Monday, February 29, 2016

Rambam on the Rebbe being Moshiach (part 2, continued from last post)

Another defining aspect of Jewish kingship is that he has fear of G-d and does not fear any man. [1]  In this aspect the Lubavitcher Rebbe also excelled, as he was never afraid to announce the uncompromising stance that Torah demanded no matter how unpopular it may have been.
For instance, when the Rebbe first arose to leadership of Chabad in 5711, he immediately declared that it was time for the people “to go to the nations and bring people close to their father in heaven”[2] And so began the Chabad Jewish outreach movement to reawaken Jews around the world to the Torah and its commandments. Many within the Orthodox community questioned the Rebbe at the time and even ridiculed his idealism. Upon the success of this international effort which has resulted in over 3,000 Chabad institutions in 70 countries[3], outreach among non-religious Jews become a staple of the very same groups which ridiculed it, who now even claim credit for the concept.[4] 
The Rebbe spoke out vociferously and persistently often when he was the lone dissenter, against those who proposed to relinquish parts of the Land of Israel for promises of peace. He expressed his views in the most uncertain terms to members of the Israeli government to the highest levels of the military and officers. For an index of the Rebbe’s public statements and talks on this issue see:
We will speak more of the Rebbe’s battles on this issue in the later section about “fighting the wars of G-d”. Such apolitically correct statements such as this: Shabbos Noach, Second Day of Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan, 5731: 11th Shevat, 5731: “People are hushing up the fact that there was an agreement to give away Hebron — and there is an obligation to protest against this agreement.”
In other unpopular moves, the Rebbe persistently appealed to religious members of the Knesset to preserve the character of who is a Jew-in demanding that only Orthodox conversion be recognized.
We are told that another sign of a Jewish king is that he is the “heart of the entire congregation of Israel” (SOURCE). Since the Rebbe began giving out dollars for Tzodoka over a million men women and children had crossed his path and accepted his blessings on problems ranging from health to business to education to military strategy. Whether observant or not, Ashkenazi or Sephardic, Hasidic or not, learned or unlearned, Kabblaists, Rabbis, Roshei Yeshivos, Army Generals, Members of the Knesset, members of the American and Israeli army and children of all ranks would flock often waiting hours each Sunday to enjoy even a brief moment in the Rebbe’s presence, receive a blessing, a word of comfort and advice.
Bearing all the above in mind it is no wonder that talks from the years 1991-1992 were   entitled “Dvar Malchus” (lit. “The word of the King”). 
“From the house of David”
It is known that the members of the Chabad dynasty of Hasidic masters are descendents of the House of David. The first of this dynasty, the Alter Rebbe[5] is the seventh generation son after son from the Maharal of Prague, Rabbi Judah Loew[6] who traces his own lineage back to King David by way of Yochanan HaSandler is an accepted member of the Davidic dynasty (as recorded on his headstone). 

