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Messianic matters

February 18, 2010 – 10:20 am51 Comments

Image source: CrownHeights.info

Outsider, Rachel Sacks-Davis, and insider, David Werdiger, comment on the expulsion of the “Moshiach Dancers” and related controversies at Yeshiva Shule. Click here to skip straight to David’s insiders’ view.

Outsider’s view
by Rachel Sacks-Davis
It’s 6pm on Wednesday the 28th of January, and I’m on my bike at the corner of Inkerman Road and Hotham Street, on my way home from work. Three men are dancing in circles on the corner nearest the Yeshivah Centre; they are wearing yellow t-shirts and jester hats, and waving an enormous yellow flag. Evidently, their widely publicised ‘excommunication,’ has not dampened their spirit.

In June last year, when Frosh and I wrote our “Ode to the Moshiach Dancers,” we were aware that these four joyous if unconventional men were a source of embarrassment for some Jews outside of the Lubavitch community, but we did not realise how controversial they had already become in their own community.

Shortly after writing the article, I was told that the moshiach dancers were considered to be quite mad. Unfortunately, I got the impression that this perceived madness elicited derision rather than compassion; so the following Shabbat when I walked past the dancers on my way to shul, I made an effort to be particularly friendly to them.

Of course by now, anyone who reads the AJN knows that on January 10 this year Rabbi Telsner, the dayan of Yeshivah Shule, released a notice effectively excommunicating the dancers. Rabbi Telsner’s notice reached my inbox via a friend who is not a chabadnik, but nevertheless suggested that perhaps Chabad had “finally come to its senses” by distancing itself from these extremely messianic elements.

The secular staff writer at the AJN seemingly concurred, writing that when the moshiach dancers broke the fast of the 10th of Tevet, they had “gone too far.” This struck me as being somewhat ironic coming from a secular person, who it is fair to assume, eats on the 10th of Tevet as a matter of course.

The two Chabad commentators who wrote in the same edition of the AJN cast the moshiach dancers as eccentrics and cult members respectively. Neither expressed sympathy for the small group who are by all accounts a bit different from the norm.

It would be remiss not to mention the context in which the moshiach dancers had become unpopular, and certainly they had raised the public profile of an extremely controversial and divisive issue – Chabad messianism. (For some insight into this controversy, see David Werdiger’s blog post and subsequent comments on the “Yechi” debate at Yeshivah Shule.)

Nonetheless, it seems fairly insensitive to excommunicate a small group of “eccentrics,” with no real influence on the mainstream congregants at Yeshivah Shule. Moreover, whilst the excommunication might be partially related to the dancers’ explicit messianism, explicit messianism persists at Yeshivah Shule amongst its more mainstream congregants. In the weeks following the excommunication, a movement from within the Yeshivah Shule congregation petitioned Rabbi Telsner to take down the sign that hangs in the shul proclaiming (or at the very least praying) that the late Chabad Rebbe is the moshiach, but Rabbi Telsner has announced that the sign will not be removed.

Insider’s view
by David Werdiger
The so-called “Moshiach Dancers” have been largely viewed within the Yeshivah community as meshuga’im – crazies – not as much due to their extreme ideology regarding Moshiach, but more for the way they choose to express it, whether through loud defiant declarations and dances in the shul itself, or more recently their regular expressions of free speech in the street.

When they were evicted from the shul, it was because their actions were divisive and disruptive to the broader members. The recent declaration against their Chillul Hashem (desecration of God’s name) by publicly eating on a fast day in breach of Jewish law was, in my view, warranted, as they had crossed a line with such an action. No matter what their beliefs regarding the imminence of Moshiach’s arrival or his identity, this gave them no right to breach halacha. As the Dayan of the Yeshivah community and arbiter of matters relating to Jewish law, Rabbi Telsner was obliged to take a stand against such action.

Going beyond that to what some people would call the core issue of the “Moshiach Dancers” is the mental health issue. As a community, we ought to help them. We have committees for financial aid, and for meal assistance during crisis times, although these things can usually be done by lay persons. To deal with a mental health issue requires a professional, so perhaps what is required in this case is a communal approach (directed by a mental health professional) that would help lead these folks to get the help they need. Deriding their behaviour is callous, but expressing public sympathy or approaching them may not have the correct effect either, as it continues to reward their actions with attention.

