Modern Jewish Beliefs Concerning the Coming Messiah

Jesus said to the Jews, "I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me;
if another comes in his own name, him you will receive."
(John 5:43)


Messianic Truth Project (antichristian)


LETTER FROM JERUSALEM TO OUR TRUE FRIENDS

by Mr. Yosef Ben Shlomo HaKohen, May 18, 2007

Editor,

"Hazon: Our Universal Vision" http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

Excerpt: "Many of you live among Christians who deify a Jewish man who lived over 2,000 years ago. Moreover, they proclaim that the only way to reach God is through this man. You have had the wisdom and the courage to reject this belief, and you have chosen to follow the original teaching of Abraham and Sarah, who taught human beings to pray directly to the Compassionate One. All the great biblical figures including Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Deborah, David, Isaiah, and Jeremiah prayed directly to the Compassionate One. This is how the Torah taught us to pray. Anyone who reads the Book of Psalms can discover the Torah approach to prayer... We therefore need to remember that 'HaShem is close to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon him sincerely' [Tehillim/Psalm 145:18]. A classical biblical commentator, Radak, explains that this verse is revealing that the Compassionate One is close to 'all' who call upon Him, 'regardless of nationality'. In other words, you do not have to be Jewish in order to experience the loving closeness of the Compassionate One!...The heaven of our God has lots of room, and any human being who is a 'chassid' -- a person who is lovingly devoted to serving the Creator and His creation -- can enter the gates of paradise".


Messiah/Commentary: MESSIANIC FAITH VERSES MESSIANIC SPECULATION

June 21, 2005.

THE UNIFYING HOPE: AWAITING THE MESSIAH

Journey to Unity Series, Essay 15

by Mr. Yosef Ben Shlomo HaKohen

May the Compassionate One make us worthy of reaching the days of the Messiah and life everlasting. [from Birkat HaMazon/Grace After Meals]

The Days of the Messiah:

A staff will emerge from the stump of Jesse (the father of David), and a shoot will sprout from his roots. The spirit of the Compassionate One will rest upon Him -- a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and reverence for the Compassionate One. He will be imbued with a spirit of reverence for the Compassionate One; and he will not need to judge by what his eyes see nor decide by what his ears hear. He will judge the destitute with righteousness, and decide with fairness for the humble of the earth. He will strike the world with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be the girdle round his loins, and faith will be the girdle round his waist. The wolf will live with the sheep, and the leopard will lie down with the kid; and a calf, a lion whelp and a fatling together, and a young child will lead them. A cow and bear will graze and their young will lie down together; and a lion, like cattle, will eat hay. A suckling will play by a viper's hole; and a newly weaned child will stretch his hand towards an adder's lair. They will neither injure nor destroy in all of My sacred mountain; for the earth will be filled with knowledge of the Compassionate One as water covering the sea bed. [Yeshayahu/Isaiah 11:1-9]

"He will strike the world with the rod of his mouth" -- with the strength of his Torah teachings. [Commentary of Rabbi S.R. Hirsch]

Dear Friends,

Maimonides writes that one of the thirteen principles of faith for the Jewish People is the belief in the coming of the Messiah: "I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may delay, nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come" [Commentary to Mishna Sanhedrin, chapter 10].

The Prophets teach that the Messiah will be a descendant of King David, the son of Jesse, from the tribe of Judah. He will be a great Torah teacher and sovereign who will inspire Israel and all the peoples to serve the Compassionate One in a spirit of unity. Some people have difficulty imagining that one great person could become the "Messiah" and cause a radical change in the world. A study of history reveals, however, that there have been a number of individuals who helped bring about great changes in the world, whether for good or for bad.

Given that we now live in a world with instant, international communication, our world is becoming more and more like a global village. The Messiah would therefore be able to communicate with all the members of this global village. Yes, there is increasing strife and violence in our "village"; but the future Messiah -- through the power of his Torah teachings -- will develop a spirit of unity and shalom. We should not underestimate the power of ideas. Rabbi Aryeh Carmell, a noted Torah educator, addresses this issue:

In modern times, many of the most far-reaching revolutions in thought have been sparked off by Jews: Einstein, Freud, Marx; though all these were far from the Torah tradition. Would it be so far-fetched to think of the coming revolution of the spirit as led by a dynamic personality, steeped, this time, in the spiritual truths of the Torah -- with a releasing vision much profounder than Freud's, with revolutionary ideals much more radical than Marx's, and with the means at his disposal to swing the world from the dark nightmare of a polluted planet to a brighter future of spiritual creativity? [excerpted from "Judaism and the Environment", an essay in the book "Encounter"]

The belief in the coming of the Messiah is deeply embedded within the consciousness of the Jewish People. In his book, "World of Our Fathers", Irving Howe describes the messianic yearnings of an earlier generation of Jewish socialists and progressive activists. Although their ideology was secular, their yearning, hope, and struggle for a better world was rooted in the ancient Jewish belief that the Messiah will eventually come and inaugurate a new age of justice and peace. In one chapter (page 454), Howe quotes from a poem by the Yiddish poet, Aaron Zeitlin, which refers to this belief:

"Being a Jew means running forever to God, even if you are His betrayer. Means expecting to hear any day, even if you are a nay sayer, the blare of Messiah's horn".

The Talmud states that on our individual "Judgment Day" -- after the soul departs from the body -- one of the questions we will be asked is: "Did you anticipate the redemption?" [Babylonian Talmud/Tractate Shabbos 31a]. Why, however, should this question be asked of us? Is it a mitzvah -- Divine mandate -- to believe in the coming of the Messiah and the future redemption? An answer can be found in the first of the "Ten Mandates" which were spoken at Mount Sinai:

I am the Compassionate One, your God, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. [Shemot/Exodus 20:2]

Maimonides, in his classical work, "The Book of Mitzvos", cites this verse as the source for the mitzvah to believe in the Compassionate One. The verse, however, does not speak of the Compassionate One Who created the world; it speaks of the Compassionate One Who is the Redeeming One, Who liberated us from the bondage of Egypt. According to Rabbi Isaac of Corbeil, a 13th century sage, this verse calls upon us to not only believe that the Compassionate One redeemed us in the past, but to also believe that He will redeem us in the future.

In his respected work on the mitzvos, known as "Sefer Mitzvos Katan", Rabbi Isaac states that the obligation to believe in the coming of the Messiah is rooted in the words, "I am the Compassionate One, your God, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt"; for the Exodus from Egypt is a testimony to the ongoing Divine providence in human history. The verse which calls upon us to believe in the Redeeming One specifically mentions our Exodus from Egypt, because this Divine act of physical and spiritual redemption is to make us aware that Divine providence is leading the People of Israel and all humanity to their ultimate physical and spiritual redemption.

Our faith in the future redemption of Israel and humanity is a "gift of hope" that we can share with the other peoples of the earth. As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, a 19th century sage, writes:

The entire world thirsts for redemption. Grief and misery, reigning in both huts and palaces, arouse messianic longings in every heart. It is not only Israel whose redemption depends upon the rebuilding of Zion; and surely, their confident expectation that the redemption will indeed come about is not the least valuable dowry which the Jew brings with him into the community of nations. [See "The Hirsch Haggadah" -- pages 282-83]

We are therefore awaiting the arrival of the true Messiah who will inaugurate the new age of enlightenment and unity. Even though he may tarry, we are not to lose hope, for when the hour arrives for the birth of the messianic age, he will not delay. In this spirit, the prophet Habakkuk proclaims:

For there is yet another hazon -- vision -- for the appointed time; it will speak of the end and it will not deceive. Though it may tarry, await it, for it will surely come; it will not delay. [Habakkuk 2:3]

The Prophets also indicate, however, that we can hasten the arrival of the messianic age through fulfilling the life-giving and unifying mitzvos of the Torah. Among the mitzvos that they stressed are the mitzvos of justice which prevent us from hurting and oppressing others, and the mitzvos of "tzedakah" -- the sharing of our resources with those in need. In this spirit, the Prophet proclaimed, "Zion will be redeemed through justice, and those who return to her through tzedakah" [Yeshayahu/Isaiah 1:27].

The Prophets also stressed the mitzvos related to "Shabbos" -- the Sacred Seventh Day. These mitzvos serve as a reminder that the earth and its resources belong to the Unifying One. On Shabbos, we are to refrain from exerting human mastery over the earth and its creatures, and we are to also refrain from commerce. Through the mitzvos of Shabbos, we remind ourselves that the human being is the "custodian", and not the owner of the earth's resources. Through the mitzvos of tzedakah, we learn how to share these resources with others.

We are therefore not to passively await the salvation of the messianic age, for the Compassionate One desires that we actively prepare for this new era:

Thus said the Compassionate One: "Guard justice and perform acts of tzedakah, for My salvation is soon to come, and My righteousness to be revealed. Happy is the person who does this and the person who holds on to this: Who guards the Shabbos against desecration, and guards his hand against doing any evil". [Yeshayahu/Isaiah 56:1-2]

Shavua Tov from Liberated Yerushaliyim,
Mr. Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

Advisory Board Member, Ecology Fellowship, Root & Branch Association, Ltd.
Advisory Board Member, Social Welfare Fellowship, Root & Branch Association, Ltd.
Author, "The Universal Jew" (Feldheim Publishers)

Related Teachings:

1. The Chafetz Chaim, a sage of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, writes: "The coming of the Messiah is literally in our hands, for Zohar Chadash states [Parshas Noach 23:3] that a single congregation can merit to bring about the Final Redemption by internalizing the quality of peace. It is impossible to merit the quality of peace without first ridding oneself of baseless hatred and refraining from speaking in a derogatory way about others. Whoever will strive to rid himself of these sins will have a share in the building of the Third Temple" [Cited in "The Chofetz Chaim: A Lesson a Day", Art Scroll: www.artscroll.com. This is a book about the laws of ethical speech].

2. There are those who wonder how we can merit to experience the coming of the Messiah when previous generations that were more righteous than us did not merit this experience. The Chofetz Chaim responds to this concern: "It is true that we are much smaller than our ancestors, but it is known that HaShem attaches to every individual his own merit and that of his ancestors. We are like a dwarf riding on a giant's back, who sees farther than the giant. So too, our merit joined to that of our ancestors is greater than theirs alone" [Machaneh Yisrael, Last Section, Chapter 20 -- cited in "The Chofetz Chaim Looks at Eternity", Feldheim: www.feldheim.com]

3. In the age of the Messiah, all our words and deeds will become seeds of new life. We do not have to wait until the arrival of the Messiah, however, to begin planting seeds of new life. In fact, planting these seeds is our highest priority, for they represent the goal of the messianic age. In this spirit, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai taught: "If you have a sapling in your hand, and they tell you the Messiah has just arrived, go and plant the sapling and then go out to welcome the Messiah" [Avos D'Rabbi Noson, Nusach 2, chapter 31].

4. In the Books of the Prophets, there are vivid descriptions of the messianic age and the role of the Messiah. One well-known example is Isaiah's vision of the unity and enlightenment of the nations in "the end of days" [Yesheyahu/Isaiah 2:1-4]. The Books of the Prophets often elaborate on themes which are found in the Five Books of the Torah, and within these Five Books, there are some brief references and allusions to the Messiah and the messianic age. The following can serve as examples:

A. Our father, Jacob, blessed his 12 sons -- the founders of the 12 tribes -- before he left this world, and he gave Judah the following blessing: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah nor a scholar from among his descendants until Shiloh arrives, and to him will the nations gather" [Bereshit/Genesis 49:10]. Rashi and the majority of the commentators explain that "Shiloh" is a name of the Messiah. When the Messiah comes, Judah's blessing will be fully realized, for all the peoples of the earth will gather around the Messiah -- the descendant of Judah.

B. "I shall see him, but not now, I shall look at him, but not in the near future. A star has issued from Jacob and a scepter-bearer has arisen from Israel" [Bamidbar/Numbers 24:17]. According to the classical biblical commentator, Ramban (Nachmanides), this verse is a prophecy concerning the future Messiah. Maimonides also interprets this verse in a similar manner [The Laws of Kings 11:1].

C. "Then the Compassionate One, your God, will bring back your captivity and have mercy on you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which the Compassionate One, your God, has scattered you. If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there the Compassionate One, your God, will gather you in and from there He will take you. The Compassionate One, your God, will bring you to the Land that your ancestors possessed and you shall possess it; He will do good to you and make you more numerous than your ancestors" [Devarim/Deuteronomy 30: 3-5]. According to Maimonides, these verses are referring to the age of the Messiah [The Laws of Kings 11:1].

From "Root & Branch Association, Ltd." LIBERATED YERUSHALIYIM, D.C. (David's Capital), Liberated Israelite Tribal Territories of Yehudah and Binyamin, Kingdom of David and Shlomo, United Israelite Kingdom of Yehudah and Yosef, Yom Shlishi, 14 Sivan, 5765, Root & Branch Information Services [mailto:rb@rb.org.il] [www.rb.org.il]


January 25, 2005

Will the coming Messiah be a King, a Rabbi or a General?

Generally speaking there is in Israel and among the Jewish people a lack of clarity concerning the person of the coming Messiah, and what his characteristics are meant to be.

