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Iyar 5768

When Moshiach Comes


Written by the rabbi


Shimon asked me recently what brachos we will recite when Moshiach comes and when we will recite those brachos. I must admit that, surprisingly, no one had ever asked me this shaylah before, although I did discover two short responsa on the topic, both dealing only with certain aspects of the subject.

Subsequently, my son showed me a pamphlet that included a list of brachos that we will recite upon the auspicious occasion. However, the list included errors and was very incomplete. Hopefully this article will prepare us better for the occasion we daven for three times a day, and will itself hasten the redemption.

Before discussing the shaylah, we must first clarify an important fact, one that a surprising number of Jewish people do not know:

Who is Moshiach and what will he accomplish?

Moshiach is a Torah scholar descended from Dovid HaMelech who will reestablish the halachic Jewish monarchy in Eretz Yisroel and influence the entire Jewish people to observe halacha meticulously to the finest detail (Rambam, Hilchos Melachim, Chapter 11). He will be wiser than his ancestor Shelomoh HaMelech, a prophet almost as great as Moshe Rabbeinu, will teach the entire people how to serve Hashem, and his advice will be sought by all the nations of the world (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 9:2). He will gather the Jews who are presently scattered to all ends of the world, expand Jewish territory more than ever before, and rebuild the Beis HaMikdash. (This follows the approach of the Rambam, Hilchos Melachim Chapter 11. There is a dispute whether the third Beis HaMikdash will be built under Moshiach’s supervision, or whether it will descend from Shamayim, see Rashi, Sukkah 41a; Yerushalmi, Maaser Sheni 5:2 and Meleches Shelomoh ad loc. There is also a dispute whether the ingathering of the exile is performed by Moshiach or occurs immediately prior to his arrival. We will find out for certain when the events unfold.) After Moshiach establishes his dominion, there will be no more wars, famine, jealousy, or competition since the entire world will be filled with only one desire: to know Hashem and draw close to Him (Rambam, Hilchos Melachim, Chapter 12).

The fact that Moshiach is both the political leader of Klal Yisroel and also a leading talmid chacham, caused Rav Shmuel Hominer, a great tzadik and talmid chacham of the previous generation, to ask Rav Shlomoh Zalman Auerbach the following interesting shaylah, which I paraphrase:
"When we merit meeting Moshiach, we will be required to recite four brachos to praise Hashem upon the occasion: (1) Chacham HaRazim, The wise One who knows all secrets [which I will explain shortly]; (2) She’chalak Mei’chochmaso Li’rei’av, Who bestowed of His wisdom to those who fear Him; (3) She’chalak Mi’kevodo Li’rei’av, Who bestowed of His honor to those who fear Him; and (4) Shehechiyanu." Rav Hominer then proceeded to ask whether the second and third brachos, both of which begin with the word She’chalak should be recited as two separate brachos or are they combined into one bracha, She’chalak Mei’chochmaso u’mi’kevodo Li’rei’av, Who bestowed of His wisdom and honor to those who fear Him. Let me explain his question:

Chazal instituted that one who sees a Jewish king recites the bracha, Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam She’chalak Mi’kevodo Li’rei’av, that Hashem bestowed of His honor to those who fear Him; and a different, but similar, bracha when seeing a tremendous talmid chacham, Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam She’chalak Mei’chochmaso Li’rei’av, that He bestowed of His wisdom to those who fear Him (Gemara Brachos 58a).

Chazal also instituted the recital of similar brachos when one sees a non-Jewish king, She’nasan Mi’kevodo L’Basar Vadam, that Hashem gave honor to humans; and one when seeing a gentile scholar She’nasan Mei’chochmaso L’Basar Vadam, that Hashem gave wisdom to humans (Gemara Brachos 58a; Tur and Shulchan Aruch 224; cf. Rambam, Hilchos Brachos 10:11, who records a different text to these brachos.)

(Note that the brachos recited over a Jewish king or scholar use the word she’chalak whereas the brachos recited over gentiles use the word she’nasan. The word she’chalak implies that the recipient of this power or wisdom recognizes that they are gifts received from Hashem and that Hashem retains total control over them [Avudraham, quoted by Beis Yosef, Orach Chayim 224]. However, the gentile king or scholar views these Divine gifts as his own accomplishments and does not recognize Hashem’s ongoing involvement in his success.)

