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Gentile Lubavitcher Refused Conversion

Matthew Wagner – The Jerusalem Post

If you believe that a dead man is the messiah, does that disqualify you from converting to Judaism?

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar will be asked to decide this weighty theological question and in the process pass judgment on thousands of members of the messianic stream within Chabad Hassidism who believe that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who passed away in 1994, is the messiah.

About two weeks ago a young FSU immigrant to Israel, who was eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return but was not considered Jewish according to halacha, appeared before a rabbinic court in Jerusalem to convert to Judaism.

He had become interested in Orthodox Judaism through Chabad and was learning in a Jerusalem yeshiva. He wore a hat, a suit and tzitzit and meticulously adhered to the commandments.

Prof. Binyamin Ish-Shalom, head of the Joint Institute for Jewish Studies, where the young man prepared for his conversion, said that the rabbinic court, impressed with the high level of adherence exhibited by the young man, was on the verge of converting him.

“Suddenly, one of the rabbinic judges asked him if he believed that the rebbe [Schneerson] was the messiah,” recounted Ish-Shalom.

“He answered, ‘Yes, that’s what I’ve been taught,’ or something like that. And that was it; at least one of the judges refused to convert him.”

Ish-Shalom rejected the notion that believing the deceased Schneerson was the messiah constituted a form of forbidden worship.

However, a source in the State Conversion Authority said that at least two leading religious Zionist rabbis ruled that messianic Chabad was beyond the pale of normative Jewish belief.

“They [messianic Chabad Hassidim] attribute to him supernatural powers years after he passed away. That is not Judaism. It’s something else.”

29 Comments

  • 1. perel wrote:

    I am sure his answer is taken/analysed by th rabbeim differently if he came from a christian background. Christians believe that the messiah will come from the dead, the question is whether his process of thought was based on the christian messianism or the lubavich(lehavdil) meshichist one.
    No knowlegeable Rabbi would convert someone close to Lubavichers without asking “the” qustions and even dwelling upon it, and that is the right thing to do, add that Shluchim, just like the Rebbe said, DO treat gentiles interested in conversion like non religious Jews.
    In any case, his answr is ill argumented, if he has been “taught” that way about Moshiach, so would he break Taanis Esther because he has been taught?

  • 2. maxine wrote:

    See what these crazy tfatim are doing? They r making a mockery of lubavitch around the whole world.
    That is besides the fact that these so called rabbis are a bunch of ignorant people who should be taught what real chassidim believe..

  • 3. religious Zionist rabbis wrote:

    the quote saying that Messianic Chabad is not Judaism is a quote without a name. without knowing who said it, what validity does it have? the article does specify that the Rabbis who say Chabad is out of the mainstream are religious Zionist rabbis. a closer look at religious Zionism will reveal many inconsistencies with the Torah. they hold the state is holy. many religious Zionist leaders told the soldiers to follow the army’s orders regarding Gush Katif. when the two were in direct conflict – they put the law of the state before the law of the Torah. that may fall into the definition of serving something other than Torah. the Gush Katif expulsion could not have happened without the support of religious Zionist rabbis.

  • 4. lack of knowledge wrote:

    The lack of knowledge is amazing:
    to qoute from the article:
    “They [messianic Chabad Hassidim] attribute to him supernatural powers years after he passed away. That is not Judaism. It’s something else.”
    What in the world is Reb Meir Bal Hanes!!!

  • 5. Manny wrote:

    Maxine, for your information believing if the Rebbe is Moshiach is not a question of being a Tzvati or not.

    By the way, this story appears to have benn twisted a bit. It may be a bit different form what it appears to be on the surface.

  • 6. SHOIN GENUG wrote:

    There are two issues here:

    The first is the misquotes or not as the case may be attributable to the ‘zionist’ rabbis. If they are accurate quotes it reflects their stupidity and own hypocricy. BUT that doesn’t take away from the reality that this throws the whole Messhichist concept square into the public arena again. The story will be pounced on by numerous papers across the world and all the Bergers and co will come riding out of their stables once again to say, ‘you see I told you so.’

    Of course the obvious counter argument is to stay quiet – protesting against this one event will only genertae more negative PR.

