MembersRubbing Against the Sacred: Israeli Leaders’ Attraction to the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known simply as “the Rebbe,” was appointed the seventh leader the Lubavitch dynasty in 1951.

By Tsvi Sadan |
Photo: Photo: AP

Following the Rebbe’s death in 1994, the Hassidic faction of Chabad was unable to find a suitable successor, either because Schneerson had no children, or because many of his admirers believed the Rebbe to be the Messiah, and therefore requiring no heir.

In the short biography found on webpage, we read that the Rebbe “is considered to have been the most phenomenal Jewish personality of modern times. To hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of sympathizers and admirers around the world, he was — and still is, despite his passing — ‘the Rebbe,’ undoubtedly, the one individual more than any other singularly responsible for stirring the conscience and spiritual awakening of world Jewry.”

Unique as Schneerson was, the belief by many in Chabad that he is the Messiah remains a sore point in the movement’s history.

One important Jewish scholar, David Berger, charged Chabad with nothing less than Avoda Zara (idolatry) for portraying the Rebbe in much the same way as Jesus is presented by Christians. To give but two examples, Chabad and Christianity attach divine attributes to...

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