Who is Mashiach?

posted in: Uncategorised | 0

We are all well acquainted with
Ramban’s 7th article of Jewish faith, poetically rendered in our siddurim
as: אֲנִי מַאֲמִין בֶּאֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵמָה שֶׁנְּבוּאַת
משֶׁה רַבֵּֽנוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם הָיְתָה אֲמִתִּית וְשֶׁהוּא הָיָה אָב
לַנְּבִיאִים לַקּוֹדְמִים לְפָנָיו וְלַבָּאִים אַחֲרָיו (I believe with complete faith [emunah] that the
prophecy of Moshe Rabbeinu [our Teacher], may peace be upon him, was true, and
that he was the father of the prophets, of those who precede him and of those
who succeed him). And, of course, this statement agrees with what is written in
the Torah itself (Devarim 34:10): וְלֹא־קָם נָבִיא
עוֹד בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמֹשֶׁה אֲשֶׁר יְדָעוֹ יְיָ פָּנִים אֶל־פָּנִים (Never again has there arisen in Yisrael a
prophet like Moshe whom Hashem knew face to face).

If it is true that there never
has been a prophet comparable to Moshe in the past and that there never will be
a prophet comparable to Moshe in the future, then we have a question: What
about Mashiach? Isn’t he going to be greater than Moshe Rabbeinu?

Yeshaya was given an
extraordinary and extensive prophecy about the Mashiach (see Yeshaya
). The passage begins with these awesome words (52:13): הִנֵּה יַשְׂכִּיל עַבְדִּי יָרוּם וְנִשָּׂא וְגָבַהּ מְאֹד (Behold! My servant will become wise. He
will be exalted, and be lifted up and be very high). Just how great will the
Mashiach be? The Midrash explains the meaning of the three-fold praise
expressed in this verse (Yalkut Shemoni Remez 476): זה מלך המשיח…ירום מן אברהם ונשא ממשה וגבה ממלאכי השרת (This is the king Mashiach…he will be
exalted above Avraham, and he will be lifted up more than Moshe, and he will be
higher than the ministering angels).

How can it be that the Mashiach
is described in this prophecy as not only being greater than Moshe Rabbeinu but
even greater than the angels, and yet, as we have already read, the verse in
the Torah itself (Devarim 34:10) and the codified statement of faith
from the Rambam clearly say that no one will ever be greater than Moshe
Rabbeinu? Let’s examine this intriguing and important question.

Before Yaakov’s passing, he
blessed his son Yehudah with the following words (Bereshit 49:10): לֹא־יָסוּר שֵׁבֶט מִיהוּדָה וּמְחֹקֵק מִבֵּין רַגְלָיו עַד
כִּי־יָבֹא שִׁילֹה וְלוֹ יִקְּהַת עַמִּים (A scepter will not depart from Yehudah nor a lawgiver from
between his feet [i.e., from among his descendants] until Shiloh comes, and the
peoples/nations will assemble to him). Based on the Midrash (see Bereshit
Rabbah 99:8
) and Targum Onkelos, Rashi states unequivocally that
Shiloh is מֶלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ שֶׁהַמְּלוּכָה שֶׁלּוֹ (The king Mashiach and the monarchy is
his). We read the same thing in the Gemara (Sanhedrin 98b): מה שמו דבי רבי שילא אמרי שילה שמו שנאמר עד כי יבא שילה (What is his [Mashiach’s] name? Those of
R’ Shila’s yeshiva said, Shiloh is his name, as it is stated, ‘until Shiloh
comes’). But why did Yaakov use the name Shiloh? It is a code word for Moshe
since the gematria of both names are identical (משה =
שילה = 345).

