The Light of Messiah, Rabbi Avraham Kook, Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky and a Comment

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Rabbi Avraham Y. Kook
Rabbi Avraham Y. Kook

The Lights of Teshuva (Orot Hateshuva, chapter 15:10) by Rabbi Avraham Y. Kook

Therefore just by the great truth of Return to one’s self, will the person and the nation, the world and all the worlds, and all the existence in its entirety merit to return to its Maker to bask in the light of the living. And this is the secret of the light of Messiah, the appearance of the soul of the world, that when it brightens, the world will return to the root of its existence, and the light of Hashem upon him will be revealed. And from the source of this great Teshuva (return), a man will draw the life of holiness of Teshuva in its true way.

Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky’s View on the Light of Messiah
Emet Le – Ya’akov to Breishit (Genesis) 38:7

The confusion and lack of clarity that the Torah reflects on the birth order of Peretz and Zerach was written to teach us how the events will unfold regarding the final coming of Messiah son of David, and as we see with our eyes today. First the “sunrise” will come, a new light will shine in the sky of the Jewish world, and many will think and decide with certainty that this is the light of a Messiah who is about to be revealed. But suddenly a new era will begin, “and it happened as he returned his hand and behold his brother came out”, that is, while all eyes and hearts are fixed on the new sunrise in their thinking that salvation will come from there, the true Messiah will “break forth” from another place and the light of Messiah will be revealed…

Some background on the words of  Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky’s

It says in Midrash, Bereishit Rabba, parshat Vayeshev, 85:1

Rabbi Shmuel Bar Nachman, opened the story {of Yehuda and Tamar} by quoting Yirmiyahu Chapter 29, “For I know the thoughts”; The tribes were involved in the sale of Yosef, and Yosef was involved in his sackcloth and fasting, Reuven was involved in his sackcloth and fasting, Yaakov was involved in his sackcloth and fasting and Yehuda was involved in acquiring a wife, and the Holy One Blessed be He was involved with creating the light of the Messianic King.

Now it was at that time and Yehuda descended. (Yishayahu 66) “Before she labored, she was delivered; before her pangs came, she bore a son”. Before the first subjugator was born, the last redeemer was born. “And it was at that time”, what is written before this matter, And the Medanites sold him to Egypt.

Comment by Shlomo Moshe Scheinman:

To be honest I don’t have a clear idea, what it means for a soul to return to its root that Rabbi Kook talked about, nor do I have a clear idea, how does one make such a return to the root, nor do I know how to connect this return to the root to the story of Yehuda and Tamar, more than any other Biblical story.

Rabbi Kaminetsky does make a clear connection of one detail of the Yehuda & Tamar incident to the messianic era, but in my humble opinion, the light of Messiah in the story of Yehuda and Tamar has much broader implications. It is a hint of what practical measures are needed to be taken to correct the faulty spiritual situation among our leadership (such as the rejection of the True Jewish Ideals) that leads to the painful birth pangs of the Messiah. It contains a hint about who should be the focus of our attention and how to bring about changes in the Yehuda of our days.

Who am I to criticize the Pre-Messianic leadership of Israel? My answer, I am indeed, just an average religious Jew, but I have gathered sources from important rabbis that suggest some of the issues that need to be fixed.

  • Behold it is known that a person has to look forward towards the salvation of Hashem that the Glory of his Kingdom will be revealed in the world. As our sages stated (Shabbat 31a) that the (heavenly court) asks a person at the time of judgement, “did you look forward to my salvation?” [and as Rashi explained there to the words of the prophets]; and when a person does not do so, the Holy One Blessed be He, complains about him as we find in the Pesikta (Pesikta Rabbati, 35:2) on the word “Gili”, that the Holy One Blessed Be He, states to the righteous of each and every generation, you did not do well, you cherished my Torah but you did not wait for my Kingdom. And by default upon the Cohanim there is certainly an obligation to learn the laws of the sacrificial service, for definitely when the time comes immediately they will have demands from the Cohanim over this. Now similar to this situation was at the start of the 2nd Temple, that it was told to them by Chaggai the prophet, please ask of the Cohanim, Torah [Pesachim 16b, Chaggai 2:11]. [And even though, over there, the laws of impurity and purity were mentioned, however it is safe to assume that he asked them also about matters of holiness, and the Temple]. Now in truth it is also an obligation upon Talmudic scholars who are regular Israelites (that are not Cohanim) to learn these laws. [This excerpt is from the Chafetz Chaim’s introduction to the book Avodat Hakorbanot].
  • Ohr Hachaim on Vayikra (Leviticus) chapter 25 verse 25, writes:

And the Redemption will be when the hearts of men are aroused  and it will be said to them, is it good for you to be dwelling outside exiled from the Table of our Father? And what can be pleasant for your life in this world except the high companionship that you were reliant upon /supported roundabout by the table of your Father, he is the Lord of the Universe, blessed be He, for eternity. And he shall disparage in his eyes the desires that are imagined and he will arouse them with a longing for the spiritual …… until they improve their deeds and by this Hashem will redeem that which he has sold. And over this, in the future the masters of the Earth, the great men of Israel will be brought to judgment and from them, Hashem will seek the disgrace of the disgraced House/Temple!

