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The Belief in Mashiach

Ikvot Meshicha: The Time Immediately Before Mashiach

The Personality of Mashiach

Date of Mashiach's Coming

Hastening the Coming of Mashiach

Awaiting Mashiach

Now - More Than Ever!

Mishneh Torah

The Prophet Elijah: Harbinger of the Redemption

Mashiach Ben Yossef

Bibliography

Mashiach
The Principle of Mashiach and the Messianic Era in Jewish Law and Tradition
Expanded Edition


Ikvot Meshicha: The Time Immediately Before Mashiach

by Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Schochet

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  The Belief in MashiachThe Personality of Mashiach  

The time appointed by G-d for the Messianic redemption is a closely guarded secret.[29] Nonetheless, we are offered many hints to recognize its proximity: when certain conditions come about, await the imminent coming of Mashiach.

Most of these conditions are quite disturbing, clearly displaying a situation of the very "bottom of the pit."[30] One major source describes the world-condition in those days as follows: increase in insolence and impudence; oppressing inflation; unbridled irresponsibility on the part of authorities; centers of learning will turn into bawdy houses; wars; many destitutes begging, with none to pity them; wisdom shall be putrid; the pious shall be despised; truth will be abandoned; the young will insult the old; family-breakup with mutual recriminations; impudent leadership.[31]

Other sources add: lack of scholars; succession of troubles and evil decrees; famines; mutual denunciations; epidemics of terrible diseases; poverty and scarcity; cursing and blaspheming; international confrontations - nations provoking and fighting each other.[32] In short, it will be a time of suffering that will make it look as if G-d were asleep. These are the birthpangs of Mashiach, bearable only in anticipation of the bliss that follows them.

"When you see a generation ever dwindling, hope for him .. when you see a generation overwhelmed by many troubles as by a river, await him."[33] "When you see nations fighting each other, look toward the feet of Mashiach."[34]
Little wonder that some sages expressed apprehensions about those days in terms of, "Let [Mashiach] come, but let me not see him."[35] The prevailing attitude, however, is to await his coming in spite of all, even if thereafter we shall merit no more than sitting "in the shadow of his donkey's dung!"[36]

The troubles and agony of chevlei Mashiach (birthpangs of Mashiach), however, are not unavoidable:

"What is man to do to be spared the pangs of Mashiach? Let him engage in Torah and acts of loving-kindness!"[37]
Moreover, there are also good and happy signs indicating the imminent coming of Mashiach: a good measure of prosperity;[38] a renewal of Torah-study;[39] and opening of the "gates of wisdom above and the wellsprings of wisdom below,"[40] evidenced also by scientific and technological discoveries and advances; a manifestation and propagation of the mystical teachings of the Torah;[41] and also - "In the time that Mashiach will awaken, many signs and miracles will occur in the world."[42]

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Pesachim 54b; Midrash Tehilim 9:2. See Zohar Chadash, Bereishit, 8a.

  2. (Back to text) Midrash Tehilim 45:3. See Ma'amarei Admur Hazaken-Ethalech, p. 103f.; and Besha'ah Shehik-dimu-5672, vol. I:p. 551; relating this to the principle (Midrash Tehilim 22:4; Zohar II:46a) that the darkest moments of the night are immediately before daybreak. Cf. Zohar I:170a. For this analogy see also the comment of R. Elijah, the Vilna Gaon, cited in Even Shelemah, ch. 11:5.

  3. (Back to text) Sotah 49b

  4. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 97a; Shir Rabba 2:29.

  5. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 98a

  6. (Back to text) Bereishit Rabba 42:4. Note Pesikta Rabaty 37:2 (ed. Friedmann, ch. 36)!

  7. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 98b

  8. (Back to text) Ibid. See also Zohar II:7aff.

  9. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 98b

  10. (Back to text) Sanhedrin 97a; Shir Rabba 2:29.

  11. (Back to text) Ibid.

  12. (Back to text) Zohar I:117a

  13. (Back to text) Zohar I:118a. See Zohar Chadash, Tikunim, 96c; and Mayanei Hayeshu'ah, I:2. Cf. below, note 84. Note also Igeret Teyman, ch. 3, that prophecy shall be restored to Israel prior to the coming of Mashiach.

  14. (Back to text) Zohar II:8a


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