Rabbi Krinsky to NY Times: Wrong to Believe Rebbe Was Moshiach


yehudah-krinskyThe following is from an interview by Deborah Solomon that will appear in full in tomorrow’s New York Times Magazine:

Newsweek just published a list, “The 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America,” and placed you at No. 1. As a Hasidic rabbi and a leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, do you think you can rank rabbis or any other religious leaders as if they were athletes?

I am of the opinion that you can’t rank human beings. Every person has something to contribute to the welfare of the next human being. No two people think alike or look alike, and everyone has something that another person does not have. Who’s to say who is higher and who’s lower? In terms of the essence of human beings, I don’t feel it’s proper to rank them because we don’t really know what their mission in life is.

What’s bothersome about the best-rabbi list is that it seems to exemplify a culture in which religious leaders of all stripes are fixated on power and politics, rather than philosophical questions.

Politics and religion are not soluble. They don’t mix. I learned from the rebbe, my teacher, my mentor. The rebbe in his tenure received Bobby Kennedy and many other politicians. He gave them all the time they needed and discussed whatever they needed to discuss. But he never chose, never gave any indication of who he favored.

You’re referring to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the former leader of the Lubavitcher movement, which is based in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. Weren’t you his chauffeur in your youth? Where did you take him?

I will tell you. He never left the city. The only traveling he did was to visit the gravesite of his father-in-law, which was about a 25- or 30-minute drive to Queens from Brooklyn.

He died in 1994 and named you as the executor of his will, but the Chabad movement has since split over the issue of whether he was the Messiah.

I was always opposed to that. I felt it was wrong. But there was a group of people that felt that the rebbe implied during his lifetime that he was a Messiah. They became very vocal about it and sometimes more than vocal. They made a lot of noise, like a penny in a can; shake it, and it makes a lot of noise.

How large is your endowment?

We don’t have an endowment. If we had any money in the bank we would be remiss if we didn’t invest it in Jewish life. If I had $50 million now, I could get rid of it within a few weeks. We run at a deficit.

What do you think of Mayor Bloomberg?

He’s a Bostonian, as am I. He betrayed me. He deserted the Red Sox.

What else besides baseball do you admire in American pop culture?

Bob Dylan comes to the Lubavitch outpost from time to time. Did you know that? He was at my house for dinner a couple of times.

Do you like his music?

I’m blowing in the wind.

What do you make of the popularity of various kabbalah centers that have created a fashion for Jewish mysticism?

What do you want me to say as a rabbi? That I’m elated [that a secular entertainer] studies kabbalah?

She is learning Hebrew; she lights candles; she seems sincere about it.

So what? In order to understand kabbalah, the Jewish tradition going back to the Zohar, you have to spend years in Torah study. In fact, many communities banned the study of kabbalah until the student finished 40 years of Torah studies.

Why are ultra-Orthodox men so regressive in their treatment of women? You wouldn’t ever shake my hand, would you?


Why not?

That’s the custom. It’s a matter of modesty, the sexes not mingling.

I don’t understand why you’re unwilling to embrace social change, when you can embrace technological change. Why is e-mailing allowed?

Why should it be disallowed? If there’s anyone transforming the modern world with all this equipment and technology, it’s Chabad. We’re using all of it. We are trying to make the world a more God-friendly place.

{Condensed from an interview in the NY Times}

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Why does he have to wait so long to admit that the Rebbe Shlitah is not Moshiach
    They could have stopped this nonsense if he would have come out after his death that he was a Bussor Vodom

  2. He semes so confused. As a Talmid of the Rebbe, how is he not embarassed to mention Bob Dylan and other pop culture superstars?! Also he can deny it all he wants, however the Rebbe was convinced and spoke of himself in messianic terms. Additionally a major part of Chabad is Meshichistim.

  3. “people that felt that the rebbe implied”
    who is he to rewrite history, when the rebbe came out publicly on the specially buit balcony, for over 1 year after every davening 3 X daily, to encourage the singing of the famous “YECHI…”, including in front of cameras and satelites, to be broadcasted all over the world (with his approval)

    videos of these events are available

  4. Great interview!
    Here is an articulate & intelligent person with a good sense of humor (Bloomberg).
    This interview adds to Kovod Shomayim!

  5. Bob Dylan? The Redsox? Not shaking a ladies hand is only a custom (not Halacha)? The only problem with Bloomberg is ditching the Redsox(not his support for militant Toieva marraige)?


  7. Very weak answers, very ambiguous. Why don’t you say it straight as it should; Those who believe the rebbe is Moshiach are a disgrace to Judaism, no different than believing Yoshkah is Moshiach.
    These Meshichis ought to be in Cheirem.
    rav Shach understood the dangerous with this movement decades ago, not only Rav Shach but, Rav Aaron, the Steipler and the list goes on and on.

  8. Aw, Ms. Solomon, if you’re reading these comments, the regression works two ways. The rebbetzin wouldn’t have shaken hands with a male interviewer. So maybe no one’s being regressive…?

