Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Coming Of Moshiach (Bimihera Biyameinu)

In Igeres Taimon, the Rambam demonstrates that the self-proclaimed "Moshiach" that was running around in those days was not Moshiach at all. He does this by mentioning several signs that Moshiach must display, none of which were fulfilled by the man in question.

He then says that following any such false redemption would be a violation of the Oaths, which were designed specifically to make sure that Klall Yisroel would not try to end the Golus before the proper time.

He says that this man cannot be Moshiach because, among other things, Moshiach will be suddenly and by surprise in Eretz Yisroel. Nobody will have expected this man to be Moshiach.

"At the time he is revealed, the nations will be petrified from what they hear about him; they will assemble to try to plot a defense in response to him, for they will be in awe and terrified at his open and indisputable signs and wonders".

The Rambam mentions the Kibutz Golius that Moshiach will perform, and also says that the fulfillment of world peace and the "conclusion" of the "fearful acts that will take place from east to west", "they will not happen at the beginning of his revelation in the world, but rather after the war of Gog and Magog."

Moshiach will be a prophet greater than all prophets except Moshe Rabbeinu. He will be a unique Tzadik as well, with qualities that were until then present only in Moshe Rabbeinu. He will be known as such. "Therefore, if someone who is not publicly known for his wisdom gets up and declares he is Moshiach, we may not believe him."

In other words, first Moshiach will be revealed suddenly in Eretz Yisroel, with signs that he is Moshiach, then, after Moshiach's revelation according to those signs, there will be Kibutz Golius, the war of Gog and Magog (it is clear that the war of Gog and Magog will be after the revelation of Moshiach), then other Messianic prophecies will be fulfilled.

This is supported by the Gemora at the beginning of Avodah Zorah which states that even before the war of Gog and Magog, Moshiach will be revealed, known to the nations of the world, and the nations will be so scared of him that they all want to become Jewish.

So even though we will not know for sure that this person is Moshiach, we will have a measure of evidence, such that we will be entitled to assume that he is indeed the real Moshiach. And that assumption would allow us to follow him from Kibutz Golius.

The problem is, the Rambam in Mishneh Torah says (11:3) that "Moshiach will not need to do any signs or wonders and change things in the world or nature or resurrect the dead ... rather, if someone of Dovidic lineage, and performs mitzvos like his father Dovid ... and will make all of Klall Yisroel follow the Torah, and repent, he is assumed to be Moshiach. If he succeeds..."

SO first, even here, the Rambam tells us that a prerequisite even for a person to be assumed to be Moshiach is that he will cause all of Klall Yisroel to do Teshuva. With a 60% intermarriage rate in America, and will all the rebellious teenagers still not frum, and with all the Loshon Horah that is spoken, and all the Aveiros that we all still do, clearly, not even an assumed Moshiach is has yet arrived.

(Note: Here, too, Lubavitch has distorted things. When the Rambam says that Moshiach will make all of Klall Yisroel do Teshuva, he is not referring exclusively to what we call "Ballei Teshuva" - people who know nothing about Judaism becoming religious. He says all of Klall Yisroel, meaning, the religious Jews as well. More so, even, because if we are going to consider the non-religious Tonokos Shenishu, then they have little to do Teshuva for, compared to us. The Rambam means that Moshiach will make all the Yeshiva bochurim and BY girls and frum baalei batim do Teshuva. And even according to their distortion, nothing close to even all of the Tonokos Shenishbu have done Teshuva. As I mentioned, an intermarriage rate of over 60% in America means that not only have they all not done Teshuva, but their situation in a way is a lot worse than ever in Jewish history. A far cry from the Rambam's requirement.)

But besides Teshuva, the Rambam also says (11:12) that all Jews will gather around moshiach, who will determine their lineage with Ruach HaKodesh, and (see Kesef Mishna) that he will also possess the Urim V'Tumim.

In Hilchos Teshuva the Rambam writes that Moshiach will be wiser even than Shlomo HaMelech, and all the Goyim will come and listen to him.

And more: The Rambam writes that one of the requirements of a Navi in general is that he performs supernatural acts to prove his stature.

And the Rambam in Pirush HaMishnayos in Sanhedrin (ch. 11) explains that all the world, including the Goyim, will make peace with Moshiach and serve him, "because of his great righteousness and the wonders that he will do, yet reality will not be changed from what it will currently be, except for the fact that the Jews will rule."

So clearly, there will be many wondrous acts and even miracles that the Moshiach will perform, even before the world changes, and what the Rambam says that Moshiach will not do any wonders or miracles is referring to wonders and miracles such as he lists, like the resurrection of the dead and similar things that are changes in the reality of the world, things that will indeed happen later on in the Messianic age. So all the Rambam means, as he says more clearly in Peiruch HaMishnayos, is that the Moshiach will not perform any Messianic changes in the world until later on, but even at the beginning of his revelation, he will perform several wondrous acts.

When all that happens, we can follow that man into Kibutz Golius.

And Kibutz Golius doesn’t even mean that we will go from Chutz Laaretz into Erezt Yisroel. The Raavad in his commentary on Edios writes that before we go into Eretz Yisroel, Moshiach will take all of Klall Yisroel through the desert again, like he (Moshe, the redeemer) did the first time. If that doesn't happen, then it's not the Kibutz Golius.

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You don't need to know when he's coming. It doesn't matter. Our job is to do Mitzvos. Moshiach will come when he comes.

More: You're not supposed to know! First, part of being in Golus means not knowing when the Geulah comes - for when you know the time of the Geulah, you are really, in essence, already redeemed (Maharal). Second, one of the things we know about Moshiach's coming is that it will be a surprise - meaning, we will not know how or when it will be. If we envision Moshiach's coming in a certain way, then for sure it will be a different way. The reason for this is, when Moshiach comes, the Satan dies. So the Satan focuses all his energy on trying to make Moshiach not come. Therefore, to protect Moshiach, so to speak, Hashem makes moshiach come in such an unexpected fashion, so as to "hide" him from the Satan. If we know the specifics of Moshiach's arrival then the Satan knows it too, and then he will try to make sure they never happen. We will not know the details of Moshiach's coming till he comes - then it's too late for the Satan to do anything about it.

Thank G-d you DON'T know when or how Moshiach is coming. If you did, that would likely prevent his arrival altogether.

Even Moshiach will not know he is Moshiach until G-d tells him so in a revelation.

There are many opinions in Chazal regarding signs of Moshiach's arrival, including Eliyahu hanavi's announcement, as well as Moshiach ben Yosef. However, as Rav Shach writes, all these signs cannot be taken l'halacha, since the Rambam (and other Rishonim) have collected whatever signs they saw fit to present to us. In a case where we have rulings in Rishonim, we follow them. The Rambam's psakim I listed above, and in Igeres Taimon he was talking in actuality to a community explaining to them why Moshiach is not here yet.

We will know who Moshiach is through signs --- I listed them.

Moshiach's coming is one of the Rambam's 13 fundamentals of our religion. That means he has to come.

There is a disagreement in the Rishonim regarding if belief in the coming of Moshiach is included in the fundamental beliefs, but everyone agrees it will happen, even if it not in the Ikarim.

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