Boston Globe. Likkutei Sichos in Hebrew. Kehot Publication Society. Schneerson Yud-Gimmel 13th Tishrei, ". Archived from the original on Retrieved External links. Categories : Chabad outreach Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic dynasty. Credit: see original file. Chabad mitzvah campaigns. Suggest as cover photo Would you like to suggest this photo as the cover photo for this article? Yes, this would make a good choice No, never mind. Thank you for helping! Thanks for reporting this video! Oh no, there's been an error Please help us solve this error by emailing us at support wikiwand.
Thank you! Part of a series on. One should strive as much as possible, and more, to influence every single Jew, regardless of his location or circumstances, to designate a set time for Torah study. When one encounters a Jew in the street, one should ask him if he has already set a time for Torah study. If he has, one should influence him to increase further—ideally, by influencing him to become a teacher himself. In practical terms, each Jew must proceed in Torah and Mitzvos, the channels for his growth being the Ten Mivtzoim, beginning with oneself, and then spreading forth Torah and Jewishness to the fullest extent of his influence The Mivtzoim should be spread with joy.
Although many were quick to accept this hypothesis, Professor Jon D. Levenson Harvard University has demonstrated that it is an expression of liberal Protestant theology that goes far beyond the textual evidence. The foregoing criticism does not invalidate all of the questions and conclusions suggested by that school of thought.
Many of their observations have proven helpful in later biblical scholarship. The traditional Jewish starting point is rather different: God revealed the Torah to Moses and Israel as an unparalleled and revolutionary vision for Israel and for all of humanity. Its laws and narratives mesh as integral components of a sophisticated, exalted, unified program for life. The later prophets came to uphold and encourage faithfulness to God and the Torah.
So, for example, the Book of Samuel extols David for his exceptional faith in battling Goliath, and then mercilessly condemns him for the Bathsheba affair. This viewpoint reflects the singular philosophy of Tanakh—profoundly honest evaluation of people based on their actions. It would be specious to argue that the first half of the narrative was written by someone who supported David, whereas the latter account was authored by someone who hated David. Rather, the entire narrative was written by prophets who loved God and who demanded that even the greatest and most beloved of our leaders be faithful to the Torah.
Of course, truth is infinitely complex and is presented in multiple facets in Tanakh. Additionally, our understanding is necessarily subject to the limitations of human interpretation. Nevertheless, the text remains the standard against which we evaluate all opinions. Religious scholarship admits or is supposed to admit! The ideal learning framework espouses traditional beliefs and studies as a means to a religious end, and defines issues carefully, while striving for intellectual openness and honesty.
Reaching this synthesis is difficult, since it requires passionate commitment alongside an effort to be detached while learning in order to refine knowledge and understanding. Angel quotes the Jerusalem Talmud, which states that the path of Torah has fire to its right and ice to its left. Followers of the Torah must attempt to walk precisely in middle J.
Hagigah , 77a. Literary tools, comparative linguistics, as well as the discovery of a wealth of ancient texts and artifacts have contributed immensely to our understanding the rich tapestry and complexity of biblical texts. The groundbreaking work of twentieth-century scholars such as Umberto Moshe David Cassuto, Yehudah Elitzur, Yehoshua Meir Grintz, Yehezkel Kaufmann, and Nahum Sarna has enhanced our understanding of the biblical world by combining a mastery of Tanakh with a thorough understanding of the ancient Near Eastern texts unearthed during the previous two centuries.
At the same time, it must be recognized that our knowledge of the ancient world is limited. We have uncovered but a small fraction of the artifacts and literature of the ancient Near Eastern world, and much of what we have discovered is subject to multiple interpretations. We should be thrilled to gain a better sense of the biblical period, but must approach the evidence with prudent caution as well. To benefit from contemporary biblical scholarship properly, we first must understand our own tradition—to have a grasp of our texts, assumptions, and the range of traditional interpretations.
This educational process points to a much larger issue. For example, studying comparative religion should be broadening. However, people unfamiliar with their own tradition, or who know it primarily from non-traditional teachers or textbooks, will have little more than a shallow basis for comparison. Religious scholarship benefits from contemporary findings—both information and methodology. Outside perspectives prod us to be more critical in our own learning. On the other side of the equation, the academy stands to benefit from those who are heirs to thousands of years of tradition, who approach every word of Tanakh with awe and reverence, and who care deeply about the intricate relationship between texts.