  9. to #11- there are rabbonim (not only in lubaviych) which disagree with you. i don’t know you personally, but if you fit into the majority of people who discuss this subject with no knowledge of it, than you end up sounding foolish. and just a quick answer to your comparison, yoshke was a cofer who went against the chochamim while the Lubavutcher rebbe was a tzaddik gaon and created a revolution in world Jewry with is accomplishment amongst non religious Jews making him much closer to chezkas moshiach than yoshke

  10. Those videos you are referring to were taken after the Rebbe had a stroke and was practically a “vegetable”. It is quite obvious from those that were with the Rebbe then such as Rabbi Krinsky himself and from what is shown on the videos that the Rebbe was not very coherent. So please don’t show your ignorance.
    The Rebbe was definitely one of the greatest Gedolei Hador that Klal Yisroel has seen in the past few generations. This is a man who besides for having a tremendous yedia (knowledge) in Torah Sh’bechsav and Torah Shel Baal Peh (For all those who think Judaism stops there) accomplished so much more in his life:
    1. The spreading of chasidus
    2. Chabad houses throughout the world (which by the way take a lot of mesiras nefesh and offer sevice to jews of all type)
    3. An increase in mitzvos and judaism by people who would otherwise have no connection with Judaism
    4. A real push to bring Moshiach as quickly as possible.
    Let me ask you- how many of the yeshivos you attended or how many of the Gedolim you look up to speak about Moshiach passionately every day let alone evey week. And then to not just speak about it but to active about the cause…. You are probably having a very hard time.
    Yes it might be slightly ridiculous to say that The rebbe was DEFINITELY Moshiach etc. but to go out and bash other yidden with total ignorance on your part and then to start going after the rebbe’s legacy even mentioning Yoshka in the same sentence, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE???

  11. Memory Refresh

    1) The Chassidim forced the singing of “Yechi” on the Rebbe. He initially did not approve of it. However, the Chassidim persisted.

    2) During the week of the Rebbe’s passing earlier Sicha’s of the Rebbe were played showing the Rebbe talking about his eventual passing

    3) There was always at least two camps in Chabad regarding the Rebbe’s status as Moshiach when the Rebbe was alive. R. Krinsky has always been in the opposing camp. R. Krinsky’s position on the matter is no secret and never has been a secret. It is well known.

    4) Bob Dylan – KIRUV. Bob Dylan is Jewish.

    5) Chassidim are followers. If the majority of those giving Shiurim in the community are stating a certain belief backed with support from Torah. What is a Jew to do? Especially a Baal Teshuvah or a Ger. It is assumed those giving the shiur know what they are talking about. The Jewish community relies on those involved in Torah to keep us up-to-date on what we need to know.

    6) I witnessed a dispute between those who believed the Rebbe was Moshiach and those who didn’t over 10+ yrs ago. It was not a quiet dispute. R. Krinsky ignored them, sat down, opened a sefer, and began to learn. That image has stayed with me for over 10 years. I am still fascinated by the sight. All around was chaos.

    7) If you think there is something wrong in Chabad, pray for them. Only Hashem knows how to help them. The King will be in the field the entire month of Elul, mention it to Him.

  12. To number 13:#11 was reffering to those followers who said he’s moshiach&alive even after his ptira but not to the rebbe chasveshalom and as he put itis no different than believing Yoshkah is Moshiach.

  13. Rabbi Krinsky I hope you read this: You were interviewed by the BBCyears ago, where you so very eloquently speak about the Rebbe as Moshiach and in no uncertain terms. You looked and sounded sincere, and it was way before the Rebbe’s sichos kodesh of Nun-Alef- Nun-Bais. You then came out with the (recorded for posterity) statement about the Rebbe when it was surely not ‘beoiefen hamiskabel.’ So what has thrown you off?
    Maybe take a refresher course in your own beliefs and see what made you go all the way left!
    Moshiach NOW! and a gut yohr
    PS the rest of the interview is absolutely ridiculous.

  14. On Iyar 5751 ( think tes vov) teh Rebbe acknowledged and encouraged the singing of Yechi. It is on video. The “stroke” was on 27 Adar I 5752. Various chassidim had explicit permission from the Rebbe to disseminate this and continue, while others were forbidden. Please don’t mix up the facts. All the Rebbe’s weekday sichos in that period are video-taped, the Rebbe’s tzetlach are chronicled in various places. Anyone who denies this is rewriting history.

  15. to #21: first of all,there are rabbonim who discuss the issue in regards to after a petira also. second of all, the argument that harav shach had with lubavitch and and for sure the steipler and rav aharon vechulu, was in regards to before a petira. and just to repeat that most of you probably never even opened a rambam on hilchos moshiach, and even more of you haven’t look passed that, so whether you are right or wrong is irrelevant: you aren’t qualified to discuss the issue!

  16. Rabbi Krinsky has said in many interviews before the Rebbe had the stroke, before the 27th of adar, that he Rabbi Krinsky believes that the Rebbe is Moshiach!

  17. Be it known that almost always when someone posts in CAPS (you know who you are), he/she has nothing to say. It is an arrogant way to seek attention with empty words. Read the Igeres Haramban again and then once more.

  18. The fact that this interview was done before Elul is very telling. Hashem is sending us a message for us to daven for Moshiach (who ever he is). May he come very, very soon.