This uncertainty about the longed-for and anticipated Messiah has led to a number of individuals in history believing themselves to be possible candidates. Thus, because of this ambiguity, different people throughout Jewish history have been able to claim for themselves the title of Messiah, beginning with the legendary figure of Bar Kochba -- who some believed to be the Messiah -- through modern times to the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson of New York. Some believed themselves to be the Messiah, others let others do the believing for them. But the fact that this all fluctuated between national heroes of a more political nature on one hand, and spiritual charismatic leaders or rabbis on the other, reveals the absence of a broad consensus as to what the Messiah is to be.

This takes us right back to the biblical times where we find this duality also: spiritual leaders or prophets like Moses and Samuel who led the Jewish people in God's name and anointed warrior leaders like Joshua and King David, or specially anointed heroes like Samson and Gideon during the time of the judges.

Which raises the question: What kind of Messiah can we expect -- a spiritual prophet like Moses or Samuel, a warrior/king like David, or an anointed military commander like Joshua? Who are we to expect or, what is perhaps a better question, what kind of Messiah does Israel most need at this moment in her history to bring her through all her problems -- an anointed king, a commander, a spiritual guide and prophet, or an exceptional peace maker -- a man of peace?

That there is a natural longing to see some kind of leader emerge one day is evident whenever a popular Israeli politician appears and crowds chant 'melech Israel' -- king of Israel.

This nation is destined ultimately to have a Messiah King -- not just a Prime Minister or President who, especially with such a divided people and parliament, would never be able to accomplish the task.

Perhaps all the elements of the Israel's leaders who were previously anointed by God and given to the people -- Samuel, Moses, Gideon, Joshua, King David and King Solomon -- will be present in Prince Messiah when He comes.

In a way, King David comes closest to the Person we can all expect. He was at once a very spiritual prophetic man, an amazingly effective military commander, and a true political leader and king of his people.

In each of these previous leaders we see only a certain aspect of the characteristics of the promised Messiah.

Moses was more of a spiritual leader and prophet, and the promise was made even during his time that one day God would raise up unto His people "a Prophet like him" (see Deuteronomy 18:15), signifying that the Messiah would therefore definitely have the prophetic powers and calling of a Moses. Moses, an elevated spiritual leader, met the Lord high up in the mountain where he received the Torah -- the Ten Commandments from God -- which he brought then down to his people.

Joshua, a more down-to-earth leader, a warrior, met the Lord down in the plain of Jericho, when He called Himself the Captain of the hosts of the Lord -- before Joshua was able to militarily conquer the Promised Land.

In King David we find all these different elements combined: the priest and prophet who prays and sings his prayers and songs of worship before the Lord his God, even in his tent of tabernacle; the soldier, who experiences the Lord teaching him to fight as a mighty warrior, training his hands to war and conquer (see Psalm 18:34); and the king who rules over God's people in God's Name.

Also his son Solomon foreshadows the coming Messiah King, especially during his early reign as a true son of David when in peace and justice he rules the whole kingdom entrusted to him.

This is why one of the special titles for the Messiah is "Son of David" - - not only because King David had all these three elements of priest/prophet, king and warrior in himself (and so in this way was a typical forerunner of the coming Messiah), but also because David was born in Bethlehem, a city where according to the prophet Micah the Messiah too would be born.

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2)

This is why, as someone once told me, it was possibly the saddest day when the Israeli government decided in 1995 to give the city of Bethlehem away to Arafat and the Palestinians to be Juden-rein Muslim territory, so rendering impossible the birth of a Jewish Messiah in this city of David. From that day, no Jews have been permitted to live in Bethlehem.

The Messiah, to be the genuine Messiah, must therefore resemble King David -- He must not only be a royal descendant from David's house; like David, He must also born in Bethlehem, and like the direct physical son of David, Solomon, He must be a Person who will establish peace and justice over the whole earth, beginning in the city of Jerusalem.

In the Tanach (the Hebrew Scriptures), the Person of the Messiah is so identified with King David that He is sometimes even named "David" as in Ezekiel 37:25:

Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children's children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.

But like David He will also be a Man of war -a Lion of Judah who will fight for His people Israel, trampling in the winepress of His wrath the nations that have come to swallow up Israel. As Zechariah prophesies:

Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You. It shall come to pass in that day that there will be no light; the lights will diminish. It shall be one day which is known to the Lord - neither day nor night. But at evening time it shall happen that it will be light. And in that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur. And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be -- "the Lord is one," and His name one. (Zechariah 14:3-9)

So the Messiah is not just One Who is brought as 'a Lamb to the slaughter' (Isaiah 53:7); He will also will be like a roaring Lion -- "the Lion of Judah."

There are equally many passages in the Scriptures which describe clearly and forcefully this aspect of the coming Messiah. He will in the end days go out to war for His people:

The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies. (Isaiah 42:13)

Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength? -- "I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save." Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? "I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come. I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me. I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, made them drunk in My fury, and brought down their strength to the earth." (Isaiah 63:1-6)

However He will also be the spiritual guide to His people, a prophet like Moses -- a High Priest and Prophet combined, like Moses and Aaron in One, who will guide His people in all matters of faith and Torah, eclipsing the need for a chief Rabbi or a Chief Rabbinate in His days!

So the Messiah will be like Moses the true Law giver and in His days -- this law will go forth from Zion not only to all Israel but to the uttermost parts of the world.

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. (Micah 4:1-4)

His coming will be sudden and only after His temple, the house of God, will have been built upon God's holy hill in Jerusalem, rightfully called "the Temple Mount".

"Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

And the glory of the Lord came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east. The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple. (Ezekiel 43:4, 5)

So He will suddenly come to His temple - coming when people least expect Him -- "as a thief in the night" -- yet with great power and glory, as Daniel describes, on the clouds of heaven.

"I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the cloud of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7: 13, 14)

It all has to be like this, because unless He, the Messiah, comes with unmistakable power and glory, He will not be seen for what He is, the true King and Messiah of Israel, the Ruler of the world - as so many self-appointed ego maniacs, in both the religious as well as the political world, will surely first try to present themselves as saviors and messiahs of mankind!

Thus does the Tanach, or Holy Scriptures, seem to imply that at an hour when people least expect it, when darkness will cover the earth and the nations - when because of all the earthquakes, disasters, wars and rumors of wars men's hearts will be failing them from fear - when the general situation of this planet and its inhabitants has come to the brink of utter hopelessness, God's light will come in the powerful person of Israel's King Messiah, Son of the house of David. As is written:

When darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

In the run-up to that time, every ruler in this world, of whatever nation -- especially of course of the nation of Israel -- has the possibility -- by the grace and inspiration of God, to foreshadow, even as King David did in His reign and rule, some of the characteristics of this coming King and Messiah of mankind. He can choose to put God and His laws first and foremost, seek Him continually for wisdom and direction, seek His council -- even as David did -- even as how to fight and overcome the enemies of his nation. All this David did, and on top of it he, David, was a great lover of His God -- putting the place set aside for His God in his city above everything else, as he expresses in Psalm 132:

A Song of Ascents. Lord, remember David and all his afflictions; how he swore to the Lord, and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob: "Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob." For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: "This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it." (Psalm 132:1-5, 13-14)

May God inspire a future leader in Israel to prepare again a dwelling place unto God in Jerusalem.

So equally now -- an Israeli or other nation's prime minister or president can make sure that his first holy duty is to the God of heaven and earth, and in this case Israel's leader has a unique privileged possibility and calling to prepare in this fateful 21st century a house for the Lord God of Israel, to thus show in the first place to his own Israeli people -- but then also to the nations of the world -- that Israel will not suffice with just having a religion for some of their people -- as most of the nations indeed have also -- but that Israel's leader -- may God grant it soon -- will like David be seen to want God (and not just a religion) to again take up His residence through the majestic and powerful person of the Messiah on His holy Hill in Jerusalem for all the world to see. May that day come soon!

Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director
International Christian Zionist Center

P.O. Box 49063, 91490 Jerusalem, ISRAEL
Telephone: +972 (0)2 581 9701
Fax: +972 (0)2 540 0133
Email Address: iczc@iczc.org.il Web-site: www.israelmybeloved.com


YERUSHALIYIM, D.C. (David's Capital), Yom Sheini (Second Day -- "Monday"), 26 Nisan, 5762 (Gregorian Date: April 8, 2002) (Hijri Date: 25 Muharram, 1423), Root & Branch: According to Maimonides, the following statement expresses one of the thirteen principles of faith for the Jewish people: "I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may delay, nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come". [Commentary to Mishna Sanhedrin, chapter 10]

We are to have faith in the coming of the Messiah. Yet, Maimonides also wrote the following comments concerning messianic speculation:

"There are some sages who say that Elijah's coming will precede the coming of the Messiah. All these and similar matters a person cannot know how they will happen until they happen, for these matters are undefined in the words of the prophets. Moreover, even the sages have no established tradition regarding these matters, but only their interpretations of the verses. There is therefore disagreement among them concerning these matters". [Mishneh Torah, the Laws of Kings, chapter 12:2]

Maimonides adds:

"Neither the order of the occurrence of these events nor their precise detail are among the fundamental principles of the faith. And one should not be preoccupied with the 'aggados' (stories) and 'midrashim' (rabbinic parables) concerning these and similar matters, nor should one consider them as essentials. For such involvement does not bring awe or love of HaShem [G-d]. Similarly, one should not try to determine the appointed time for the Messiah's coming...Rather, one should await and believe in the general conception of the matter, as explained".

The Chofetz Chaim, a sage of the early 20th century who passed away in 1933 [the year the Nazis came to power in Germany], said that we are in the final stage of the exile and very close to the messianic age of peace, unity, and enlightenment. Yet, in the spirit of the above teaching of Maimonides, he did not offer an exact date, as he wrote:

"Let the reader not be misled by my saying we have reached the end of days into thinking that I have declared this to be the exact moment of final redemption. That time is surely hidden from us until the light of the Messiah's salvation is revealed. Generally, however, we can surely say we are in the period of the "birth pangs of the Messiah" -- the birth pangs of redemption. In our day, all the signs stated in the Talmud regarding this period have been realized. We have no way of knowing how long this era will last...The nature of our redemption depends upon HaShem's will and upon the merit we arouse from below". [See "The Chofetz Chaim Looks At Eternity", pages 83,84]

It is therefore not wise to speculate on the exact date of the Messiah's arrival or the exact date of any of the great events associated with the messianic age. Our focus during this difficult period of "birth pangs" should be on Torah study, prayer, and good deeds that lead to love and unity. We should also strive to avoid words and deeds that lead to strife and disunity, especially now, when there is so much suffering and danger.

According to an ancient midrash, the Compassionate One -- the "Midwife" of our redemption -- is saying to us:

"My beloved children! Is there anything I lack that I should have to ask of you? All I ask of you is that you love one another, that you honor one another, that you respect one another". [Tanna Dvei Eliyahu 28]

As we strive to fulfill the above teaching, we can also gain strength and faith by remembering that Moses and all the prophets spoke about our exile, the birth pangs preceding the messianic age, and the final redemption of this age. These prophecies are discussed by our sages in the Talmud, the Midrash, and the Zohar (the classical work on the hidden wisdom of the Torah).

As the Chofetz Chaim mentioned in the above teaching, we have reason to believe that we are living in the period just before the dawn of the messianic age, as "all the signs stated in the Talmud regarding this period have been realized".

There are even sources in the Midrash and Zohar which speak of a great conflict with the Arabs before the coming of the Messiah.

As Maimonides indicated, however, the exact meaning of all these prophecies is hidden from us. We should therefore focus on our primary task: to do what the Compassionate One asks of us.

As Moses, our Teacher, conveyed to our People before we entered the Promised Land:

"The hidden things belong to HaShem, our G-d, but that which has been revealed is ours and our children's forever: to fulfill all the words of this Torah". [Dvarim/Deuteronomy 29:28]

Shavua Tov (Good Week) from Yerushaliyim,
Mr. Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen [chazon@netvision.net.il]
[copyright (c) 2002] by Yosef Ben Shlomo HaKohen


Countdown to Redemption

by Rabbi Chaim Richman*

There is one thing which all readers of The Restoration* are in absolute agreement upon...

...the fact that we are living in remarkable times, the beginning of the revelation of the times of the messiah, as G-d prepares the way for the complete restoration of His honor and kingdom amongst all men. This column will present our readers the opportunity to learn more about the traditional Jewish view of the days of the messiah and G-d's great plan for all humanity when the Redemption arrives.

We will begin this column by discussing some basic principles of Jewish belief regarding the messiah and the Pre-Messianic Era.

First, it should be understood that the coming of the messiah - and the redemption of Israel which follows - is a very basic Jewish belief.

As far as how and when this is to come about, however, there are two possible outcomes. We are taught that G-d will bring about the Redemption in His own time. Essentially, this means that if all of Israel were to return to G-d, the messiah would appear and the final Redemption would be ushered in immediately. Otherwise, the Redemption will not occur until the final time decreed by G-d. This is the true meaning of the verse (Isaiah 60:22), "I, G-d, will accelerate it in its due time." This means that if Israel is worthy, G-d will hasten the Redemption; if they are not - it will still come, since G-d has promised it not contingent upon anything else - but only in its due time.

