Appendix 1 provides a full text of the discourse on the New Torah discussed in Chapter 8. Appendix 2 provides a text of the discourse on the Miniature Temple, which is referred to in Chapter 6. Copyright in the text of this thesis rests with the Author. Details may be obtained from the Librarian. This page must form part of any such copies made. Further copies by any process of copies made in accordance with such instructions may not be made without the permission in writing of the Author.
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To Rabbi Sholmo Gestetner whose initial advice, lead me to write this thesis. To Dr. Joel Marcus whose enthusiasm and confidence in my abilities to complete this thesis got me to initially go to University. Undisclosed members of the Lubavitch community worldwide who have been very helpful and supportive.
To Michael Furnstein for his help and humour. My thanks also to Dr. Daniel Langton for his support and advice. And last but by all means not least Prof.
Philip Alexander who has helped me to formulate my ideas and argument in a semi-linear format. As a matter of fact, this is what many … have done. New York: Schocken Books, , pp. Chapter 1 offers an overview of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe as a messianic leader and briefly surveys his standing and influence in the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds. Chapter 2 lists and evaluates the literary sources, both primary and secondary for his messianic teaching. Chapter 3 tackles questions of methodology. Part One is rounded off with a brief biography of the Rebbe, to provide a historical setting and context for his messianic ideas.
A Jewish mystic steeped in the language of an arcane religious tradition, he managed to reach out well beyond his own circle of devotees to a wider world with a remarkably universal vision of redemption. This small man, with piercing blue eyes and gigantic charisma, became the stuff of myth and legend even in his own lifetime. It is possible that he will go down in history, along with Shabbetai Zvi, Yitzchak Luria, Abraham Abulafia, and Jesus, as one of the most eminent and influential of the Jewish Messiahs. The bare facts of his life, which we will consider in greater detail below, reveal a man who moved with astonishing ease in very different worlds.
He was born in Nikolayev, Russia, in , the son of a well respected but controversial Kabbalistic Rabbi.
He then apparently turned his back on the intense, enclosed, traditional religious world of his youth, and studied the natural sciences, Neo- Kantanism and the classics at the University of Berlin, and physics and engineering at the Sorbonne — two of the most secular, cosmopolitan and avant garde universities of the time. His radical, controversial, messianic message, which he propounded especially in the late s and early s contains arguably the most profound Hasidic thought of recent times.
In it he flirts dangerously with ideas, which could be seen 2 18th of April 11th of Nisan. He died on 10th of Shevat , It is with the exposition, evaluation and critique of these ideas that this dissertation is concerned. He passed away in Brooklyn, New York, June 12th 3rd of Tammuz, leaving no obvious successor and his followers in a confused whirl of messianic frenzy.
A New York based Jewish mystic, who was not media shy, he was seen by many within the wider world, both Jewish and non-Jewish, as on a par with such figures as the Dalai Lama or the Pope. His influence on those beyond his circle of Hasidim was remarkable.
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They included leaders of almost all denominations within the Jewish world, from Reconstructionist and Modern Orthodox to Lithuanian and Hasidic. Statesmen, politicians, presidents, prime ministers, chief rabbis, mayors, members of the House of Representatives, heads of state and government, heads of educational institutions, doctors, army generals, scientists, artist, poets, writers, and philosophers, Jews and non-Jews, men women and children, all flocked to seek his advice or blessing, or merely to be in his presence.
Peres in prior to the elections of the Israeli Prime Minister. He was an optimist sometimes despite himself. This optimism was not spontaneous but thoughtful and calculated. Once asked about his strongly positive outlook on life, he replied that but for it he would not have survived as long as he had.
He was not unaware of existential misery, having lost close family to the persecutions of both the Communists before World War II and also of the Nazis during the Holocaust, but this seemed to focus his mind all the more purposefully on the positive potential in the world and humanity, and on the question of how one can redeem the world.
He took an almost magical view of the nature of reality, and believed that it could be transformed by the power of positive thought18, a topic which I shall discuss in detail in Chapters 7 and In conversation, Manchester, 16th of February, New York: Chasidic Historical Productions, It became the basis of his message, and enshrined a principle on which he encouraged others to act.
The Rebbe took his stand squarely in the camp of the optimists. He did believe that history was foreordained, but this foreordination was viewed purely in positive terms.
He was not unaware of the darker side of Jewish eschatology. Translated by Michael Swirsky and Jonathan Chipman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Chicago Studies in the History of Judaism. He held that the Jewish people had already repented, and, in view of the Holocaust, could be reckoned to have more than filled up the measure of their suffering. It was only the positive prophecies that were the focus of his religious philosophy, and predominated in his messianic doctrine. It is notable that in the vast range of texts that he cites from traditional Jewish sources, Biblical, Rabbinic and Hasidic, he seems determinedly to avoid any with negative connotations.
It is to be anticipated as a time of festivity and happiness, not an awesome Day of Judgement.
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He talked of it as a time of material and spiritual over-abundance, illuminated by a new, overwhelming revelation of God, a time of overflowing laughter, peace, love, and unity, a time of the union of divine and human wisdom. In the future redemption he foresaw the healing of all disease, an end to war, people able to be themselves and realise their full potential in freedom, dancing in the streets, the resurrection of the dead, the annihilation of death.
He envisaged a growing existential pleasure in just being, which would continue for all eternity. These are some of hallmarks of his visionary conception of the messianic utopia. He also believed that the redemption was imminent, and in many ways had already begun. His thinking is marked by a strong element of realized eschatology.
He talks of the messianic banquet as being in some sense already spread before us. The coming of the Messiah and the beginning of the Messianic Era were for him, positive, self-fulfilling prophecies, which were inevitable, but could be brought about even more quickly through the power of positive messianic thinking, consciousness and action. He nullified the ancient Jewish decree that had banned hearty and excessive laughter26 since the destruction of the Temple, because he believed that the Redemption was so very close In fact at times the distinction between Jew and non-Jew almost totally disappears in his thought.
This type of universalism is a distinct feature of his messianism. Through the Chabad-Lubavitch movement he helped to reshape and reinvent post- war Jewry, attempting to spearhead one of the most determined assaults against assimilation yet seen. London: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, , pp. However, there is still a difficulty, since I feel the Rebbe is purposefully blurring and playing with the traditionally Hasidic notions see Tanya Chapter 32 of the ontological distinction between Jew and Gentile.
They flocked to join his movement from all walks of life, young and old, religious and secular, and soon transformed this small Hasidic group into an army of emissaries, representatives and dedicated devotees. Under his command they built an empire of Jewish devotional and educational institutions which number in there thousands, and which can be found in almost every corner of the world.
The teachings of the leader of a small, marginal Jewish sect were transmitted by his disciples to millions of Jews and non-Jews throughout the world. The movement and its emissaries throughout the world have become among the most influential and vocal representatives of Orthodox Judaism in the contemporary Jewish world. For many, both inside and outside the Jewish community, they are the exemplars of authentic Jewish doctrine and practice.
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