While the actions of a few eccentrics are what capture the imagination, the substantive issue here is actually that of messianism at Yeshivah Shul, and in Chabad generally. Regarding this, the recent coverage in the AJN regarding the Yechi sign and the petition was shameful sensationalism carrying little insight into what is really going on.

People have left Yeshivah shul because of the Yechi sign at the back. Would they all come running back if the sign was taken down? No. Would the removal of the sign usher in a new age of unity within the shul? No. The existence of the sign does not affect the vast majority of regulars (certainly not those of us who daven facing the front of the shul where the aron kodesh is) – a minority on either side of the political/ideological fence either strongly object to it, or strongly object to its removal. Whether people agree with the outcome or not, a process was followed by launching a petition, and the Dayan made a ruling. It ought to stop there. The issues facing Yeshivah shul go far beyond messianic ideology, and are largely internal.

Rachel talks about the “explicit messianism” that persists at the shul. I’ve always maintained that the issue is not black and white: rather, there is a spectrum of belief within Chabad regarding Moshiach, with extremes on either side. What everyone wants to know is this: is it reasonable to believe that the Rebbe can still be Moshiach, despite having passed away some years ago? The answer, according to many authorities, is yes. And if that might be termed “explicit messianism”, then yes, it does still exist within many mainstream Chabad communities around the world. It is also reasonable to believe that the Rebbe during his lifetime could have been Moshiach (or was “the Moshiach of his generation”), but now can no longer as he has passed away. Both of these positions are supported by Jewish theology.

No matter what one believes about specific details (and indeed, whether these details are themselves important), what Chabad brought was a public awareness about Moshiach that was largely absent from the Jewish world for many years. This is despite the fact that our daily prayers are filled with liturgy about our craving for the Messianic era. It is sad and ironic that the concept of Moshiach, which encapsulates the reunification of world Jewry, has been recently subverted as such a divisive one.

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  • TheSadducee says:

    Does the Rabbi Telsner have the authority to issue cherem against members of the Chabad?  He is not the leader of the Chabad – can they appeal his actions to higher authorities? 
    (And no, I’m not suggesting that their appeal with lead to the reemergence of  Grand Rabbi Schneerson – though it would mightily vindicate their position!)

  • TheSadducee says:

    “what Chabad brought was a public awareness about Moshiach that was largely absent from the Jewish world for many years”

    -Sorry David W – I think Jews have been aware of the Messiah since the 1st Century – living in Christian countries sort of made the issue relevant.

  • Chaim says:

    I agree with David.
    Firstly – Are they really mentally ill and have a diagnosed mental illness or are we inappropriately using medical terminology and therefore deriding and maligning those with a true medical illness?
    The issue here is not messianism. I am personally against saying Yechi and I do not believe the Rebbe is moshiach although I admit I could be wrong and would be pleasantly surprised if proven so when Moshiach comes. Both ideas and beliefs are acceptable  (if one does actually do the research and required learning to make an educated decision). Does anyone really know who or what moshiach will be like? Rambam and Ramban argue if the time of the resurrection of the dead will be physical or spiritual – two opposite extremes!
    The real issue is the open and public (you tube no less) way they went against halacha in the name of Chabad and Torah and because of this they needed a strong reprimand. There are many who think excommunication was and is inappropriate these days (including anti-mishichists) considering how many people today openly go against halacha, break Shabbos etc. It depends on what you represent and they represent Torah observant Jews and the response is therefore as per halacha. Also the notice left a clear and open door for them to do repentance easily and be welcomed back. Obviously R. Telsner does not think they are mentally incompetent.
    What I believe is the real issue is the need for  tolerance and acceptance of diversity within in the world. The world religions need to accept alternative beliefs systems. Jews need to accept diversity within Torah even if they disagree. Chabad needs to accept difference in belief and opinion within itself. Without the Rebbe being physically here guiding the movement intimately and directly, its whole path and understandings are left open to interpretation.
    I believe Chabad is and represents a microcosm of Judaism which itself represents a microcosm of the world at large. The intolerance, divisiveness and baseless hatred is represents in all and needs to be addressed in all. Over and over again we see intolerance by Religious or political leaders particularly but not exclusively ultra-orthodox as well religious groups in general of all persuasion and every spectrum. Just scan ynet news.
    It is time (interestingly the Rebbe taught many times) that we realize that unity does not mean uniformity and sameness but rather interdependence with the understanding that another person, group or religion has something unique that they provide for all humanity which I do not personally have, yet need.
    When we realize this, then not only do we accept difference but we welcome and support it.
    I have become recently an increasingly bigger fan of R. Sacks and believe all should read his book entitled Dignity of Difference.

