Torat Tzion Kollel 5765
In Search of the Real Messiah
I. Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer (1795-1874)
Drishat Tzion (Seeking Zion) - The Redemption of Israel, for which we long, is not to be imagined as a sudden miracle. The Almighty, blessed be His Name, will not suddenly descend from on high and command his people to go forth. He will not send the Messiah from heaven in a twinkling of an eye, to sound the great trumpet for the scattered of Israel and gather them into Jerusalem. He will not surround the Holy City with a wall of fire or cause the Holy Temple to descend from the heavens. The bliss and miracles that were promised by his servants, the prophets, will certainly come to pass – everything will be fulfilled – but we will not run in terror and flight, for the Redemption of Israel will come by slow degrees and the ray of deliverance will shine forth gradually.
My dear reader! Cast aside the conventional view that the Messiah will suddenly sound a blast on the great trumpet and cause all the inhabitants of the earth to tremble. On the contrary, the Redemption will begin by awakening support among the philanthropists and by gaining the consent of the nations to the gathering of some of the scattered of Israel into the Holy Land.
Can we logically explain why the Redemption will begin in a natural manner and why the Lord, in His love for His people, will not immediately send the Messiah in an obvious miracle? Yes, we can. We know that all our worship of God is in the form of trials by which He tests us. When God created man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, He also planted the Tree of Knowledge and then commanded man not to eat of it. Why did He put the Tree in the Garden, if not as a trial? Why did He allow the Snake to enter the Garden, to tempt man, if not to test whether man would observe God’s command? When Israel went forth from Egypt, God again tested man’s faith with hunger and thirst along the way. The laws given to us in the Torah about unclean animals which are forbidden us as food are also a continuous trial – else why did the Almighty make them so tempting and succulent? Throughout the days of our dispersion we have suffered martyrdom for the sanctity of God’s Name; we have been dragged from land to land and have borne the yoke of exile through the ages, all for the sake of His holy Torah and as a further stage of the testing of our faith.
If the Almighty would suddenly appear one day in the future, through undeniable miracles, this would be no trial. What straining of our faith would there be in the face of the miracles and wonders attending a clear heavenly command to go up and inherit the land and enjoy its good fruit? Under such circumstances what fool would not go there, not because of his love of God, but for His own selfish sake? Only a natural beginning of the Redemption is a true test of those who initiate it. To concentrate all one’s energy on this holy work and to renounce home and fortune for the sake of living in Zion before the voice of gladness and the voice of joy are heard – there is no greater merit or trial than this.
Another great advantage of agricultural settlement is that we would have the privilege of observing the religious commandments that attach to working the soil of the Holy Land. The Jews who supervised the actual laborers would be aiding in the working of the land and would therefore have the same status as if they had personally fulfilled these commandments.
But, beyond all this, Jewish farming would be a spur to the ultimate Messianic Redemption. As we bring redemption to the land in a this-worldly way, the rays of heavenly deliverance will gradually appear.
Let no stubborn opponent of these thoughts maintain that those who labor day and night will be taken away from the study of the Torah and from spiritual to secular concerns. This counter argument is shortsighted. On the contrary, the policy we propose will add dignity to the Torah. If there is no bread, there can be no study; if there will be bread in the land, people will then be able to study with peace of mind. In addition, we are sure that there are many in the Holy Land who are not students of the Torah and who long to work the land. These will support the physically infirm scholars to whom no man would dare say: Work the land! but to whom all would say that they should devote themselves entirely to serving the Lord.
Such a policy would also raise our dignity among the nations, for they would say that the children of Israel, too, have the will to redeem the land of their ancestors, which is now so barren and forsaken.
If we strengthen ourselves and go to the Holy Land to plant, build, establish and grow, our eyes will see the blessing upon our fields, and we will have blessing to no end, and we shall be praised with praises of the Holy Land – and through this the redemption of Israel will come!
II. Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook (1865-1935)
Orot (Lights) - The redemption continues. The redemption from Egypt and the complete redemption of the future are one unending action: the action of the strong hand and outstretched arm, which began in Egypt and works though all eventualities. Moses and Elijah are redeemers in a single redemption; the beginner and the ender, the opener and closer together fill the unit. The spirit of Israel hears the sound of the movements, the redemptive actions, brought about through all eventualities until the sprouting of redemption will be complete, in all its plentitude and goodness.
Forces from without compelled us to forsake the political arena of the world, but our withdrawal was also motivated by an inward assent, as if to say that we were awaiting the advent of a happier time, when government could be conducted without ruthlessness and barbarism. That is the day for which we hope. Of course, in order to bring it about, we must awaken all of our potentialities and use all the means that the age may make available to us: Everything evolves by the will of the Creator of all worlds. But the delay is a necessary one, for our soul was disgusted with the by the dreadful sins that go with political rule in evil times. The day has come – it is very near – when the world will grow gentler; we can begin to prepare ourselves, for it will soon be possible to conduct a state of our own founded on goodness, wisdom, justice, and the clear Light of God.
It is not proper for Jacob to engage in political life at a time when statehood requires bloody ruthlessness and demands a talent for evil. At the beginning of our history we were granted only a foundation, the minimum that was necessary to establish a nation. After our race was weaned, our political sovereignty was destroyed, and we were dispersed among the peoples and sown in the depths of the soil, “till the time of singing is come, and the voice of the dove is heard in the land.”