Volume 13 Number 75
                       Produced: Fri Jun 24 15:34:13 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

A Message from a Lubavitcher
         [David Kaufmann ]
         [Avi Feldblum]
Death of the Rebbe
         [Jonathan Katz]
Funeral of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
         [Pinchus Laufer]
Moshiach and Resurrection
         [David A. Kessler]
Retrospective prayer
         [Mike Gerver]


From: David Kaufmann  <david@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 1994 18:52:08 -0400
Subject: A Message from a Lubavitcher

A Message from a Lubavitcher

Many have expressed sympathy, many have mourned, many have asked

To each, I would say thank you; thank you for your kindness, for your
recognition of the Rebbe's devotion to Ahavas Yisroel, to his spreading
goodness and kindness as no one before, to his bringing us all to
Moshiach and the era of Redemption, when the whole world will be filled
with knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean bed

There is grief - which is the world's grief - because the Moses of our
generation is not standing before us, teaching us, leading us - this
very moment - into the land of Israel. His smile, his penetrating gaze,
his words of advice, of assurance, of blessing are not tangible now.

Yet grief and sympathy are not the Rebbe's legacy - not what he expects
from us. None of us can walk away from what the Rebbe has given, still
gives, because Moshiach, a basic principle of Judaism, is not interested
in the labels we use to excuse ourselves.

There is - and must be - resolve to bring the prophetic words of the
Rebbe into visible reality. "The time of your Redemption has arrived"
and "Behold, Moshiach, he comes" are not wishes, desired but distant
ideals. These are statements of fact. Our tzedekah, our kindness will
open our eyes, prepare us to receive Moshiach, enable us to see the
reality the Rebbe lays before us.

There are and will be many questions. But the honest ones will wait for
the answers, confident of the truth contained in this letter written by
a friend - not a Lubavitcher, not even fully observant:

"Everything I knew about the Rebbe I learned from you. If the Ahavas
Yisroel and the kindness you have shown me over the years have been
inspired by the Rebbe, then he has given me a gift through you for which
I am truly grateful."

The Rebbe has given each of us a gift. Let us use it as intended - to
bring Moshiach.


From: mljewish (Avi Feldblum)
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 1994 15:21:52 -0400
Subject: Administrivia

Firstly, as moderator of mail-jewish I extend my thoughts of nachama
(condolences/sympathy) to all the followers of Lubavitch on the petira
(passing away) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. As a child I had the
opportunity to meet the Rebbe several times when I accompanied my Zaida,
Rav Yolles (known to many within Lubavitch as "the Alter Ruv from
Philadelphia") on his visits to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. 

I had not received many articles/notes on the petira of the Lubavitcher
Rebbe, and I did want to wait a few days before opening up this topic.
For those of you on Baltuva, I will not allow what has gone on there to
occur here. Nevertheless, there are important issues of interest to all
Torah observing Jews. I welcome the opportunity for all to present their
views in a non-confrontational atmosphere.

I will be vigilant in reviewing the material coming in. I do not want to
see statements such as "X is not a Jewish concept so those that proclaim
it are replacing Judaism with .." or "Anyone who does not believe Y is
in violation of the fundamental precepts of Judaism and delays the
coming of the Mashiach". If you feel the necessity to write it, please
address it to <bitbucket@...>, read the message you send out when it
bounces back to you, have a cup of coffee (or whatever) and then write
me a calm note. 

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 94 21:01:15 EDT
Subject: Death of the Rebbe

I sent in a post a while ago regarding the statements which were made
soon after the Rebbe died. I specifically found fault with statements ot
the effect of "we have faith that the Rebbe will be resurrected and come
back as Moshiach".

I would like to send in an update. This past Friday night, I spoke to someone
at Chabad and asked him specifically about the above statement. He
explained it as follows: 
(the following is a paraphrase and does not represent my own opinion)
"The Rebbe said that Moshiach will come in this generation. Even though the
Rebbe has died, we have complete faith that his prediction will come true.
Now, it is a well-known fact that when Moshiach comes, the righteous will
be resurrected first. Thus, when Moshiach comes, *then* will the Rebbe be
This satisfied me. The only question I still have is whether or not the
majority of the Lubavitch Hasidim feel this way, or whether this person
was offering a post-hoc rationalization. Any ideas?

