Thursday, November 1, 2012

The 13 Principles: # 12: The Mashiach

The Twelfth principle involves our belief in the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic age. The Messianic age will take place when the Jews will regain their independence and all return to the land of Israel.

According to Maimonides in his commentary to the Mishna "We should not set a time for his coming, not try to calculate when he will come from Scriptural passages. Our sages thus teach us "May the sprit of those who try to calculate the time of the end [i.e., the time of the coming of the Mashiach] rot". Many times in the history of the Jewish people there were those who disregarded this warning and endeavored to set a time for the coming of the Messiah.  In many occasions those attempts brought terrible consequences.  In the times of the false Messiah, Shabetay Tzebi (1665-1666 CE), many Jews lost all their properties and put themselves in danger, following false hopes.  We should simply believe that the Mashiach will come, "if not today, B'H, tomorrow".

The word "Messiah" (Mashiach in Hebrew) does not mean "savior" but "anointed". In ancient Israel, when a King was appointed by the court and a prophet (see Mishne Tora, Kings, 1:3) he was anointed with a special oil (shemen hamishcha). When the prophet Shemuel appointed Shaul, the first King, the Scripture says: "And Shemuel took the jar of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him" (I Samuel, 10:1).   The Mashiach, therefore, will be a King, a political leader like Shaul, David or Solomon. He will be a leader who will be known by his "wisdom and understanding, his counsel and power, his knowledge of  HaShem, and his reverence for Him."

The Mashiach will be a descendent of the house of King David. God promised King David that every King in Israel will come from him.  

(to be continued)

Hurricane "Sandy" and Abraham Abinu

In the aftermath of the devastating storm that hit U.S. Eastern Coast we elevate our prayers to Bore Olam, first of all to thank Him for our personal well being. Too often we take our welfare for granted, but when witnessing the overwhelming power of God's natural acts, we realize how blessed we are to be alive, safe and sound. 

We pray to HaShem for those who were not as blessed and fortunate. Now, inspired by our realization of the easy way one can lose shelter and material comfort, when seeing how fragile and God-dependent we all are, we should pray with more sensitivity for the wellbeing of the people who lost lives, health or possessions. 

These difficult times are a irrepetible opportunity to excel in acts of Chesed, opening our homes to receive guests, like Abraham Abinu did in this week's Perasha; helping those with lower means to resume their lives and cheering friends up with a smile and words of hope and comfort.     

May HaShem bring safety, good health and relief to everyone. 

May we all be inspired to act toward others with the kindness of Abraham Abinu.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Sandy" and the blessings of a blackout

We are expecting a big storm in New York today. In our area the worst part will probably begin after 7.00 PM. We have already taken all precautions: all lose objects are placed in the garage. The windows are decorated with a big X of masking tape. We got flashlights, a batteries-less radio and we have gathered probably more food (and bottled water) than what Noach took with him to his ark. 

We are ready for the worst: a blackout. No power for who-knows how many days (last time, with Hurricane "Irene", we had no power for 10 days). The big-game changer is that children have no school today and tomorrow.    As I was nervously talking to my wife yesterday I noticed that she was no worried at all, on the contrary, she was excited: "A blackout is the greatest opportunity for quality family time". 

She is right: in a sense these days are like a long Shabbat: no work, no school, no computers, no X-Box, etc., just the family together indoors.  We are all by ourselves, with our children. 

Like Shabbat, try to build a positive atmosphere of peace, with patience. 

Select some books for quality reading; take from the basement old family pictures, and get ready to play games and tell stories of Abraham Abinu. Then  have points of discussions and Q&A on the Perasha of the week (see, for example, this) one of the richest Perashiot for children!. 

It is also a great opportunity to explain our children how privileged we are to live in a time and a place where B'H we have refrigerators, washing machines and electrical light. 

We are hoping that B'H everybody will be safe and sound, but we can't get over the excitement of having this window of opportunity for quality Jewish parenting.

Clickhere to learn a beautiful new / old song about Abraham Abinu (in Ladino)

See the lyrics here