Dedicated in honor of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, shlita
Published 1992, by:
Lubavitch Youth Organization
1408 President Street.
Brooklyn, New York, 11213 USA
Rabbi Shmuel Butman - Director.
Mrs. Yehudis Cohen - Editor.
The Table of Contents contains links to the text. Click on an entry in the Table of Contents and you will move to the information selected.
SEVEN QUESTIONS ABOUT MOSHIACH*
by Rabbi Israel Rubin
Q: Isn't the "Messiah" a Christian idea?
A: Moshiach originates in the Jewish Torah and prophets. The concept was later borrowed and changed by others.
Q: How important is Moshiach to Judaism?
A: Very. It's one of the 13 Fundamental Jewish Principles. "I believe with complete faith in the coming of Moshiach. Though he tarry, nonetheless I await him every day, that he will come."
Q: Isn't belief in Moshiach an escape from reality?
A. No. We don't live out of suitcases. Judaism is realistic, down-to-earth and lives in the here-and-now. We plan ahead normally, even while knowing that our current situation is waiting for Moshiach.
Q: Isn't "Messiah" just a euphemism for a utopian peace on earth?
A: It isn't just wishful thinking or fantasy, but an oft-repeated Divine promise, that a specific person and events will change the world for good.
Q: Who will be the Moshiach?
A: He will be a human descendant of King David, committed to all the Torah. He will gather all Jews to Israel, will rebuild the Holy Temple and bring universal peace.
Q: Why do we eagerly anticipate Moshiach?
A: Besides bringing peace to Israel and wiping out misery throughout the world, all of creation will be brought to fulfillment. However comfortable we may presently seem, our world remains incomplete, to say the least.
Q: Will our world change drastically?
A: Initially, the world will continue its natural course, later ascending to a supernatural state, including the Resurrection of the dead. (Maimonides)
In future issues of this special "L'Chaim" we will present more in-depth answers to these and other questions.
Moshiach shouldn't be regarded as a dream of the future, but as a compelling factor influencing the way we live our lives today. Living "the Redemption" will actually bring the fulfillment of these promises.
Our Sages point to Moshiach and the Redemption as the ultimate purpose for the creation of the world. G-d created the world to have a "dwelling place among mortals," and this goal will be realized in the Era of the Redemption.
However, G-d intended for us to create this dwelling. For centuries now, the Jewish people have been consciously or unconsciously constructing G-d's dwelling, and now it is emerging before our very eyes.
G-d has long been ready to bring Moshiach and Moshiach is anxious to come. Until now, his path was obstructed by the imperfections in the world. This is illustrated by a narrative in the Talmud:
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi encountered the prophet Elijah and asked him, "When is Moshiach coming?"
Replied the prophet, "Go ask him."
"But where is he to be found?"
"At the gate of Rome," answered Elijah.
"How will I recognize him?"
"He is sitting among paupers stricken by wounds. The others unbind all their wounds at once, and then bind them up again. But he unbinds one wound at a time, and straight away binds it up again. For he says, 'Perhaps I shall be called upon [to appear as Moshiach], and I must not be delayed.'"
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi found Moshiach and asked, "Master, when are you coming?"
He answered, "Today!"
When Rabbi Yehoshua returned to Elijah, the prophet asked him, "What did Moshiach say?"
Said Rabbi Yeshoshua, "He has deceived me. He told me, 'I am coming today,' and he has not come!"
Said Elijah, "What Moshiach had in mind was this verse: 'Today--if you would only listen to His voice.'"
The Lubavitcher Rebbe has declared that in our generation this stipulation has been satisfied. Our generation is, in fact, turning toward G-d to listen to His voice. There is no reason for Moshiach, who is already impatient to come, to delay his arrival any longer.
What do we have to do, then, to bring Moshiach? We have to open our eyes, and we will discover that by virtue of this very initiative, G-d turns toward us and the exile is vanishing.
The fact that our generation is ready for the redemption can be understood in another context.
As recorded in a letter which the Baal Shem Tov sent to his brother-in-law, the soul of the Baal Shem Tov once ascended to the heavenly abode of Moshiach and asked him, "Master, when are you coming?"
Moshiach answered, "When the wellsprings of your teachings [Chasidic philosophy] shall spread outward."
This, too, has been accomplished. There is no place on the map where the teachings of Chasidic philosophy have not reached. An example of this is that Tanya, the basic work of Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidic thought, has been printed over the last few years in thousands of locations, from Peking to Sharm-al-Sheikh--in every far-flung corner where there is a handful of Jews.
Our Sages associate Moshiach with the word "poretz"--"the one who breaks through," as in the verse, "He who breaks through shall ascend before them." This is the task of Moshiach--to break through the barriers of exile. Similarly, the people who await the coming of Moshiach are those who break through their own internal barriers. Rather than shield themselves behind the insistent demands of their day-to-day routine, they challenge themselves and yearn for the infinite, striving for that infinite to become manifest within their finite existence.
Reprinted from "In Readiness for the Redemption"
by "Sichos in English."
Rabbi Avraham Dov Ber of Bobroisk, known as Reb Ber, lived in the town of Homil. His father, a wealthy man, was a chasid of the second Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Dov Ber. Together with a few wagon loads full of chasidim, Ber's father would travel each year to spend the holiday of Shavuot with the Rebbe.
