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   261: Vayikra

262: 11 Nisan

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L'Chaim
Special Issue
April 2, 1993 - 11 Nisan 5753


262: In The News

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Published and copyright © by Lubavitch Youth Organization - Brooklyn, NY
The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


  262: 11 Nisan263: Shemini  

Jewish Forum  |  Herald Tribune  |  Chicago Tribune  |  The New York Times
Jewish Look  |  London Jewish Chronicle  |  New York Magazine  |  The Plain Dealer
The Jewish World  |  Insight  |  The Boston Globe  |  The Australian
The Jerusalem Report  |  Mw Jewish News  |  Newsweek

In previouse years, this special issue of L'Chaim in honor of the Rebbe's birthday has explored what the Rebbe has said about events around the world. This year, we would like to share with you what the world, via the media, has said about the Rebbe.

Jewish Forum

Heir to a Noble Tradition
by Charles Haddock-May, 1951

The Chasidic Coronation of young Schneerson, seventh in line of the Chabad dynasty, marks the first event of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

Three months ago, on the anniversary of the demise of the Saint of Lubavitch and for the first time in the "heathen" history of American Jewry, a bona fide Chasidic divine donned the "tzadik" purple in dramatic coronation rites which seemed possible only in the Polish-Ukraine, where chasidism was born...

This was no ordinary event, to be sure, for the movement of which Rabbi Schneerson has become the titular head almost escapes sociological classification. You will find no analogy to it in our modern social ferment, religious or secular. Most of his followers are poor, pious and unpretentious folk, and the "kingdom" over which he "reigns" is as absolute as a temporal realm can be. It stretches from China to Brooklyn. Even Pittsburgh, Johannesburg and Tel Aviv are not without their "Chabad" dominions.

From all over the world his followers come--to consult the new "Rabbi of Lubavitch" on matters of faith, health, family, and finance. They seek him out on social issues and psychological problems--on everything which might affect their spiritual, physical and material well-being, and make no vital move without him...

As a newspaper man [the writer was the managing editor of the leading anti-communist labor newspaper and Vice President of World Wide Press Syndicate]--and as an amateur chasid, so to say--I was naturally curious about his [the Rebbe's] state of mind after his assumption of world leadership in " Chabad." I wanted to ask him, above all, whether he thought that Chasidism--as taught by his great-great grandfather, the "Rav"--could function fruitfully here, on this "heathen" soil of mine--America. And, of course, what answers did "Chabad" hold for our own lost, "atomic" generation?

My audience with that profound and humble Chasidic rabbi made my queries wholly superfluous. "America is not lost," he assured me "You are not different. You Americans sincerely crave to know, to learn. You are inquisitive. It is the Chabad point of view," he went on, "that the American mind is sincere, honest, direct--good, tillable soil for Chasidism, or just plain Judaism, if you will." This was his late father-in-law's viewpoint, he added, and that accounted for the unprecedented success of the "Chabad" system of junior and senior academics all over the country.

Our soul-searching talk left me with the impression that the newly-crowned "Lubavitcher Rebbe" had aged perceptibly in these past several months, since he succeeded his father-in-law to the "throne." For his gentle, sensitive and pallid face already seemed to bear signs of the inner conflict always raging in the hearts of our leading spirits--on whom supreme responsibility is suddenly thrust! As he politely took me to the door, the "Rebbe," as Lubavitcher Chasidim fondly call him, inadvertently taught me that Judaism minus Chasidism is but a body with a big head and no heart. And, need we add, that we wish the Rebbe a long and luminous "reign"--for uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, especially a tzadik's crown in unchasidic America...


Herald Tribune

Jewish Peace Corps Keeps Faith of Children Alive
by David Miller--June 28, 1961

Barely a year after becoming the world-wide leader of tens of thousands of Jews, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson reached an important decision.

Although Judaism is not a proselytizing religion, he felt thousands of Jews the world over needed personal help in practicing their religion faithfully.

