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Who Believes in Moshiach?

Who Believes in Moshiach?

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A dear friend of mine runs a website called www.moshiach.com. One thing he gets is lots of mail, much of which actually gets answered. With his kind permission (and the kind permission of his correspondent), I would like to reproduce one such exchange:

Dear Rabbi,

As someone who was raised in the Reform community, and was told as a young child that there is no Messiah and no Heaven... I wonder if I will ever be truly able to believe in Moshiach. It seems that there is a strong influence of what I was taught as a child. Will I ever be able accept this concept without doubt?

-Susan

Dear Susan,

We are all conditioned by our upbringing to be receptive to certain words and catchphrases, and to be resistant towards another set of words and catchphrases. In the environment in which you grew up, "Moshiach" was an alien, or even negative, term. But these are only words. If you go beyond the words, and think about what they really mean, you will find that their meaning is shared by every community and every family. You will find that you are in fact most receptive to it.

Ask yourself: Do you believe that we can do better? That every human being, deep down, wants to, and can, be better, kinder, more noble, than he/she is? Think about your own behavior: how many times, in the wake of doing an unkind or otherwise negative thing, have you consoled yourself by saying "That's not the real me"? Well, if you think so, then it stands to reason that other people--perhaps even all people--also think so, doesn't it?

Ask yourself: Are you outraged by the cruelty and evil in our world? Does not this outrage reflect a deep-seated belief that things don't have to be this way? That we--all of us--are capable of better? Because if not, then there's really nothing to get upset about. If the world is evil, then that's just the way things are. But we all know that this is not so. We all know that the world is intrinsically good. Hence our frustration and anguish when it doesn't act that way.

Do you think that your life is purposeful? Do you think that there's a reason why you're here? Of course you do! If you didn't, why do you bother getting out of bed in the morning? Why do you bother grappling with all the obstacles, great and small, that life sends your way? And are you the only one who gets out of bed in the morning? Billions of people do it every day! Obviously, they all believe something: they believe that all this is going somewhere, and someday we're going to get there!

For thousands of years Jews have had a word for all this. They called it "Moshiach." Unfortunately, two things happened that made it an alien word for many of us. One thing that happened was that we drifted away from the knowledge and wisdom that our grandparents have been carrying with them for 4000 years, so that we forgot what many of the words really meant. And even before that happened, the word "Moshiach" or "Messiah" was wielded by a faith which sprang from ours, and then decided to slaughter us and persecute us so as to convince us to join them. So the word lost its meaning, on the one hand, and gained a negative meaning, on the other.

So don't think about the word. Think about what you believe, what you know deep down to be true.