Since Moshiach will be both a king and a Torah scholar, Rav Hominer assumed that someone meeting him should recite both brachos. However, Rav Hominer queried whether these two similar brachos are combined into one bracha, She’chalak Mei’chochmaso U’mi’kevodo Li’rei’av that Hashem bestowed of His wisdom and honor to those who fear Him.

Rav Shlomoh Zalman replied that we do not combine these two brachos, even when seeing a Jewish king who is also a talmid chacham (Minchas Shlomoh 1:91:27). He points out that brachos are generally kept separate even when the themes are similar. As Rav Shlomoh Zalman points out, an earlier author, the Teshuvah Mei’Ahavah (2:237), discussed this same shaylah in the eighteenth century and reached the same conclusion.

It is noteworthy that several poskim contend that we no longer recite the bracha She’chalak Mei’chochmaso Li’rei’av upon seeing a noteworthy talmid chacham, maintaining that our generations no longer possess Torah scholars of the stature required to recite this bracha. (This approach is quoted by Shu"t Teshuvah Mei’Ahavah, 2:237; Ben Ish Chai, Parshas Eikev 1:13; and Aruch HaShulchan 224:6, whereas Chayei Adam 63:8; Kaf HaChayim 224:18; and Shu"t Shevet HaLevi, 10:13 rule that we do recite this bracha today. Several anecdotes are recorded about great talmidei chachamim who recited the bracha upon seeing gedolim such as the Rogitzchover Gaon, the Chazon Ish, the Brisker Rav, and Rav Gustman. See, for example, Piskei Teshuvos, Chapter 224 footnote #17.) Nevertheless, both Rav Hominer and Rav Shlomo Zalman assumed that we will recite this bracha upon witnessing Moshiach, either because they held that we do recite this bracha today, or that Moshiach will clearly be a scholar of this league.

BARUCH CHACHAM HARAZIM -- KNOWER OF SECRETS

In the above-quoted correspondence with Rav Shlomoh Zalman, Rav Hominer, mentioned that we will recite two other brachos when greeting Moshiach: Baruch Chacham HaRazim and She’hechiyanu. What is the bracha of Baruch Chacham HaRazim?

The Gemara (Brachos 58a) records that someone who witnesses 600,000 Jews gathered together recites Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam Chacham HaRazim, the wise One who knows all secrets (Tur and Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 224:5). This bracha praises Hashem for creating such a huge multitude of people, each with his own unique personality and physical appearance. (The Gemara records a different bracha to recite when observing a similarly-sized large throng of gentiles.) The wording of the bracha notes that only Hashem knows the secrets that each of these people thinks (Rashi).

Rav Hominer pointed out that since the entire Jewish people will surround Moshiach, there will be no doubt at least 600,000 Jews together to enable saying this bracha. Note however, that we will recite this bracha upon seeing the huge crowd, and not recite the other two brachos until we actually see Moshiach.

SHEHECHIYANU
The fourth bracha mentioned by Rav Hominer is Shehechiyanu, based on the halacha that if one sees a close friend whom one has not seen for thirty days one recites Shehechiyanu because of one’s excitement (Gemara Brachos 58b and Tosafos ad loc.). Certainly, seeing Moshiach for the first time will generate more excitement than seeing a close friend that one has not seen for thirty days! (Compare this to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 225:2.)

SHEHECHIYANU OR HATOV VEHAMEITIV?
However, I would raise the following query: Should we recite Shehechiyanu or HaTov ViHaMeitiv (He who is good and brings benefit) upon seeing Moshiach?

The Mishnah teaches: "Upon hearing good tidings, one recites Baruch hatov vihameitiv.
One who builds a new house or purchases new items recites Baruch shehechiyanu vikiyimanu vihigiyanu lazman hazeh" (Berachos 54a). When one hears good tidings that are beneficial only for him, he recites Shehechiyanu; if others also benefit he recites hatov vihameitiv (Gemara Berachos 59b; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 222:1). Similarly, when acquiring new appliances one recites hatov vihameitiv if other people benefit; if only one person benefits, as is usually the case when purchasing new clothes, then he or she recites Shehechiyanu (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 223:3, 5).