From his office at 770 Eastem Parkway in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, he organized "Peace Corps" to educate Jews in various parts of the world and to reawaken what he calls an "innate awareness" of Judaism...


Chicago Tribune

Chasidic Jews Look to Rabbi in Brooklyn
by Glen Elsasser--January 2, 1967

Orthodox Judaism owes much of its strength to a far-flung movement whose headquarters is in the heart of Brooklyn and whose leader is known the world over as a champion of religious tradition.

From his office on Eastern Parkway, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, 64, directs the Chabad Chasidim, the world's largest Chasidic group...

When Rabbi Schneerson makes a public speech, a rarity outside of the Sabbath, his pronouncements are eagerly awaited throughout world Jewry, and most enthusiastically in Brooklyn.

Such a happening recently took place... For six hours with half a dozen intermissions and no text--his Yiddish flowed, touching on nearly a dozen topics. He emphasized the need to attract Jewish youth to Torah life, and to observe its teachings and commandments.

The Torah, he said, was the heart of Jewish life: any other attempt to attract youth to Judaism that by-passed this fact would be superficial and have only temporary results. The Rebbe compared this false approach to a physician who treats symptoms rather than the source of illness...


The New York Times

Lubavitch Rabbi Marks His 70th Year With Call for Kindness
by Israel Shenker--March 27, 1972

Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, reached the Biblical age of 70 yesterday, but he has been living in the age of the Bible every one of those years...

The Rebbe decided to use his birthday as a pretext for demanding of his followers what he called "an additional portion of study and devotion to the cause of spreading goodness and kindness..."

At a recent audience, just before the rays of dawn eased over Eastern Parkway, the Lubavitcher Rebbe gazed intently at his visitor, and from time to time a warm, remarkably gentle smile lit his face. Stroking his gray beard, he explained his role as "awakening in everyone the potential that he has."

On fundamentals, the Rebbe has no doubts. "If you can accept that G-d Alm-ghty created billions and billions of atoms, why can't you accept that G-d Alm-ghty created a human being?"

"If you are enthusiastic to substitute for the term 'G-d' the word 'mystery,' then I'll ask you the same thing about 'mystery.' It is much easier to accept one human being, two human beings, than to accept billions of disordered atoms whirling around without any concept, any pattem, and then with a big bang or a small bang the universe is created."

To the suggestion that his orthodoxy marks him as a conservative he objected, saying:

"I don't believe that Reform Judaism is liberal and Orthodox is conservative. My explanation of conservative is someone who is so petrified he cannot accept something new. For me, Judaism or halacha [Jewish religious law], or Torah encompasses all the universe and it encompasses every new invention, every new theory, every new piece of knowledge or thought or action.

"Everything that happens in 1972 has a place in the Torah and it must be interpreted, it must be explained, it must be evaluated from the point of view of Torah even if it happened for the first time in March of 1972. "

Who is to be the eighth Lubavitcher Rabbi?

"The Messiah will come and he will take all these troubles and doubts," replied the seventh, and added smilingly: "He could come while I am here. Why postpone His coming?

"My intention is to live many years more, and the Messiah can come tomorrow or the day after tomorrow," he said. "There's a very great deal to achieve, enough not only for my life but even for more than 120 years."

He added: "The Messiah will be a real human being. Don't translate him as something abstract. He is tangible. He has two eyes, two ears, two legs, two hands. And one heart. The heart has four compartments. One compartment is for impure blood, which the heart makes into pure blood. And that is the function of the Messiah."


Jewish Look

Cover Story: The Lubavitcher Rebbe
April, 1975

On March 23, the eleventh day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, two dozen men gathered in a basement apartment in Brooklyn for what they called a Chasidic far-brengen (gathering).

"Let's all say l'chaim to the Rebbe. Today is his birthday. L'chaim. The Rebbe should be healthy and live long and he should lead us towards the Messiah."

