What that long-awaited day will actually look like
Mashiach has a PR problem.
Or so it seems. Do these three categories resonate with you?
- People who suffer from Mashiachphobia. Last year I gave my Mashiach class in an out-of-town Bais Yaakov and a mother called to thank me. Her daughter had been in therapy (I’m serious!) for fear that Mashiach might come. After hearing my class, she came home and announced that she can finally look forward to Mashiach.
That story is admittedly extreme, but how many erliche young ladies have been traumatized by irresponsible teachers, who sternly declare, “Mashiach will not come for the likes of you”? It’s shocking that there are still teachers who believe that by frightening their students, they’ll change them for the better. Making Mashiach scary is unforgivable.
Sadly, many suffer from Mashiachphobia in silence. Life has enough anxiety as it is. They crave stability. Somehow it has seeped into their subconscious that Mashiach equals chaos. He will precipitate a change in world order, apocalyptic wars, and upheaval.
And if he has to come, can he at least wait until I graduate? Preferably a little longer so I can settle down and find a job?
Others are afraid that Mashiach will forcibly change them into something for which they are not ready. What if he forbids us from watching YouTube? Makes us get rid of our music? Makes lots and lots of new rules?
- People who suffer from “I’ve-got-it-all-worked-out” Mashiach Syndrome. A healthy passion for Mashiach can easily backfire when we fail to comprehend the difference between our emunah that Mashiach could come any day with a conviction that Mashiach will come any day.
After Pesach a talmidah reached out to me crushed. She was 100 percent convinced Mashiach would come by the end of Yom Tov. How could Mashiach not come during the dramatic, coronavirus-fueled, stay-at-home Chag HaGeulah?
- The Mashiach-skeptic. Many of us suffer from this on a certain level. A wife says, “Dear husband, when will you change the light bulb? Are you waiting for Mashiach to come?” The subliminal message is that Mashiach is an event in the distant future.
In Shemoneh Esreh we ask Hashem for Mashiach. With the words “ki lishuas’cha kivinu kol hayom, for we hope for Your salvation all day long,” we fulfill the mitzvah of awaiting Mashiach (Shaarei Teshuvah 118:1). Is that true? How can we stand in front of the One Who knows our deepest thoughts and declare that our longing for Mashiach is central to our existence?
On Motzaei Tishah B’Av 5763 (2003), at an NCSY camp near Ottawa, I wrote a class called, “Mashiach — What’s It Like?” It told the story of what life will be like when he comes. Of course I knew the Rambam writes, “And we won’t know what it’s like until it happens” (Melachim 12:2), so my story would be as authentic as a blind person describing the beauty of a Rembrandt.
Still, I wrote it sticking with three rules. First, everything I said was rooted in Chazal and our mainstream mesorah. Second, I went with the opinions that are relatable: For example, we will build the Third Beis Hamikdash, it won’t miraculously come down from heaven (though Rashi disagrees). Finally, I tried to make it exciting, empowering, and uplifting. No Jew died in the story. I safely paskened like Rav Aharon of Belz who said that the terror that precedes Mashiach is behind us with the Holocaust.
My dream was to get one listener to underline in her siddur the words ki lishuas’cha kivinu kol hayom. Then maybe she’d say the words once, just once, from the bottom of her heart. And maybe that tefillah would be the one to end 2,000 years of longing and tears.
Part 1: AN ORDINARY DAY
Nothing about the day implies that it’s special. Everyone is busy with their humdrum routines. Suddenly the world explodes with rumors that there has been a press conference in Yerushalayim where senior gedolim announced that they’d met an extraordinary man. After a thorough investigation, they concluded he is Melech HaMashiach. There will be a formal kabbalas panim in Jerusalem in two days. Jewish communities across the globe are abuzz with excitement.
The other big story in the news is the surprising disappearance of COVID-19. The virus has simply vanished. A spokeswoman for Ha’aretz solemnly announces that this is nothing unusual and had been predicted by the Weizmann Institute.
The next 48 hours witness the greatest movement of humanity in history. Jews everywhere, even those who are skeptical, don’t want to lose the chance of possibly witnessing the greatest event since Har Sinai. Arriving in Yerushalayim, each community is assigned a place on the route that Mashiach will travel. They’re given a printed list of the five brachos to say when greeting Melech HaMashiach. The atmosphere is electric.
A correspondent from Mishpacha magazine describes seeing Mashiach for the first time:
“In the distance I see what looks like a bright light. As the light grows closer, I discern a human being riding on a donkey. Of course, the symbolism of a donkey isn’t lost on me. A donkey in Lashon Hakodesh is a chamor, which symbolizes chomer, physicality. Riding on a donkey means control of our physicality. I realize the world of technology, for example, will no longer be addictive. Instead, we’ll control it, using as an appropriate tool for perfecting the world.
