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On Publicizing The Identity Of Moshiach Part 4
(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”

What Brings Honor To Lubavitch

If I am not mistaken, Mivtza Moshiach is the only campaign that the Rebbe said should be “b’ofen ha’miskabel” (in a way that is acceptable to others). There are those who think that publicizing Moshiach’s identity is not “b’ofen ha’miskabel.”

Rabbi Majeski: If I were able to do so, I would hang up a huge sign correcting the terrible mistake made regarding this concept. People simply took a phrase from a sicha and ascribed a falsified meaning to it. In the sicha, which is a fundamental sicha about shlichus and which was said to the shluchim, the Rebbe says that “every shaliach...explains the concept of Moshiach, as it is explicated in the Written and Oral Torah, b’ofen ha’miskabel to every single person according to his intellect and understanding, including and especially – by learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula.”

This is an explicit directive about how to learn. You must explain the concept of Moshiach to every person in a way that will make it rationally understood and accepted, and this is done primarily through learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula. Where is there a condition being made here about what should and should not be publicized?

The idea that it must be explained and clarified according to the capacity of each person is fundamental to all the mivtzaim, which must be done with ways of peace and pleasantness. As the Rebbe said in the sicha of Shavuos 5745, “obviously all this must be done with ways of pleasantness and peace, but – in a way of war, i.e., that you proceed boldly without fear... At the same time, as was said, in the ways of pleasantness and peace, and then you will achieve success in the proper way.”

In connection with this I will quote from a letter the Rebbe wrote (Igros Kodesh, Vol. 3, #599): “He pointed out a question concerning the wording in my letter, ‘to bring merit to the many in the proper manner,’ and you ask what is ‘the proper manner’?: I simply meant that sometimes the content or language of the maamarim and kuntreisim are difficult for some of the listeners, so I added ‘in the proper manner.’ I do not mean that by sending the kuntres, they should benefit only those who understand the content or language; they should also benefit those who need help understanding it.” So ofen ha’miskabel means conveying something properly in a way that will make people receptive to it. This is important for every mivtza and directive.

Rabbi Greenberg: As Rabbi Majeski said, “ofen ha’miskabel” with regard to Moshiach is exactly like the Rebbe’s demand “not to break their nose” regarding Mivtza T’fillin. The reason the Rebbe used the expression “ofen ha’miskabel” is because there is a difference between the topic of Moshiach and other mivtzaim.

The other mivtzaim pertain to a certain action — that a person should put on t’fillin or keep Shabbos, etc. The person’s understanding of these mitzvos is not as essential, whereas the topic of Moshiach, on the other hand, must be understood. Therefore, the Rebbe says that a person should be made to understand it and accept it rationally.

This brings us to another point. Even when we publicize Moshiach’s identity, it isn’t enough that people know who Moshiach is and believe it. He must understand what Moshiach is all about, what kind of person is he, and what he is destined to accomplish.

Rabbi Wilschansky: As a side point, one could add that, on the contrary, it is specifically regarding the topic of Moshiach that the Rebbe said it must be approached with oros d’Tohu, as the Rebbe said on Chaf-Ches Nissan, “oros d’Tohu b’keilim d’Tikkun.”

There are people who say that they are out on shlichus and this matter is simply not accepted in their area. What do you say to them?

Rabbi Wilschansky: Nobody guarantees that all you have to do is go over to someone and say: “Listen my fellow Jew, the Lubavitcher Rebbe is the redeemer and we must accept his kingship and anticipate the redemption” – and he will just nod his head in agreement and accept it all just like that. Nobody will guarantee you that every Jew you approach will agree to Mivtza T’fillin. At the same time though, nobody will say that you should forget about Mivtza T’fillin. Even a director of a Chabad House who sometimes cannot get even one Jew to put on t’fillin would not say to forget about it because no one will do it. The Rebbe gave us the ability and prepared the world so that people will become informed and accept Moshiach’s identity with true faith. Therefore, this matter is possible – you only have to know how to be successful at it.

Not only that – even if a mivtza of the Rebbe is not accepted in a certain place, you shouldn’t stop that mivtza. On the contrary, you must make every effort to get that mivtza accepted in that place.

In the early years of Mivtza Tzivos Hashem, one of the shluchim encountered tremendous opposition from a certain educator who said that nowadays you have to educate children about peace and not war (as implied by the name Tzivos Hashem, the Army of G-d). It reached a point where the Rebbe sent that educator a three-page letter, but that didn’t help. In the end, the shaliach had to leave his shlichus! Now, following that incident, did the Rebbe call a halt to the mivtza? Clearly, the Rebbe wants us to continue with this mivtza, even in that city.

Rabbi Greenberg: Today it just isn’t a topic for discussion anymore because everybody knows that Lubavitch believes the Rebbe is Moshiach. Perhaps, if instead of debates, we explained things properly, we could quickly supply the public with an explanation which is miskabel.

Rabbi Majeski: Somebody once asked the Rebbe Maharash for a bracha for a refua. The Rebbe sent him to a doctor and the person recovered. His friend was sick with exactly the same illness and went to the same doctor (without consulting with the Rebbe) and received the same medicine, but his condition did not improve. The first person asked the Rebbe about this, and the Rebbe replied with the saying of Chazal, “From here we learn that a doctor is given permission to heal.” So too with us. Something for which the Rebbe gives permission, he gives strength and success.

I once heard a debate between two men, one from Crown Heights and one from out of town. The first said, “Your problem is that you aren’t in 770 every Shabbos. If you heard the Rebbe’s sichos every Shabbos you would agree we have to conquer the world with the besuras ha’Geula. The second one said, “Your problem is you hear too many sichos. If you went out into the street a bit and would hear people’s reactions, you would ‘get off it’ pretty fast.”