  • Chaim says:

    Any beit din can make a cherem. In the 18th century there were so many it was ridiculous. These days they seem not to mean anything relevant…  Note that people tried and may have even officially put Chabad in one not too long ago.
    Although Xianity brought the concept of messiah to the world, It and Shabbetai Tzvi (as well as the enlightenment) seemed to really suppress it within the Jewish community at large as a prominent and imminent belief (like Rambam and his 13 principles of faith) despite the Vilna Gaon,  Chofetz Chaim and other Jewish leaders teachings in the last few hundred years.
    To say Chabad did not impact and revitalize this idea within the last 30 years in such a dramatic and unique way is not accurate.

  • Sadduccee,

    As the Marah D’Atra of the Yeshivah community, I’d say he has the authority. It wasn’t an official cherem, rather something of lesser severity; I’m not sure of the exact term if there is one.

    Re awareness of Moshiach, my point is that Chabad got Jews thinking about it (and I mean our messiah, not anyone else’s) a lot more than they used to. Do you disagree?

  • Henry Herzog says:

    I am not going to get into the matters of Chabad, but the notion of  Moshiach was well known to me before Chabad took over Melbourne

    Sorry guys, but Chabad have this idea that they are the world authority on anything and everything Jewish. Granted they have done some good work in bringing lost Jews back to the fold, but many are chauvanistic in their attitudes. Also, they are a tad too political. They should stick with religion and leave politics to the politicians.

    It is a proven fact that religion and politics don’t mix.

    Now, I may be over generalizing, but that’s easy with Chabad, for starters they all dress the same.

    Please don’t take me too seriously, some of my best friends are Chabadniks. 

  • TheSadducee says:

    Chaim/David W

    I still disagree – you both agree that the concept of the Moshiach was known to Judaism well before Grand Rabbi Schneerson’s appearance on the scene and I would add that only those who were wilfully ignorant of Judaism would have not considered the topic.  Considering that the majority of Christian persecution of Jews was based on messianism and you refer to Tzvi, Bar Koziba and Frank (amongst others) I cannot possibly see how this matter of Moshiach was not of consequence to Jews in history.

    It is also extremely dubious to argue that the bad memory of Tzvi, Frank etc suppressed Jewish knowledge of Moshiach and that Grand Rabbi Schneerson brought it back onto the stage of world Jewry – this would be to implicitly connect GR Schneerson with those failed Messiahs – is that the sort of legacy that Chabad wants to leave?  I.e.  Chabad takes credit for bringing conflict over Moshiach back into Judaism by positing that Schneerson was the Messiah until he died, could still be the Messiah, or is the Messiah etc? 

    As I suggested on another occasion, Chabad needs to appoint a new Grand Rabbi and move on – this will end this problem of Meshichisti within a generation.

  • TheSadducee says:

    “It is a proven fact that religion and politics don’t mix.”

    -surely you mean that they don’t mix well and/or usually aren’t successful?  

    There are quite a few examples of states that are based on religious law (eg. Shariah) and the politics revolve around that.  So many that your proven fact as it stands should be considered a dubious assertion. 

  • Jason says:

    It appears you have an insight into all matters pertaining to Chabad.
    Please give me some background on this gentleman and tell me if he is on the ball, and if in fact he is an authority to be reckoned with.

  • Henry Herzog says:

    Sadducee, I would have thought you were more insightful. What I meant is that religion because it is about faith, belief and all subjective stuff does not mix with politics which should be based on reason, logic and objective thinking. That’s what i meant.

    It’s like religion and science, they just don’t mix.

    By the way, facts aren’t truths. Fact and factory have the same origin. Law courts don’t find on truth they find on fact because all they are looking for is the more plausible argument. think about it.

  • Henry,

    Where did we start talking about Chabad in politics?


