Some thoughts on Moshiach
Throughout our long and sometimes bitter exile, the Jewish people have yearned for Moshiach, a person who will inspire the masses to do teshuva, and make the world the kind of place it could be, with love and chesed all around. There were times when a special charismatic or holy person, like Bar Kochba in the Talmudic times, (even the great Rabbi Akiva thought Bar Kochba would succeed) was considered a potential “messiah” and many followed them in hopes of a new world, only to have their dreams shattered.
In the Middle Ages there was a holy man named Shlomo Molcho who seemed to have gone past his ability in Kabbalah and was overly inspired about the Moshiach. He died tragically by the sword in a martyr’s death. Sometimes the potential Moshiach was a holy person who just wasn’t able to accomplish the task, and sometimes it was a crazy or immoral person like Shabbatai Tzvi in the 1600’s who ended up causing masses of people to stray. He converted out of Judaism causing wide spread disappointment. Some of his followers converted with him, some just left Judaism, other hung on to the glimmer of hope that he might somehow re-emerge as the Moshiach. After this tragedy a group of leading sages made a special ban that limited the study of Kabbalah.
However, despite these tragedies, we still pray each day for the Moshiach to be revealed. Mystics say that every generation has a potential person for the job, and if the generation merits it, he will be revealed. Our hearts still ache after thousands of years of tears and prayers. In fact, it’s not just something we do because we’re Jews and we long for a perfect world, but anticipating the arrival of Moshiach is part of our understanding of God. He didn’t create this world of imperfection and challenges as a permanent state. It is only a temporary phase that is necessary to get us to the end of days when life is perfect and we are one with the Infinite. Every person that believes in the Almighty should pray and yearn for a more perfect world every single day.
Sure there are millions of people all over the world doing wonderful acts of kindness, but there is also war, famine, terrorism, and ignorance all over too. The world is a terrible mess in many ways. So if you just go about your business ignoring the problems, it’s as if you think the Almighty doesn’t care about the problems. He does! He is pained, so to speak, on a daily basis that we don’t have the Holy Temple back in Jerusalem, that there’s war, famine, ignorance, and atheism rampant in the world. We yearn and pray because we know God is wise and good and wants the world to be perfect, and He promised us that it would be some day.
He promised us that we’d be back in the land if Israel also. For two thousand years many people didn’t imagine or believe it could or would happen. They resigned themselves to live out galus in Babylonia, Spain, Turkey, Germany, Poland, England, France and America. Historians said it’s never happened to any other nation, why should it happen to the Jews. Many thought the prophets were wrong, fake, or we didn’t deserve it. But Hashem proved all the naysayers wrong. In what now seems like a fluke of history, the United Nations, filled with anti-Semites, voted to give the Jewish people a homeland in the ancient land of our people. Just like that prophecy, that fluke of history that so many people thought would be impossible, has happened, so too the prophecy of Moshiach, that a righteous individual will show himself at some point and lead us all back to a world of Godliness, love, and kindness.
Keep on praying, keeping on looking forward to that special time.
By Rabbi Max Weiman Teacher of Jewish History for Esther Miller Bais Yaakov of St. Louis Author of A Map of the Universe, A Mystical Tour of the Torah, 48 Things 49 Days, and A Simple Guide to Happiness – all available on Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Mystical-Tour-Torah-Spiritual-Exercises/dp/3639794036