FROM MY PERSPECTIVE
REAL FOOD FOR THOUGHT - PLUS A SMALL HISTORY LESSON
Ah, honest, integrity, consistency…..nice words, sometimes meaningful, and unfortunately, often not.
That was a lovely letter written by the Dayan, but then there was never a doubt, was there? Only a fool would believe a change would occur. At least we should be thankful, the wording was crafted much more carefully than those expressed on Saturday night. But a few shots across the bow made sure those words were not repeated….showed a serious lack of street-sense, and was insulting.
But let’s get back to what this editorial is all about.
Let’s start with a little truth, and to do that I roll the clock back to 1981/82.
Some of you may recall, there was a most venerable man in our community, by the name of Reb Betzalel Wilshansky o’bm. Apart from Reb Moshe Feiglin a’h, the pioneer Lubavitcher chossid, Reb B’tzalel was most likely the catalyst of how/why the other 5 Chabad families came to Australia . In short, Reb Btzalel was a Shochet in Russia with whom Reb Moshe had communicated prior to WW2 to migrate to Australia to be the local Shochet in Shepparton. It was hoped that the community would thrive and greater things would evolve. Unfortunately WW2 put paid to that hope at the time however after the mass escape from Russia in 1946 and during the subsequent sojourn in Paris , communication was re-established between Reb Moshe & Reb Betzalel. Reb Betzalel was given blessings and obtained consent from the Rebbe Rayatz z’tl. Preparations were made for Reb Betazlel and his family to migrate to Australia .
However, Reb Betzalel's letter from the Rayatz was intercepted by another Lubavitcher who then too became desirous to migrate to Australia . Together with other Lubavitcher Chassidim, consent and blessing were obtained from the Rebbe Rayatz z’tl . In 1949 those 5 families subsequently migrated to Australia . The rest is well known history on which I do not have to elaborate.
Let’s now move on to 1981/82.
Chaim Ber Wilshanky, son of Reb Betzalel a’h (passed away 1977) wished to honour his fathers memory. He approached the Shul Committee regarding making a financial donation, plus the installation 2 boards on the front wall of the Shul. One for Moidim D’rabbonon, the other, Brich Shmei.
The idea was that these board as in other shuls all over the world, would be able to be read from a distance for the benefit of the mispallelim. The idea appealed to the Committee for several reasons, one being as an engraving had been made above the Oron Kodesh (in honour of the Kedoishim murdered during the Holocaust who were related to an extremely “choshever and admired”member of the Melb Jewish Community (Mizrachi), albeit not a mispallel of the Yeshivah but a great friend and patron none the less for all the years that Chabad was in Melbourne) the so called unspoken taboo to inscribe/install plaques etc, therefore was no longer applicable. Additionally, the reasoning was, that as Moidim D’Rabbonon is recited at least 15 times per week and Brich Shmei at least 4 times per week, and that those prayers are an integral part of every Nusach, Ashkenaz or Sefarad, Chassidish or Litvish, in other words right across the entire spectrum of Orthodox Judaism, nothing could be more Pareve and acceptable than those two prayers.
The Committee endorsed the offer, but was told quite forcefully and categorically by Rabbi Groner a’h that Chabad does not accept nor allow signs, even prayers to be put up in a Shul. There was bitter disappointment at that response, as not only was money was in short supply, but it was felt that the Teffilos were a most appropriate way to honour Reb Betzalel. He was an amazing personality whose farbrengens were unrivalled and unparalleled, whose stories of the Rabbeyim and old time Chassidim were relayed in such a way that if one closed their eyes, they could feel as if they were being transported in time, effectively becoming a time traveler, and witnessing first hand what was happening. Even I used to attend his farbrengens which was delivered in a soft voice where one strained to be as close as possible, that even a pin dropping to the floor could be heard. He simply enthralled us, time and time again that 2,3, 4 hours felt like 15-20 minutes. Virtually, time stood still. He was one of a kind, which my generation could relate to, but unfortunately many of you will most likely never be fortunate enough to experience. My intent is not to detract from the other Lubavitchers, how they too used to farbreng, as for now the focus is on Reb Betzalel a’h.
Chaim Ber tried to rationalize with Rabbi Groner but to no avail. He claims even to this day (I called him last week to confirm) that he was told by Rabbi Groner that if the Moidim and Brich Shmei were installed, Rabbi Groner would not set foot in the shul. Chaim Ber left and did not return.