    Thank you. Reb Yoel is very well respected (perhaps to the exclusion of those he has attacked in that article). For many years he was the chozer – he would listen to the Rebbe’s farbrengens on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and recite them word for word afterwards so they could be transcribed. As someone who has for years been so immersed in the Rebbe’s teaching, he certainly carries plenty of authority.

    The practice of continuing to write Shlita (“may he live a long life”) after the Rebbe’s name is more associated with those who believe that the Rebbe did not die at all, and is “concealed”. The article in Wikipedia has a good summary of some the diverse and more extreme meshichist views. These are held by a very small but quite vocal minority within Chabad.


    Appoint a successor? That will certainly not happen. If it did, it would create a far greater rift in Chabad than already exists. As a movement, Chabad has grown in leaps and bounds since the Rebbe’s passing. A clear position that there is no successor – i.e. continuing the vision and mission of the Rebbe as already articulated – has been far more successful.

  • TheSadducee says:

    David W

    Then permanently expect problems with Messianism – if the movement is so heavily dependent on one personality (i.e. the vision and mession of the Rebbe as already articulated) then this is a natural consequence of this dependence.  In a way this supports my much earlier contention on this blog that the Chabad exhibits traits of a personality cult – a dangerous thing for any religious movement.

    It also suggests a lack of maturity on the part of the Chabad today – the earlier leaders of the group did not have this problem despite facing much more severe difficulties and themselves contributing in unique and interesting ways to the group.  Those who dissented from the group eg. the opponents of the 4th rebbe went and formed their own groups – perhaps this would not be such a bad thing for Chabad – if the extremists left? 

  • Chaim says:

    Sadducee and Henry: we will have to agree to disagree. Did you (assuming you are older than 30..) think daily or even weekly about Moshiach or that the geulah is imminent etc prior to the moshiach campaign. I certainly did not although I knew moshiach was a central tenet of Judaism.  I did not ever think of moshiach coming in my lifetime. I believe (and David can confirm) that he was talking about the last 30-50 years. And as discussed previously in other article, there will be no accepted Rebbe of Chabad until moshiach. It is not an electable position.
    Politics without religion i.e Torah… I think you need to go back to learn about Judaism a little from original sources.  Religion is so central to so many people in the world that this is a repetitive inane thought. It is time religions and their followers  learn tolerance and come together as a positive political force.
    Jason: Reb Yoel is one of the leading rabbis in Chabad. He was a mishichist in the past but realised it was incorrect and became a loud opponent of it in the last few years. He may not be a Rav or a political leader of Chabad but is one the the greatest and most knowledgeable Chabad chassidim of our times. Personally he is a role model for me.

  • Chaim says:

    p.s the fact is that there is no one unified Chabad. It is broken up into autonomous regional groups with a spectrum of messianic beliefs. Yet it grows exponentially. This to me is a sign of maturity. We been through the personality cult thing before.. let not rehash…
    People are free to do what they want and make splinter groups.. There are unofficial and independent Chabad houses and institutions springing up everywhere. I say go for it. The more diversity we see the better.

  • Jason says:

    Does that then mean you view the activities of the Chabad of Batyam, who have had an Excommunication order placed upon them by a milder version of Messianic Chabad of Haifa as being the way to go. Each splinter group for themselves? Messianic Chabad takes on Messianic Chabad! Yes, very healthy diversity indeed.

  • Chaim says:

    Jason. I do not believe cherems are going to be useful. The truth will eventually come out and those with beliefs contrary to Torah will disappear just like they have throughout Jewish history.
    You should know there has been a lady in 770 making these feasts for many years. People there just ignore her.
    I do know that no-one really knows what the real truth is and we need to be tolerant to different ideas even if they are antithetical to our beliefs.
    It does not mean I support or even condone those against Torah but open dialogue, listening to different opinions  and acceptance of diversity is healthy. Where it will exactly lead to in the end I have no idea. That is where faith comes in. In the meantime we are one family and we love our siblings no matter what they say or do.

  • Jason says:

    I take it then, the messianics introduce new ideas, customs etc within mainstream Chabad, then take offense when little or no tolerance is extended to them, yet have not displayed tolerance when imposing their views on those who would rather be left alone and conduct themselves in the manner that their synagogue was used to. Nice strategy. Playing the victim role?

  • Sadducee,

    Like Chaim I disagree with you. The decentralised nature of Chabad has been more of a strength than a weakness, despite the fact that it results in a diversity of beliefs. With time, extreme views have become more marginalised.