It was a cozy setting: dim lights, a table with a plain white cover, bare walls. This was the home of a chasid who only eight months ago arrived from Russia. I went to the farbrengen to find out what the Rebbe's disciples think about him and what the Rebbe's opinions are on today's major issues. For the Rebbe's views and opinions challenge the most accepted notions.

...The Rebbe is also firm in his belief that Israel should not give back "one inch" of territory it won in the 1967 and 1973 wars.

"It is because I want to prevent another war that I urge the Israeli leaders not to give back one inch," he has stated."The only way to prevent more wars and more casualties is by not giving in and to be prepared; not to retreat even if the U.S. government demands concessions."

The Rebbe was one of the first to say publicly that America--and not Russia--forced Israel to stop its drive on the west bank of the Suez Canal, thus preventing Israel from eliminating the Egyptian Third Army during the Yom Kippur War. Even today few publicly state this, although Moshe Dayan has recently confirmed that it was an American ultimatum which saved the Egyptian armed forces.

But even during the war, the Rebbe was steadfast in his opinions, which proved correct. When told that he should cease urging the Israelis to drive on to Damascus and not stop 30 miles from the Syrian capital because of the threat of Soviet intervention, the Rebbe stated:

"I say the Russians will not intervene." And they didn't.

When a reporter asked how the Rebbe could advise the Israelis while he lived in America, the Rebbe bristled:

"This involves the security of three million Jews in Israel. Every American Jew not only has the right but the obligation to help Israel with money, with raising the morale of the Israelis and with advice he feels is good for the Jewish state..."


London Jewish Chronicle

In Search of the Soul
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks--February 1, 1980

...The Rebbe is a revolutionary. He has enthroned Chasidic philosophy not as one of the limbs, but as the heart of Judaism. He is a systematic and conceptual thinker on the largest scale. And, more than anything, he continually drives together the highest abstract truth and the most specific call for action, spanning the continuum of the whole range of Jewish study.

It is perhaps the case that his fame as a leader, organizer and initiator of communal projects has impeded a measured assessment of his originality as a thinker. But, essentially, the two facets of his work are one--the comprehensiveness of his thought and action are part of the same drive: the unity of the Torah, the unity of the Jewish people...

Many of the Rebbe's achievements have shaped so deeply the development of the post-war Judaism that we hardly think of them as Lubavitch at all. Fifteen years ago, the term baal teshuva ("penitent") was almost confined to Chabad. To other Jews, teshuva was something one did on Yom Kippur, atoning for sins. In Lubavitch it meant a rescued soul. Specifically those hundreds of students brought from drugs and alienation into deep Jewish commitment by the massive Chabad involvement in campus life across the world. Today it is the word that describes the Populations of dozens of yeshivot in Israel that have no connection with Chasidism; it has become the leitmotif of a generation.

The Jewish day-school movement, of which Lubavitch was one of the earliest pioneers, has displaced across a wide spectnun the onceprevalent ideology that Jewish education was a kind of dutiftul appendage to the real business of acquiring a secular culture. The idea, in which Lubavitch was for so long alone, of resuscitating dying communities by sending out a small resident nucleus of religious families, has been widely copied by yeshivot in America, and is at last being tentatively taken up in Britain. The Rebbe has never had an interest in preserving a monopoly of his innovations. Every achievement means a new goal to be formulated.

Results can never be quantified. It is sufficient to know that they are always never enough.... In all the campaigns there is a driving sense of urgency that sanctifies their often unconventional approaches: a succah on wheels taken through crowded streets, a radio advertisement reminding listeners that it is Purim, a resolution of the United States Congress proclaiming a national education day--all these and more are ways of hastening the Messiah. Lubavitch takes to heart the injunction in the first paragraph of the Shulchan Aruch not to be ashamed when others make fun of one's pursuit of a religious mission. Discretion is the better part of cowardice...

