Saturday, March 03, 2012

How Will Moshiach Come?

My previous post dealt with Chabad's last mission as a prelude to the Era of Redemption (link). To sum it up in one sentence: We soldiers of the Rebbe have an assignment, often uneasy because we have to be well-versed in what the Rebbe prepared us with, to convey to Jews the world over the identity of Moshiach, despite the ignorant resistance, if we are to be faithful to our commander-in-chief.

Issues that trigger resistance or doubts must be explained. There's the issue of his apparent death, and the issue of why he never just came out to bluntly assert, "I am Moshiach". The issue I now try to explain, in my own way, is - How will Moshiach arrive?

Will he descend in a blaze of fire from the heavens and make a soft landing; Will he use a parachute that, like the burning bush, won't disintegrate? And where will he land to maximize exposure and attention?

Will he storm his way into a television studio while they're broadcasting, grab the microphone and announce himself; Like CNN, Fox, or maybe an Israeli leftist channel? Will he time his entry during a soccer match or a kids' show?

Or will everybody's screen one day suddenly provide a beeping alert, followed by an urgent news bulletin that introduces Moshiach to everyone?

Or will he suddenly appear in a white tank during some war and fire perfect kills at the enemy, then stand on its hull, raise his hands and shout, "I am Moshiach!"?

Even if these were viable entry protocols, we'd have to first test his sanity, then test if in fact he was Moshiach. And where do we find those criteria? In Maimonides - and only in Maimonides - in his "Kings" 11:4.

How will Moshiach come? The Rambam (11:1, 3) says that
"he will get up" (עתיד לעמד‫,‬ ואם יעמוד)
and "getting up" implies - he's been around awhile already, only no one took much notice.

As for his bursting onto the scene in some miraculous fashion, I hate to disappoint those who expect such a debut. In fact, his arrival will come in a most natural way!
"World events will proceed as usual" (12:1) עולם כמנהגו נוהג
A "natural way" means his arrival will respect the rules of nature.

But surely he could do for us even a little miracle, to make it easy for us to pinpoint him? Banish such thought, says the Rambam:
"And don't even consider that Moshiach has to perform miracles or wonders ... It isn't so!" (11:3)
ואל יעלה על דעתך שהמלך המשיח
צריך לעשות אותות ומופתים ... אין הדבר כך

Well then, maybe the environment or social landscape will change significantly and this will give us an indication of changing times to help us identify a man who at the time suddenly claims he's Moshiach? Again Maimonides says - banish the thought;
"Don't let it don on your mind that in Moshiach's time some natural aspect of the world will be nullified ...."
אל יעלה על הלב שבימות המשיח יבטל דבר ממנהגו

One of Moshiach's identifying criteria is, he must learn and delve in Torah. So when he does "get up" to become Moshiach, we'd have to know he has indulged and fathomed the depths of Torah (11:4), so, again, he'd have been around enough for us to judge his grasp of the written and oral Torahs.

Sounds to me like he'd be a prominent rabbi first; A rabbi preoccupied with doing mitzvot - all mitzvot, both those decreed by the sages as well as those of Torah.

It's like a general who becomes chief-of-staff; He will have had to prove himself as a capable general before being honored with the highest rank available.

Another identifying criterion of the rank of Moshiach is a history of swaying all of Jewry to follow the ways of Torah, or of strengthening such behavior. It would have to be a rabbi in the world with the very best credentials for reaching out to world Jewry. And what better way to have this impact than to have already long ago begun sending into all remote corners of the world emissaries faithful to his goal, to set up shop in these far-flung, often inhospitable regions, with wife and children, where there isn't yet kosher food, Jewish schools or synagogues, when the emmissaries don't even speak the local language, and begin their lives there anew, for the sake of Jewry, under conditions of self-sacrifice. "Beit Chabads" can today be found almost anywhere around the globe where Jewish feet may tread!

This Moshiach rabbi, of course, would certainly have to be recognized for having such influence on Jewry all over the world, and a rich history of it at that.

Somewhere along the way, this learned and influential rabbi, from the lineage of David, will have been knighted by God with the new rank of King Moshiach. Overnight he will have gone - from rabbi to king.

So how will he "get up"?

Will he notify the world all at once, as we said, storm into some world-broadcast session, or does it make more sense he will first notify his own circle of followers to reach out to their brethren? It cannot be the former because informing every Jew at once involves, simply, a miracle. The latter way is, unfortunately, the longer, but natural, way.

It is imperative to remember what it is Maimonides laid down as Jewish law: The world will go on as it naturally goes on, on a daily basis, even once Moshiach has become Moshiach! That is to say, Moshiach will take the world over - normally, in an ordinary due course.

In fact, it seems clear, this king will now use the same messengers he had used until now to influence world Jewry. He would make use of his thousands of emissaries already in place, and still growing in large numbers everywhere in the world.

Only this time his emissaries must carry a new message ("Chabad's Last Mission"). Not really a new message, for Torah is eternal, and Judaism and Moshiach are intimately linked, but rather with a new angle to the old messages - an important, all-encompassing update!

Think of it as a general who becomes chief-of-staff. First he tells his own brigade, and then asks them to tell their soldier friends and all the people they meet. Well, perhaps in the army it doesn't quite work that way, but for the Jewish peapole, a nation spread out the world over, and for this rabbi who already has his soldiers in practically all these universal locations, it obviously is the most natural way to proceed.

It becomes their job to explain Moshiach and Moshiach times, because they must create a nation of acceptors, for without his nation to accept him, the king simply cannot assume the mantle of kingship. He cannot force himself upon his flock. It is up to Jews to recognize and nominate him, and thereby crown him.

As the Rebbe told his messengers, "Whereas recently a novelty has accrued to your mission ... every emissary must prepare himself and to prepare all Jews in his place, in his city, etc. to accept Moshiach for who he is, whereby he explains the concept of Moshiach ... in an acceptable way to every Jew, as per their intellect and understanding ... that will take us into the True and Final Redemption." (Sefer Hasichos, 5752, Chayei Sarah)

(Read also: Why the Rebbe Wouldn't Say "I am Moshiach!", here.)


  1. Or will everybody's screen one day suddenly provide a beeping alert, followed by an urgent news bulletin that introduces Moshiach to everyone?...thinking most will likely think this

    sending you an incoming email.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. since moshiach has to come in a natural way will doctors find a way to bring a person back to life or will scientists discover a hidden reality where it will be seen that the Rebbe is alive? Or will something other have to happen?

  4. Moshiach's era is divided into two. During the
    first phase nature's guidelines remain in place.

    Reincarnation comes later, if I recollect correctly,
    when nature no longer defines the boundaries
    for this phase. The world will be elevated to a
    loftier experience, a supernatural utopia where
    the divine presence will become more tangible.