MembersKing Messiah?! Judaism’s Modern Messianic Movement

Join us in exploring contemporary spiritual Jewish concepts of messiah that open a window into the prophetic hope of Israel

By Solomon Kirsch | | Topics: Jewish Messianism
A poster of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, with the words "King Messiah." Photo: Flash90

This is a continuation of our series on Jewish Messianism

The third outstanding case of messianism in Judaism after early Christianity and Sabbateanism is the popular Chabad movement, a branch of Hasidic Judaism. Its founder, Rabbi Schneor Zalman, was born in Liadi, a small town on the Polish-Lithuanian border, and was a disciple of Rabbi Dov Ber, the Magid of Mezritch, who was a disciple of the key figure Baal Shem Tov.

Chabad became an established Hassidic dynasty, quite different from the career of Nachman of Breslev, who was spontaneous and alone. Chabad established a entire worldview with traditions and writings alongside other Hasidic groups. Their worldview emphasizes the paradox between concrete reality and essential spirituality. For example, they play on words like ‘world’ (ha’olam) and ‘disappear’ (he’elem), which are of the same root. This means that the material is understood as secondary in importance, but necessary, and inevitable. The...

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