So which bracha will we recite upon the coming of Moshiach, Shehechiyanu or hatov vihameitiv? After all, it is not just the excitement of seeing the Moshiach, but the realization that he will change the entire world for the better that generates the excitement and bracha.

In my opinion, we will recite both Shehechiyanu and HaTov ViHaMeitiv, but not at the same time. We will certainly recite hatov vihameitiv when we hear the wonderful tidings of Moshiach’s arrival. After all, if one recites the bracha when hearing that one receives a bounty, how much more so for the gift of Moshiach’s long awaited arrival!

In addition, according to Rav Shmuel Hominer and Rav Shlomoh Zalman, one will recite Shehechiyanu upon seeing Moshiach the first time due to the personal pleasure of witnessing him.

Although this now completes the list of brachos mentioned by Rav Hominer, I believe at least one more bracha should be added to the list:

RETURNING THE WIDOW TO HER PROPERTY
The Gemara (Brachos 58b) instructs that someone who sees Jewish houses in Eretz Yisroel that have been restored after the Churban recites the bracha, Matziv gvul almanah, He who reestablishes a widow to her borders, referring to the restoration of the Jewish people to the Holy Land. Rashi explains that this Gemara applies to a period such as that of Bayis Sheni when the Jews returned to Eretz Yisroel after the exile, and the Rif states that it refers specifically to the restoration of shuls and Batei Medrash. Obviously, we will recite this bracha the first time we see either the restored Beis HaMikdash or the Batei Medrash and shuls of a rebuilt Yerushalayim.

WHY DON’T WE RECITE THIS BRACHA NOW?
We do not recite this bracha until Moshiach arrives and we no longer need worry about our enemies (Beis Yosef, Orach Chayim 224; Maharsha, Berachos 58b; Shu"t Har Tzvi #84; cf. Magen Avraham 224:8). However, as soon as Moshiach has accomplished his purpose, we will recite this bracha on every rebuilt shul and beis Medrash we see in Eretz Yisroel. Thus, we might recite this bracha even before actually seeing Moshiach himself!

AN EARLIER TESHUVAH
Someone asked Rav Chayim Felaggi, zt"l, a great nineteenth century posek who was the Rav of Izmir, Turkey, the following shaylah, "When Moshiach redeems us, what bracha will we recite upon the redemption and in appreciation of Hashem’s benefiting us?"

Since the teshuvah is fairly short, I am translating it:

"It appears that we should recite a bracha of ‘Ga’al Yisroel,’ ‘that you redeemed us from this bitter exile’ similar to when we complete retelling the story of our Exodus on Pesach and recite ‘and we thank You and recite a new song on our redemption and we conclude with the bracha He who redeemed Israel.’ Similarly, after the future redemption we will recite a similar bracha. We will also recite Shehechiyanu for experiencing this wondrous time since without question this day will be established as a Yom Tov" (Shu"t Lev Chayim 2:42).

Recently, I saw someone rule that we will recite a bracha "Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam Go’el Yisroel" as soon as Moshiach arrives. However, I believe this to be an incorrect understanding of Rav Chayim Felaggi’s teshuvah. Nowhere do Chazal record a bracha with the text "Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam Go’el Yisroel, nor do they cite a bracha to be made when one is redeemed. Rather, what Rav Chayim Felaggi contended is that the Sanhedrin of the Moshiach era will institute a celebration to commemorate the wondrous events that transpire, and will presumably institute the reciting of a bracha similar in structure to the bracha we recite immediately prior to drinking the second cup of wine at the Seder, which closes with the words Ga’al Yisroel. In addition, the Sanhedrin will presumably make the day of Moshiach’s arrival into a Yom Tov that will be celebrated with the bracha of Shehechiyanu, just as we recite this bracha to commemorate every Yom Tov.

SIX BRACHOS
Thus, we now have a total of six brachos to recite when Moshiach arrives: (1) HaTov VeHaMeitiv when we hear of his arrival; (2) Matziv Gvul Almanah each time we see a newly reconstructed shul or Beis Medrash, and when we see the Beis HaMikdash; (3) Chacham HaRazim upon seeing 600,000 Jews assembled; (4, 5, 6) When we actually see Moshiach, we will recite three brachos She’chalak Mei’chochmaso Li’rei’av, She’chalak Mi’kevodo Li’rei’av, and Shehechiyanu. In what order should we recite these last three brachos?
Having resolved that we will recite two different brachos, She’chalak Mei’chochmaso Li’rei’av and She’chalak Mi’kevodo Li’rei’av, which of these brachos is recited first?