    Bottom line: Gather up all the mad Tzefatim in Crown Heights (I didn’t say all the Tzefatim – just the crazy ones) dump them back into that yeshiva on the hill in Tzefat and – – – well, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

    One thing for sure: If Amar rules against this guys conversion – and you are a Chabad Chosid who has to deal with this garbage anywhere other than in Crown Heights – run for cover. It’ll make us all look bad.

  • 7. out-of-towner wrote:

    this is blatantly unfair. we all know there are crazy meshichistim doing crazy, wrong things. but there are a lot of normal, well-respected meshichistim, rabbonim and scholars atc.

    there is a torah-place for holding the rebbe is moshiach. it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s not ossur. i believe it’s not the meshichistim giving chabad a bad name, but the crazy people doing bad things, (all in the name of “yechi”).

    as for the quote;

    “They [messianic Chabad Hassidim] attribute to him supernatural powers years after he passed away. That is not Judaism. It’s something else.”

    well, that applies to all chassidim and their rebbes. if chassidim didn’t believe their rebbeim had “supernatural powers” after they left this world, nobody would be visiting their kevarim.

    the idea that a tzadik has greater soul-power once he leaves this physical realm is NOT out of the realm of normative yiddishkeit.

  • 8. duh wrote:

    To Maxine:

    Are you implying (or worse – revealing) that you don’t believe the Rebbe, at the very least, COULD be Moshiach?

    You’re embarrasing yourself with your ignorance.

  • 9. to maxine wrote:

    for some reason I understand from your comment, that beleiving the rebbe is moshiach is a tzfati idea?!
    that is a rediculous comment from some one who calls himself a lubavither! this is the beliefe the rebbe endorsed in front of the entire world (via the satalite on yud shvat 5753)
    if you dissagree with the way people present it to the world – you have the right, and do as your rabbis tell you, but you have no right to blame anyone for YOU feel as mockery – it’s mockery to lubavitch that bothers you, rather mockery to the group you consider yourself part of! I.E. mocking you!
    it’s time for teshuva!
    may we merit the ultimate redemption thrue the rebbe – now!

  • 10. CHT wrote:

    They are just jealous that the Rebbe even now influences people towards Yidishkait. This is so true that even antis would agree. Right?

  • 11. Gavriele wrote:

    Heaven forbid. Rabbi Akiba, may he be ever blessed, thought Bar Kokhba was the Messiah. If this is the case, will we toss over half the Talmid out to? – Absolutely not.

    If our Chabad brothers want to “believe” that Rabbi Schneerson, may he be ever blessed, is the Messiah, so what. Belief has not stopped anyone from being a Jew. Being a Jew is what you DO. If you obey the commandments, you automatically believe them.

    I’ll end with this story. I was watching the Chabad Telethon this past fall here in LA. There was a gentleman on his deathbed. A local Chabad Rabbi was with him for his final hours singing, and praising Hashem. This brought a tear to my eye, especially since my own mother is on her deathbed.

    I would ask that Rabbi Amar, please rule in favor of the Chabad.

  • 12. Shlome Seldowitz wrote:

    The Lubavitcher Rebbe stressed that before Moshiach could come, knowledge of this subject would need to be increased.

    Sdei Chemed, the author of a widely accepted encyclopedia of Halacha explains (volume 7, respondsa 70) that Moshiach can come in 3 ways: a) a living leader riding upon a donkey, b) a living leader chosen by Hashem to fulfill his historic role, c) a deceased leader who would miraculously rise from the dead.

    The Lubavitcher Rebbe rejected the first possibility, insisting that the purpose of Chassidic teachings would not have been “wasted” if this would have been the outcome.

    The Rebbe preferred the the third miraculous possibility, insisting the Moschiach was his father-in-law, a deceased great Jewish leader.

    The Rebbe’s followers insist that the identity is rather that of the Rebbe.

    Hence, according to the widely accepted Halachic view of the S’dei Chemed, it is not only acceptable to believe in the Moshiach as a deceased great Jewish leader; it is acctually preferable.