We come, then finally, to the great and controversial question: is there something suspect about the attachment of Lubavitch Chasidim to the Rebbe? Does it go too far? Is there an abdication of personal responsibility involved in bringing private questions to the scrutiny and advice of a great man? Ultimately, can there be a man worthy of such adulation?

It is important to understand about Lubavitch that it is a movement supremely dedicated to allowing each Jew to play his special role, to being, in the Baal Shem Tov's image, his own particular letter in the Torah scroll. The Rebbe is the person who guides him towards that role; who, by standing above the distortions of the ego, taking a global view of the problems of the Jewish world, being in the language of Chasidut a "collective soul," sees where the individual belongs. It is, after all, difficult to think of many other leaders who can assume this role, for they are for the most part leaders of a sectional group, without a brief and perhaps without the information to be authoritative beyond their borders. The Rebbe's advice carries with it no more and no less than the authority which his worldwide concern has given him.

Those who visit the Rebbe--and the vast majority of those who do so are not born Lubavitchers, do so because of his reputation as a man of encompassing vision. They tend to emerge somewhat unnerved, taken by surprise. They expect, perhaps, the conventional type of charismatic leader, imposing his presence by the force of his personality.

What they find is the reverse: a man who, whatever the complexity of his current concerns, is totally engaged with the person he is speaking to. It is almost like coming face to face with oneself for the first time. Not in the simple sense of, as it were, seeing oneself in a mirror, but rather seeing oneself revealed as a person of unique significance in the scheme of things, discovering one's purpose. So much so that it is difficult to talk of the Rebbe's personality at all, so identified is he with the individuals he guides.

This is, ultimately, what is so misconceived by those who have never met him. His leadership--rare almost to the point of uniqueness in the present day--consists in self-effacement. Its power is precisely what it effaces itself towards--the sense of the irreplaceability of each and every Jew.


New York Magazine

The Chosen
Dorit Phyllis Gary--June 28, 1982

...The next time I saw the Rebbe, he was before his flock in Crown Heights to give a speech--translated simultaneously from Yiddish to English, French, Russian and Hebrew--that was transmitted live on cable TV throughout the United States and by radio to dozens of Lubavitcher centers around the world.

...More than any of his predecessors, Rebbe Schneerson dwells on the messianic theme. He communicates not just urgent hope but concrete expectation. Perhaps this, more than anything else, explains the extraordinary vitality and optimism that pervade these people, the energy that sizzles almost palpably in these otherwise unremarkable-looking streets.

For Christians and Jews, redemption has traditionally meant a spiritual world very different from ours, one of universal peace and the resurrection of the dead... Jews insist that the Messiah has yet to reveal himself. It is the one subject Lubavitchers will always try to avoid discussing with a stranger. For they believe the Messiah will emerge from Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

According to the Scriptures, the Redeemer will be a descendant of King David--as the Rebbe is believed to be. He will be a scholar who will "mend the splits and cracks of the nation" and see to it that Jews observe Jewish law which the Rebbe is certainly trying to do. He will be a world leader--and Lubavitchers have made great efforts to promote the Rebbe on Capitol Hill. Jewish tradition, however, does not permit hasty simplification of such matters. It is believed that every generation contains a potential Messiah. The crucial question at any time is whether the deeds of the generation justify his coming. Will he actually be entrusted with the mission?

The Rebbe himself has never gone so far as to declare himself the Messiah. But he has stated that "in every generation there is one who so towers over his contemporaries... that he is the head of his generation... In the past generation that person was the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe's followers habitually compare him to Moses, the greatest leader of the Jewish people. The Rebbe has never contradicted them.

If the Messiah should come this year, there will be none less surprised than the Lubavitchers. But if the Messiah decides not to show up for the time being, then, too, there will be none less surprised than the Lubavitchers. In the meantime--may it be a short one!--belief will keep them going.


