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On Publicizing The Identity Of Moshiach Part 2
(Click here for Part 1)
Interview by Rabbi Shalom Yaakov Chazan

Three 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”

Some people claim that among the Rebbe’s answers in favor of publicity, there were also negative answers, and that the topic is not straightforward.

Rabbi Majesky: There is always a rule and the exception to the rule. But the fact is that Moshiach himself began publicizing Moshiach’s identity to us, indicating how we should be conducting ourselves. As far as personal answers, I cannot explain answers I am not privy to and about which I don’t have much information. It’s definitely possible that there are certain people whom the Rebbe did not want to have publicizing this matter. When the Rebbe was greatly encouraging the publicizing of Moshiach’s identity, there was a well-known wealthy Lubavitcher who received answers from the Rebbe telling him not to get involved in this. But this has nothing to do with the general approach the Rebbe showed us — using newspapers and the media to get the message across.

So, for example, when Rabbi Volpe wanted to translate his book, Daas Torah, into English, the Rebbe said no. But when Sichos in English asked the Rebbe, they were given the go-ahead. This teaches us that something the Rebbe forbids an individual to do is not a directive for all. When it comes to publicizing Moshiach’s identity, the Rebbe’s general approach has been clear. The Rebbe himself raised the issue in his talks, and then later encouraged the singing of “Yechi” with the greatest publicity.

Here I must add what I heard from a member of the Vaad L’Hafotzas Sichos. The reason the Rebbe edited the Dvar Malchus in later years is because they were prepared for publication in the newspapers. That is why some appear in Yiddish and some appear in lashon ha’kodesh – because in Kfar Chabad Magazine they were printed in Hebrew, and in the Algemeiner Journal, in Yiddish.

The introduction to the sifrei ha’sichos, also edited by the Rebbe, says that the sichos were first edited and published for those same publications and only then were they published in individual kuntreisim. This strengthens what we said earlier: from the Rebbe’s conduct – which provides the general rule for us – we see encouragement for publicizing Moshiach’s identity.

Rabbi Wilschansky: We must stress a key point here. All the answers that negated publicizing Moshiach’s identity were before the Rebbe began encouraging the singing of “Yechi” publicly and on a regular basis. From that time on, no one who asked for permission to publicize Moshiach’s identity was turned down. Furthermore, those who asked the Rebbe for permission to express views opposing the publicity were told “no” in no uncertain terms.

If somebody still remained in doubt, there was the great Yud Shvat of 5753. With the Rebbe’s explicit sanction, the International Campaign to Bring Moshiach broadcast the proceedings in which the Rebbe encouraged the singing of “Yechi” with unprecedented worldwide publicity.

These aren’t secrets. Anybody can open up the yomanei ha’Tmimim of the time and read the answers people received from the Rebbe, and see for himself how much the Rebbe encouraged the matter publicity and how he did not negate it even once.

Rabbi Greenberg: In general, we should remember that the Rebbe once said that in reading answers, it’s important to examine the context of the question. So the fact that there were opposing answers is not enough at all, for each answer was given for a specific situation. On the other hand, the Rebbe’s approval and encouragement of the singing of “Yechi” was a public display that couldn’t possibly be interpreted in more than one way.

Likewise, as was mentioned earlier, the Rebbe’s encouraging answers were also in connection with worldwide publicity. I have an English book which has chapters devoted to Moshiach’s identity. This book was published by N’shei Chabad of Crown Heights, and when it was produced it was brought to Rabbi Mordechai Altein, a member of the Vaad Rabbanei Lubavitch HaKlali, who said it should be shown to the Rebbe. This was after 27 Adar, and the Rebbe’s answer approving its publishing was transmitted by Rabbi Leibel Groner. This was a book geared for a broad audience, which speaks explicitly about the Rebbe being Moshiach, and the Rebbe accepted it.

Rabbi Majesky: The Rebbe once wrote that the shpitz Chabad ignore what he says explicitly, and relate instead to hints they read into all sorts of motions and expressions. Here too, instead of people looking at the Rebbe’s public conduct, they prefer to focus on “commentaries” on various personal answers.

* In other words, opposition to publicity has no basis in what the Rebbe said.

Rabbi Majesky: Obviously every shaliach is responsible for his place and he decides how things should be done. The point is not for someone to force anyone else, just like you cannot compel anyone into making a Lag B’Omer parade a certain way. However, general opposition to those who are involved in publicity in their area is unfounded on what the Rebbe said. In fact, it is the exact opposite of what the Rebbe said.

* Even after the Rebbe gave his consent and encouraged publicizing Moshiach’s identity, in the final analysis we were not given a clear directive about this, and it is only a “personal mivtza.” Why then is it so important to publicize Moshiach’s identity, and not to simply stick to the main point which the Rebbe himself stressed: publicizing the prophecy that Moshiach is coming?

