Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Who is Moshiach?" Precedents

How dare Chabad ruffle the composure of the rest of Jewry. Have they nothing better to hawk than some phony goods, taking Jews for fools? Blinded by love for their Rebbe, are they so vain and insolent to cast their leader as the anointed one who leads all Jews and therefore all Jews should fall in line and parade for him as well?

To be sure, Chabad is not the first group of Jews to so flaunt their Rebbe to the public. In fact, they aren't the 2nd, 3rd or even the 4th either. In Jewish history we have recorded in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 98b) several such cases that occurred roughly two millennia ago. Four other chassidic groups in the past began a campaign trying to get all Jews to acknowledge their rebbe as the Moshiach. Each of these four groups was convinced it was their own rebbe who achieved that coveted anointed status of Moshiach, and then tried to foist upon the rest of Jewry to accept their conclusion.

These four groups came from four different Yeshivas. The yeshiva students in the Yeshiva of Rabbi Shiloh held that their yeshiva leader was Moshiach. Another group of yeshiva students, from the Yeshiva of Yanai, claimed Moshiach was none other than the chief rabbi of their Yeshiva. Yet another congregation of yeshiva students, from the Yeshiva of Chaninah, claimed it was Chaninah who was Moshiach. A forth group felt Moshiach was the personage of Menachem, the son of Chizkiyah.

Who started these rumors of Moshiach? In each of the above 4 cases, Rashi (ibid) reveals to us a very valuable lesson. He says, regarding each of the yeshiva leaders,
"כל אחד היה דורש אחר שמו"
"Each head of the yeshiva found scriptural sources in Torah to bear out his contention."

Note, then, the yeshiva students did not by themselves initiate the Moshichist rumors! Not any of the 4 times did the students - on their own - originate that which later they broadcast. In each case, the initiator who convinced the yeshiva students as to the identity of Moshiach was - none other than their own rebbe - himself - of himself!

As with the precedents, Chabad chassidim too did not launch their newsworthy revelation of their own initiative. As with the precedents, the initiative came - from The Rebbe himself!

Those outside of Chabad and resistant to granting the Rebbe the rank of Moshiach my believe Chabad sucked out this fantasy from sheer love and admiration for their rebbe and from some flimsy or hollow evidence.

In fact, the Rebbe fostered in his chassidim a deep anticipation for Moshiach for over 40 years, since the beginning of his leadership - in fact, from the very first articulation of chassidus (מאמר) he delivered upon accepting his role. And right from the start Moshiach was the hallmark with which he associated this generation, calling it "the last generation of Exile and the first generation of the Era of Ultimate Redemption". Then, over all the years, he provided more and more evidence that lead his chassidim to the inexorable conclusion that none other than their Rebbe is, in fact, Moshaich. Not only that, but he asked his chassidim to broadcast this revelation, albeit in a delicate manner.

How easy it is to deride Chabad based on what his chassidim are saying. The mockers cannot, after all, get over 40 years of talks, anecdotes, prophecies, miracles and observations packaged neatly into a brief comprehensive overview from chassidim anxious to tell it all, to blurt it all out (although the book "עתה ידעתי" does a great job of it in Hebrew). Those bent on criticizing the Chabad chassid's knowledge will not study - nor open any of the Rebbe's scores of volumes of talks to read for themselves. They will not check for themselves. For these mockers, Moshiach is an important subject - but not that important. It's easier to trivialize the single most important aspect of Jewish life the world was created for in the first place and thereby dodge their responsibility to truth and commitment to Hashem's final master plan.

Moshiach will not become King of the Jews unless the Jews nominate him as king over them.
"אין מלך בלי עם".
The job of Moshiach's soldiers is to march out into the crowds and herald his identity. In the end it will happen however, that
"ומלכותו ברצון קבלו עליהם"
"And his sovereignty they will accept upon themselves - willingly!"

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