Ultimately, we must recognize the strengths and weaknesses in the approaches of the yeshivah and the academy. By doing so, we can study the eternal words of Tanakh using the best of classical and contemporary scholarship. This process gives us an ever-refining ability to deepen our relationship with God, the world community, and ourselves. Norman Lamm has set the tone for this inquiry:.
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Conventional dogmas, even if endowed with the authority of an Aristotle—ancient or modern—must be tested vigorously. If they are found wanting, we need not bother with them. But if they are found to be substantially correct, we may not overlook them. This survey includes traditional approaches regarding exposure to sciences, humanities, and other disciplines. Soloveitchik , ed. Marc D. Angel Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, , p. Amnon Bazak, Ad ha-Yom ha-Zeh , pp.
That is what we do for a living. But the folly of harmonizing away every contradiction, every duplication, is less than the folly of chopping the text into dozens of particles or redactional levels. At the conclusion of his commentary, Propp explains that he often consulted medieval rabbinic commentators precisely because they saw unity in the composite whole of the Torah p.
See also Michael V. See also R. The Seforim Blog is happy to present this excerpt from pages We get a strong sense of what a thoughtful and caring man he was, and how much his relationship with his new son-in-law meant to him. Material like this is extremely rare. In his fifty years of public work the Seventh Rebbe seldom spoke or wrote about himself. From the correspondence, we see how important it was for Rayatz to be intimately connected with the personal lives of his family. The Sixth Rebbe chronicles his travels and experiences in detail, along with their emotional ups and downs.
He expects Menachem Mendel to reciprocate and is disappointed when requests to his son-in-law to share his life experiences are not forthcoming. Menachem Mendel, by his own confession, lived in the world of thought, and the little details of everyday life were not important to him. Just to fill a piece of paper with incidental details, to write a letter for the sake of writing a letter—why should I steal your time for that? Rayatz is persistent. The reason why I have not written is due to the lack of interesting events to report.
After this introduction, I must say that, while I do not consider it to be a particular virtue, it seems that—whether as a result of my natural disposition or outside influences—I am such a person. For as long as I can remember, there has been a paucity of interesting events in my life, things that I found personally engaging. This, however, does not stop Rayatz from showering forth his emotions on paper: love and affection, repeated blessings for children and happy marriage, as well as his frustrations. Sometimes we find Rayatz expressing his distress.
What an awful shame chaval chaval that you did not see all this. I kissed the stones of the Western Wall with a bittersweet pleasure. Rayatz also showed, on one occasion, a fondness for allegory and riddle which did not seem to engage Menachem Mendel. Or did you already fathom my riddle? That was what I implied in my letter, but you did not discern what I intimated. What are you learning in Chasidut? How much time per day, i. Do you have any fixed study times? And in the ten years between and he increasingly appeared to be not only a religious individual but also a scholarly, Challenge: An encounter with Lubavitch-Chabad.
London: Lubavitch Foundation , pp. Whether or not this was actually true of the Besht does not invalidate my point, which is that the Rebbe would have known the tradition that he only masqueraded as a peasant to conceal his true identity. Nonetheless, despite the Rebbe being the son-in-law of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, he, in comparison to the other son-in-law Rabbi Gourary, refrained from taking a more active role in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. For many years he was employed as an engineer at the Brooklyn Naval Dock Yard, and is said to have designed and patented parts for U.
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People became visibly more religious. Leissner accurately sums up his achievement as follows: Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson single-handedly transformed Habad from a small, relatively unknown group of Jews into an internationally recognized and respected religious group with tens of thousands of devotees and ties to over a million other people.
At this time, Habad is the fastest growing Jewish religious group with adherents all over the world and representatives on every inhabited continent. The Rebbe is attributed with this growth both due to his amazing charisma and ability to utilize a modern and technological world. One is There are also rumours that he was consulted about the design of the Verrazano-Narrows, Staten Island, Suspension Bridge, but I have been unable to substantiate these claims. New York: Jason Aronson The reason for the success of the movement within the secular Jewish world has largely been due to two factors.
The first is the romanticising of Hasidism and the reawakening of interest in Jewish mysticism, and its re-establishment at the heart of the history of Judaism. The latter was brought about partially by the work of Gershom Scholem, who successfully challenged the marginalization of mysticism within Judaism by Heinrich Graetz and other rationalists of the Wissenschaft des Judentums School. The former was largely a result of the advocacy of Martin Buber. Buber, more than anyone else, caught the imagination of many non-practicing Jews by depicting Hasidism as a kind of folksy Jewish existentialism.