  • 13. 770 wrote:

    Every Lubavitcher knows that the Rebbe is Moshiach if not your not a Lubavitcher the question is if we should spread it but the fact is the Rebbe is Moshiach!

  • 14. This is an atack Against us all wrote:

    These so called “Rabbis” have actually spoken against every single Lubavitcher.

    The whole argument is wheter the Rebbe is alive in this phisycal world, and if to publicize this to the whole world.

    EVERYBODY agrees that the rebbe is Moshiach!

  • 15. Bakasha Nafshis wrote:

    Awesome.
    Just awesome.

    Can all of you please just shut up…
    Seriously, stop it.
    You’re ruining everything.
    Years and years of a Shliach’s sweat blood and tears can all be erased with one stupid comment, one fanatical piece of literature, one sign, one poster.
    For every tank that went out this Chanukah and spread the light of Yiddishket, of Chabad, of the Rebbe, there was another one not far behind unraveling it all, tearing it all down.
    Please stop.
    You’re hurting us.
    You run around Crown Heights jumping and singing, but those of us out in the field have to hope and pray every day that your insanity doesn’t somehow seep and find it’s way into our communities.
    Is the Rebbe Moshiach?
    I believe so.
    But I know that to BRING Moshiach, to reach out to each and every Yid, and to truly keep the Rebbe and his teachings alive, we have to use just a LITTLE sechel, and make sure we’re not doing just the opposite.

  • 16. Anonymous wrote:

    770 Wrote:
    “Every Lubavitcher knows that the Rebbe is Moshiach if not your not a Lubavitcher the question is if we should spread it but the fact is the Rebbe is Moshiach!”

    What Sicho is the above from?

    I’ll tell you why you are wrong.
    Really every body believes The Rebbe Is Moshiach I.E. (in Example) Satmer Believes,
    Bovov Believes, Litvaks Believe, In short everybody in Williamsburg, Boro park, Bina Brak etc… Believes. It’s only a couple (a fringe group) of Lubavichers (what you would call today “Antis”) that don’t believe, if it wasn’t for them the Rebbe would already be Misgala as Moshiach!

    This is a good site to see on these issues…
    http://chassidusunlimited.t

  • 17. Anonymous wrote:

    This is an attack Against us all wrote:
    “The whole argument is wheter the Rebbe is alive in this phisycal world, and if to publicize this to the whole world.”

    As the Rebbe himself always taught us, if one wants to know if a certain action is appropriate or not, one must look at the outcome.

    13 years later we all know what the outcome is!

  • 18. Reb Levik wrote:

    WELL LET’S NOT SUPPORT ANOTHER TZFATI LUNATIC

    HE MIGHT BE SOON WALKING THE STREETS OF CROWNHEIGHTS WITH A FLAG

    I AM SICK OF MISHIGUS IN OUR CHABAD COMMUNITY (MOST OF US JUST WANT TO GET ON WITH LIFE AND DO TORAH AND MITZVOS)

  • 19. Mordy wrote:

    WOW! BEAUTIFUL!
    SOUNDS LIKE WE HAVE SOME GREAT “LUBAVITCHERS” & CHASSIDIM OVER HERE WHO BELIEVE [NO, THEY KNOW – NO, THEY KNOW THAT EVERY LUBAVITCHER MUST BELIEVE, AND IF NOT YOU’RE NOT A CHOSID (!!!)] THAT THE REBBE IS MOSHIACH!!!
    SO FIRST OF ALL, THE BASIC CIRITERIA OF BEING A CHOSSID, IS NATURALLY FOLLOWING THE REBBE’S HORAOS.
    THE REBBE WROTE IN 1992, IN THE MONTH OF ADARII (THE MONTH OF THE THE STROKE):
    “AIN CHIYUV KLAL LCHAPES MIHU HAMOSHIACH, AVOL MITZVAS ASEY MIN HATORAH V’OHAVTA L’REIACHA KMOCHA”.
    IN ENGLISH: THERE IS NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER TO SEARCH WHO IS MOSHIACH, BUT THERE IS A BIBLICAL POSITIVE MITZVO TO LOVE EVERY JEW AS YOURSELF.
    SORRY, THERE GOES YOUR THEORY ABOUT THE OBLIGATION IN BELIEVING THE REBBE IS MOSHIACH!! WHY DIDN’T THE REBBE SAY THAT THERE IS – IN ORDER TO BE A “TRUE” LUBAVITCHER?
    AND YES, YOU SEE FROM THAT LETTER TOO: THE REBBE KNEW BACK THEN THAT THESE “MOSHIACH IDENTITY SEEKERS” WILL “INFRINGE” ON JEWS GETTING ALONG (…) , SO HE MADE HIS OPINION ON THE MATTER CRYSTAL CLEAR CLEAR.
    BUT OBVIOUSLY, YOU WHO KNOW BEETER, TO GO AGAINST THE REBBE’S DIRECTIVE ABOUT THIS “OBLIGATION ON SEARCHING WHO MOSHIACH IS”, KNOWS BETTER TO GO AGAINST ALSO WHAT HE SAID ABOUT DESTROYING JEWS GETTING ALONG BECAUSE OF IT!!!!
    WHO DOSEN’T REMEMBER THE REBBE CRYING BY THE FARBRENGEN THAT THESE PEOPLE WON’T STOP TILL THEY’LL MAKE CHABAD, THE REBBE THE SHVER AND M.M.S. (HE SAID HIS NAME) “MUKTZE MACHMAS MIOS:?! WHO DOSEN’T REMEMBER THE REBBE SAYING THAT THESE “ACTIVISTS” RAISIN MAINE LEBIDIGE FLAISH?! WHO DOSEN’T REMEMBER IN 5752 THE REBBE THREATININNG TO WALK OUT IN MIDDLE OF A FARBRENGEN (!!!) BECAUSE SOMEONE SANG ASONG THAT HAD REFRENCE THAT HE’S THE MOSHIACH?!
    BT OF COURSE, AFTER INDEPENDENCE DAY, OH SORRY, I MEAN 3 TAMMUZ, WE CAN DO WHATEVER WE WANT (“TUD ALTZ VOS IR VILT…)

  • 20. Areye Leib Krayzman wrote:

    what we have to do is chabad in Israel needs to fight these Rbonim. Because they are making a very ignorant remark about this matter. And as it says in the article that they were very impressed by him before he answered the question about the Rebbe. These Rabbis probably never learned chassidus in there lives. so they have no idea what a Rebbe is Or what his super natural poweres are!!! This is not just against the Meshichists this is against all of chabad. we must fight back!

  • 21. Mottel wrote:

    Chassidusunlimited is by an ex-lubav it is not oisgehalten and it is not even clear who wrote it but those that know… don’t take it as torah min hashamayim…

  • 22. everyoneisachossid wrote:

    I am surprised why no one ever mentions a very clear and precise Ramban which states unequivically that a tzaddik can merit to live forever bgashmiyus. quote “and one who foregoes all matters of this world, and do not consider them at all, and it is as if they are not physical people, and all their thoughts and interests are in their creator alone, like Eliyahu, they bind their souls to the honorable name (of Hashem), they will live forever in their bodies…”

  • 23. shlomie wrote:

    Remember one thing…Many people have, and are still jealous of what chabad is, and what it has accomplished.

    This has nothing to do with the Moshiach issue. There was no moshiach issue when Mitzvah tfilin was attacked many years ago. The people who attacked the mitzvah tanks (see last week story), did they ever apologize ? did any other chassidic groups do something about it ?? How popular was the Rebbe when he spoke against offering sinai at Camp David ??

    The point is that those who hate Lubavitch are using this as an excuse today…tomorrow they will find something in the Tanya to attack…

    if you blame so called “tzfatim”, it is time you look at yourself first….there is saying anything you see wrong with your fellow, is a reflection of yourself.

  • 24. a Chosid wrote:

    the same Rabbis that ruled against this Ger, are the same Misnagdim that libeled the Alter Rebbe to the Russian Czarist government, a libel that put the Alter Rebbe in prison. Unfortunately, the fight against Chabad Chassidus has been raging since day one. If you give in on one point, you might as well give in on it all. It’s a shame that such jealousy has to be prevalent in a time when our Redemption is clearly at hand.