    Rather than being immature, one could easily argue that while earlier (and some contemporary) Chassidic dynasties struggled with succession after their Rebbe’s passed away and ended up with bitter fights and splits, Chabad has moved beyond that to a structure that bypasses those issues.

    Also see the other discussion on this web site where the organizational structure of Chabad is discussed.

  • frosh says:

    While I used to think the Moshiach Dancers added colour to the neighbourhood, I have come to see them as a potentially dangerous traffic hazard.


    It is not so much that they are a visual distraction (which is not such a problem – certainly many advertising billboards etc can have a similar effect); their appeals for honking can create confusion for drivers and cyclists who are wondering “Is someone honking at me…who’s honking at me?”  This sort of distraction serves to increase the risk of a traffic accident.


    It would be less of a potential hazard if they moved away from this very busy intersection. A safer place would be somewhere slightly less busy (I understand they need a certain level of busyness as they wish to be seen etc), and not at an intersection.  I think the following two locations would be preferable: Here or Here

  • rachsd says:


    From my point of view, the point is not whether or not the dancers are mentally ill (I obviously have no idea!), but rather whether it is useful (or kind) to take a very strong stand against a group who are perceived to be ‘crazy’ fringe elements. It certainly doesn’t seem like a very courageous stand – those are usually made against viewpoints that are more popular. Another option if the leadership had wanted to distance itself from the actions of the group, because they were worried that people would see the video on YouTube and think that this was sanctioned by Chabad might have been to make a public statement against the video, for the importance of halacha, and saying breaking halacha in the name of the Rebbe disrespects his memory. From my point of view, this type of approach which focuses on the action rather than the person is pretty much always preferable.

    In relation to the discussion on whether Chabad has been effective in bringing the issue of ‘Moshiach’ to the foreground, which I think is an interesting one,

    I’d query whether the publicity campaign, “Moshiah is coming, get ready,” actually made people (outside of Chabad) consider the issue of moshiach, even though I’m sure that there is wide recognition of the campaign message.

  • Joseph says:

    So these meshichists are extremists who should be kicked out of Chabad for dancing, and meshichist rabbi Dov Wolpo isn’t an extremist who should be kicked out of Chabad even though he founded a Far Right party and called for the PM to be hung??

    Where are the ethics in that?

  • Chaim says:

    Jason: I am not a mishichist at all. I am also not a victim. I have no idea what you are getting at.
    The Torah is broad and there is biblical and then Rabbinic Law. There is a huge spectrum of possible acceptable beliefs that would adhere to biblical but maybe not all rabbinic law. I am OK with them. We should be tolerant to these ideas but we should also love every Jew even if their beliefs and actions are against biblical law. I do not accept that all opinions and beliefs are correct. I do not accept reform or progressive Judaism nor do I accept many ideologies accepted by many “ultra orthodox” groups but I realize I need to be tolerant and non judgmental while accepting the people themselves as well as their freedom and autonomy.
    Rachel: I should clarify. Firstly I do not know first hand but would assume that R. Telsner and co. have made many attempts over time to make peace with the group and show them exactly what you have said above. The issue here was the open and very public breaking of halacha in The Rebbe’s and Chabad name. The letter clearly states if they do teshuvah they would be accepted back. It is not about the people. It is all about the action but the need to absolutely reject and abandon those actions in the future which he felt could only be done via a cherem.
    Did it work? Who knows over time. I doubt it will be effective (it has not in the past e.g R Shach).  What is needed is time and tolerance until like David says the extreme views become increasingly marginalized and cease to exist at all within Chabad or Judaism and in my opinion this also includes the concept that the Rebbe is Moshiach. Having said that I am perfectly acceptable to saying in the future that I was wrong. I used to be a mishichist until I saw the negative effects it was having and realized it is not good. I still understand a meshichist can go through the Rebbe’s speeches, Rambam, gemorrah etc and prove to me the Rebbe COULD be moshiach.
    If you want to know if the moshiach campaign effected those outside of Chabad. Firstly look at this whole dialogue here… it would not have existed without it. I can also point you to many blogs, website that are devoted to Moshiach and are not Chabad. The internet did not really exist like it does even 11-15 years ago so it is hard to compare but also the language used by Jewish leaders if researched as well as Jewish books has clearly changed to include the concept of the imminent redemption over those years. Find me another cause for this change.
    The concepts themselves nor their centrality to Judaism  are not new in any way but rather the predominance and importance given to them currently have been renewed and revitalized in a very public way thanks to our new world of multimedia and internet and Chabad.
    I agree with Sadducee that this renewal and messianic fervor has occurred in the past many times. It waxes and wanes. All I am saying is that the current one is likely caused by Chabad.

