Our Rebbe is the messiah

Rather than argue, listen to what the Rebbe himself taught.

There is no debate within the Lubavitch community: Only one individual, the Rebbe, crafts the opinion of Chabad. There may be divergent opinions as to what the Rebbe's opinion is on a specific subject, but the resolution can only be found within the fullness of the Rebbe's works. In their recent Post op-eds on Lubavitch, neither Rabbi Shmuley Boteach ("Chabad messianists: Wrong, but still Jews," January 21), nor Rabbi David Berger ("Rabbi Boteach, you're wrong about Chabad," January 24), actually reference the Rebbe's own writings or statements on the subject of the messiah. A fundamental principle of Chabad throughout its 200-year-plus history is that its primary mission is to bring the messiah and the revelations of redemption to all of mankind. In 1951, during the Rebbe's first discourse, he said that our present generation was the seventh from the Alter Rebbe - the first Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe explained that Moses, the leader of the seventh generation after Abraham, was the catalyst in bringing the divine presence into the world. In a similar way, the Rebbe outlined, our generation - the seventh, is tasked with, and will succeed in bringing the divine presence into the world permanently, with the full redemption. STRIKINGLY, almost every week in 1991 and 1992, the Rebbe reiterated, verbally and in writing, that this generation is the last of exile and the first of geula, or salvation. In 1990, during the First Gulf War, the Rebbe explicitly announced: "The time of our redemption has arrived." And in 1991, the Rebbe stated that the "service of spiritual refinement" of the exile had been completed. Also that year, characterizing the statement as divine prophecy, the Rebbe issued the projection: "Behold Moshiach is about to come." The Rebbe directed all Chabad hassidim to publicize this prophecy, and to add that we have merited that God has chosen an individual beyond all others to serve as the leader and prophet of this generation. In 1992, the Rebbe told Chabad emissaries that their mission had been completed and that all efforts should now concentrate on preparing to greet the messiah, who would be arriving imminently. That year the Rebbe wrote: "At the present time, all obstacles and hindrances have been nullified. As such, Moshiach (not only exists, but in fact) is also already revealed. All we have to do now is welcome Moshiach tzidkeinu in actual reality." Rabbis from within and beyond Chabad then enacted, in 1991, a psak din or rabbinical judgment which asserted that the Rebbe was the presumed messiah according to the qualifications outlined by Maimonides. The Rebbe later spoke of this psak din as part of the revelation of the messiah and the unfolding of redemption. We are still working toward and praying for the complete fulfillment of the confirmed messiah. In each generation there is only one spiritual leader of Jewry - and if a generation merits redemption - this individual becomes the messiah. This redemption will soon materialize, and the Rebbe is the messiah. Our task now is to provoke the full revelation, in order to see the Rebbe's transition from presumed to confirmed Moshiach. AS FAR AS the passing [death of the Rebbe] is concerned, the Rebbe gave us guidance. In a talk given in 1992 on the occasion of the passing of the Rebbetzin (the Rebbe's wife), the Rebbe stated: "And specifically since this generation is the last generation of exile and the first of redemption... we have finished everything and now we only have to accept Moshiach tzidkeinu in actuality - therefore it's understood that if, in between, there is the concept of passing, as it was in the 22nd of Shevat four years ago, (the day the Rebbetzin died), this is only to effect the last elevation that is necessary - the elevation of the full and complete redemption." IN TERMS of "normative Judaism," there are in fact references to a resurrected messiah in sources such as the Talmud, Kabbala, and later commentaries. For example, Ohr Hachaim on Numbers 24:17 says, "If the redemption will take place because of the merit of the Jewish people it will be incredibly wondrous, and the redeemer of the Jewish people will be revealed from the heaven through a miracle and sign as it says in Sefer Zohar… that is why it says a star shall shoot out (from Jacob) that the redeemer will sprout forth from heaven…." These sources require careful study, and not David Berger's cynical and provocative comparisons to Christianity. In his book Why the Jews Rejected Jesus, David Klinghoffer concludes that a resurrected messiah is a possibility within Orthodox Judaism. The true and unbridgeable rift between Judaism and Christianity resulted from Christian rejection of rabbinic "Oral Torah." On the issue of divinity, the Rebbe explained that the leader of each generation contains an all-encompassing soul. This conduit serves as a transparent connector to God rather than a connection that becomes an entity on its own. Each Jew actually has a spark of the soul of the messiah within his own. This is one's deepest, essential Jewish identity. Revealing one's own spark as the messiah, the Rebbe directed, is the catalyst for the revelation of Moshiach Ben David, who in turn is the catalyst for the revelation of the complete unity of God in the world. This is partially based on the Zohar, which states: "The Jewish people and God are wholly one." SO, CONTRARY to David Berger's polemics, there is an essential unity of the Jewish people with God; it is actualized in and through a Rebbe. This has been a theme in the Rebbe's works and it requires diligent analysis, not uninformed criticism. Countless stories have been told about the life-changing impact of one or two words of blessing the Rebbe gave. All the more reason to accept that we, too, can rely on the Rebbe's words and their obvious meaning: namely, that we are about to see the ultimate redemption through our long awaited redeemer, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. May God have mercy on us and send Moshiach without further delay. The writer, based in New Jersey, is a former Chabad rabbinical student and active in the movement's educational work.