Saturday, July 29, 2017

What Is Our Belief In Moshiach?

לע"נ ידיד נפשי ר' יואל בן ר' פינחס הלוי 
והבחורה שרה בת מו"ר הרה"ג ר' זאב קליין 

a] It is well known that we must believe that Moshiach will come and redeem us. 

b] However, the Rambam adds [Melachim 11/1] that we also must anxiously anticipate his coming [מצפה לביאתו].

c] He also writes [הקדמה לפרק חלק] that we must not think that he will be late [ולא יחשוב שיתאחר]. This may be the source of the words in the Ani Maamin in the siddur [which we had a long series about some time ago - you can do a search and find them] אחכה לו בכל יום שיבוא - I await him every day that he should come. Where does it say that he might come every day?  ולא יחשוב שיתאחר. 

Question: What is the Rambam's source for this? 

Also, maybe this means that I wait for him every day that he will come some time in the future [but not too much in the distant future] but not that he will come TODAY? 

The Brisker Rov held that we are obligated to believe that he will come TODAY. I haven't found this explicit in any earlier source [although maybe it is] and the nusach in the siddur is not clear nor does the nusach in the siddur obligate us [it was not the Rambam who wrote it and nobody knows who did but there are many places where he diverges from what the Rambam wrote in his formulation of the 13 principals of faith]. And anyway, nobody believes that he will definitely come today. If we did, then we would all quickly empty out our bank accounts and give the money to tzdaka, quit our jobs, get right to Yerushalyim, learn Torah the last few hours until Moshiach comes, never make a doctors appointment for next week or summer plans etc. etc. 

It seems [and maybe I am wrong and I would love to be enlightened] that the simple obligation of the Rambam is to believe that he will eventually come at some point but not too late and we anxiously await for this to occur. Today WOULD be best and we believe every day that he COULD come today but he could also come tomorrow or the next day. That is what I understand from the Rambam, but again - if I am wrong I would love to hear it. 

d] The Rambam also writes in his [הקדמה לחלק] that we are obligated to believe that Moshaich is a great person ["נתמעט אצלו מעלתו כפר בתורה"] and that he is from the seed of Dovid Hamelech [how many people know that this is part of our belief??].

e] The Rambam writes [Melachim 10/1]:  

"המלך המשיח עתיד לעמוד ולהחזיר מלכות דוד ליושנה לממשלה הראשונה ובונה המקדש ומקבץ נדחי ישראל וחוזרין כל המשפטים בימיו כשהיו מקודם מקריבין קרבנות ועושין שמיטין ויובלות ככל מצותה האמורה בתורה".

 "In the future, the Messianic king will arise and renew the Davidic dynasty, restoring it to its initial sovereignty. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel. Then, in his days, the observance of all the statutes will return to their previous state. We will offer sacrifices, observe the Sabbatical and Jubilee years according to all their particulars as described by the Torah."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe זיע"א learns that the Rambam is not just informing us what Moshiach will do but is delineating what our belief must be. We must believe that when Moshiach comes we will once again fulfill the Torah in its complete form.  

But if this is so then why does the Rambam write [Melachim 11/4]: 

"לא נתאוו החכמים והנביאים לימות המשיח לא כדי שישלטו על כל העולם ולא כדי שירדו בעכו"ם ולא כדי שינשאו אותם העמים ולא כדי לאכול ולשתות ולשמוח אלא כדי שיהיו פנויין בתורה וחכמתה ולא יהיה להם נוגש ומבטל כדי שיזכו לחיי העולם הבא כמו שביארנו בהלכות תשובה"

"The Sages and the prophets did not yearn for the Messianic era in order to have dominion over the entire world, to rule over the gentiles, to be exalted by the nations, or to eat, drink, and celebrate. Rather, they desired to be free to involve themselves in Torah and wisdom without any pressures or disturbances, so that they would merit the world to come, as we explained in Hilchos Teshuvah."

According to the Rebbe's thesis, the Rambam should have said that the חכמים wanted Moshiach in order to serve Hashem fully according to all of the laws of the Torah? 

Rav Yosef Yitzchak Kalmanson [Rosh Yeshiva of the Lubavitch Yeshiva in New Haven, Conn.] explains the Rambam differently [because of this question]: The Rambam is teaching US a halacha that WE must await Moshiach in order that we should be able serve Hashem without any troubles. But we are not obligated to await Moshiach in order to keep all of the mitzvos of the Torah.    

I am not at all convinced by this explanation:

1] If the halacha is for US - then why did the Rambam preface with "לא נתאוו החכמים והנביאים". That sounds like this din applies only to the Sages and prophets. 

The Rambam writes in the fifth perek of Hil. Melachim:

גדולי החכמים היו מנשקים על תחומי ארץ ישראל, ומנשקים אבניה ומתגלגלין על עפרה. וכן הוא אומר: "כי רצו עבדיך את אבניה ואת עפרה יחוננו."

The story is told of the Brisker Rov who wouldn't kiss the earth of Eretz Yisrael. When asked from this Rambam which says that you should, he replied that the Rambam was only talking to the גדולי חכמים!

2] Why shouldn't we be obligated to yearn for the coming of Moshiach to fulfill all of the Torah's laws just as we are obligated to yearn for his coming so that we can keep the mitzvos without being bothered?? What is the svara to distinguish between the two??

So here we have some VERY important insights into our core belief in Moshiach. REMEMBER!! One of the six questions we will be asked at the end of our lives is "ציפית לישועה?" - Did you anxiously await redemption?