Whenever I tell people that I’m writing a book about Moshiach, Gan Eden and the Resurrection of the dead, I get great feedback. “It’s gonna be a best-seller”, I’m told. “Who wouldn’t want to learn about those concepts, which are rarely, if ever taught”? But in Uman Rosh Hashana this year I was invited to a meal in David Assoulin’s apartment and I was talking to Gedale Fenster about the book. Because of his niche, dealing with the struggles of broken homes and addictions, he thought the idea was less relevant.
“What does that do for me now”? he said.
Here’s why I think Reb Gedale is wrong!
In Torah 7 Rebbe Nachman writes that the essence of galus is a lack of faith. In Rebbe Nachman’s vocabulary, there are four synonymous words: faith, prayer, miracles and the Land of Israel. They all mean believing in miracles. That’s what faith is, believing that our situation is not written in stone, and miracles can happen. That’s what prayer is all about too. It’s acting on ones belief in miracles. The Land of Israel, says the Rebbe, is the place where miracles happen, but more so it’s the place where this fabric of faith is cultivated.
The Rebbe brings from the Talmud (Sanhedrin 97a):
“אין בן דוד בא עד שתכלה פרוטה מן הכיס”
Moshiach won’t come until there’s no money left in our pockets. He learns that the Gemara’s usage of the word פרוטה is alluding to one of the most miraculous angels, the miracle angel appointed over rain, which the Talmud (Taanis 25b) says looks like a calf with split lips, פירטא שפוותיה . The word פירטא has the same root as the word פרוטה. So it means that moshiach won’t come until all those who deny miracles (the פרוטה, the פירטא) will be cut off. These are people who cover up (כיס) all miracles with explanations within nature. Once those non-believers will be removed, the world will be filled with faith and Moshiach can come. So Galus is from a lack of faith, and Geula is a product of having faith.
Every day after Shacharis we recite the thirteen principles of faith, derived from the Rambam. You might have noticed that the last two are fundamentally different from the first eleven. Let me explain: In the first eleven we affirm belief in Hashem’s rulership, His oneness, His inability to be bound by time, the fact the He has no body, that He’s first and last, that He’s the only one which is befitting to pray to, that He knows all our thoughts and that there will be reward and punishment for our deeds. We also affirm our belief in the authenticity of the Torah and the prophets. These are all essential components to a structured belief system. To believe in Hashem’s all powerful invincibility and uniqueness and to believe in the genuineness and purity of the Torah is crucial to our observance. But then we affirm our belief in Moshaich and in the resurrection. Is that really the same type of faith? Can’t you be a good Jew, just by doing all the mitzvos and believing in the Divine transmission of the Torah, and Hashem’s utter uniqueness? Why is it essential to believe in Moshiach and in the resurrection of the dead?
And here’s the kicker, in the principle about Moshiach it says:
וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּתְמַהְמֵהַּ עִם כָּל זֶה אֲחַכֶּה לּוֹ בְּכָל יוֹם שֶׁיָּבוֹא
What does that have to do with it? Why is that an essential principle of faith? Even if I grant you that believing in Moshiach is a core principle, why is believing that he could come every day essential?
This I believe is the faith that Rebbe Nachman was talking about. Of course it’s critical to believe that Hashem has no body, but do you wanna be a Galus Jew or a Geula Jew? A galus Jew can keep the Mitzvos and believe in Hashem, but he’s a pessimistic person, who’s covering up daily miracles. That person, says the Rebbe, based on the Gemara, will unfortunately be gone before Moshiach comes. But someone who’s waiting every day for Moshiach, is aware of all the miracles around him, praying and believing in a reality that is just behind the door.
That’s the Rebbe’s faith. That’s the faith of Moshiach and that faith is of the utmost relevance today.