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.
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I never realized that the Resurrection of the Dead is a Jewish concept. Please discuss it.
The Zohar teaches that the Resurrection will begin forty years after all Jews have returned to the Holy Land, and will continue intermittently until all are restored to life. According to the Talmud, those buried in the Holy Land will be restored first, then those of other lands. The Zohar writes that the righteous and the Torah scholars will be first. However, everyone will be resurrected eventually, for everlasting life.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, basing his remarks on the teachings of our sages, explained that there will be exceptions to this schedule. Certain individuals will return to life at once, at the advent of Moshiach.
The soul will return to the body in the Land of Israel. The bodies of those buried in other lands will roll through the earth until they reach the Holy Land, where they will return to life. The righteous, however, will be spared this ordeal.
The story is told of Andrayanus, who asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya, "How will G-d restore the body in the future?" The Rabbi answered, "From a tiny bone in the spinal column called 'luz.'"
"How do you know [the bone will not rot away till then)]?"
"Bring me the bone and I will show you," the Rabbi said.
The bone was brought and ground in millstones but was not amaged. It was thrown into fire but was not burned. It was soaked in water but did not dissolve. It was placed on an iron anvil and struck with a hammer until the anvil split in two and the hammer broke. The bone, however, remained unharmed.
This bone takes nourishment only from food eaten at the Saturday night Melave Malka meal; death and decay are unable to touch it
The Zohar writes that at the time of Resurrection, G-d will soften this bone with the "Dew of Resurrection," forming a clear and pure liquid. Any other parts of the body remaining at the time will be united with this softened bone until they are one mass. It will then congeal, expand and take shape. Onto this form will be drawn skin, flesh, bones and blood vessels. Finally, G-d will imbue the complete body with a living spirit.
Our Sages teach: "As the person was before passing away, so shall he be when brought back to life. If when he went he was blind, he shall return blind; if deaf, he shall return deaf...; the garments he wore then he shall wear when he returns. Said the Holy One blessed is He, 'Let them arise as they were before, then I shall heal them.'" This G-d will do by removing the "sheath" surrounding the sun, permitting the sun's more intense rays, with their Divine healing powers, to reach earth, healing all those who have a share in the Future World.
(From The Messianic Era by Rabbi I. Altein in The Yiddishe Heim)
"I believe with complete faith in the arrival of the Moshiach. And though he may tarry, I shall wait each day, anticipating his arrival."
"Ani Maamin..." So many of us sing it, say it, pray for it. All of us have had parents or grandparents who have uttered these very words as have their parents and ancestors--praying through our history for Moshiach (Messiah), for Redemption.
Today, literal belief in Moshiach has come to be regarded by some as a throwback to an irrational primitive past. Belief in Moshiach has assumed an abstract meaning, an idea, rather than a concrete expectation. The non-Jewish associations made with the word "Messiah" has made it a topic that makes people uneasy.
But the dramatic changes the world has experienced in recent times--some distinctly cause for optimism, others rather disillusioning, have given pause to many otherwise unconcerned people. Indeed, there has been much speculation of late about the end of all things. The end of the cold war has philosophers of history worried about the end of history. Global warming has environmentalists concerned about the "end of the world," and the ongoing instability in the Gulf has conjured up menacing possibilities for a shift in the world's political power structure.
History recalls similar scenarios of the past, where "prophets" of doom foretold apocalyptic visions. But these doomsayers were wrong and we are here to make the indisputable point. Still, there is considerable intrigue about the end of the world--or from a Jewish perspective--intrigue about the ultimate purpose of it all.
Judaism speaks not of an end, but of a climax, the apex of time and history with the coming of Moshiach. Unlike the non-Jewish notion of messianism, which implies a break with the past and the beginning of something entirely new, the coming of Moshiach will be the culmination, the crowning stroke of all of humanity's efforts toward a world of peace and consummate holiness. Thus the arrival of Moshiach hinges critically on the actions of human kind. Through the observance of their respective mitzvot, the Jew and non-Jew make the world more receptive to Moshiach.