  • 25. Vauge Question wrote:

    The media could vastly distort the fact that no where in Jewish law does it say that believing that a rebbe is Moshiach is shituf. Sorry, all you critics, shituf has no application when it comes to our leaders, not to Moshiach, not Moshe Rabbeinu, not the Neveim, nor any Rebbeim of any Yidden.

    So what’s the big deal about converting a person who believes in the torah, the prophets, the gedolim, Halacha, and Moshiach?

    Perhaps the big deal is the way HAARETZ portrays the picture.

    One more word of caution – and journalists take note:

    There is a BIG difference between asking someone if he believes that a REBBE, according to his teachings, is MOSHIACH, that the time of Moshiach is imminent, and that we must do all that we can to hasten that special era – verses asking an ex-cult member, or an ex-Christian, whose background can greatly distort the teachings of chassidus, whether he believes, lehavdil, that “SOMEONE” who is dead can be the ”MESSIA”

    BIG difference.

  • 26. ariel wrote:

    point is to beileve a tzaddik after he passes away can be moshiach is perfectly sanctioned by torah and to be taught that the rebbe is a perfect leader to choose why not!

  • 27. Anonymous wrote:

    mottel wrote:
    “Chassidusunlimited is by an ex-lubav it is not oisgehalten and it is not even clear who wrote it but those that know… don’t take it as torah min hashamayim…”

    First you discredit this person (who ever he is), then you say your not even sure who he is, then you go on to discredit him more. You’re not making much sense.

    What different does it make whether he is or isn’t a lubab (now or ever), is or isn’t the things he’s saying true or not true. (If you actually read what he wrote must of it is just what the Rebbe said or did not say and when ever he writes his own opinion he says this is my own opinion).
    [Do you after every nice article that you read “google” the author to see what type of person he is. Do you not listen and agree or disagree with the people of talk Radio (770 wabc) because they (in there personal life) are either this way or that I.e. A different religion. Or do you say I like what he is saying right now about this issue (and I must agree).]
    Why is it that every time someone comes out against “mishichistim” they become discredited, they are accused of “purveying hatred and bigotry” “being stupid and ignorant” or in this case a ex-lubab etc… this is a common tactic used by liberals and in this case mishichtim…instructive lesson in bully-boy tactics.

    By the way from what I hear (I don’t know for sure-we are on the same page) that he was ran out of Crown Heights after he came out with this booklet, like a few others were when they came out publicly against the mishichist Movement (in fact if they had there way Rabbi Krinsky and all members of Aguch including the Shluchim would be thrown out of CH and 770).

    In other words: be open minded listen to what is being said and not by whom.

  • 28. To Mordy: wrote:

    To Mordy:

    You’re absolutely right the AHAVAS YISRAEL is the one most important thing now.

    However, I don’t see why you think this contradicts the statement that someone who doesn’t believe the Rebbe is Moshiach is not a chossid.

    Let me explain that statement:
    A Lubavitcher Chossid is someone who believes the Rebbe is his/her leader and the general Nassi Hador. Therefore, everything the Rebbe says is believed by the Chossid to be absolute truth. Open up almost any Nun Beis sicha, and you’ll see how the Rebbe said countless times that Moshiach is the Nassi Hador. Oh and that “Moshiach SheMenachem Shmo” — Moshiach whose name is Menachem, and many other interesting identifications… go look it up.

    This has nothing to do with Ahavas Yisrael. I don’t see how you make the connection.

  • 29. Midwest USA wrote:

    770,
    I live in America, in the midwest. When the Rebbe was alive, I believed he was the best candidate for being Moshiach. We failed to bring about the conditions suitable for him to reveal himself as such. Now I just do mitzvot, and learn. I figure that the Moshiach will come, in whatever manner HaShem deems appropriate.

    I learn the Rebbe’s teachings, and follow his minhagim. Yet, according to you, I am not a Lubavitcher. Your rejection of me, sight unseen, is painful. I usually tell people who need to label me quickly that I am a Lubavitcher. Would you rather I did not? What term should I use?

    I prefer the term non-moshiachist, as I am not against you, or ChV’S the Rebbe.

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