Friday, September 05, 2008

A Lubavitcher’s Letter

There is a very important letter floating around the Internet now that has been posted on many websites. It is a must read for all those concerned with the welfare of Klal Yisroel. It is written by a Luabvitcher Chasid in response to a question by his son with respect to whether the now deceased Lubavitcher Rebbe is the Messiah.

What is amazing about this letter is that it espouses a view that would wipe the Meshichsim issue off the map - if every Lubavitcher would adopt it. It is on a Chabad website as well as non Chabad websites.

That said, it remains to be seen just how many Lubavitchers actually agree in total with this letter and how many would vigorously disagree with it. And that is the crux of the issue as I see it.

As I have said many times – as recently as this week – I am just not sure how pervasive the belief in at least the possibility that the Rebbe will be resurrected as the Messiah. But if staunch Lubavitcher opponents of Meshichism like Dr.Immanuel Schochet (who leaves the door open a crack for that possibility) are any indication there are many. On the other hand, this letter IS on a Lubavitch website.

The letter is very long. So I thought I would excerpt a few key points. Leaders of Lubavitch ought to make this letter required reading in every single classroom in every one of their schools.

Here are some excerpts – edited slightly for brevity but (hopefully) not for meaning. Again, I urge reading this letter in its entirety:

The order of the events as they will happen when Moshiach will begin his activity: The first thing that will happen is:

a) yaamod Melech (a king will rise), then
b) Yokuf kol Yisroel (he will coerce all Yiden to follow Torah), then
c) Yilchem milchemes Hashem (he will wage the war of Hahsem).

If he succeeds in accomplishing these three points he becomes b’chezkas (assumed to be) Moshiach. After this if Yivne Bais Hamikdosh and then Yikabet nidchei Yoisrel (he will build the Bais Hamikdosh and then gathers in the exiles) then he is Moshiach vadia. Each of these events must be fulfilled in their entirety and in this precise order.

The meaning of the words in the Rambam:

a) “Yokum Ish - a person, with 248 limbs and 365 sinews and he will be seen with physical eyes and it will be possible to ‘ontapen mit di hent’ (felt with hands) and he will be seen in all aspects as a person is seen.”

b) Melech literally means a king; “men darf a kuk ton tzi halt er fun democratye.”

c) Yokuf kol Yisroel - “yederun fun yiden” (each and every Jew) ‘kefiah dosis’ (religious coercion). (The Rebbe explains that because bechira will still exist there may be a Jew who will not want to be mkayem Torah and Mitzvos Moshiach will force him.)

d) Yilchem milchemes Hashem - means literally a war “a (real) war but in a way of peace.”

In 5751-2 the tempo of the Rebbe’s fervor during his talks about Moshiach began to reach a crescendo. In response to this some Chassidim, especially in Israel, went overboard and openly declared that the Rebbe was Moshiach.

They began to assert and then actually paskened that the Rebbe was already b’chezkas Moshiach in accordance with the Halachik psak of the Rambam and made public pronouncements about this claim setting off a world-wide furor that continues to this day.

After Adar 27 all of this activity escalated even more.In order to make the Rebbe fit the criteria of the Rambam they brazenly distorted the clear meaning of the words of the Rambam :

Melech - king, no longer meant king but Rabonon (which the Gemora compares to kings)

yokuf – force, no longer meant force but persuasion; kol Yisroel no longer meant every Jew but some of them (a lot of them? or a majority of them? – apparently they were totally oblivious of the fact that there are 5,000,000 non-observant Jews in the US alone with a fifty percent intermarriage rate)

and yilchem – war, no longer meant war but an information campaign about the seven Mitzvos for non-Jews. In no other area of Halacha would anyone have the chutzpa to make such drastic changes in the meaning of words and argue that it is still Halacha.

Even more troublesome for them was the Rambam’s conclusion in the very same Halacha that if the one who is thought to be b’chezkas Moshiach did not succeed in achieving this or is killed then he is not Moshiach.

This conclusion, of course, they were unable to accept. In desperation they began to make all kinds of outlandish interpretations of the Rambam (such as, that the Rambam writes ‘if he is killed’ he is not Moshiach but, they suggest, if he dies it is not so. Plainly the Rambam uses the term “if he was killed” because he is talking about a king waging the ‘war of Hashem’ and being killed is what usually happens in a war.)

Desperate for a way out of these conundrums, they began to cite various medroshim, the Zohar and various meforshim (the Abarbanel and others) to support their claim that a person can be Moshiach even after a histalkus. The problem is that none of these sources have anything to do with halacha. As the Rebbe said in the same Sicha the Rambam knew of the Gemorra, the midrashim, the Pesukim and all other sources and nevertheless did not pasken according to them. This means that on the level of Halacha all other sources are irrelevant.

Until gimmel Tamuz these very same people argued that the Rebbe absolutely must be Moshiah because the Rambam paskens that Moshiach must be a living person and there is no one else worthy of being Moshiach in this generation so the Rebbe is absolutely b’chezkas Moshiach.

The moment gimmel Tamuz occurred they immediately did a one hundred and eighty degree about-face and said no! Moshiach al pi Halacha can also be of the dead even according to the Rambam. They begin with a conclusion and then try to make the Torah fit their predetermined conclusion. The dishonesty is breathtaking.

In conclusion; the answer to the first question “is the Rebbe Moshiach according to Halacha” the answer is unequivocally no, the Rebbe never was b’chezkas Moshiach according to Halacha and is today certainly not Moshiach according to Halacha, period.