When Rabbi Aharon Yaakov Lieberman finally received the haskamah for the sefer he was waiting for and let the world know via social media last summer, he was hardly expecting what would happen next.
People were sharing the news across the Twitterverse, and his newly available book was downloaded from his website nearly 1,000 times. It was quite the whirlwind.
But it really shouldn’t have been so much of a surprise. After all, the topic of Lieberman’s book “Kuntres Shemoi Shel Moshiach” is something close to people’s hearts, and needless to say, Lieberman’s conclusion is not what people are used to hearing.
His thesis: It’s perfectly halachically legitimate to say that Moshiach, the ultimate redeemer of the Jewish people, can be a Jewish leader who led the people before his passing. In the Torah world, it is known as the sugya of “Moshiach min hamaisim.”
Lieberman says upon hearing his book’s conclusion, people asked questions such as “Moshiach can come from the dead?”, “Isn’t that a Christian concept?” and “Surely Orthodox Jews don’t believe in such heretical drivel?”
Indeed, this has been a vocal attitude among Orthodox Jewry for quite some time, and it was precisely this assumption that Lieberman set out to address some three years back when he first approached the sugya.
A computer programmer by profession and a talmid chacham more by accident, Lieberman was intrigued by the discussion and figured the only way to really get to the bottom of it was to look at all the sources for himself and see what they say.
The more he researched the length and breadth of this important topic, the clearer it became that not only was Moshiach min hamaisim a perfectly legitimate proposition so long the candidate was considered “fit”, it turns out that it was common belief already in the times of the Talmud. Diving deep into the discussion recorded in the Talmud Sanhedrin 98b, it became clear that the students of various great scholars in Bavel declared their teachers were the Moshiach—even long after they passed away!
A conscientious researcher, Lieberman knew that Talmudic discussion alone cannot be the arbiter for such an important question, so he turned to the next obvious place—the only authoritative halachic text about the personality of Moshiach, namely the great Rambam at the conclusion of his seminal work, Mishneh Torah. With great analytical skill, Lieberman saw in the Rambam’s words no opposition to the idea, even finding a support for this, in the Rambam’s Igeres Techiyas Hamaisim.
“After going through the sugya in such depth and really seeing what the sources have to say, I knew that the wider Torah audience had to see this,” Lieberman said. “There is so much misinformation around this discussion, and the best way to dispel any confusion is to simply present the sources as they are and let the readers see for themselves what the obvious conclusion must be.”
After years of meticulous work, Kuntres Shmoi Shel Moshiach finally came together. A near one hundred-page book, written in clear English for a broad audience, the complex halachic discussion pops right off the page and presents a lucid, crisp argument for what eventually becomes an obvious conclusion. One of the items immediately addressed in the beginning of the kuntres is the emphatic conclusion that Christianity’s founder, Yoshke, certainly cannot be the Moshiach, as he was never considered even a potential candidate while alive by any of our sages. To suggest him as fit to be Moshiach would be decidedly heretical.
So what caused all the commotion last summer?
“Due to the sensitivity of the topic, I knew that such a kuntres must have firm support before publishing,” said Lieberman. “I shared the manuscript with many prominent Rabbanim, first inside Chabad, and then across the spectrum of Orthodox Jewry. One by one, I received enthusiastic support, each Rav encouraging me and agreeing with the convincing proof presented in my work. Baruch Hashem, many haskamos came in.”
Much praise has been heaped on Lieberman’s work. “I think the kuntres is a very positive contribution to the study of the identity of Moshiach,” said Rabbi Shloma Majeski, dean of Machon Leyahadus and a respected mashpia in Crown Heights. “In line with the Rebbe’s approach, the advantage of such a book is that it simply presents the sources.”
“I highly commend Rabbi Lieberman for taking the time and effort to clarify this important topic,” said Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner, from Melbourne, Australia. Bringing to light the holy sources from our sages, the author dispels the myth that it’s heresy to believe that Moshiach can come min hamaisim. Read and see for yourself.”
Rabbi Lazer Gurkow echoed these sentiments: “Rabbi Aharon Yaakov Lieberman deserves much praise for his extensive research. In the course of this examination, he demonstrates convincingly that the potential of Moshiach arising from the dead is legitimately rooted in Torah, Talmud, and Jewish tradition. I highly recommend this book as it will enlighten those among us who have yet to delve into this subject and are unfamiliar with the plethora of Torah sources that address it.”
When asked for a comment, Rabbi Yossi Lew, a noted Chabad Shliach in Georgia, said, “I fully support Rabbi Lieberman and I have encouraged him to continue publicizing this important point so dear to everyone. Let’s hope that this latest discussion about Moshiach will hasten his appearance, and may it be immediately!”
Two Litvishe Rabbonim gave Haskoma to the book. This lit up social media, as it became clear to all that Kuntres Shemoi Shel Moshiach is a watershed moment in this critical topic. The haskamos are indeed printed in the beginning of the sefer, available online for free download.
After years of hard work researching, compiling, writing, editing, designing, and raising funds for publication, the fruit of Lieberman’s work is finally here. A container full of one thousand copies of Kuntres Shmoi Shel Moshiach has arrived from the war-torn shores of Ukraine and can be purchased on shmoishelmoshiach.com and in all fine Judaica stores.
“It’s my fervent hope that with the publication of this sefer, the discussion is finally settled. There is now an authoritative text with haskamos from across the spectrum that convincingly makes the case, so Baruch Hashem, no longer does anyone need to wonder whether or not Moshiach min hamaisim is a legitimate Jewish position. It is. And Im yirtzeh Hashem, we should merit to see Moshiach with our own eyes, bekarov mamash!”
Kuntres Shmoi Shel Moshiach can be purchased in all fine Judaica stores and on Amazon, it is also available online for free download at www.shmoishelmoshiach.com