And here is my dilemma.
Had there been a Werdiger Hall at the time of the initial hookup with the Rebbe z’tl, the Yechi sign would have been put up there, possibly it would have stayed, maybe not depending on the function being held, but as there was no hall, the hookup was at the Yeshivah and the Yechi sign went up. It was removed a few days later in an undesirable way, but was re-installed. There was contention from day one, maybe not as bad or as numerous as today, but mispallelim were unsettled and some registered their disapproval by leaving. Without a doubt, the Melbourne Jewish community pricked up their eyebrows.
However, I was a little ambivalent about it at the time, but couldn’t get the Reb Betzalel issue out of my mind.
I asked Rabbi Groner why was Moidim and Brich Shmei, universally accepted prayers by all Jews irrespective of their background….is Treif, yet the Yechi sign which was (and still is, all over the world) controversial….is Kosher? Additionally, he had ruled that Chabad was against signs and prayers being erected in their shuls! Rabbi Groner didn’t answer. He looked at me for several minutes, uncomfortably, and said nothing. I asked him once more if he had an answer.
I then said to Rabbi Groner the following…..”if you invented that psak regarding the luchos, that is, no signs, period, then why can’t you admit it? If on the other hand the1982 psak had basis, are you now implying that a controversial sign is holier than the Moidim and Brich Shmei and therefore the psak no longer applies? Is this another “twist & turn” episode? (I meant Nishtana Itim)
No response….You ever played the game of Snooker, hear the term snookered?
That was the expression I saw and from that moment on, I formed the view that something was not right. It didn’t make sense, and no explanation was given.
Over the years, from time to time during our many one-on-one chats the topic came up, but till this day there was no answer provided. I believe Rabbi Groner was incapable of telling me that he thought the Yechi sign was holier than the Tefillos I mentioned above, yet could not bring himself to admit that possibly he had made an initial error in judgment and that now he was between a rock and a hard place. I have been told by reliable sources that on occasions he had complained he was being hounded by the younger hard core set, that they were tearing strips off him, that they were insinuating he was not a Chossid of the Rebbe, that if he were to take off the Yechi he would be answerable to the Rebbe in the hereafter. I believed then as I do now, that Rabbi Groner was psychologically pistol-whipped into submission. They simply wore him down. Additionally as the sign was removed without authority, it was a blow to his integrity. He required that it be replaced to demonstrate his authority was absolute. (It’s a shame he didn’t exert the same decisiveness when other of his rulings were totally ignored)
I don’t believe he was really into the Yechi for the following reasons. It is well known that Rabbi Groner was not an Igros Person. (Pity! The Igros could have advised him, one way or the other.) But what I do know is that he was dead-set against the ritual shouting of the Yechi and made many impassioned speeches pleading with people to stop. In fact he quite angrily insisted on one occasion that he would make the Yechi statement at his time of choosing and at his choice of location. On the two occasions that he did make mention of the Yechi , he simply said in a rather subdued voice and not in his usual booming style…just two words…"Yechi Hamelech". That’s it…just two words…Yechi Hamelech and not the entire slogan. And on only two occasions, very close to each other!! Hardly an enthusiastic rendition by any standards.
But individuals simply did not respect his requests, they still called out, resulting in commotion, time and time again. Events were spiraling out of control to the point where things started to become physical.
I recall some months prior to Rabbi Groner’s passing, Sholom Mendel Kluwgant and I, wheeled him into the Kollel and again, he made an impassioned plea for the screaming and ruckus dancinging to stop. He was most unwell, but once again his pleas fell on deaf ears. The hard core did as they pleased, all in the name of heaven. You may not believe it, but at that point in time the Hotham St Shamta Loonies were carrying on like madmen in the kollel, but they still had their supporters during an ensuing argument minutes after Rabbi Groner was wheeled away and barely out of earshot.
So, has Yechi sign has been a rallying-point, the glue which holds our community together? Hardly!
Has it attracted even one person to Chabad, who came just because of the Yechi? Show me even one person who has become a member of Chabad exclusively because of the slogan and I’ll show 100 who have been turned off.
Incredibly, for those who argue that a rabbi has the final say about a hergesh, a sentiment, and that a ruling on a sentiment has to be adhered to as if it were Toiras Moshe Mi’sinai, then assuming the Yechi sign was the right thing to do, why doesn’t Chaim Tzvi Groner install a Yechi sign in Ohel Devorah? He’s the Rov there……no? His father was a so called great believer in the Yechi (being satirical), so wouldn’t one think CTG should follow suit seeing he was a keynote speaker at the recent Moshiach fest in Israel ?