This is the explanation as to why we find two different Biblical descriptions of the advent of the Messianic Era which seem to contradict each other. For example, there are numerous passages which indicate that the messiah will arrive with miracles and glory, like this one: "In the night visions, I beheld the likeness of a human being who came with the clouds of heaven... and he was given... an everlasting dominion which will never pass away" (Daniel 7:13-14). But on the other hand, there are Biblical references which imply the opposite - namely, that the arrival of the messiah will be simple, low-key and unassuming... as in, "Behold, your king comes to you... humble and riding upon a donkey" (Zech. 9:9). These verses viewed together instruct us of the two basic ways in which the Messianic Era could begin, as we mentioned. If Israel is worthy, it will commence to the accompaniment of Heavenly miracles. Otherwise, the time will still arrive, but it will only manifest itself through the seemingly mundane process of historical events.

Of course, in either scenario, it is none other than G-d Himself who guides the forces of history in order to bring about the Messianic Era. Although we are taught that the Redemption is a process, and will occur in stages, rather than all at once - we also know that the messiah can come suddenly... without any warning at all. His appearance will leave no room for doubt whatsoever he will be accepted by everyone. However, all of these details, and other details related to the exact manner in which the messiah arrives, are the subject of many traditions. In the final analysis, no man really can say how these things will come about until they actually happen. This is because many of the events which will precede this era are factors that are known only to G-d. These things were purposefully left ambiguous by the great prophets, so that a person will wait for his arrival with simplicity and faith, and not engage in speculation, or attempt to calculate the date of his coming based on Scriptural analysis... this type of behavior is frowned upon by the great sages, simply because it undermines faith in G-d's great Divine oath that these things will indeed come to pass in His timing... thus the Talmud states, "Anticipate his daily coming, as it is written, "Though he tarry, wait for him..." - based on the Scripture which states, "For there is still a vision for the appointed time. It speaks concerning the end, and does not lie. Though it tarry, wait for it, for it will surely come; it will not delay" (Habakkuk 2:3).

Despite this, we do indeed maintain specific traditions which predict something of how this era will be...

For example, many of our traditions predict that there will be an extremely advanced technology in the Messianic Era... eventually resulting in the elimination of all disease, as the prophet Isaiah declared: "Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame man will leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb will sing" (35:5-6).

Another important tradition states that prior to the coming of the messiah, the Jewish people will begin to return to the Land of Israel and resettle the land. Since Jerusalem is the holiest spot, it is the most important city that must be rebuilt. In fact, there is even a tradition that the Ingathering of the exiles and the rebuilding of Jerusalem will together go hand in hand as the two signs of a prelude to the coming of the messiah... according to this tradition, first a small percentage of Jews will return to the Holy Land, and then Jerusalem will come under Jewish control and be rebuilt... then the majority of world Jewry will return to their homeland, as it is written: (Psalms 147) "G-d is rebuilding Jerusalem; He will gather the dispersed of Israel..."


The Messianic Era: Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David

In our last issue, we began to speak about the concept that in reality, there are two Messianic figures which are described in the written and oral traditions of Judaism: for the forerunner and harbinger of the final deliverer, the Messiah from the house of David, is the Mashiach ben Yosef... the Messiah from the house of Joseph. Belief in the appearance of the Mashiach ben Yosef is derived from Scripture and tradition, just as Mashiach ben David, who is descended from Judah. But what is the relationship between these two Messiahs, and how do they complement each other? Why is one Messiah not enough? What are the differences between them, and the similarities they share?

In the last "Restoration," we mentioned the war which is prophesied to take place around Jerusalem the war of "Gog and Magog." There is a tradition, supported by Scripture, that in the end of time - when good and evil have their ultimate confrontation - that the enemies of Israel will only fall to a descendant of Joseph. So it is Mashiach ben Yosef who will lead Israel to victory in the final war for G-d's honor, the war of Gog and Magog. This is the true meaning of the verse, "The house of Jacob will be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble. They will set them ablaze, and consume them; there will be no survivor of the house of Esau, for G-d has spoken (Ovadiah 1:18).

"Ephraim's envy will depart and Judah's adversaries will be cut off. Ephraim will not envy Judah, and Judah will not harass Ephraim" (Isaiah 11:13)

The verse we see above was declared by the prophet Isaiah concerning the special relationship between the two Messiahs - the initial Messiah, ben Yosef, and the final Messiah, Mashiach ben David.

The simple meaning of this verse is that each figure has a specific role to play, and each one will perform his task without jealousy. This is also one meaning of the verse, "Son of man, take a stick, and write upon it, 'For Judah, and the children of Israel, his companions.' Then take another stick, and write upon it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and all the house of Israel, his companions.' Join them together into one stick, so that they are one in your hand" (Ezek. 37:16-17).

According to tradition, this initial Messiah will lead the fight against the hostile forces of Gog and Magog, and he will be killed in battle. He will be mourned by all Israel, as it is written: "They shall look to Me because they have thrust him through, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his firstborn son" (Zech. 12:10).

Of course, there is so much depth to the holy Torah, the word of G-d, that there are many interpretations to Biblical verses on ever-increasing levels of depths, and all are essentially correct, though varying interpretations may disagree. This is one of the fascinating points of the Oral Tradition which explore the Torah's depth - there are so many differing opinions and insights into the Scripture, yet they all work in harmony. As the rabbis put it, "These and these are the words of the living G-d."

In this light we would mention that there is also another tradition, well-known to many of our readers, that these two verses also apply not only to the two personalities of the Joseph and Davidic Messiahs, but also to the reconciliation of Judah and Joseph/Ephraim on a national level as well... for it is widely held that the ten "lost" tribes (collectively known as 'Ephraim', and 'Israel' as opposed to 'Judah') who were exiled prior to the destruction of the First Temple were not really lost at all, but assimilated amongst the nations to such an extent that they totally lost their identity as Jews. There is overwhelming evidence throughout the Scriptures which substantiates this beyond any doubt, and it is particularly clear throughout the book of Hosea ("Ephraim, he has mingled himself amongst the peoples..." - 5:8). One of the major themes of every prophet of Israel is the fact that eventually, G-d will help these people to regain their identity, cleanse themselves from the twin sins of pride and idolatry, and reconcile with Judah, thus effectively re-uniting Ezekiel's "two sticks" and becoming one again with the Jewish people. "...and I will sift the House of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet not the least grain shall fall upon the earth" - Amos 9:9.)


Letter from an American Christian and the Rabbi's Response

From The Restoration Newsletter, Sept/Oct. 1995.

Letters to the Editor...

(The following is the relevant excerpt of a letter which was received in Jerusalem from a reader in Maryland. We are including it here because we understand that the questions which this reader asks, and the answer which he received, are of great interest to many readers, and we hope that this will provide an instructive opportunity to discuss the Jewish view of the messiah. )

To Rabbi Chaim Richman,

Greetings from a Christian living in Washington, DC. Do you think that Jesus may have been the messiah? Why or why not? Have you ever considered to look at the life of Jesus in that role? Thank you for being patient with my questions. May I state one last thing however, in the New Testament it is written that Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies of the prophets and the law. Please let me share some with you concerning what is known as the second coming of Christ... I don't want to offend you in any way, however I feel that the L-rd wants me to tell you this in this manner...

I am including a list of biblical verses that I would like you to look at, please also see Matthew chapter 24. Also the Psalms speak of many prophecies fulfilled by Jesus. I have a book with a better list - I will send it with this letter. Please take a look and see if Jesus was the Messiah I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to write. Again I say that I hope that this letter did not offend you, however I must do what G-d requires of me. Thank you very much. (Signed).


Rabbi Richman replies:

My dear friend,

Thank you very much for your sincere letter.

I appreciate your expressed desire not to offend, so let me start off by stating that for me as well, to be offensive in any way is absolutely the furthest thing from my mind. Of course, we both understand that if we are truly to communicate in sincerity, with a goal of clarifying the truth of G-d and how we are to serve Him in this world, then the cornerstone of our dialog must be - and always remain mutual respect, concern for learning the truth, and care for each other. We must remember at all times that we are all created by the same Master and we are all connected.

Just as I hope that your intention is not to try to change me, but to inform me of your convictions, so too, my intention is not to try to change you, but to answer your questions with as much consideration as possible, and to provide you with information about the One G-d of Israel and His faith. Please be aware that I will not be offended by anything you say (as long as your intention is not to offend) and I would also never want to offend you either. I can only tell you the truth of the Bible as revealed to Moses and passed on to every subsequent generation until this very day.

Many Christians pose the question, "why don't you accept Jesus as the messiah?" But to us it is not a simple question of 'accepting' or not. Now first of all, before we even get off the ground with our discussion, we must realize that the concept 'messiah' seems to mean different things to us. Jews do not believe that the Messiah is a part of G-d, or Divine in any way, more than any other person. No indication of this can be found in the Old Testament, since this is not a Jewish concept. We look only to G-d for our salvation, and when the time comes for Him to bring the anointed king, then it shall happen. But we do not concern ourselves with the Messiah's identity - for he is a person (as we have written, and continue to expound, in the "Countdown to Redemption" column in this publication) and his coming does not change the essence of our relationship with G-d - the most important fact of life there is. We do not accept the notion that Scripture "foretells" that G-d would robe Himself in flesh. We believe that this idea is the very embodiment of idolatry, and we must give our very lives to make a stand against it...as indeed we Jews have always done throughout the ages.

The reason why Jews like myself do not accept Jesus as the messiah is a very basic one - we do not see that he fulfilled any of the requirements for the job. If he never qualified, it is not even a question of rejection. G-d outlined these requirements in the Bible. The identity of the messiah is not up to you or me; it is up to his performance to prove. You have said that I should "take a look at the book (you enclosed) and see if Jesus was the messiah" These are not lists of prophecies that have been fulfilled, but an attempt at working out New Testament passages to reflect Old Testament prophecies. Can a little booklet one receives in the mail prove that the messiah has come? Is that all it takes? The state of the world must prove that the messiah has come; not a tract. Don't you think that when the messiah arrives, it should not be necessary for his identity to be subject to debate - for the world should be so drastically changed for the better that it should be absolutely incontestable! Why should it be necessary to prove' him at all? If the messiah has come, why should anyone have any doubt?

What requirements did he fulfill?

According to the prophets of the Bible, amongst the most basic missions of the messiah are:

You have stated that in the New Testament it is written that Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies of the prophets and the law. But which of these above requirements did Jesus fulfill? And if he is going to fulfill them the second time, why did he not attend to them the first time? This in itself is one concept which no amount of Biblical sleuthing can find a prophetic basis for - FOR THE NOTION THAT THE MESSIAH DOES NOT ACCOMPLISH THESE THINGS UPON HIS APPEARANCE, AND THEREFORE MUST RETURN A SECOND TIME, DOES NOT EXIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. WHEREVER THESE THINGS ARE FORETOLD IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, WE ARE TOLD THAT THE MESSIAH COMES AND DOES THESE THINGS ONCE. Where in the Old Testament is there even the faintest allusion to such a concept, that the messiah does not complete the job, and therefore returns a second time? Every prophecy about the messiah makes it clear that he comes once and does the job. He will influence all men to serve G-d with a pure heart. And since the booklets which you have sent me are completely occupied with "corroborating" Old Testament prophecies with New Testament verses - as if to acknowledge that the contents of those Old Testament prophecies is indeed of paramount importance - THEN WHY IS THIS FACT IGNORED? But because this did not happen - it was necessary for Christianity to redefine the role of the messiah, complete with Biblical interpolation, in order to fit this man's career. First of all, Jesus was said to have been resurrected. Secondly, the Bible was examined with the purpose of finding what no one had ever seen there before - evidence that the messiah would be killed without bringing peace to the world or redemption to Israel (hence the importance to Christians of Isaiah 53, which they say refers to Jesus). Thirdly, there was the expectation of a second coming, at which time Jesus would carry out the task expected of the messiah. And finally, there had to be an explanation for the first coming and its catastrophic end. The basic structure of this explanation was to shift the function of the messiah from a visible level (the only level emphasized by the Bible) - where it could be tested - to an invisible level - where it could not. The Messiah's goal, at least the first time around, was now not said to be the redemption of Israel (which had clearly not taken place) but the atonement for original sin. A reworking of Biblical themes. But for Jews, if the Bible's description of the messiah has not been fulfilled, then for authentic Jews there can only be one explanation: he has not yet come. To Jews, who were often subjected to mockery and contempt when asked where their messiah was, this conclusion was painful. But an honest facing of the facts makes it inescapable. In adversity and joy, through holocaust and statehood, Jews who are truly faithful to the Torah and prophets can only repeat the words of their forefathers: "I believe with complete faith in the coming of the messiah; and though he may tarry I shall wait for him every day."

We have already written in these pages that we believe that the messiah, sent by G-d Al-mighty, is not G-d, but a human being - but the greatest leader and wisest teacher who ever lived. He will put his extraordinary talents to use to precipitate a worldwide revolution which will bring perfect justice and harmony to humanity. Please understand that several rabbis state that the historical Jesus - not the man-god Christianity made him into - did accomplish a great deal in turning people away from idolatry and towards a more authentic knowledge of G-d. But he did not claim the role which was given him by the early church fathers, nor do these rabbis ascribe any role to him. He has no connection with authentic Jewish thought. For reasons of space, this is not the proper format to enter into a lengthy debate or disputation on every possible Biblical verse - BUT I AM PREPARED TO DO SO - although at Light to the Nations, we prefer to stress that which we share, and unite around what should be our common goal: Greater knowledge of G-d and hastening the Redemption. Nor is this the proper time for me to put forth every aspect of this discussion.