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive, Room 251B
Cambridge, MA 02139


From: <plaufer@...> (Pinchus Laufer)
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 1994 11:33:07 -0400
Subject: Re: Funeral of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Have any of our correspondents attended the levaya (funeral) of the
Lubavitcher Rebbe Zatzal?  If so, can you inform those of us who did not
attend what took place?  Were there Hespedim? If yes: By whom? Can you
summarize them?  What sort of representation was there by non-Lubavitch
members of Klal Yisroel (excluding the press)?

Is the NYTimes report of 12,000 mourners (including a few thousand from
Kfar Chabad) accurate?  I had anticipated between 200,000-500,000.

I clearly have 2 agendas in posing these questions: (1) I wasn't there
and feel I ought to have been.  I am wondering what actually took place.
and (2) I am trying to discover if the treatment of Rav Soloveitchik
Zatzal was truly an anomaly (possibly attributable to all the
imputations presented in this and other fora) or is the Achdus of the
Klal so weakened that Gedolim of this stature are not awarded due



From: David A. Kessler <kessler@...>
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 1994 15:08:16 +0000
Subject: Moshiach and Resurrection

The following are some excerpts from the email-newsletter Moshiach, which I
think are worthy of comment by readers of mail-jewish.

>                                  Moshiach
>                              Volume 1 Number 19
>                                8 Tammuz 5754

>First let us say quite clearly that there are sources for the belief
>that Moshiach can "come from Heaven". The main one is Talmud Sanhedrin
>98a where it says that if Moshiach is destined to come from those alive
>now, then it is Rabbeinu HaKodosh, and if Moshiach is to come from the
>dead then it is Doniel.
>The Sedei Chemed (Peyat Hasadeh, Alef, ch.70), commenting on this
>Gemoroh, says that there is a Moshiach in every generation. He then
>says that if the generation is on a particularly high level then
>Moshiach will not be a person alive at that time but will be of the
>stature of Daniel and will descend miraculously from heaven.
>So let us remember that the Rebbe said on countless occasions that our
>generation had completed the task of rectifying the world and that the
>only thing which remains to be done is to get the entire world ready to
>receive Moshiach. Hence it doesn't seem too far-fetched to presume that
>our generation fits into the category of being meritorious.
>However it appears quite clear that in our zealousness to prove that
>the Rebbe was Moshiach we ignored the sources which speak of Moshiach
>as coming from the dead. I don't believe that leaving them out was done
>with the aim of intentionally misleading people. They were just not
>relevant to what we were quite convinced of: that Moshiach was here
>with us now in the person of the Rebbe.
>Nevertheless, there are huge differences between our belief that the
>Rebbe will be revealed as Moshiach and Christianity.
>First of all, at no time during the Rebbe's lifetime could anyone say
>that the Rebbe was certainly the Moshiach as defined by Rambam. What we
>could say was that he reached the level where he could be halachikly
>presumed to be Moshiach. I believe that this Halachik presumption
>remained in force until the Rebbe was nistalek. I don't believe that a
>reading of the Rambam entitles us to believe at this point that the
>Rebbe is still to be halachikly presumed to be Moshiach, although I may
>of course be wrong.
>As Chassidim, however, we still believe that the Rebbe is Nossi Doreinu
>(leader of our generation).  And because the Rebbe explains that the
>Nossi of the generation is the Moshiach of the generation, the Rebbe is
>still Moshiach of our generation and while this belief may not be
>supported by Halacha, it is certainly not opposed by halacha either.
>What essentially defines Judaism, and differentiates it from
>Christianity, is adherence to Halacha in day to day life.  Nothing in
>our belief that the Rebbe is the Moshiach of our generation contradicts
>this. The fact that the Pope where's a yarmulka doesn't make it a
>Christian thing. The fact that Christians also believe in the coming of
>Moshiach doesn't remove it from being a Jewish belief. The fact that
>Christians believe that Moshiach will be resurrected doesn't make it
>less of a Jewish belief.