Why worry about what his oilom think……..after all, his mispallelim are Jews who understand the concept that a rabbi’s ruling is final. Let him install the Yechi sign there are well…let’s have some consistency, after all Rabbi Groner was the head Shliach and Ohel Devorah was under his Shlichus. Shouldn’t his example be followed? What. the Yeshivah has a monopoly?
And why not Chabad of Malvern? Shimshon who together with Chaim Tzvi is on the Vaa’d Ruchni at the Yeshivah, making spiritual decisions for our Kehilla , shouldn't he too install a Yechi sign at his Shul? (with the English translation)? It is after all a Chabad Shul.
And what about Mendi Groner? Him too!
Ah, but they have a little problem….It’s called B’oifen Hamiskabel…..two little words the Rebbe was quite concerned about. Applies everywhere except the Yeshivah? Now isn’t that a little hypocritical?
All over the world the Yechi is causing great divisions within Chabad and in the process the Jewish world think we are off the planet.
Some foolhardy people try to equate it with the Litvaks versus the Alter Rebbe, but that analogy is simply preposterous. The Alter Rebbe was introducing Torah, where now we are only introducing slogans. Is the declaration and thrusting into peoples faces that the Rebbe is Moshiach or that he is alive or the 3rd Beis Hamikdosh is situated at 770 Eastern Parkway having a positive or negative effect?
Is the Jewish world thronging to Chabad or withdrawing from Chabad? Is Chabad itself in harmony or not on this issue? There are plenty of mainstream Chabad Shules, Chabad Houses etc, who want absolutely nothing to do with so called meshichistim. One prominent shul in the USA by way of example has “security: to escort people out of the shul just for wearing a Yechi yarmulke if they are not prepared to accept an exchange yarmulka.
Why is this happening? I am sure there are many Chabadniks who believe what the meshichistim believe, but have recognised that to promote the slogan publicly is counter productive. Many of them also believe in “leave well enough alone”, but wish the sign was not there in the first instance. Sure, they put up with it, but that's all it is....putting up with it. Had Rabbi Groner a'h not succumbed to pressure, the Yechi genie would never have escaped from the bottle. Rabbi Groner’s heart was never really in he Melb Yechi campaign…..they simply wore him down.
I have attached an interesting chronological analysis of the promotion of identifying who is the Moshiach.
The theme throughout appears to be, that if the conducting of the campaign causes even ONE Jew to be alienated from Chabad/Chassidus, the Rebbe was absolutely and passionately against the promotion.One could be circumspect whether or not the promotion of identifying who is Moshiach should be conducted only behind closed (Lubavitch) doors or at farbrengens, but certainly as far as publicly running a campaign which might result in even one Jew being alienated, it is transparently clear the Rebbe was definitely against the promotion.
Assuming for one moment that the Rebbe was in favour of publicly making a mivtzah of his real identity, the obvious question is….when did he change his mind about worrying if anyone was alienated, (even one person…using the Rebbes words)? Did he believe that no one would be or could be alienated?
Or perhaps he no longer cared whether one was alienated or not? It is simply impossible for me to believe that the Rebbe could do a 180° turn and reject his oft anxious and angry comments regarding alienating Jews from Chabad. Was he wrong at the time when he was angry and annoyed?
No, he was right then but his concerns were simply ignored.
But his concerns have materialized! Chabad has developed the knack of whacking square pegs into round holes however because it’s done with a sledgehammer and in one hit, the assumption is that it fits. But it doesn’t ….no matter what one does….there will be and are gaps, which are becoming larger and larger. For example, before 3 Tammuz Chabad passionately preached Moshiach could only come from the living, yet after 3 Tammuz “discovered” sources which have now been adopted that Moshiach could come from the dead….. not only could, but in fact will!
I have much more to say, but will leave it to another time. But I leave the rabbis who push the Yechi line with one challenge. I challenge them to publicly rise up on the Bimah and state the following.
