Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the scandal of Steven's indifference

SIW writes, regarding the Lubavitch videos:
An initial caveat: whatever language is used in describing these videos is necessarily an esoteric one, of which a literal reading may not give a full picture... it's entirely possible that the ritual of respect doesn't make an explicit claim to the Rebbe's continuing live — to indicate two rituals that Miriam surely engages in that is somewhat similar, there's the weekly "bow" for the Sabbath Queen at Friday night services, and the annual opening the door for Elijah at the Passover seder.

Steven, these captions were not meant metaphorically, symbolically or in any way other than literally. Click here; scroll right down to the bottom of the page, to the very last photograph -- the one of the (to my eyes, at least) empty chair -- and read the caption:

הרבי שליט"א מלך המשיח בעת אמירת ברכה אחרונה

"The Rebbe, shlita" -- may he live many long and good days -- "the king the Messiah, during the recitation of the bracha achronah." How can you misunderstand what they mean here?

  • Miriam writes quite often about certain approaches being "different Judaisms," such as when interfaith families are brought to the table, or when certain other notions and denominations outside her own are compared. And certainly, she's entitled to her beliefs. I'm pretty sure that a lot of what have to I say about Judaism has been severely affected by my reportorial distance — a "do whatever you want, I'll just write about it" philosophy — but when I see so many Jews so troubled by Lubavitch Messianism, especially when it seems the overwhelming quantity expressing concerns are very much to the left-secular end of the Jewish spectrum, I just wonder what makes it so different, and can't come up with all that much.
I don't agree with Reform, I don't agree with the Conservatives, I don't agree with Chabad and certainly not with messianic Chabadnikim. But beliefs about the Messiah are very sensitive in Judaism and in Jewish history and for 2,000 years, belief in a second coming has been the clear dividing line between one religion (ours) and another. Do you wish to reverse that now? If you really can't see what makes this so different, I would be interested to hear whether you think that Jews for Jesus -- indeed, full-fledged Christians, for that matter -- should be allowed to take their place in our schools, our shuls and our institutions. Where are your lines?

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