Secondly, the Lubavitchers are enthusiastic and expert marketers of their philosophy, and can at times be ruthless and clever manipulators of the media. They are, on the whole, very good at adapting their message to a particular fashion, or trimming it to a particular audience. But they are also extremely earnest and sincere, and remain true to their beliefs and cause. This makes them modern yet orthodox, dynamic yet traditional, exciting yet thoughtful. Likewise although the Rebbe was a mystic attempting to trigger a spiritual and existential awakening, he was also a politician and statesman.
Thus there has been a steady offensive mounted by Chabad within the Orthodox Jewish world, as well as outside of it among rank-and-file secular Jews, some of whom eventually end up On the influence of Chabad on the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, see Chapter 1. These changes may never become visible in the adoption of the outward garb and customs of the Lubavitch movement.
It is always hard to measure the degree of change that takes place through the dissemination and absorption of ideas. It is often manifested in subtle changes of attitude and emphasis. But at the present juncture of Jewish history it requires no gift of prophecy to predict that Chabad is likely to play a key role in the survival and development of Judaism. Judaism in the future is likely to speak with a noticeable Chabad accent. Nonetheless he is said to have remained fully compos mentis, and on occasions was able to gather the strength to speak to his secretariat.
He even continued to answer questions and give advice as best he could. Over the next two years the Rebbe spent much of his life in and out of hospitals mainly in , and his Hasidim were rarely allowed to see him. During these two years, when the Rebbe was for the most part unable to speak, emotions ran high and local politics and factional infighting took over Crown Heights and the broader Lubavitch community. His followers did not know how to cope with a less-than-vigorous Rebbe.
Most people said psalms for his miraculous recovery. With every deterioration in his condition the Yeshiva students were directed to recite more Psalms and to increase the level of their already ultra-orthodox observance. All of this only helped to fuel the messianic frenzy that had gripped the movement. On June 12 , equivalent to the Hebrew date of the 3rd Tammuz , while in hospital in Manhattan, the Rebbe suffered a fatal heart attack from which he never recovered. His body was taken to his headquarters that night.
The news broke and travelled by radio, telephone and word of mouth throughout the Jewish world. The reactions amongst the Chabad-Lubavitch fraternity were mixed. Many were not informed whether the Rebbe had passed away, or had miraculously recovered, and returned to his headquarters. At about 7. In front of it was a circle of dancing Yeshiva students, chanting the mantra Yechi Adonainoo. However, at approximately 8.
Men and women came out of the entrance to in tears. It became a prayer that the Rebbe would be resurrected at any moment, perhaps even magically brought back to life by the very singing. The chant in a sense claimed that despite what people might think had happened, true believers knew that the Rebbe was still the potential Moshiach and that he would lead the world out of Exile and into the Redemption. The anti-messianic camp claimed that the Rebbe had never actually said he was the Messiah and that the entire messianic episode was due to a misunderstanding by his more fanatical followers.
They argue that the Rebbe disassociated himself from being called Moshiach, and if this applied before his death, how much more so after his passing. Not only was it I am reporting here largely what I witnessed at first hand. However, we were not privileged actually to see him. Others believed that the death was real, but that the Rebbe would be resurrected at any moment, and bring about the actual Redemption.
Was there indeed another Zaddik who was upholding up the world, or had the world in some way, actually ceased to exist? The Rebbe did little to plan and prepare for the continuation of his movement after his passing, through appointing or alluding to a successor. He left no heir apparent. On the contrary, a few years before his death he set about to undermine and dismantle the hierarchy of his own movement through his teachings. One thing became clear: the love and the loyalty of the Lubavitch movement was directed toward the Rebbe alone, and no one, no matter how saintly, could replace him.
Rabbi M. Schneerson was probably the last Rebbe of the Chabad- Lubavitch dynasty.
For the present, and the foreseeable future, both camps within the movement hold that if he is to ever be replaced it will only be by his own resurrected self, in the moments just before the heavenly descent of the Jerusalem Temple, in the true and complete Redemption.
However, like an organic life form, cells die off and others grow, people leave and people join, but overall Chabad-Lubavitch having gained momentum is probably expanding as fast, if not slightly faster, than when the Rebbe was alive. The movement, though divided by political and financial infighting, still manages to exercise a profound influence on a vast proportion of world Jewry. Jewish messianism, as Moshe Idel has rightly stressed in his monograph Messianic Mystics, is a highly diverse phenomenon, more complex than Gershom Scholem was prepared to allow see Chapters 9 and There is a vast array of traditional Jewish messianic literature, which proposes many different models of the Messiah and many different scenarios of the eschaton.