"I, Rabbi so and so, the son of …(mothers name and fathers name) do hereby publicly state unequivocally that I believe the Rebbe is Moshiach, that I believe Moshiach is here, that I believe the Rebbe has not passed away, and that the 3rd Beis Hamikdosh is on hand at 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn New York and in the event that through promotion of the Yechi campaign, namely that the Rebbe is moshiach, if even one Jew has been alienated from Chabad or it’s teachings or have caused even one person to give away the learning Chabad Chassidus, I am prepared to forfeit my entire Oliom Haboh in favour of the person/persons who has been alienated. I consent irrevocability to this promise."
That way, all the double-speak may be avoided and if a newspaper calls to confirm a comment or a signature, that rabbi will be able to proudly admit to what he said or did, rather than squirm behind a “No Comment”.
As for me, I believe and have always believed that G-d has been here since before infinity and will be here for eternity and beyond. I therefore state that I have absolute confidence in whoever he selects to be the Moshiach, and if that choice is good enough for Him it’s more than good enough for me. So, I’m not going to worry or speculate who it is or isn’t. Nothing constructive can come out of it. I have just one request which is to Hashem and that is, whoever it is that YOU have chosen, please send him NOW!
A COMPILATION OF THE REBBE'S CLEAR POSITION REGARDING PUBLICIZING THE IDENTITY OF MOSHIACH
In the month of Iyar, 5744, Rabbi Wolpo wanted to print his book "Yechi Hamelech," in which he attempt to demonstrate, with numerous hints, that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is Moshiach. After he sent the Rebbe the book's proofs, he immediately received the Rebbe's answer, written in the Rebbe's handwriting, and read over the telephone by Rabbi Hodakov. The Rebbe's words were:
"Telephone him in my name the following: "It is apparent that he is feigning as though he doesn't understand what I already answered before, that it is possible to do much damage to Chabad, rachmana litzlan, and to the spreading of the wellsprings, through writing on this theme - and my intention was mainly to him; enough said.
"Now I warn him that he must stop speaking, writing, and how much more so, publicizing, especially in print, anything pertaining to Moshiach - whether in his own name, under an assumed name, through an intermediary or the like - with whatever kuntz he may concoct, and in whatever format or manner that may be. And if, chas v'sholom, he goes ahead and does anything in this regard, he should know clearly that this is a specific and general war against me.
"Obviously the above includes any interpretations of matters regarding Moshiach in the Rambam or other Seforim, Chassidic discourses and anything of the like."
In the month of Tamuz, 5744, Rabbi Wolpo wrote to the Rebbe asking forgiveness for the aggravation he had caused the Rebbe through his efforts to publish his above mentioned book, but he again attempted to "prove" to the Rebbe that people really "needed" his book. The Rebbe responded:
"1) Obviously, in everything I wrote and said regarding the above there was absolutely nothing at all the opposite of a blessing, chas v'sholom v'chas v'sholom, and even now there is none, chas v'sholom v'chas v'sholom. However:
"2) When something is 'publicized,' and especially when it is printed, what is pertinent is how it will be interpreted by the reader - and not the author.
"3) It has come to pass that because of his activities (speaking, printing, and behaving) - he fuels divisiveness, etc., and hundreds of Jews (and more) have stopped learning Chassidus, and now oppose the Baal Shem Tov and his teachings in actuality, etc., etc.
"4) Among these are some who until he began doing such things were involved in spreading the wellsprings .
"5) Some seek the slightest hint or pretext which can be used to enlarge the bonfire.
"6) In the pages which he enclosed there would be no need for such people to search for hints and pretexts , for they are all permeated with this material, and automatically his effort would only lead to a continuation of the same result, another battle against disseminating Chassidus, and even more people will be estranged from learning Chassidus - may this never happen...!
"All the above is obvious, and therefore it is extremely astonishing that he tries to explain to me the opposite!"
After receiving the Rebbe's holy answer, again Rabbi Wolpo had the chutzpa to "explain" to the Rebbe the value of his book, and he again continued "sparring" with the Rebbe - insisting that no one should be "ashamed" of the halacha. Again he received the Rebbe's holy reply:
"What I wrote was not just a precaution, lest perhaps... Rather, it was founded on what is public knowledge - that thousands, and more, have stopped learning Chassidus and now clash with the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, etc., because of talk and publications from you alone.
"As for the 'simpleton's question': How can it be proper not to spread the halacha?
