I get asked by a lot of folks if there’s a tried and true way to tell if their chabad shaliach or rabbi is a meshichist, unlike most snags (misnagdim) I’m not one who thinks (or believes) that all of those darned chabadnicks are meshichists. In all honesty it doesn’t really matter to me if they believe their rebbe is moshiach or not, but still I like to know. Through the years I have honed in on my Moshiach-Dar and have been pretty quick to note if one is meshichist or not. There are obvious ways and not so obvious ways.
Those who are considered anti-meshichist are just as militant in their views as the yellow flaggers (those who have yellow flags with moshiach and a crown on them) and those who wear yellow pins, have yellow bumper stickers and like to proclaim “yechi” just as often as some like to proclaim Allah Hu Akbar and with just as much enthusiasm.
The best way to tell if your local chabad branch is a bunch of meshichists is through their calendar. One of the ways chabad gets into local homes and institutions is through their Jewish calendar which is chock full of local birthdays and chabad birthdays and yertzeits. If you can all grab your local chabad calendar and switch to Tammuz (usually around June) and see what it says on Gimmel Tammuz – this is usually fairly telling. I have seen multiple things in different chabad calendars for Gimmel Tammuz. For instance, we have the Sunnyvale Chabad Calendar in our home and on Gimmel Tammuz there is nothing, which means that they definitely don’t believe he died (they have yertzeits for everyone else) and which also means they don’t want to be so bold as proclaim their belief in him to be Messiah. It is rumored that shlichim cannot officially be meshichist and so they hide it.
I used to judge shlichim on the amount and placement of Rebbe pictures. Many homes have at least one in the main room, their is a Bay Area shaliach with 7 pictures of the Rebbe in his dining room. Generally speaking, Baal Teshuva’s who became shlichim are usually meshichist. Another telling way is to find the book called “Days of Chabad” in their home or shul and switch to Gimmel Tammuz, I was in a chabad once and someone had crossed off every instance of the Rebbe’s death and dying within the book, very telling – or maybe just graffiti?
Back to the calendar, I have seen a slew of things written on Gimmel Tammuz. I have seen “The Rebbes Day” which is also trying not to acknowledge his death. I have definitely seen “Yertzeit or the Rebbe OBM” multiple times, but it seems that the most common thing to do is leave it blank, hoping that no one will notice. How many people are as curious as I am about what the local shaliach believes in.
I guess you can always ask them, usually you will get the answer that starts something like “we hope he’s moshiach” or “he could be”, but sometimes it’s a little more shady, outside of Crown Heights it’s quite rare to get a straight answer. In fact, the only two places I have been where the Rebbe’s yertzeit was publicly acknowledged was Crown Heights and Albany. Good thing for chabad, on Gimmel Tammuz someone happened to get out of jail as well and only once did I see that acknowledged on a calendar.
Does it matter that your local shaliach believes that the Rebbe is moshiach?
To me it doesn’t really matter at all, it’s a curiosity, but if you look at the macro picture, Jews beliee in some pretty crazy stuff – non-Jews do too. If it was really that big a deal, there would be more people who don’t eat Chabad meat or daven at chabad houses. It seems to me, that beyond all the private critics of Chabad, just as many people are becoming religious and mooching of chabad. I don’t ever recall someone telling me that I shouldn’t hang around chabad because of their less than popular views on moshiach. In the end, I don’t think anybody really cares.
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