Make your own free website on Tripod.com
  
      Home Page

Response to a Critique - Chapter 3 Part 1
Critique

By Gil Student


Is the Rebbe Alive?

Critic:
Regarding the unsubstantiated claim that the Rebbe was pronounced dead, even if this were true its significance would remain in question. It is well known that "medically dead" does not share the same definition as the Jewish-legal definition of dead. Moreover, there are many documented cases where a person was declared dead by a doctor only to come "back to life." If this purported declaration has any significance, the author has failed to portray it.

Regarding the burial, the author may have spoken with someone maintaining that he witnessed the Rebbe being buried, these claims are well known. But we have stories in folklore as well as modern day where mock-funerals are staged and many of the observers are under the sincere impression that the individual is dead and buried. This is evidence only that the appearance of a funeral took place.

Response:
The critic here misses the point. All productive discussions must begin with shared assumptions. Here, the author offered a number of assumptions with which to begin the discussion of whether the Rebbe is alive. Anyone who has heard a Meshichist talk about the Rebbe being alive knows that he will immediately start quoting passages from Chazal (that are discussed later in this chapter) without bothering to state that these passages are only relevant if the Rebbe actually died (or appeared to die). Without these unstated assumptions there is no need for any discussion at all. The author here only made these assumptions explicit before continuing to review the “proofs” that the Rebbe is still alive. Hence, the statement on page 24:

We will grant all of this as true. However, this does not yet answer the question of whether the Rebbe is dead. There are those who claim that the Rebbe has only lost his physical body but still remains as a living, spiritual being.


Daniel

Critic:
He then adds that we can also see from this passage that once someone is dead, as Daniel is, he is no longer in the category of "Moshiach from the living." The author is saying that once someone is as dead as Daniel he can no longer be considered a candidate for Moshiach -- unless one would accept the possibility of a deceased Moshiach. In which case, that deceased candidate is still in a different category than living candidates. If we reach the conclusion that the Rebbe is as dead as Daniel, then one can no longer consider his candidacy for Moshiach to be the same as the candidacy of the living --it would even differ from his own previous candidacy before his death.

This comment regarding Daniel relies heavily upon the topics that will be raised later in the book…The author himself does not accept the distinction of a living and a dead Moshiach, and this argument is only in the form of "according to you...."

Response:
This comment is incorrect and reveals a lack of understanding of this important argument. Everyone agrees that the Gemara considers Daniel to be a Moshiach who is from the dead. The only question is how to interpret the word “Moshiach” in this context. Does it refer to someone who was Moshiach, i.e. a potential Moshiach? Or to someone who had the soul of Moshiach? But there is no debate regarding the phrase “from the dead”. Everyone agrees that Daniel is a Moshiach from the dead. However, it is the author’s contention, later in the book, that Moshiach in this passage is not meant as it is colloquially used.

Critic:
Even then, it is only if one draws the narrow conclusion that these are categories ("from the dead" and "from the living") rather than incidental facts.

Response:
This argument is puzzling. Is not the fact that Daniel is in the category of “from the dead” sufficient to teach us: 1) that Daniel is not alive and 2) that he can only be Moshiach if Moshiach can come “from the dead”, the subject of the next chapter?

Critic:
And even then it would only reflect the conception of a specific passage, but not necessarily a universal truth.

Response:
In other words, this could be a machlokes hasugyos; there could be different passages from talmudic literature that disagree on this issue. Those familiar with rabbinic literature know that commentators shun such an approach and place the burden of proof on those who claim disagreement. Quite the opposite. Much of rabbinic literature, and particularly the Rebbe’s contribution to that literature, is the harmonization of seemingly contradictory sources. Anyone claiming that there are contradictory passages would have to prove that it is the most convincing of variant approaches. Otherwise, such a claim lacks plausibility.

To reiterate the argument regarding Daniel: The Gemara refers to Daniel as a Moshiach from the dead. Daniel was a righteous nasi of his generation but, for him to be Moshiach, he must be a Moshiach from the dead. There is no indication that the Rebbe is any different from Daniel.


Elijah & Enoch

Critic:
First I will mention his citing references to the two men as a pair, as though no one else has reached this level. This information is useless, as Elijah and Enoch may have been the only two such men known to these authors… In truth, these quotes are merely rhetoric which function only to mislead the reader.

Response:
Or, as background material to help the reader understand the issue in a fuller context.

Critic:
Furthermore, the claim that Elijah was never buried is purely the contention of the author's and remains unsubstantiated.

Response:
Quite the opposite. This claim was substantiated by a quote from the Bible in which, rather than being buried, Elijah ascended to Heaven in full view of his student Elisha. Given the assumptions of this discussion, that cannot be claimed for the Rebbe.

Critic:
Most astonishing, is the author's own acceptance of the claim that Elijah shed his physical body -- a body that, as far as the reader is concerned, may have been buried.

Response:
Unless the critic is willing to dismiss or allegorize an explicit biblical passage, he must agree that this happened after Elijah ascended to Heaven. The same cannot be said about the Rebbe given our explicit assumptions.


King David

Critic:
Once again the author tells a convincing tale but one that has no bearing on the issue he proposes to address. At no point does he substantiate his claim that this phrase was not a part of this ceremony before the story which he cites.

Response:
The critic is correct that the author has not guarded against the creation of an unprecedented and unique theory. The author is not charged with the task of staving off every creative argument that one can imagine. This, indeed, would be impossible because the G-d-given imagination is boundless. However, since such a theory is both baseless and implausible the author has no obligation to anticipate it.

Critic:
The fact that the commentaries associate this with the dynasty of David is merely because of their desire to explain its significance to the sanctification of the moon; it was the dynasty that is compared to the moon, not David himself.

Response:
The critic has created an imaginative scenario to avoid the author’s argument but has offered only speculation, and implausible speculation at that.

Next

© 2003 Gil Student