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September 21, 1990 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-09-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SLEEP INTO
SOMETHING

Talmudic Prophecies
For the Messiah

DVORA WAYSMAN

Special to The Jewish News

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20

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 1990



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hortly after Yom Kip-
pur, I received a phone
call from a relative
visiting Jerusalem from
Australia. He was over-
whelmed by what he had seen
that day in Jerusalem . . . the
streets hushed — no traffic;
the synagogues filled to
overflowing with devout wor-
shippers; no-one eating or
smoking; the whole of Israel
cloaked in an atmosphere of
spirituality.
"I'm sending a telegram to
God. What more can he ask of
the Jewish people?" he
demanded indignantly. "No-
where else in the world,
among no other nation, would
you see the observance of His
laws that I've witnessed in
Jerusalem today. What is He
waiting for? He must send the
Messiah now!"
Of course I laughed, but
afterwards I thought about
his words. For the Christians,
the Messiah has already ar-
rived in the form of Jesus
Christ. For the Jews, of
course, he has not and there
have been many predictions
about when he (or possibly
she) will come. The Talmud
(Shabbat 118b) tells us: "The
Messiah will come when the
whole Jewish people keeps
the Sabbath twice in a row."
Another Talmudic prophecy
(Sanhedrin 98a) proclaims:
"The Messiah will come
when one generation is either
wholly innocent or wholly
guilty."
The Midrash on Jeremiah
states: "And woman shall
conceive and bear in the same
day without travail."
Jeremiah further states
(31:22) (and many people
believe, with the advent of
Women's Lib, that this has
already come to pass): "For
the Lord hath created a new
thing in the earth: a woman
shall court a man."
The word messiah is a
modified form of the Hebrew
word "meshiah," meaning
"anointed." The Bible applied
it to a person appointed for a
special function, such as a
high priest or king. In
Leviticus it was used for
Samuel, and in Isaiah 45:1 it
was used for the Persian King
Cyrus who was chosen to
liberate Israel from Babylon.
Later the term came to
mean "redeemer," a divinely
appointed person, descended
from the House of David, who
will — at the End of Days —
bring salvation to the Jewish

people and the entire human
race.
We are given many hints as
to how we will recognize the
Messiah. First a descendant
of Joseph will pave the way
for the real Messiah by wag-
ing war against the forces of
evil (Gog and Magog) and he
will perish in the process. The

Blowing the shofar in Jerusalem.

Midrash (Pesikta Rab-
bathi:35) tells us that three
days before the advent of the
Messiah, Elijah will appear
on the mountains of Israel
and exclaim: "0 mountains of
Israel, how long will you re-
main waste and desolate?"
Then he will proclaim world
peace and God will redeem
Israel.
The signs of the advent are
set down in the Mishnah
(Sotah 9:15): "With the foot-
prints of the Messiah, in-
solence will increase . . . the
vine will yield its fruit but
the wine will be costly .. .
scholarship will degenerate,
piety will be rejected, and
truth will nowhere be found:
youth will be impudent . .
and a man's enemies will be
the members of his own
households'
Belief in the Messiah is the
12th of the 13 Principles of
Faith formulated by
Maimonides included daily in
Jewish ritual: "I believe with
perfect faith in the coming of
the Messiah, and, though he
tarry, I wait daily for his corn-
ing."
Of course there were many
false messiahs throughout
Jewish history, including
David Alori in the 12th cen-
tury, David Reuveni in the
16th century and Jacob
Frank in the 18th century.
The most famous was the
Turk Shabtai Zvi (1626-1676),
a gifted talmudist and stu-

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