Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Moshiach: the Meaning of Inattention

Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt”l, would deliver a daily shiur in the shul in Batei Machseh between Mincha and Maariv. Once one of the regular attendees of the shiur asked him a question about how Moshiach will arrive. “Our sages teach that Moshiach will only arrive when we aren’t paying attention. But how can that possibly be? After all, Moshiach’s coming is a core belief mentioned in ani ma’amin which we recite daily. In addition, we daven for the advent of Moshiach in every shemonah esrei; how could we possibly forget him? ”
The Rav replied with a question of his own. “What is ‘hesech hada’as’? If someone were to tell us sitting here in shul discussing Moshiach that he has actually arrived and is standing on our street, we would be astounded and would all instinctively cry out in our shock: ‘Can it be true??’
“This is the state of distraction to which our sages referred.”
The Shem MiShmuel, zt”l, asked a similar question but offered a very different answer. “Our sages revealed that Moshiach will only come when we have given up on the redemption. Of course this cannot be literal. It can be understood in the context of a revealing statement once made by the Maggid of Mezritch, zt”l, ‘Even if I were to fall and violate a terrible sin, chas v’shalom, I would never fall away from my avodas Hashem. The reason why is because I do not serve Hashem to avoid gehinom or to attain the world to come. I serve him like a slave serves him master with no thought of reward for doing his duty.’
The Shem MiShmuel continued, “This attitude is laid down by the Mishnah in Avos: ‘Be like slaves who serve their master with no thought of reward.’ Of course serving Hashem brings one vitality and eternal life,but one should not serve Hashem only on condition of receiving reward. As our sages say in the Sifri: ‘One should not learn only to be a ben olam haba. Instead, he should act from love and the honor due to him will come.’
“This is what it means to ‘give up’ on the redemption: people will focus on serving Hashem out of love, not the reward they will receive after Moshiach arrives!”


Anonymous said...

I can only hope to wish to be on a level of the generation or of the people you descibe in your (true) stories!
But then again, I can only speak for myself and not for the Klal.
In Pirkei Avos it sais: V'Ameich kulom tzaddikim - and Your nation are ALL TZADDIKIM!
May just the simple thinking about fellow Jews in the positive vein be 'recorded' in Heaven and tip 'the scale' in Am Yisroel's favour! And may we ALL greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu sooner than soon.

Micha Golshevsky said...

Ashrecha v'tov lach!