We all want G-d in our lives, and we all want to do the right thing. But we are now living in very special times indeed. G-d is moving the hearts of men - foretold by the prophet Haggai as the time when the very heavens and earth will be shaken and now men are coming forward, unabashedly, to learn the truth of G-d. I have had no intention, Heaven forbid, to offend you. But just as you feel that you must do what G-d requires of you, so have I done as well. If you, or any of our readers, wish to correspond with me and truly establish a dialog, I am at your service. You may circulate this to whomever you like and I will be happy to respond to anyone.


CHESHVAN /KISLEV/TEVET 5756
NOV/DEC 95 JAN 96

Behind the Rabin Assassination:

SPIRITUAL TURMOIL IN ISRAEL

Understanding the Significance of Recent Events in Israel


A Tragedy for the Jewish People

The horrible assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was a great shock to all Israelis. Who would have imagined that we would come to this? While many people both in Israel and abroad disagreed with his policies, no one would have ever dreamed that he would be cut down by an assassin's bullet, and certainly no one in Israel ever encouraged or suggested such action, or would approve of it. This tragic event can be properly viewed as a turning point in Jewish history for a number of reasons, most notably the fact that a Jewish leader was killed by another Jew. This is indeed very unusual and has practically no precedent in Jewish history... precisely because such action is decidedly not Jewish in nature. Those who disagreed with the policies of Mr. Rabin's government, and who continue to disagree with the policies of those who continue in his path, would certainly admit that they are against the direction in which he was leading the country... but it was their right to disagree, and their intention was to vote him out of office in the democratic manner.

It is Time to Speak the Truth...


The State of Israel, and the Jewish people as a whole, are now at an unmistakable crossroads in history. It has been said that Israel is no longer the same, and indeed will never be the same, following the assassination. In many ways this is true; however it is imperative to point out that the intrinsic nature of the state had already been changed before this tragic event. These changes are equally unspeakable... for they undermine the nature of the country, compromise the security and well-being of its citizens, pervert the significance of Jewish history and survival, mock the Divinely-ordained connection between the Jewish people and her land... and threaten not only the identity, but the physical continuance of the Jewish people. We are referring to the "peace process," wherein sections of the Land of Israel have been given away to the worst sworn enemies of both the Jewish people - and peace. No one wants true peace as badly as the Jewish people, who have prayed for it daily for 2,000 years. But this cynical 'peace process' is leading our nation to the brink, as every new concession by Israel brings more destruction and misery to the Jewish people. On a broader scale, the architects of the peace process are also actively seeking, and implementing, the nullification of the country's Jewish nature and identity, in a misguided attempt to blend in with the rest of the world. Because they are disenfranchised from the values of their own faith, they do not understand the meaning and lessons of the Jewish experience. We are not afraid to say it, and let it be known: This government has a definite 'anti-Torah' agenda. We cannot be silent when it comes to the degradation of G-d's honor, and the honor of His people, His Torah, and His Land.

A Modern Chanukah Story: A War Between Two Cultures


It was none other than the Minister of Communications, Shulamit Aloni, who stated 'We have no more use for the G-d of Israel. The nine muses are our gods.' (In Greek mythology, the nine muses are patron goddesses of the arts and science). Thus, she has made her choice between clinging to the G-d of Israel and His heritage - and all the responsibility that this carries - and the gods of Greece. She represents those who opt for a license for decadence and hedonism, and a flight from Jewish destiny: to be a light unto the nations. We have been witnessing a painful process of 'sifting' through souls and the drawing of clear and distinct lines here in Israel: those who identify as Jews, and those who do not. "And Moses stood in the gate of the camp and called out, 'Whoever is for G-d, come to me'..." (Ex. 32:26) G-d is forcing everyone in Israel to make a choice... and it is this government-sponsored posture, which seeks to uproot the Jewish religion from the Jewish people and separate the Jewish people from their identity with the Jewish land, which forms the heart and core of the so-called 'peace process.' All those in Israel who are against the policies of this government have been branded as pariahs by the media and are labeled as 'anti-peace'... the furthest thing from the truth. Half the population of this nation, who still remain faithful to their country's security, their land, and their religious values, are systematically dehumanized by the press and by government statements and policies which are designed to make their lives unbearable... particularly those Jews who live in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, in fulfillment of the Biblical command (Deut. 12:29) "When the L-rd your G-d shall cut off the nations from before you, where you go there to dispossess them, and you inherit them, and you dwell in their land..." These Torah-true Jews, the 'settler' population of 150,000 strong, have been to a great degree abandoned to raise their families and protect their children themselves... and all this, after they have been encouraged over the past 28 years by a succession of LABOR governments like this one to live there and settle the land. (Happily, we can report that the Jewish people are just as 'stiff-necked' as ever... for the Jewish population in these areas is increasing as more and more families move to these areas to make a stand for the side of right... "But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew" - Ex. 1:12). This process of 'dehumanization' is even more widespread after the assassination, however it began long before that event... and it is this, spawning feelings of desperation, fear and isolation, which is leading gradually to polarization and the dissolution of Israeli society. This anxious atmosphere of uncertainty is that which led to the awful tragedy. The incredible reality of this event is telling of just how severe the situation really is, and how hopeless some people have been made to feel.

To Fulfill Jewish Destiny Means to Bring About the Redemption


What is the ultimate purpose of existence? To sanctify the Name of G-d. What is the purpose of Jewish life in the Land of Israel? To live according to His word, and to sanctify to His great Name... by participating in His plan for Jewish destiny to unfold, which will in turn bring about the Redemption of Israel and all mankind. Those in Israel who fear G-d and live according to His word, have long been fearful that the result of the peace process will lead to nothing less than the complete disappearance of the Jewish character from the Land and people of Israel. It must be understood that the government's vision of the new Israel calls for a state of Jews, not a Jewish state. THEIR MEASURES WOULD ULTIMATELY UNDERMINE AND DESTROY THE SANCTITY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE. This was unwittingly emphasized by the late Prime Minister Rabin himself, the day he signed the peace treaty with Jordan, when he stressed that this treaty marks the end of the Jewish people being "A nation who dwells alone" (Numbers 23: 9). Mr. Rabin may have had every good intention, but he did not understand the meaning of this Biblical verse. It was evident that he was under the impression that this verse was said in criticism of the Jews - but in reality it was said in praise! This is the strength of Israel and the secret to their survival - the fact that they have a Divine directive not to melt into the nations, but to dwell apart and stay distant - not to imitate their ways and culture, but "...you shall be for Me, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation... these are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:6). But in the dream of this dubious peace, the entire Middle East is transformed into a new 'region' of economic development and prosperity. This is an idolatrous belief system whose only avowed deity is money. And in this Israel - in this vision - anti-Semitism will cease to exist, because the Jews will cease to be Jews. They will become 'Israelis' who will be accepted with open arms by their neighbors. Thus far this government-sponsored 'secularization program,' an escape from the responsibilities of true Jewish identity, has wreaked havoc on every level of Israeli society. 'There is nothing new under the sun' (Ecc.). It's the story of Chanukah all over again. And history repeats itself in many ways which can be detected when one follows the teachings of the Torah... the very week in which the Biblical portion (Gen. 37) that tells the story of the sale of Joseph was read in synagogues, the IDF withdrew from the city of Shechem (Nablus) and left the tomb of Joseph behind... "And Joseph was sold to the Arabs for twenty pieces of silver" (ibid. v. 28) - again. How ironic that the 'Palestinians' have their eyes on Hebron and Jerusalem's Temple Mount as well... since these three places are the only ones that the Bible records were purchased by the Jewish people with a deed of sale. The 'Palestinians' clearly wish to nullify the Jewish people's ownership over this land... which is the secret of why they began their 'state' with Jericho. Since Joshua led the Jews to the Land through Jericho and conquered it first, these enemies seek to nullify Joshua's original conquest and re-write history... that the Jewish presence here was all a historical error... indeed, that these 'Palestinians' are the true Israelites. And it is not for naught that the rabbis teach there is a spiritual connection between Jericho and Jerusalem (for the Palestinians unabashedly claim Jerusalem as their capital and still call ~r armed struggle until they achieve this goal - Jerusalem, a city which they have no historical connection to whatsoever)... as illustrated by the Talmud which teaches that the smell of the incense offering in the Holy Temple could be sensed in Jericho (BT Yoma 39:B). And Joshua conquered Jericho first because it is the 'lock' on the Land of Israel which must be opened first (R. Zadok HaCohen). Sadly, there are those from within who would seem to substantiate this view, and relinquish all Jewish rights to the Land of Israel... Mrs. Leah Rabin. "Israelis don't need a large country. We need a state for the Jews, and the ownership of the land is not a holy value for us. " (Davar Rishon Newspaper, 12/28/95)

The Land and people of Israel have experienced oppression and degradation in the past... but this time it is a Jewish government which is enacting these far-reaching changes and decrees... and this is what makes it so difficult to accept and understand. At the same time it makes it all the more imperative for us to gain a clear understanding of the meaning and significance of these events from the Torah's standpoint. The G-d of Israel has never, and will never, abandon His people. "In the overflowing of wrath I hid My face from you for but a moment; but I will have mercy on you with everlasting faithful love, says your redeemer, the L-rd" (Isaiah 54:8). How is it that this verse describes G-d's 'hiding His face' as lasting but a moment? Our people has been in exile for nearly 2,000 years! But the answer is simple... when the time of our Redemption arrives, G-d's great and eternal love will be so evident, it will be so powerfully revealed, that we will understand with full clarity how everything which swept over us was all for the ultimate good - and the entire duration of the exile will appear to us as having lasting only a moment! As difficult as these days may be, fraught with such anxiety and despair, we can see the Divine hand of G-d behind it all, and we realize that these events are but accelerated steps in His orchestrated plan for the Redemption of Israel, all mankind, and the Restoration of His honor and glory.

The State of Israel has been a Divinely-orchestrated step along the road to redemption. But it is certainly not the final goal. Now, in our time, it is also changing... and the future appears uncertain. But while many are confused and depressed, we are confident that it will be for the better. The State of Israel, with all its limitations and imperfections, will yet fulfill its role and lead the world to the recognition that "G-d and His Name are One" (Zech. 14). Many are depressed and seek a way of understanding the significance of our generation. But we are truly living in special times, and it is a great privilege to be alive in this generation. We are on a difficult road - the 'birthpangs of the Messiah' - which the rabbis of the Talmud predicted would be almost too difficult to bear. But G-d will never abandon His people, even when they - temporarily, out of spiritual exhaustion - abandon Him. "I will be like dew to Israel," G-d told His prophet (Hosea 14:6). Why does G-d liken His relationship with Israel to dew, and not rain'? Because rain comes and goes, and we must ask for it. But not dew - it is always present.

On a deep level of meaning, much of what is now transpiring in the Holy Land can be understood according to a principle which we have just recently begun to discuss in these pages: the two messianic redeemers, Mashiach ben Yosef (MBY) and Mashiach ben David (MBD). In the last issue of THE RESTORATION, we asked the questions: What is the relationship between these two messiahs, and how do they compliment each other? What are the differences between them, and the similarities they share?

In addition to the aspect of the war of Gog and Magog which we have already mentioned, there is a deeper aspect as well. MBD represents the power of G-dliness alone - the power of spirituality. "Not by power, and not by might, but by My spirit, says the L-rd of Hosts" (Zech 4:6). Thus we have learned that the Messiah will be the greatest spiritual leader the world has ever known, and will precipitate a global spiritual revolution unparalleled in the annals of human history.

But MBD is preceded by MBY. This is not a spiritual force but a physical one: Redemption through action, through human initiative... 'self-redemption', when man does as much as possible to redeem himself.

According to ancient tradition, both of these Messiahs are not only individuals, but also forces working throughout history; each is ultimately personified by a person who brings the process to fruition. Another distinction: MBD, although a progression of spiritual development, is eventually revealed to be one man who brings this process to its climax. But MBY is manifested as different personalities, and even as entire movements throughout history. His spirit, or more correctly the spirit of his mission, can be manifest a number of times in different ways. Thus the best example of the force of MBY is the formation of the State of Israel itself and the Israel Army in our own time - a clear attempt (on whatever level of consciousness) to speed up the redemption.

This explains why the State of Israel is referred to in prayers authorized by the Chief Rabbinate as 'the first blooming in the flower of our Redemption.' The establishment of the State of Israel, following the darkest chapter of Jewish history - the years of the Second World War, when almost all of Eastern European Jewry was destroyed is obviously a Divinely-decreed step along the route to the redemption of the Jewish people. And since it is an integral part of Israel's redemption - it is of equal importance to the entire world, since Israel is chosen by G-d to manifest His will, as a microcosm of the entire world. Therefore she is held more responsible (Amos 3:2 - "Only you have I known, from all the families of the earth...") - and therefore the world's spiritual progress can be judged by Israel's ups and downs

Over two hundred years ago, one of the most celebrated and learned rabbis (Rabbi Elijah of Vilna) wrote of this tradition and explained that the time of the influence of the MBY force in the world is limited. When its time expires, it will no longer make itself felt, but rather, it will implode of its own, having done all it can to prepare the way for MBD. From then on, attempts at MBY-styled 'self-redemption' will be of little use, since the radiance and influence of MBD - spiritual hope and repentance - will begin to shine ever brighter, necessitating a 'sifting' and a 'calling on the carpet' for each of us, and a global spiritual accounting which will lead to repentance and facilitate the appearance of the Redeemer and the ultimate redemption. This will be the time of MBD, of global spiritual awakening... and amazingly, Rabbi Elijah - writing over 200 years ago - wrote with Divine Inspiration that the time of MBY will end in 5750 - just six years ago. From now on, we must look to the power of spiritual hunger and ready ourselves to hear the call. Not everyone will want to hear it... another process of separation which the prophets describe.

