Publicizing The Identity Of Moshiach
Interview by Rabbi Shalom Yaakov Chazan
distinguished shluchim, known for their involvement with inyanei
Moshiach and Geula, gathered to discuss the Rebbe’s directives
as they pertain to our times * Their conclusion: publicizing
Moshiach’s identity must be, as the Rebbe put it, “an ongoing
and increasing activity”
dealing with specific questions, we must begin with an important
preface that pertains to the topic as a whole. Just as when it
comes to halacha in daily life it is the Shulchan Aruch
that shows us the way and establishes the conduct of every Jew, so
too when it comes to hiskashrus and hafatzas
ha’maayanos, what the Rebbe says is our Shulchan Aruch.
Especially when we speak of inyanei Moshiach and Geula
and the besuras ha’Geula, which are based solely on
explicit sichos of the Rebbe MH”M, the mevaser
ha’Geula, the Rebbe can be the only one to establish the
for every single topic, we must examine what the Rebbe has to say
— in the Rebbe’s printed, edited sichos, in the
Rebbe’s letters, and in the Rebbe’s public conduct.
Majesky: Unfortunately, insufficient knowledge of the sichos
and inaccuracy when studying what the Rebbe said have led to
varying opinions that have become commonplace in certain circles.
As the Rebbe Rayatz once put it, “It’s difficult to discuss
this but much harder to remain quiet.” As is the case, sometimes
we have to deal with opinions that utterly oppose those of the
Rebbe. The call of the hour is to unite around a close examination
of the Rebbe’s views on the topic of Moshiach and Geula.
This is the only way to attain the proper approach.
Greenberg: When we stick to examining what the Rebbe said, we
avert arguments. Most of the differences of opinion stem from the
fact that the “anshei Tohu” are inclined to get excited
about things, and with great enthusiasm and commotion they are the
ones to make breakthroughs. The “anshei tikkun,” on the
other hand, scrutinize everything before making a commitment,
which often leads to a significant reduction in their activities.
When we internalize what the Rebbe said about the topic of
Moshiach, “oros d’Tohu b’keilim d’Tikkun,” i.e.,
that both approaches are necessary, it would seem that many points
of disagreement could be resolved peacefully.
THE OBLIGATION TO PUBLICIZE IT
many years, Moshiach’s identity was an “inside” topic. What
has changed to make this now a matter for public consumption?
Wilschansky: In the Rebbe’s sicha of Chaf-Ches Nissan
5751, the Rebbe informed us that we are in an auspicious time for
Redemption. From that point on, the subject of Moshiach took on a
different tone and significance. The Rebbe began saying that
Moshiach is already at the threshold, and we must live with his
imminent arrival. The Rebbe even said that in certain respects, we
are already in the actual Yemos HaMoshiach, and can see
this in the fact that the fulfillment of certain prophecies about
the Redemption has begun. Since then, the Rebbe gave much
encouragement to what we call publicizing Moshiach’s identity.
that same sicha, the Rebbe said that he completed his role
in bringing Moshiach and he gave us the rest of the job. Some
thought that the point that is specific to us and not to the Rebbe
is the idea of kabbalas ha’malchus, something that must
come from the people and not, of course, from the king himself.
rabbanei Chabad in Eretz Yisroel, followed by rabbanei
Chabad elsewhere, signed a psak din saying that the
time had come for the Rebbe to be revealed as Moshiach. In
addition to that, many of Anash signed letters of kabbalas
ha’malchus. These piskei dinim and letters of kabbalas
ha’malchus were accepted by the Rebbe, and the Rebbe even
encouraged the reading of these piskei dinim at the
gravesites of the Rebbeim.
the period of time following this, people saw that the Rebbe had
begun to allow this matter to go public. For example, Rabbi
Yurkowitz asked about speaking about the topic of Moshiach’s
identity in the Chabad neighborhood in Lud, and the Rebbe
answered, “A judge bases his decision only on what his eyes
see.” One of the rabbanei Anash in South Africa received
a similar answer. He had written that they hesitated about signing
for kabbalas ha’malchus because they weren’t sure if
the Rebbe wanted it. The Rebbe answered, “It depends on the
conditions of the place; Chabad on the scene has to make the
these answers it is clear that, although for years Moshiach’s
identity was an inside matter, a change had taken place and since
then it has been permissible and proper to publicize it.
Permission to publicize Moshiach’s identity had to do with the
times changing and the dawn of a new era.
