At the world center of Chabad Hasidism in Brooklyn, New York, the afternoon service is about to begin. Like many other events held at ultra-Orthodox venues these days, someone there photographed the worshipers with
his cellular telephone’s video camera. As is customary, at the center, dozens of Hasidim crowded against the sides of the hall, making a path for the Lubavitcher Rebbe to pass. The members of this messianic group have been doing this for years, in the belief that their late rabbi continues to attend the prayer services, as he did before his death. Suddenly, the screen on the man’s cell phone shows a stooped, elderly figure with a white beard and a hat, walking quickly between the Hasidim.
"The Chabad rabbi walks among the people as if alive," states the film’s title (snipurl.com/15fpn ), and the Chabad portal (www.chabad.fm ) declares that the Rebbe began revealing himself on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Heshvan (November 16, 2006).
"After 12 long years in which our detractors ridiculed us, here is the clearest proof that our teacher is alive," wrote one surfer.Other participants in the ultra-Orthodox forums throughout the Web were more skeptical, referring to the incident as one more indication of the "false messianism" of some Chabad Hasidim. During the week following the distribution of the video clip, however, something happened that shed light on the previous week’s event. It turned out the elderly man captured by the camera is one of Chabad’s activists in Israel, who wanted to leave the hall and used the path. Still, even after the logical explanation, some people persisted in their belief.
"I still contend it is the Rebbe," wrote one participant in "B’Hadrei Haredim" (in the Haredi inner sanctum) in the Hebrew portal "Hyde Park," the most popular Internet forum among the ultra-Orthodox. "It is simply impossible that everyone is clearly visible and only this image, which resembles the Rebbe, looks like a glowing soul."…