Did you know that there are thirteen principles of faith upon which Judaism rests? These principles are the outline for our understanding of our relationship with G-d, with the Torah and with history.

If you never heard of this, you’re not alone. Many people, Jews included haven’t. One of the principles¬†is “I believe, with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach¬†(The Messiah) and even though, he may tarry, even with that I wait every day for him to come.”

Fascinating, no? You never hear of this. If you would rewind history though, just a few¬†hundred ¬†years ago, Moshiach¬†was on everyone’s lips day and night. We prayed for an end¬†to the persecution. And the hope led us through years of misery. As a matter of fact, even in recent history as we were led into the gas chambers, we persisted in singing Ani Ma’amin. (“I¬† believe that Moshiach is coming…”) It made the Nazi’s crazy, to see us holding on to something eternal when they were trying to reduce us to a meaningless existence. {Click¬†here to¬†listen to¬†Ani Mamin, though, with a different¬† tune¬†than they sang}

The reason that Moshiach has been downplayed a bit in the past era (even pre Holocaust)  is a direct result of disillusionment.  There were people  who played on our desperation and vulnerability and proclaimed themselves to be Moshiach, only to be proven false. The most famous one, who amassed thousands of followers  was named Shabsai Tzvi. The disappointment after that episode was so bitter, that Jews everywhere began to loosen the intensity of their focus on  Moshiach, simply working on living their lives in a Torah manner.

So it’s time for a little review.

Why did G-d make the world? We learn, that G-d created the world because He wanted to give.  He had a plan. The plan was to create man, who would be in relationship with Him. And He purposely created the world in a state of imperfection so that we could be active participants in bringing it to its potential.

But if G-d¬† has everything, why would He need us? Take this example I gave¬† my friend. Why do people have children?¬†Children are expensive, they’re demanding. You need¬† to take care of them, play with them, raise them and they cause ¬†you sleepless nights etc… So why do people choose to have¬†them? Because we, who are created in G-d’s image, want to give.

So G-d created Adam and Eve. But then.. you know what happened. Instead of choosing relationship with Him, they chose to satisfy their own desires. And instead of apologizing, they complained.(“The woman who You gave me, did this!”)

And so, the course of history took a radical turn. Instead of living in perfect harmony and blissful existence with G-d, we began to live with constant confusion. Distancing ourselves from Him introduced the possiblity of creating misery. We no longer have the clarity that allows us to naturally live our best life. We struggle now. And through that struggle we get back to that place of connection that we once had.  We rectify our mistake by working on coming closer to Him through kindness and good deeds.

Hey, wait a minute. That sounds¬†very similar¬†to the¬†The Original Sin . It is and it isn’t.

Judaism doesn’t believe that we are doomed¬†because of a sin that we can never shake off. Rather, that when we sinned, we changed the playing field. We allowed a voice (the snake) outside of G-d’s¬†will to tempt us and by doing so brought that voice inside of us. So now, instead of fighting a snakes voice, we have a yetzer¬†hara¬†(an evil inclination) that tempts us and tries to get us to do harmful things. And so we need¬†to deal, even up until today, with the repercussions¬†of that sin.

We’re not being punished, we’re simply living out reality. Like an addict who wakes up ten years later to find out that his relationships are in shambles. He’s not being punished because of his drinking, he’s living the consequences of his actions. On the other hand, should he choose to get sober, humbled and repentant,¬†and¬†truly work on¬†himself, he can be magnificent. He may very well build stronger relationships than he would have, without fighting his addiction.

So that’s the framework. Existence is about bringing the world back to a state of perfection. What some¬† to refer to as Tikun¬†Olam.¬†We do that by observing mitzvos, such as Shabbos which bring us back to awareness of our relationship with G-d and by healing the world through kindness and unity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Tikun Olam applies to everyone, Jew and non- Jew. The difference is  how we get there. Central to Jewish thought is that differences are not only okay, they  empower  us and crystallize our role.

The way a Jew and non- Jew bring about Tikun Olam is has different manifestations. The non РJew has  the Seven Noahide Laws and the Jew has the 613 commandments of the Torah. ( click here for a fascinating class on the Seven Laws)

It¬†is imparative¬†that each of us fulfill our role to the best of our ability and not lose sight of who we need to be. When we do lose sight, G-d lovingly gives us a reminder about who we are. He does this through gentle nudges such as opportunities for religious connection and when we don’t get the message, through anti semitism and suffering. As happened in Spain and centuries later in Germany. Although we can’t attempt to explain or understand the Holocaust, it’s eerily significant that Hitler made all the Jews wear Jewish stars to identify themselves.

