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Dr. Alon Dahan was badly injured during his military service and nearly sank to the depths of despair. A letter from the Rebbe reignited his fire to fight to live. He recorded his personal victory as he rolled along in his wheelchair to the stage to receive his doctorate from Hebrew University in Yerushalayim. * He devoted his doctoral research to the Rebbes identity as Melech HaMoshiach. “I know there are some who are angry at my conclusions, but this is what the Rebbe said.”

By Menachem Mendel Arad  

Alon Dahan receiving his doctorate“The main debate today in Chabad is whether to be openly involved in publicizing the Rebbes identity as Moshiach or not. But most Lubavitcher Chassidim believe the Rebbe is Moshiach. I say that bluntly and to the point.”

That was said by Dr. Alon Dahan, an academic researcher who did his doctorate on the leadership of the Rebbe, in an interview with journalist Ariel Horowitz of Mekor Rishon.

In order to understand how Dahan came to this conclusion and what caused him to devote years of research to the Rebbe’s teachings, we need to hear about Dahan’s life.


Dr. Alon Dahan is 47. He grew up in Kiryat Menachem, a neighborhood in the southwest of Yerushalayim that absorbed immigrants from North Africa at the beginning of the 50’s. “It’s a border,” says Dahan. “Until 1967, the nearby Arab villages were on the Jordanian side. The state settled illiterate new immigrants here and told them, ‘Put down your suitcases; I’ll be back.’ But the state did not come back. In our neighborhood, which was and still is a border neighborhood on the edge of the city, they settled immigrants from North Africa and later from the CIS and Ethiopia.”

He went to ORT but did not finish high school. “I was a kid on the railings (Israeli slang for kids who just hang out all day),” says Dahan, “without a diploma and without a profession. Then I signed up for the army with hopes that life would start looking up for me.”

He joined the army in 5749, and that is where his life was nearly destroyed and he lost the will to live.

“I served in Golani for two years. One day, in Cheshvan 5752, during training in the Golan Heights, the driver of the command car I was in fell asleep at the wheel. He drove into a basalt rock wall that was set up as part of the exercise and flew into a minefield.

“The spare tire came loose and hit me in the back, an injury that paralyzed me. I felt no pain; I felt fine. I lay on the ground and couldn’t understand why I was unable to get up.”

Dahan smiled at the irony. “I did not realize what had happened. I felt fine but couldn’t get up. I saw legs but did not understand that they were mine. It was like they did not belong to me. I was sure they belonged to someone else. I looked up and said, ‘There’s someone on me; come and move him.’ But it was me. I wasn’t exactly feeling emotionally together. It was shocking, you see it’s you but you are unable to understand that it’s you. I realized I was paralyzed when I didn’t feel anything. The first thing I thought was about Yad Sarah’s wheelchairs. I was lying there, injured, and the first thing I thought of was that for the rest of my life I would have to get around in a Yad Sarah wheelchair.”


“The moment that changed my life was when I was lying in the rehab department of Rambam hospital. Try to think what it is like, and you should never actually know what it is like, to feel that your entire family around you wants to help you, but they can’t. You only want quiet; to be with yourself.

“However, you know how it goes, the uncles and aunts asked tzaddikim to bless me. As for me, it wasn’t comfortable for me to say, ‘Enough, leave me alone.’ One uncle brought me oil from Rav Kaduri and poured it on me. An aunt was told by a kabbalist in the north to bring me sand from the place I was injured and pour it on me. So she went to the Golan, located the place and brought sand. There I was, smeared with oil and sand, with everyone anticipating a miracle that didn’t happen and my state of mind was down in the dumps, when another aunt came with a blessing from another tzaddik.

“‘I wrote to the Lubavitcher Rebbe,’ she said, and read the answer that the Rebbe wrote, ‘Check mezuzos and he should see to it to strengthen himself in the present situation.’ That’s all. That was the entire answer.

“My family was disappointed by the answer. ‘That’s the Rebbe who they say is Moshiach? He can’t bless you?’ But I was actually very encouraged by this answer.”

Why? What was encouraging to you about that answer?

“First, because the Rebbe didn’t delude me. He wrote me the truth without false hope. Often people lose the present because they are anticipating a different future; that’s how they also lose their future.

“The Rebbe gave me the right outlook on life. ‘This is your life, deal with it. I hope and wish you the best, and believe that you will come out stronger from this situation.’ That was the message I derived from the Rebbe’s answer, a message that later, it turned out, put me on the right path in life. Be involved in that which is right, help others, understand that G-d left me alive because He relies on me; He has a mission for me.”


Dahan decided that despite, or because he could not walk, he needed to take himself in hand.

He registered for school at an open university, gritted his teeth and spit blood, despite the difficulties, the physical ones as well as the gaps in his education. He completed his high school graduation tests and the psycho-metrics test (Israeli equivalent of SAT), and devoted himself to the study of international relations, sociology and Jewish thought.

