Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Amida (Berakha 15) Praying for the real Messiah

This berakha ends the section of "National Requests", the six blessings in which we pray God for our  gueula (=redemption) which is actually our desire for normalization as the nation of Israel. Our desire to be established in the land of Israel, following the Law of Israel.

This gueula process will culminate with the coming of the Mashiah. 

The Mashiah will be a King, a political leader, who like King David will be completely committed to serve God.  

But how will we suppose to recognize who the Mashiah is?  
The Rabbis did not give us an explicit list of the Mashiah characteristics.  But Maimonides did (MT, H. Melakhim, Ch.11).  

For Maimonides, everything we should know about the potential Mashiah is learned from Bar Kokhba. How so? Because Rabbi Aqiba believed that Bar Kokhba was the Mashiah, until Bar Kokhba was defeated and killed. Then, Rabbi Aqiba realized that althought Bar Kokhba possessed the necessary requisites to be Mashiah, evidently he was not. Now, Maimonides reasons, whatever rabbi Aqiba saw in Bar Kokhba is what we should expect to find in the potential Mashiah. 

He then mentions the three preconditions for the Mashiah. 
1. Like bar Kokhba, the Mashiah needs to be a descendant of King David.  

2. The second condition is that he will be committed to Torah study and meticulous observance (הוגה בתורה ועוסק במצוות), aspiring to establish a Jewish Kingdom where HaShem will be the Supreme King. 

3. The third condition, as per Maimonides, is that the candidate for Mashiah will be a military man, actively fighting the wars of Israel. Not "fighting" in a symbolic army (a sort of a Jewish "Salvation Army") but in the real Jewish Army, like the brave Bar-Kokhba who was a soldier and then the commander of the Jewish army that fought against the enemies of Israel (in 130 ACE, the Romans). 

Maimonides explains that if a Jewish leader possesses these three conditions he could be considered the Mashiah. If he also gathers the remnants of the Jewish people into the land of Israel, and he builds the Bet haMiqdash,  then he should be declared officially as our Mashiah Tsidqenu. (B"H, bimhera beyamenu!

Recommended reading on this subject 
'The Real Messiah?' 
by Aryeh Kaplan. 
                                                                           See here