In Kol Hator, (a book by a disciple of the Vilna Gaon, – chapter 2, part 2) we discover that:

  • The two Messiahs of the generations are miraculous forces that sustain the existence of Israel and strengthen them in all the days of the exile and they are the miraculous assistants in the footsteps of the Messiah. Messiah son of Yosef is the miraculous force used for sustaining and strengthening the materialistic and Messiah son of Dovid is the miraculous force used for sustaining and strengthening the spiritual in Israel in both a general and detailed way. The tasks of the two Messiahs are in many aspects as explained in the writings of our Rabbi, of blessed memory.

In the commentary there, it is explained:

The two Messiahs of the generations are Messiah son of Yosef and Messiah son of Dovid and they are “Sheivet and Mechokek” (listed in the blessing of Yehuda, Genesis 49:10) [see the commentary of the Vilna Gaon to Tikunei Zohar, 36b “Sheivet and Mechokek” are the two Messiahs.] A “Sheivet” shall not depart from Yehuda – this is Messiah son of Dovid and a “Mechokek” from his descendants [A euphemism, literally “from between his legs.”] – this is Messiah son of Yosef. [from the Zohar section 1, page 25b] And they strengthen the existence and the salvation of Israel in all the generations by the means of the sparks of their souls that dresses upon the righteous men of action, that engage in an actual way with the salvation of Israel and the preparation of the redemption until the final redemption, for then the two Messiahs, “the stick of Yosef” and the “stick of Yehuda” will be unified and the eternal Messiah will be revealed.

And in chapter 2 section 39 we learn:

  • “And Yosef (Joseph) recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him (Genesis chapter 42). – This is one of the characteristics of Yosef not just in his generation but in every generation, since Messiah son of Yosef recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him. And it is an action of Satan that hides the characteristics of Messiah son of Yosef, that they do not recognize the footsteps of the Messiah and also ridicule them, in our great iniquities…For if not for this, there would have already have been an end to our troubles. Now if Israel were to recognize Yosef, that is to say the footsteps of Yosef the Messiah, which are the in-gathering of the exiles, etc., we would be redeemed already with a full redemption.
  • It is stated in tractate Sotah at the end of chapter 7 that at the time when King Agripas was reading the verse, “You may not appoint a foreigner”, etc. [Deuteronomy 17:15] tears dripped from his eyes because he was not from the seed of Israel. They said to him, “you are our brother”. Now at the same time Israel became liable to extinction because they unduly flattered Agripas. For even though they didn’t have the ability to protest, nevertheless, they should have been silent and not strengthen him in this way [by saying you are legitimate, you are our brother]. And this is the punishment of one who gives undue flattery in the matter of a transgression because he is afraid of the other person and is not concerned about the fear of the Holy One Blessed be He [until here is the translated quote of the Mishna Brura chapter 156].

The Vilna Gaon Predicted That the Generation In Which The Son Of David Arrives In Will Be Entirely Liable Based On A Sin Similar To The “Agripas Sin”

Rabbi Yochanan stated, if you see a generation continually getting smaller, wait for him, for it was stated, “And the afflicted {alt translated, poor} people you shall save”, etc. [II Samuel 22:28]. Rabbi Yochanan stated, if you see a generation that many troubles come upon it [the generation] as a narrow river, wait for him, for it was stated, For he will come as a narrow river a spirit of G-d is miraculous within it [Yishayahu/Isaiah 59:19]. And in the adjacent verse, “Now a redeemer shall come to Zion”. Furthermore, Rabbi Yochanan stated, the son of David only comes in a generation that is entirely meritorious or entirely liable. In a generation that is entirely meritorious, for it is written, “And your nation, all of them are righteous forever they shall inherit the land” [Isaiah 60:21]. In a generation that is entirely liable, for it is written, “And he saw that there was no man and he was astonished for there was no intercessor” [Yishayahu 59:16]. And it is written, “For my sake I will do it” [Yishayahu 48:11]. [Rabbi Yochanan’s words are quoted from tractate Sanhedrin page 98].

The Vilna Gaon explained in his commentary to Esther 1:5 , derech haremez, over what issue will the generation be entirely liable and here are his words:

And the matter is that in the footsteps of the Messiah, audacity will become great [end of tractate Sotah] and the youths shall strongly embarrass the elders and the elders shall rise before the youths. Now this is their intention of what was said [tractate Hagiga, page 14] “18 curses did Yishayahu {Isaiah} curse them with, but his mind was not appeased” etc. Now this is hard to accept. For did it enter your mind that Yishayahu was a hater of Israel? Rather every hardship that befalls Israel in the exile brings closer the deliverance, as it is stated, “a payment that is entirely of hardship”. Therefore all the curses are for their benefit; but even so, his mind was not appeased until he said, “the youth shall behave with arrogance towards the elder” [Yishayahu 3:5], for then definitely the messiah comes, for in the footsteps of the messiah audacity will become great. And the matter of this audacity is that they establish a judge and a leader who is not fit. And they said [tractate Sanhedrin page 7] “All who establish a judge who is not fit, it as though they have planted a wooden Asheira idol”, etc. Furthermore in the Yerushalmi they are called gods of silver and gods of gold [see there the words of Maharsha]. Now therefore the youths embarrass the elders. However that the elders stand before the youths, who forced them to do this? Rather the audacity has become overwhelming and it is even present in the elders and in all of them, also in the great men of the generation. And they said, [tractate Sotah page 41] “At the time that they gave undue flattery to Agripas, the enemies of Israel [a euphemism to avoid saying a negative statement] became liable to extinction. And therefore Israel became liable specifically in that generation.