  • Ittay says:

    Can anyone reading this blog answer this question for me.
    Is there any Jewish source, torah, talmud, responsa etc… that explicitly says that a person who has passed away can be the mashiach?

  • Ittay,

    The notion that Moshiach can be someone who is already deceased is typically based on a passage in Talmud Sanhedrin 98b, where they are discussion who he might be, and seems to imply that he could either be from among those currently living, or already passed away. The Abarbanel, who wrote an extensive treatise about Messianic times called Yeshuos Meshicho discusses this section of Talmud and commented that “don’t be surprised if Moshiach comes from one who has passed away”. I don’t have his volume, and I took that quote from here.

    Neither of these are “proofs” either way; their interpretation and intent are debated, and there are sources used to show that Moshiach can only be someone living.

  • Jason says:

    Your response
    Jason: I am not a mishichist at all. I am also not a victim. I have no idea what you are getting at.
    That observation was not directed at you. I was pointing out, at least attempting to, that this is the strategy  being employed by the messianics, that is, slowly introduce controversial ideas and behaviour, then suggest tolerance  and brotherly love be observed when resistance begins. They claim victimhood!

  • Jason,

    I don’t think there’s any inflitration strategy being employed by meshichists on a collective basis. There isn’t any evidence of such an organized effort to shift the movement.

  • ariel says:

    i’m no expert here, but didn’t the Rebbe himself teach that talking about Mashiach and trying to bring Mashiach is not only desirable, but necessary; but that trying to determine the identity of Mashiach is at the very least a bittul Torah?

  • Jason says:

    I didn’t suggest infiltration. My sources tell me that every now and again, actions are ratcheted up, sometimes barely perceptibly, other times quite openly. Every now and again, the boil is pricked, new “facts” on the ground have developed, calls are made for tolerances but new battle lines have been drawn. When does it stop? When all reasonable people who wish to be left alone have been chased out. The extremists  can cannibalize themselves until new extremists evolve as has in Batyam.

  • Jason,

    That may be the case. There are certainly geographic pockets where some theologies are more prevalent (e.g. Tzvat, and 770 itself). I’m not familiar with what is going on in Bat Yam.

  • Chaim says:

    I agree Axelrod is himself a mishichist and  trying to put the extremist part of the movement into cherem  may just be an attempt to validate himself and identify his personal beliefs as more mainstream – which they are not. Although may  be not. Like I said before his personal beliefs do have some credibility and sources (I do not know him personally and I am assuming he does not think the Rebbe is still alive and 3 Tammuz was an illusion).
    Brotherly love is a Jewish and particularly Chassidic value and applies no matter what the person believes or even does and at all times but tolerance to the views or actions themselves which are contrary to Halacha is not an accepted nor valid concept. Where this particular line is drawn in halacha is debatable. I personally would like to set it at a biblical level.
    There is a concept of majority rules in Torah as long at it is not against the Torah itself…
    Ariel I agree with you although the meshichists themselves say identifying Moshiach has a central role in education about Moshiach and bringing Moshiach.

  • Yosel says:

    David – Public awareness about Moshiach was not absent during the Holocaust when these Jews were on their way to the gas chambers.
    The story is from Chabad website:
    and realtes the well known song ”Anim Maamin…..b’vias haMoshiach”

  • Henry Herzog says:

    David, we are talking about how Chabad has brought to public attention    Moshiach.  Like the above, Chabad has also brought to public attention Israeli politics with their influence on same. E. g. “not an inch”. It cuts both ways David. 

    Chaim, the influence of Chabad has not made me think any more or less about Moshiach. I learnt about his coming from Rambam’s 13 principles of faith. One thing you must admit to though is the fuss Chabad made about the late Rebbe and Moshaich, like wonder people like the Moshiach men have, excuse the pun, spung up.

  • Chaim says:

    Good on ya Henry!

