In parshat Balak, we have a prophecy of the coming of Moshiach. In it, Balaam says, "A ruler will come out of Jacob."1 Rashi2 tells us that this refers to King Moshiach, about whom we read, "And he will rule from the sea until the sea..."3 This is a verse from Tehillim, which continues, "...and from the river until the ends of the earth."

Similarly, Zechariah prophesies about Moshiach that,4 "Behold! Your king will come to you ... humble and riding on a donkey ... and his rule will be from the sea until the sea and from the river until the ends of the earth."

The Rambam,5 when explaining Balaam’s prophecy, says, "This is the King Moshiach, about whom it says, 'And he will rule from the sea until the sea.'"

Why do the verses go through the whole length of "from the sea until the sea and from the river until the ends of the earth?" Why doesn't it simply say that he will rule over the whole earth?

Why mention seas and the river? Usually, a king rules over the land, and the waters are secondary.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi6 explains, that the ultimate level will be reached in the days of Moshiach. However, he says, it is dependent "on our actions and service [to G‑d] during the time of the exile." In other words, through our Torah study and performance of mitzvot, we prepare the whole world, especially the Jewish people, for the ultimate purpose: the days of Moshiach.

G‑d set things up so that we are rewarded measure for measure.7 The effort we put in establishes the reward that we are given. So it is understood that in order to prepare for, and attain the high levels that we will reach in the days of Moshiach, we must perform our service to G‑d in a Moshiach-like manner. To merit the rulership of Moshiach, "from the sea until the sea, and from the river until the ends of the earth," we must serve G‑d in a similar way. What does this mean?

The Baal Shem Tov says,8 "Everyone of Israel has to fix and prepare the part of Moshiach that pertains to his soul." Since every one of us has a part of Moshiach embedded in us, we can be similar to him, thus readying the world for his rulership.

Let's take a deeper look at the words, "from the sea until the sea, and from the river until the ends of the earth" to understand how we can serve G‑d in a Moshiach-like way.

In the sea, everything is hidden. When you look at the sea, all you see is the water. You don't see what is in it. On land, it is the opposite, with most everything open and revealed. The sea is symbolic of the part of a person that is for himself, and land is symbolic of the part of a person that connects with the world around him and with others.

In the verse there are two seas. This is reminiscent of the verse in Zechariah's9 prophecy, "And it will be on that day, living waters will go out from Jerusalem, half to the first sea and half to the last sea." When we say, "He will rule from the sea until the sea," it means that we should rule over every aspect of our personal self.

The “first sea” is a person’s ability to think. The “last sea” is his ability to act. They are the beginning and the end of a person's abilities. One should be master over all his abilities, from the first until the last.

That is not enough, however. There is also, "from the river until the ends of the earth." When a person merely works on himself, even perfecting himself to the highest level possible, he doesn't affect the world around him and therefore hasn't accomplished his main purpose. He might be in an eden of his own, but it is a selfish accomplishment. There has to be the "river that goes out of eden to water the garden."10

The garden is G‑d's world, and even though it is hard to see it that way, our purpose is to reveal the essence of the world, that it is His garden. We read about Adam, the first man, "And [G‑d] put him in the garden of Eden to work it and to guard it."11 That is why we were placed in this world, to tend the garden. For Adam, it was clear that it was G‑d's garden, but for us that don't see it that way, our job is to reveal that it is His garden, the place where He wants to be. And when we finish our work, it will be clear that the whole world, "until the ends of the earth," is His garden, and Moshiach will come.

May we merit to see the fruits of our labor, our Torah and mitzvot that refine the world and reveal that it is truly G‑d's beautiful garden. He will then dwell openly in it. In other words, Moshiach will be here. May it happen soon.12