The Rebbe is the seventh generation descendent of the Alter Rebbe through the Alter Rebbe’s daughter as well as the fifth generation in a direct line from father to son from Tzemach Tzedek[7] (his namesake). Chabad Chassidim maintain a tradition that the Tzemach Tzedek was a direct father-son descendant from the Maharal through his father Rabbi Shalom Shachna.[8]  These are facts which the Rebbe himself confirmed when he stated: “…the Rebbes of Chabad, who trace their lineage back to the House of King David of the tribe of Judah...” In addition, he [the Rebbe’s father Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Schneerson] actually descends from the offspring of David”[9] [10]
 “who involves himself deeply in Torah…like David his ancestor”
The phrase “involves himself deeply in Torah” (Hebrew Hogeh BaTorah) is a term used by the sages of the Talmud to refer to one who is fluent in the entire Talmud and its commentaries and then is able to compare different ideas in the Torah and create novel conclusions of his own.[11] Therefore, what the Rambam demands of a Messianic candidate here is a rare blend of breadth combined with depth of Torah knowledge.
How do the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s accomplishments match up to this standard?
The Rebbe’s father the noted Kabbalist, scholar and the Rav of Yekatrinoslav, [12] testified that “upon the Rebbe’s Bar Mitzva (when the Rebbe was 13 years old) he was already a Gaon Olam”[13]. “This Hebrew phrase is used to refer to a Torah giant that is among the greatest of a particular generation.”
Torah giant Rabbi Yaakov Landau[14] testified that when the Rebbe was 17 years old, he was already expert in Shas (the entire Talmud) with all the commentaries of the Rishonim.[15] While still a young unmarried man, the Rebbe exchanged ideas in written correspondance with some of the greatest minds in his generation such as the breathtakingly scholarly correspondence between the Rebbe and the RogatchoverGaon.[16],[17] A perusal of the Rebbe’s letters to his father, also written while the Rebbe was young demonstrate his comfort with all aspects of Jewish law and mysticism as can be seen in the published work entitled Likueite Levi Yitzchak.
Torah genius Rabbi Meir of Lublin, after having an extended Torah discussion  with the Rebbe before the Rebbe’s wedding told the Previous Rebbe (the Rebbe’s father-in-law) “Lubavitcher Rebbe, you are taking (for your self) a Gaon Olam (Torah giant) for a groom”.
In a well-known story among Lubavitcher Chassidim, we are told that when the Rebbe came to the shores of America while his father-in-law was still in charge of Chabad, the previous Rebbe sent four individuals to greet him. They asked how they would recognize the young Rabbi Schneerson. The previous Rebbe responded that they should be looking for someone who does tikkun chatzos every night, knows the entire Bavli by heart, with the Ran the Rosh and the Rif and the Yerushalmi with its commentaries and also Rambam and Likueti Torah with all of the glosses[18]) but  wears his hat brim down in the front (an uncharacteristic style for a Torah scholar at that time) thereby fooling half the world (as to his genius and piety)[19]. All the above accomplishments speak only to the Rebbe’s scholarship before taking on the mantle of leadership of Chabad when the Rebbe was only 48 years old.
While the head of the Chabad movement, he went on to publish 39 volumes of Likutei Sichos, and over 30 in depth discourses on hasidic philosophy, and today there are over  100 different published works, English translations and adaptations of his Torah insights. [20]  He also published 25 volumes of Igros Kodesh which are a collection of the Rebbe’s letters to people seeking the Torah view on an unlimited range of topics, written to everyone from the simplest Jew until great Righteous scholars and Kabbalaists, such as the Baba Sali.[21]
As of this writing there over 200 volumes of his teachings have been published in which one can find insight into every page of the Talmud, Rambam, legal rules on Jewish law and custom, explanations of Kabbalah and Chassidus. The Rebbe’s depth of knowledge is most notable, spanning all four levels of Torah known as Pshat (the plain meaning) Remez (the hinted meaning) Drush (moral lessons) and Sod (mystical secrets).
A glance at the Rebbe’s published informal talks demonstrates his breadth of knowledge as he wound every part of the Torah in his informal talks as if the entire written and oral Torah and all of they mystical works were at his fingertips. One can hardly read his informal talks for more than a sentence without a source in Torah being quoted or alluded to.
Each Shabbat the Rebbe would sit and would give over these formal and informal discourses before a congregation of thousands of learned scholars in Torah, Rabbis and Rosh yeshivas for hours straight. Each address was worthy to be memorized and published after Sabbath or Yom Tov and distributed throughout the world to Chassidim who waited anxiously for their arrival. One would be hard-pressed to find a Torah scholar who has attempted, let alone succeeded in such a feat in our recent history.
The unique scholarship of the Rebbe is best appreciated when one understands that Torah scholars generally fall into the categories of one who excels in practical halacha, others who expound the theoretical aspects of the Talmud and those who are mystics. Rarely do we find such a person whose greatness in study of Talmud and its commentaries is only surpassed by his knowledge of Jewish law and mysticism, which is only surpassed by his knowledge of Tanach and Jewish history and philosophy and is able to weave all these aspects together in his talks on a weekly basis.
Noteworthy was the Rebbe’s groundbreaking new ways to learn Rashi. He published books that teach the basic axioms necessary to learn Rashi properly. His philosophy was to connect the simple meaning of Rashi, which even a five year old can understand, with the understanding of one who has delved deeply in halacha and Jewish mysticism. The Rebbe accomplished this feat on a regular basis, a feat with which the Rebbe eventually became known in the Rebbe’s signature “Rashi Sichos”. (Rashi speeches).
The Rebbe’s style of learning was characterized with the great care for the details of the Torah, which others may not find important. For instance, the Rebbe spoke publicly and vociferously to clarify the unpopular but proper shapes of the Original Tablets (Luchos) given on Sinai (which were perfectly square) and the branches of the Menorah (whose branches spread out diagonally, not in a rounded manner-See Rambam Laws of Kings). For generations people were mistaken in this matter. To the Rebbe it was extremely important while it may not have seemed so important to others.
The reach of the Rebbe’s scholarship was broad. To give a glimpse of the wide reach of the Rebbe’s knowledge, consider that his published works include new insights into several sections of Talmud (Gittin, Kesubos, Shabbos and others), insights in to the works of Maimonides, Ethics of our Fathers, the Laws of the Holy Temple, how to learn Rashi, Glosses on the Code of Jewish law written by Schner Zalman of Liadi, the laws of the Holy Temple, customs and reasons for procedure in the Passover Hagada, explanation on the Tanya, insight into the commandment to give charity, deeper understanding of the Messiah and Redemption, Lessons in the service of G-d, Science and technology in light of Chasidic philosophy, marriage and the dating process, on having trust in G-d and the list goes on and on.  To this day, more and more of his teachings are being published with no end in sight to the process.
