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January 03, 1992 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-01-03

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

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Rabbi Avraham Jacobovitz:
"When the real Mashiach
comes along, there will be no
doubt."

will be cured and hatred
and jealousy will cease.
Like Maimonides, Rabbi
Bergstein believes one
cannot suggest a specific
date when Mashiach will
come. But he does say it al-
ready is possible to see
fulfillments of many mes-
sianic promises.
Isaiah 11:6 says that in
the time of the Messiah,
"the wolf will dwell with
the lamb, the leopard will
lie down with the young
goat" — words Maimonides
believed must be taken as a
parable. Rabbi Bergstein
suggested this passage
could mean that aggressive
nations will make peace
with Israel, pointing to the
collapse of the Soviet
Union.
Furthermore, "Jews are
moving from all corners of
the globe to Israel," he
said. He noted the increase
in the numbers of ba'alei
tshuvah, Jews returning to
an observant lifestyle.
Other indications of
Mashiach are said to be the
appearance of the Prophet
Elijah and "birth pangs,"
suffering of the Jewish
people.
"The Chofetz Chaim used
to ask all the time, 'Where

is Mashiach? Why hasn't
he come?' " Rabbi Bergs-
tein said.
"Unfortunately, today
people are uncomfortable
expressing what they
believe in," he continued.
"And here's a case with no
empirical facts. Mashiach
can't be proven intellec-
tually, the resurrection of
the dead can't be proven
intellectually, the pro-
phecies can't be proven in-
tellectually.
"But Judaism is a format
of faith, also," he said.
"Mashiach should always
be on our minds; we must

"Mashiach will
be very smart.
1 hope he
conies soon,
because then I
can see all my
relatives from
generations
before."

think of him in our deeds,
our conversations, our
thoughts. Mashiach is a
reality."



,Sberizen, age 9

24

FRIDAY, JANUARY 3, 1992

'Mashiach
be a big
tzadik.
think he'll
come spoil
because we're
doing more
mitzvot than
ever before.



IHEnlab Leib Brennen
age Jo

C

habad children regu-
larly chant "We want
Mashiach now!" at camps
and day schools, a song that
would be a complete anoma-
ly at any Reform temple.
In its 1885 Pittsburgh
Platform, the Reform
movement denied the idea
of a personal Messiah,
outlining instead the no-
tion of a "Messianic era."

Reform Jews believe they
themselves are obligated,
through acts of tikkun
haolam (repairing the
world), to usher in this era
of tranquility and good will
among men.
For many years, the con-
cept of Mashiach was never
central to Jewish belief, ac-
cording to Rabbi Daniel
Polish of Temple Beth El.
Early rabbis did not elab-
orate on the coming of the
Messiah, who he would be
or what would happen
when he arrived. He was
treated as an emissary of
God, not a savior and never
an equal of God.
Only with the ap-
pearance of Jesus did the
idea of a Messiah "take on
a life of its own," Rabbi
Polish said. Unlike
Judaism, Christianity
placed its messiah at the
center of its faith.
Jesus and other false
messiahs decreased Jewish
talk of Mashiach, Rabbi
Polish said. "The idea had
become abused."
Then Maimonides listed
belief in the coming of the
Messiah in his Thirteen
Principles of the Faith, and
the concept of Mashiach
became prominent in
Judaism.
Today, most Conser-
vative and Reform Jews do
not see the coming of the
Messiah as central to their
faiths, Rabbi Polish said.
What Reform does strongly
support is the idea behind
Mashiach's appearance.
"That idea, the idea of
perfecting the world,
became a great engine for
Reform Jewish action," he
said. "It has loomed large
in the thinking of Reform
Jews' commitment to social
action.
"And we do see the world
improving," he added. "It
is much better than it was

will receive the additional
honor of living in
Jerusalem.

T

Rabbi Daniel Polish:
"The idea of perfecting the
world became a great engine
for Reform Jewish action."

Rabbi Chayim Bergstein:
"Don't look for Mashiach to
fly like Superman."

100 years ago in terms of
medical care, increasing
democracy, way of life, ed-
ucation and the re-creation
of the Jewish state. These
are events my grandfather
would have seen as
miraculous."
But he stopped short of
saying the Messianic era
has arrived, explaining,
"I've seen too many abuses
in fundamental Chris-
tianity's reading of 'the'
signs of the times.' I don't
believe in doing that."
The Messianic era will
usher in a world without
hunger, war, disease or il-
lness, Rabbi Polish said.
These benefits will be for
all mankind, though Jews

hough the Torah does
not mention the Messiah,
later writings — including
the Prophets and the
Midrash — do. Daniel
describes Mashiach as riding
the clouds. The Midrash says
he will be among the immor-
tals in Paradise.
The idea of a Mashiach
really took hold during the
time of the Second Temple
— this despite the fact that
by then it was impossible
to trace King David's
descendants.
The Middle Ages gave
rise to new ideas about
Mashiach. One of the most
famous works on the sub-
ject during the sixth and
seventh centuries was The
Book of Zerubabbel, named
for the last ruler of Judea
known to be a descendant
of King David.
The anonymous work
tells of Zerubbabel's vi-
sions, among which was a
satanic king of Rome who
would appear just before
Mashiach. Named Ar-
milus, the king would con-
quer the world and bring
millions to his religion.
Jerusalem would be saved
from destruction only
through the efforts of a
woman named Hephzibah,
whose son would be the
Messiah and would defeat
the evil Armilus.
Throughout the Middle
Ages and for decades
afterward, Jewish com-
munities worldwide were
rife with reports that the
Messiah was about to ar-
rive. He was said to be com-
ing in 1096 (which, coin-
cidentally marked the
beginning of the Crusades),

Continued on Page 26

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