19 November 2008

Mashiach Not the End of Troubles

We should understand that when Mashiach finally reveals himself, that is not the end of the story. The world does not at that point lay down its weapons and embrace the Laws of Noah. When Mashiach arises to power, it will increase the troubles for the Jews just as it did when Moshe first approached Paro and our work and suffering were increased immensely. The following passage from the Zohar, Shemot, section 15 provides some detail.

Section 15: The Coming of Mashiach (excerpts)

...the Messiah will reveal himself and declare war on the world. Many nations will join him to wage war on the nations of the world, which will unite to fight against him. Then a time will come when the world will remain in darkness for fifteen days, and many of the children of Yisrael will perish.

Rabbi Shimon then explains to Rabbi Elazar that the Messiah resides in the lower Garden of Eden, surrounded by saints, angels and the souls of the righteous. There is a concealed place in Eden called "Bird's Nest" which is revealed to the Messiah by the bird that awakens daily in the Garden. In the Bird's Nest is the Cloak of Majesty, and the images of all the nations that banded against Yisrael are woven into this garment. The Messiah enters this place and sees the Patriarchs visiting the ruins of God's Sanctuary and God trying to comfort Rachel, who weeps incessantly. Then he weeps loudly and all of Eden shakes and laments with him. When he cries for a second time, the Holy Throne summons them and they ascend to above. There, God makes them swear to avenge the children of Yisrael through the Messiah and to draw God's goodness towards the children of Yisrael so that they may enjoy His rich rewards. At that time, God will arise to renew the world, and the letters of the Holy Name will shine in perfect union. A mighty star and a flame will then appear in the sky. After forty days, the star will gradually overpower the flame. The star will illuminate twelve pathways for twelve days, and after another twelve days the world will tremble and darkness will fall. A sound shall be heard out of great thunder and lightning, causing the earth to shake and many to die. Then a flame of fire will appear in Rome, and it will burn many towers and places, and many mighty rulers and ministers will perish. For twelve months following, the kings of the nations will unite and persecute the children of Yisrael. Then a tribe will arise in Yisrael, led by the Messiah. The Messiah will be aroused and perfected through the Garden of Eden. He will enter the Bird's Nest, take the Garment of Jealousy, and be hidden there for forty days. After this time, he will ascend to receive God's blessing, and will be crowned with a Holy Crown. He then receives a royal red garment from the mourners of Zion to avenge the destruction of the Temple, and is concealed in the Bird's Nest for thirty days. Then he will descend to earth in a bright light, and no one will know the significance of this light except the sages. He will console Rachel, and she will finally accept consolation, and then the light will settle in the city of Jericho. After twelve months, the Messiah will be revealed to the world in Galilee, and those who study the Torah will surround him and give him additional strength. After waiting for another twelve months, he will raise the Shechinah and gather the exiled from the world. Then God will perform for the children of Yisrael the signs and wonders that He did in Egypt....

On this passage, the commentary says:

...a reading of this passage fills us with awe and wonder at the grandeur and majesty of God's great plan. Knowing of the events that await us, we will cling still more devoutly to the truths of Torah and lend our prayers to the energy building up for the fierce yet triumphant days of the Messiah, when all that was and all that is will combine to form all that ever will be. The hope of these days has sustained righteous men through many a dark time, and the consciousness of this will elevate our souls to sing with joy at the sheer wonder of creation and the mystery of time wrapped in eternity.

This is a good answer to those who are more and more casting aspersions upon all discussion about Mashiach and Geulah.