“Avraham Avinu rode on a donkey to the Akeidah, the first individual to be in total control of his chomer. Moshe Rabbeinu rode a donkey on the way to save Klal Yisrael. Now Mashiach is riding a donkey ushering in an era when all of mankind will be free of addiction, free to use the physical gifts of this world for their intended higher purpose (Maharal, Gevuros 29).
“As Mashiach comes closer, I feel two conflicting emotions. I’ve never seen a face that exudes such a shining hadras panim. I feel perhaps I shouldn’t be looking, like I’m trying to see Moshe Rabbeinu’s face under the mask. I feel a yiras harommemus of a person whose essence is eved melech k’melech — the servant of the King is a king. I want to step back.
“Simultaneously, I’ve never seen a face that exuded so much ahavas Yisrael. The warmth in his eyes is that of a loving zeide, looking at his children with total acceptance, radiating waves of love for even the lowliest Jew. I want to rush forward and embrace him.
“Seeing him, I understand why our gedolim are convinced he is the man for whom we’ve been davening for thousands of years.
“I take my list of brachos and say shehecheyanu with flaming intensity. I say the brachah for seeing a great Torah scholar (shechalak michachmaso lireiav) and the brachah for seeing a Jewish king (shechalak michvodo lireiav). I say the brachah for seeing 600,000 Jews together (chacham harazim). Finally, I look at the last brachah and burst into tears.
“It is the brachah on the geulah.
“Everyone is crying tears of joy, celebrating farewell to thousands of years of spiritual distance, exile, and collective suffering. With all my strength, I scream, Baruch Atah Hashem, Elokeinu Melech Ha’olam, go’al Yisrael.”
Part 2: WORLD REACTION
The next day the Muslim leaders announce their allegiance to the Melech HaMashiach. Close to two billion Muslims are all singing his praises. They want to help him and the Jewish People in any way possible. The children of Yishmael, formerly our bitterest antagonists, are now the first to come home to the Tent of Abraham.
Many of our Christian neighbors don’t share their enthusiasm. Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise. The children of Eisav don’t want to give up millennia of hegemony.
And then our darkest nightmare occurs — a military coup in the United States. There are tanks on Capitol Hill. Congress is disbanded. Trump is sent back to his tower.
A new terrifying leader emerges. He’s known as Gog, his nom de guerre. His speeches spew infinitely more evil than had ever been heard in the Reichstag in 1939. Within days, the powers of Western Europe have their own revolutions and are swearing their allegiance to Gog. The Magog coalition is formed.
Their goal is chillingly simple: They will march with their millions of soldiers to Jerusalem, find Mashiach, and hang him. They will not rest until every Jew is murdered and the world will be finally Judenrein.
Aviv Kochavi, the IDF chief of staff, though despairing of success, offeres Tzahal’s services to Mashiach. Mashiach, with a loving smile, thanks the ramatkal and says, “Yedidi hayakar, I think I can handle this on my own.”
Mashiach calls the Mirrer Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Leizer Yudel Finkel shlita. The conversation goes something like this:
“Can you please send me your top ten talmidim?”
“Of course, but can I ask why Kavod Hamelech needs them?”
“I need fighters to take on Gog and Magog.”
“The Melech knows that my top talmidim think in learning day and night, are steeped in tefillah and kedushah, and probably wouldn’t know which way to hold a weapon,” is Reb Leizer Yudel’s incredulous response.
“That’s exactly why I want them…”
Mashiach continues recruiting from the top litvish, chassidish, and Sephardi yeshivos until he has an army of the top 300 talmidim in the country.
In the most extraordinary chapter in military history, in no time Gog is dead, Magog crushed, and not a single Jew is hurt. The pope switches his white kippah for a black one and urges the masses to join him in a triumphant return to the house of Yitzchak Avinu.
In the imagery of Chazal, despite the intrinsic evil of Eisav, his “head” will return to Yitzchak, which was the part of him that had the merit to be buried in the Mearas Hamachpeilah (see Yonasan ben Uziel, Bereishis 50:13).
The children of Eisav are finally back home.
Acharon acharon chaviv, the spokeswoman for Ha’aretz is overheard marveling at Hashem’s miraculous removal of coronavirus. Downloading Vizhnitzer niggunim becomes all the rage among the yuppies of North Tel Aviv. Mashiach’s malchus covers the globe.
This, however, creates a new challenge, a famine humanity has never seen before. Lo raav l’lechem v’lo tzamah l’mayim, no one is hungry for bread or thirsty for water, ki im lishmoa es divrei Hashem (Amos 9:11). The world is hungry for knowledge and thirsty for Torah.
Part 3: HARD WORK BEGINS
Mashiach is inundated with requests for teachers, and he has to prioritize, making sure that our brothers and sisters who don’t even know alef-beis are taught first. Eventually he will help the nations of the world. Anyone who can teach on any level does. Mashiach’s rebbetzin organizes the women. The world is hurtling toward ki malei ha’aretz deiah es Hashem (Yeshayahu 11:9).
