Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Birthpangs of Moshiach

Here is a story about Rabbi Noson Wachtfogel, who served as the Mashgiach - Spiritual Guide - for the students at the famous Lakewood Yeshiva, which was founded by Rabbi Aharon Kotler, a leading Torah sage. Rabbi Wachtfogel passed away in 1998. This noted sage, educator and counselor was known for the outstanding character traits that he developed; moreover, he was also known for his great yearning for the coming of Moshiach - the Messiah who will inaugurate the age of the complete redemption. He constantly spoke about the yearning of our people for the complete redemption and his teachings expressed the following principle of our heritage: “I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Moshiach, and even though he may delay, nevertheless, I anticipate every day that he will come.” (This is one of the thirteen principles of our faith cited by Maimondes.)

Awaiting the coming of Moshiach was Rabbi Wachtfogel’s hallmark, and he fulfilled the statement, “I anticipate every day that he will come.” In fact, when he walked in the room during a festival celebration or a wedding, everyone would form a circle and start to joyously sing, “I anticipate every day that he will come.” Rabbi Wachtfogel would then enter the middle of the circle and dance heart and soul to these words, infecting everyone with his enthusiasm and faith. His dance expressed the yearning for the redemption of each individual, along with the redemption of the community, and the elevating spirit of his dance is expressed in the following teachings that he gave over to his disciples:

1. It is written, “Then will come those lost in the land of Assyria and those cast away in the land of Egypt.” The intent is that these people will come to realize that they were “lost” and “cast away”. Discontent with the exile is itself a level of anticipating Moshiach. Therefore, they - and all those who awaited the redemption - will merit to “bow to HaShem on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.”

2. Our years in exile have been full of terrible pain and suffering. We cannot even begin to imagine how great will be our compensation for having endured so much. How glorious will be the salvation and light that we will merit, due to the endless afflictions we have undergone in this long and dark exile! All the blood of our people that has been spilled will be transformed into light and joy.

3. Those in our generation who have experienced suffering and those who are now undergoing crises should realize that these are the birthpangs of Moshiach. They should take strength in the knowledge that these pains and difficulties will not endure for long, because soon they will all be coming to an end. Every day brings us closer to that wonderful moment when HaShem will heal the brokenhearted, and our sorrows and groans shall vanish.
“Shake off the dust - arise! Don your splendid clothes, My people.”

[Some of the above is from: The Legacy of Maran Rav Aharon Kotler” by Rabbi Yitzchok Dershowitz, published by Feldheim]

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