To Hold Back About Moshiach
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.
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.
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
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”
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!”
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!