Rabbi Wilchansky: First of all, we must emphasize that publicizing Moshiach’s identity is not a separate mivtza, but an inseparable part of the mivtza of disseminating the besuras ha’Geula. In the sicha at the Kinus HaShluchim in 5752, the fundamental sicha for the shlichus of kabbalas pnei Moshiach, the Rebbe stressed that kabbalas pnei Moshiach means explaining the idea of Moshiach as it is explained in Torah. This includes everything about Moshiach, including Moshiach’s identity, which is stressed in the teachings on Geula.

Saying that publicizing Moshiach’s identity is a personal mivtza is a big mistake originating from the point we mentioned earlier – ignorance of the Rebbe’s teachings on the topic. The Rebbe publicized sichos revealing the existence of the Moshiach of the generation and discussed how the students of the Amoraim related to their teachers as the Moshiach of the generation. Above all else, the Rebbe published a pamphlet dealing with Beis Rabbeinu she’b’Bavel – the beis midrash of Moshiach, built as a preparation for the future Mikdash. Is all this to be understood as a personal mivtza?

The fact is that since the Rebbe encouraged this so strongly and encouraged the singing of “Yechi” before the entire world, it is, therefore, in no way a personal mivtza. The minute the Rebbe supported it, it went out of the province of an idea of some individual Chassid, and became the Rebbe’s own inyan. Would anyone think that since somebody received the Rebbe’s approval for opening a Chabad mosad, that this was a “private mosad” because the idea originated with an individual?

Rabbi Greenberg: Anyone who is mekarev a Jew to Torah and mitzvos will obviously not begin by learning the entire Torah with him and require that the person become fully observant in one day. First he’ll have him do a few easy mitzvos and then he’ll guide him further. However, his goal is always clear to him — that this Jew needs to be a G-d fearing individual who fulfills all the mitzvos punctiliously.

Here too, publicizing Moshiach’s identity is connected with the idea of a Jew accepting the Rebbe’s malchus, which is fundamental to the entire topic of Geula. After all, it would be impossible for someone to hear that Moshiach is already here and will redeem us momentarily, and he is already “a king of the house of David,” and yet ignore his existence!

* But why is it important to know who Moshiach is, when the main point is knowing that Moshiach is coming and doing whatever is possible to bring him?

Rabbi Majesky: The Rebbe explained this on a number of occasions. In the sicha of Mishpatim 5751, the Rebbe says that “the appointment of Dovid Malka Meshicha already happened and now the only thing that remains [to be done] is the acceptance of his malchus by the people.” This means that there is the idea of accepting the malchus, and this is not only for Chassidim. This idea of kabbalas ha’malchus was repeated in the sicha of Noach 5752 in connection to “and they sought Hashem their G-d and Dovid their king,” which is the source for asking for and accepting Malchus Beis Dovid.

It is interesting to note that Rashi on that verse cites the Midrash enumerating three things that Bnei Yisroel must demand in order to bring the Geula: Malchus Shamayim (the Kingship of Heaven), the building of the Mikdash, and Malchus Dovid (the Kingship of Dovid). In other words, requesting the Kingdom of Dovid affects the bringing of the Geula.

I once heard Chassidim say that these three things are mirrored in the three things the Rebbe emphasized: the request for Malchus Shamayim with the cry of “ad masai,” which relates to the general idea of Galus, which conceals G-dliness; the building of the Beis HaMikdash with the song “SheYibaneh Beis HaMikdash” in tefillos and farbrengens; and encouraging “Yechi,” which is connected to the Malchus Beis Dovid.

Each of these three has its time. There was a time that the Rebbe stressed the building of the Beis HaMikdash, a time that the Rebbe emphasized the idea of “ad masai,” and since Simchas Torah 5753, the Rebbe stressed the idea of “Yechi Adoneinu.”

In general, in a large portion of the sichos that the Rebbe said in 5752, especially the sicha at the Kinus HaShluchim, the Rebbe stressed that the avoda that is needed now is kabbalas pnei Moshiach. That means that there is someone specific whom we have to greet.

Rabbi Wilschansky: In addition to what was mentioned before, knowing who is Moshiach is part of the inyanei Geula in the Torah. Knowing that Moshiach is already in the world changes the entire topic of Geula into something immediate and tangible. The Rebbe said, in the sicha of Mishpatim 5752, that the meeting of heads of state to dismantle weapons symbolizes the beginning of Moshiach’s activities and influence on the nations of the world. The lesson to be learned is that the knowledge that Moshiach is here strengthens a person’s faith in his coming and turns the concept into something real and tangible. He feels that there is something here which is about to develop and expand in the near future.

However, all these explanations are only from our limited perspective; the primary enthusiasm, however, must stem from the fact that the Rebbe encouraged it so much. This in itself shows us how important it is.

