This letter was sent to R. Avraham Hecht.

B”H, 28 Menachem Av, 5707

Greetings and blessings,

In response to your question:

You state that Rambam writes: “I believe... in the coming of Mashiach... I will wait for him every day that he come.” As of yet, I have not found this statement in Rambam’s writings, not in his Commentary on the Mishnah (Sanhedrin, ch. 10), nor in the Mishneh Torah (Hilchos Teshuvah 3:6; 9:2; and the conclusion of Hilchos Melachim). Instead, this wording is found [in the restatement of his Principles of Faith printed] in the Siddurim.

b) You mention an interpretation of the above: that every day, one waits for his eventual coming, even though it is impossible that he come that day; e.g., it is Shabbos or a festival as our Sages state (Eruvin 43b).

I have already been asked regarding the apparent contradiction between the wording of the statement “I believe...” and the quote from our Sages that you cite, and I offered that resolution. Nevertheless, clarification is still necessary. For were that the intent, it should say: “Every day, I will wait for him that he comes,” so that there is no doubt about the intent.

To offer a clever explanation: Since the statement that “the descendant of David will not come on Shabbos and festivals” is a matter of question and not a definite ruling (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Nezirus 4:11), [the authors] phrased the statement “I believe...” in a manner that regardless of the way the question of the coming of the descendant of David on Shabbos or a festival is resolved, the wording will be appropriate.

Or to offer a slightly different resolution: Although “[the Torah] is not in the heavens,”1 there are several unresolved matters that will be determined by Eliyahu. As is well known, the expression תיק"ו [(that the Talmud uses to conclude the discussion of an unresolved issue)] is an acronym [for the Hebrew words meaning]: “The Tishbite [Eliyahu] will resolve questions and difficulties” (Shelah, Chelek Torah SheBeAl Peh, Klal Os Suf, based on Zohar III, 28a; see also the appropriate entry in Aruch HaShaleim). Therefore on Shabbos or a festival, there is a question whether Eliyahu already came to the Sanhedrin before the onset of the Shabbos or festival and clarified this unresolved question leniently. Hence, it is possible for the descendant of David to come [on those days].

c) [The rationale for the opinion that] the descendant of David will not come on Shabbos or a festival is that [perhaps] the prohibition against traveling beyond the Shabbos limits applies above ten handbreadths above the ground (see the glosses to the Mishneh Torah, loc. cit.). On the surface, this is difficult to understand. This rationale could be given with regard to Eliyahu, for he is found in heaven.2 But the descendant of David will be found here below (see Sanhedrin 98a). This is particularly true in light of what is stated in Mishneh Torah at the conclusion of Hilchos Melachim: that “If there will arise a king from the house of David who delves deeply into the Torah... and compels all of Israel to observe it... fights the wars of G‑d... and is successful... he is Mashiach.” Thus Mashiach’s victory will take place a certain time after he is revealed. [This is] the intent in saying that the descendant of David will not come on Shabbos or a festival — that he will [not complete his] victory [on those days]. As the Talmud states:3 “Since [when] he comes, all will be subjects of Israel.” If so, the concept of [whether the Shabbos limits apply above ten handbreadths from the ground] is not relevant at all.

Therefore we are forced to say that the descendant of David must come to the entire Jewish people (see Iyun Yaakov on the citation of the passage from Eruvin in the Ein Yaakov) or to the Sanhedrin, who are the emissaries of the entire Jewish people. The Sanhedrin will first return to Tiberias. [Only] afterwards will they [relocate] to the Beis HaMikdash (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Sanhedrin 14:12). The war of Gog and Magog4 and the victory [over them] will take place on the mountains of Israel (Yechezkel, chs. 38-39) or in the surroundings of Jerusalem (Zechariah, ch. 14). It is thus impossible to come to Tiberias or to the entire Jewish people5 except by traveling ten handbreadths above the ground or by postponing [the journey] to the weekdays if the Shabbos limits apply above ten handbreadths.

d) All of the above applies with regard to the Mashiach who will be the descendant of David. The Mashiach who will be the descendant of Yosef need not be revealed to all of Israel at once (see Iyun Yaakov, loc. cit.). Thus it is possible to say that the statement “I believe...” which mentions Mashiach without any further description and refers to the beginning of the Redemption, could be speaking about the Mashiach who is the descendant of Yosef. According to all opinions, he may come on Shabbos and on the festivals.

e) The clearest [explanation] is that simply the intent of the statement “I believe...” is an affirmation that the Redemption which we await can begin any day. Even the coming of Eliyahu, who will announce that tomorrow or in two days’ time Mashiach will be revealed, can also be considered as “the coming of Mashiach.” If so, the statement can be made every day.

Wishing you all forms of good forever,

M. Schneerson

Rabbi Quint6 just mentioned to me that there are some who follow the custom not to recite “I believe...” on Shabbos because of the above-mentioned question.