I am shocked by this, personally.  Any comments, folks?

David Kessler                       Dept. of Physics, Bar-Ilan


From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 1994 4:24:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Retrospective prayer

Since Rick Dinitz's posting on "Retroactive Prayer" in v13n17, Sam Juni
and Bernard Katz have been debating whether 1) it is logically possible
to change the past, and 2) whether there is any connection between
changing the past and retrospective prayer, i.e. praying for a certain
outcome of an event that is already past, although the outcome is not
known to you.

Regarding the first issue, science fiction stories in which the past is
changed usually either explicitly or implicitly assume some kind of two-
dimensional time, thereby getting around the proof of impossibility
given by Bernard Katz in v13n63. By making various mappings of
two-dimensional time onto ordinary one-dimensional time, this may be
equivalent to repeatedly destroying the universe and then running it
again from the beginning but with a change somewhere, or to continually
changing the universe in such a way that it is consistent with a
different past history. If things like that really happen, which
needless to say is not an empirical question, then it would play havoc
with such notions as individual responsibility, and evidence for things
that happened in the past, including matan torah. Besides, even
two-dimensional time doesn't really get rid of time travel paradoxes, as
shown by Isaac Asimov in his novel "The End of Eternity," still after
forty years one of the best time-travel-paradox stories.

Concerning the question of whether there is a logical connection between
retrospective prayer and the possibility of changing the past, this
connection is defended by Sam Juni (in v13n43) because "it is assumed
that were it not for the (successful) prayer, the event would have been
different...Prayer is by definition causal in nature."

I have a hard time with the notion that prayer is causal, whether
dealing with the past or the future. Surely we are not trying to force
G-d to do something he would not otherwise want to do, when we pray for
something.  Nor can we reasonably say we are trying to convince G-d that
the course of action he had planned is not the best thing to do, that
another course of action would be better. After all, we believe that
everything G-d does is the best thing to be done, and that He is smart
enough to figure out the best course of action without our advice. What
is the purpose of prayer then? A good clue could be the formula "Yehi
ratzon..." which often begins prayers of petition, "May it be Your
will..." In other words, we do not try to change G-d's mind, we only ask
that it is already G-d's intention, and always has been, to grant what
we ask, and if not, then we accept that. Since we don't hope to change
G-d's mind, why do we bother praying at all? Because it is a mitzvah to
pray, to address our deepest desires to G-d, as well as to praise and
thank Him. (This isn't an original thought, but I don't remember where I
read it.) If there is any sense in which a prayer can change what will
happen, it is only in that, by doing this mitzvah, we may deserve a
reward that we would not otherwise deserve.  G-d's algorithm for
calculating the best course of action will not be changed by our
prayers, but the results of the calculation may differ depending on
whether or not we pray.

In this sense, our prayers could affect something that happened in the
past as well as something that will happen in the future, since G-d
would know in the past whether or not we were going to pray for it, and
take that into account. Furthermore, we know that G-d does anticipate
our prayers and answer them beforehand, as we see from Isaiah 65:24,
quoted in the brakhah "Shma` qolenu" in Mincha on fast days: "And it
will be that before they call, I will answer; while they yet speak, I
will hear." [translation from Artscroll siddur]

Then why does the mishneh call retrospective prayer vain? It seems to me
that it is because, if we know that our prayers were answered in the
past, we cannot feel both that our prayers were offered by our free
will, and that G-d acted because of our prayers. If we feel that G-d
acted because he anticipated that we would pray, then we would also feel
that it was inevitable that we were going to pray, and that we were not
doing it of our free will. It is important that we believe we have free
will, so that we will take responsibility for our actions, and it is
also important that we believe G-d is omniscient. It is hard enough to
reconcile these two ideas in our minds in any case, without putting
extra strain on our minds by engaging in retrospective prayer, so such
prayer is considered a useless thing to do. On the other hand, there is
no problem with free will if we believe that G-d anticipates our
unspoken needs and answers them before we pray, as described by Isaiah,
so it is fine to believe this and to thank and praise G-d for it.

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


End of Volume 13 Issue 75