All the questions remain. How will all this happen, and when? What will happen in Israel; will things get worse before they get better? Will we merit to achieve the level of individual and corporate repentance?

What role do each of us play?

As time progresses, each must seek out the answers for himself and ask aloud: Am I bringing the process of redemption closer, or pushing it further away?


*Rabbi Chaim Richman is Public Relations Director for the Temple Institute in Jerusalem and Executive Director of "The Restoration." The Restoration "is a bi-monthly publication of LIGHT TO THE NATIONS, a non-profit religious organization dedicated to providing access to traditional Jewish teachings and Biblical traditions, and news and insights on the rebuilding of the Temple and what is really happening in Israel today."

The Restoration
PO Box 31714
Jerusalem, Israel
Tel/FAX 972-2-860-453
email: crlight@netvision.net.il

% Mr. L. Goldsmith
1483 East 34th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11234
Tel/Fax 718 338 3158.

Now on the Internet: The Temple Institute/The Light to the Nations



Moshiach - an outline of the Jewish perspective


by
David Kaufmann
david@bourbon.ee.tulane.edu

1. Belief in the coming of Moshiach is a fundamental principle of
Judaism. (Maimonides's 13 Principles of Faith)

2. Moshiach can come any day, at any moment. (Numerous places
in the prayer book and the Talmud, such as the last chapter of
Sanhedrin)

3. Moshiach is a human being, descended from King David, expert
in all aspects of Torah and the leader of his generation.
(Maimonides, Laws of Kings, ch. 11, from Talmudic sources)

4. Every generation has an individual who is the Moses of that
generation. (Torah, Talmud)

5. The history of false Messiahs in Judaism has not affected the
belief in Moshiach as a fundamental principle, nor the halachic
(legal) basis for determining the qualifications. (See Maimonides,
Nachmanides, Arizal, Baal Shem Tov, Vilna Gaon, Chofetz Chaim,
etc.)

6. The great leaders and thinkers of Judaism have always looked
forward to the coming of Moshiach. (see Talmud, and above list)

7. Throughout Jewish history, the terms Moshiach, potential
Moshiach, King, Leader of the Generation have been used, often
interchangeably, to describe an outstanding leader or thinker,
especially by their students and followers. (Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi,
Rabba, Shmuel the Prophet, etc.)

8. Maimonides's Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings, chapters 11 & 12
are universally accepted as the definitive source of Jewish law
concerning Moshiach.

Moshiach - Who, What, When


1. There are three stages to the coming of Moshiach:

a. The potential Moshiach that always exists at every
moment.
b. The presumptive Moshiach (Maimonides, ibid, 11:4)
c. The confirmed Moshiach (ibid)

2. The presumptive Moshiach must be descended from King David
and expert in all areas of Jewish law and thought; when such an
individual will compel Israel to walk in the way of Torah,
strengthen its observance, and fight the "wars of G-d," we recognize
him as the presumptive Moshiach.

3. We are obligated to acknowledge an individual as the
presumptive Moshiach during the process of accomplishing the
three tasks in (2), even before they are completed.

4. A presumptive Moshiach who does not become the confirmed
Moshiach still must be considered as a proper and complete king of
the Davidic dynasty, to whom all the laws of kingship thus apply.

5. The confirmed Moshiach will, in addition, rebuild the Temple
and gather the dispersed of Israel.

6. Afterwards, the confirmed Moshiach will improve the entire
world so that all may serve G-d.

8. The confirmed Moshiach will bring about an era when the Jews
are not subject to other powers, but spend their time learning
Torah. Additionally, there will be so much material abundance for
the whole world, everyone's occupation will be "solely to know
G-d." (Maimonides, ibid, ch. 12).

The Lubavitcher Rebbe's Moshiach Campaign


1. Several years ago the Lubavitcher Rebbe declared
that the time of Redemption was imminent and the world should
prepare to receive Moshiach.

2. The Lubavitcher Rebbe cited Jewish legal and mystical sources,
as well as the opinions of Jewish scholars throughout the centuries.
He also noted that recent world events, parallel Biblical prophecies
concerning the dawn of the Messianic Age.such as:

the collapse of Communism
the Gulf War
the move toward nuclear disarmament

3. The Moshiach Campaign has three objectives:

a. to raise the awareness of Jew and Gentile alike about the
spiritual reality of the times;

b. to educate people about the authentic Jewish teachings
concerning Moshiach;

c. to help people prepare themselves to receive Moshiach by
encouraging personal growth and emphasizing the goodness
in and around us.

4. The Moshiach Campaign has used modern publicity techniques to
accomplish the first objective. These have sometimes been
controversial.

5. To accomplish the second two, a variety of material has been
produced and continues to be made available. These include:

a. An 800 number that briefly (3-5 minutes) introduces the
listener to basic Jewish concepts about Moshiach and allows
for comments and questions. (1-800-4-MOSHIACH in the US;
1-800-2-MASHIACH in Canada).

b. A weekly fax (no cost) that discusses basic concepts, with
sources and suggestions, intended as a resource and basis
for further discussion. (Call local Chabad House, leave message
on 800 number, or write LYO, 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY
11213).

c. Books and pamphlets in many languages. For a list, write
Sichos in English, Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213.

d. Individual classes, programs and videos.

"Launch not beyond your Depth, but be discreet,
And mark that point where Sense and Dullness meet."

David Kaufmann INTERNET: david@bourbon.ee.tulane.edu


THE MESSIAH AND THE MESSIANIC ERA IN PROPHECY

by Micheol Drazin

Our present state of existence which has both G-d and G-dliness hidden, the powers of evil unchallenged, and wicked people prospering, will not continue for long. At the advent of the Messiah, the world will awaken from its sleep, and will become profoundly aware of the Truth and Reality of all existence. They will then change their behavior accordingly. (1) The world will have then entered the Messianic Era.

As we would expect, G-d spoke extensively through the Prophets and the Rabbis about this time. The following is a sample of what was written as far back as 750 B.C.E., up to 250 years ago.

THE GENERATION OF THE MESSIAH

The Messiah will be revealed when people will be both healthy and brilliant (2) so scientifically and technologically advanced, that they will have the power to destroy the world. (3)

However, the vast majority will be in desperate need of spiritual and moral instruction. (4) They will he shameless and arrogant, (5) and truthfulness will all but disappear. The wickedness of the times will have its effect upon children, who will act brazenly and disrespectfully towards elders, including their parents and parents-in-law. (7) The exemplary behaviour of sin-fearing individuals. who will try to serve G-d, will not be followed. but rather they will be scorned and despised. (8)

Wars, (9) disharmony and social discord will be the order of the (lay, to such an extent that one will have enemies in his own family. (10) The government of Israel will also be a victim of society, and will turn to heresy. (11) and as if this is not bad enough, no one will rebuke them. (12) Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the spiritual decay of that generation, caused it long ago to be compared to the face of a dog. (13) So low will it be, that just as the wicked ways of the people living at the time of Noah brought upon them the flood, so also according to the Divine Attribute of Justice, the generation that will see the Messiah should rightly be destroyed. (14) However, G-d will have mercy upon them, and He will instruct the Messiah to reveal himself, so as to prepare deserving people for their eternal existence on earth. (15) This will happen immediately following a time when the Jewish Nation as a whole will spontaneously repent, and return to G-d and His Torah.(16)

If they do not repent voluntarily, G-d will cause an evil ruler to arise over them, whose harsh decrees will force them to do so. (17)

Considering all of the above, it is safe to assume that we are the people being described. But there is still further evidence.

After having spent trillions of dollars in developing sophisticated weapons, nations are now not only speaking about nuclear disarmament, but are actually destroying their arsenal to some extent. This is a giant leap toward the Messianic Era wherein all peoples will live in peaceful coexistence, totally free of war (18) and destructive weapons. (19)

The miracles of the Jewish people returning to their homeland, (20) and rebuilding it up from wastelands, with the assistance of other nations , (22) have

all been foretold. This new reality has set the stage for the time when the Third Temple will be built, and Jerusalem will be the spiritual center of the world. (23) But this is not all. The AIDS epidemic corresponds to predictions of a world-wide contagious plague, (24) and the thinning of the Ozone layer fits the descriptions of the sun's shield being removed. (25)

There is another most terrifying prophecy that is also to take place immediately before the revelation of the Messiah, and that is the war of Gog and Magog. (26) There are authorities who said that this battle will not happen in the literal sense, (27) but if its description is to be taken literally, then we could shortly expect all the nations to attack Jerusalem, (28) only to find themselves fighting against G-d. The result will be that it will take seven months for the Jews to bury the enemy dead just around Israel's borders. (29)

The fact that the Jewish Nation at that time will be a reincarnation of the Jews that were in the desert with Moses, (30) will surely be among their many merits that will protect them in this war.

THE MESSIAH

The man who is destined to be the Messiah will be a direct descendant of King David through the family of Solomon, David's son. (31) Even before the "spirit of the Messiah" descends into him, (32) he will be extremely pious, living in close communion with G-d. When he receives this intense revelation, he will be raised up to an exalted spiritual level:

The Spirit of G-d shall rest on him
The spirit of wisdom and understanding
The spirit of counsel and might
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the L-rd. (33)

Thus, the individual who is to be the guide for all mankind, and who will cause all the world to serve G-d together, (34)will be wiser than Solomon, (35) greater than the patriarchs and prophets, (36)and more honored than kings; (37) for indeed, he will reign as king of the world. (38) This great revelation will resemble the first time G-d appeared to Moses, at the Burning Bush, and informed him that he had been chosen to redeem the Jewish Nation from Egypt. (39) Moses was then an elderly man of 80 years.(40) And no matter how awesome were the miracles of the exodus, the wonders and lasting significance of this final redemption through the Messiah will overshadow it. (41)

In order to avoid identifying the wrong man as the Messiah a mistake that could have disastrous repercussions), Maimonides in the 12th century C.E. incorporated in his Code of Jewish Law, criteria for establishing the Messiah's identity: (42)

"If a king arises from the House of David who meditates on the Torah, occupies himself with the commandments as did his ancestor King David, observes the commandments of the Written and Oral Law, prevails upon all Israel to walk in the way of the Torah and to follow its direction, and fights the wars of G-d, it may be assumed that he is the Messiah.

If he does these things and is fully successful, rebuilds the Third Temple on its location, and gathers the exiled Jews, he is beyond doubt the Messiah. But if he is not fully successful, or if he is killed, he is not the Messiah".

In summary, the Messiah must:

1. Be a King i.e. a spiritually eminent world Jewish leader.
2. Constantly be learning both the Written and Oral Law.
3. Do the commandments that are applicable to him.
4. Cause all Jews to be fully Torah observant.
5. Cause Israel's hostile neighbors to become friendly. and cooperative.
6. Cause the Third Temple to be built on its site in Jerusalem.
7. Cause all Jews to live in Israel.

THE MESSIANIC ERA

Once G-d and the Messiah are revealed. all the world will turn their attention from worldly pursuits to spiritual matters. The occupation of all the world will be only to know G-d, (43) and to worship Him. (44) For indeed, "The knowledge of G-d will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea." (45) and all of us will be His servants. (46) In that era, famine. envy, and competition will cease to be, and material goods will be abundant, and available as dust. (47)

However, Jews and non-Jews are not meant to serve G-d identically. The path that each group is to follow was taught to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Written Torah {the first Five Books of the Hebrew Bible} contains the basic commands for Jews to live by and the Oral Torah which explains these directives is the foundation of the Jewish religion.

As a starting point, the Lubavitcher Rebbe has initiated a 10 point program for all Jews:

1. Give charity everyday except on Sabbaths and Jewish Holidays.
2. Have holy Jewish books in your home.
3. Learn these holy books.
4. Give your family a Torah education.
5. Abide by the Family Purity laws.
6. Affix a mezuzah on each of your doorways, except the bathrooms.
7. Love your fellow Jew as yourself.
8. Abide by the Kosher Dietary laws.
9. Females above the age of 3 years should light candles before Sabbath and Jewish Holidays.
10. Males above the age of 13 years should put on Tefillin every day, except Sabbath and Jewish Holidays.

For all non-Jews, Moses received "The Noahide Covenant" (48), also known as " The 7 Laws of Noah" because this system of behavior stems from 7 basic commands:

1. To establish courts of law.
2. Not to blaspheme.
3. Not to worship idols.
4. Not to murder.
5. Not to commit adultery.
6. Not to steal.
7. Not to eat the limb of a living animal.

When one freely chooses to observe his Code of Law now, prior to the intense revelations of the Messianic Era when Divine Inspiration will be poured upon all mankind, (49) and when death, (50) evil, (51) and the evil inclination (52) in us will be destroyed forever, he purifies his soul and is drawn closer to G-d. Obviously, in the Messianic Era, when only good and truth will exist and everyone will be serving G-d according to His expressed Will on Mount Sinai, the free-will opportunity for elevating ourselves then will not be as it is now. (53)

CONCLUSION

When we consider the accuracy in which our generation is seeing the fulfillment of the numerous Messianic Prophecies, we must conclude that now is the time to prepare ourselves spiritually for the Messiah's advent. For as the Lubavitcher Rebbe says:

THE TIME OF YOUR REDEMPTION HAS ARRIVED

If you would like to have more information about the themes discussed in this booklet, we suggest:

I. The International Lubavitch (Chabad} Organization in Brooklyn. New York, with branches throughout the world. Teaches Jews and non-Jews their Code of Laws.