  • Henry Herzog says:

    Sorry about the typo, but  “like”  should have been “little”: That is, …. little wonder people like the Moshiach men….

  • Henry: a tenuous segue at best, especially since political activity on the part of Chabad in matters like miyu yehudi (who is a Jew) and Israeli elections has subsided since the Rebbe stopped making these headline issues. Perhaps the editors would consider a separate piece about Orthodox Jewish groups and politics?

  • Jason says:

    I think any rational person would be forced to admit  the Messiah Crusade has backfired heavily. Do you for one moment believe the LR actually wanted his hassidim to take their eyes off the ball which was to promote the deeds one should do to hasten the day of redemption, or that their new mission was engage  world Jewry in a controversy which everyone could do without, namely that the LR is the messiah? Are you able to answer the question truthfully without being labeled a heretic by your own sect?

  • Henry Herzog says:

    David, all I said was that Chabad was a tad too political, which they are, and it all comes down to their credibility. Credibility in regard to Moshiach matters; that is, why should the Moshiach come  from Chabad? And it follows to their domination of all things Jewish, including Israeli politics.

  • Jason: I would agree that the Rebbe would be most disappointed with the way the Moshiach issue has fractured Chabad and become a Chilul Hashem. He always maintained that things must be done b’oifen hamiskabel - in an acceptable manner. To me, the campaign of good deeds as a way to bring Moshiach, and education to revive our desire for Messianic times (rather then the inertia and comfort zone most Jews still have with Galus) ranks far higher than the issue of who is or might be Moshiach.

    As regards the Yechi slogan, to anyone who is not a non-Meshichist (and as I have explained, this encompasses a wide range of beliefs itself), it has replaced “We want Moshiach now” as a slogan that represents their desire for the redemption.

  • Jason says:

    David: In other words what the new slogan is implying , “we want moshiach now provided  he is the rebbe”? Very encouraging. It appears the messianics have no confidence in G-d’s ability to make the correct decision without their assistance and subsequent approval.

  • Jason,

    Here’s an experiment for you: ask an extreme Meshichist “if someone other than the Rebbe announced themselves as Moshiach, would you accept him?” Then ask a vehement anti-Chabadnik “if the Rebbe was resurrected and announced himself as Moshiach, would you accept him?” I’d like to think you’d get a yes in both cases.

    The slogan means anything from “We still want Moshiach, and happen to think the Rebbe is still the most likely” to “The Rebbe did not actuially die, and all we need do is get everyone to accept him as such, and he will come”, and everything in between.

  • Jason says:

    David: I see. You suggest it may be a good idea if I were to seek out a extreme meshichist, then seek out a vehement anti-Chabadnik and hope for the best.
    I think I’d be better served if I left out the extremist and the vehement anti, which would leave me with a moderate (normal) Chabadnik and asked him whether he would happily rely on G-ds choice. Do you think there would be conditions attached?

  • Perhaps my example is more of a thought experiment.
    I absolutely don’t think conditions would be attached.

  • Stuart says:

    I think that a major problem with the method of Chabad’s albeit successful promotion of the awareness of “mashiach” is that it has reduced it to a matter of slogans, and a to focus on who the mashiach is, or may be, or may not be, or may be in certain circumstances – rather than than the concept of the messianic era per se and all that that might entail. Using a metaphor from another religion, we’re playing the man rather than the ball.
    It seems to me totally ridiculous and irrelevant for someone to ask or express an opinion on whether they would accept a certain individual as The Mashiach. Surely when the messianic era comes about, it will be quite evident who the Anointed Monarch is – and even then it will be the fact that he or she is that Annointed Monarch and the new world order that they have brought about that will be important rather than who they are.

  • Chaim says:

    Stuart – you are right. The individual is not important to those outside of Chabad and it will be obvious to all who moshiach is when he finally comes. The source for finding reason to believe one’s own Rebbe is moshiach (and NOT confined only to Chabad) is in the Talmud itself.
    The things most of Chabad believe have authentic sources in Torah. With all due respect people should do research and learn before just dismissing foreign concepts out of ignorance rather than scholarship.
    Sanhedrin 98b:  It discusses the name of Mashiach, with different authorities suggesting Shiloh, Yinon, Chaninah and Menachem (cf. Yeshu’ot Meshicho, Iyun Hasheni, ch. 3, that the term Mashiach is an acronym of these four names): each school picked the name of its own master (Rashi). The implication is clear: each school regarded its own master as the most likely potential Mashiach of that generation by virtue of his saintliness and perfection; see R. Tzadok Hakohen, Peri Tzadik, Devarim:13. In later generations, too, we find the same attitude among the disciples of R. Isaac Luria, the Baal Shem Tov, the Vilna Gaon, R. Chaim David Azulay, and many other extraordinary personalities, as stated explicitly in their writings.