“Like David his ancestor”   
It is interesting to note that that Rambam says that the presumed Moshiach will study Torah “Like David his ancestor”. King David was noted that his dedication to learning was so strong that midnight never passed him without him waking at that time to study through the night.[22]. Similarly, the Rebbe rarely slept. In his later years he would accept private audiences only until midnight because the rest of his time was dedicated to study. 
The Rebbe’s speech and actions revealed his personality as a Torah scholar in every sense of the words. In the spirit of the Torah’s advice to not waste one’s speech, the Rebbe would talk for hours upon hours at the regularly held Hasidic gatherings and each word he spoke was necessary, uplifting and instructive. See Rambam Hilchos yesodie hatorah (SOURCE) “say little and speak much”. So careful with speech, was the Rebbe that he would always correct one who said they were involved in doing outreach to people who are “distant” from Judaism. The Rebbe would explain to them that a “Jew” is really what they are in essence and therefore they can never be distant from their Judaism.
Also following the lead of the Torah, the Rebbe used euphamisms to avoid articulating negative concepts, it is difficult to find the Rebbe using the words death or an evil person, because he would say, the opposite of good (hepech ha tov) and one who is not righteous. The Rebbe was careful himself and instructed others not call hospitals “Beis Cholim”-houses of the sick but rather “Beis Refuah”-”Houses of Healing”-as hospitals should never be considered a place  in which disease is prolonged.
                        Even mundane activities such as the way he dated his letters or stroked his mustache before beginning as speech were later found to have sources in obscure Torah sources (SOURCE IN WOLPO’s BOOK) (See the introduction to Igros Meleach). Before reciting his formal discourse he would stroke his mustache with his fingers so that it would go to each side.  Rav Walpo found the source for this in the Zohar Idra Rabba Pashas Naso 134:A
These are just a few examples of how the Rebbe “occupied himself in Torah “like David his ancestor” this was true to such an extent that Torah was expressed in every aspect of his being.                 
“and occupied in the observance of the Mitzvos as prescribed by the written and oral Torah like David his ancestor”
The word “occupied” (Hebrew Osek) in the Mitzvos is another technical Torah term used in the  Talmud to refer to one who not only does the Mitzvos when they are convenient, but is willing to extenuate himself in order to do the Mitzvos.[23] While the Rebbe was a very private person and it is difficult to know the details of his observance, from the little that we are privy to we could hardly find a better example of someone who sacrificed his own needs for the performance of the mitzvos.
The book Yemei Melech records shocking tales of self-sacrifice for even a hiddur Mitzva of the Rebbe when he was in Europe before World War II and during the war.   For instance how he and his wife worked tirelessly in those difficult time for hiddur in Pas Yisroal and Chalav Yisroel-not only for themselves but also for other Jews around them.
See there the special hidurim the Rebbe took for Kashrus and baking Matzos under conditions that were dangerous to life.  And acquiring a beautiful Esrog with self sacrifice at the time of the war and unbelievable effort at risk of his own life to acquire Karpas for the Seder plate. All this at time when darkness covered the earth and according to the letter of the law there was no need for such beatifications for actions of that sort at all. 
When we see the Rebbe’s self-sacrifice for even beatifications of a Mitzvah it is obvious how careful he was with what Jewish law did demand.
The book speaks of when he heard that the Nazis …(get story from Wolpo’s book) that visited his house in Paris, they put him in line for “Orthodoxy” which can be even for not Jews. The Rebbe ran to the office of the murderers and asked them to change it to say that he was a Jew. And this was long after he knew why they were writing these letters[24]
We know from the statement of his father-in-law that the Rebbe practiced Tikkun Chatzos.
At a young age his father Rabbi Levi Schneerson in his letters urged the Rebbe not to do to fast too much.
-His behavior with regard to sleeping and eating seemed to almost defy the laws of nature. Over his ninety years he appeared to have trained his body in holiness that allowed him to do much more than is normally accepted under the laws of nature.
-Most of the days of the week food didn’t pass his lips until the late hours of the day.
-This was especially so when he would pray by his father in law’s gravesite, because on those days he would fast. Some weeks the Rebbe went to the gravesite as many as four times.
- His nights were dedicated to learning Torah and prayer, unless he was having private audiences with guests which he accepted regularly for decades three times a week.
It was not an uncommon occurance that after meeting with visitors throughout Saturday night and Sunday morning, the Rebbe would be found on Sunday standing on his feet, to greet thousands of Jews who would pass by him to get a blessing or advice for six to seven hours straight. The Rebbe continued to give out dollars in that fashion into his nineties.
Incidentally, when asked how he did not tire from standing for so many hours without a break he responded, “When one is counting diamonds (referring to each visitor) you don’t get tired.”
 It is interesting to note explanation of the word Osek BeMitzvos is that Osek which means occupied is a word used in Hebrew to refer to doing business. A business man is unique in that he is not involved in enjoying his own merchandise but making sure that it is available to others. That is to say that a business man is Osek with his merchandise which means he busies himself with making sure it is available to others (Source Yechi Hamelech Hamoshiach pg. 202)
Under this definition, the Rebbe also fits the bill like no other. One of the most notable characteristics of the Rebbe is his relentless commitment to ensure the fulfillment of the Mitzvos by every boy and girl Jewish in the entire world. This goal took a central role in his thought and his speech throughout his leadership. 
When examining the Rebbe’s accomplishments one should ponder: What other leader do we know of for whom a man putting on tefillin in new Zealand or a girl lighting Shabbos candles in Hong Kong or the learning of a small boy in Alaska or of a Jew eating Maztah  or lighting Hanukah candles or giving Sheloach Manos of Jewish soldiers in Israel was relevant to his very being, to the point where he worked in this with all his strength,  not even thinking about the trouble or the money that this costs him  (as we will explain later in greater detail in the section about “Compelling all the Jewish people…).
One  might wonder how one who was so accomplished in learning, as explained above, could also be so involved in outreach. It is true, that in the natural way of the world, when someone dedicates himself to public matters, it causes a weakness in his learning and in  making new Torah insights. But here we see that the more that his Esek in Mitzvos increased to greater and greater levels the more he continued with more and more insights and discourses and books, while at the same time sending off tens more new shluchim to bring thousands of more sparks of the light of Torah and Mitzvos in the entire world. While the wellsprings of his Torah teachings in speech and in writing grew in ever greater proportions.

