Airports are not for the fainthearted. And while the arrivals hall is infinitely easier to handle than the departure terminal there too emotions run high.

I stood waiting to greet my daughter who had been overseas in seminary for the year. The arrivals board indicated that her plane had landed but no passengers had passed yet through the great glass portal that separated us.

I stationed myself among the other parents but I wasn’t being sociable because I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the glass long enough to carry on a decent conversation. I didn’t want to miss the first glimpse of my daughter at the doorway.

A sympathetic woman approached to inform me that the passengers were delayed at baggage claim. Still I couldn’t relax my gaze; after all maybe just maybe my daughter’s suitcases were the first ones off the plane! I heard the buzz around me about Pesach recipes but it was of no interest to me at all as I waited and waited with an overwhelming eagerness.

And then suddenly I saw her making her way in my direction. “Faster” I called as she struggled to push the luggage cart through the barrier. “Faster!”

Then and there in the month of Nissan in the very season of geulah I had a taste of what it means for Klal Yisrael to wait for Mashiach. To keep our eyes firmly on the goal. To yearn anticipate and remain eager with every fiber of our being. Not to get distracted by the buzz around us. Not to lose hope even when the naysayers say he’s delayed.

The Twelfth Principle of the Rambam’s Thirteen Articles of Faith states I believe with complete faith in the coming of Mashiach and even if he delays I will still await him every day.

Constant Anticipation

Torah sources teach that there will be four distinct stages of existence: Olam Hazeh (our current world) Yemos haMashiach (the Messianic era) Techiyas Hameisim (Resurrection) and Olam Haba (the eternal World to Come).

Although the term Olam Haba is often employed to refer to the place where the neshamah goes after death to await resurrection this repository of souls is more accurately termed Olam Haneshamos. Olam Haba is the ultimate and eternal state of existence; it’s also sometimes referred to as Olam Has’char the World of Reward.

The last two principles of the articles of faith — belief in Mashiach and in techiyas hameisim—follow naturally from the previous Principle of reward and punishment. After the Rambam establishes that payback takes place in the World to Come he then outlines in Principles Twelve and Thirteen the two stages of world history that will lead to this ultimate World of Reward — the eras of Mashiach and of resurrection.

The Brisker Rav points out that the Twelfth Principle includes two obligations. One is to believe that Mashiach will come and the other is to anxiously await his arrival each day. The Chofetz Chaim writes that “one should think each day that today can be the day.” We express this daily yearning in Shemoneh Esreh with the words “ki lishuas’cha kivinu kol hayom u’metzapim lishuah” and other brachos in Shemoneh Esreh and Bircas Hamazon center around the Geulah as well.

Tehillim (130:6) states “Nafshi laHashem mishomrim laboker shomrim laboker my soul awaits for Hashem more than those who watch for morning who watch for morning.” Rashi interprets the repetitive cadence: “I am among those who look forward anxiously again and again keitz achar keitz deadline after deadline.” In this verse Dovid Hamelech expresses his readiness to continually wait for the Yemos haMashiach the Messianic era even though it seems as if all deadlines have passed.

What Are We Waiting For?

Why is it so crucial that one waits for Mashiach? Why is it not sufficient to know and believe that he’ll come eventually?

To answer this question we must clearly know what we are waiting for. What is the nature of the Yemos haMashiach? Here is how the Rambam describes it: The chachamim and neviim did not yearn for the days of Mashiach so that they’d rule over the world or eat drink and be merry. Rather they looked forward to this time in order to be free to engage in Torah without oppressors or detractors enabling them to earn life in the World to Come. There will be neither hunger nor war and no jealousy or rivalry for there will be bountiful good and delicacies. The entire world will be focused on knowing Hashem.