We Must Embrace the Idea of the Messiah
As a mother, I learned that just because you don’t get paid doesn’t mean you don’t work hard. I also learned that even without pay, you can still find great satisfaction in your work.
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 about the Messiah.
And because the Messianic theme runs through much of my writing, I want to share with you how the Messiah became so important to me and how it’s an essential precept of Judaism.
When I was growing up, it seemed that I was the only one who questioned the meaning of life. The lack of clarity on the subject 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 such a relatively good hand. But I always held out hope that before I died, I would learn the truth of the world.
My journey towards this truth began when my husband Zev and I attended a Chabad Shabbaton in 1987. Back then, I was a non-observant Jew. What compelled me to buy into Torah observance after that weekend was a construct of truth that I learned there: God indeed exists, and He gave the Torah to the entire Jewish nation in order to teach us how to reveal His presence in a world that conceals it.
I was taught that through the Jewish people’s efforts — indeed, through everyone’s efforts — in partnering with God to perfect the world, goodness would transform the world through the coming of the Messiah.
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 to live in this world and accept this meaning of life, I had to 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 the Messiah could come at any moment. The Rebbe assured everyone that just one small good deed — or a thought of wanting to be closer to God — could be enough to catalyze this process. This is what I constantly remind myself of, and what I hope to inspire in others through my writing.
Even if I don’t actually merit to see the Messiah in my lifetime, God forbid, writing about the Messiah helps me think about him and behave as if he’s already here — by seeing the underlying Godliness in everything and everyone. Because everyone needs the Messiah. The world’s pain and confusion, internally and externally, are God’s way of showing us that something is missing. The good news is that the crazier things get, the closer we know we are.
I know the idea of the Messiah 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 antisemitism feels like a law of nature.
I also know why people may balk at the concept. “Messiah” sounds scary and Christian, even though it’s the twelfth principle of Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith, and 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 issues change the fact that God 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 that I have to work harder to make the Messiah a reality. These kinds of things just shouldn’t be happening anymore.