[1]                               Abarbanel in his introductions to Yishayahu
[2]                               I think it says it in Basi Legani 5711.
[3]                               Gelbwasser, Michael, Sun Chronicle, March 31, 2007
[5]                               Shneur Zalman of Liadi (Hebrew: שניאור זלמן מליאדי) (September 4, 1745 – December 15, 1812 O.S.), was an Orthodox Rabbi, and the founder and first Rebbe of Chabad, a branch of Hasidic Judaism, then based in Liadi, Imperial Russia. He was the author of many works, and is best known for Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Tanya and his Siddur Torah Or compiled according to Nusach Ari. He is also known as Shneur Zalman Baruchovitch, Reb Schneur Zalman, RaZaSh, Baal HaTanya vehaShulchan Aruch, the Alter Rebbe ("Old Rebbe" in Yiddish), the GRaZ or The Rav.
[6]                               Judah Lew ben Bezalel ("Judah Loew son of Bezalel", also written as Yehudah ben Bezalel Levai [or Loew], 1525 – 17 September 1609 or 18 Elul 5369 according to the Hebrew calendar)[citation needed] was an important Talmudic scholar, Jewish mystic, and philosopher who served as a leading rabbi in Prague (now in the Czech Republic) for most of his life. He is widely known to scholars of Judaism as the Maharal of Prague, or simply as the Maharal (מהר"ל - MaHaRaL is the Hebrew acronym of Moreinu ha-Rav Loew, "Our Teacher the Rabbi Loew"). His descendants' surnames include Loewy and Lowy.
[7]                               Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (1789-1866) also known as the Tzemach Tzedek was the third Rebbe (spiritual leader) of the Chabad Hasidic movement. The Tzemach Tzedek was born in Liozna, on 29 Elul 5549. His mother Devorah Leah died just three years later, and her father Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi raised him as his own son. He married his first cousin Chaya Mushka, daughter of Rabbi Dovber Schneuri. After his father-in-law/uncle's death, and a three-year interregnum during which he tried to persuade the hasidim to accept his brother-in-law Menachem-Nachum Schneuri or his uncle Chaim-Avraham Boruchovitch as their leade, he assumed the leadership of Lubavitch on the eve of Shavuot 5591 (1831).
[8]                               NOTE: See the extensive discussion of the genealogy in Yechi Hamelech HaMoshiach by Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo pg. 177-182.
[9]                                 Sefer Hasichos 5749 vol 2 p. 650)
[10]                             See yechi hamelech hamoshiach pg. 181
[11]                               Avoda Zara 19:A and Rashi there
[12]                             Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, (1878-1944), was a Chabad Hasidic rabbi in Yekatrinoslav, Ukraine. Born in 1878 in the town of Podrovnah (near Gomel) to his parents, Rabbi Baruch Schneur and Zelda Rachel Schneerson.  Schneerson lived in Nikolaiev until 1909, when he was appointed to serve as the Rabbi of Yekatrinoslav. In 1939 he was arrested by the communist regime for his fearless stance against the Party's efforts to eradicate Jewish learning and practice in the Soviet Union. After more than a year of torture and interrogations in Stalin's prisons, he was sentenced to exile to the interior of Russia. There he died in 1944. Schneerson was a distinguished Kabbalist. Some of his writings have been published under the name Likutei Levi Yitschok. Most of it, however, was burned or confiscated by the Soviet authorities, and have yet to be returned to the Chabad movement.
[13]                              Sefer Toldos Yitzchak pg. 155
[14]                             Rabbi Yaakov Landau, who served as the chief rabbi of Bnei Brak for 40 years (1936-1986).
[15]                              Yemei Melech pg. 155. Rishonim literally "the first," or "the former," is a term referring to the leading Rabbis and Poskim who lived approximately from 1250 to 1500, that is in the era before the writing of the Shulchan Aruch and following the Geonim.

