He cites it as:
….I don't know what to make of (other site). In comments there and elsewhere, they are very much in favor of this belief in (not mainstream Moshiach position). …they describe how they are geirim (from a background of high level involvement in their previous religions)... Is this just switching from one false messianism and idolatry to another?
Because many people focus only on the "not mainstream Moshiach position" and its legitimacy in isolation, I decided to author this follow-up post. Can one kvetch Jewish sources to support a wacky "not mainstream Moshiach position"? Sure. (Though I will debate you whether these kvetches are correct.) But that, in and of itself, does not make something false messianism and idolatry.The reason I point it out is that so many of the discussions on the English Geulah blogs are framed by people with outside influences, be they "Noahides" (non-Jewish believers in the Torah laws of Noah and non-Jews), baalei teshuva (Jews without a religious background who learned and took on observant Jewish practice and belief or Jews of observant practice who left it and then returned), gerim (converts), or Xians.
Rather, it is the convergence of several different non-mainstream beliefs which leads to the idolatry.
Let us consider the individual parts:
1. That mashiach can come from the dead. This is certainly not a mainstream Jewish position, and is rejected by the Rambam and Ramban. They managed to kvetch about five sources from all of Rabbinic literature. But fine. Consider it officially kvetched.
2. That one can direct requests to deceased tzaddikim. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch puts forth the fairly normative misnagdish belief that one can only daven to Hashem in the presence of the deceased tzaddik, with the idea that the merit of the tzadik will aid. But that directly addressing the tzaddik is doresh el hameisim, a prohibited practice of seeking favors from Hashem. Chassidim, and Lubavitch, maintain that one can direct a request to the tzaddik to bring forth the request before Hashem.
They also focus their requests on a single individual, the Rebbe, zatzal, rather than any random tzaddik.
3. That one can communicate in two-way communication with the Rebbe via Igros Kodesh. That is, one can ask a question, place it in a book at random, and then interpret the letter on the resulting page as a response from the Rebbe. This has a precedent the goral hagra, but this was a complicated ritual involving a sefer Torah where the query was posed to Hashem, rather than a person.
4. That the common folk should not deal directly with Hashem, but that one needs an intermediary, who is the tzaddik. This was idea really formulated in full by Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk. But others might well argue that this is the correct path in Judaism. For Lubavitch, when the Rebbe was alive, this was the Rebbe. And now that the Rebbe zatzal, is dead, he continues to be the focal point.
5. That the primary focus in our generation should be mashiach, and the mashiach's coming. There are 613 mitzvos in the Torah, and other groups focus, for example, on yishuv haAretz, or talmud Torah, or connecting to Hashem, but in Chabad, there is an incredible emphasis on mashiach. Many other mitzvos are viewed as a means to this end. This was encouraged by the Rebbe, zatzal.
6. That the Rebbe is mashiach.
7. The idea that the previous (and thus current) Rebbe was atzmus umehus bilvush gashmi, some sort of physical manifestation of Hashem on earth. Based on the Zohar, and spoken by the Rebbe, but still controversial.
8. That the tzaddik is a miracle worker, and can decree changes in reality via tzaddik gozer veHakadosh Baruch Hu mekayem. That the tzaddik has supernatural knowledge, via ruach hakodesh or sod Hashem liyre'av. That the tzaddik does not possess a yetzer hara, under the kabbalistic (rather than Talmudic) definition of a tzaddik.
Considered in isolation, each of these beliefs might (or might not) be problematic but not necessarily overwhelmingly so. But the convergence of these beliefs led to an extremely problematic whole.
Now consider the convergence.
The Rebbe is mashiach (#6), the Rebbe is the tzaddik that everyone must use as their intermediary (#4). Now that the Rebbe is deceased, we have an invisible power in Heaven, alongside HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and people should direct themselves to this alternate invisible power. And this specific invisible power is still present, and still plays a central role in Judaism, since mashiach can come from the dead (#1). And this invisible power is Omniscient and Omnipotent, and entirely good (#8).
People direct requests to this invisible power in Heaven, separate from Hashem, at the Rebbe's ohel (#2), to the exclusion of any other tzaddik. When uncertain how to act, they ask the Rebbe, this invisible power in Heaven, separate from Hashem, and receive their answer, using the Igros (#3). Because the Rebbe is mashiach (#6) and the primary focus of Judaism is mashiach (#5), they perform mitzvos for the sake of the Rebbe and mashiach, this invisible power in Heaven which stands alongside HaKadosh Baruch Hu, rather than doing mitzvos to fulfill the ratzon Hashem. Add to it (#7), equating the invisible power in Heaven with some manifestation of Hashem, and you have apotheosis, and idolatry. But you have this even without adding #7.
In other words, in and of itself, belief in a mashiach from the dead might be controversial, but would not be catastrophic. If mashiach is Daniel, Chizkiyahu, or David, I am fine with that. But if the particular mashiach from the dead is already the focus of your Judaism, then being mashiach and being dead moves this focus into the realm of a second power in Heaven, which does strike me as catastrophic.
I wrote in the previous linked post:
In comments there and elsewhere, they are very much in favor of this belief in mashiach from the dead which, in ways, often borders on idolatry. And meanwhile, on their blog, [REDACTED], they describe how they are geirim, and used to be, respectively, an "ordained a pastor in the Methodist Church" and a "Christian minister in the African American community both in Chicago and Los Angeles for 14 years". Is this just switching from one false messianism and idolatry to another?Hopefully I've explained sufficiently in this post how the belief in mashiach from the dead can, in ways, often border on idolatry.
It is a belief that there is a mashiach who died and is now an invisible power in Heaven, apart from Hashem (or worse, equal in some aspects to Hashem), that will come back and redeem the Jews. And this power in Heaven is one who communicates with people, and properly acts as an intermediary between the Jews and Hashem. And the full focus of the religion should be in bringing this invisible mashiach and power in Heaven to the fore.
Consider now someone who is an ordained Christian minister or pastor, who believes that there is Jesus, a mashiach who died and is now an invisible power in Heaven, apart from Hashem, the God of the Old Testament (and who is, indeed, part of the Divine), that will come back and redeem the Jews. And this power in Heaven is one who communicates with people (when they pray and introspect), and that one should address prayers to this deity. And the full focus of religion should be on serving Jesus, and in bringing him to the fore, so that he will come back and redeem mankind.
If someone converted from this sort of Christianity directly to this sort of false Jewish messianism, I wonder whether this conversion was to Judaism or to Rebbe-worship. I'd need to know more about this person's specific beliefs and history of conversion, but it would certainly give me pause.