2. The B'nei Noah movement, P.O. Box 442 Athens, Tennessee 37303. Disseminates material on the Noahide Covenant.

3. Their Hollow Inheritance, A Comprehensive Refutation of Christian Missionaries. By Michael Drazin. Distributed by Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem/New York. 220 pages. Extensive information about the Messiah and the Messianic Era, and the Jewish view of Christianity.

4. The Path Of The Righteous Gentile. By Chaim Clorfene. Distributed by Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem/New York. 150 pages. The laws of the Noahide Covenant in abbreviated form.

Our Chabad House offers daily Torah classes, and counter-missionary lectures/counseling {free of charge}.

References:

1. Midrash Rabbah on Song of Songs 7:l0--6th century C.E.
2. Akedas Yitzhak on Genesis 49:12--15th century C.E.
3. Midrash Rabbah on Song of Songs 2:29--6th century C.E.
4. Amos 8:11--8th century B.C.E.
5. Midrash Rabbah on Song of Songs, 2:29--compiled 6th century C.E.
6. Mishnah Sota 9:15--compiled 3rd century C.E.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. Midrash Rabbah on Genesis 42:4-- 6th century C.E.
10. Mishnah Sota 0:15--compiled 3rd century B.C.E.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid.
14. Midrash Rabbah on Song of Songs 2:20--compiled 6th century C.E.
15. Derech HaShem on Redemption by Moshe Chaim Luzzano--18th century C.E.
16. Mishnah Torah Repentance 7:5--2th century C.E.
17. Talmud Sanhedrin --compiled 5th century C.E.
18. Isaiah 2:4--8th century B.C.E.
19. Ezekiel 39:9--6th century B.C.E.
20. Ibid. 37:21
21. Ibid. 16:55
22. Isaiah 60:5, 61, 6-8th century B.C.E.
23. Ibid. 2:2
24. Midrash Rabbah on Song of Song~ 2:13 - compiled 6th century C.E.
25. Talmud Avodah Zorah --compiled 5th century C.E.
26. Ezekiel chapter--6tn century B.C.E.
27. Disciples of BaaI Shem Tov in Shem Mi Shmuel by Shmuel of Sochachov--19th century
28. Zechariah 14:2--6th century B.C.E.
29. Ezekiel 39:12--6th century B.C.E.
30. Arizal in Sha'ar Ha Gilgulum Hakdamah --16th century C.E.
31. Chronicles 22:8- l0--4th century B.C.E
32. Ovadyah of Bartenura on Ruth--15th century C.E.
33. Isaiah 11:2--8th century B.C.E.
34. Mishnah Torah Kings 11:4--12th century C.E.
35. Ibid. Repentance 9:2
36. Agadot on Genesis Chap. 67--10th century C.E.
37. Rambam on Sanhedrin 10--12th century C.E.
38. Pirkei de Rav Eliezer--1st century C.E.
39. Exodus 3:10--14th century B.C.E.
40. Ibid. 7:7
41. Jeremiah 23:7,8--7th century B.C.E.
42. Mishnah Torah Kings 11:4-- 12th century C.E.
43. Ibid. 12:5
44. Zechariah 14:16--6th century B.C.E.
45. Isaiah 11:9--8th century B.C.E
46. Mishnah Torah Kings 11:4--12th century C.E.
47. Ibid. 12:5
48. Talmud Sanhedrin--compiled 5th century C.E.
49. Joel 3:1--8th century B.C.E.
50. Isaiah 25:8--8th century B.C.E.
51. Zechariah 13:2-- 6th century B.C.E.
52. Talmud Succah--compiled 5th century C.E.
53. Talmud Shabbath 151b--compiled 5th century C.E.

Reproduction Of This Booklet Is Permissible.
Copyright © 1996 by Michoel Drazin

Chabad House
PO Box 1127
Safed, Israel


Moshiach and the World Today


by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

For millennia, Jews have eagerly anticipated the arrival of Moshiach. Today we need him more than ever.

We are living in very turbulent times, to say the least. Whereas only two years ago the world and the people of Israel were optimistic about a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict, today that optimism has been replaced by fear and depression.

Fear of unbridled and senseless terrorism, and, depression from what appears to be a no-win situation for the State of Israel.

Now, more than ever before over the last 50 years, the Jewish people, and even the world in general, need a savior. We need someone who can, somehow -- perhaps even mystically -- bring about more than just a tenuous ceasefire between two warring peoples. We need someone who can, once and for all, bring an end to all human conflict, especially in the Middle East.

And, if he can do that -- a tall order -- then perhaps he would also be able to destroy whatever other evil exists in the world. As he engineers this long- dreamed-of world peace, let him make unethical and immoral behavior a thing of the past, too. In other words, this savior, if he is truly a savior, should usher in a permanent Utopian society where virtuous living is the main theme and second- (if not first-) nature.

And, what shall we call this modern-day hero of Biblical proportions?

In Judaism, he has always been called "Moshiach"- "the anointed one"-- because, as a Jewish king he is to be anointed upon taking office, so-to- speak. (The Moshiach concept has been adapted into other religious societies, and is known in English as the Messiah.)

EXILE AND REDEMPTION

The centrality of Moshiach and the belief in his eventual arrival is part-and- parcel of Jewish belief, as Maimonides emphasized in his classic "Thirteen Principles of Faith":

I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach, and even though he may tarry, nevertheless, I will wait for him everyday, that he will come. (Principle #12)

-- and a promise from the prophets:

The smallest shall become a thousand, and the least, a mighty nation. I am the Lord, in its time, I will hasten it. (Isaiah 60:22)

According to tradition, the prophet Isaiah was referring to the future arrival of the savior of the Jewish people -- Moshiach ben Dovid -- Moshiach, a descendant of King David, from the tribe of Yehudah. There are many similar references to his eventual arrival in the Jewish Bible and subsequent commentaries, and this is one of the most-discussed concepts in Torah literature.

To appreciate the importance of Moshiach's arrival, one must first appreciate that the Jewish people are in exile, as we have been for thousands of years. This is true even with the present-day State of Israel; "exile"from a Torah perspective can occur even when the Jews are living in Israel, as was the case during the Greek Exile (319-139 BCE) which ended with the miracles of Chanukah.

In other words, "exile", from a Torah-perspective, is defined as "anything short of a complete and perfect Torah society living on the Land of Israel under the leadership of Moshiach."That will be a time when all nations will accept the existence of God, and the need for devotion to Him.

Until this is an absolute reality, exile will still be a primary theme of Jewish history.

From a non-Torah perspective, events in the Middle East today may be reason for grave concern, but are not necessarily a "portal"to significant change in the spiritual quality of society and mankind. From this perspective, the only hope is that somehow the situation will find rectification, so that the lives of those affected can return to "normal,"a subjective term defined by each individual and society.

From a non-Torah viewpoint, the concept of "Moshiach"and a spiritually Utopian society may be burdensome, even to be feared and avoided, since its goals are so radically different. Indeed, the yearning for Moshiach is usually appreciated only once a person gains a deeper understanding of Torah, its values, and God's master plan for creation and humanity.

TIMETABLE FOR REDEMPTION

The million-dollar question has always been, "When will Moshiach come?" To that end, calculations have been made throughout history -- obviously without success. As well, false messiahs have popped up all over the world throughout history, sometimes to no effect, sometimes causing great despair, and sometimes leaving whole new religions in their wake.

The Talmud (Sanhedrin 98a) speaks of two possible dates for the arrival of Moshiach, one is the early date, and one is the last possible moment. Bringing Moshiach "early"means, for the most part, national repentance to the ways of Torah, after which the rest of the world will fall into line.

However, should the Jewish people avoid a return to Torah, then history will be allowed to run its "natural course"until the time that God pre-destined from creation for it to end. And end it must, for creation has much bigger goals to accomplish than we have seen until now. As the Sages say: "This world is but a corridor to the next world"(Pirkei Avot 4:16).

SIX DAYS -- SIX THOUSAND YEARS

The first thing to know is that history will last only 6,000 years (Talmud - Sanhedrin 97a). This is because the six millennia are based upon the six days of creation, as hinted to in the following verse:

For one thousand years in Your [God's] eyes are but a day that has passed. (Psalms 90:4)

-- which, in turn, are spiritually rooted in the six Sefirot:

...This is why so much time must transpire from the time of creation until the time of the tikkun (i.e., Moshiach's coming). All the forces of Gevurot are rooted in the six Sefirot -- Chesed, Gevurah, Tifferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod -- which are the six days of creation... and also the 6,000 years of history that the world will exist. And within [the six Sefirot] are the roots of all that will happen from the six days of creation until the Final Tikkun... We find that all that transpires is the result of the sparks from the time of Tohu, Chaos... (Drushei Olam HaTohu 2:151b)

This is why events happen in history as they do, when they do. Just like physical DNA determines much of our direction in life, so too, spiritual DNA influences the direction of history for that particular millennium. In the first 1,000 years of humanity, the Divine trait of Chesed (Kindness) gave people long lifespans, though they didn't deserve it. In the second millennium, Gevurah (Strength/Judgment) brought down Divine justice on mankind through the Flood and the dispersion from the Tower of Babel. Tifferet (Beauty) made Torah possible in the third millennium, the time of Abraham and Moses. And so on...

Today in 2001, we are in the year 5761 from creation, 239 years until Year 6000 -- the end of "This World."This represents slightly less than four percent of all of history as we are used to it. However, though this information in and of itself may not create a sense of urgency, a lot is meant to happen within this remaining thin slice of time, part of which may be already affecting the direction of events around the world, particularly those relating to the Jewish people.

RESURRECTION IN 29 YEARS TIME

One of the most important concepts in Jewish thought is that there was a radical transformation in man as a result of Adam disobeying God's command not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This resulted in a spiritual distancing of God from man, and an intense "hiding of God's face,"so-to-speak (hester panim), which in turn resulted in the "physicalization"of mankind and creation.

According to the Zohar, prior to the sin of eating, Man was such a spiritual being that his skin was translucent like light. Our skin today is solid and opaque, which limits our ability to rise above nature and act spiritually as someone made in the image of God ought to.

Though this "physicalized" state of man suits our period of history, it is unacceptable for higher spiritual planes, especially that of the World to Come. Therefore, before humanity can enter that ultimate phase of history, we must reverse the process and return again to the state that Adam enjoyed before everything went wrong.

This period of "rebuilding"is called Techiyat HaMeitim -- "Resurrection of the Dead,"a concept that we mention every day in the Amidah prayer. This time period will be characterized by people dying, decomposing in the ground (as part of the atonement process), and then being re-built anew on a much higher spiritual plane. Compared to today, it would be like looking at an angel.

Though many rabbis believe this period will not occur for a long time to come, there are some sources -- the Zohar (Midrash Ne'elam - Toldot 140a), and the "Leshem Shevo v'Achlamah"(Drushei Olam HaTohu, 2:4:12:9-12) -- that suggest that this period will begin no later than 210 years in advance of Year 6000. That's 29 years from today!

For us, this is hard to believe. Twenty-nine years is not a lot of time, and the transformation from "this"reality to "that"reality is unimaginable. However, this difficulty in imagining may be unique to our generation, which did not witness how Europe and the entire world were transformed literally overnight, over a short period in the early 1940s.

Furthermore, when God is directly involved in such transformations, they can take place in very short periods of time, like the 10 months it took to bring the Jews from the lowest rung in Egypt to the highest one, culminating in the Jewish slave nation devastating the powerful empire of Egypt.

The Talmud (Brachot 13a) says that the Final Redemption will outdo all previous redemptions, and Kabbalists say that once this happens, everything will change at breath-taking speed. By the time history hits Year 5790, the world may still resemble what it looked like in the past, but at the same time, it may be experientially very different. 'Paradise' will not be something dreamed about, but rather lived within.

INGATHERING OF EXILES

The Zohar (Toldot 139a) says that in advance of the 210 years of the Resurrection of the Dead, there is a 40-year period of Kibbutz Galiot, literally the "Ingathering of the Exiles."As the name implies, it is the period during which all remaining Jews will be brought back to the Land of Israel. And as the number implies, it corresponds to the 40 years the Jewish people wandered in the desert.

In other words, the end of Jewish history perfectly mirrors the beginning of Jewish history in the time of Moses. We began with 210 years of life in Egypt, meant to bring us back to the level of Adam before the sin (though just the opposite resulted), and then, we "wandered"outside the Land of Israel for 40 years. So too, at the end of history, we may experience a process of returning to the land over the course of 40 years, followed by a 210-year period necessary to return to the level of Adam before his sin.

This period of ingathering will have two phases: Pre-Moshiach and Post- Moshiach. During the Pre-Moshiach period, history will still be subject to hidden Divine Providence. There will be limited aliyah (immigration) to Israel, but many situations will force Jews around the world to reconcile their feelings regarding the Land of Israel and redemption.

During that phase, it may look as if not much is happening to help the process of exile-ingathering, when in fact, a hidden winnowing process could be in full swing. Some Jews may feel a yearning to live in Israel, whether they will get there or not, while others may feel disenchanted and neutral to the idea of living on the land.