The Era of Moshiach, the Talmud says, will be characterized by the Divine revelations and radical changes that will unravel the world's mysteries and its purpose through the ultimate unity of physical and spiritual.
This then, is the objective. And to pursue an objective meaningfully we need to have a strong sense of what it is that we are working toward. We can only achieve this power of purpose through study. And to truly care about the goal we need to persist until we see it accomplished.
Let us take heart and strengthen our faith in Moshiach's coming. May it be imminently in our days.
Reprinted from Lubavitch International
The Holy Temple lay in ruins, its resplendent beauty plowed under by the conquering Roman Legions. The remnants of the population were in despair. The Talmud relates that four great rabbis were walking along a road in The Land of Israel. Suddenly they heard a rumbling sound rising from the distance. One rabbi inquired of the others, "What is that noise?"
"That is the sound of a multitude of Romans far away in the distance," replied another.
Three of the rabbis began to weep; the fourth, Rabbi Akiva, began laughing. The others were surprised by their colleague's reaction and asked, "Akiva, why are you laughing?"
He countered: "Why are you three crying?"
They said: "Here we see that the Romans, who worship idols and burn incense to them, are living in safety and prosperity. And we [who worship the true G-d], the House which is G-d's footstool [the Holy Temple] lies burned in fire. Why shouldn't we weep?"
Rabbi Akiva replied: "That is precisely why I'm laughing. For, if this is the lot of those who violate the will of G-d, how much more joyous will be the future for us Jews who do His will?"
On another occasion the same four Sages were travelling together to Jerusalem. When they reached the point of the Mount of Olives, they tore their clothes [in mourning] as is prescribed by Jewish law. Proceeding further they arrived at the desolate Temple Mount, and as they gazed toward the Holy of Holies--where the sacred incense had been offered to the Al-mighty--they saw a fox emerging. Three of the rabbis began to weep at the sight of the degradation of the holy place. Rabbi Akiva, however, laughed. They turned to Akiva and asked, "Why are you laughing?"
He asked in return, "Why are you weeping?"
They answered him, "This is place of which it is written, 'And the stranger who approaches will surely die.' Yet, now we see foxes strolling about. Why should we not weep."
Replied Akiva, "That is precisely why I am laughing. In the prophecy of Uria it says, 'Therefore, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will be desolate and the Temple Mount will be a forest.' The prophecy of Zecharia says, 'Aged men and women will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem.'
"Before I saw the prophecy of Uria fulfilled I worried that the prophecy of Zecharia would not be realized. But now that I have witnessed the fulfillment of the first, I know surely that the second will come to pass as well."
They turned to him and said, "Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva you have comforted us."
And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid...and the calf and the young lion... and a little child shall lead them. They shall not hurt nor destroy... for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
One should not entertain the notion that the King Moshiach must work miracles and wonders, bring about new phenomena within the world, resurrect the dead, or perform other similar deeds. This is not true. (Maimonides' Mishne Torah)
Behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the L-rd. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. (Malachi 3:23-24)
We pray for the Redemption several times every day. Even so, requesting by itself is not enough. One must demand the Redemption, just as with the wages of a hired worker: the law stipulates that if the worker does not demand his wages, there is no obligation to give it to him on the very day that he completes his work. So, too, we must demand our redemption. Failure to do so shows that this matter is clearly not that urgent to us! (Sichot Chofetz Chaim)
Three times a day during our prayers, every day of the year, we ask G-d: "May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy." Indeed, our Sages teach us that one of the first questions a soul will be asked in its judgment for the afterlife is, "Did you await the Redemption?" (From the essay Open Your Eyes)
In the prayers that welcome the Shabbat we say, "Awake, awake, give forth a song..." Sleep is a metaphor for the exile; sleep is a state of suspended animation. While a person sleeps he is unconscious of what is happening around him. His mind is asleep, as is his ability to understand and reason. With his rational faculties at rest, imagination takes over, giving rise to dreams and fancies. The things that happen to the Jews in exile are often so strange and irrational as to be unbelievable. This prayer calls upon us to wake up from our sleep, since the night of the Exile is almost over, and the dawn of the Redemption is about to break through the dark. (From My Prayer by Nissan Mindel)
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