Interestingly, the Rebbe chose as his starting point not some of the more mystically orientated traditions, such as we find in the Zohar or Abraham Abulafia, but rather the very this-worldly, political ideas of Maimonides. Maimonides states: If a King should arise from the house of David, who delves deeply into Torah and who is occupied with mitzvot like David his father, in accordance with the Written and the Oral Torah, and who forces all Israel to follow it, and to strengthen its weaknesses, and who battles in the wars of God — behold, as for this [person], it is presumed that he is Moshiach.
These correspond to two main phases in the unfolding of the messianic era itself namely Idel, Moshe. Maimonides does not actually mention this here, but he believed in it, and it can only fit into his scenario here at the end. A Halachic king can only be confirmed in office by an official Sanhedrin, but, according to most accounts of the end-time, the official Sanhedrin will only be reconstituted after the Temple is rebuilt, which Maimonides relegates to a later stage in the process.
There are a number of ways of resolving this paradox. The reason why Maimonides stipulates that any potential messianic candidate must be seen to be delving into Torah and occupied with mitzvoth is because the traditional vision of the messianic era is of a time when the observance of the Torah and its commandments will be carried out in the most complete way.
This will necessitate the rebuilding of the Temple, because many of the commandments of the Torah are concerned with Temple sacrifices. It is inconceivable that any valid messianic candidate would behave in a manner that would contradict this idea, on which the ultimate fulfilment of the Torah depends. Thus it is not only necessary that he delves into the Torah and practices its commandments; it is also necessary that he does so in accordance with the accepted norms of traditional Judaism.
The implication appears to be that it is the complete observance of the whole Torah that is the primary goal of the messianic age, and the rest follows from this. It is by restoring the Jewish monarchy, rebuilding the Temple, and gathering in the Isaiah The Rabbis. The ultimate purpose of the messianic era is not to re-establish the Davidic monarchy and the Temple, and to gather in the exiles, but to restore the observance of the Torah itself, and give the Jewish people the chance to implement all its commandments in full.
The monarchy, the Temple and the ingathering of the exiles are only a means to this end. Then, in his days, all the statutes will be re-instituted as in former times. We will offer sacrifices and observe the sabbatical year and the Jubilee according to all their particulars as set forth in the Torah. All the elements of Torah observance which were lacking in exile — because the entire Jewish people did not live in Eretz Yisrael and because the Beis HaMikdosh was destroyed — will be renewed.
He is scrupulous to perform the mitzvoth to their utmost specification — and even beyond. From a Hasidic perspective, the Messiah will be someone who will do the same, that is to say he will perform the Torah and its commandments completely, and encourage compel others to do likewise. The Torah that will be fully restored in the messianic age will be the Torah that we already know, the Torah Isaiah Maimonides would utterly disqualify as potential Messiah anyone who would advocate the abrogation of any of the mitzvoth, since this would negate the whole point of the messianic project.
He must enforce traditional Jewish practice amongst the Jewish people, in the same way as Ezra and the other leaders of the first return to Israel from Babylonia in the Persian period. This begins to define the messianic candidate in a pragmatic and public way. Rather he will be a recognized religious leader, who will play a very public role and influence the entire Jewish people. Rather he understands the wars as referring to a spiritual struggle for the souls of the Jewish people and for the dissemination of the knowledge of God, which he regards as being taught in its purest form by Hasidism.
They are metaphorical. The Rebbe even saw the war against Amalek, which according to the Midrash will take place at the start of the Messianic era, as primarily a spiritual battle. This characterizes the first major phase of the messianic disclosure. This is the crucial act, which transforms the potential Messiah into the actual Messiah. Anyone who fulfils all these conditions is confirmed as the actual Messiah, and when he appears the second phase of the Messianic era will have begun. The Rebbe, reasonably, understands Maimonides as implying that the marks of the actual Messiah are additional to those of the potential Messiah.
They are not meant to replace them. The actual Messiah must continue to demonstrate both scholarly and practical commitment to traditional Judaism, and he must raise the level of observance of the Jewish people. Success is a sign of his true messiahship. If we carry through the spiritualising interpretation of this statement, we face an obvious practical problem of deciding how and when we will know that the Messiah has been victorious in a spiritual war. What will the outward, visible signs be? The Rebbe did, however, take the conflict as spiritual throughout.