  • Stuart says:

    Chaim –  (as described in an article at http://moshiachtalk.tripod.com/moshiach_chap5.pdf ) – an alternate explanation of that passage in Sanhedrin – which is brought as a second opinion by Rashi, as well as by  the Maharsha and Abarbanel –  is that it does not contain any attempts at all to determine the identity of either the actual or potential Moshiach. Rather, the rabbis were DESCRIBING Moshiach. The students of R’ Shila said that Moshiach would be peaceful (from shalom), like their mentor. The students of R’ Chanina said that he will be merciful (from chanun), like their teacher. Rav Nachman said that Moshiach will be like him, descended from King David and politically powerful. And Rav said that a good living example of Moshiach was Rabbeinu HaKadosh and a good deceased example of whom Moshiach will be like is Daniel.

  • Chaim says:

    I agree with you that there ARE alternative explanations.  This does not negate other possible explanations which are NOT new.
    Note: you wrote Rav said Rabbeinu HaKadosh and a good deceased example of whom Moshiach will be like is Daniel - the mioshichist proof the Rebbe CAN still be moshiach.
    Arguing here is not productive.. I am not a mishichist and not trying to convince anyone of anything except tolerance to alternative opinions.

  • Chaim says:

    Sorry – meant Stuart – no offense.
    Also a second opinion brought in Rashi is a inferior opinion to the first but also does imply a problem exists with the first. They are both however acceptable opinions with problems.

  • Shoshanna Silcove says:

    Henry HerzoG wrote: Sorry guys, but Chabad have this idea that they are the world authority on anything and everything Jewish. Granted they have done some good work in bringing lost Jews back to the fold, but many are chauvanistic in their attitudes. Also, they are a tad too political. They should stick with religion and leave politics to the politicians.

    And Adaas and Beis HaTalmud are not a tad too chauvenistic???? Or the Agudah crowd? And I guess neither are Satmar??? Come one Henry, Chabad are the least chauvanistic and most open-minded,the least political and the most tolerant and accepting of our fellows than all of the rest of the frum groups put together. Who else has such a big tent? Which other group of frum Yidden allow for as a diverse group as Chabad does?  Which group in ortho circles is as diverse in minhagim, diverse in cultural backgrounds, and as diverse in beliefs as Chabad? The rest are almost as conformist as zombies, step out of the ‘politically correct’ line or doctrine and expect either a slap into place or get ousted. Not so in ChabaD!

  • gedalia says:

    Lets get some perpective on what Moshicah is.  It is a Jewish concept that defines the end of galut. 

    Moshiach may be a person, a great leader (but not human form of divine manifestation).  However Moshiach could also be a generation, an era, an epoch, or similar. 

    Jewish people have a mission.  bviat hamashiach is part of our objective, but how do we acheive it with such a poor understanding on what the end objective is?  We should focus on our task, as a means to an end, and not try and limit our potential by reducing the concept of Moshiach to that which we understand by comparison to the one used by other religions.

  • Chaim says:

    gedalia – Most Jewish commentators do not accept the “era” definition including Rambam and other halachic specialists. Rambam and other comentators aslo have no problem trying to outline in detail what Moshiach, Techiyat Hametim, Olam hab etc are.

    Yet moshiach  is not the goal itself but rather one very vital and essential step towards the final goal. Moshiach actually come at the beginning of the process of geulah and is not the final step. Even after he – being a political and spiritual leader – comes there will be many more years of the process itself eg then the Jews will return and the temple rebuilt etc and only much later the resurrection of the dead.

    Everyone knows it is our current actions and mitzvot that will bring Moshiach and that final step towards our destiny as Jews in Israel, Hence Chabad’s insistance of deed over faith and that every single mitzvah (eg one person putting on tefillin only once) are so vital.


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