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“Messiah is God” in Hasidic Judaism

written by Tal Robin
April 10, 2011

Last week ads were placed in the two largest selling newspapers in Israel (Maariv and Yedioth) by Meir Barnes , from the “meshichist” sect within Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Brooklyn, New York. Their chief rabbi, Menachem Schneerson, died in 1994. After his death, the movement split in two; the more moderate group believes that Schneerson might be the messiah as his teachings affect the world; the more radical group (meshichist or “messianic”) believes he is definitely the messiah and has risen spiritually from the dead.

This new ad contains the shocking proclamation that Rabbi Schneerson is God; that he is “the Holy One, the King of Kings, the essence of the Blessed One, the eternal Light.” The ad even states that “God clothed Himself in the body of the Messiah.” It quotes Jewish mystical writings that Moses was “half God and half man,” yet Rabbi Schneerson is “totally God.” The ad shows a photograph of Schneerson with the quote from Isaiah 25:9 – “Behold this is our God.”

Following these ads came a counter advertisement from Rabbi Menachem Brod of Chabbad disqualifying Meir Barnes as mentally ill.

The concept that the Messiah can be God exists as well in the Breslav Hasidic movement, the followers of Rabbi Nachman from Breslav (1772 – 1810). They have referred to him as, “the messiah being one with God that was before the creation, the one who is perfect and worthy to sit on the Throne, the exalted Man according to truth. Rabbi Nachman created the world because he is on the same level as the Blessed One Himself.”

Some Breslav followers are quick to explain that the quotes concerning Rabbi Nachman cannot be understood in a simplistic way. They do not deny that Rabbi Nachman said these things concerning himself, but they are not in agreement as to the interpretation.

As an outcome of these advertisements there is a struggle between the Meshichist sect from Chabbad and the followers of Rabbi Breslav. Each is trying to disqualify the other sect’s Rabbi. These struggles represent a historic breakthrough in the development of Jewish religious thought: that the Messiah is real, that he has divine qualities, and that he may even be considered as God himself.

One of the greatest difficulties we have faced over the years in sharing the gospel is the refusal of our people to accept the divinity of the Messiah. The very concept of a divine Messiah was seen as “non-Jewish.” In these last days, as ultra-Orthodox Jews search fervently for the coming of Messiah, some are uncovering these ancient biblical truths about the Messiah. Let us pray for them to be delivered from faith in false “dead” Messiahs, and come to faith in the true “living” Messiah, Yeshua, who rose from the dead, the son of David and the son of God.

If Hasidic Jews can claim their false messiahs to be God, there is no reason for us to hesitate to declare that Yeshua is God (John 1:1, 14, John 14:9, John 20:28, Romans 9:5, Philippians 2:6, Colossians 1:15-17, Colossians 2:9, I Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 1:3, 9, I John 5:20, Revelation 1:8). 

The matter of the divinity of the Messiah has been raised to the daily agenda again in the Jewish religious world and even in the modern Israeli media. This phenomenon also points to another biblical truth: in the end times many false messiahs and false prophets will arise (Matthew 24:24-26).

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