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Nissan 5762

Faith in the Coming of the Messiah


Written by the rabbi

Dedicated to the memory of
R. Meir b"r Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld

Faith in the coming of the Messiah and the expectation of his arrival make up one of the foundations of the Jewish faith. Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, the "Rambam," formulated thirteen principles of faith, and one of them is: "I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and, though he tarry, I will wait daily for his coming."
The expectation of the arrival of the Messiah does not imply standing around doing nothing, waiting for the Messiah to come and solve all of our problems. The words, "I will wait daily for his coming" imply making oneself ready for his coming, as it says in the verse, "Let your garments be always white..." (Ecclesiastics 9:8). Waiting for the Messiah means being clean of transgressions and full of Mitzvoth. It means being prepared psychologically for the arrival of the Redeemer. This is necessary because when he arrives "a new light will shine upon Zion." We are thus called upon to broaden both our physical and spiritual capacities; to be open to receiving this great divine outpouring; to prepare large enough vessels to receive the light.

This foundation of faith, which calls upon us to wait for the coming of the Messiah each day, is not easy to maintain. It requires of us to endure a lofty spiritual strain, to wait, each day, in fixed expectation and psychological readiness for earth shattering events. This is not so simple. One might compare such stress to that of a candidate for an important position as Election Day approaches. Will he win and ascend to greatness, or lose everything that he invested in order to attain that position? Similarly, we might compare the one who waits for the Messiah to a person who has participated in a grand lottery. He sits, engulfed in tension, waiting to hear the outcome of the lottery - an outcome which is liable to change his way of life completely. It is impossible to hold up under such pressure for an extended period time.

Yet, here we are called upon to maintain a high level of readiness and constant expectation for the arrival of redemption, a change that - according to the majority of sages - will alter our entire way of life completely. If we have been called upon to behave so, then the Almighty must have provided us with the great mental capacities needed to deal with such a demand:

On the one hand, we must be ready for the appearance of the redemption, and this could happen at any moment, as at says, "Behold, I send my messenger and he will clear the way before me, and the Lord who you seek shall suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, who you delight in, behold, he shall come, says the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 3) Such was the nature of the redemption from Egypt, and such was the miracle of Purim.
On the other hand, we must be prepared for the delayed arrival of the Messiah, so that his tarrying does not result in despair and crisis. We must acknowledge the fact that though anything is possible, all that the Almighty does is for the best. And even if we have to wait indefinitely, this too is for the best.

The anticipation of the arrival of the Messiah calls upon us to develop enormous inner faculties, and drives us forward in continuous daily progress. The actions of one who anticipates the coming of the Messiah and works toward this end by participating in the development of the Land of Israel and the People of Israel; the actions of one who strengthens the spirit of the nation by comforting the estranged - his actions grow and ascend up to the highest of heights. He and his portion are blessed.
May we merit that we live and see and inherit goodness and blessing in the years of the messianic times and the life of the World to Come.



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