We of course know that our redemption from the bondage of Egypt occurred in the month of Nisan, but we also have been told by the Midrash that our future redemption will also come in the month of Nisan. So whenever Nisan comes along, we wait in breathless anticipation for our redemption, for the coming of Moshi’ach. It seems only fitting, then, that we should study about the future redemption, hoping that this will be the year when we will be redeemed and see the gathering of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael.
In fact, the Great Maharal of Prague likened the history of the Jewish People—itself reflected by the days of the holiday of Pesach—to a tunnel that leads from a light at one end—the brilliant age that began with the Exodus from Egypt and the Giving of the Torah, to the conquest of Eretz Yisrael and the building of the Temples in Jerusalem, ending with the destruction of the Second Temple—to a light at the other end, the light of the future redemption shines. This is the Messianic Age and the great era of Revelation of the coming period, when all of humankind will be redeemed along with the Jewish People, who will lead them.
That tunnel in between—a tunnel in which we have been living in for some 2000 years—could be divided into three areas, three periods: the first is the area of the tunnel just after the Destruction of the Second Temple. There was still light coming in from Am Yisrael’s earlier glorious period, some 1500 years long, during which the Jewish People created a great civilization based on Spirituality, Humanity and Law. Then the tunnel becomes dark, as the Jewish people was besieged and persecuted across the civilized world. In spite of its great thinkers and leaders of spirit, the Jewish nation suffered and endured a precarious existence. But now we come to the third part of the tunnel: a part in which we sense the light ahead of us, coming from a future period that will be filled with greater light and greater spirituality and G-dliness than we or the world has ever known.
Thinking about and studying that future Redemption is useful for two reasons: First, it prepares us for the great upheavals that will accompany the coming of Moshi’ach, so that we will not be overwhelmed and swept away by the great historical forces the coming of Moshi’ach will unleash. But second, the act of studying Torah and thinking about the future redemption in terms of Torah teachings and values actually hastens the coming redemption. We have been taught that G-d created the world in accordance with the “blueprint” that is contained in the Torah—more than that, the blueprint for all Creation is the substance of the Torah—and even that is only a small portion of the Divine mentality that is contained in the Torah. So is it any wonder that all of history unfolds in accordance with what is contained in the Torah.
Many people are hesitant to even think about Moshi’ach, because they are fearful of the great changes and upheavals that will characterize the Messianic Age, even if those changes will be positive and better. Some of that anxiety is due to the sorry examples we have had to endure in which a single monarch or a ruling class wields power over people’s and nations’ destinies. In our modern world, we have grown to become suspicious and anxious about great power being invested in a single individual or a single group—and who could blame us?
We have become more comfortable with authority being shared by the largest possible group of people, and that has given rise to the modern positive attitude toward democracy as a desirable—or, as Churchill put it, the least objectionable form of government. And even if authority would be invested in a single individual, we may wonder why that individual must be a monarch—why not a sage, a scholar, a teacher who will offer wisdom and advice that we can accept or not accept? Why must the future Redeemer be a solitary king?
Yet, that is how the Navi, the Prophet Yeshayahu describes the Moshi’ach, the future redeemer: a single individual who will rule by a sense of majesty and will be accepted as ruler by all of humanity. The last days of Pesach is a time filled with the light and energy of the future redeemer—we, in fact, read the section of Yeshayahu, Chapter 11, as the Haftorah portion in Shul on the last day of Pesach for this reason.
In the beginning of Chapter 11, the Yeshayahu Hanavi describes the Moshi’ach as a descendant of the House of Yishai, the House of David—a man of great wisdom and, more importantly, with a power of Prophecy that is nearly as great as Moshe Rabeinu’s—nearly, but not equal, for the Torah tells us that no prophet can exceed Moshe, and thus no one can change or revise the Torah that we received through Moshe at Sinai.
Yet the question remains, why does this require a king; why can’t this wonderful state of affairs be the work of a teacher, or a group of teachers and leaders, or of a representative government? But to understand this, we have to understand the Torah concept of a king. While a king is a teacher, lovingly guiding his people in the ways of righteousness and justice, he is a monarch who rules by virtue of the sense of the majesty he projects. That majesty comes from his unique connection to the highest reaches of understanding of the hidden aspects, the light concealed in the depths of the Torah.
In our world, leaders have become nothing more than managers who “open the store in the morning, close it at night, and watch the cash register.” But Moshi’ach will be much more than a manager, a clerk—even more than a rabbi or a teacher: he will also be a fount of inspired insight into the reality of G-d’s creation of the universe and how that reality heals and inspires the human spirit—how it gives rise to a world ruled by justice and compassion instead of greed and power.
The gap that will exist between the Moshi’ach’s understanding of the deepest secrets of Existence, Creation and the Divine Will is going to be so great, that it will be beyond the grasp of nearly everyone he touches and reaches. Make no mistake, the Melech HaMoshi’ach will have to pass the most rigorous test and meet the incredibly high standards of the greatest minds and the most sensitive and wise people of spirit—yet even they will fall short of matching his level of understanding. Even they will have to accept his teachings and his instruction—his rule—on faith. No one will be able to learn what he has discovered in the usual, plodding way we learn things from a textbook or a teacher. (Sorry, there’ll be no “For Dummies” title in this to help us.) Moshi’ach will inspire the world with his teachings and with his insighst into the deepest mysteries of creation. Yes, we will accept the teachings of Moshi’ach and be his loyal subjects as a matter of faith, because we will none of us be able to fathom every detail of what he has discovered in his explorations of the higher reaches of Existence and the majestic spheres of the Divine.
But this sort of soul does not happen by accident or come out of nothing. It arises out of the generations of people who have studied and observed Torah—and especially the ceremonies of the Seder on the first days of Pesach—for centuries and centuries. Whether we do it in the most correct way—mehadrin min ha’mehadrin: “to the most exacting standards of observance”—or in an approximate way only clumsily following the rules of Passover, millions of Jews all over the world will sit down and eat Matzah and dip herbs in salt water at the Seder, as they have done for centuries.
That’s the connection between the first days of Pesach and the last days. Jews for thousands of years have steadfastly and stubbornly observed the Passover Seder—in the dark cellars of Spain during the Inquisition; in corners of concentration camps during the Holocaust, and while ridiculed in America for our “quaint customs” by so-called sophisticated moderns. From that stubborn, persistent performance of the Seder on the first nights of Pesach, will arise the faith of the Jewish People to be loyal subjects of the Moshi’ach—and the special soul of the Moshi’ach that will, speedily in our day, redeem us all on the last days of Pesach.
By: Rabbi Reuven Wolf
Rabbi Reuven Wolf is a world renown educator and lecturer who has
devoted his life to reaching out to Jews of all ages and circumstances and
rekindling their spirit of Judaism. Raised in the Ropschitzer Chassidic dynasty, he was educated in the Belz and Bluzhev Yeshivos, and later in the
celebrated Yeshivos of Slabodka and Mir. He is profoundly influenced by
Kabbalah and the Jewish Mystical teachings of Chabad Chassidic philosophy. Since 1995, Rabbi Wolf has taught Jews of all ages, all across North
America. In 2006, Rabbi Wolf and Haki Abhesera founded Maayon
Yisroel as a center dedicated to spreading the profound mystical teachings
of Chassidic Judaism and to fostering the love of Jewish tradition among all
Jews, particularly the young Jewish population of Southern California.