Friday, December 31, 2010

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.

1 comment:

SYJ said...

from your answer it appears you understood the chasam sofer's argument to be that one could denie the whole geula an d ther ewil not be any redemption but continuous observance of torah and mitzvos as we do today, and it would not affect in any way the torah fundamentally. however if im not mistaken the chasam sofer sais that one could believe in that hashem himself will redeem us and that would not make a difference but of course there will be a geulah this a strong question indeed why the redemption has to be through a person-mashiach and just aredemption nevertheless it is explicit un the torah a redemption through a mashiach. i would like to hear your response