QUESTION: I read in the newspaper that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the revered Lubavitcher rabbi who leads an ultra-Orthodox sect of 30,000, said that the Messiah will arrive before September 9, 1991 (the Jewish New Year). What will the Jewish people do if his prophecy is wrong?
ANSWER: Rabbi Schneerson does not talk directly to the press. He talks to God, then talks to his secretaries who then talk to the press. Therefore it is impossible to say with certainty what the rabbi actually said.
It seems that many of Rabbi Schneerson’s followers have messianic fever,” but at the same time they are strongly hinting that Rabbi Schneerson himself is the Messiah. Since the Lubavitch movement has always had a scion from the lineage of the renowned Baal Shem Tov, many of Schneerson’s followers feel that Schneerson must be the Messiah because he has no heir, and the dynasty ends with him. Well, at least in one respect he could fulfill a prophecy—that of Isaiah who wrote of the Messiah, “…when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2b). Rabbi Schneerson might have been beautiful in his youth, but at this time he is 89 years old—hardly a dashing hero figure.
But to answer the serious question, “What will Jewish people do who are looking for that day, and what if Rabbi Schneerson’s prophecy is wrong?” Of course, they will be somewhat disappointed, but those who care about such things will go on hoping as they have for thousands of years before Rabbi Schneerson. Well, maybe they won’t be disappointed. Maybe the Messiah will come by then. But if He does, they will be surprised to find out that He is Yeshua and not Menachem Schneerson!
Throughout history many claiming to be the Messiah have come and gone. In their wake they left disappointment, disheartenment and discouragement, but never deliverance. Meanwhile the Jewish people survive. And a few continue to hope in a Messiah, or at least a messianic age, when all will be well for the world in general and for the Jewish people in particular.