[16]                             The Rogatchover Gaon, Yosef Rosen (1858 - 1936), also known by the name of his main work Tzafnath Paneach, was a Rabbi and one of the prominent Talmudic scholars of the early 20th century, known as a "Gaon" (genius) because of his photographic memory and razor-sharp mind.

                                He was born in Rogachev, now in Belarus, in a Hasidic family of Kapuster Hasidim and was educated in the local cheder (Torah school for small children). His unusual capabilities were noticed at age thirteen, when he was sent to study with Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, five years his senior, then in Slutzk. He subsequently studied under Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Leib Diskin (Maharil Diskin) in Shklov. He then assumed the rabbinate of the Hasidic community in Dvinsk, where his non-Hasidic counterpart was Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk; and they served in parallel until the late 1920's.

                                The Rebbe received his Rabbinical ordination from the Rogatzover Gaon.
[17]                             Printed in the book Yechi HaMelech HaMoshiach Rabbi Sholom Dov Wolpo 1992 Kiryat Gat pg. 191)
[18]                             of the Tzemach Tedek which run throughout that sefer)
[19]                             LOOK IN YEMEI MELECH pg. 536 for the exact quote.
[20]                             (See Hayom Yom A44-46 for a list of his
[21]                             Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira was the scion of a family of great Talmudical scholars and Ba’alei Mofet (individuals who have the ability through prayer of performing miracles). The name Abuchatzeira comes to the fore in the person of Rabbi Shmuel Abuhatzeira, who was described by Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai (the Chida) as an Ish Elokim Kadosh - "a holy man of God". Shmuel’s son, Masud (Moshe in Hebrew), became the Rabbi in the Moroccan city of Tafilalt, and was followed in this position by his son, Yaakov, known as the Abir Yaakov, ("Prince of Yaakov"). His eldest son, named Masud after his grandfather, was the father of Rabbi Yisrael, the Baba Sali, who soon distinguished himself by his devotion to Torah study and service of God. His potential for greatness was recognized by his father, who encourged

                                Baba Sali settled in Netivot, adjacent to the Yeshivat HaNegev. Because of his great influence, the Negev began to blossom spiritually, and thousands of Jews returned to their religious roots in Torah Judaism. The influence of this great Tzadik ("righteous person") extended far beyond Netivot, the Moroccan Jewish community and Israel and he became a cherished leader of the world Jewish community.
[22]                              Berachos 3:B
[23]                             See Succa 25:A  and Rashi and the ran there.

[24]                             See Shulach Aruch Yore Deah 157:2.

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