DOI: 10.1093/mj/kjae003 ISSN: 0276-1114

The Holocaust as An (UN)Exceptional Phenomenon: Development and Change in the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Outlook

Daniel Reiser
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Religious studies
  • History
  • Cultural Studies


This article examines the evolution and transformation in the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s perspective concerning the Holocaust. It traces the Rebbe’s viewpoint on the Holocaust by analyzing his various insights and observations in his sermons and writings over the years, and highlights a significant shift in his stance whereby he reached the conclusion that the Holocaust is exceptional and does not fall into the terms of sin, punishment, or even Tikkun (metaphysical rectification)—concepts which he himself previously utilized in earlier stages of his life. In his most recent phase, the Lubavitcher Rebbe posited that the Holocaust is an unprecedented and exceptional occurrence, both on historical and theological grounds. This assertion is not commonly espoused by traditional Jewish theologians and orthodox rabbis, thus rendering the Lubavitcher Rebbe relatively distinctive.

More from our Archive