Thursday, March 08, 2012

Why the Rebbe Wouldn't Say "I am Moshiach!"

Two postings ago we spoke of Chabad's Last Mission. Then we spoke of How Moshiach Will Arrive.

Now let's address - why didn't the Rebbe just come out with it and say bluntly, "I am Moshiach!"?

Because - for the Rebbe there is no "I".

In all writings attributed to the Rebbe, easily over 100 volumes, hardly twice can you find the word "I" used.

Just as Moses was the most humble of all men on the face of the earth (Num.12:3), the Rebbe too would not come out and speak of himself this way. He is the perfect conduit between God and man, in that he does not regard himself existent for any other purpose. Any attention drawn to himself in any other capacity would conflict with his essence.

We note a precedence in Tanach, where a leader of the generation speaks of himself in this blunt way - and its consequences.

When Saul went searching for his father's lost donkeys (Sam.A:9), he decided days later, as a final resort, to ask Shmuel the prophet for help. On his way into the city of Rama, he bumped into the prophet. "Do you happen to know where the seer lives", asked Saul. "I am the seer!" (אנכי הרואה), answered Shmuel.

This haughty response cost Shmuel, for it was unbecoming of him. Hashem later punished him for this. When Shmuel was sent to the home of Yishai in Beit Lechem to anoint one of Yishai's sons to replace King Saul as sovereign (Sam.A:17), Hashem struck Shmuel with several episodes of "blindness". Since he had said "I am the seer", Hashem showed him he saw nothing. As each of Yishai's sons in turn Shmuel considered as king, Hashem told Shmuel, "No, it's not him", thereby showing the "seer" he was seeing incorrectly.Then when David was fetched from the fields and stepped into the room, Shmuel figured David's features appeared inappropriate for a king. But now God shocked Shmuel into a new reality and spoke into his brain, "Shmuel, get up! Give royalty its due honor!"

This entire string of "blind" encounters Hashem used to chastise Shmuel for having referred to himself inappropriately as "I am", instead of using a modest answer (See Radak).

The Rebbe, therefore, would never just come out and say, "I am Moshiach!". He is much too humble to so proclaim.

On the other hand, he wants to be crowned by the people so he can do his job and take the Jews out of exile and into the Era of Redemption. Which is why every single talk he gave or writing he distributed in the years 5750-5752 strongly hinted at his newly-knighted rank of Moshiach.

Perhaps another compelling reason he held back from stating unambiguously "I am Moshiach" regards tripping up a large segment of Jews. For, as long as it's up to Jews to decide for themselves, they cannot be held liable according to Jewish law. If the Rebbe were to get up and proclaim "I am a prophet", or "Hashem sent me", or "I am Moshiach", then all Jews who find out suddenly become responsible to obey the prophet or king, to the point of being held liable for whatever penalty is due were they to neglect their duties. The Rebbe would not want thereby to hoist transgression upon so many Jews who may well rebuff or rationalize away their obligations to listen to him.

If you have more knowledge on these halachot (laws) regarding obeying a prophet or king that bears on this topic, please let me know.


  1. but the rebbe did say : "i am a prophet"(shoftim 5751)

  2. My recollection is he said, "And tell people Hashem has appointed a prophet who is head and shoulders above anyone else ..." (of course he was speaking about himself).