By Elliot R. Wolfson
Menahem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994) used to be the 7th and possible final Rebbe of the Habad-Lubavitch dynasty. Marked by means of conflicting traits, Schneerson was once an intensive messianic visionary who promoted a conservative political time table, a reclusive contemplative who equipped a hasidic sect into a world flow, and a guy devoted to the exposition of mysteries who however harbored many secrets and techniques. Schneerson astutely masked perspectives that will be deemed heterodox by way of the canons of orthodoxy whereas engineering a fundamentalist ideology that may subvert conventional gender hierarchy, the halakhic contrast among permissible and forbidden, and the social-anthropological department among Jew and Gentile.
While such a lot literature at the Rebbe specializes in even if he pointed out with the function of Messiah, Elliot R. Wolfson, a number one pupil of Jewish mysticism and the phenomenology of non secular event, concentrates as an alternative on Schneerson's apocalyptic sensibility and his promoting of a paranormal awareness that undermines all discrimination. For Schneerson, the ploy of secrecy is important to the dissemination of the messianic mystery. To be enlightened messianically is to be added from all conceptual barriers, even the very inspiration of changing into emancipated from challenge. the final word liberation, or actual and whole redemption, fuses the believer into an enormous essence past all duality, even the duality of being emancipated and never emancipated—an emancipation, in different phrases, that emancipates one from the bind of emancipation.
At its private point, Schneerson's eschatological orientation discerned non secular grasp, if he be precise, needs to get rid of the masks of mastery. Situating Habad's inspiration in the evolution of kabbalistic mysticism, the historical past of Western philosophy, and Mahayana Buddhism, Wolfson articulates Schneerson's wealthy theology and profound philosophy, focusing on the character of apophatic embodiment, semiotic materiality, hypernomian transvaluation, nondifferentiated alterity, and atemporal temporality.
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Extra resources for Open Secret: Postmessianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of Menahem Mendel Schneerson
The issue, rather, is that it does not seem tenable to sever the realistic from the fictional in a clear-cut way, as the latter is what engenders the former, although it may be commonly assumed by scholars that the opposite is true. Every academic endeavor to converse about the Rebbe, whether the approach is textual-philological or anthropological-sociological, is willy-nilly circumscribed within this narratological framework. The concern I am raising becomes more transparent when we mull over the question of sources and the respective levels of reliability and legitimacy accorded them.
Just as Moses had the mandate to reveal the Torah in the world—thereby fusing the natural and the supranatu- ral—so, too, Schneerson assumed the duty of completing the work of redemption begun by the sixth Rebbe, who is, for this reason, compared to Moses,76 by making the world a habitation for the divine, that is, of immaterializing the material by materializing the immaterial. 77 Prima facie, one might suppose that since we are dealing with a contemporary personality, in contrast to studying an individual from the distant past, the scholar should be able to separate the wheat of historical fact from the chaff of pious embellishment.
T h e D i a m o n d S ū tra Pointing the Way Metatextually To s tat e t h e o b v i o u s at t h e o u t s e t : i n s o f a r a s Ḥabad is an actual movement, a social scientific methodology would seem to be especially suitable to studying the seventh Rebbe. Not only is there no need in this case to rely exclusively on a philological-textual analysis, but one could raise serious questions about the legitimacy of adopting such an approach. In my judgment, however, there is still much to be gained from an investigation of this sort.