Those who are zocheh are part of the Third Beis Hamikdash project. It’s by far the most beautiful building the world has ever seen. Just the visible yofi arouses ruach hakodesh, and it’s technologically state of the art. Getting used to the complex laws of tumah and taharah is, ironically, easier than expected, thanks to coronavirus. People are aware of what they touch. They’re accustomed to social distancing when necessary. This is now channeled into taharas hakodesh.
As people refocus their energy from the pursuit of money and pleasure into the meaningful pleasures of Torah wisdom, their middos start changing. Studying Torah lishmah makes you into a better person. Your focus is always on other people. Shalom bayis issues are resolved, children are naturally respectful to their elders, and traffic circles are annoying because everyone politely waits for the next one to go first. Therapists are channeling their talents into facilitating high-level mussar vaadim on self-improvement.
Armies are disbanded. Defunding the police is national policy everywhere as law enforcement becomes irrelevant. Nobody cares about losing employment because wealth is in abundance and the freed-up time is welcomed. More hours to indulge in the pleasures of Torah.
Part 4: RETURN TO GAN EDEN
As people work on themselves nature responds.
It’s parshas Noach in reverse. Back then, as the Dor Hamabul descended into decadent behavior, nature responded, and it affected the animal kingdom in a sickening way (see Rashi, Noach 6:12).
Now, Mashiach has unleashed an unprecedented ruchani goodness in the world. Nature takes note and starts offering its true natural goodness. Grains, fruits, and vegetables are literally heavenly. No more chemical fragrances; divine aromas are provided fresh from nature. People eat less yet feel healthier.
The innate beauty of humanity comes out, and everyone looks perfect, the way Hashem created us. Physical ugliness is a function of our spiritual ugliness. As with Sarah Imeinu’s beauty at age seven, this beauty comes from an inner purity (Rashi, Chayei Sarah 23:1).
Just as everyone was healed at Har Sinai, human defects disappear. The blind can see, the crippled can walk, and children with Down syndrome have their natural balance of chromosomes restored. Medical professionals, outside of assisting with increasingly painless childbirth, are happily redundant. They can join their ex-police, ex-therapist friends in kollel.
Is what the world is seeing miraculous? Not at all. This is the way nature was always supposed to be, before it was contaminated with iniquity.
Mashiach encourages people to travel during bein hazmanim and see the beauty of Hashem’s world. A visit to the Amazon (the rainforest, not the website) would be a feast for the eyes. If you saw a jaguar (the animal, not the car) rushing toward you, it probably wants to joyfully lick you. When a man’s tzelem Elokim is apparent, there’s no such thing as an animal hostile to a human. The animal kingdom is returning to the way it was in Gan Eden when the wolf would lie down with the lamb (Yeshayahu 11:6).
Part 5: THE MUSIC OF MASHIACH
The success of the final era of Mashiach creates a new problem. It’s virtually impossible for man to do wrong. Without the option of bad choices, one cannot earn sechar for making good choices. Overcoming challenges is what gives meaning to life. Life is uneventful (see Ramban, Devarim 30:6). In the words of Shlomo Hamelech, these are days we declare, “ein li bahem chefetz, I have no desire for them” (Koheles 12:1).
Those who have lost loved ones now have this strange feeling that their relatives are very close. Almost as if they’ve never died. As if the burial they’d witnessed was nothing more than planting seeds in the ground.
Mashiach tells us our loved ones are coming home. It’s time for techiyas hameisim. He joyfully announces that his mission is complete. Olam Hazeh has come to an end, replaced by Olam Haba. When the dead come back to life, we realize that death was nothing more than an illusion.
What will the World to Come look like? We don’t know. It was never described by the prophets because ayin lo ro’asah — our eyes cannot comprehend it (Yeshayahu 64:3). It’s on a different dimension, like receiving a sixth sense. Olam Haba is not a magical faraway place. It is right here, on planet Earth.
All that’s changed is our ability to open our eyes.
The Zohar compares this era to music. Imagine a conductor teaches you to play an instrument to perfection. That instrument is your soul instrument; it brings out all the natural music inside of you. Imagine if that conductor then taught you how to play in perfect harmony with the music of the person next to you. Imagine a thousand people playing that way. Ten thousand. At what point would your soul want to leave your body from the sheer beauty of the music?
Imagine every community, every nation, playing in perfect harmony. At some point the pirkei shirah of the animals and birds, the mountains and oceans and planets would be apparent. Every blade of grass and every grain of sand contributes immaculately to the music of the world.
The name of the conductor is Hashem.
And the name of the symphony is Hashem Echad.
I know with absolute clarity that when this story actually happens, it will be infinitely more beautiful and inspiring. The only question that remains is who will be the one to underline in her siddur the words ki lishuas’cha kivinu kol hayom, to say the words from the bottom of her heart, to be the one to care enough to bring the geulah.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 702)
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