At that time, the importance of one's feelings and attachment to the Land of Israel may be virtually unnoticeable to most people. However, many midrashim explain that where a person stood with respect to the concept of living in Israel and their drive for closeness to God will make an important difference during Phase Two.

Phase One, within this 40-year period of ingathering, will come to a conclusion just before and during the arrival of Moshiach ben David. Having come to save the Jewish people from the cataclysmic war of Gog and Magog (if that is the path history takes), and to rid the world of evil, the reality of God, the priority of Torah, and, the centrality of the Land of Israel will become eminently clear.

With the evil impulse (yetzer hara) on the way out of history for good, the era of free will choice will come to an end forever (Talmud - Sukkah 52a). With the end of free will, the opportunity to earn reward and enhance one's portion in the World to Come will also cease -- forever.

PHASES OF REDEMPTION

According to some sources in the Zohar, the official beginning of the ingathering may have been the year 5750 from creation, or 1990 BCE. This corresponds to the demise of the Soviet Union and its stranglehold on millions of Jews. This also corresponds to the last quarter of the sixth millennium, which -- corresponding to the six days of creation -- equals the afternoon just prior to Shabbat, when preparations greatly accelerate life's pace. Indeed, the world seems to have quickened over the last decade with the advent of cyberspace, and major shifts in world thinking have since occurred.

Certainly, recent events in Israel have dominated world attention, forcing Jews to take sides and make decisions about their vision of Israel's future. Very little middle ground seems to exist today, with Jews being forced either to the right or the left. This is not incidental or just plain politics; this is a function of the "period of ingathering."

The transference from Phase One of the ingathering to Phase Two signals the Final Redemption under the leadership of Moshiach ben David. When exactly this will happen is the big question mark in Jewish history, and the subject of many trial calculations and controversy.

However, the Zohar (Bereshit 118a) says that just as the actual birth of a child becomes increasingly obvious with time, so, too, will Moshiach's arrival eventually become so obvious that even a school child will be able to make the calculation.

What is important to us is that as the moment of transition from Phase One to Phase Two approaches, one can expect miracles to become increasingly more obvious, free will to become increasingly reduced, and world history to become increasingly more precarious.

CALCULATING MOSHIACH'S ARRIVAL

The Talmud records: "Rabbi Shmuel ben Nachmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonaton: "May the spirit of those who calculate the end expire. For they say, "Since the pre- determined time has arrived, and [Moshiach] has yet to come, he will never come!" (Sanhedrin 97b)

Whoever forecasts the date of Moshiach's arrival has no place in the World to Come. (Derech Eretz 11)

We see that the Talmud is concerned about making calculations regarding the precise day for Moshiach's arrival, since errors in such calculations usually result in national disappointment, and perhaps, revelations of false messiahs. Furthermore, the Talmud states: "When Rav Zeira happened upon scholars who were engaged [in calculating the date of Moshiach's arrival], he told them, "I beg you! do not postpone it ... for it has been taught, 'Three things come when the mind is occupied otherwise: Moshiach ...'" (Sanhedrin 97a)

Additionally, there is the concern that believing in a specific date will prevent a person from expecting Moshiach earlier than that date, a violation of the principle of "anticipating him any day." Failure to believe this, says Mamonides, can give such a Jew the status of a heretic (Laws of Kings 11:1).

Yet we see that great rabbis over the ages did attempt to predict the precise date of Moshiach's arrival. This is because the prohibition has been interpreted differently by many rabbis throughout the ages, as follows:

According to the Abarbanel (15th century Spain), it is only forbidden to make calculations based on astrology, however it is permissible to calculate the date of Moshiach;s arrival based on Biblical sources (Maayeni HaYeshuah 1:2).

Nachmanides says that the prohibition applied only to earlier generations, and now that we are on the eve of redemption (he was writing in the 13th century!), there is no prohibition (Sefer HaGeulah, Ma'amer 4).

The Malbim (19th century Europe) provides an analogy of a father and son traveling a long distance. As they start out, the son begins to ask when they will arrive, and of course the father does not answer. However, as they near the town, the son asks the same question, and this time the father readily answers that it is only a short while before they reach their destination. "So too, as the time of redemption is clearly approaching, we cannot help but notice the signs all around us that foreshadow that redemption. As the end grows nearer, doubts will become smaller, and at the very end, all doubts will be removed... As the time grows closer, uncertainty recedes in the wake of increasingly abundant wisdom" (Introduction to the Book of Daniel).

The Vilna Gaon (18th century Lithuania), whose commentary offers a formula for calculating the end, entreats those who understand the formula not to reveal it to others: "...And from here [what I have just written] you can calculate the time of the Final Redemption if, God forbid, we do not merit [to bring it earlier]. However, I have imposed an oath, in the name of the God of Israel, on the reader of this that he should not reveal it." (Biur HaGra, Safra D'Tzniusa, Chapter Five)

The events of the 20th century were put into perspective by the greatest Sage of our time. Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian wrote: I heard in London from the holy Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, quoting the Chafetz Chaim, that the Sages say the war of Gog and Magog will be threefold. After World War One, the Chafetz Chaim said that this was the first battle of Gog and Magog, and in about 25 years (1942) there would be a second world war, which would make the first one seem insignificant. And then there would be a third battle...

Rav Elchanan concluded that one must suffer the pangs of Moshiach, but the wise man will quietly prepare himself during that time -- perhaps he will be worthy of seeing the comforting of Tzion and Yerushalayim." (Leiv Eliyahu, Shmot p.172)

It is frightening to think that after so many years of pain and persecution, the Jewish people may be on the brink of true redemption. Who will merit to see this awesome reality? The Talmud teaches:

Rava said: When they bring a person for judgment, they will ask: "Did you deal faithfully in business? Did you set aside fixed times for Torah? Did you try to have children? Did you anticipate the redemption..."(Shabbat 31a)

This question is not merely theoretical. It will actually determine the quality of each individual's redemptive experience. As Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein wrote:

The Exodus from Egypt liberated only one out of five Jews (and some say one out of every 50) because all those who were bound to Egypt and did not want to depart died in the three days of darkness and were not privileged to leave. Only those who desired redemption with all their hearts were redeemed. The Final Redemption, likewise, depends upon our yearning. (Ohr Yechezkel, Emunat HaGeulah)

May we all merit to see the Redemption, speedily in our days.

For further reading see: The Destruction of Joseph's Tomb

Rabbi Pinchas Winston is the author of the new novel, "Not Just Another Scenario: A Scenario For The End Of Days." Though fiction, it explores the interplay of authentic Jewish sources with current events in the Middle East and many of the themes this article discusses.

To order "Not Just Another Scenario: A Scenario For The End Of Days", Softcover, 217 pages, $12.95 U.S., please go to http://www.thirtysix.org/novel.htm

http://aish.com/jewishissues/jewishsociety/Moshiach_and_the_World_Today. asp

(added June 25, 2001).


Mashiach/Commentary: AWAITING THE MASHIACH (MESSIAH)

copyright (c), 2002, by Yosef Ben Shlomo HaKohen [chazon@netvision.net.il]

YERUSHALIYIM, D.C. (David's Capital), Yom Rishon (Day One -- "Sunday"), 21 Shvat, 5762 (Gregorian Date: February 3, 2002) (Hijri Date: 20 Thul-Quada, 1422), Root & Branch: Rambam (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon -- "Maimonides") writes that one of the thirteen principles of faith for the People of Israel is the belief in the coming of the Mashiach (Messiah):

"I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Mashiach, and even though he may delay, nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come". [Commentary to Mishna Sanhedrin, chapter 10]

According to Jewish tradition, the Mashiach will be a descendant of King David, the son of Jesse, from the tribe of Judah.

The Mashiach will be a great sovereign and teacher who will inspire Israel and all the nations to serve HaShem -- the Compassionate One -- in a spirit of unity. Some people have difficulty imagining that one great person could become the "Mashiach" and cause a radical change in the world.

Rabbi Aryeh Carmell, a noted Torah educator, addresses this issue:

"In modern times, many of the most far-reaching revolutions in thought have been sparked off by Jews: Einstein, Freud, Marx; though all these were far from the Torah tradition. Would it be so far-fetched to think of the coming revolution of the spirit as led by a dynamic personality, steeped, this time, in the spiritual truths of the Torah -- with a releasing vision much profounder than Freud's, with revolutionary ideals much more radical than Marx's, and with the means at his disposal to swing the world from the dark nightmare of a polluted planet to a brighter future of spiritual creativity? [excerpted from "Judaism and the Environment" -- an essay in the book "Encounter"]

The belief in the coming of the Mashiach is deeply embedded within the consciousness of the People of Israel.

In his book, "World of Our Fathers", Irving Howe describes the messianic yearnings of an earlier generation of Jewish socialists and progressive activists. Although their ideology was secular, their yearning, hope, and struggle for a better world was rooted in the ancient belief that the Mashiach will eventually come and inaugurate a new age of justice and peace.

In one chapter of "World of Our Fathers" (page 454), Howe quotes from a poem by the Yiddish poet, Aaron Zeitlin, which refers to this belief:

"Being a Jew means running forever to God, even if you are His betrayer. Means expecting to hear any day, even if you are a nay sayer, the blare of Messiah's horn".

The Talmud states that on each person's "Judgment Day", one of the questions he will be asked is: "Did you anticipate the redemption?" [Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbos 31a]

Why, however, should this question be asked of each person? Is it a "mitzva" (Divine mandate) to believe in the coming of the Mashiach and the future redemption?

This past Shabbat we read the Torah portion "Yitro" (Jethro) which contains the Ten Commandments.

The first commandment states:

"I am HaShem, your G-d, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery". [Shemot/Exodus 20:2]

Maimonides, in his classical work on the Torah's 613 mitzvot, "The Book of Mitzvot", cites this verse as the source for the mitzva to believe in HaShem. The verse, however, does not speak of HaShem Who created the world. The verse speaks of HaShem Who took us out of Egypt. We are therefore to believe in the Compassionate One Who redeemed us from bondage, and acknowledge the Source of our liberation.

According to Rabbi Isaac of Corville, a 13th century sage, this verse calls upon us to not only believe that HaShem redeemed us in the past, but to also believe that HaShem will redeem us in the future. In Rabbi Isaac's respected work on the mitzvos, known as "Sefer Mitzvot Katan", he states that the obligation to believe in the coming of the Mashiach is rooted in the words, "I am HaShem, your G-d, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt".

The Exodus from Egypt is a testimony to the ongoing Divine providence in human history. The verse which calls upon us to believe in HaShem mentions our Exodus from Egypt, because this Divine act of physical and spiritual redemption is to make us aware that Divine providence is leading the People of Israel and all humanity to their ultimate physical and spiritual redemption.

Our faith in the future redemption of Israel and humanity is a "gift of hope" that we can share with the other peoples of the earth.

As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, the 19th century sage, writes:

"The entire world thirsts for redemption. Grief and misery, reigning in both huts and palaces, arouse messianic longings in every heart. It is not only Israel whose redemption depends upon the rebuilding of Zion; and surely, their confident expectation that the redemption will indeed come about is not the least valuable dowry which the Jew brings with him into the community of nations". [See "The Hirsch Haggadah" - pages 282-83]

The full and final redemption will take place during the messianic age of peace, justice, and enlightenment.

A description of this age and the role of the Mashiach is found in Chapter 11 of the Book of Isaiah:

"A staff will emerge from the stump of Jesse, and a shoot will sprout from his roots. The spirit of HaShem will rest upon Him: a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and reverence for Hashem...He will judge the destitute with righteousness, and decide with fairness for the humble of the earth. He will strike the world with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be the girdle round his loins, and faith will be the girdle round his waist. The wolf will live with the sheep, and the leopard will lie down with the kid; and a calf, a lion whelp and a fatling together, and a young child will lead them. A cow and bear will graze and their young will lie down together; and a lion, like cattle, will eat hay. A suckling will play by a viper's hole; and a newly weaned child will stretch his hand towards an adder's lair. They will neither injure nor destroy in all of My sacred mountain; for the earth will be filled with knowledge of HaShem as water covering the sea bed". [Yeshayahu/Isaiah 11:1, 2, 4-9]

The above verses describe an age of universal peace and harmony. Moreover, the power of the Mashiach will not come from the sword, but from "the rod of his mouth" -- the strength of his teachings (Commentary of Rabbi S.R. Hirsch). With the arrival of this new age, states the Prophet Isaiah, there will also be an ingathering of the exiles of Israel: "It shall be on that day that the Lord will once again show His hand, to acquire the remnant of His people...He will raise a banner for the nations and assemble the castaways of Israel; and He will gather in the dispersed ones of Judah from the four corners of the earth...There will be a road for the remnant of His people that will remain from Assyria, as there was for Israel on the day it went up from the land of Egypt". [Yeshayahu/Isaiah 11:11,12,16]

We are therefore awaiting the arrival of the true Mashiach who will fulfill all of the above prophecies. Even though he may tarry, we are not to lose hope, for when the hour arrives for the birth of the messianic age, he will not delay. In this spirit, the prophet Habakkuk proclaims:

"For there is yet another 'hazon' [vision] for the appointed time; it will speak of the end and it will not deceive. Though it may tarry, await it, for it will surely come; it will not delay" [Habakkuk 2:3]

Shavua Tov (Good Week) from Yerushaliyim,

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen [chazon@netvision.net.il]
Advisory Board Member, Ecology Fellowship, Root & Branch Association, Ltd.
Advisory Board Member, Social Welfare Fellowship, Root & Branch Association, Ltd.
Author, "The Universal Jew" (Feldheim Publishers)
Editor, Shema Yisrael website: "Hazon: Our Universal Vision"
http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

********

RELATED TEACHINGS:

In the Books of the Prophets, there are vivid descriptions of the messianic age and the role of the Mashiach. One well-known example is Isaiah's vision of "the end of days" when the Mashiach "will settle the disputes of many peoples" and "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation and they will no longer study warfare". [Yeshayahu/Isaiah 2:4]

Within the Five Books of the Torah, there are some brief references and allusions to the Mashiach and the messianic age, and the following can serve as examples:

1. Our father, Jacob, blessed his 12 sons -- the founders of the 12 tribes -- before he died. Jacob gave Judah the following blessing: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah nor a scholar from among his descendants until Shiloh arrives, and his will be an assemblage of peoples" [Bereshit/Genesis 49:10]. The majority of the Jewish Bible Commentators say that "Shiloh" is a poetic name of the Mashiach. When the Mashiach comes, Judah's blessing will be fully realized, for all the peoples of the earth will gather around the Mashiach -- the descendant of Judah.

