Is the Rebbe from Lubavitch the Moshiach?



I am a bachur from yeshivat Hesder who is now on a trip in Vietnam. I was just sitting in the Beit Chabad and after learning Gemara and Halacha from the Rav, I discussed with him whether the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l is the Mashiach or not. The list of proofs in the affirmative is long, and I didn’t give the Rav an easy time… I was arguing with him, but in the end I feel I have received my answer. I will list the proofs in short, and then I would greatly appreciate to know what you have to say on this topic.
1. The Rebbe was a descendent of the Maharal from Prague, who was known as a descendent from David Hamelech. 2. The Rebbe learned Torah “like David his father”. The Rebbe’s father z”l was a Rav in the second largest city in Ukraine, who was also a Mekubal and also authored sforim with great Torah depth. 3. The Rebbe was at the forefront to begin the Tshuvah movement. 4. The Rebbe “fought the wars” of Completeness of Torah - by founding Batei Chabad throughout the world; encouraging the Chabad Yeshivot to publish new insights in Torah every number of months; by publishing the largest number of sforim ever by a single person which include great depth and cover all areas of Torah;  Completeness of the Jewish nation – The Rebbe was the one who fought against the warped law of “Mi Yehudi”; Completeness of Eretz Yisrael -  The Rebbe was the one who begged and warned not to give back even one “foot breath”  of Eretz Yisrael. 5. The Rebbe himself strengthened the community when they sang for him “Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu V’Rabeinu Melech Hamoshiach L’olam Va’ed”.  6. When they came to the Baba Sali z”l and asked him whether the Rebbe from Lubavitch is the Moshiach, the Baba Sali stood up and said: “Nu, everything is fitting for him”. 7. The Rebbe called the Beit Knesset in his house at 770 – “Beit Moshiach”!
Thank you for your time to answer this question.


To the Questioner,

Since you claim to learn Gemara, you must be very aware that there are times that you learn a certain line of Gemara and the explanation given is very “dochak” (pressed into the words), and there are times where the explanation is a “pashtus” (it is obvious that it fits clearly into the words that Chazal stated). All of the proofs that you list are being used in a fashion “to fit into the words” that Chazal have used to describe the time of Moshiach. They are not the clear and obvious understanding of the words that Chazal use, as you shall see.

For one, see the Gemara in Sanhedrin 51b: Hilchisa L’Meshicha, and Rashi explains: When it will come the days of the Moshiach it will be needed for us, that the four mitot Beit Din will come back in place”. The Gemara understands clearly, without any opinion disagreeing, that once Moshiach comes the four types of capital punishment will be reinstated. This did not take place at all during the life of the Rebbe z”l.

Furthermore, see Sanhedrin 93b where Rava explains based on a pasuk in Yeshayahu (11:3) that Moshiach will have the ability to smell and judge. Rashi explains that he will be able to smell a person and judge by knowing which [litigant] is the obligated party. The Gemara does not view Rava’s opinion as any type of exaggeration, but rather relates to Rava’s opinion very technically and exactly: The Gemara immediately relates that when Bar Koziva (Bar Kochva) came to the Rabbis of the generation claiming that he was Moshiach, they said, “Let’s see if he has the ability to smell someone and judge.” Once they saw that he didn’t have that ability, [they realized he wasn’t Moshiach and eventually] he was killed. Clearly, the Gemara views this as a necessary criterion for Moshiach to have. There is no evidence that the Lubavithcher Rebbe z”l had this ability.

See also Yalkut Shimoni to Yeshayahu 52:13, Remez 476 (quoting from Midrash Tanchuma), that the pasuk is a reference to Melech Hamoshiach. The Midrash continues to elaborate that the level that Moshiach has attained will be above that of Avraham Avinu, it will be more lofty than that of Moshe Rabbenu, and will be greater than that of the Malachei Hashares. There is no one who would ever claim that the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l was greater in his spiritual level to Avraham Avinu, and certainly not greater in his actions for the Jewish nation than what was accomplished for the Jewish nation by Moshe Rabbenu.

