Monday, April 29, 2019

Breslov Teachings About Mashiach

Translated by Dovid Sears

The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 10b) cites the view of Rabbi Yehoshua that “during the month of Nisan we were redeemed from Egypt, and during the month of Nisan we are destined to be redeemed,” with the coming of Mashiach— may it be speedily in our days.  

Since we still have several days left of this auspicious month, it is appropriate to post a few Breslov teachings about Mashiach and the Ge’ulah, as found in the Tcheriner Rov’s anthology, “Otzar HaYirah” (AKA Likutey Eitzos Hameshulosh), Vol. III, pp. 404-408 (Jerusalem: Keren Rabbi Yisrael Dov Odesser edition). All are excerpts or abridgements taken from Reb Noson’s Likutey Halakhos (which we have abbreviated as L”H, while Likutey Moharan is abbreviated as L”M).

There are many other sections of Likutey Halakhos that discuss this subject, as well as a number of references in Likutey Moharan, Sichos HaRan, Chayei Moharan, and in later Breslov writings, such as Rabbi Gedaliah Kenig’s Chayei Nefesh and Sha’arei Tzaddik, and Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Bender’s Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh (compiled by the late Rabbi Avraham Nachman Simcha Weitzhandler). So this is just a small sampling.

The Essence of Goodness
All of the “good points” (nekudos tovos) that are found within every Jew—this [gathering of the good points] is an aspect of the scintillation of the light of Mashiach. For the Mashiach is the very personification of the good. And this [discovery of the good] is brings about the endurance and development of the world, and in turn the building of the Holy Temple (L”H, Hashkamas Haboker 1:8; based on L”M I, 282).

Judging Everyone According to the Scale of Merit
During the period [preceding the Final Redemption] known as the “heels of Mashiach,” the Sitra Achara (“Other Side”) will wax strong, God forbid. At this time a great spiritual sifting and purification will take place, as indicated by the verse “many will be clarified and whitened and refined…” (Daniel 12:10). The main tikkun (rectification of souls) will be accomplished by those tzaddikim who judge everyone according to the scale of merit and find good points even in those who are extremely deficient, God forbid. Through this in particular Mashiach will come. For this is the aspect of Mashiach—as the verses hint, “Many will be refined and whitened … and those who bring the multitudes to righteousness will shine like the stars…” (Daniel 12:10, 3) (ibid., 1:12).

Knowledge and Faith
Mashiach will combine the aspects of Moshe and Dovid, which are the qualities of knowledge (da’as) and faith (emunah). These correspond to the “awakening from above” and “awakening from below” [the Zohar’s terms for the Divine initiative and the corresponding human initiative]. Then an illumination of Keser (“Crown,” the highest sefirah), which Mashiach [uniquely] apprehends, will illuminate us. Through this, perceptions of Godliness will be revealed (L”H, Nefilas Apayim 4:24).

The Future Song
The sweetness of the song that will be awakened in the Future will be the reward of the tzaddikim and the virtuous—in particular the true king of Israel, Dovid-Mashiach, and whoever is closer to him. For the latter are those who “behold the face of the king.” They will be privileged all the more to experience the wondrous sweetness of this song, and from them the rest of Israel will receive, each according to that individual’s proximity to those who behold the face of the king (L”H, Kriyas ha-Torah 6:5, 7).

The Darkness Before the Dawn
Our Sages state: The son of Dovid will come only be-hesech ha-da’as” (Sanhedrin 97a), i.e., when we least expect it. For when Mashiach comes, the renewal of the world will begin—it will be as if the world was actually created anew. This is because the creation of a perfected world will begin then. Therefore, this must be preceded by an aspect of the constriction of the Infinite Light that produced the Vacated Space at the very beginning of creation (see L”M I, 64, citing the Arizal). The constriction entails a removal of light. This corresponds to the hesekh ha-da’as of which our Sages speak, namely, a removal of the light of da’as (knowledge). When this occurs, the constriction will be in full force. And then Mashiach will come. For as soon as the constriction has been concluded, the light of creation will begin to shine anew, and Mashiach will come, may it be speedily in our days (L”H, Minchah 5:4).

The Perfection of Torah and Prayer
Mashiach will elicit a renewal of the Torah to the ultimate degree. This is an aspect of the “Torah of the Hidden Ancient One.” Through this renewal, the path by which we can turn Torah into prayer will fully be brought into the world. Through this, the Jewish people will merit to return to God and to fulfill the Torah completely.

Then prayer will achieve perfection. For the first Redemption came about through the aspect of Torah—the Torah that we received through Moshe Rabbeinu, of blessed memory. Surely Moshe also elicited the tikkun of prayer at that time, since Torah and prayer are interdependent. But nevertheless, the principal ascent of prayer began with Dovid HaMelekh who established the Book of Psalms. This is the very embodiment of turning Torah into prayer. This tikkun will be finished by Mashiach, because the Final Redemption will come about through prayer. Then the Torah too will attain an even greater degree of perfection, since prayer and Torah are part and parcel of one another (L”H, Rosh Chodesh 5:7, 26, 32).

