A wonderful piece by Shahar Smooha in the Columbia Journalist:
Three times in the last three years, Yosi Levi asked his rabbi if he should go back to Israel. The rabbi, who has been dead for 12 years now, each time said no.
Levi thought perhaps he could get permission to return home for his brother’s wedding. After all, this was his closest sibling and he had promised to attend. But the rabbi wouldn’t hear of it.
It’s easy to communicate with the late Lubavitcher rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. All Levi has to do is to write his questions on a piece of paper and place it in one of the rabbi’s 23 Q&A books called “Igrot Kodesh,” or holy epistles. Then, he interprets how the rabbi has answered other people’s questions and applies them to his own. “You insert your note into a random page of a random book and then you see what the rabbi wrote you,” said Levi, who believes the dead rabbi is the Messiah.
Levi immediately cancelled the plane ticket and notified his brother. “He understood,” he said. “He knows what the rabbi means for me.”
Was Levi disappointed? Did he feel a pinch in his heart? “Maybe a little one,” he admitted while fondling his brown beard “But I’m a soldier. I follow orders.”…
The only dissapointment of note is this line: “A small but very vocal group still believes that Schneerson is the Messiah and that he will reveal himself to the world when the time is right.” That “small-but vocal group” are the Israeli Tzfasniks and their followers. The regular messianists and the so-called “anti-messianists” all believe the Rebbe is the messiah. They differ over if and how to publicize this “fact.”