Chabad is a term which is an acronym created by using the first letters of the Hebrew words for wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. This is a Jewish religious movement that started in the late 1700s and was part of the larger Hasidic community present in Eastern Europe at that time. Hasidic Judaism is marked by mystical practices, strong community life, and both dynastic and charismatic leadership. The group is also sometimes called the Lubavitch Hasidim as Lubavitch was the town in Poland where the movement was based for almost a century. Hasidism in general (and there are many versions of this overall movement) reacted to what the members felt was the cold rationalism of Orthodoxy and the growing liberalism of the Jewish enlightenment (Haskalah).
The Hasidic movement cultivates a more joyful expression of the Jewish faith, which is very attractive to many. They also believe that one could communicate directly with God through mystical prayer.
During the rise of Hasidism, Jewish people were disappointed about many Jewish leaders making false Messianic claims. However, they still hoped for their Messiah to come. The Hasidic movement channeled this Messianic longing and encouraged their followers to keep the commandments diligently, which would somehow bring the coming of the Messiah, sooner rather than later. Chabad teaches that when every Jewish person is following Torah, the Messiah will come.
In the 20th century, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh and last Rebbe, encouraged unity among Jews and considered it his mission to bring every Jew back to Torah-observance so that the Messiah would return. However, Rebbe Schneerson was actually thought to be the Messiah by many of his followers. He passed away in 1994 without appointing a successor.
Many of his followers still believe he is the Messiah and will actually rise from the dead. There are posters in Brooklyn and parts of Israel announcing that King Messiah has come with pictures of the Rebbe Schneerson. Yet, it is impossible for the Rebbe to be considered the Messiah, because he does not meet the biblical qualifications.
Among them are:
The Messiah must be from the line of David. (Isaiah 9:7, Isaiah 11:1, Psalm 132:11, Genesis 49:10)
Rebbe Schneerson was not.
The Messiah must be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2)
Rebbe Schneerson was not.
The Messiah must live a sinless life, die for the sins of His people, and rise from the dead. (Isaiah 53)
Rebbe Schneerson did not.
Rebbe Schneerson was a great Jewish leader in many ways, but he was certainly not the Messiah. These prophecies and many others have been and will be fulfilled in Yeshua—Jesus, the one true Messiah of Israel!