The Tcheriner Rav also includes a similar teaching from Reb Noson in the same chapter (ibid. sec. 13):

In the future, with the advent of Mashiach, Moshe and Dovid will be fused to the ultimate degree of unity. For [as the Zohar states on the verse “until Shilo comes” (Genesis 49:10)] “’Shilo’ is Moshe-Mashiach”; and likewise Dovid is called “Mashiach [the anointed of] the God of Israel” (II Samuel 23:1)—because the soul of Mashiach will be comprised of both Moshe and Dovid. Then the Complete Redemption will take place, after which there will be no further exile. This is because we will merit to heed the directives of Moshe and fulfill them completely—through the aspect of Dovid, for both will be incorporated into one whole.

Then all of the Seventy Nations of the world will be transformed to holiness, and all of them will be gathered unto Moshe-Mashiach, who also incorporates Dovid. This [combination of Moshe and Dovid] corresponds to the paradigms of Torah and prayer, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, and thought and speech (L”H, Yayin Nesekh 3:6; see there for further explanation of these paradigms).

Mashiach’s Throne
The main tikkun of righteous judgment (mishpat)—through which the “defect” of the moon will be made whole [see the story in Chullin 60b, which may be understood as a reference to the perfection of Malkhus]—will be accomplished by Mashiach alone. Then all erroneous or wrongful judgment finally will be rectified. Then, Dovid HaMelekh’s throne will be perfected, as indicated by “thrones of judgement, thrones of the House of Dovid” (Psalms 122:5) (ibid., 6:6, 15, 19).

Mashiach’s Charisma
The first Redemption was in the category of compulsion, due to the many miracles that occurred. Then were sanctified all of the Festivals, which commemorate the Exodus. However, the Final Redemption will be in the category of the peace of Shabbos; for Mashiach will conquer the entire world without war at all (see Rebbe Nachman’s prediction in Siach Sarfey Kodesh II, 1-67). This will come about solely due to the profound knowledge of God that will be revealed at that time. As a result, all aspects of the “force of repulsion” (kochos hamakhrichos) that are opposed to the holy automatically will be nullified. Rather, everyone will follow him due to holiness of the “gravitational force” (ko’ach hamoshekh) that he generates. As it is written, “Nobles will kneel before him, and his enemies will lick the dust” (Psalms 72:9), and “For not with haste shall you go forth...” (Isaiah 52:12) [in this context meaning that the Final Redemption will reflect the peace of Shabbos] (L”H, Yom Tov 5:9, based on L”M I, 70).

Behind the Scenes
The entire process of drawing down the soul of Mashiach [into this world] entailed the greatest concealment, secretiveness and strategies—for example, through the incidents of Lot and his daughters, Yehudah and Tamar, and Boaz and Rus [all of whom were ancestors of Dovid and Mashiach]. All of this [i.e., the process culminating in the birth of Dovid] took place in great secrecy and concealment, in order to draw down his soul undetected [by the accusing angels that stand opposed to Dovid and Mashiach].

This is because Mashiach is the personification of secrecy (sod, which also means the hidden, inner dimension of the Torah and the mysteries of prophecy)—the aspect of silence. Therefore, it is forbidden to harbor objections (le-harher), God forbid, about why the exile has gone on for so long. For it is impossible to understand this, which is in the category of the transcendent realities (makifin ha-elyonim) that cannot be grasped. They are an aspect of silence. Thus, the End of Days is hidden and sealed. However, the faithful will not be anxious or disturbed, in their certainty that Mashiach will surely come and not delay; may this be speedily in our days, amen (L”H, Reishis ha-Gez 3:16).

Bringing Down the Light
[In Sichos HaRan, sec. 93, Rebbe Nachman states] that Mashiach perceives to the fullest extent the “light that shines in a thousand worlds.” He also knows perfectly how to constrict the light and divide it into parts, in an aspect of “dividing the thousands into hundreds.” All this is so that those on lower levels may perceive this light, as well. Then “the world will be full of the knowledge of God as the water that fills the sea” (Isaiah 11:9) (LH, Reishis ha-Gez 3:14).

The Anointed Who Anoints
More than all other tzaddikim, Mashiach will strive to elevate everything from disgrace to honor, thus to fulfill the teaching of our Sages, “Do not disparage anyone…” (Avos 4:3); do not belittle anyone in the world. Rather be involved with everyone possible, in order to rectify him and elevate him from all forms of disgrace and shame, and to bring them into the honor that derives from holiness. As it is written, “He will take pity on the poor and destitute … and their blood is dear (yakar) in His eyes” (Psalms 72:13, 14)—as in the sense of dignity (yakar) and honor.

Therefore, Mashiach is so called because he will be anointed with the oil of anointing (shemen ha-mishchah), which elevates everything from disgrace to honor. This is the secret of the anointing of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and its vessels, as well as the Kohanim (priests) and the Kings of Israel (L”H, Apotaikai 5:9).

