Monday, July 23, 2012

Moshiach: Dead or Alive?
My Take on a Gemora in Sanhedrin 98b

The Talmud depicts the character of the Jewish Messiah: "If he is among the living, he is someone like Rabbi Yehuda; If he is from the dead, he is someone like Daniel." Why them specifically? Says Rashi, "because they were extraordinarily righteous and absorbed much suffering."

Rashi explains "If he is from the dead":
"If you want an example in this generation of someone who qualifies to be Moshiach, it's Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi. And if the candidate would be of a previous era who would qualify, it could be Daniel. This phrase 'if you want an example' doesn't presuppose one way or the other.

In other words, he can be from the dead or from the living.

Then Rashi continues:
"And another version:
If such a personality we see today, it's Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi ... or, were he to be as exemplified by a personage of yesteryear, he would be like Daniel."

In his 2nd explanation Rashi is saying that were Moshiach to come presently, he would come only from the present generation;  and worthy candidate examples, from past and present, who Moshiach would resemble (Rabbi Yehuda or someone like Daniel) are offered.

Rashi thereby explains that Moshiach can come from both the dead and certainly from the present.

The Rebbe's 'shita', i.e., the Rebbe's usual way of looking at opposing views in gemora,  is always to find a mediating position where in fact both positions bear validity. Both positions in fact can be understood as the same position, or are not arguing at all.

Well here, how so? How can "from the dead" and "from the living", two opposing views, be rectified to being compatible with each other?

Chabad chassidim, especially those who believe the Rebbe is Moshiach, have no problem here weaving together both perspectives into one. The Rebbe, to be sure had been buried, just as sure as Yaakov Avinu was buried. But just as Yaakov remains alive, despite the burial, and in a way that we don't even expect to understand but accept on full faith because Talmud Torah tells us so, so too the Rebbe, who on the 3rd of Tammuz took an exit from this world as we see it, is well and alive, albeit invisible to us, and is Moshiach who happens to be both "dead" and "alive" too.

As a follower of the Rebbe, my view is slanted. In every generation a head of the generation is planted by God upon the body of the Jewish people, ever since the first generation of Jews, the generation of Moses. No leader of the Jewish people is physically apparent today, in this generation, yet the Rebbe's outreach, the Rebbe's influence and his war against the enemies of the Jews is today still gaining momentum and quite apparent - for those who want to see.

We waited with anticipation. This generation, the Rebbe said, is the last generation of exile and the very first generation of the Era of Redemption. All indications point to the Rebbe as having been granted by God the rank of King Moshiach.

There are those who stoutly trust the natural events of Tammuz 3, 5754, as decisive, thus proving that the Rebbe's Messianic kingship had been forfeited, that he was thus disqualified for the crown.

Others, as myself, believe the natural events on that fateful day, changed - not the true supernatural state of King Moshiach - but rather our perception of him; That we were thrown into a sensory "darkness" in order to withstand the test alluded to at the end of the book of Daniel (12:12), where Rashi asserts that Moshiach "will reveal himself, then hide himself, and then again reveal himself." And, as Daniel says, "Happy will be he who stands the test of this intermediate period of concealment!"


  1. Enjoyed reading this! Thanks for the chizuk.

  2. B"H
    just great. You're up to your usual self. Keep going with the sources and the sichas. This is your strength. And you give strength to others.