There are several indications of this. Traditionally this event has been seen as the clear and unequivocal boundary that separates the two main phases in the revelation of the Messiah. The next task to be undertaken by the Messiah, once he has finished rebuilding the Temple, is to gather in the dispersed remnants of Israel.
Maimonides does not elaborate on what he envisages here, but the presumption is that it involves bringing all men to acknowledge the one true God, and to join together in pure, brotherly, unified worship of him. There are other scenarios of the messianic era found in traditional Jewish sources, which in some cases supplement, and in others contradict the Maimonidean account. There has always been a suspicion, already expressed in his lifetime, that Maimonides, as a good Aristotelian, was not entirely comfortable with the concept of the bodily resurrection of the dead.
Though it is somewhat curious that it is not mentioned here, Maimonides clearly believed in it: it is mentioned in his Thirteen Principles in the Commentary on the Mishnah, in his Epistle to the Yemen, and elsewhere in his writings. This resurrection is defined traditionally as the rising en masse of every single Jewish man, woman or child that ever existed, together with all the righteous gentiles throughout history.
The event is said to take place approximately forty years after the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple, and to inaugurate a new era of miracles, marked by the complete fulfilment of the positive prophecies of the Hebrew prophets, the cessation of death, and, according to Nachmanides, eternal life on earth. The Rebbe and his followers certainly believed in the future general resurrection of the dead. They also believed, and this is not an element found anywhere in Maimonides, that the general resurrection will be preceded by a minor resurrection that will take place just prior to the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple.
In addition they will perhaps help to perform the dedication of it, and to reinstate the sacrifices. Included in this small group would be Moses, Aaron, David and other righteous kings and leaders of Israel. However, there was also another text that was central to his conception of the messianic era and of the role of the Messiah. Likkutei Sichos, Vol. Igros Kodesh, Vol. II, p. III, sections , ; Migdal David, p. See also Sichos Kodesh Kehot , p. No mention is made of wars, of defeat of political foes, of great political leaders.
It was doubtless as the result of his attempts to reconcile the Besht with Maimonides that the Rebbe was drawn into so heavy a spiritualized reading of Maimonides.
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The Rebbe has overlaid the Besht upon Maimonides and interpreted the latter through the lens of the former. We will return to issues again in Chapter 7. They saw the Holocaust as the birth pangs of Moshiach and believed that the redemption was acutely imminent, and that Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak was their messianic redeemer. It is uncertain what role Rabbi Menachem M.
Leiden: Brill, It needs to be pointed out that the Previous Rebbe had a very different personality from that of Menachem Mendel, his son-in-law. The Previous Rebbe came across as thoroughly human: he freely shared his feelings, his fears, his joys, and innermost desires. That is not to say that the Rebbe did not express emotion: quite the contrary; he was reported as crying publicly on many occasions. Despite these differences in personality, once the Rebbe and the Previous Rebbe had established the Lubavitch headquarters in the United States, the Rebbe showed marked humility and subservience towards his father-in-law.
This was probably not only in order to increase his chances of receiving the mantle of leadership, but also to provide an example of the humility that his own followers Shabbos Vayigash , and Maamar of 10 Shevat — Also See: Schneerson, Rabbi Yosef. Trans R. On many occasions he would merely speak of himself as the continuation and emissary of the Previous Rebbe. It was understood that on the many occasions when the Rebbe spoke of the Previous Rebbe, his father-in-law, he was actually talking about himself, or at least implying that each statement could equally apply to himself.
If one perceives negative traits in another and judges him … it is a judgement about oneself; how much more so with regards to good traits. Rather, he often describes his leadership as merely a phase in, and extension of, the leadership of his father- in-law. The leader of the generation is in fact Moshiach of the generation.
This likewise applies to his successor, the continuation and extension [of his leadership] after him. The Seventh Leader is the Messiah It is one of the main contentions of this dissertation that, contrary to what is sometimes said, the Moshiach campaign, and particularly the campaign to proclaim the Rebbe as the Messiah, was not driven exclusively by the zealots among his followers, although they certainly played a role.
It has been argued quite successfully on the public relations front that the primary movers and shakers in this new messianic movement were returnees Baalai Teshuva , and this is not entirely wrong. However, this argument distracts our attention from the ultimate source of this Shabbos Chayei Sarah, Sefer HaSichos , ch. Shabbos Beshalach, , unedited, printed in Tzadik L'Melech, vol. The messianic movement in general, and the movement to proclaim the Rebbe as the Presumed Messiah in particular, goes back to the Rebbe himself.
