Monday, April 1, 2013

Mashiach/Messiah Part 2 - Personality and Character

In Part 1 I gave a very brief background or possible scenario that would be in play on the world’s stage before and after the arrival of this mysterious individual called the mashiach (messiah). His entry into the political, military and spiritual arena would be preceded by much tumult and end with an Earth that has at last found itself in an acceptable level of peace and harmony that would even extend to the lesser species on the planet. In Part 2 I want to address what the personality and character of this person will be like.

Before I do this however, I think it’s important to clear something up that may have appeared a bit misleading in Part 1. In Judaism a prophet that gives a prophecy is not primarily a foreteller of future events, even though that is a small part of what a prophet does. The Hebrew word for a prophet is navi. It literally means a spokesperson, one who has been chosen to be the mouthpiece of G-d. The main job of a navi is not telling the future. A famous 12th Century Talmudic tosafot named Rashbam stated the main job of the navi, or prophet, is to make themselves open to the wisdom of G-d and to “speak to the people all that I shall command them.” Therefore, while prophecy has the element of foretelling in its prerogative its main focus is forth-telling the commands of G-d. With that key point in mind almost all prophecy concerning the mashiach falls into the foretelling category of prophetic utterance.

Down through the eons of time there have been many so-called mashiachs. In fact, if one were to use the description of a mashiach loosely this person would not be restricted to creed, color, gender, religion nor would they even need to be Jewish. The most basic identifying characteristic of a mashiach is one who has been anointed by G-d to perform a specific task that is centered around the physical and spiritual protection or deliverance of the Jewish people or the Nation of Israel. The centuries have seen many such mashiachs come and go beginning most profoundly with the most important to date, Moses himself. He had one goal to perform - deliver the Jews out of the hands of Egyptian slavery and into the borders of the land of their ancient fathers, The Land of Israel. He accomplished that feat. It may have taken him 40 years but he saw it to completion. Another famous mashiach was a woman named D’vorah (Deborah). She was a mighty military warrior during a renegade time in Israel’s history when it was ruled by one local called to rise up and protect the land when it was being threatened by external or internal forces. She led as a judge of Israel. Another very important female mashiach was a young Jewish girl named Esther who rose to the status as Queen of Persia. She used her influence to ensure the safety and deliverance of her people during the first great pogrom organized by a Hitler-like Persian of political status named Haman. She was reminded that it was for this very cause that she was placed into her prominent position with the King and was her only purpose for existence at the time. To this day she is celebrated as a great deliverer of the Jewish people with the holiday of Purim.

The title of a mashiach is not limited to a Jew. The prophets and ancient Jewish scribes and sages proclaimed a Gentile king by the name of Cyrus to be a mashiach when he issued the edict which ended Israel’s 70 years of captivity among the Babylonians and allowed the Jews to return to their land and rebuild their Temple. There has even been an American Jew that has filled the role of a mashiach. He was Colonel David Daniel “Mickey” Marcus. The Colonel was instrumental in the very early days of the new State of Israel in ensuring the delivery of valuable and much needed supplies and munitions when the fledgling nation came under immediate attack from its Arab neighbors after proclaiming its independence as the Jewish State. He was given command of the Jerusalem front just two weeks after independence. He was also instrumental in getting a cease fire implemented and was mortally wounded by accidental friendly fire upon his return to camp just hours before his cease fire was to be engaged.

Some other modern day mashiachs are Theodor Herzl, the 19th Century man who founded the Zionist movement that began the push for Israeli statehood. David ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and leader in nearly two thousand years and was the main thrust behind Israel’s independence and Statehood. Golda Meir, Israel’s first female prime minister who saw Israel victorious during one of its most troubling times, the 1973 Yom Kippur War. She had that rare quality of feminine dignity, strong will and a driven sense of purpose. She may have looked like everyone’s grandmother but those who had to come up against her knew her as the first Iron Lady, a title she held before Britain’s famed Margaret Thatcher.

I would also likely include three other modern day mashiachs to the list though they would humbly disagree. The late Simon Wiesenthal, the great humanitarian and Nazi hunter and Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel, Nobel Laureate and political activist. The third is a humble orthodox rabbi named Chaim Richman. His name may be unfamiliar to many but his sole purpose for existence in life is eternally memorable. Rebbe Richman is the man behind the work of and the International Director for the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel. G-d has raised up this mashiach and anointed him for one divine purpose - to take over the task first assigned to Rabbi Ariel in the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the reviving of the Jewish judicial system known as the Sanhedrin, the training of the levites and cohens (priests) in Temple service and the authentic reproduction according to Torah instruction of all the implements and tools necessary to perform their duties within the third Temple. All his work and that of those who have been named before him in this article serve one purpose, to prepare the world and the Jewish people for the appearance of the mashiach.

