The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, June 12, 2006
The Orthodox Response to Chabad Messianism
Among most observant Jews, there seem to be two approaches to Chabad messianism.
First, there are zealous critics of Chabad, such as Professor David Berger, who argue that (1) the vast majority of Chabad rabbis are messianic, with the debate within Chabad relating to whether to publicly proclaim that the rebbe is Moshiach, rather than whether the rebbe is Moshiach, and that (2) Chabad therefore falls outside of mainstream Orthodoxy and is to be condemned and shunned as outside of legitimate Judaism.
Then, there are the majority of observant Jews, who tend to disagree that most Chabadniks are really messianic, and essentially argue that Chabad does too much good and is too important to Jewish outreach for us to focus on some silly messianic beliefs.
I happen to be quite confident that Berger is right that the vast majority of Chabad rabbis are messianic. However, I don't know what the implications of that should be. Is Berger also right that Chabad is therefore outside the margins of acceptable Jewish thought and practice? Or has Chabad's vicious bashing of critics like Berger resulted in a skewing of Berger's perspective, causing him to take and call for an uncompromising anti-Chabad position? Could Chabad's belief in the rebbe as moshiach be seen as wrong, but not something that merits shunning Chabad?
I'm not qualified to answer the question, but it's time for mainstream Orthodoxy to deal with this matter, since it won't be going away.