In , after accepting the role as leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, the Rebbe summarised and expounded the first chapter of the last discourse of the Previous Rebbe. The Maamor implied that his generation was to be the one that merited the ultimate messianic revelation, and that he was to be the long awaited Messiah, even though, to confuse matters, he points to his deceased predecessor as the messianic candidate, as mentioned earlier.
The following is a brief and extensively edited quotation that aims to summarise the entire discourse. On the contrary … every Jew, even a slave and handmaiden can attain the inspiration of the Divine Spirit. It is this that is demanded of each and every one of us of the seventh generation [and]…we are now very near the approaching footsteps of Moshiach. Indeed, we are at the conclusion of this period, and our spiritual task is to complete the process of drawing down … the essence of the Shechinah — specifically within our lowly world… [Since] it is impossible to state that the ultimate intent of creation was for the sake of the higher worlds, for even [the loftiest of them,] the World of Atzilus, is [merely] a revelation of that which had previously been concealed….
All the above is accomplished through the passing histalkus of Zaddikim, that is even harsher than the destruction of the Temple. Since we have already experienced all these things, everything now depends only on us — the seventh generation. May we be privileged to see and meet with the Rebbe here is this world, in a physical body, in this earthy domain — and he will redeem us. Our generation, the seventh generation since the Alter Rebbe Despite such allusions, and even more clear and unambiguous statements and references to his messianic potential, some of which will be discussed later in this chapter, the Rebbe steadfastly denied and opposed any explicit and public declarations of this belief, claiming that it would distance people outside of the movement from the study of Hasidic philosophy, Chabad, and ultimately, from Judaism.
The Rebbe is said to have been furious and ordered all the leaflets to be picked up. The Rebbe called the year of the revelation of Moshiach. The Rebbe was on one hand whipping up his followers into a messianic frenzy, all the time hinting at the fact that he was the Messiah or a potential messianic candidate, and yet on the other hand belittling and condemning anyone who attempted to make such a claim public.
This entire episode has often been used by the anti-messianic faction within the Chabad-Lubavitch movement to prove that the Rebbe never actually wanted the idea that he was the Messiah to be spread, and that, in fact, it was not his own belief but only that of his followers. Moreover, his opposition to any public declarations to this effect was apparently not because he did not actually agree with the premise, but rather because he felt it was not, from a public relations perspective, the right time to make such a claim.
New York. Israel New York: Mendelsohn Press What the obligation of someone who does not know the Rebbe well enough to recognise his nevuah is — I'm not sure. Since Maimonides is one of the few major Halachic codifiers who rules concretely on the definition and status of a prophet, this will primarily involve an examination and exploration of his rulings on the subject. The attitude of Jewish theology towards prophecy is highly complex.
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All prophets that stand before us, and say that God sent them, do not have to do any miracles … except this miracle, which is to speak of future events in the world. And if even a small thing falls [from his prophecy], you know he is a false prophet, and if all the things happen [that he said would happen], he is in our See Appendix, , p.
And test him many times, and if his words happen, believe them all, for behold he is a true prophet. As a prophet who came neither to add nor to detract form the Torah, but to bring the community back to the performance of the mitzvoth, he does not need such validation. The first point to note is the Talmudic insistence that the phenomenon of prophecy came to an end some time between Ezra and the destruction of the Second Temple.
This is the implication of passages such as Pirkei Avot where the Torah is said to have been handed on in this period from the Prophets to the Men of the Great Synagogue, that is to say to the scholars. The clear implication is that from then on the will of God was to be discerned by the Sages, exercising their innate faculties to understand and to apply the Torah given once-for-all at Sinai, and that miracles were irrelevant to their deliberations. This is illustrated by the famous story in the Talmud about the dispute between the Sages over an Akhnai oven Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 59a-b.
Having seen his arguments rejected by the other scholars, Rabbi Eliezer resorts to miracle to prove his case. He performs three dramatic physical miracles, only to have them each ruled out of court. The apocalyptic movement of Second Temple times has clearly some relationship to prophecy: from a literary point of view it borrows heavily fundamental elements and motifs from the prophetic writings, though it testifies eloquently to the prevailing belief at this period in the demise of prophecy that none of the apocalyptists presents his own views under his own name, but pseudepigraphically in the name of great figures from the prophetic past.