The Plain Dealer

A Forward Looking Relic
by Jerry Schwartz (AP)--April 2, 1987

On one crisp evening last fall, dial-twisters around the nation came across... an 84year-old envoy from another age--flowing white beard, black cloak and fedora, a stern visage enlivened by bright eyes... "We have to seek G-d when he is close and we have to call on G-d when he is available," said Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, his thoughts translated from Yiddish into English and then beamed by satellite across the nation...

In 1951, Schneerson was annointed Rebbe. And it is clear that the Lubavitchers have prospered under the Rebbe's leadership...

Tales of the Rebbe's sagacity are legion. Couples consult him on whether they should marry. Others ask for guidance on careers. Scientists seek advice about the latest advances.

Professor Herman Branover of Ben Gurion University, an expert in liquid metal magnetohydrodynamics, says he once discussed a generator he was building with the Rebbe, who suggested that something was wrong with the mathematics. Branover demurred, but the Rebbe insisted that the numbers made no sense.

Months later, Branover said, it was determined that "one term was written wrongly. Our theory wasn't completely correct. Now I know the Rebbe studied at the Sorbonne and the University of Berlin, but magnetohydrodynamics didn't exist then. He has a special kind of vision."


The Jewish World

Lessons of Israel's Elections: Liberal Jewish Perspective
by Marc Gellman-December 2, 1988

The first lesson as I see it is that the Israeli election has brought to light, for all who were still naive to the dynamics of Jewish life, the indisputable fact that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is now by far the most Powerful Jew and by far the most charismatic Jew in the world today...

On my visit to Eastern Europe and Morocco last winter as head of the rabbinical advisory council of the UJA-Federation of Greater New York, I was astounded by the extent of the Ashkenazic Rebbe's influence in the Sephardic world. In France his power is felt through his influence in the otzar hatorah movement. In Morocco Lubavitchers run all ritual slaughtering operations and most day schools. The Rebbe's picture is in virtually every Jewish home...

On my visit to Morocco, I met an old Lubavitcher, a true tzadik, who has been serving there since he fled the Russian revolution... No other Jewish leader of our time can make that happen. No Jewish leader of our time can command that kind of dedication and support. As a high JDC official told me, "Marc, if Alexander Schindler could get Reform Jews to go to Morocco, his picture would be in their homes instead of the Rebbe's. The Rebbe is the only one who can get people to come here to Morocco and serve the Jewish people.

In Vienna a high official told me that when the CIA wants to get a message quickly into the Soviet Union they call the Rebbe! He has had people working in Russia since the Revolution and his lines of communication are always open and secure.

The Rebbe is not the head of a cult. He does not brainwash or coerce his followers. He is, rather the powerful and charismatic leader of Jews who want to do mitzvot for the Jewish people and for the leader they follow...


Insight

Faith, Fervor, and a Search for Zion
Richard Lipkin--March 5, 1990

...By 10:00 a.m. Sunday, the Rebbe is standing before the shul's eastern wall, cloaked, like everyone else, in a prayer shawl (called a tallis) and wearing, bound to his forehead and left upper arm, the tefilin, a pair of leather boxes containing four segments of the Torah. The Rebbe prays for 40 minutes, then moves out to a vestibule by the entrance, where he will greet visitors. Though they pass by quickly, he manages to say something to everyone. He speaks at length with some, blesses all, and presents each with a crisp $1 bill "so that they may go out into the world and use it for tzedaka, or charity."

On his feet for six to eight hours straight, the Rebbe wears out his entourage with his stamina. Each passerby exchanges words with him and a glance, transfixed by his electric blue eyes. At times he laughs, at times he is serious.

On a typical Sunday, as many as 5,000 people will comes through between 11 and 3. On this 40th anniversary, the number exceeds 10,000, with the queue persisting past dark. Even New York's new mayor, David N. Dinkins, and New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams come by to visit with the Rebbe...

"In a world in which there are many selfproclaimed Jewish leaders and very few Jewish followers, I have to say that Rabbi Schneerson is an authentic leader," says Steven Bayme, a director of the American Jewish Committee. "He has mobilized a strong following and seems to have incredible capacities to motivate people to action. When he says things, people jump...

