Solely In Black and White: Why we Want Moshiach…

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why we Want Moshiach…

Kotel, Jerusalem

Have you ever considered why we want Moshiach to come? We know it's part of the Ramabam’s 13 principles of faith, a tenet of our religious observance, and a significant supplication in our prayers but what is the rationale behind this? Regardless of our limited humanly understandings and logic, ultimately, that doesn’t detract or add to our obligation to "believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach." 

The first time I was privy to this discussion was in high school. I recall we had a Vaad from our estemed Rosh Hayeshiva on this particular topic, probably because it was on his minds and met his fancy. The shiur was essentially on the topic of Moshiach in general and the portion in question was specifically on what the world will be like before and after his coming. I can’t remember all the details as it was a while ago, but some bits and pieces stayed with me. In addition, I recently saw a short and very partial compilation of the major meforshim who discuss this topic, which proved to be rather interesting and informative. Unfortunately I cannot locate that specific source reference at the moment, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it, or go ahead and find yourself some source material. :-P

As an aside to this discussion, it should be elucidated that no one really knows the answer to that question, “what will be of the world after Moshiach comes?”, since no one can predict the future with absolute certainty. Nonetheless, many meforshim go to great lengths to describe what they think will occur. Aside from the wars and deaths that will precede Moshiach’s coming, specifically Milchemes Gog Umagog, thereafter, the world will be a different place.

While there are always arguments over specifics, I seemed to recall that one thing was clear; our spirituality will not be the same per se. Some meforshim understand that there will be no bachira , free choice per se. Others support the idea with the explanation that because g-d will be so apparent to every individual, it will be impossible to sin. Others explain that because the evil inclination will be vanquished, it wouldn’t be possible to do anything other than g-d’s will. Regardless, most meforshim understand this to mean that our ability to "decide" and this grow in our observance of mitzvahs and become closer to g-d will no longer be possible. Our spiritual lives will essentially be stagnant. Our ability to attain spiritual growth as well as reward (schar) will no longer be possible as the reward-punishment (Schar V'Oinesh) dichotomy and dynamic will no longer be applicable. I recall there is a discussion about the applicability of Schar as there is reward for doing good, but most meforshim imply that the rewards will be significantly less than what it was because of the new circumstances.   Arguably, on a personal level that would also means that our individualistic appreciation of mitzvahs will also no longer be there. 

Of course this prompted the obvious question from the audience of perplexed students: If our goal in life is to fulfill g-d’s will by growing spiritually, and that isn’t possible with the coming of Moshiach, then why do we vehemently pray for it? What is going on here? The answer we were given was something to the extent of that the coming of Moshaich would restores g-d’s honor to the world, even if it is at our spiritual expense. I don’t completely understand that answer as it doesn't entirely answer the question, but perhaps that means that we as a society have reached the pinnacle of our spiritual quest? Our belief so strong, we no longer require true bachira? So in a nut shell: if I understood correctly, we want Moshiach for purely altruistic purposes; not for ourselves, but because g-d wants us to want it.

Granted this is only one interpretation of the subject, but it did make me wonder... 


  1. "but because g-d wants us to want it" - do you even realize how utterly non-sensical that statement is? God CAN'T want anything - the whole concept of wanting is a completely human emotion. I realize now that we Frum Jews say things over and over thinking we understand what we are saying, when it makes no sense at all. And we are so sure we "know" what Hashem "wants" from us...
    So the bottom line is - we just don't know - is there anything more to say? Even trying to explain is utter futility.

  2. I understand what you’re saying, taken literally that statement makes no sense. However, the verbiage isn’t literal, but completely figurative. I suppose the reason people say things like “what g-d’s wants” is because the Torah describes g-d in ways that humans can comprehend. I would suspect that is why people use such terminology even in situations where we know it to be incorrect.

  3. In the end saying that "we want Moshiach cause G-d wants us to want it" is a circular logic statement that has no meaning at all. To say otherwise is to lie.
    But you said it anyway, and you obviously thought you knew what you were talking about. And the funny part is that this is a tenet of our faith - a statement that can have no real meaning to us at all.

  4. "Nisave hakadish baruch hu dira bitachtonim'.

  5. chaynobody, I’m not sure if your argument is a matter of semantics or ideology. The statement may be circular reasoning, but that is the point I am trying to convey. I don’t know if I could have written it clearer, but perhaps I phrased that statement incorrectly. If however your agreement is ideological in nature, how do account for: “Ratzah HaKadosh Baruch Hu l’zakos es Yisrael, l’fichach hirbah lahem Torah u’mitzvos?”


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