"Let me ask you: When speaking to a rich man in the United States for a donation... do you tell him that one who strikes a match on the holy Shabbos is censurable by stoning, and if the Sanhedrin was in power, as you long for it to be, you would be among those who would stone him, rachmana litzlan - as provided for by a clear halacha in the holy Torah? And would you tell this to him even when you were visiting him on the afternoon of Shabbos Eve?
"Certainly, if you answer my question, I will, bli neder, answer you."
On the first night of Sukkos, 5745, when the Rebbe spoke about the acrostic of the year, "T - Tehei, S - Shnas, M - Melech, H - HaMoshiach "- "This will be the year of the King Moshiach" - he said: "It is clearly explained in the famous epistle from the Rebbe Rashab, that Moshiach is called by many titles: 'Dovid,' 'Son of Dovid,' 'House of Dovid' - as in the Rambam, 'If a king will arise from the House of Dovid, versed in Torah... and he will compel all of Israel, etc." - and similarly, at times he is called 'King' - 'King Moshiach.' The advantage of being called 'King Moshiach,' since 'there is no King without people,' is that people willingly accept his sovereignty over them.
"We have the potential for this especially in this year, when we are in the sixth millennium, and in this itself, in the 'afternoon' - i.e., after 500 years - and especially as it is already toward 'day's end,' and in this itself, we are in the year 574 5 (TSMH) - such that we already have the identifier Heh (T - Tehei, S - Shnas, M - Melech, H - HaMoshiach), the year of ' The King The Moshiach.'
"Here it is necessary to note: No one should join the so-called 'Shpitz Chabad' who will start learning hints and inferences from this in a manner that is clearly opposite the will of the Rebbe and Nosi, which can hinder Jews from learning Chassidus - and students have already been repelled from learning Chassidus from such behavior...!
"When it comes to this subject we must rely on the Almighty. What we must do is learn Chassidus, and to the extent that even when one does not have a discourse in hand it is still recognizable that he is thinking Chassidus, and when asked a question in Chassidus, one has to know what to answer as clearly as he knows the most basic halacha. That is the way to merit 'This is the blessing' - such that one will be able to point to him with a finger and say, 'This is a Chossid' -because he will be steeped in Chassidus in a manner that everyone can see it in him.
"And as for the argument that he is not holding thereby - the Rambam already forewarned against this in his famous ruling that every Jew 'wants to do all the Mitzvos,' only occasionally it is possible for "his yetzer to force him," and therefore it may be necessary to blow off the 'dust' which conceals his true will."
Despite the clear wording of the previous Sicha, on Motzoei Shabbos Breishis, 5745, during the Rebbe's farbrengen, Chassidim sang a tune with the words "Soldiers of the Rebbe, soldiers of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, he will lead us with Tanks to our Land..." The Rebbe suddenly interrupted the singing of the song, and spoke sternly and sharply in a deeply pained and loud voice. Some of the Rebbe's less-stern words were as follows:
"There are some 'Shpitz Chabad' who think that specifically they know what has to be done and how it is necessary to behave, and when everyone around them tries to tell them that what they are doing is detrimental, it has no effect on them whatsoever, for they think, 'Who are they to tell us! None of them are on our level, for we are 'Shpitz Chabad!'
"The intention in this: As a result of what they are saying, the things they are printing, and the songs they are singing, etc. - they are responsible for distancing of scores of Jews from the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, learning Chassidus, and conduct in the ways of Chassidus. Not only this, but even Jews who had already started learning Chassidus - now they have stopped learning Chassidus because of the activities of these people! Not only do these activities not bring closer the distant, but on the contrary, they even distance those who had already started getting close! Even when they try to wrap themselves in a cloak of holiness, "a silken kaftan and gartel" - it does not change at all the fact that thereby they alienate Jews from the teachings of Chassidus, together with everything else that ensues. All of this is squarely their responsibility...!
"Why don't they follow in the way our Rebbeim paved for us! No one has any need for their 'innovation,' especially as the only thing it serves is to foment new divisiveness against the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe, rachmana litzlan...!
"Therefore, let it be known: Anyone who continues with these activities - is an opponent who fights against Chassidus Chabad, against Nosi Doreinu, the Baal Shem Tov, until Malka Moshicha... who desires and longs to come and redeem us, only he must wait until there is an increase in spreading the wellsprings to the outside. These people, meanwhile, are decreasing the number of Jews learning Chassidus, rachmana litzlan!
