching the Rebbe’s work is. We began to feel much more enthusiastic about our connection to Chabad, and we began to identify ourselves as full-fledged Lubavitchers.

We now, in turn, speak openly to others about the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach, and we also now feel connected to the Rebbe, bonded to him in our service, and emotionally bonded, as well. When a feeling of reticence attacks, I try very hard to fight it off. When I tell an acquaintance that I’m a Lubavitcher, and she says the inevitable, “Well, fine, as long as you’re not one of those who thinks the Rebbe is Moshiach” (and then the eyes roll), I proceed to clarify the misconceptions, just as Rabbi Morris did for me.

Once we understood the greatness of the Rebbe, our religious observance took a big step forward, and our focus is much stronger. Yiddishkeit is no longer just a major part of our lives; it is our lives. We dropped the nonsense, and now devote all of our time (outside of mundane requirements) to educating ourselves and others.

I have written this article so that people who are afraid to shock others with the truth about the Rebbe will feel less inclined to withhold. Sincere people aren’t blocked; they’re merely ignorant. They aren’t fragile and can be addressed logically. People worry about turning newcomers off with Moshiach talk, but, in actuality, the turn-off occurs when the complete truth is withheld, and the learning that is given is filtered and censored. It is not a turn-off, however, when the truth bursts forth from a Lubavitcher with no holds barred. It might take time for one’s students to understand, but it can be done.

We are still friends with the family (of my girlfriend, mentioned above) that withdrew some of their kids from the Chabad school. At first they were surprised that rational folk like ourselves would buy this Rebbe-is-Moshiach stuff, but time has passed and they see that we are still normal. We don’t tell them they have to have faith, we simply share the knowledge that we have learned from Rabbi Morris and many other sources by now. This is not to say that we don’t go slowly with people, but it’s not because our intention is to withhold; we go slowly because most people have no idea of the magnitude of the Rebbe’s greatness and the universal revolution he instituted. 

We begin by speaking of the Rebbe’s associations with great people in the secular world, and his involvement in world issues. We tell them there are 2,000 Chabad centers in the world (in other words, accomplishments that they can relate to). In addition, I have found essays in non-Chabad texts, published by pareve companies like Feldheim Books or Targum Press, that explain, with sources, that tzaddikim don’t die (see, for example, the essays at the back of the book Harvest of Majesty - The Alshich on the Book of Ruth, published by Feldheim) and that it is normal to want and expect Moshiach constantly (When Moshiach Comes – Halachic and Aggadic Perspectives, published by Targum Press). “Look,” I say, “would Feldheim and Targum publish these things if they weren’t true? We’ve simply been brainwashed by living in America all those years, and we’ve closed our minds!”

We all love the Rebbe and we want our fellow Jews to love the Rebbe, too. I think the best way to love our fellow Jews as ourselves is to share our knowledge about the Rebbe with them. Obviously, we don’t want to come off as crackpots, but there are surely enough sources, many provided by the Rebbe himself, to formulate a concise and logical explanation that we can share with every Jew. In this way, we can hasten the day when the Rebbe MH”M will be revealed to the entire world, may it happen speedily!

Sarah Granovetter, Jerusalem



"I have written this article so that people who are afraid to shock others with the truth about the Rebbe will feel less inclined to withhold."



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