|The letter (COL)|
A few days ago on the third day (Gimmel) of the Hebrew month of Tammuz (June 13th) Chabad/Lubavitch observed their Rebbe’s Yahrzeit on the 27th anniversary of his death. That generated a public letter by one of their mainstream leaders, Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov of Agudas Chassidei Chabad that ended with the following words:
We beseech our Merciful Father in Heaven: Ad Mosai?! How much longer?! May we merit together with all of Klal Yisroel, may they live and be well, to witness the fulfillment of the verse, “Arise and rejoice, etc.” with the Rebbe at the lead, to take us out of this bitter and dark exile and bring us, upright, to our Holy Land, through the true and complete Redemption, immediately and literally, Mamesh. (Emphasis mine)
This confirms what I have always suspected about their messianic beliefs. Which is that deep in their hearts they actually believe that their beloved Rebbe, R’ Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, will rise from the dead to become Moshiach!
That this is believed by many Lubavitchers is not news. When the Rebbe died, instead of lamenting it, many of them celebrated it in the belief that this was the first step towards our redemption from Galus by the Rebbe - who will arise from the dead and reveal that he is the Messiah. There was singing and dancing as the Rebbe’s body was being carried out of his office where he had died.
For a short period of time after that, this is pretty much what one heard. After awhile it quieted down among most Lubavitchers. However, in their world headquarters in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, (known as 770) that belief is not only held, it is celebrated daily with declarations about their Rebbe being Moshiach.
That became a contentious issue with the mainstream, who referred to those in control of 770 as Moshichists. Not in a flattering way. The mainstream has gone to great lengths to disabuse the rest of Orthodox Jewry of the notion that Lubavitch was in any way Moshichist. They strongly denied they were and claimed that any hyperbolic comments about the Rebbe made in this way were merely an expression of how much they loved and missed him. He was a virtual father figure to them! But they insisted that they did not believe he was Moshiach. They did however leave the door open for that possibility using Talmudic proofs that Moshiach can come from the dead.
Now 27 years later, I have not heard much public talk about that among the mainstream. In fact the few that are still like that here in Chicago were banned from Chabad’s mainstream Shul here many years ago. They are easy to identify because they have literally printed that declaration on their Kipot. (They opened up their own Shul about a mile away.)
I had always suspected that deep down even the anti Moshichists Lubavitchers were secretly Moshichists themselves. Even though they no longer said it out loud - suppressing that urge for fear it would hurt their image when doing outreach. That’s because there is another religion that believes their Messiah will be resurrected from the dead. They just believe it about another person.
The above excerpt however makes clear what even mainstream Chabad leaders believe. I have been told by a Lubavitch insider that Rabbi Shemtov is one of the biggest opponents of Chabad Moshichicts and in the forefront of trying to wrest control of 770 from them. That he made this comment 27 years after the Rebbe’s death reveals what is in his heart.
It’s not only him. I have heard almost that identical comment made by prominent Lubavitcher personalities after the speak . It is for course not uncommon to hear a wish for the coming of Moshiach after any Orthodox personality speaks. But not in this way. Even if they don’t mention the Rebbe’s resurrection, they will always end that wish with the word ‘Mamesh’. Which when spelled in Hebrew are the Rebbe’s initials.
When confronted with this, they might just answer that the Hebrew word ‘Mamesh’ just means ‘in actuality’. Which I think is just a clever way of disguising what they really mean - identifying who they believe Moshiach really is. No other Orthodox personality ever uses that word. I am told that the Rebbe also used it when referring to the coming of Moshiach. (Not sure why he had to use that word since it adds nothing to that wish other than his own initials.)
Add to this that its been 27years since the Rebbe’s death and the epicenter of Chabad is still controlled by overt Moshichists - and it makes me question the veracity of their claim that they have been trying to get rid of them since then.
I have no choice but to believe that the vast majority of Lubavitch still believe their Rebbe is Moshiach 27 yeas after he died!.
The question is why? Why after 27 years do they hold on to a belief that has always been rejected as false? A belief that is the foundation of Christianity? …albeit about someone else. A belief that one of the greatest medieval rabbinic authorities, the Rambam declared to be false?
They will provide answers and explanations about why their beliefs do not contradict the Rambam. But their fervor about this can be placed right at the Rebbe’s doorstep. Near the end of his life, he focused almost exclusively on the coming of Moshiach - making the astonishing claim that his arrival; was imminent. That the Jewish people were just a few Mitzvos away from his coming.
There is no group of Chasidim that are as devoted to their Rebbe as Chabad Chasidim. Even long after his death, they hang on his every word. Indeed - almost every word he had ever uttered has been published. If the Rebbe said Moshiach’s arrival is imminent - it is!
The Rebbe’s talk of Moshiach was so strong prior to his death that many (most) Lubavitchers believed the Rebbe himself was Moshiach and was about to reveal himself to world Jewry. That was a mainstream belief among most of them. So that when he died, they reinterpreted those beliefs into an imminent resurrection as Moshiach.
For his part the Rebbe denied he was Moshiach. But his denials were tepid in comparison to what most of Lubavicthers believed. They probably thought he was just being modest. Or that he did not want to give it away until the appropriate moment where he would reveal himself .
I believe that since that was the last big project of the Rebbe it has stayed in the forefront of their minds.
Why should it make any difference what they believe? Because we cannot allow a belief that has been thoroughly rejected throughout history to become mainstream. Judaism cannot be built on falsehoods no matter how much good is done by the people that believe them.
One rabbinic authority, R’ Eliezer Menachem Mann Shach had branded those Chabad beliefs heretical and had some very unkind words blaming for the Rebbe for it. Rav Schach’s disciples will not even eat from their Shechita.
My own Rebbe, Rav Ahron Soloveichik was very close to Chabad and did not go that far. He just called it a Shtus (foolishness). But perpetuating foolishness for 27 years is not normal. There is a danger of it becoming an integral part of their very theology – if it hasn’t already. And then being spread to the hundreds of thousands of Jews they reach out to.
This would cause a major split among Jewry. A split that will nonetheless entail strict observance to Halacha by both sides. If the belief that a man will arise from the dead to become the Messiah would spread beyond Chabad via their massive outreach - it would be a tragic distortion of an unprecedented nature.
At this point I don’t know that there is anything we can do about it. But at the very least I think we need to know the truth.