I believe that the following Gemara (Berachos 58b) demonstrates that Shehechiyanu should be the last of this triad:

"Rav Pappa and Rav Huna the son of Rabbi Yehoshua were traveling when they met Rav Chanina the son of Rabbi Ikka. They told him, ‘When we see you, we recite two brachos: Asher chalak mei’chachmaso lirei’av and Shehechiyanu.’" Thus we see that Shehechiyanu is recited after the other brachos.

WHICH BRACHA FIRST?
I found no reference in any posek concerning this question. On one hand, perhaps one can demonstrate that the bracha on a talmid chacham is first, since we have a general rule that mamzer Talmid Chocham kodem likohen gadol am ha’aretz, a mamzer who is a Torah scholar is honored greater than the kohen gadol who is boorish (Mishnah Horiyos 13a). On the other hand, the Gemara (Brachos 10a) cites a dispute between the prophet Yeshaya and King Chizkiyahu whether a king commands more respect than a prophet or vice versa. The Gemara implies that the king commands more respect. Thus one could infer that the bracha because of Moshiach being king should be recited before the bracha that he is a talmid chacham.

CAN’T SEE MOSHIACH?
Now a practical question:

What if you cannot actually see Moshiach because of the large throngs that are there, but you know that he is in front of you. Do you recite these brachos anyway?

The answer is based on a different question: Which is the correct text to the following Gemara (Berachos 58a):
Paraphrased text #1: Rav Sheisheis, who was blind, joined others who went to see the king. When the king arrived, Rav Sheisheis began blessing the king.
Paraphrased text #2: Rav Sheisheis, who was blind, joined others who went to see the king. When the king arrived, Rav Sheisheis began reciting the blessing.
What is the difference between the two versions? According to the first version, Rav Sheisheis blessed the king, meaning he gave him an appropriate greeting, but presumably did not recite the bracha on seeing a king, since he could not see him. Thus, one may not recite these two brachos unless one sees a king or a talmid chacham, and it is insufficient to be aware of his presence. This is the approach followed by the Eliyah Rabbah (224:6).
According to the second version, Rav Sheisheis recited the bracha for seeing the king, although he could not and did not see him. Thus, someone may recite this bracha to Hashem for seeing the honor that the king receives even though he does not actually see the king himself. This is the approach followed by Magen Avraham (224:6).

CONCLUSION
In conclusion, we may recite a total of eight special brachos when Moshiach arrives, in the following order.

1. When we first hear from a reliable source the good news of Moshiach’s arrival, we will recite Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam HaTov V’HaMeiteiv.

2. When we see the huge throngs of Jews assembled to greet him, which will no doubt number at least 600,000 people, one recites "Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam chacham harazim."

3. When one sees the rebuilt Beis HaMikdash or rebuilt shullen or Batei Medrash, one
recites, "Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam matziv gvul almanah." Theoretically, one might recite this bracha before the bracha chacham harazim, if one sees the rebuilt Beis HaMikdash before one sees the huge throngs.

4. When we actually see the Moshiach, we will recite "Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam She’chalak Mikevodo Li’rei’av."

5. Immediately after reciting this bracha, we will recite the bracha "Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam She’chalak Meichachmaso li’rei’av." According to some poskim, one may recite these last two brachos when aware that Moshiach is nearby even if one cannot see him.

6. When one actually sees Moshiach, one should recite Shehechiyanu.

7-8. According to Lev Chayim, on the anniversary of Moshiach’s arrival, we will again recite Shehechiyanu to commemorate the date, and we will recite a long bracha mentioning some of the details of the miraculous events of his arrival. This bracha will close with the words Baruch Attah Hashem Ga’al Yisroel.

Now that we have completed our discussion and review of these halachos, let us daven hard that we soon have the opportunity to recite these brachos!

This article was originally published in the American edition of the Yated Neeman

This Shiur is published also at Rabbi Kaganof's site


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