Earlier this week, as the 'mainstream' Lubavitcher shluchim conference wound down (many people do not realize that their rival, the overtly messianic wing of Lubavitch, had their own shluchim conference at the same time, a parallel shadow government to the R. Krinsky wing, which can be followed at overtly messianic websites, such as this one), their annual banquet was held. Unlike other parts of the conference, which are not open to the public, it was broadcast for all to see. As a large part of the Lubavitcher PR campaign, much effort is put into the event, an elaborate theater production, which is intended to project an image of Lubavitch as being a cosmopolitan vanguard of traditional Judaism, ubiquitous, and unstoppable. A cavernous hall, giant video screens, big sound, and elaborate lighting effects, are used to those ends. At the end of the event a "rollcall" is held, to much fanfare, calling shluchim of different countries to stand when their locales are named, to give the impression that Lubavitch is everywhere. At the conclusion of it, an additional call is made, asking those sent out before the late Rebbe passed away to stand, with their number displayed in screen, followed by those who went out after his passing, whose larger tally is shown as well. The message is clear. Those who said that Lubavitch would fall apart after the Rebbe's death were very, very, wrong. Just look at the statistics.
As part of this sophisticated PR effort, messianism is hidden at the event, as the idea is to promote an image of Lubavitch as mainstream orthodoxy. Yechis, yechi yarmulkas, and moshiach flags are not seen or heard. On the other hand, however, the Rebbe is not referred to with זצ"ל or נ"ע either, which is definitely noteworthy. He is referred to in the manner of someone who is alive.
I noticed one interesting thing related to this, which probably eluded most non Lubavitch attendees. Just after seven minutes into the video, Tehillim was said. But what part of Tehillim? "The Rebbe's kapital" (#115), followed by "the Rebbetzin's kapital" (#116). But what is the connection of those chapters specifically with the late Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rebbetzin? The answer is, that Lubavitchers have a custom that the kapital of Tehillim corresponding to the year of a person's life they are in, has a special meaning for them. So if someone is seventy two years old, meaning that they are now in the seventy third year of their life, kapital #73 is their kapital that year. In the last days of the last Rebbe, who passed away at age ninety two, twenty two years ago, his kapital was kapital 93. That is how it works with a living person. What if someone has passed away? I assume the practice is then ended. However, the Lubavitchers were treating the Rebbe (b. 1902) as if he was still alive, and therefore in the 115th year of his life. The same for the Rebbetzin, who was a bit older, who was treated as she was in her 116th year.
The question is, if they are saying kapitlach for the deceased, according to their years, why didn't they say kapital 137 for the Rebbe R. Yosef Yitchak (b.1880), the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, then as well?
Something to think about.