"Lubavitch takes very seriously the idea that to preserve one life is to save a world," says Bayme. "Consequently they've invested much of their resources in sending emissaries to points around the world. They seem to be one of the few groups in the Jewish community that takes seriously the Jewish value that one soul is the equivalent of an entire world...


The Boston Globe

Hopes for Messiah
James L. Franklin--September 9, 1991

Rabbi Schneerson has spoken more and more frequently over the past year of the Messiah who Jews believe will reunite all Jews in the Land of Israel and bring peace and harmony to the world.

"We are standing on the threshold of the future Redemption," he said July 12.

"The time for your Redemption has arrived," declare large newspaper ads placed recently by Lubavitch. The ads urge all Jews to hasten the coming ofthe Messiah by studying the Torah and Talmud, by observing the commandments, and by performing acts of charity.

"Let us learn to recognize and appreciate a miracle when it happens right in front of us," the ads exhort, in Rabbi Schneerson's words.

The Chabad leader "has not put a deadline on the coming of the Messiah so that otherwise we are out of business," Rabbi Chaim Prus, director of Chabad in Eastem Massachusetts, said. "No matter how long it takes, we believe the Messiah will come. G-d's credit is good, and He will make His promise good.

"The Messiah will not be a philosophy but a reality," Rabbi Prus said. His coming "will bring into real life something we have practiced and believed in and never felt.

"Today I can speak about G-d and we can feel quite relaxed about it. If we really could feel the presence of the omnipotent G-d, we would be in an entirely different status..."


The Australian

Jews Prepare for the Messiah
by Father James Murray--March 28, 1992

Jews throughout the world have experienced a sense of excitement as a result of the much revered Lubavitcher Rebbe's assertion that the Messiah--Moshaich in Hebrew--is about to appear...

The coming of the Messiah gives added piquancy to being "chosen" and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who lives in New York, cannot be dismissed as an eccentric extremist.

As leader of the Chasidic sect, he has initiated charitable works inside and outside Israel and rescue hundreds of thousands of Jews and gentiles from personal tragedies. And all this from a man about to turn 90.

Drawing on Jewish texts going back to the 12th century Jewish philosopher, Maimonides, who wrote that the Messianic Age would usher in "a time without sickness, war, jealousy or death," the Rebbe interprets the events in the former Soviet Union and Israel's survival, even in the Gulf War, as signs of the Messianic Age...

At a meeting of the Association of Rabbis and Ministers of Australia and New Zealand two weeks ago an enthusiastic motion was passed recognizing that the Messianic Redemption of the world may well be imminent.

Like preparing for an honored guest, Jews were encouraged to review their studies of the Torah, and to accompany such study by observing the mitzvot--the commandments of G-d. The Rabbis have also emphasized the sort of charitable works which will provide the right atmosphere for the Messiah's appearance...


The Jerusalem Report

Chabad Goes for Broke
Yossi Klein HaLevi--October 8, 1992

...Until his illness, the Rebbe displayed an almost "superhuman" stamina--an expression Lubavitchers use quite literally. In the 42 years since he became Rebbe, he has never taken a day's vacation. Even at 90 he would fast at least twice a week and stand for long hours in prayer at the grave site of his father-in-law, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe...

Lubavitchers are... intensifying their outreach programs; the accumulation of mitzvot may help heal the Rebbe. The latest campaign involves random phoning of Jews throughout the U.S., asking them to adopt a single mitzva, from putting on phylacteries to calling one's parents more often. It is classic Chabad: catching Jews off guard with an unexpected request, soliciting mitzvot instead of money...

Rabbi Yehudah Krinsky [a member of the Rebbe's secretariat], speaks with a soft Boston accent. "I don't understand the Rebbe; he's operating on a different level than the rest of us. Thousands of babies have been born to infertile women after a blessing from the Rebbe. I have no way to explain it, but it's a fact.

