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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 (18)
October 30, 2014
Who believes in Moshiach?
Consider the story of the Jews at Sinai. 600K male, possibly over 3M people total, and 3500 years of historical distance - yet every Jew (whether orthodox, reform, etc.) All have the same story of the Exodus. Oral tradition (from Judaic perspective) is based upon collective accuracy of purpose, not on minutiae of individual recollection. "Truth" 'is' regardless of perspective upon its applicable possibilities, that is why 'relativity' is a "true concept."
Rabbi HaYitom ben Yisrael
USA/Israel
October 28, 2014
Who believes in Moshiach?
B"H Thank you to those who have stated that there is a definitive difference between the terms; 'Belief', and 'Know'. The word 'belief', to a lesser degree is a form of knowing which includes an element of Uncertainty, whereas, 'Know' is a more 'Certain' term that adds the elements of familiarity, and relationship. It is one thing to say I believe in so-and-so, but quite another to say with certainty, that I Know them. However, I must, for the sake of truth, and argument state that many of us, if not all of us have been wrong about many things in our lifetimes. I cannot state, with Absolute Certainty that any group of people ever to have lived on planet Earth, has been 100% correct about Everything, All the Time. We can be mistaken, as individuals, or as part of an institution of Man. It has happened before. I am Absolute Certain that Truth will eventually prevail, however that may turn out to be and however long it may take, remember; Truth can Hurt, if we're unprepared for
Anonymous
Pasadena, CA
October 28, 2014
Source references to Moshiach
I thank Mr. Cotlar for the references.

I verified them, and these are the same as I had seen before. They prove my point very well. Not a single direct or explicit reference to Moshiach in the Chumash. The allusions to a diefic spirit later on in the rest of the Tanach could be interpreted as something other than references to G-d if one really wants to force the issue, especially in the citations from Isaiah. However, in doing so, don't we risk departing from the very concept of monotheism which I thought was the original and most sacrosanct foundation of Judaism?
Dan
Montreal, QC
chabadwestmount.com
October 27, 2014
Belief in moshiach... Believing in moshiach... where is Believing in Torah?
Please notice the Torah and throughout the Tanach it does say "know" the L_rd. It never says "believe in" or "believe about" nor does not even say "believe in/with" (that is a christian concept infused and implied by mistranslation & assumptive theology)."Belief" is sentiment based upon how one feels about something/someone or an idea."Knowing" is about actuality. this is the difference between Judaism and all other concepts of/about G_d. WE, Jews, were all at Mt. Sinai, we actually experienced it, it was not a belief, it was and is the actuality of being there. You can call it "belief" however it is innate knowledge, not sentiment. Moshiach will be a person who leads us to comprehend the pasook/verse from Yoav/Job about actually "seeing G_d in our flesh" (not seeing G_d in the flesh, like Xnty claims). Emunah is not nebulous "feeling" Emunah is about action/actuality. Believing in or about something means it is (at some level) still only hypothesis. I Know is different from I Believe.
Rabbi HaYitom ben Yisrael
USA & Israel
October 21, 2014
You are correct that the Torah, our manual for life, is primarily focused on instructing us what to do leaving many of our beliefs only alluded to, and explained at greater length in the oral tradition.

However, believing in G-d is something highlighted extensively in the Torah.

The first of the ten commandments is to believe in Hashem, or as some (such as Maimonidies) put it, to truly know and comprehend to the best of our ability that there is a creator.

Another example would be Devarim 4:39

"Know today and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other."
Yisroel Cotlar
for Chabad.org
September 30, 2014
Belief in moshiach... Believing in moshiach... where is Believing in Torah?
Knowing that many seem to think that the most important thing is "belief" in or about G_d, moshiach, themselves, anything or nothing at all. Allow me to state the "believing" IN or About is not something that Hashem/G_d states in His Torah as a necessity. In fact the Torah never once tells anyone "to believe" - Rather G_d states in His Torah that we should "do this or that" - Yes, there is an inference that 'belief' is part of our response to Hashem/G_d; however no where does G_d say anything about a "requirement of belief" (specifically to/for the Jewish people) in the Torah. No where is there any requirement to "believe" anything about, or to believe in, (a or the) moshiach. That does not mean we should 'not believe' - just like it does not require us 'to believe' because believe is a complexity of the human experience and homogenization is not the "ideal." Quoting Bible verses as 'statements of belief' is nothing more than advertising, it is a 'useful' propaganda, nothing more...
Rabbi HaYitom ben Yisrael
September 29, 2014
Moshiach
The concept of Moshiach is mentioned three times in the Chumash (most directly in Devarim 30) and countless times in the Tanach.

You can see these and later sources here.
Yisroel Cotlar
, for Chabad.org
chabadwestmount.com
September 26, 2014
Who believes in Moshiach?
B"H As to the conception of Moshiach being related to the story of Joseph; In part I might agree. If we are discussing the Modern State of Israel, as he (as Joseph) revealed himself, the other nations (as his brethren) became VERY afraid, because of what They had done to him. This actually may explain why those of the former Empires; Iraq (Babylon), Syria (Assyria), Iran (Persia), Greece, and Rome (the Catholic Church) have been striving to destroy Israel, and the Jewish people all along. If the prophecies associated with a Moshiach do come true, they will all end up either serving a Jewish World Dictator (aka; a KING/ Moshiach) or they will be destroyed. What have they got to fear by Israel's existence? There you have it. Can Israel quell their fears? I doubt it. So the result is War, and more war. The Secret is simply; A King represents His People. Blessed are Thy Tents Oh Jacob., and yes, they ARE afraid.
Anonymous
Pasadena, CA
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
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