During his schooling he visited Yad VaShem where he met a gentile tourist from Holland who told him about her interest in Judaism. “‘When you go to England, every Englishman can tell you what it means to be English, but here, they don’t know what it means to be a Jew,’ she said. I was ashamed. A non-Jewish woman from Holland came to meet Jews and learn from them and I didn’t know what to tell her.

“Because of her, I began opening books and studying. When I spent an hour telling her what Rabbeinu Bachya says, she listened patiently and at the end she said, ‘Of course, that’s from Rabbeinu Bachya Ibn Pekuda; I’ve read him.’ I was astounded. I hadn’t known about this book beforehand and she had studied it in Holland. I felt I had been deceived, as in school they were always broadcasting the message that once upon a time there had been a Judaic religion, but it had now disappeared and now we had to learn mathematics. I suddenly realized that the Zionist rebellion had created a churban. I felt like a victim. When you go to school, you don’t consider that someone has stolen such treasures from you.

“I decided to put time into studying Judaism and Jewish thought. At the same time, I gradually progressed in mitzva observance.”

The most moving moment of his life was when, after several years of effort and studying, he rolled over in his wheelchair to receive his doctorate from Hebrew University.

What does the Rebbe mean to you in your life?

“Until today, the Rebbe is very much a presence in my public works. In learning, writing, lectures. You could say that I am constantly thinking about the standards he set and I ask myself how far away am I from his standards, in the hope that the ideal and the real will converge on the not very distant horizon.

“You have to understand – the Rebbe wasn’t just one rung on the ladder that took me out of the depths I was in; the Rebbe was the ladder. The Rebbe subsequently became the substance of my life, from then until now.”

Why did you choose to do your doctorate work on the Rebbe?

“The Rebbe’s answer during my crisis was, to me, in one word: truth. It’s easy to sell people illusions and false hope and maybe, sometimes, the end justifies the means, but not for the Rebbe. The Rebbe did not try to sell me anything. He told me the truth because he is a man of truth. If the Alter Rebbe ‘lost’ 50,000 Chassidim because he wrote the three words, ‘titein emes l’Yaakov,’ in the letter ‘Katonti,’ after leaving jail, then the Rebbe ‘gained’ many more Chassidim because of truth.

“You can well imagine that the research paper I wrote and the results were not pleasing to many people, but I learned from the Rebbe to speak the truth, even if it hurts or is unpleasant. And the truth is that the truth has the power to heal.”


With the Rebbe’s answer as a guide for life, Alon became curious about the personality of the Rebbe. When he began a gradual return to religious practice, he was exposed to sichos, maamarim, and mainly the “D’var Malchus” pamphlets that were distributed in the shuls of Yerushalayim. The words that the Rebbe was saying were hard to digest, but they spoke to him. He decided that he would research the “phenomenon” known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe. It was clear to him from the outset that the subject of redemption and the persona of the Rebbe were not only connected but were inextricably linked.

In his words, “Let’s go back to the period of the Rebbe Rayatz after the Holocaust. What are the steps that he took in order to ‘break the klipa?’ He published a newsletter called HaKeriah V’HaK’dusha, in which he reported on current events from the perspective of Chassidus. In this newsletter, the Rebbe Rayatz wrote explicitly, under the heading ‘Exult and Rejoice with the Joy of Redemption,’ that we are standing at the point of ‘the beginning of the end of the avoda of birurim of the final generation of Ikvisa d’Meshicha.’”

Throughout the interview with Dr. Dahan, he does not cease to amaze me with the scope of his knowledge of Chabad history, freely quoting the exact terminology and expressions used in the sichos.

He continues, “The Rebbe, already in his first maamer, lays out the goal: to bring down the ikar Sh’china, specifically in the lowest realm, i.e., to bring the Geula. This is actually not just a goal that he has chosen, but is part of the natural progression of seven generations, with his generation being the seventh generation, whose very purpose and goal is to bring the Geula.

“It is impossible to understand the Rebbe in any other way. If the Rebbe Rayatz is the s’fira of Yesod, then the Rebbe is the s’fira of Malchus. And if Malchus represents Moshiach, then the Rebbe of the s’fira of Malchus is the actual redeemer.”

You have also researched Chabad history through the generations. Have you encountered a process of “preparing the ground” for the fact that the Rebbe is Moshiach?

During the World War, the Rebbe Rayatz initiated the founding of Machne Yisroel. What is the purpose ascribed to this organization? Take note: “To influence, through the conduct of its members and their actions, the strengthening of Judaism and the observance of Torah and practical mitzvos. To publicize the truth of ‘Immediately to Repentance, immediately to Complete Redemption through our Righteous Moshiach.’” That is the spiritual mission statement of the organization. At the same time, the Rebbe Rayatz appointed the Rebbe as the Director of the Action Committee, and instructed that the organization should be run as a “secret society.”