Majesky: The Rebbe himself began openly talking about
Moshiach’s identity. Over the years, the Rebbe had spoken about
it infrequently and only alluded to it. But starting from the
summer of 5751 and even more in the winter of 5752, the Rebbe
began talking about the leader of the generation being the
Moshiach of the generation, etc. Expressions such as “Moshiach
she’b’dor” began to be connected with the well-known
phrase, “der Rebbe der shver.” These expressions did
not remain the sole province of those who attended farbrengens,
but were publicized in edited sichos which were published
in the Algemeiner Journal and elsewhere. Doesn’t
this show us that the Rebbe himself changed his mode of conduct?
how can we ignore the sharp words the Rebbe used against this,
particularly what the Rebbe said on Shabbos Bereishis 5745, when
he spoke so strongly about this pushing Jews away from Chassidus.
Dare we say that times have changed?
Greenberg: Definitely, the situation and times have changed, and
the answers received then do not apply now! Allow me to explain.
One of the principles of our faith is that Torah is eternal and
unchanging, and if someone were to come along and say that
something in Torah has changed, it would be outright heresy with
respect to the eternality of Torah. At the same time, there are
things that the Torah says are subject to change, and the
best example of this is the study of Chassidus. At the time of the
Gemara, they interpreted the verse, “they should be held
captive under your tongue,” to mean that deep matters such as Maaseh
Merkava and the like must be hidden “under the tongue” and
not spoken about publicly, but only to individuals in private.
Then along came the Arizal, hundreds of years later, who said that
now “it is permissible and a mitzva to reveal this
wisdom.” Then came the Baal Shem Tov who began revealing the
teachings of Chassidus, “the precious stone in the king’s
crown,” followed by the Alter Rebbe and the other Lubavitcher
Rebbeim, who explicated these matters even further, until our
times, when the Rebbe allowed all Chassidic works to be published,
and in square letters too!
the Rebbe asks [in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 30, sicha
of 19 Kislev] how is it that something which at first was
completely forbidden became permissible? The Rebbe answers that
from the outset the prohibition was not about the idea itself but
about certain secondary issues. When those issues are no longer
apparent, and in addition, there are reasons which necessitate the
publicizing of Chassidus [due to the great darkness of exile, and
most especially because we are approaching the Geula] the
matter becomes one which is permissible and even obligatory.)
too, regarding the matter at hand: the topic of Moshiach is
subject to change and development. For the first 2,000 years since
Creation, people could not have known that the main purpose of
creation is Moshiach. During the next “2,000 years of Torah,”
that idea slowly became more clear. And in the “2,000 years of
Moshiach,” the matter has become even more revealed. In these
latter 2,000 years, specifically in this last generation, all gedolei
Yisroel have declared that we are living in ikvisa
d’Meshicha. The topic of Moshiach has become more real, to
the point that we have merited the incredible news of “the time
for your redemption has arrived,” which attests to its
as we stand on the threshold of Geula, we already have the
existence of the redeemer, who openly prepares for the imminent
Redemption. It is only natural that the time has come for
Moshiach’s identity to become public knowledge. There is every
reason to say that the positive answers, which are the latest
answers we’ve heard to date, indicate that we are now living in
a different era from the time when negative answers were received.
Majesky: There are many things that went through a process of
being prohibited and even sharply negated by the Rebbe which later
became permissible. An interesting example of this is the custom
of donning Rabbeinu Tam tefillin from the age of bar
mitzva. This was not done in Lubavitch in previous years. And
those who asked the Rebbe about it were told in no uncertain terms
that our custom is to begin wearing the Rabbeinu Tam tefillin at
a more advanced age. Then on Purim 5736 (1976) the Rebbe said that
the situation had changed, and all men from the age of bar
mitzva should wear Rabbeinu Tam tefillin.
even more significant example is when the Rebbe initially refused
to accept the Chabad leadership. The Rebbe went so far as to say
he wasn’t suited for it. Not only did he not accept the
leadership, but he negated the very notion, saying, “M.S. [i.e.,
the Rebbe’s name] should be Rebbe?!” The Rebbe also said that
the publications that said “under the leadership of K’vod
K’dushas Admur shlita” should be hidden away.
after the Chassidim repeatedly begged him, the Rebbe accepted the
leadership. Even then, it wasn’t that the Rebbe announced, “I
have accepted the leadership,” but the Rebbe had begun to do
things which he had up until then refused to do. He accepted pidyonos
and held yechiduyos and said maamarim and sichos.
do you think that anyone would ever come along and say: How can
you possibly ignore the fact that the Rebbe said, “M.S. should
be Rebbe?!” (which the Rebbe certainly meant at the time). Or
would anybody say: How can you ignore the Rebbe’s explicit
opposition to becoming Rebbe?
the Rebbe never actually negated the idea of publicizing the
identity of Moshiach, rather, he merely opposed certain modes of
publicizing it. Then the time came when the Rebbe began openly
conducting himself as Melech HaMoshiach, informing us that
Moshiach is already here and active, and so this became a matter
pertinent to all.
once heard somebody pose the following question at a farbrengen
in 5753: “How can we publicize Moshiach’s identity when the
Rebbe negated doing so in the past?” One of the elder Chassidim
sitting there replied, “Tell me, at the time the Rebbe spoke
strongly against it, didn’t you have the feeling that this
wasn’t a permanent state of affairs, but something temporary? So
why are you surprised that the time has finally come?”