In the month of Adar, Rabbi Yitzchak Hendel of Montreal, sent the Rebbe a Psak Din, co-signed by other Chassidim there, that the Lubavitcher Rebbe "is presumed to be Moshiach." The Rebbe turned to his secretary, Rabbi Leibel Groner, and asked who had sent this. Rabbi Groner answered it was from Anash of Montreal, with the authorization of Rabbi Hendel. Thereon the Rebbe asked: "Based on what did he judge me this way? Are all of his ruling of the same quality as this...?! "
During the yechidus of Rabbi Tuvya Peles, a Chabad activist from Israel, the Rebbe, among other things, spoke strongly and sharply of Chassidim in Israel (even mentioning names) who go around in the streets announcing the Lubavitcher Rebbe is King Moshiach. The expression the Rebbe used to describe how he felt about this was: "When they do things like this they tear me to pieces!" Rachmana Litzlan!
In the farbrengen of the first Shabbos after the famous Sicha of 28 Nissan 5751, Rabbi Y. Ganzberg stood up and made an announcement in the Rebbe's presence, saying that he must reveal himself as King Moshiach. The Rebbe responded, with a contorted face: "Don't tell me what to do...!" (and many know the rest of the Rebbe's remarks).
Again, the next Shabbos, in the middle of the farbrengen, Rabbi Dovid Nachshon burst out singing the tune "Zol Shoin Zien Di Geulah" with the words "Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v'Rabbeinu Melech Hamoshiach L'olam Voed," and many of the assembled crowd sang along with him. The next day, the Rebbe made it known through his secretary, Rabbi Groner, that: "What they did was their responsibility," and "because of them the Rebbe was coming down to prayers an hour late..."
In the month of Iyar, 5751, the editor of the weekly Kfar Chabad, Rabbi Aharon Dov Halprin, sent the Rebbe an article by Rabbi Yoel Kahan that he was considering printing. The article explained that one who truly believes his Rebbe is the leader of the generation, and who also believes in Moshiach, naturally has to believe that his Rebbe will be Moshiach. The Rebbe responded (on 17 Iyar) with a complete reputation: "If, rachmana litzlan, you print anything even slightly similar to this - you should right away totally close down the magazine. The enclosed article is obviously baseless."
In that month (Iyar, 5751) the editor of Yisroel Shelonu, Mr. Shmuel Shmuali, wanted to print in his newspaper about Moshiach in general, and more specifically, that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was Moshiach. The Rebbe replied: "Regarding publishing about Moshiach, etc.: "As evident from all the information coming in, the latest articles and columns on this subject have raised new antagonists, to the detriment of Chassidic learning and practice.
"In debates and disputations, especially in print, the questions are always easily established, but the answers are not always so forthcoming... "Seemingly, considering the present state of affairs, it would be more sensible to suspend printing on this topic..."
In the spring of 5751, Rabbi Wolpo again asked the Rebbe if the time was ripe for him to publish his book "Yechi HaMelech," which promoted as halacha that the Lubavitcher Rebbe must be recognized as the King Moshiach. The Rebbe answered: "If he leaves out the portions, as discerned by understanding friends, that are liable to distance even a single Jew from learning Chassidus - then it is all-right. I will mention this at the Tzion."
In Elul, 5751, Rabbi Dovid Nachshon sent the Rebbe a proposed program emphasizing the theme of Moshiach, sponsored by the "World Organization for Bringing Moshiach." The Rebbe answered (on Elul 12, 5751): "If you can do this in vessels of the World of Tikun [i.e., rationally and pragmatically] - as determined by one immersed in the World of Tikun, after reflection focused in the World of Tikun..."
In Tishrei, 5752, Rabbi Dovid Nachshon received another message from the Rebbe, delivered by Rabbi Yehuda Yureslavsky, secretary of Vaad Rabbonei Chabad B'Ertzeinu Hakodesh. In this memorandum the Rebbe stated plainly: "I forbid him to be involved in matters of Moshiach both now and in the future! "
On Shabbos Parshas Noach, Mar-Cheshvan 4, 5752, Chassidim started the farbrengen by singing the "Yechi... Melech HaMoshiach..." When they finished singing the Rebbe said:
"This is extremely absurd. Here a song is sung with such words, while I sit here at the table... The truth is that I really should get up and leave!...
"As for why I am not leaving - first of all, whether I do or I don't, it anyway would not help; and secondly, it would upset the goal of 'sheves achim gam yachad' ('brethren sit even together') - for if I leave others too will leave, and automatically this opportunity for 'brethren sit even together' would be lost. Everyone knows how important this is - as the Rashbi elaborates in the Zohar..."