When Ber was six years old his father told him that this year, he could also travel to Lubavitch. On the morning they were to leave, Ber's mother woke him early and hurried him to get ready for the long trip. With delight she showed him a new outfit that she had just sewn for him. She made him promise that he would only wear it on Shabbat and Yom Tov, and in the event that he might have the privilege of having an audience with the Rebbe.
During the five-day journey from Homil to Lubavitch they passed through many cities and villages. In each place the chasidim welcomed them with much festivity. And, by the time they reached Lubavitch, their caravan of four wagons had grown to over 40 wagons full of people and many hundreds of additional travellers on foot.
During their stay in Lubavitch, Ber's father was privileged to have a private audience with the Rebbe. He took Ber in with him and, among other things, asked the Rebbe to bless his son. "May G-d help him to become a scholar and a chasid," the Rebbe said, as he stared intently at Ber.
When Ber and his father left the Rebbe's room, his father put him up on his shoulders and danced together with the circle of rejoicing chasidim. He danced and danced until, covered with sweat, he dropped onto a bench in exhaustion.
Ber was used to the lively dancing of chasidim, especially on holidays. But he simply could not fathom why his father was dancing with such unbounded joy at this particular moment.
When Ber requested that his father explain this phenomenon, his father asked him if he knew about the Sanctuary Moses had made at G-d's command, about the special place where the Ark with the Ten Commandments stood, and about the one day each year--Yom Kippur--when Aaron offered spices and prayed on behalf of all the Jewish people.
Ber was surprised. He had asked his father for an explanation about the dancing and his father was asking him about the Sanctuary. Ber told his father everything he had learned about the Sanctuary and then went on to describe everything he knew about the Holy Temple built by King Solomon as well.
"Who went into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur with the High Priest?" Ber's father asked him.
"Only the High Priest," was Ber's reply.
"And what did he do when he finished his service there?"
Ber answered confidently, "The High Priest was very wealthy. When he was finished he walked back to his home. All the Jewish people accompanied him, singing and dancing along the way. In his courtyard there were tables laden with all kinds of food and delicacies. Everyone rejoiced together for they knew their repentance had been accepted."
"And now," asked Ber's father, "do we have the Holy Temple?"
But before Ber had a chance to answer the question, his father was grabbed by a group of men from Homil who were still dancing vigorously.
There sat Ber, getting more confused and more upset by the moment. Now he had another question. His father had reminded him that there was no longer a Holy Temple. How could these chasidim rejoice so completely with the Holy Temple destroyed?
When his father returned, Ber received his answer. With the tact of a skilled educator, his father explained in a calm but heartfelt tone. "You are right, my son, we no longer have the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. But until G-d sends us the righteous redeemer who will gather us from the four corners of the earth and bring us to the land of Israel and rebuild Jerusalem and the Holy Temple with the Holy of Holies, Lubavitch is our Jerusalem, and the synagogue where the Rebbe prays is our Holy Temple, and the Rebbe's room where he studies is our Holy of Holies and the Rebbe is our ark containing the tablets of G-d's Torah.
And it shall come to pass in the end of days that the mountain of G-d's house shall be set over all other mountains and lifted high above the hills and all nations shall come streaming to it. And he [the Messiah] will teach us His ways and we will walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah and G-d's word from Jerusalem. And he [the Messiah] will judge between nations and decide between peoples. And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they practice war any more. (Isaiah 2: 2-4)
And the L-rd your G-d will bring back your captives and have compassion upon you. G-d your L-rd will once again gather you from among all the nations where He scattered you. Even if your diaspora is at the ends of the heavens, G-d your L-rd will gather you up from there and He will take you back. G-d your L-rd will then bring you to the land that your ancestors occupied, and you too will occupy it. (Deut. 30:3)
The sole preoccupation of the whole world will be to know G-d. The Israelites will be great sages: they will know things that are presently concealed, and will achieve knowledge of their Creator to the utmost capacity of human beings. (Maimonides' Hilchot Melachim 12:5)
A businessman who wants to double his capital first has to invest it in merchandise, and then, empty-handed, await his profit. In the same way, only by being dispersed empty-handed among the nations of the world can the Jewish people ultimately arrive at their great profit--the exalted revelation of divine light which will take place in future time. (From "From Exile to Redemption" by "Sichos in English")
The prophet Isaiah said concerning the Era of Redemption, "For the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean." The main difference between now and the Era of Redemption will be our knowledge and awareness of G-d. This is reflected in the fact that the Hebrew word for "exile," "gola," shares the same letters as the Hebrew word for "redemption," "geula," with one exception: Geula possesses the letter "alef"--"one." It stands for "G-d, Alufo shel olam--the L-rd of the world." Chasidic philosophy explains that there is more than a passive similarity involved. The addition of the alef actually transforms exile into redemption. (From "From Exile to Redemption" by "Sichos in English")
Our Sages relate that, "In the merit of the righteous women, the Jews were redeemed from Egypt." Similarly, the Sages associated subsequent redemptions with the merit of Jewish women. Rabbi Yitzchak Luria emphasized that the Future Redemption will follow the pattern of the exodus, and thus will also come as a result of the merit of the righteous women of that generation. (From "Women as Partners in the Dynamic of Creation")
Back to "L'Chaim Moshiach" Archives Online