"The Rebbe has no personal life. When the Rebbetzin passed away a few years ago, the Rebbe was left totally alone. Talk about being lonely at the top. He doesn't own anything. He has no savings, no investments, nothing. He owns the clothes he wears, and his prayer shawl and phylacteries.

"He lives to give to others; his essence is love of the Jewish people. For years the Rebbe stood every Sunday, giving dollars out to thousands of people. I don't think any person in history personally distributed as much charity as the Rebbe has with his own hand. And now that same hand is paralyzed. That's what I can't get over; that's my question to G-d..."


Mw Jewish News

Have You Seen the Messiah Along Eastern Parkway?
By Rabbi Herbert Weiner--February 25, 1993

A television reporter asked me that question a short while ago and I'm still unhappy about my answer--partly because neither of us understood it. But the matter can't be left that way. For we are talking about an event that may radically change the course of our lives... It is no small matter, then, to know whether that person is among us. And these days a large group of Orthodox Jews known as Lubavitcher chasidim hint, or say outright, or even make royal proclamation, that the Messiah is here in the person of Rabbi Schneerson...

The question is being brought before the tribunal of most issues in our day--the media. Therefore did a camera and a questioner come to my home, asking whether I believed that the Messiah can really be seen these days in Brooklyn.

Why me? Probably because, although I am a Reform rabbi, I have long hung around 770 Eastern Parkway. I have studied and written about their teachings and, most importantly, have had a good deal of personal contact with the Rebbe. This insider-outside position has made me a likely subject for interviews and frankly, I've enjoyed that role--until the other day.

It all has to do with this Messiah question--is he or isn't he? What do I believe, the questioner wants to know. I hear myself muttering about the semantics of "belief," carefully pointing out that the Messiah is just a human being, indeed any human being who develops his Messianic "spark," then following through with the proposition that of all candidates for messiahship today, the Rebbe might be the primary.

Suddenly I realize that I'm simply repeating formulae that have little to do with my own inner feelings. The fact is that I have been indoctrinated by my Lubavitcher friends--willfully, because I think they and their Rebbe have been a source of much goodness for Jews, for the world, for me personally.

I have sought the blessing of the Rebbe many times because I believe, as the Rebbe has told me, that some people's prayers can be like good soil for a tree--a source of life-inlet.

So I wish the Rebbe and his followers life and strength. And will "amen" their prayers--particularly because unlike other such movements, theirs is a messianism with a smile. The non-believer is not threatened with dire consequences. These chasidim believe that only joy and love can open the inner resources of the heart. So let them open away.

To see such a dream alive after centuries of miseries, persecutions and holocausts--and pulsing so strongly as to occasionally burst into cries of "it's coming true"--is, it seems to me, a wonder worth more attention than questions like, is he or is he not the Messiah?


Newsweek

Doth My Redeemer Live?
Kenneth L. Woodward and Hannah Brown--April 27,1992

...The final stage of this redemptive process, Rabbi Schneerson has told his adherents, is now at hand. The Gulf War, whose outcome the Rebbe predicted, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the return of Jews to Israel, are all signs, the Rebbe insists, of the Messiah's arrival in this "generation." If Rabbi Schneerson is the Messiah, he's going to be busy. According to ancient tradition, he'll rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, return all the Jews to Israel, establish universal peace and usher in the resurrection of the dead. How he'll accomplish all this is unclear, but the faithful are certain that it's all possible. "He symbolizes G-d to his generation," says Rabbi Simon Jacobson, head of one of Chabad's massive publications programs. "He has the capacity to heal the world and unite Jew and Gentile. Maimonides, the medieval scholar whom all Jews accept, says that when we see a man who has these qualifications, we must follow him as the Messiah."...n

Thanks to Rabbi Shmuel Spritzer, Rabbi Simon Jacobson and Mrs. Hensha Gansburg for their help in preparing this article.


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