The Yad Hachazaka is a sefer of practical Halachos and not a history book. So why does the Rambam bring the whole story with Bar Kochba and Rebbe Akiva. What is the HALACHAC IMPORT of the story?
The Lubavitcher Rebbe זיע"א [that is a roshei teivos that translates "he should live forever and is King Messiah"(*see bottom)] explains in a sicha given on Shabbos Parshas Vayeishev 1974 [as he was talking, I was on the floor playing with my blocks in Israel - I lived in Israel at the time. Excuse the Yiddish. He had to say it in Yiddish because that is the first language in Crown Heights]:
עס איז פארשטאנדיק אז מען קען אזוי ניט זאגן, ווארום אויב אזוי קען מען דאך שוין זאגן - להבדיל - ווי די גוים זאגן, אז משיח איז שוין געקומען!
נאר עס איז פארשטאנדיק אז די אלע פרטים וואס דער רמב"ם שרייבט יע, איז א זיכערע זאך אז זיי זיינען אויסגעהאלטן. און דאס וואס ער שרייבט אז 'לא ידעו בבירור', איז דאס בנוגע צו די אנדערע פרטים פון ביאת המשיח, וואס זיי זיינען נישט אזוי נוגע, און מטעם זה האט מען ניט מכריע געווען ווי אזוי זיי וועלן זיין, ווארום זיי זיינען ניט אזוי נוגע להלכה.
...וואס דאס איז אויך דער ביאור אין א דבר פלא וואס מען געפינט אין רמב"ם: בכלל בריינגט דאך דער רמב"ם ניט קיין ראי' לדבריו, נאר ער שרייבט סתם אז אזוי און אזוי איז די הלכה, משא"כ בשעת ער שרייבט וועגן דעם סדר פון ביאת המשיח, ברענגט ער א ראי' פון ר' עקיבא'ן, אז ער איז געווען א חכם גדול כו', "ודימה הוא וכל חכמי דורו" אז בר כוזיבא איז געווען משיח.
וואס לכאורה איז דאס ניט פארשטאנדיק: מילא דאס וואס דער רמב"ם דערמאנט אז ר' עקיבא האט געמאכט אזא טעות, איז פארשטאנדיק, ווארום דאס איז דאך פארבונדן מיט די ראי' וואס ער ברענגט, אבער פארוואס דארף דער רמב"ם שרייבן אז "כל חכמי דורו" האבן אלע געמאכט דעם זעלבן טעות?
נאר דער רמב"ם באווארנט דא, אז עס וועט אמאל קומען א צייט וואס איינער וואס האלט זיך פאר 'עקיבא בן יוסף' בדורו וועט מחליט זיין וועגן א געוויסע מאורע, אדער וועגן א געוויסן מענטשן, אז דאס איז משיח, און כל חכמי דורו וועלן מסכים זיין מיט אים, און ווי מען זעהט אז ער האט געקראגן חתימות אויף זיין ספר וכו'.
און דאס זאגט דער רמב"ם: אין די צייט פון ר' עקיבא האט געקענט זיין אזא טעות, ווארום מען האט נאך ניט געוואוסט יעמולט די פרטי וסדרי הגאולה, אבער נאך דעם ווי דער רמב"ם שרייבט קלאר דעם סדר הגאולה, דארף ניט זיין קיין מקום לטעות". עד כאן לשונו הקדוש.
There is a HUUUGE practical lesson to be learned: The Rambam outlines CLEAR REQUIREMENTS regarding who is Moshiach. If a person doesn't meet them, even if all of the Gedolim say he is Moshiach - he is not. Crowning people Moshiach is DANGEROUS [as we saw in the last post] and it could also lead one to saying that ח"ו Yoshke is Moshaich. But if Yoshke doesn't come from the seed of Dovid Hamelech [one of the prerequisites] then he CAN'T be Moshiach. Period. And the Christians admit that Yoshke doesn't come from the seed of Dovid because their fairytale relates that he comes from of G-d עפ"ל. So sorry - he is not our guy [** see footnote].
Nor is anyone else who doesn't fulfill the requirements of the Rambam. The Rambam says that after he died we knew that he wasn't Moshiach. So that would seem to disqualify all dead people. Even great ones.
*That was a joke. I am not a Meshichist nor am I a Lubavitcher Chossid. I am not on the madreiga to be a Lubavitcher Chossid. I live in a comfortable home in a frum community in Israel and would not be willing to live on a college campus or in Vietnam or in Guatemala in order to be mekarev Jews. I am not on their level. And I also don't believe that the Rebbe is Moshiach as emerges from the Rebbe's own words.