What do you think is the reason for the secrecy?

For a simple reason, since the ground was not fully prepared. In those days, if a person wanted to put on t’fillin because he was observant of Torah and mitzvos, and he did not think about nor understand that his putting on t’fillin is part of a web of human activities whose goal is to bring the Geula, that was fine; the main thing was that he should put on t’fillin. However, at a later stage, the Rebbe revealed that the world is ready for Geula, and that the shlichus has to pass through this “gateway” and that everything is aimed at welcoming our Righteous Moshiach.

You published your doctoral thesis as a book titled Goel Acharon (Final Redeemer) with a picture of the Rebbe on the cover. It is clear that you identify with the topic, and perhaps are even taking the patently non-academic step of taking a position in the debate. It is almost as if you are saying; listen, I researched the subject from a purely academic position, without any emotional involvement or connection, and I came to the conclusion that the Rebbe of Chabad is Moshiach…

Very true. If you ask me what I believe, that is already a personal question about me. However, if the question is, how does the Lubavitcher Rebbe see himself, the answer is very clear. Whoever will research in objective fashion, the sichos of the Rebbe and the history of Chabad, will come to the same conclusion: the Rebbe is the “Final Redeemer.”

Can you cite a small example of something that the Rebbe said which grabbed you and made you “get it?”

There are countless examples of that. The Rebbe deals extensively with the laws pertaining to Melech HaMoshiach which appear in the Rambam, and essentially operates exactly according to the criteria of Melech HaMoshiach. He leaves the Chassidic “shtetl,” the small world of Chabad, and turns it into a global leader; he sets out to rectify the world, encourages the observance of the Seven Noahide Laws, speaks about a “moment of silence,” and Yud Aleph Nissan turns into Education Day.

At a later point, he states that his place is the place of Moshiach. For example, he points out that 770 is the numerical equivalent of “Beis Moshiach,” and that “Moshiach stands on the roof of the Beis HaMikdash” refers to the sanctuary that is outside of the Holy Land. And what does he say, “Humble ones, the time of your Redemption has arrived,” which is the message that the Rebbe was saying repeatedly. He explains that, “He will build the Mikdash in its place” means the place where Moshiach is to be found, and then the Rebbe announces the expansion of 770. Even during his meeting with R’ Mordechai Eliyahu, the Rebbe says, “Our Sages say that Moshiach will be revealed in the Upper Galilee and mainly in Teveria, but nobody will be upset if he will come from Brooklyn.” You have to willfully close your eyes in order not to see it.


Specifically because of the fact that you researched the matter in depth, I want to ask you something in all honesty. It is no secret that there are many fine people from Chabad who do not hold of the approach of publicizing the identity of Moshiach. This is not only due to embarrassment or fear of what people will say. They truly believe that he does not want his identity to be publicized, as the Rebbe expressed himself on a number of occasions in clear and forceful terms against publicizing the identity of Moshiach. As a researcher, how do you explain this?

Take as an example the story of the Chassid, R’ Avrohom Pariz, who dropped leaflets in Tel Aviv, which said that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is Melech HaMoshiach. I imagine that you are referring to the sharp response of the Rebbe against this.

However, pay attention to the fact that the Rebbe opposed the publicity at that point in time, but along with that fact is the fact that the Rebbe never said to the Chassidim, “It is not true, I am not Melech HaMoshiach.” Never! Even the times that the Rebbe expressed his opposition to publicity in the most forceful terms, he never negated the message itself.

On the other hand, take the work Besuras HaGeula, which was published with the Rebbe’s consent, and there is written in the preface: By instruction of K’vod K’dushas Admur Melech HaMoshiach, as well as other public pronouncements that the Rebbe agreed to. Do you want an even sharper example? A group of Rabbis published a halachic ruling (P’sak Din) that the Rebbe is b’chezkas Moshiach, and the Rebbe says in a sicha the following week that the fact that the leaders of the U.S. and Russia gathered in the “city of the Leader of our Generation” in order to fulfill the prophecy of “they will beat their swords into plowshares,” is one of the effects of Moshiach in the world, and that this occurred specifically now as a result of the P’sak Din.

I have heard a number of times the position of R’ Yoel Kahan, the “reviewer” of the Rebbe, who believes that the Rebbe is Moshiach, but he thinks that there is no imperative to speak about this fact. However, to him it is clear that the Rebbe is Moshiach, and he even said so in a filmed interview that he knew would be aired for the public.

So yes, I can understand someone who argues that his area is not ready for this message, or that he will not be successful in delivering the message in “a way that it can be received.” It actually is hard to put up a sign with “Yechi Adoneinu” and still hope that the Lithuanian or National Religious types will come into your place to participate in the activities there. However, it is clear to me that the number of Chassidim who do not believe themselves, inside their own hearts, that the Rebbe is Melech HaMoshiach, is negligible.

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