Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What Difference Moshiach's Identity?

Overheard this dialogue:

What difference does it make who Moshiach is? Do I care if it's Daniel, who comes from the dead, or someone else, who comes from among us today - what difference does it make?! Whoever he is - we'll accept him! Period! So why push someone's identity if it makes no difference?

Your question might seem like a solid question, but then ask yourself why, if his identity is unimportant, why does Maimonides, in one of his final chapters, which deals with Moshiach, why is it he enumerated the qualifications for Moshiach's identity? The Rambam did not, in his amazing compendium of laws, use words cheaply. Every word, you and I feel sure of, is important. How much more so an entire set of qualifications on how to identify Moshiach!

OK, so why, in fact, does it make a difference?

Not sure.

Personally, I can only conjecture. Perhaps because by knowing his identity you can then educate yourself further in what he, that particular tzaddik, taught. After all, such a personality is not merely a name but a personal and Torah-laden dynamo. Just see what great powers he must have to qualify.

Perhaps it's to get you to become more interested, because if it's some unknown long-ago figure who you know little about personally, maybe you'd not change yourself one iota for the better, because, after all, no one compels you to do so - for his sake! In other words, it may be important enough to strike these qualifications into the stone of law because you thereby will have to judge for yourself and determine whether or not to believe it in the first place, or not, else why the laws?

Perhaps by knowing you also now have to behave accordingly; As long as the figure is a far-fetched, nebulous personality, you will bide your time for however much longer you want to remain disattached; But a Jew and the Jewish people are given reasons for upward mobility and this issue may be important enough for each individual so as to move the entire mass of the Jewish body to accept something they yet know nothing about - as long as this figure remains some vague vision. Then you can contemplate and introspect all you want - but it will cost you nothing in "anticipating Moshiach"!

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