What is Moshiach going to fix, and what do we need to work on ourselves?
This is a question I’ve been musing over again the last few days, in part due to an email I received from one of my readers, a bit of which I’m including below, with her permission:
“I was really hoping there would be some changes already in the moshiach process [after Pesach] and nothing is different that we can see. I am sure things are happening behind the scenes but that doesn’t give me anything tangible to hold onto. Faith is hard. Everyone mocks me in a way because I am so connected to Moshiach being a reality. Nothing can be proven as every evidence people find reasons to say it doesn’t mean anything…
“I think I look to Moshiach arriving as a solution to my issues or at least a distraction from them. I want a change so badly that I’m dependent on it for my sanity. I really couldn’t take a few more years until things get rolling. So many issues are relying on him coming soon… I am waiting for moshiach to fix all of my problems and I know that is not right.
“I take myself out of the picture for a moment and I still want moshiach to come for Hashem’s glory and the rest of the world but then I put myself back in the picture and I just see an end to my issues that have no other solution. Agh, I guess I’m human. This is why I have run out of patience. Because I can’t wait without these issues getting bigger.
“It is a tease to believe that any moment he can arrive and then each chag passes without improvement. So why can’t I [just] give Hashem these problems? I don’t need this stress. I don’t need to worry about money and moshiach’s arrival. I know that but I can’t incorporate it fully into my emunah.”
WHAT STUFF IS MOSHIACH ACTUALLY GOING TO FIX, WHEN HE COMES?
This is not a superficial topic, and requires a lot of thoughtful consideration, so please consider this post just a start, and not a definitive response.
We’re taught that when Moshiach comes, the yetzer hara, or evil inclination is going to be ‘slaughtered’. It doesn’t say anywhere that when Moshiach comes everyone will be a millionaire, and that illnesses won’t happen anymore, or that husbands and wives (and mother-in-laws…) will all get on with each other brilliantly, all of the time.
People will still have hardships. People will still die. Rebbe Nachman said (#276 in ‘Tzaddik’):
“People assume that when the Messiah comes there will be no death. This is not so. Even Mashiach himself will also die.” (See tractate Sukkah 52a).
So, if we’ve still got money problems, health issues, hardships etc after Moshiach shows up, then what is Moshiach actually coming to fix?
This is what came to me, after pondering the question. IF our problems are related to the fact that God’s providence and influence is currently hidden in the world, then Moshiach’s coming will definitely fix those issues.
After Moshiach is openly revealed, there will be no place in the world for atheism, heresy and all those people who like to claim everything is a ‘coincidence’ in life. In the time of Moshiach, Hashem’s Divine providence will be as clear as day.
That means instead of people swallowing handfuls of Tylenol to cope with their headaches, or backaches, or toothaches, they’ll first go out to the field and talk to God directly about WHY He’s sending them their aches and pains, and what sort of teshuva He wants them to do to fix the problem.
Ditto, for money issues. Ditto for shalom bayit issues. Ditto for childrearing, relationships and existential angst issues.
Most of our issues and problems are only coming because God wants us to fix something in our lives, behaviours, beliefs and attitudes.
Once we get the message, the problem disappears.
So people will be ‘getting the message’ that God is running the world, and behind all their problems much, much more when Moshiach comes – and as a result, they’ll have far fewer problems, and far less troubles.
That’s what it means that the ‘yetzer’ will get slaughtered. That yetzer that’s telling you that YOU and OTHER PEOPLE are running the world will disappear forever.
But, for the problems that aren’t directly related to having emuna and seeing God’s hand in our life, and making the required teshuva – I’m not sure how those problems will disappear after Moshiach. For example, if someone’s tikkun requires them to be poor forever as a way of rectifying their souls, that will probably still happen post-Moshiach.
Just what? The person themselves will no longer be beating themselves up for being a loser, blaming their bad luck, or being jealous of other ‘richer’ people. They’ll have 100% clarity that being poor is their Divinely-ordained tikkun, and that will make the whole ordeal so much sweeter and nicer.
So what does that mean for us and our problems now?
As I wrote to my correspondent, so many of us are overwhelmed by difficulties and suffering at the moment, that it’s only human to want Moshiach to come and get us out of the mess our lives are in. I certainly also have a lot of times when I start to feel despairing about my own life, and just want to escape from all my problems somehow.
At those times, I have to make a lot of effort to connect my problems back to God, and to keep searching for the messages hidden inside them, and to keep making the teshuva required to solve them.
God is hidden right now, which is what makes the whole test of ‘having emuna’ so difficult. How do I KNOW my money problems are from God, and not just because I’m lazy? How do I KNOW that I’m just meant to accept my shalom bayis issues as calmly as I can, instead of acting on my impulse to get divorced? How do I KNOW that God is just using my kid to give me a big message, and that they’re not actually completely screwed up (by my bad parenting…)?
The differences between how a person tries to live their life with emuna, and how they live their life when God is completely out the picture are huge.
The more emuna you have, the more you’re seeing God’s hand in your life right now, in every single facet of what’s happening to you and inside you, the more you’re already living with the light that Moshiach is going to bring to the world.
There’s so much more to say about this, not least the fact that as the geula process continues, the differences between the ‘early post-Moshiach’ stage and the later ‘post-Moshiach’ stages will get more and more pronounced. Initially, there won’t be such amazing changes and supernatural miracles, but as we get used to the idea that God is all there is, the miracles and the ‘supernatural’ level of the world will continue to rise.
BH, I’ll come back to this topic again in another post.
But to sum this part up:
If your problems are rooted in a lack of emuna, and a lack of God-awareness in the world, Moshiach will solve those problems as soon as he shows up. It will be impossible to live in a post-Moshiach world without having emuna that God is all there is.
But, if your problems aren’t rooted in a lack of emuna and a lack of God-awareness, then they may well continue even post-Moshiach, as part of the tikkun, or spiritual rectification, your soul has to make.