We see a strong emphasis on the Rebbe being Moshiach. “Melech HaMoshiach” is added to the title of “Kvod K’dushas Rebbe shlita,” etc. Why is it so important to emphasize this? We always lived with the Rebbe knowing that he is the Rebbe, the Nasi and Melech HaMoshiach, yet we did not feel the need to stress it all the time. What has changed?

Rabbi Wilschansky: We learn this from the Rebbe’s conduct. Immediately after the sicha of 28 Nissan, in the sicha of Tazria-Metzora in which the Rebbe told us to study inyanei Moshiach and Geula, the Rebbe spent time discussing the behavior of the students of the Amoraim who considered their teacher Moshiach. The Rebbe is medayek (exacting) in Rashi’s wording that they too (the teachers) also extrapolated this from their own names. The Rebbe adds, “And we Chassidim follow after them.” The Rebbe connects the name of the Rebbe Rayatz and Moshiach. I heard that the Rebbe spent a lot of time on this topic and edited and corrected it and then edited and corrected it again.

Afterwards too, many sichos on the besuras ha’Geula are full of this topic of Moshiach’s identity. For example: the famous sicha of Shoftim 5751 about publicizing the prophecy. The Rebbe explains throughout the sicha about the return of prophecy to Moshiach himself; and the sicha of Mishpatim 5752 in which the Rebbe speaks about the beginning of Moshiach’s impact on the nations. This is in addition to the Rebbe’s constant connecting of the title “Moshiach of the generation” to the title of “Nasi HaDor.” But even greater than that is when the Rebbe writes that the word “miyad” alludes to the names of the Rebbe Rashab, the Rebbe Rayatz, and the Rebbe himself. Regarding the other Rebbeim, the Rebbe only mentions their names: Dov Ber and Yosef Yitzchok. But when it comes to his own name, the Rebbe writes: “Moshiach” and then adds “Menachem” in parentheses.

Rabbi Majesky: One could ask why we use the expression “Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu” when the main point is that he is the Rebbe and then, of course, he is our master, our teacher, and Rebbe. So why do we have to spell it out, as we see that in the beginning of every letter that a Chassid writes the Rebbe, he writes, “K’vod k’dushas Admur shlita. The answer is that this term was originated by the Rebbeim, our leaders, when they referred to their fathers, the Rebbeim, as the Rebbe said about the previous Rebbe, “K’vod k’dushas my father-in-law, Admur.” We follow what they did. The same goes for the title “Adoneinu Moreinu v’Rabbeinu Melech HaMoshiach,” which follows along the lines of what the Rebbe taught us.

Another point. This is not just because of some source, but it is more of a regesh Chassidi (Chasidic sensitivity). Since in recent years we accepted – with the Rebbe’s encouragement – his malchus as Melech HaMoshiach, this is how we relate to him all the time. Perhaps it is also because the Rebbe as Moshiach is something that hasn’t been fully absorbed that we see a need to emphasize it again and again. Along the lines of what the Rebbe said in the sicha of Purim 5747 (section 24) — that we must speak a lot about Moshiach in order to negate the enticements of the yetzer, which seeks to weaken our effort in bringing Moshiach – we too must increasingly publicize the fact that the Rebbe is Moshiach in order to do away with any doubts.

Rabbi Greenberg: The members of the Vaad L’Hafotzas Sichos said that in the wake of the hisorerus in the winter of 5753 when the Rebbe began encouraging the singing of “Yechi,” they asked for the Rebbe’s sanction in adding the title Melech HaMoshiach to the Rebbe’s name. Here is their question and the answer they received:

The secretary informed the Rebbe about the new book and read the first lines of the introduction in which the title Melech HaMoshiach is used, and asked the Rebbe: “It says ‘the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach’ – does the Rebbe mind?” The Rebbe shook his head no. The secretary asked again, saying that this was the first time that MH”M is being used in print in an official Kehos publication. Was the Rebbe opposed to it? The Rebbe shook his head no. The secretary asked in conclusion: So it is possible to continue to write it? The Rebbe nodded in the affirmative.

Since the Rebbe gave his consent to add Melech HaMoshiach to his name, it is significant and has a purpose. This goal was not present years before; it was something new when the Rebbe gave his approval.

(To be continued.)



Rabbi Heschel Greenberg - director of the Jewish Discovery Center Williamsville, New York
The Rebbe’s approval and encouragement of the singing of “Yechi” was a public display that couldn’t possibly be interpreted in more than one way.

Rabbi Shloma Zalman Majesky - dean of Machon Chana, Crown Heights
Opposition to those who are involved in publicity in their area is unfounded on what the Rebbe said. In fact, it is the exact opposite of what the Rebbe said.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Wilschansky - Rosh Yeshivas Chassidei Chabad Lubavitch, Tzfas

Regarding the other Rebbeim, the Rebbe only mentions their names: Dov Ber and Yosef Yitzchok. But when it comes to his own name, the Rebbe writes: “Moshiach” and then adds “Menachem” in parentheses.


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