In the Talmudic period, arguably within a Talmudic milieu though this is disputed , the Heikhalot mystics engaged in prophetic activities with their ascents to heaven, their visions and their conjurations of the Sar Torah down to earth. Unease about the activities of the Yoredei Merkavah is evident in the Talmud. Even Maimonides seems to entertain the possibility that prophecy, which he philosophically identified with union with the Active Intellect, was still attainable through the right intellectual and moral training Aristotle had all but achieved it; Maimonides himself may actually have succeeded.
Nevertheless, the cessation of prophecy is a fundamental tenet of the Rabbinic credo, and as a result a claim to prophetic powers raises immediate interest and questions. The reason for this is simple. Cessation of prophecy underpins Rabbinic authority by transferring access to the will of God from those to whom God speaks directly prophets to those who discover it through interpreting His written word scribes and scholars. If prophecy still continues, then the authority of the scribes and scholars can always be subverted by an appeal to fresh revelation.
By stating that prophecy had ended, the Rabbis not only entrenched their own power and authority, but made prophecy suspect, and indeed potentially heretical. Yet there was a strong Idel, Messianic Mystics. New Haven and London: Yale University press. Mystical Experience in Abraham Abulafia. Sabbatai Sevi, pp. One answer to the question of why prophecy had ceased in the first place was to argue that it was a phenomenon associated with political autonomy, peace and prosperity for the Jewish people.
Its demise more or less coincided with the end of political freedom. But that freedom will return in the Messianic Age, and so logically prophecy should return as well. To accord prophetic status to himself at once gave his utterances the highest religious authority that Judaism recognizes, but at the same time it indicated that the Messianic Era was about to arrive, or had indeed already begun.
Also see, Goldish, Matt. The Sabbatean Prophets. Harvard University Press Eiruvin 43b Zechariah , Isaiah , Jeremiah , Joel 3. He was very much aware of the context of what he was saying, even explicitly stating that this pronouncement was Halachic in nature. The Humble and Clever Prophet It is important to note that the Rebbe did not base his claim to prophecy solely on his own religious qualities, but rather on those of his father-in-law, whose religious integrity and standing no one within the movement or outside of it, could or would ever challenge.
A crucial passage is to be found in the first half of a Sicha on Parshas Shoftim for These parallel verses clearly indicate that the process of appointing Judges and Advisers applies to the messianic era. The issue the Rebbe raises, almost without having to say so, is that he believes that this biblical verse is not only relevant today on some moral or mystical level, but actually applies today as a mitzvah! In the next section of the talk, the Rebbe brings biblical as well as rabbinic sources to prove that the previous Rebbe was an actual prophet, and that this idea is not an alien concept, but well within the norms of traditional Judaism.
The Rebbe then almost rhetorically asks his Hasidim to agree with him that the previous Rebbe showed such signs of being a prophet. It is questionable whether the Previous Rebbe, or for that matter the Rebbe himself, were ever officially tested by anyone to prove that they were indeed prophets. However, personal accounts as well as famous stories do gift the Rebbe and, at least according to the Rebbe, the Previous Rebbe with prophetic insights on more than three occasions.
If it is the case that at least some, if not all, the pronouncements of the Previous Rebbe are to be taken as the words of a prophet, it is imperative to listen to what he has to say. Not only is he speaking the word of God, but, if a Sanhedrin were in place, disagreeing, or going against his words, might be punishable by death. He shall speak to them everything that I will command him. It is incumbent upon you to hear him. Moreover people are not allowed to test him, he claims.
Rather after it is known that he is a prophet, believe in him and know that God is within him, and do not think about and do not reckon unto him etc. The question might well be asked why he felt he needed to use it. Why then validate his prophetic status in this oblique way? Berger mistakenly criticises the Rebbe for calling himself a prophet just because he seems to have predicted three world events, and uses this criticism to challenge his religious authority, without, apparently, having read what the Rebbe himself said on the subject.
Could the Rebbe have foreseen just such a line of attack, if he based his prophetic claims on the strength of his own gifts and powers, and rather than face such criticism head on, he used the previous Rebbe as a Maimonides, Hilchot Yesodey HaTorah This strange oscillation between humility and egocentricity is perhaps the hallmark of a deeply mystical personality, which swings rapidly between assertion and negation of the self.
