Friday, December 18, 2015

Why Belief in Moshiach is One of the 13 Principles

"Eternity" by Charnine

Why is the belief in Moshiach one of the thirteen principles of the Jewish Faith? Rabbi Gershon Avtzon, Menahel, Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati answers:

To clarify the question: There are 613 commandments, yet there are only 13 principles. This shows us clearly that not every commandment is a principle. To put things in perspective: Two of the most basic Mitzvos are putting on Tefilin (for men) and keeping Shabbas. Yet, neither of them are part of the 13 principles. This shows us that the principles are more than just basic commandments, they are the pillars of Judaism.

For example: Principle number one is the belief in Hashem. This is understood: One can not claim to be a believing Jew, if he does not believe in Hashem. [A Perspective: For many of the commentaries, there is no Mitzva to believe in Hashem! How can one ask "what are the commandments" if he does not believe in a commander?]

Another one of the principles is that the Torah was authored by Hashem and only written by Moshe Rabbeinu. This is also understood. Most of the laws of the Torah are learned  from extra letters or words in the Torah. If one believes that the Torah was authored by a human, is it shocking that there are extra letters or words?

If the above understanding of the 13 principles is true, why is the belief in Moshiach one of them? Can't I be considered an orthodox Jew - Keeping Kosher, Shabbas, and just not believe in Moshiach?  

A perspective: The Chasam Sofer [Shalas U'teshuvos on Yorah Deah, letter 356] writes that in truth the belief in Moshiach is not in itself a principle. It is just that being that Moshiach is written about in the Torah, if one denies Moshiach, he is denying part of the Torah! However, the accepted opinions are that believing in Moshiach itself is a principle. For all Mitzvos are written in the Torah, and according to the above, they should all be included.

The Answer: The Lubavitcher Rebbe gives a fascinating explanation [Hadran on Rambam 5746 chapter 10]. In order to understand it, we must first explain a basic Chassidic idea. What do we mean when we say - in the Sh'ma prayer, with our eyes covered - that Hashem is ONE? The explanation: Hashem's oneness - does not only mean that there is no other creator, rather - means that there is no other creation but Hashem. The entire world - even though it seems as an independent entity - is really G-dly.

In the time of exile, this truth is hidden. It seems that the world is an independent entity, and that keeping Torah and Mitzvos are a struggle. When Moshiach comes, the Truth of creation will be revealed. The world will be seen as a place created solely to do Hashem's will.

Chazal tell us [Yalkut Shimoni on Yirmiah Remez 315 and others] that in the messianic era, if one would want to desecrate the Shabbas by picking a fruit off the tree, the tree will "scream" at him to stop.

If one does not believe in Moshiach, then one does not believe that Hashem's true unity will show. He then believes that the world will remain "independent" of Hashem's oneness. It is obvious that such a person is missing in his basic belief in Judaism.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, and explained perfectly. It is the only way I always understood it to be. Feel that many who claim to be religious but do not put any faith in the coming of Moshiach are just being ritualistic and giving them a feeling or order and comfort. The reason for creation was the coming of Moshiach where the world will know that there is only Hashem!

Avi said...

Belief in Mashiach is fundamental to Judaism. The coming of the Mashiach is the reason why Hashem created Judaism as his social direction for evolution of mankind.
The person per se, as Mashiach, is as mysterious as his first prototype, Moshe Rabbeinu. As Moshe looked like non-Jewish, so will be the Mashiach. As Moshe didn't speak Hebrew because he grew up in Pharaoh's house, so will probably be the Mashiach living among the Christians. Moshe the Egyptian couldn't speak Hebrew, the language few people were yet speaking among the Jewish slaves after 400 years of slavery. Still today there are millions of Jews who cannot speak Hebrew. The Mashiach is so well hidden as was his first model for humanity, Moshe Rabbeinu. Mashiach's coming to save Am Yisrael appears so impossible as was Moshe's advent to save a nation of slaves.Keep it in mind that Moshe Rabbeinu was part of the royal house of Egypt.
We are getting closer to the understanding of messianic redemption as the next stage of evolution Hashem envisaged for mankind. Mashiach becomes the new Adam for olam haba, a living human example of what Hashem intended for humanity to exist.
A world will collapse, then a new one emerges.