See also Yalkut Shimoni to Yeshayahu 60:1, Remez 499 (quoting from P’sikta Rabasi), that Hakadosh Baruch Hu says that the original light that He hid on the first day of creation is waiting for Moshiach. The Midrash goes on to depict a conversation where the Satan requests to see Moshiach and Hashem allows him to see him and the Satan begins to shake and fall forward on his face when he sees Moshiach. Clearly this is not any type of experience that was sensed by anyone who was in the presence of the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l.

The way that it seems the presenters of this approach answer all of these questions, is by saying that none of these levels were seen on the Lubavithcher Rebbe yet; they will only be revealed when he reappears. This, they claim, is what the Rashi on a pasuk in Daniel is referring to when he brings the Midrash of Chazal that Moshiach will disappear from people’s eyes and be hidden for 6 months, and then will reappear again.
It is at this point that we must pause to refer back to the beginning of this letter. “There are times that you learn a certain line of Gemara and the explanation given is very “dochak” (pressed into the words), and there are times where the explanation is a “pashtus” (it is obvious that it fits clearly into the words that Chazal stated). All of the proofs that you list are being used in a fashion “to fit into the words” that Chazal have used to describe the time of Moshiach. They are not the clear and obvious understanding of the words that Chazal use.”

All of the above sources which relate to the reality of Moshiach, including those which are based on actual psukim, are given no explanation in regard to their pashtus – other than saying that they have not taken place yet. Even the source that is being used to claim that there are two times to experience Moshiach which will be divided by a time frame in which Moshiach will be “hidden” – is also not being understood in its pashtus, as that source states specifically that the time of “hiding” will be a total of 3 months (or 45 days) only (Midrash Ruth Rabba 5:6). The fact that once a person passes away he can never be considered Moshiach, as is evident from the story of Rabbi Akiva and Bar Koziva, and is stated explicitly in the Rambam Hilchos Melachim 11:3, is also explained with a non-pashtus distinction – that only when one dies through being killed does it disqualify him from being Moshiach, but not when one passes away from a natural death.

At this point it is necessary for each individual to be true to himself. Chazal tell us that from the time of the giving of the Torah, each halacha can be understood with panim l’tahara and panim l’tumah (Midrash Shochar Tov, Tehillim 12). This means that every halacha, even those that are explicitly one way, can be explained and extrapolated in some way that will appear the complete opposite. What it really depends on is the honesty and objectivity of the person who is learning the words of Torah and from what frame of mind he is using to view it in. The Gemara in Kesubos (105b) and the Ba’alei Hamussar (Tzidkas Hatzaddik 115) teach us, that when one has a personal reason to see something in a certain way, it appears to him to be totally true, until such time that he can remove himself from his subjective bias, and then see the halacha in its objective light. 

I must state that I do not mean in any way in this tshuvah to mitigate the message or the importance of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings. The Rebbe toiled his entire life to bring the cognizance and hope for the Final Geulah in a real and tangible way to the members of this generation. The fact that the Rebbe himself may not be Moshiach should not shatter anyone from accepting all the other explicit teachings of the Rebbe and the message of his sacred life. However, the claims that are made by those who go to an extreme of wishful thinking because they feel it to be a truth, rather than nullifying themselves to accept the words of Chazal on this subject just as they would accept the words of Chazal in any other part of Torah in an objective way, is something which is causing great confusion for many people and needs to be corrected by being clarified in an objective way, in order that the Torah maintain its due respect. The appropriate respect for the words of Torah – which directly relates to the impact of the Torah’s message for the people of the entire world – is only protected when its words cannot be twisted according to the subjective feelings or understandings of individuals, but rather maintain their objective message as being a true explanation of the meaning in the words that were cited - even to anyone who is not biased and has no reason to explain them in one way more than another.

Rav Nachum