In other words, the debate was over what defines reality – sichos or the street?

There are people who say that when it comes to general outreach they do fine, and it’s only the topic of Moshiach they have a problem with.

Rabbi Wilschansky: It is simply not correct to say that the topic of Moshiach’s identity is harder to accept than anything else. On Leftist settlements, for example, the Rebbe’s views on shleimus ha’Aretz are much harder to get people to accept than in other neighborhoods. The Leftists find it difficult to accept the idea of not serving in the army, as well. Different people find different ideas harder to accept. It is harder to publicize this matter than to work on Mivtza T’fillin, which is stated explicitly in the Torah. In any case, the ability to succeed was given to us by the Rebbe and, therefore, we can be successful.

Some people oppose publicity because they claim it hurts Lubavitch. These are not only people on the sidelines, but people with experience in shlichus, too. In your opinion are they simply wrong and is there no basis to what they say?

Rabbi Wilschansky: There is a basic misunderstanding as to the meaning of kvod Lubavitch [bringing honor to Lubavitch]. The Rebbe is the one who dictates what is kvod Lubavitch and what isn’t. The kvod Lubavitch is measured by what the Rebbe wants and establishes and not by us.

What if someone would think it wasn’t dignified for the Rebbe to announce the birthday mivtza? It sounds weird and reminds people of kindergarten and birthday cakes with candles, he might claim. Of course, this is ridiculous and even worse than that, because it’s the opposite of what the Rebbe said and naturally the opposite of kvodo.

The biggest chillul Lubavitch is when you do the opposite of what the Rebbe wants. A good example of that is the Camp David Accords. While most of the Jewish people rejoiced over the “breakthrough to peace” and began to imagine tours in Arab capitols, the Rebbe screamed about the great chillul Hashem involved in giving away land.

The question is, what chillul Hashem is there in publicizing that the Rebbe is Moshiach? On the contrary, opposition to the idea could offend people and push them away from Lubavitch. There is no greater chillul Hashem than doing the opposite of Torah and what Hashem wants. Likewise, when we know the Rebbe wants us to publicize Moshiach’s identity, there is no greater chillul Hashem than opposing this.

Rabbi Greenberg: A good example of this is the whistling at the Rebbe’s farbrengens. At one of the farbrengens the Rebbe motioned that somebody should whistle. This became a standard practice, but at the time it was new and unfamiliar and there were people who felt a bit uncomfortable with this “bizarre” behavior.

R’ Gershon Jacobson published a picture of it in the Algemeiner Journal, and as expected, it aroused a furor. There were Chassidim who were embarrassed by it (unfortunately) and tried to deny it had happened. They tried to rationalize it in order to mitigate the “indiscretion.” In addition, they gave it over the head to the editor for shaming the honor of Lubavitch. “We simply cannot walk out into the street,” they exclaimed.

What did the Rebbe say? At the Purim 5736 farbrengen the Rebbe said an unusually sharp sicha: “They are embarrassed by what I do?!”

This teaches us that there is no greater denigration of Lubavitch than to be embarrassed by things the Rebbe does and encourages!

Rabbi Majeski: By asking the question about “experienced shluchim,” what you really are saying is that if they say otherwise, then it can’t be as simple as you make it out to be.

I would like to quote a sicha of the Rebbe Rayatz, the contents of which everyone knows, but the exact language used is not so well known, and it sheds light on this issue. This sicha was said by the Rebbe Rayatz right after his arrival in America, when he proclaimed “America is no different,” and he initiated the founding of Tomchei Tmimim in America.

A number of askanim who were called to a meeting to get the yeshiva off the ground approached the Rebbe Rayatz and asked him not to go through with it. This is how the Rebbe Rayatz describes the people and what happened:

“Two distinguished people came to me. They are old-time American citizens, yichidei segula [very special individuals] who are most dedicated people, beloved to me, and they said, ‘We heard today how the Rebbe spoke about his plans, but unfortunately we must inform the Rebbe about the terrible situation in America. It is painful, but we must tell you. The Rebbe’s desire to disseminate Torah and fear of Heaven as it is done in Europe, with all possible efforts, is impossible!’

“They added three things for which reason they wanted to prevent me from carrying on: 1) the responsibility [they felt] to save me from great disappointment, 2) from abysmal failure, 3) ‘to protect the honor of your holy ancestors.’”

These words speak for themselves.

In conclusion:

Rabbi Majeski: It is the obligation of every Chassid to sit and learn the sichos from the summer 5751 through the winter of 5752, in order to be able to appreciate the unique era we are in, on the threshold of the Geula, seeing it through the Rebbe’s eyes. This will forestall many of the questions about Moshiach and Geula in general, and the sensitive and important issue of Moshiach’s identity in particular.


Rabbi Heschel Greenberg - director of the Jewish Discovery Center Williamsville, New York 
There were Chassidim who were embarrassed by the whistling and tried to deny it had happened. The Rebbe’s reaction was sharp: “They are embarrassed by what I do?!”

Rabbi Shloma Zalman Majesky - dean of Machon Chana, Crown Heights
You must explain the concept of Moshiach to every person in a way that will make it rationally understood and accepted. Where is there a condition being made here about what should and should not be publicized?

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Wilschansky - Rosh Yeshivas Chassidei Chabad Lubavitch, Tzfas
It is specifically regarding the topic of Moshiach that the Rebbe said it must be approached with oros d’Tohu.


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