2. "I shall see him, but not now, I shall look at him, but not in the near future. A star has issued from Jacob and a scepter-bearer has arisen from Israel" [Bamidbar/Numbers 24:17]. According to the Ramban (Rabbis Moses ben Nachman -- Nachmanides), this verse is a prophecy concerning the future Mashiach.

3. "Then HaShem, your G-d, will bring back your captivity and have mercy on you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which HaShem, your G-d, has scattered you. If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there HaShem, your G-d, will gather you in and from there He will take you. HaShem, your G-d, will bring you to the Land that your ancestors possessed and you shall possess it; He will do good to you and make you more numerous than your ancestors". [Devarim/Deuteronomy 30:3-5]

According to Maimonides, these verses are referring to the age of the Mashiach (The Laws of Kings 11:1) (added February 3, 2002).


Parshat Balak

The clearest prophesies in the Torah about the Moshiach are from Bilam; the arch-evil 'star' in this week's Torah portion.

In fact Maimonides' quotes him extensively in the very end of massive, all-inclusive Torah masterpiece "Yad HaChazaka" saying . that Judaism believes in TWO Messiahs!

"The first was King David who saved Israel.. and the second will be the FINAL Moshiach an offspring of David as it says (Numbers 24: 17,18):

'I see him but not now'. this is David. 'I view him but not near'... this is the King Moshiach. 'There will come a star from Jacob'.. this is David. 'And rise a staff from Israel' this is the King Moshiach etc." (Laws of Kings Chapt 11:1)

This is strange! First of all, why does the Torah bring us the wondrous news of redemption (when the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d etc) through the likes of an abominable, anti-Semitic devil like Bilam?

And why TWO Messiahs?

This week (12th and 13th of Tammuz) also marks the anniversary of the miraculous release of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe . Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak, from Stalinist prison in 1927. He was imprisoned and sentenced to death for single-handedly establishing massive networks of hundreds of clandestine 'underground' Torah schools and 'outreach' programs throughout Russia thus defying (and defeating) Communism at its strongest.

What is the connection between them?

To understand this here is a story

The third Rebbe of Chabad was called the Tzemach Tzedik (Rebbi Menachem Mendel).

A family member of his, who we will call Reb Avraham, that lived in Vitebsk was in very bad shape.

He had to close his once flourishing pharmacy and, unable to find another source of income, gradually sunk further and further into debt until he was about to loose his house and all he owned to his creditors.

As is this wasn't enough, more tragedy struck! His son-in-law upped and left home leaving Reb Avraham's daughter stranded and according to the Torah unable to remarry until she obtained an official bill of divorce (called a 'Get' in Hebrew) from him. but now he was no where to be found.

Poor Reb Avraham's wife began badgering him to travel to the Tzemach Tzedik for advice and blessing but he would have no part of it. True, he was a family member but he definitely was not a follower. He was a normal Jew and in fact he generally had no use for the entire Chassidic movement with their, what he considered to be insane over-emphasis on such secondary things as outbursts of Joy and other childish emotions and, worst of all, on Moshiach. In fact the Rebbe's nickname, Tzemach Tzedik, even indicated that they thought him to be the Messiah!

For several months he held out but his wife persisted, no other solution came along and his debtors became more demanding until, much against his will but with no other alternative, he went.

A few days later, broken in mind, spirit and finances he entered the Rebbe's headquarters and requested an audience. At first he was told he would have to wait for several weeks. He reeled back a few steps and moaned "'A few weeks?! OY! Why was this happening to ME?"

But when he gave his name and the secretary figured out that he was the Rebbe's relative they arranged for him to enter that very evening.

When he entered he was immediately impressed with the Rebbe's countenance. But the Rebbe smiled, shook his hand and immediately invited him to eat supper with his family that evening saying that his wife would certainly enjoy seeing him.

That evening at the Rebbe's house the spirit was so friendly that Reb Avraham didn't feel it was proper to speak about his problems, in fact the Rebbe's awesome presence and closeness confused and overwhelmed him.

So the next day he again requested an audience with the Rebbe, and again was immediately allowed in but this time the Rebbe was more businesslike.

Poor Rav Avraham poured out his heart describing his financial situation in heartbreaking detail. When he finished almost in tears he stood silently as the Rebbe pulled open a drawer in his desk, handed him some money and said.

"Once I read in a newspaper that a German fellow was looking for help in the new drugstore he opened in the city of Kiev. Here is some money for travel. I'm sure he'll give you a job."

Reb Avraham said thank you and backed out of the Rebbe's office and headed for the train station. But hours later when he was already on the train heading home and thinking about what the Rebbe said he realized it didn't make sense.

What did he mean by "Once I read in a newspaper"? How long ago was it? And how did he know that the German would give him work? And why Kiev? Kiev was far away!

Suddenly he slapped himself on the forehead! And yelled "Oy! How stupid can I be!?" He had forgotten to mention his daughter!!!

But when he arrived home his wife paid no attention to his doubts (he didn't dare tell her that he forgot their daughter) and the next day his bags were packed and he was off for Kiev.

It was easier than he thought. He found the German in no time and he immediately gave him a simple job. But the German recognized his talents and in just a few months he had already risen to be the manager of the store with a handsome income. Finally he was beginning to stand on his feet again.

A few weeks before Passover he requested from the German if he could have a month off for the holidays and he was immediately given permission. But when Rav Avraham arrived home there awaited him an urgent telegram from the German that he should return immediately for a matter of great importance.

The next day he was again standing before the German who apologized for bringing him back but that in a week would be his 50th birthday. He was planning to make a something big and unique and invite all the important people he knew including the mayor, several generals and government officials when suddenly he got the idea that Reb Avraham could be the perfect person to arrange it.

He promised that he would pay him royally and our hero took the job. It was a lot of hard and intensive work; arranging the hall, the music, food, wholesome entertainment etc. but in a few days the party was in session and Reb Avraham was receiving the honored guests at the door while his boss was beside himself with satisfaction.

Suddenly Reb Avraham let out a startled cry, became confused and almost lost consciousness!

The German immediately noticed it, walked quickly over to him without attracting attention and took him to a side room, sat him down and asked him what was wrong, if he would like a doctor? etc.

Reb Avraham stood, took his boss to the door and pointed to a priest who had his back turned to them and said.

"Over a year ago my daughter's husband abandoned her with several children and according to our religion she cannot remarry until he gives her a bill of divorce. All he has to do is sign the bill of divorce."

"Good," Said the German "But what does that have to do with..?"

"That priest," said Rav Avraham "Is my daughter's husband. I'm sure of it! I would recognize his face anywhere! Perhaps he changed his religion, perhaps he is an impostor .. but I'm sure its him!!"

The German, who at that time held Reb Avraham in the greatest esteem, promised that that very evening he would settle the entire matter and so it was.

He brought the 'priest' into the side room where Reb Avraham confronted him and demanded he sign the 'Get'.

At first he denied the entire story, claimed that he didn't know this Jew and he certainly had never married anyone in his life . he was a priest!! But when the German pulled out his pistol his entire defense crumbled. He confessed to everything and agreed to sign . just as long as it was kept secret.

Reb Avraham brought a Rabbi, two witnesses and a scribe, the document was signed and his daughter became free.

He realized now the greatness of the Rebbe and why he told him to go to Kiev; that only there could all his problems be solved.. even the one of his abandoned daughter that he forgot to mention. And, of course, his German boss also heard that there is a prophet in Israel.

(Shmuot v'Siporim 3:177)

Now we can understand why the prophesies of Moshiach came specifically through the mouth of the wicked Bilam and what it has to do with the exoneration of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe from prison.

When Moshiach arrives ALL the problems of the world will be solved and transformed to good. As Maimonides writes in the last law in his book (12:5) and as we say thrice daily in the prayer 'Alenu' "All the wicked people in the world will turn to You (the Creator).

Just as Reb Avraham had to have problems in order to realize the greatness of G-d through the Tzemach Tzedik, and the Previous Rebbe had to be in prison to reveal the power of the Jewish soul to transform the world, so also all the insane difficulties, trials and tribulations we have been suffering for the last two thousand years of horrible exile will be transformed to make us realize the greatness of HaShem and the Jewish soul.. through the Moshiach.

And the reason for TWO Moshaichs is, as the Rebbe explains the statement of the Talmud (Sanhedren 98:b) "G-d is going to make another Dovid. like a Caesar and a half-Caesar".

Ceasar, explains the Rebbe, refers to a leader that is unusual (Yotze Dofan in Hebrew means unusual and cesarean birth)

Moshiach will have two jobs: to be a teacher (half-Caesar) and to be a King (Caesar). As a teacher he will only be half-unique: revealing new vistas of the Torah and raising the consciousness of the world.

But as King he will be COMPLETELY unique, and will reveal new levels of human potential that were undreamed of.

This is the level of Moshiach that will COMPLETELY transform the world.

And the Lubavitcher Rebbe assured us time and time again that we can make it happen one moment sooner!!

We have to do all we can to bring...

Moshiach NOW!!

Rabbi Tuvia Bolton
Yeshiva Ohr Tmimim
Kfar Chabad, Israel
July 2, 2004


From the Jerusalem Post for January 12, 2005

Hear ye, hear ye: Sanhedrin seeks David's scion as king

By YAAKOV KATZ

Will Jews begin proclaiming "Long live the king" in the near future?

According to a group of 71 Jewish scholars who met this week in the Old City of Jerusalem in the form of a modern-day Sanhedrin a duplicate of the religious tribunal which convened during the time of the Second Temple a coronation day is growing closer.

As one member of the group put it, "We would have liked it to happen yesterday. But we are willing to wait until tomorrow."

There hasn't been a genuine Sanhedrin in Israel for nearly 1,600 years; the last one to be proclaimed was in France, by Napoleon, for political gain. Shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel, religious affairs minister Judah Leib Maimon raised the notion of reinstituting the ancient body, to no avail.

The group composed largely of Kahane sympathizers that gave itself the name Sanhedrin in October, however, met Sunday to discuss the creation of a Jewish monarchy in the State of Israel.

For the past several years a group called the Monarchists has conducted extensive research into the lineage of several families in an effort to discover who has the closest bloodline to the biblical King David a requirement for any future Jewish king.

Rabbi Yosef Dayan from Psagot, known for his recent threats to place a death curse on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is said to be a leading candidate to become the "king of Israel."

"Dayan has the best lineage to King David," several members of the Sanhedrin told The Jerusalem Post. They say he has two documented ancient sources which draw a direct line between him and the males in his family to King David some 3,000 years ago.

"Many people can show they are descendants of King David, but they cannot show that the line is only male," one Sanhedrin member explained. "That makes Dayan the leading candidate to become king."

The Monarchists have consulted with non-Jewish experts on lineage. They concurred that, without a doubt, Dayan is a direct descendant of the House of David.

The only question now is how to establish the Jewish monarchy in spite of the presiding democratic government.

"There are two possibilities," Dayan explained. "The first is that the nation or a majority from within will want the monarchy and will uproot the presiding democratic government."

The second, more realistic option, he said, is "the one cited by Maimonides and that is that no one will know how it will be until it happens."

Some of the other ideas discussed at the Sanhedrin meeting included the construction of an altar on the Temple Mount to be used for the Passover Offering during the upcoming holiday.

One of the ideas, members said, is to climb the Mount and build the altar within minutes and sacrifice the lamb before security forces can stop them. Another, said leading Sanhedrin member Baruch Ben-Yosef, is to pray for a tsunami-like disaster on the Mount.

"In one second, God wiped out 150,000 people," he said. "Who knows? Maybe he'll help us if we show him we are ready."

Participants also discussed Ben-Yosef's idea of reinstating the Sanhedrin's authority to announce Rosh Hodesh, the beginning of the new lunar month.

"It is very important to reinstate the Sanhedrin's authority to announce the month, because it will force people to understand that God gave us the power to control the calendar and our own destiny," Ben-Yosef said.

Reference


For thorough documentation of sources for Jewish belief in the Messiah see Glenn Miller's Messianic Expectations in 1st Century Judaism ---Documentation From Non-Christian Sources


Compiled by Lambert Dolphin. Email: lambert@ldolphin.org
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