It’s an interesting question isn’t it?
When you ask xtians – and the other groups that espouse a similar theology, like Frankists and Sabbateans – they will tell you that ‘the messiah’ will show up, and then all evil will just kind of vanish in a puff of smoke.
Yes, that’s right folks!
As soon as ‘the messiah’ shows up, all our own bad middot, all the drug cartels, all the abusive parents, all the evil billionaire oligarchs, all the fake rabbis, all the nasty terrorist gangs, the CIA, the satanists – every last Dr Evil in the world – they will all just vanish!!!
It would be great if this were true.
But it’s not.
One of the biggest con tricks that the yetzer hara has managed to pull on all of us is persuading us that ‘evil’ is always and only someone else’s problem.
My country is good. My army is good. My government is good. My economic theory is good. Whatever is good for me (regardless of its cost to others…) is good.
I started fleshing this theme out in the last post when I was talking about the ‘Laban Parenting Paradigm’, that basically states:
Everything belongs to MEEEE, so I can do whatever the heck I want in order to protect my own interests!!!!
But as we learnt in that last post, this is the polar opposite of a truly authentic Jewish approach to parenting – and also the opposite of a truly Jewish approach to life.
Judaism teaches us that every Jew is responsible for each other.
It also teaches us that the Jewish people have a very big job to do, to rectify the world.
Christians, reform people and crypo-Frankists also like to talk about tikkun olam, so things can quickly get confusing. Let’s try to sort out the difference between an authentic Jewish approach to tikkun olam, and the other guys’ approach.
In a nutshell, Judaism teaches that we fix the world, by fixing ourselves.
It’s our prayers, our mesirut nefesh, our working to uproot our own arrogance, anger, pride and jealousy and hatred (to name but a few….) that then radiates outwards, and starts to fix the world around us.
In this paradigm, every single person in the whole world, and certainly every single Jew, has an enormous part to play in the process of rectifying the world in order to bring moshiach.
I used to be very puzzled, when I would hear Rav Berland teach that people like me were the ones holding up the geula, and that the secular people weren’t really to blame.
It took quite a bit of time before I heard other shiurim that filled in the gaps, where the Rav explained that if we supposedly ‘religious’ people would take some time to sincerely pray for our fellow Jews, they would make teshuva in an instant.
Why are there still ‘secular’ people in the world, who are far away from Torah and mitzvot?
Because we apparently ‘religious’ people don’t care about them enough to pray for them to make teshuva.
That’s why the Rav puts such emphasis on people getting up to say Tikkun Hatzot.
It’s these prayers, in particular, that create a ruach in the world that bring people back to God.
And when people sincerely come back to God, they in turn start praying, and start really connecting their souls up to their spiritual Source, and – most importantly of all – start really acknowledging their ‘inner bad’, and asking God to help them overcome it.
This is how Jews fix the world, and bring geula and Moshiach.
Sadly, we don’t see a heck of a lot of that going on, not even in the ‘frummest’ areas of the Jewish world, where people are more obsessed with the length of their Torah learning, and their yichus, and their fantastic ‘predictions’ about geula, and the thickness of their tights, than they are with really working on their bad middot.
For years, this puzzled me greatly.
How can it be, that so much of the Jewish world – even the apparently ‘orthodox’ Jewish world – has adopted this xtian paradigm of pretending to be ‘perfect’ on the outside, while committing all manner of misdemeanors behind closed doors?
How can it be, that so much of the Jewish world is effectively teaching that Jews have nothing left to do except ‘polish buttons’, and that Moshiach is just going to show up and fix everything for them?!
This is a xtian idea. It’s a Sabbatean idea. It’s a Frankist idea.
It’s definitely NOT an authentically Jewish idea.
When people are caught up in this un-Jewish paradigm of tikkun olam, it comes along with a tendency to believe that the problem is everyone else.
When everyone else believes in Yoshki / Shabtai Tzvi / Jacob Frank / [Fill in the blank] – then that dead guy will rise from the grave, and come save the world!!
And all we have to do is believe in him and polish some buttons.