Guarantor of the Jewish People
The principal “guarantee” that God accepted concerning the Giving of the Torah was provided by those who were the most trustworthy—the preeminent true tzaddikim. Although the ordinary people too are mutual guarantors (Shavuos 39a), their mutual responsibility is compulsory. Thus, the principal guarantorship is through the preeminent true tzaddikim who direct the Jewish people, guard them against doing evil and protect them from all harm, God forbid, whether physical or spiritual.

However, the main guarantor is the soul of Mashiach, which is the collective soul of all tzaddikim throughout the generations. Mashiach will complete all rectifications (tikkunim) and fix all the damage that was incurred throughout history. This is why Mashiach suffers on behalf of all Israel—because he serves as guarantor for them all. Therefore, Dovid HaMelekh, who was the Mashiach, entreats God, “Be surety for Your servant for good…” (Psalms 119:122). That is, [he declares before God,] “Behold, I have been made a guarantor on behalf of all [at the beginning of the Divine plan, prior to creation]. And no one can stand up to help me fulfill my obligation but You alone!” Thus, he entreats, “Be surety for Your servant for good…” (ibid.) (L”H, Arev 4:3, 4).

The next teaching, with which we will conclude, is based on a statement of Rebbe Nachman that Reb Noson recorded in Chayei Moharan (sec. 527), that any date people fix as the time of the Ge’ulah (Redemption) will prove to be false. Reb Noson adds that the Zohar (Zohar Chadash 12a) and other sources curse those who make such calculations. There too he mentions the year 5600 (1840 CE), which evidently had not yet arrived, as another erroneous prediction, observing, “He may come before, or he may come after, but definitely not in 5600!” This is because of the teaching of our Sages in Sanhedrin 97a cited above, and which he repeats here:

Teshuvah Brings the Ge’ulah
Our Sages state: Mashiach will come only when we least expect it (Sanhedrin 97a), meaning, when we have despaired of the Redemption. That is, although we must believe that surely he will come and not delay—and as it is written, “And if he tarries, I will wait expectantly for him” (Habakkuk 2:3, which is one of the Thirteen Principles of Faith)—nevertheless, it is forbidden to expect his arrival at a set time. That is, one must not declare that he will come on a particular year, as many erred in saying about the year 5600 (1840 CE), asserting that this year would be the End of Days. This led to much mayhem, since it caused various heresies and a desecration of God’s Name. Similarly, in former times they also made predictions of the End of Days, which came to naught. And as [Rabbi Shmuel Bar Nachmani said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan], “May those who calculate the ‘End’ suffer agony!” (Sanhedrin 97b; and cf. Rosh Hashanah 31a).

Rather, we must wait and yearn for him constantly, and nevertheless this will be in the category of hesech ha-da’as [i.e., when we are least expecting it]—for this will be a wondrous event, and we cannot understand the least hint as to when he will come. “The heart does not reveal it to the mouth,” as our Sages state. Yet he will most certainly come in the right time and season, suddenly, when we are least expecting it, and not in keeping with any calculations whatever.

This is because the Redemption is in the category of “God’s ways,” which are the aspects of judgment (mishpat) and righteousness (tzedakah, which can also mean charity). And we can’t fathom how God can govern the universe with these two paradigms in unison; as it is written, “And in judgment, you will perform righteousness.” For the Redemption will take place through righteousness (or charity) and gratuitous kindness; as it is written, “For My sake, for My sake, I will act” (Isaiah 48:11). Nevertheless, it also will reflect the aspect of judgment, because “this matter depends solely upon teshuvah” (Zohar III, 122a), and as it is written, “And a redeemer shall come to Zion, and those who turn from transgression in Yaakov” (Isaiah 59:20).

However, if God conducted Himself toward us with judgment alone, certainly our teshuvah would never suffice to bring the Redemption. It is only because God tempers the judgment, through the most wondrous righteousness and kindness, that He imbues the hearts of Israel with the desire to repent and cry out and pray to God—until His mercy is aroused, and He accepts our modicum of teshuvah and prayer with favor. In a manner of “wonder of wonders,” He will garb righteousness within judgment, and thus bring about the Redemption, in fulfillment of “Zion will be redeemed with judgment and they who return to her with righteousness” (Isaiah 1:27).

This is the meaning of the teaching that Mashiach will not arrive “until they have despaired of the Redemption” (Sanhedrin 97a), since so many predicted dates for the End of Days have come and gone. From this, it may be understood that the matter depends on teshuvah. Therefore, a few people will despair temporarily. They will understand that according to their teshuvah and deeds, it is still impossible for them to be worthy of Redemption. Yet they will strengthen themselves anew to yearn and wait expectantly for God’s mercies—that He will combine kindness and judgment and thus bring the Redemption, in an aspect if “For My sake, for My sake, I will act” (loc. cit.). At the same time, it also will be an aspect of judgment. And because the synthesis and unity of righteousness and judgment are impossible for the mortal mind to grasp, Mashiach will come be-hesech ha-da’as [in this context, in a way that is “beyond da’as”] (L”H, Minchah 5:33).

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