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Later Messiahs (7)

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Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Menachem Mendel was born in 1902 in Nikolayev in Ukraine -then a part of tsaristic Russia- as the son of an aristocratic mother and a teacher who was to become the chief rabbi of Yekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk) in 1907. Menachem proved himself to be a clever student of Mosaic Law; when he was twenty-one, he met the spiritual leader of the Lubavitch movement of Chassidic Judaism, rabbi Yosef Yitzchock Schneerson. The two men became closely related, moved to Poland -outside the newly founded Soviet Union- and soon, the young man was the Lubavitcher rebbe's son-in-law.

Later, Menachem Mendel Schneerson and his wife settled in Berlin, where he studied mathematics. After the Nazis had come to power in 1933, they had to move again, this time to Paris, from where they were forced to flee in 1940. They finally settled in New York.

In 1950, rabbi Yosef Yitzchock Schneerson died; next year, his son-in-law became the new spiritual leader of the small Lubavitch community. Under Menachem's direction, rabbis were sent out to educate the liberal Jews, who, according to the Lubavitcher rebbe, had to be brought back to traditional Judaism. Social service programs contributed to the success of these missionary activities. In the 1980's, the Lubavitcher movement had some 200,000 members worldwide.

Some of his followers believed that the Lubavitcher rebbe was the Messiah, a claim that Menachem Mendel Schneerson has neither rejected nor supported. In his own words:

"We stand poised at the threshold of a spiritual revolution, a world filled with divine knowledge, the time of the Messiah. A single good deed on your part can transform the world."
After the end of the Cold War (1989) and the Second Gulf War (1991), he frequently spoke about the messianic age of peace, enticing his follower to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.

In 1994, he died. No successor was appointed because most of his followers expect his early return.

Asher Lämmlin (c.1500)
Isaac Luria (1534-1573)
Hayyim Vital (after 1542)
Sabbathai Zwi (1626-1676)
Jacob Frank (1726-1786)
Moses Guibbory (1899-1985)
Menachem Mendel
Schneerson (1902-1994)
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