So, while there have been many mashiachs (small m) over these past centuries, the Mashiach (capital M) has yet to make an appearance on the world scene. When such a person is born to a Jewish couple and grows up, likely anonymously until the proper time for revealing, what will he be like? What will his personality reveal about his character? Once again to find this out we have to look to the expert on the subject of the mashiach, the prophet Isaiah:

But a branch will emerge from the trunk of Jesse (Judah’s lineage), a shoot will grow from his roots. The spirit of G-d will rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and reverential respect for G-d. He will be inspired by fearing the L-rd. He will not judge by what his eyes see or decide by what his ears hear, but he will judge the impoverished justly; he will decide fairly for the humble of the land. He will strike the land with a rod from his mouth and slay the wicked with a breath from his lips. Justice will be the belt around his waist, faithfulness the sash around his hips.

Aside from the liturgical flourish our Jewish prophets like to envelope their words with the description of the character and personality of the mashiach is quite profound. To date I would have a very hard time finding anyone who has held the reigns of political, military and spiritual power that has matched this description. The mashiach will be infused with the spirit of G-d. That, of course, can and has been interpreted a zillion different ways over the centuries. But basically most can agree that it means that the finest qualities that can be exhibited by a human being, those that include an understanding of humanity and the godly, as well as, how things really are, could and should work properly for the beneficence of all along with the wisdom to make it come about. Someone who is fair yet judicial, prudent while forgiving; and a person who is not easily fooled by the games and tricks people play. His wisdom and inspiration are directed by his sense of respect for the G-d who created him and the rest of humanity. He will be a person that can be counted on to not act rashly or out of a need to maintain his power but will serve in humility with a strength of purpose that outweighs his own personal desires.

Sounds almost too good to be true but as the saying goes, “stranger things than these have happened.” This man, the mashiach, will rule justly and with honesty during the length of his lifetime which the prophets and oral law (Talmud) have indicated will resemble lifetimes before the days of the deluge. Is that even possible? In our own time we have seen the average lifetime of a human rise 20 or more years. The motto today on many billboards is “70 is the new 50.” Just 85 years ago when government officials were trying to determine the best age to begin social security in America it was decided 65 was the proper age to begin the program for retirees. Why did they pick 65? Because statistics showed that most would be dead by that age and the payout wouldn’t exceed the revenue. My how times have changed in less than a hundred years. Imagine how different it can be after the mashiach is here.

After such a perfect human; and he will be a flesh and blood human that is born, grows up, grows old and eventually dies, is buried and his body remains in the grave until it is turned to dust; what will be the results seen in the world around us. How will his governing of the Earth change things? Will this mashiach be the initiator of the long spoken of but never seen age of Aquarius? Again, we look to Isaiah for answers:

The wolf will live with the lamb; the leopard lie down with the kid; calf, young lion and fattened lamb together, with a little child to lead them. Cow and bear will feed together, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. A human infant will play on a cobra's hole, a human toddler put his hand in a viper's nest. They will not be hurt or destroyed anywhere on my holy mountain (the Temple Mount in Jerusalem), for the earth will be as full of the knowledge of G-d as water covering the sea. On that day this root of Jesse, which stands as a banner for the peoples - the Goyim (Gentiles - all those in the world not Jewish) will seek him out, and the place where he rests (his feet) will be glorious. On that day the L-rd will raise his hand again, a second time, to reclaim the remnant of his people who remain from Ashur, Egypt, Patros, Ethiopia, Eilam, Shinar, (modern day Iraq) Hamat and the islands in the sea (all Jews still in diaspora). He will hoist a banner for the Goyim, assemble the dispersed of Israel, and gather the scattered of Judah from the four corners of the earth. Efrayim's jealousy will cease - those who harass Judah (reference to the once divided Kingdom of Israel after the death of Solomon) will be cut off, Efrayim will stop envying Judah, and Judah will stop provoking Efrayim.

I wish all would be peaceful at first when the mashiach is revealed to the world but of course there will always be the hold outs for the old ways of war, fear, terror, tyranny and animosity. However, it will be short-lived as the mashiach in justice is also a mighty military warrior when necessary and those who wish to continue old blood feuds will be dealt with swiftly and harshly as needed. Here is how Isaiah describes those too stubborn to accept the inevitable peace:

They (the mashiach’s army) will swoop down on the flank of the Palestinians to the west. Together they will pillage the people to the east - they will put out their hand over Edom and Moab, and the people of Ammon will obey them. G-d will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian Sea. He will shake his hand over the Euphrates River to bring a scorching wind, dividing it into seven streams and enabling people to cross dryshod. There will be a highway for the remnant of his people who are still left from Ashur (parts of Iran and Syria), just as there was for Israel when he came out from the land of Egypt.

Sadly, those wishing to hold out and continue their blood feud with Israel and the mashiach are those that have held the front page of newspapers for the last 65 years. Egypt, Gaza, the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jordan, Syria, Eastern Iraq, as well as Iran. However, this will be their last hurrah and once they are either completely defeated or allowed to see the error of their nearly 4000 year old vendetta then the world will reap the description of peace and unity a person like the mashiach can guarantee. It is then that the State of Israel and the nations of the whole world will at last be able to say:

On that day we will say, “We thank you G-d, because, although you had been angry with us, your anger is now turned away; and you are comforting us.” Look and see how G-d is our deliverance. As a result we are now confident and unafraid; for the L-rd is our strength and our song, our triumph, our deliverer.

“Stranger things than these have happened.”

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