On the Topic of Moshiach and Prophecy
By Gil Student
An halachic ruling was issued and signed by over 150 rabbis that declared that there is an halachic obligation to believe that the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l is Moshiach. The logic is as follows:
1. He was a prophet, as is evidenced by his hints that he was a prophet and that his predictions of the future have come true.
2. He hinted that he is Moshiach.
3. Therefore, since we are obligated by the Torah to listen to a prophet we must believe in and accept the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l as Moshiach.
However, the general population of observant Jews, including many respected rabbis, do not seem to accept this position. This article attempts to explain why that is the case.
There are a number of reasons why someone would reject the logic outlined above.
1. There are ample sources in rabbinic literature that state explicitly that prophecy cannot take place outside of the land of Israel. The Rebbe was never in Israel so he must not have been a prophet.
2. In order for someone to gain the status of a prophet to whom Jews are obligated by the Torah to listen he must be either tested by a duly ordained court - a Sanhedrin - or identified in court as a prophet by an already accepted prophet. Neither of these have been done by the Rebbe.
3. Merely looking back at statements by the Rebbe and identifying predictions that came true is neither an halachically nor a statistically sufficient testing of a prospective prophet.
4. According to many authorities, the hints of a prophet do not rise to the status of a prophecy. Thus, hints by the Rebbe that he is Moshiach are not binding prophecies.
5. Prophecy as a phenomenon ended with Malachi at the beginning of the Second Temple era and will only resume when Eliyahu returns prior to the coming of Moshiach. To date, Eliyahu has not returned
Based on all of the above there is not only ample room to disagree with the halachic ruling but the basis of that ruling is extremely problematic.