As a mother, I learned that just because you don’t get paid doesn’t mean you don’t work hard. It also doesn’t mean you aren’t hugely satisfied by the job and committed to succeeding.
Motherhood was good preparation for my current job as a blogger. I write weekly installments about my journey towards Jewish spirituality with one overarching goal: to help bring Moshiach, the Messiah. And because the Messianic theme runs through much of my writing, it’s piqued enough interest in the subject that I recently got my first speaking engagement.
At first I panicked. The ladies were going to expect an expert, someone who could tell them what it says in Isaiah or Ezekiel. Then I thought, as soon as they heard the words “chapter” and “verse,” they’d feel like they were in a synagogue. If they wanted to know why Moshiach is important to Judaism, they knew where to look. I wanted to share with them why Moshiach is important to me.
So, here’s the gist of my talk:
When I was growing up, it seemed like I was the only one I knew who questioned the meaning of life. This lack of clarity caused me tremendous anxiety as a child, even as a teenager. I was happy when I stopped thinking so much, and stopped questioning why I had been dealt a relatively good hand. But I always held out hope that before I died, I would learn the truth of the world.
Our journey towards this truth began when my husband Zev and I attended a Chabad Shabbaton in 1987. By then, I already knew I was living my non-observant life because I was Jewishly ignorant. What compelled me to buy into Torah observance after that week-end was a construct for truth I learned there: G-d indeed exists, and He gave the Torah to the entire Jewish nation to teach us how to reveal His presence in a world that conceals it. Through the Jewish people’s efforts, and everyone’s efforts, in partnering with G-d to perfect the world, goodness will ultimately saturate all of creation and “tip the scales,” causing the world to be transformed through the coming of Moshiach. I had never heard such a plausible explanation for the meaning of life, or for the purpose of the Jewish people. But it was also my moment of truth: if I was serious about wanting a world that made sense, as a Jew, I should commit to learning Torah and doing mitzvos. Even though my husband and I would need to completely change our lives, that’s exactly what we decided to do.
And as hard as it was to change, I never regretted my decision. Especially because the Lubavitcher Rebbe insisted that Moshiach could come at any moment. The Rebbe, who surely had inside information on this subject, assured everyone that just one small good deed or a fleeting thought of wanting to be closer to G-d could be enough to catalyze this process. This is what I work to remember for myself and what I hope my writing will inspire in others.
Even if I don’t actually merit to see Moshiach in my lifetime, G-d forbid, writing about Moshaich helps me think about Moshiach and to try to behave as if he’s already here–by seeing the underlying G-dliness in everything and everyone. Everyone wins when I work at this. But I also understand there’s a human part of me that feels its own existence, that grapples with less than holy impulses (thank you, Adam and Chava for bequeathing me the mixture of good and evil), no matter how hard I may try to be a G-dly person. The more I recognize this deficiency within myself, the more I can ask G-d from the depths of my soul to fix it. Because everyone needs Moshiach. The world’s pain and confusion, internally and externally, are G-d’s way of provoking us to realize that something’s missing. The good news is that the crazier things get, the closer we know we are.
I know Moshiach sounds too good to be true, but then I remind myself that it’s the only answer that could explain our miraculous survival in a world where anti-Semitism by now feels like a law of nature. I also know I don’t deserve Moshiach, but then I remind myself that I don’t deserve anything. It’s not about me (okay, it’s a little about me). It’s about wanting this world, the world we’ve endeavored to imbue with holiness throughout generations, to reveal openly and undeniably that there is nothing but G-d and that His Torah is true.
I also know why people may balk at the concept. “Messiah” sounds scary and Christian, even though every Jew and righteous non-Jew will be part of the final redemption. For American Jews, raised in a pluralistic society, it’s un-American to think that one religion holds the key to universal truth. And, unfortunately, Orthodox Jews don’t always uphold this truth. But none of these phenomena change the fact that G-d is waiting to redeem the world, and He’s waiting for us to beg Him to do it. Every day that tragedy strikes or another Jew decides his or her Judaism is irrelevant is a day when I know I have to work harder to make Moshiach a reality. These kind of things just shouldn’t be happening anymore.