When the signing of Kabolas Hamalchus papers began, the media turned to Rabbi Brod (the spokesmen of Tza"Ch) to explain. He answered that at this point he doesn't want to comment about it. That response was then publicized and he was invited by television in Israel to come explain it. After talking it over with others, it was decided that he should go, and explain that it is the right of a Chossid to believe that his Rebbe is the one who is 'ro'uy' to be Moshiach, and in order to strengthen that belief, or to hasten the Geula, they write to the Rebbe these papers.
They sent a Du"ch to the Rebbe (not a question). On the detail how he answered them at first, that he doesn't want to comment about it the Rebbe wrote: In this manner he should continue in the future too. After the part in the Duch where they wrote what he said in the interview, the Rebbe wrote: Doesn't he understand that once he starts to talk about it, they will drag him in more?
Local Chabad Leadership Should Decide
In the month of Shvat, 5752, Rabbi Bernard of South Africa asked: In the past the Rebbe expressed his will strongly against calling him Moshiach, but was this still against his will? The Rebbe answered: "It depends on the conditions in the place it is done. It is up to your local Chabad leadership to decide."
To many who wrote letters to the Rebbe addressing him as "The Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach," the Rebbe replied: "When he will arrive I will give this to him."
Adar I, 5752:
On 13 Adar I, 5752 (a scant 14 days before 27 Adar I), Neshei Women's Organization of New York sent the Rebbe a pamphlet by Rabbi Wolpo that they wanted to distribute, titled "Kabolas P'nei Moshiach Tzidkeinu ," which stated outright that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was King Moshiach. Immediately the Rebbe responded (with a copy to Vaad Agudas Chassidei Chabad): "Urgent! "I have already answered him that essays like this repel very many from learning Chassidus - the opposite of spreading the wellsprings to the outside!"
Just a few days before 27 Adar I, 5752, the Rebbe issued a handwritten answer to an individual (the facsimile was later released by the Rebbe's secretary, Rabbi Binyamin Klein): "There is no obligation at all to search for who is Moshiach - but there is a positive commandment of the Torah to love each and every Jew and avoid divisiveness to the extreme, and obviously one should not intentionally incite the opposite!"
After 27 Adar I, 5752, the Rebbe was no longer able to answer by speaking or writing, but he was still able to answer by shaking his head "Yes" or "No." The following are some of his answers in this period:
In Iyar, 5752, a Shliach in California, Rabbi Dovid Aliezri, sent the Rebbe a letter with three questions: 1) Should activities pertaining to Moshiach be separate, but on a par with, the Chabad House's other activities? Or are they meant to be the main stress of all the activities? 2) Is necessary to indicate who is Moshiach? 3) Should it be publicized that our period is the period of Moshiach's coming? The letter was read by the Rebbe's secretary, Rabbi Groner, and the Rebbe responded by shaking his head:
To the first part of the first question (Should activities pertaining to Moshiach be separate, but on a par with, the Chabad House's other activities?) the Rebbe shook his head to indicate "No."
To the second part of the first question (Or are they meant to be the main stress of all the activities?) he shook his head twice to indicate "Yes! " To the second question (Is necessary to indicate who is Moshiach?) the Rebbe shook his head vigorously to indicate "No!"
To the third question (Should it be publicized that our period is the period of Moshiach's coming?) he shook his head "Yes."
At about the same time as this Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak Gutnik asked the Rebbe if he should fund projects of the "International Campaign to Bring Moshiach" which was publicizing that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was King Moshiach. The Rebbe shook his head "No!"
During Sefiras Ha'omer, 5752, Rabbis Yitzchak Dovid Groner z’l and Chaim Gutnik z’l, from Australia, travelled through a number of countries to publicize that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was presumed to be Moshiach. Their journey's goal was to have as many Chabad Rabbonim as possible gather in Crown Heights on the holiday of Shevuos for meetings and discussions, and afterwards to hold a general meeting of all Anash in 770. At their discussion sessions these Rabbis decided to publicize a program with a number of propositions, which they planed read in public in 770. Before releasing this program, these Rabbis (together with Rabbi Chanzin and others) asked Rabbi Groner to read it to the Rebbe.