By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Discussion (10)
September 19, 2014
Who Believes in Moshiach
The Rabbi's answer as to who or what is the concept of Moshiach is indeed beautiful.
Susan's question, the Rabbi's answer, and the discussion that follow make this perhaps the best place for me to share a burden that I have been carrying for sometime.
I am an average North American Jew in most respects. I went to Hebrew school and later went on to attend synagogue at various Chabads for the past 22 years. I keep mostly Kosher. Say my brachot in the morning and before meals. I give Tzedaka regularly, etc.
I do not, however, believe at all in the concept of a Moshiach, other than as it may apply to personal redemption. Nowhere in the Tanach does it mention a Moshiach coming to redeem us. Yet somehow this concept that is strangely absent in our original sources has become central to Judaism of today. It appears to me as a misunderstood superstition that has taken on a life of its own, much as it has in that younger faith which sprang from ours.
Dan
Montreal, QC
chabadwestmount.com
February 1, 2014
Who is Moshiach?
Andrew Moore hit the nail on the head with the first post here in 2004. Since the end is foretold from the beginning, the events of Joseph's life foretell the coming of the Moshiach. When Joseph revealed himself his brothers were afraid because of what they had done to them. When Moshiach comes his family will fear Him because of what they did to Him. But as Joseph did, He will embrace them, "and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." Zachariah 12:10.
Anonymous
Lancaster, CA
June 19, 2013
Re: Reform beliefs
What this person "Susan" claims was told as a child about heaven and Moschiach not existing does not correspond at all to Reform beliefs as claimed at all. As a Reform Jew, I know and was brought up with the knowledge that Heaven certainly exists and is an essential tenet of faith in Judaism, it's in the liturgy and commentaries. Reform rabbis tend to (but not all) interpret Moschiach as more a future Messianic age rather than in an anointed man. Do not use such claims by certain people like Susan here who are ignorant or have been told these things that are contradictory to Jewish belief. That is not what Reform Jews believe and I am disgusted by comments that attack our theology and beliefs which are essentially the same as Conservative and Orthodox ones. You do not have a monopoly on determining "who really is a Jew?"
David ben Yaacov
USA
March 5, 2010
Who believes in Moshiach?
There are plenty of humans that state they believe in G-d. There are many that state they believe G-d is Love. There are people who state many things yet they do not offer a glass of water to a homeless wretch on the streets of Las Vegas in the summertime. I disagree with the conjecture "...because nobody else does." I know many non-jews who love Israel and the Jewish people very, very much. This portion of the statement is an unfair assessment. There have always been righteous gentiles who have even given their lives for the Jewish people. There are many who believe as Jewish people do. The Rebbe, and others have stated that before the Age of Moshiach it will become difficult to tell the difference as to whom is Jewish. I tend to agree. It is written in one of the latter Prophets; ".. and they (Philistines) shall be considered to be as a Jewish..." (Zechariah 9:5-7) Obviously a reference to The Age. There are no Philistines, but Gaza = Palestinians. Let's Hope so.
Anonymous
Pasadena, CA
December 18, 2009
Mosiach not a person, but a feeling of purpose?
If I am understanding, Moshiach is not a person, but a feeling or sense of purpose? But reading the Tanakh for what the author's actually meant, it seems that they meant a real person. And Jews through most of history thought that too.

So, is Chabad claiming that the Moshiach is not a person?

I don't fully understand Chabad myself.
Will
Jerusalem, Israel
October 25, 2008
Does Moshiach have a name?
Is Moshiach just an abstract term or is he a personality, or does he exist now?
Brenice
Lake Charles, LA
August 18, 2006
"Who believes in Moshiach?"
I was very struck with the words of Yehonaton Levy, from Chicago, Illinois. He said, "It's a good thing God loves us, because nobody else does." There is so much truth in that simple sentence.

I have been studying antisemitism from every angle, psychologically and socially, and to make a long story short, we will never overcome it, no matter how much good we Jews do. Mr. Levy is so correct, it IS a good thing that God loves us, because nobody else will.
Herbert Coleman
Sun City Center, Florida
chabadbrandon.org
July 31, 2006
Who Believes in Mashiach?
A beautiful explanation if I ever heard one. It's also the same thing I have believed for many years... Thank You.
C Solis
Hallandale, FL
July 31, 2006
who believes in moshiach?
Halacha is what we do, not who we are, nor is what we believe...
Moshiach by your description means that anyone who brings out the best in people is "a moshiach"... yet, even though this might be true (see Ovadyah 1:21) many people think it is about their own idea, or belief... we believe things about moshiach, or do we believe IN moshiach? or are we suppose to believe in G_d? or is it only about ourselves?
Some would say all these are One... yet that would deduce everything to pantheism. If every person acted like a Moshiach towards everyone else, what would the world be like?
Moses (more than Yosef) is the first example of a Moshiach, he was hidden at birth, yet kills an Egyptian and runs away, only to bring back plagues, and he leads the people out of bondage/slavery to freedom, yet, the people never really follow him completely...
it is a good thing G_d loves us - b/c no one else does...
Yehonaton Levy
chicago, IL
June 29, 2004
Who Believes in Moshiach?
Another explanation for why we drifted away from the knowledge and wisdom that our grandparents have been carrying with them for 4000 years exists. There is a mystery concerning Moshiach. Its found in various aspects of Jewish life (e.g., the Pesach afikomen that gets hidden then revealed later). Perhaps one of the most interesting foreshadows is from the life of Yosef (Joseph): his brothers know him as a Hebrew but send him to the Egyptians; he eventually looks more like an Egyptian than a Hebrew; as a result, even when his brothers stand before Yosef they dont recognize him. Its only when he calls them close, and they approach, does he reveal who he really is (Genesis 45:4).
Andrew Moore
Little Falls, NJ
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