It is the words of the prophet, and not the prophet himself that should be the object of belief. This suggests a view of prophecy which conceives of the prophet simply as a vessel or channel, and therefore, in a sense, personally of little or no importance. However it seems that prophetic powers at this stage are limited to the Messiah.
Aharon Kotler, R. Dovid Leibowitz, and R. Henoch Leibowitz. Dovid Leibowitz, R. That this is literal and actual. The Rebbe as the Presumed Messiah — in his own words It is not my intention in this dissertation to decide for or against, or cast aspersions on, the claim that the Rebbe was or is the Potential Messiah, or might in the future be the Actual Messiah, though from the evidence I have marshalled it is clear that he himself fully believed these claims. I have in the previous chapters briefly discussed the question of the unfolding of the messianic era and of the messianic personality.
I will now examine the statements that the Rebbe himself made with regard to his own messianic status. Moreover, in real terms the Rebbe believes that he is Moshiach, and that his own emissaries can also share in his magical status, if they dedicate themselves entirely to the mission. The Previous Rebbe acts as the role model and source of the messiah and prophet figure, from which the Rebbe receives his powers and status. The appeal here to the Halachic principle that the status of the agent sheliach is the same as the status of the one who sent him is noteworthy.
However, what the Rebbe is also introducing here is a peculiarly Beshtian process of personal redemption. We find that the leader of the generation, the Moses of the generation, is also our righteous Moshiach of the generation.
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Moreover, the really radical thing that is being said in quoting Maimonides seemingly out of context, is that not only is the Rebbe calling himself the Moses of the generation, and therefore the Moshiach of the generation, but those that do not believe in him, in the Rebbe who is the Moses of the generation, are in fact denying their belief in the biblical Moses and therefore in the Torah of God.
Although he may not have actually written or dictated the line, he nonetheless was the first to place the idea in the minds of his followers, and then eventually encourage them to sing it. The above-mentioned quotation is cited as evidence by the messianic section of the Lubavitch movement, that not only did the Rebbe himself believe in the possibility of a posthumous Messiah, but that this person could be different from his father-in-law, and this shows that he could have believed in his own posthumous messianic potential.
Here is Menachem, our righteous Moshiach! All the nations of the world will be in turmoil and terror; they will fall on their faces, seized by pains like the pangs of childbirth. March 20, Why are you afraid? Do not fear, the time for your Redemption has arrived. It will not be like the earlier Redemptions, this final Redemption, because suffering and subjection to other nations followed the earlier Redemptions. But the final Redemption will not be followed by any suffering and subjection to other nations. The potential antinomianism of this view should not be missed.
This view is expressed in uncompromising terms by Maimonides in his commentary on the Mishna, Sanhedrin Sefer HaSichos Shabbos Mishpatim -February 1, , footnote His words often seemed impossible and inconceivable, yet future events constantly unfolded as he said they would.
However, such an unabashed claim is not the only voice to be heard on this matter, for there is a section of a Lubavitch publication called To Know and To Care that relates a series of events, predictions and advice that did not turn out as the promoters of this claim might lead one to expect. Here are some examples of his prophecies, quoted from the Lubavitch messianic publication Perceiving The Redemption The Six Day War At the outbreak of war, when Jews worldwide trembled and anticipated the worst, the Rebbe sent telegrams of support and faith. Four days before the war was over, while speaking at a rally for children, the Rebbe promised a speedy victory.
Although this seems like a prediction, it can also be seen in a somewhat different light, as an expression of supreme optimism — a radically positive and mystical attempt to manipulate and determine the future of world events through his mystical power and positive thinking. Trans Elchonon Lesches. Israel: Tzeirei Agudat Chabad, In this sense, the Rebbe is evoking God to fulfil this verse, as well as calming and assuring people worldwide that events will work themselves out for the positive benefit of Israel, the Jewish people and the world.
When the war began he predicted the Arabs would have a greater downfall than ever before. But, of course, if the prediction is not literally fulfilled, believers always have an alternative explanation ready to hand. The Gulf War There was a marked difference between the positive, wishful thinking with regard to the Six Day and Yom Kippur Wars, and the attitude that the Rebbe took towards the next important war, the Gulf War. This did much to confirm his belief in his own messianic status, and to legitimise his lone prophetic voice. It was this war that arguably finally convinced the Rebbe himself, and through him his followers, that the messianic era was truly at hand and that he was bound eventually to be the Messiah.
Related Sichos In English: Volume 24 - MarCheshvan-Shevat, 5745
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