Wilschansky: In the Yud-Alef Nissan issue of Beis Moshiach,
an answer of the Rebbe is publicized regarding the intention of
the Committee of 71 Institutions to print the maamer “Minui
HaMelech” found in Derech Mitzvosecha of the
Tzemach Tzedek. R’ Ben-Tzion Shemtov, had suggested that by
learning this maamer “we will merit that Hashem will
crown the Rebbe as Melech HaMoshiach.” Near the Rebbe’s
directive that “they should completely cancel the printing and
strongly condemn the one who suggested the above-mentioned,” the
Rebbe wrote, “it is simply not at all the time for this.” In
other words, the time wasn’t right then, but there
just might be a time that would be right.
the same lines, the Rebbe answered a Lubavitcher from New York in
5751: “According to the results for the meantime, according to
reports coming until now...according to the situation at present
— what makes more sense is a temporary break.”
the other hand, after the sicha of Chaf-Ches Nissan, the
Rebbe said the following about Jews signing forms for kabbalas
ha’malchus: “It was received and many thanks. May it be an
ongoing and increasing activity, and the time is auspicious... I
will mention it at the tziyun.”
another answer of Kislev 5752: “May it be fulfilled in them
‘whoever has 200 wants 400, etc.’ I will mention it at the tziyun.”
There are many other such answers printed in V’Hu Yigaleinu and
in the Yomanei Beis Chayeinu printed at the time in Kfar
Chabad Magazine and other publications.
sufficient to take as an example the sicha mentioned in the
question, from Shabbos Bereishis 5745. In that sicha the
Rebbe protests the fact that they began singing a niggun
which included the words “HaRebbe Moshiach Tzidkeinu.”
Then the Rebbe strongly protested the plan of printing a book
containing allusions to Moshiach’s identity. That book is the
famous Yechi HaMelech, written by Rabbi Shalom Dov
Ber Volpe. The author received a very sharp personal answer from
the Rebbe, which said among other things, “It can cause much
harm, r’l, to Chabad and spreading the wellsprings...and
I warn you to stop talking, writing, and certainly spreading
this... If, Heaven forbid, you will do something, you should know
clearly that this is going to war against me specifically and
generally.” (Indeed, the author fulfilled the directive and put
the book aside.) Could there be a sharper answer than that?
six years later, at the end of 5751, the Rebbe not only approved
of the book (which now included material based on the sichos the
Rebbe had said in the interim), but gave the same author explicit
instructs to publicize it! The Rebbe, after seeing the galleys,
wrote: “It was received, many thanks. It is herewith enclosed to
be exchanged for a bound copy and thanks in advance. May it be
successful and [provide] good news. I will mention it at the tziyun
for the above.” Following this, the Rebbe inquired of his
secretaries about the progress being made on disseminating the
book! Then the Rebbe gave his explicit approval to the printing of
the book Yechi HaMelech HaMoshiach, which declares as its
aim: to publicize Moshiach’s identity.
are also many additional answers to individuals and mosdos
about projects such as this, primarily the Rebbe’s actual public
encouragement of the singing of “Yechi Adoneinu,” which
included a live satellite broadcast seen by millions around the
world on Yud Shvat 5753.
Greenberg: I would add another example showing the change that
began in recent years regarding the topic of Moshiach and Geula
in general. The book M’Gola L’Geula, which is a
compilation of the Rebbeim’s teachings about the Redemption, was
ready for the printer in the mid ‘80’s, and the suggestion was
made to the Rebbe that it be printed. The Rebbe strongly negated
the idea, saying here too that it “would push Jews away.” Now
remember that this book is simply a compilation of statements of
the Rebbeim which were already in print, and the book didn’t
deal at all with Moshiach’s identity. Still, the Rebbe said no.
Yet in 5752, when the editor asked the Rebbe whether he could
publish the book in accordance with the Rebbe’s directive to
learn inyanei Moshiach and Geula, the Rebbe
answered, “It caused much nachas ruach,” and the Rebbe
even edited the wording of the introduction.
this it’s clear that the entire topic of Moshiach changed in
recent years. In the past, the topic in general was not the call
of the hour, neither Moshiach’s identity nor any other detail.
However, when the Rebbe informed us that this is the “only shlichus,”
publicizing Moshiach’s identity is one definite facet of this.
here to continue.)