By Elliot R. Wolfson
Menahem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994) was once the 7th and probably final Rebbe of the Habad-Lubavitch dynasty. Marked through conflicting trends, Schneerson used to be an intensive messianic visionary who promoted a conservative political schedule, a reclusive contemplative who equipped a hasidic sect into a world circulate, and a guy devoted to the exposition of mysteries who however harbored many secrets and techniques. Schneerson astutely masked perspectives that would be deemed heterodox by way of the canons of orthodoxy whereas engineering a fundamentalist ideology which can 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 position of Messiah, Elliot R. Wolfson, a number one pupil of Jewish mysticism and the phenomenology of non secular event, concentrates as a substitute on Schneerson's apocalyptic sensibility and his merchandising of a magical awareness that undermines all discrimination. For Schneerson, the ploy of secrecy is essential to the dissemination of the messianic mystery. To be enlightened messianically is to be added from all conceptual boundaries, even the very thought of changing into emancipated from dilemma. 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 religious grasp, if he be real, needs to do away with the masks of mastery. Situating Habad's inspiration in the evolution of kabbalistic mysticism, the background of Western philosophy, and Mahayana Buddhism, Wolfson articulates Schneerson's wealthy theology and profound philosophy, targeting the character of apophatic embodiment, semiotic materiality, hypernomian transvaluation, nondifferentiated alterity, and atemporal temporality.
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Additional resources for Open Secret: Postmessianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of Menahem Mendel Schneerson
9 Whatever differences one may detect in the manifold teachings of the successive leaders of the Ḥabad-Lubavitch dynasty, a common thread that ties them together is the quest to disseminate mystical knowledge within an intellectualist framework, thereby forging a synthesis of the ecstatic and the scientific, the mystical and the philosophical. I will explore this topic in greater detail in chapter 2, but suffice it here to repeat that the cerebral encasing of the kabbalistic core of Ḥabad teaching is a feature that endures through the generations of Lubavitch masters.
As it happens, Schneerson addressed the quandary facing the scholar in the introduction to the collection of discourses by the fifth Rebbe, the RaShaB, that was published under his auspices: In several of these transcriptions [reshimot], we could not clarify who wrote the transcription or, as it is referred to by the ḥasidim, “putting down the précis of the discourse” [meniaḥ ha-hanaḥah shel ha-siḥah], and hence it is impossible to know 16 | I NTRODU C T I ON how exact it is. But pay attention to this, that the ones who wrote all these transcriptions were amongst the faithful who were extraordinary [ḥasidim watiqim] for whom every word and remark of their Rebbe was holy to them.
This is the very preciousness of the seventh generation, for several powers were given and revealed on our account. 74 The importance of the occasion when this sermon was delivered cannot be overstated, for while Schneerson had given talks to Lubavitch ḥasidim prior to this one, there is no doubt that this performance marked his coming of age. One must be struck not only by the brilliance of Schneerson’s homiletical skill on display at this auspicious occasion but also by the sagacity exhibited through what was judiciously left unspoken.