One of the most poignant Jewish proclamations has always been “I believe with complete faith (emunah shlaima) in the coming of Moshiach.” What is meant by perfect faith?
Perhaps this faith can be compared to trust and faith we have in life. No matter what happens to us, we never stop believing that life is good and that it is worthwhile.
This faith is not conditional, not withstanding the litany of difficulties one may encounter in a lifetime. There have always been starvation, inquisitions and holocausts. There has always been senseless murder and rape. Yet have we ever concluded that life is no good? G-d forbid. Have we ever concluded that life is not worth living? Never.
It is inherent in human nature that life has purpose and meaning. It is an absolute premise that remains intact in spite of challenges, trials, and tribulations.
So too, the axiom, “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach” for the same reason that we believe with perfect faith that life is worth living. Because it is worth living. No matter what the newspapers tell us and no matter what we see on television and no matter what we personally experience.
Similarly, we believe with perfect faith that Moshiach is coming, because Moshiach must come. Not he might come, not I suppose he’ll come, not “OK, if you say so I believe you.” Perfect faith means Moshiach is coming. Whether we deserve it or not, he’s coming.
The fact that he didn’t come yesterday doesn’t weaken our faith because he has to come. He’s already a week late? For sure he’s coming now. He’s a month late? Of course he’s coming. Two thousand years late? He has to be here any minute – how late can a person be?
How can we be so sure?
The Torah tells us that life is good, that this world really is worth living in, that Moshiach will come, that the Golus (exile) will end, that holiness will prevail, and that as a result of all this G-d’s purpose in the creation of heaven and earth will finally be fulfilled.
If Moshiach never came (G-d forbid) the G-d’s ultimate purpose would never be fulfilled and all the suffering that has gone on for the past five thousand years has been totally and completely without meaning and purpose. This is impossible and we know it to the depths of our souls. The Torah, the Prophets and our own Sages and Tzaddikim guarantee it. Our souls guarantee it. It is, as we say, the Emes, the truth.Actually, today we are much closer to the Messianic Era than ever before.
If we were to ask the average Jew today, “Do you think you look forward to the coming of Moshiach as intensely, as truly, as deeply as your grandparents in Poland during the war?” The answer would obviously be no. Our grandparents in Poland desperately wanted Moshiach. Us, we want Moshiach. We’re looking forward to Moshiach. We’re curious about Moshiach. But desperate? We’re not desperate.So you’d think that Moshiach would have come for them. And if he hasn’t come for them why would he come for us?
When things are very, very bad, when life is terrible, then human nature dictates that you try to find the light at the end of the tunnel. When things are so bad that you can’t see how you are going to get out of it you grasp at straws. It makes sense that when life becomes unbearable, and you don’t know if you will live to see the morning light – that you would want Moshiach to come. Of course. Who wouldn’t? But Jews have never been as comfortable as we are today. We have never been so safe, doing so well. In many ways life has never been better. Yet the whole world is talking about Moshiach. Why? Because it is happening.
Moshiach is in the air and we can almost taste it. In one way, our grandparents had a deeper feeling for Moshiach than we have. In another way, we are more ready because we don’t need him out of desperation.
So what will happen when Moshiach comes?
For starters, Golus will end. Golus means that although G-d created a perfect world, we don’t see it. We cannot see the goodness; we cannot see the G-dliness, the beauty, the justice. In Golus, everything is backwards, opposite to what it should be. Jews should be at the top of the world and they are at the bottom. Justice should be everywhere and is seems to be nowhere. Kindness is better than severity and everyone is being severe.
What is the condition that permits evil? Darkness. When bad people can pretend they’re good and others don’t realize that they’re evil – that is how they survive. What is the end of Golus? The end of Golus is like turning on a light, when suddenly you realize where everything is. Goodness is goodness, evil is evil, right is right, wrong is wrong – it’s suddenly very clear. Truth and G-dliness become obvious.
Will there be divorces? Of course not. Will there be children and parents that don’t get along? Of course not. Will there be hatred of a Jew by a non-Jew? Of course not. Why not? Because G-dliness will be revealed, and when truth is revealed everything is fine. You didn’t notice it before but now you see it, now everything is clear.
The same thing is happening in our own individual lives. People all over the world are recognizing the evil, self – destructiveness and uselessness in themselves, and when they see it are choosing to become better. We’re becoming more modest, more loyal, more sensitive. People are choosing to become good without being forced to, without being bribed, without being threatened. Spontaneous goodness is gaining momentum.
What can we do to participate in this process? Ask yourself this, “If everything was perfect and everyone was good, how would you be different?” If your husband was exactly the kind of person you always wanted him to be, if your children were perfectly behaved young scholars, if every Jew was a model Jew, how would you treat them all? Treat them that way now. Start acting like Moshiach is here.
Since you know Moshiach is coming, start acting like it. You know that when Moshiach comes you will never again raise your temper in a fight, so begin now. You know that when Moshiach comes little things won’t bother you, start now. You know that when Moshiach comes you’ll have no anxieties, so relax. Why wait? That’s how we can bring Moshiach out of the book and into reality, into everyday life.
He’s not a mystery. He’s not something rabbis believe in. He’s something the world feels is happening, and welcomes.
If we start actually behaving that way then Moshiach really will come and the world will become truly G-dly. Then Moshiach will be able to spend his time teaching us greater, more wonderful things, because we will already have done all the fixing. And we will have done so because we continued to believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach, and though he tarried, we awaited his coming every day.
Adapted from a talk given by Rabbi Manis Friedman