We believe that all of history is marching towards a goal. As we do our part to perfect the world, G-d does his part to bring about circumstances which will help us in that mission. And we’re doing a great job! Just take a look how far we’ve come. We have democracy and rights, We have respect for human life and systems that support the sick and elderly. We have legal systems and humane prisons. We even have coins that say “In G-d We Trust.”

On the other hand, ¬†we also have wars, nuclear weapons, rampant immorality, abuse and dishonesty. We have a culture that glorifies the material and scorns the spiritual. We have children’s games that¬†imitate brutal killings and adults that aren’t faithful.

It’s like we’re in the cross-hairs between good and evil. Never before have so many returned to G-d and never before have so many walked away.¬†We’re truly in a time where good and evil are fighting for dominance and we¬†get to choose which side we’ll be on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

And that brings us up to date.¬†G-d’s ultimate desire is that we choose Good, we choose Him. But if we don’t he has¬†a”back up plan.” He will not allow us to self destruct. If by the end of the proposed time¬†the world is not healed, He will bring us¬†the medicine we need to get better.

Think of it like this ; what’s harder to¬†do? Prevent heart disease or¬†cure heart disease? One requires¬†a healthy diet¬†and¬†¬†excersize. ¬†Things which have tremendous benefit for all parts of the body. Surgery on the other hand is painful. It’s unnatural. The body experiences trauma and the heart is never the same again.

These are the times that we live in.¬† We’re undergoing spiritual surgery.There are many many¬†sources, literally too many to count, that reference our times and I urge you to do your own research. But we don’t need more than our own two eyes.

There is so much pain going on in the world that we literally can’t ingest all the news. Wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, famine. We all were shook up when Haiti had an earthquake but it was only one in a long string of horrors.

On a personal level too. We know things are not right. Many of us are functioning with low level depression. We’re suffering from disconnection. And the answer the world gives us is, “its okay, just watch TV and numb the pain.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

So if all this is true what are we supposed to do? And if all this is true, when is Moshiach coming?

We’re supposed to do now what we have always been called to do. Forgive one another. Reach out to a brother. Keep the Mitzvos¬†(commandments). Pray. Let go of resentments. Conduct ourselves modestly and honestly. And top of the list; Stop speaking Loshon¬†Hara (negative comments) about our fellow man.

And when is Moshiach¬†coming? I don’t know. How can I know? It depends on us and our actions. Great men have calculated his arrival and he hasn’t come at that time. The reason for that is because although he could have come at that time, according to the world plan, we weren’t ready to welcome him. The world was not yet healed. However the Talmud writes that there will be fifteen signs that we are in the times of Moshiach and for the first time in history, these signs are all here. (click here to read more)

Some more questions.

Who is Moshiach?

We don’t know. Maimonides talks at length about it.¬†But we do know that he is a flesh and blood¬† person and remarkably one of his qualifications is that his leadership will be accepted by all, Jew and non Jew. This is such a comfort. It means that we won’t be arguing at end the end who believes what and who sides with who. We’ll all feel comfortable that we’re under compassionate, strong leadership. Additionally there are many other qualifications, such as a man of lovingkindness and someone who will spread Torah and win the wars on behalf of Israel. ¬†Feel free to look them up.

Why is Moshiach necessary?

The goal of Moshiach is to bring back all the people of the world to a belief in One G-d and through that, our world will reach perfection and suffering will be no more. There will be world peace and we’ll be back in that reality of Adam before the sin where we weren’t confused about good and evil. We’ll be able to feel G-d’s presence as plain as day. Our faith will become knowledge.

Why am I talking about this now?

Once again, world events are reaching a climax. We could have been having this same discussion around the time of 9/11. And we were. But in just a few days is Tisha B’av; the day where we focus on our pain and on yearning for better times. And we learn, that Moshiach¬†is born on Tisha B’av. Meaning that through our wanting him to come, through our¬†not¬†being satisfied with this sub-¬†par existence, we actually bring him to us.¬†As in, once you realize you’re in The Matrix, you’re no longer controlled by it.

But this all sounds so Christian?

Yes, it does. I’m not deeply knowledgeable about the Christian faith but I can tell you that many Christian beliefs have a Jewish source. Where we differ is that we believe in One G-d without any intermediaries and that Moshiach has not yet come.

Why the Urgency?

