Throughout the Diaspora over the nine days leading to Tisha b’Av, Rabbis are focused on the sin from 2000 years ago and how to correct it – baseless hatred. Numerous efforts and speeches are being given encouraging Congregants to reach out to those outside of their closed circles and invite fellow Jews with whom they are less connected for meals. All of this is well and good and a wonderful initiative. Yet is this all we are supposed to do to truly move the “Mashiach ball” forward, expanding our Shabbat guest lists? How about also expanding our list of actions focusing on the Rambam’s prescription for the Mashiach.
If we look to the Rambam we find he has a number of goals for the Mashiach to accomplish. In truth though, none of them are tasks that the Mashiach can accomplish without our help, at least as we understand the world today. So, the real question is how can we help move the ball forward in each area regardless of whether the Mashiach has physically arrived?
The Rambam’s approach contains the following elements:
1) The Mashiach needs to fill the world with emunah, knowledge of God’s presence. Maybe the best way to help is with lots of personal very small efforts that collectively make a difference. Can we publicly point to the sky when family members recover from illness or when others compliment us and acknowledge our creator? Can we publicly kiss more mezuzot? Can we more proudly use the language of emunah in our speaking and writing; e.g., B’ezrat HaShem – with God’s help we will be successful even in business settings with less observant colleagues?
2) The Mashiach needs to gather the exiles from around the world. Can Jews who are in Israel find ways to encourage Aliyah with family and friends in the galut? Can we publicly say it plainly to them that the future of our people is in Israel? Can those in the diaspora, even those with challenging personal situations keep the spark of aliyah alive? Can those that can’t come right now move in this direction, make it a priority to buy Israeli (BDS – Buy Directly from Samaria:), post pictures and maps of Israel in our homes? Can those that can come, start making plans, no matter how far off? Can we re-examine our Tefilot (Shema, Shmona Esrei, Birkat HaMazon, etc.), focus on the number of times we are asking HaShem to gather us in and mean it and just do our best to make it happen?
3) The Mashiach needs to increase religious observance – We are all ambassadors, not just Chabad and Aish families. And yes, can we approach our non-religious or traditional Jewish work mates and invite them for a Shabbat dinner? Can we find a way to acknowledge what many traditional Jews are already doing and encourage more observance from whatever starting point they are beginning? Can we speak out and keep the western woke world from unduly influencing Israeli society away from mitzvot and religious observance?
4) The Mashiach is going to cause the sheep to lie down with the wolves. This does not mean Israel is the sheep and the neighbors are wolves. It simply means peace will reign, especially in our part of the world. If we look back to King David the monarch from whose DNA we are anticipating the next Mashiach, we learn that he was not a docile sheep, an appeaser. He was anything but. Both he and his son King Solomon were successful in bringing peace because of the strength they clearly displayed in settling the entire land and defending it from outside aggressors. The attitudes in our Middle Eastern neighborhood has not changed since that time. Can we work to put governments in place in Israel that understand the importance of strong responses as a means to achieve peace as the ultimate goal.
Can we encourage our children to serve in the IDF even if they return to the diaspora? Moshe insisted the 2 ½ tribes who decided not to enter could stay in the diaspora if they served their nation. And if we all can’t come, can we do everything we can in the diaspora to support a strong Israel which will ultimately build the peace of Mashiach.
5) Finally, The Mashiach needs to rebuild the Temple. First it is important to understand that the two approaches to rebuilding the Temple can change one’s approach to Aliyah. If we believe that the Temple is coming pre-built out of the sky, then why worry about any of this. We can wait for that magic day and take the “subway.” But if we see the last 100 years and the miracles unfolding in front of us as an instant in HaShem’s perspective, then there is more of an impetus for each of us to get involved and do our part. We can start the discussion – we can make sure to mention to our friends in other faiths – that someday we plan to see a Temple on this spot. I can say to my Muslim friends with a smile – maybe you will want to help, as it is supposed to be a Temple for all nations. Can we encourage our leaders to have those discussions proudly and clearly with other heads of state? Today, we can pray at the Kotel, the remnant of a retaining wall, where we say HaShem’s presence never left. It is a privilege but it’s a retaining wall. Can we educate ourselves on the workings and actually anticipate the music, smells, the regal building and holy atmosphere around a rebuilt functioning Temple?
These are real concrete steps. Let’s get busy and do our part and understand HaShem will do his. Prayers and self-improvement always help. Uniting our people by expanding our Shabbat invitation lists IS helpful. Expanding our efforts in all of the Mashiach categories is even better.
We are told that Eliyahu HaNavi’s reappearance will precede the time of the Moshiach. Rav Shmuel Eliyahu has posited, that maybe he is already here – in our hearts – inspiring us – unseen. B”H it is so. May we work and pray with a full heart to move the “Mashiach ball” forward.