** The Virgin Birth is a fundamental tenet of most forms of Christianity. Yet it is very odd that none of the earlier Christian books mention it. The book of Mark, probably the first written, makes no mention of it at all. One would think that it would be worth at least one sentence, if not the amount spent on it by the book of Matthew. It is evident that Mark had never heard of the Virgin Birth. The book of John does not mention it either.
The reason that the virgin birth concept was added to Christianity was because the first Christians were very unsuccessful at converting Jews. Most Jews knew they had something better, so they would not leave Judaism for Christianity. Remember: at the beginning it was nothing more than a very small messianic movement within Judaism, and after their "messiah" died, it was rather hard to convert Jews to their movement.
So they began to reach out to the pagans, the non-Jews. But those pagans attracted to Judaism had already joined Judaism, and the new ones would not be very likely to join a tiny fringe group that had lost all real meaning since their false messiah-leader had died. Anyone interested in Judaism would more likely be interested in mainstream Judaism.
So the Christians had to do something different. They had to develop appeal. So, they began to assume beliefs that pagan people found attractive. That was how they came up with the concepts of the trinity, transubstantiation, the need to "save" everyone through the resurrection of a messiah, virgin birth, and all the other wacky ideas of Christianity. All these were lifted straight from other religions, some of which preceded Christianity by 700 years! Pagans just lapped up things like demigods, gods having intercourse with humans, virgins giving birth. Such claims meant something to pagans, and they were already familiar with such beliefs from their own cultures. So leaving a pagan religion to join Christianity was not much of a stretch, especially after Paul declared that the pagans did not need to keep the Commandments of the Torah.
Virgin birth was a popular pagan myth, prevalent in numerous religions of the time. The particular strain that we find in Christianity was probably taken directly from the Greek myth of the divine birth of Perseus from the virgin Danae. It never had any association with Judaism. Furthermore, Attis, a popular Roman and Syrian god around the time Christianity began, was also said to have been born of a virgin. Long before that, Krishna, the Hindu god, dating back to nine centuries before Christianity, was said to be god incarnate born of a virgin, as was Gautama Buddha. So there was rather widespread precedent for Christian beliefs, but none of it came from Judaism.
Your average Jew with any kind of Jewish upbringing is disgusted by these ideas. This was true back then, just as much as it is true today. The virgin birth seems to us rather strange.
A Jew will also ask: "And how do I know she was a virgin?" We don't, of course, so there's really no evidence at all. In fact, no one could ever have known whether or not she was a virgin!
What do I mean by that? In Matthew, Chapter 1, verse 24-25, it says: "Then Joseph awoke and did as the angel of the Lord had instructed him, and married her. He did not have relations with her until after she had given birth to her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus."
The verse says that Joseph did not have relations with Mary until after jesus was born. In other words, after jesus was born, they did have relations. Not only that, Matthew later says quite explicitly that jesus had three brothers and a few sisters (Matthew 12:46; 13:55-56). Mark (6:3) lists four brothers and says "all his sisters," which might imply more than two sisters, but in any case implies at least two.
There are those who wish to argue that "brothers and sisters" refers to those that jesus considered is true brothers and sisters -- his followers.
But this answer doesn't work. Let's look at the actual verses involved. First, Matthew 12:46-50.
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."
In other words, his biological mother and brothers were waiting outside for him, and he argued that his real mother and brothers were his followers.
So he apparently had real brothers, biological brothers.
Now, it is quite evident that even if a woman could conceive a child and still remain a virgin, the act of giving birth would rupture the hymen anyway. So once jesus was born, Mary would no longer have had a hymen.
Now, if Joseph did not have relations with her until after her hymen was ruptured from jesus' birth, even Joseph could never know whether she had been a virgin when jesus was conceived. By the time Joseph got to her, one way or another she had no hymen, so how could Joseph know whether the hymen was there before jesus was born?
So who in the world could verify that she was a virgin when she conceived jesus? No one, that's who!
Think about it. What sort of proof would it be anyway? I stand up in front of a few people, and I declare: "You see that virgin?" And everyone turns to look at her, and they say, "Well, I see a woman, but how do I know she's a virgin?"
"Never mind about that now," I say. "I'm a prophet, and I tell you she is a virgin. She will give birth, miraculously!"
"What's so miraculous about that?" everyone wants to know. She'll have relations with someone, and she'll get pregnant, and she'll give birth. It happens every day."
"Take my word for it."
No one checks to see if she is a virgin, because that would be in poor taste anyway.
So how is this a proof of anything?
But what is even more amazing is their supposed proof that virgin birth is significant. It all comes from a distorted verse in Isaiah.
Which is not for now.....
[From the web]