If all the suffering is the birth pangs of Moshiach why the sense of urgency now? What about World War 1 and World War 2? Things were bad then also.

The answer is two-fold. As bad as those times were, we are only further along in history now. So in a sense, it’s the same degree of urgency, but the stakes are even higher.¬†However, that being said, many scholars are pointing to ours times in particular as being ripe for redemption.

Just think about all the movies in the past few years whose plot is, “The End is Near.” It strikes me as interesting.¬†We are all¬†speculating how much longer can we go on like this?

And¬†try this exercise: Can you count on your hands and feet families who are not suffering from depression, divorce, illness, poverty, loss or dysfunction? There are very few. And that’s not counting what you don’t see behind closed doors. We need help.

We also learn that Moshiach’s arrival is a firm deadline for repentance. Wherever we are spiritually at that time is how we’ll be judged. Thats means that these are times where we need to¬† up the ante and take our mission that we were sent to this world to do seriously. We can’t afford to wait.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

I’ll share with you a mystical concept. [copied, pasted and in parts, translated from Dreaming of Moshiach]

The Zohar HaKadosh (The main source of Kabbalah) explains: Every soul comes into this world only for the reason to correct past lives for sins committed. G-d  saw throughout all generations that many souls were unable to correct themselves and remained unworthy to enter the Garden of Eden.
Even after so many reincarnations, these souls were unsuccessful in their tikun (personal fixing)  and were placed in Heichal HaNeshamot (hall of souls).
The Zohar HaKadosh¬†continues and says that¬†G-d revealed Himself to the souls placed in Heichal¬†HaNeshamot¬†and the souls cried to G-d, “Merciful Heavenly Father, help us correct ourselves, we want to succeed in cleansing our souls, we reincarnated as humans, plants, animals, we went through all forms of Pergatory But we still have not properly corrected our souls…”.
When Merciful¬†G-d heard this, He said, “I’ll place you all in one generation, a generation that will have much confusion, tests, suffering, and hardships, a generation where the truth will be absent, a generation where one will be easily trapped by the evil inclination. There will be many opportunities to get trapped into terrible sins; everything will be available to you in split seconds. It will be a generation that will feel exhausted from trying to¬† Repent, the evil inclination will be very powerful and adultery, lust, temptations, promiscuity, stealing, heresy, secularism, etc. will be everywhere.”
“BUT, despite all these hardships, all souls that will succeed to pass these difficult tests and continue to have faith, will be tremendously rewarded and will merit to live in the Redemption.”
This is the reason the holy Rashbi (the author of the Zohar) also said ” Overjoyed is the person who lived in that generation.”
Although it’s difficult to comprehend, it’s important to know: All people in this generation; you, me him, her,them are from heichal¬†hanishamot!

Our sages say that a Mitzvah observed in the generation before Moshiach is equal to 1,000 Mitzvot observed in past generations. They also add that even a Mitzvah observed in our generation for the sake of receiving rewards  is also considered equal to 1,000 Mitzvot because each Mitzvah observed corrects the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

And this too is critical to understand; We’re not victims, abandoned on the road to whatever fate mankind has coming to it. We’re children of a Father who understands how hard it is to simply be a good person these days. Its by design that this month of commemorating pain is called Av, which means Father in Hebrew.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

As humans, we’re always called upon to hold two things and once; justice and mercy, humility and empowerment, destiny and choice. ¬†We’re gifted with a nuanced existence, where we paint our vision of the world with more than one brush at a time. And its no different here.

On one hand, yes, its clear we’re getting wake up calls in every direction and¬† we’ve got to get the message. On the other hand, G-d does¬†not to want us to panic. We have no need to. We’re in the hands of a father who loves us and He gave us directions. We follow the Torah, spread lovingkindness and work on our relationship with Him.

As a matter of fact, He loves us as children so much that He’s made clear that biggest gift that we can give to Him is to get along. We learn that baseless hatred (read – gossiping, being judgmental) is what caused the His presence to leave from theTemple of old and only when we LOVE EACH OTHER will it return.

Loving each other – thats where the work is.

One of my goals in life is to bring people together. To look at the world with an eye for unity. To see my fellow man as a soul in the same way that I’m a soul. In reaching towards that goal, I never want to disenfranchise anyone. Talking about Moshiach can do just that. It’s¬† addressing a belief system that we may not share. I’m taking the risk of offering it here, because I believe it’s the¬†truth. And if it is, the kindest thing I can do is to share it.

Wishing you all a meaningful Tisha B’av and tremendous blessings wherever you are!