That dead guy will come back, and then poof!!! All the evil will disappear in the world, just like that.
I’m going to stop yelling at my husband just like that…
I’m going to stop being so stingy with my tzedaka just like that…
Don’t you know, that all my miniskirts are going to magically expand into black maxis, my nasty jealous streak is going to evaporate immediately, and all the horrible things I’ve been saying about my friends and neighbors are all just going to vanish, just like that once Moshiach shows up?!
You don’t believe me?
Good for you.
Breslov teachings, as amplified and clarified by Rabbi Berland, Rav Shalom Arush, and Rav Ofer Erez – amongst many others – make it very clear that the whole work we got sent back down here to do is to work on our emuna, and fix our bad middot.
These two things go hand-in-hand, because if we don’t really believe in Hashem, we will continue to choose the path of being a pious hypocrite, o so makpid in public, for our neighbors’ consumption, and o so yucky in our every day dealings with friends and family members.
It’s only once we realise that we will have to answer for every single person we hurt, every single ‘stain’ we left to grow and metastize on our souls, that we find the koach we need to start doing the work of acknowledging and digging up our bad middot.
If we don’t believe in God, we just will never really bother even trying.
But it’s only when we start doing the work of trying to dig up our bad middot that our emuna really grows.
Because then, we’ll see that without God’s help, we can’t do anything.
I have spent years and years working to overcome my nasty temper, particularly in relation to my kids, and I can tell you from first hand experience, that the only reason I’m doing so much better today is because I begged God to help me overcome my anger for 10 years +.
And every now and then, perhaps when a smidgeon of arrogance works it’s way back in and I start thinking that I’ve really done something good here, hey?!? – He’ll take the rug out from under my feet and send me a nasty temper fit.
That’s just to remind me that without God’s help, I can’t do anything.
And that’s really good news.
Because the corollary of this is that with God’s help, I can do anything!!!
I CAN overcome my temper.
And my inability to get out of bed.
And my nasty tendency to complain and whinge and to feel sorry for myself.
And my arrogant streak that likes to tell me that I’m really perfect, and that the problems in the world are really just everyone else’s, and that all I have to do to bring moshiach is just polish some buttons….
(…and aggressively push my ‘religion’ down other people’s throats, so they’ll be sure to recognize my guy as the real messiah, when he finally rises up from the dead…)
With God’s help, I can do all these things and more.
And so can you.
So, to recap:
Xtians, Sabbateans and Frankists (of all stripes) believe that when ‘their guy’ shows up as the true messiah, the world will automatically get ‘fixed’, and all anyone has to do to get on the ark to salvation is just to believe in their guy, and their religion, and their path.
There is zero talk about working on our own bad middot.
There is zero genuine emphasis on talking to God every single day, and asking for His help.
And there is zero real interest in moving out of the comfort zone, and making the sorts of difficult changes really required to bring the spirit of Moshiach into our own dalet amot.
It’s all flowery ‘bible lessons’, and pointless exegetics, and nice (and often totally untrue…) ‘stories’ and parables about saintly individuals, given over by people who like to pretend that they also belong in that category of ‘saintly’.
Ah yes, plus ‘watch out for the dead guy to rise again and save us’ messaging.
How could I forget that bit?
By contrast, Jews who are following a path of authentic Judaism believe that the world is only going to get fixed when me, myself and I stop lying to myself about my own bad middot, and about just how much destruction and damage I’m doing every single day – especially to my family members.
Did you spot the difference?
Did you understand that the only way evil is going to ‘vanish from the world’ is when I knuckle down, and start doing the job of digging my own evil out of my own soul, and start praying for others to do the same.
I love a shortcut as much as the next guy, I really do.
But it pains me a lot to keep reading all this flowery cr*p-dressed-up-as-yiddishkeit about what it’s really going to take to get to geula the sweet way.
That’ll happen when enough of us start to take responsibility for our own actions and negative impact, and stop turning a blind eye to – or even condoning and excusing and perpetrating – evil.
And it can’t happen any other way.
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