Rabbi Groner reported back to them that to every point the Rebbe shook his head affirmatively, but when he read the proposition about declaring the Rebbe the "presumed Moshiach" the Rebbe's reaction was different: The Rebbe shook his head very strongly "No!"
There were also many answers like these that the Rebbe to gave to Agudas Chassidei Chabad (for example in Teves, 5753), and to many others as well.
Answer to Rabbi Emanuel Schochet.
In Teves 5753 he asked the Rebbe:
1) Is there any significance in identifying who Moshiach is, although the Ramba"m and the Chasam Sofer hold that Moshiach is a unknown Tzadik.
2) If there still is a significance, is there any difference between Ana"sh and others, meaning that amongst Chassidim it's ok to talk about it, but not outside, or
3) there is no difference?
The Rebbe hinted to the mazkir to read the questions over again, listened to the first question, but didn't respond to it, then by the second question the Rebbe strongly shook his head as saying yes, and he also held on to the paper of the questions, motioning strongly affirmative. In other words, there is a difference discussing this among Anash and others.
When one honestly analyses, the time line of positive and negative answers it becomes clear that there is no ‘new era’ in the sense that everything that was previously forbidden is now permissible with complete disregard to any negative consequences. If there is the slightest chance that one’s activity might alienate a single Jew from Chabad and learning Chassidus then its clear from the Rebbe’s consistent position that these actions are strictly forbidden.
Those who still insist on going around publicizing that the Rebbe is King Moshiach should consider these points:
1) The Rebbe made it abundantly clear that Rabbi Wolpo, by publishing his ideas, chas v'sholom, which can, and does, merachek thousands of Yidden to Chabad and to learning Chassidus, is waging "a specific and general war " against the Rebbe, and is actually the Rebbe's adversary, and in reality is fighting against Chabad Chassidus and Malka Moshicha.
2) The fear of the Rebbe that many thousands will stop learning chassidus (which the Rebbe stressed that is what will bring moshiach according to the Baal Shem Tov) has come to pass. Thousands have stopped learning Chassidus as a result of such conduct. Exactly as the Rebbe prophesised.
3) In one of his last written replies the Rebbe once more stressed, "There is no obligation at all to try to identify who is Moshiach -. but there is a positive commandment of the Torah to love each and every Jew."
4) The only case where it would seem permissible would be if the Head shliach rules that his local place this activity is safe from the danger of distancing Yidden. And even then all activities would have to be in a way of ‘ofen hamiskabel’ in a way that there is no chance that even “ONE Jew,” in the words of the Rebbe, (summer 5751) will be turned off from learning chassidus. Thus if wearing a yechi yarmulaka or saying yechi after davening in shul, has a chance of alienating even a single Jew from learning chassidus, then automatically the Rebbe absolutely forbids it.
5) As to the question how come the Rebbe encouraged Yechi in 5753, how come there were positive answers?
It’s very simple.
This very question is the very question shluchim asked the Rebbe specifically during 5753, during the period the Rebbe was encouraging Yechi on the balcony, and the Rebbe clearly indicated his response; there is a difference in expressing these beliefs within Anash and outside Anash. There is a difference between fabrengen among Chasidim and print. (See Tammuz 5744 above.) Believing ones Rebbe might be Moshiach is a legitimate belief. Indeed it is known that many Chasidim of previous generations, including non-Chabad Chasidim considered privately their Rebbe as Moshaich. The early chassidic writings are full of this, about the Baal Shem Tov, the Noam Elimelech, the Yismach Moshe, etc. But these was a PRIVATE beliefs held within and among Chasidim. But once such a belief goes out into the public, especially when in print, it can, and does, cause much damage, as the Rebbe with much anguish stressed again and again. It pushes away people from chassidus and Chabad. Nowhere do we see the Rebbe clearly and specifically changing his mind about this central and consistent concern. The result of ignoring the Rebbe’s extremely clear and numerously repeated instruction is painfully becoming more and more evident.
May we be zocheh that in the zechus of fulfilling the Rebbe’s instructions accurately and with honest integrity we should be zocheh that all our hard work of being mekarev yidden to Yiddishkeit and spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus (as the Rebbe stressed this is our mission while we wait for Moshiach to reveal himself, Parshas Tazria 5752, — 2 weeks before 27 Adar) should finally bring Moshiach down into this world miyad mamash, bimehari v’yomeinu. And may we merit having our Rebbe lead us to the Geulah haamitis v’hashlaima.
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