This gematria is not novel. It is
known from many sources, for example, R’ Nachman teaches (Likutei Moharan 2):  כָּל צַדִּיק
שֶׁבַּדּוֹר הוּא בְּחִינַת מֹשֶׁה מָשִׁיחַ…וּמֹשֶׁה זֶה בְּחִינַת מָשִׁיחַ
כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב עַד כִּי יָבֹא שִׁילֹה דָא מֹשֶׁה מָשִׁיחַ (Each Tzaddik in the generation is
an aspect of Moshe Mashiach…and this Moshe is an aspect of Mashiach, as
it is written, ‘until Shiloh comes’—this is Moshe Mashiach). This idea is
elaborated upon in Likutei Moharan 79: וּבְכָל
צַדִּיק וְצַדִּיק מִי שֶׁהוּא צַדִּיק בֶּאֱמֶת יֵשׁ בּוֹ הִתְגַּלּוּת מָשִׁיחַ.
וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ הִתְגַּלּוּת מָשִׁיחַ יֵשׁ בּוֹ מִדָּה שֶׁל
מָשִׁיחַ שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת משֶׁה כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ (בְּרֵאשִׁית
כה:) מָשִׁיחַ דָּא משֶׁה (And
in each Tzaddik [of every generation], he who is the true Tzaddik,
is a revelation of Mashiach. And even if he is not a revelation of Mashiach, he
has in him the attribute of Mashiach, who is an aspect of Moshe, as it is
written in the Zohar ha-Kadosh [Bereshit 25b] ‘Mashiach is

These sources reveal the hidden
meaning of Yaakov’s blessing to Yehudah. On the surface, it appears to be a
promise of a single future event, but it is not. Rather, it is a promise that
has been and is being fulfilled on an ongoing basis. Yaakov promised Yehudah
that there will always be someone from among his descendants, i.e. the true Tzaddik
of each generation, who will be an aspect or ‘spark’ of Moshe himself, and that
this person has the potential of becoming the Mashiach (if the generation
merits). But there are still more things we can learn from our Sages of blessed

In the passage from the Zohar
referenced above, more secrets are revealed (Zohar Bereshit 25b): לא יָסוּר שֵׁבֶט מִיהוּדָה דָּא מָשִׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד.
וּמְחוֹקֵק מִבֵּין רַגְלָיו דָּא מָשִׁיחַ בֶּן יוֹסֵף. עַד כִּי יָבוֹא
שִׁיל"ה דָּא משֶׁה חֻשְׁבַּן דָּא כְּדָא. וְל"וֹ יִקְהַ"ת
עַמִּים אַתְוָון וְלֵוִ"י קְהָ"ת (‘A scepter will not depart from Yehudah’—this is Mashiach ben
David—‘nor a lawgiver from between his feet [i.e., from among his
descendants]’—this is Mashiach ben Yosef—‘until Shiloh comes’—this is Moshe,
the same gematria as Shiloh—‘and the peoples/nations will assemble to him [וְלוֹ יִקְהַת]’—the
letters are the same as ‘and Levi Kehat [וְלֵוִי קְהָת]’). This last bit is very fascinating
because it means that Yaakov was also alluding to the origins of the soul of
Mashiach, i.e., even though he will be a descendant of Yehudah, the soul comes
from Moshe through his father Amram, his father Kehat and his father Levi
(Yaakov’s son). In other words, the final redeemer will be a combination of
Mashiach ben Yosef, Mashiach ben David and Moshe Rabbeinu himself!

R’ Natan elaborates in Likutei
(Yoreh Deah, Yayin Nesech 4:12): וְאִתְפַּשְׁטוּתָא
דְּמֹשֶׁה בְּכָל דָּרָא וּמְתַקֵּן אֶת יִשְֹרָאֵל בְּכָל דּוֹר וּמְתַקֵּן
הַכָּאַת הַצּוּר שֶׁמִּמֶּנּוּ כָּל הַמַּחֲלֹקֶת…וְעִקַּר גְּמַר הַתִּקּוּן
יִהְיֶה עַל-יְדֵי מָשִׁיחַ שֶׁהוּא מֹשֶׁה בְּעַצְמוֹ (The [soul] of Moshe is spread out in every generation, to
rectify the Jewish People in each generation, and to rectify the sin of
striking the rock from which emanates all opposition [against him]…and the
ultimate rectification will come through Mashiach, who is Moshe himself).

These sources have answered our
question how it can be that Mashiach is greater than Moshe Rabbeinu while the
Torah itself says that no one will ever be greater than Moshe Rabbeinu.
Mashiach is Moshe—literally! Notice these awesome words from Kochavei
(Introduction to Chochma u’Binah): מוּדַעַת
זאת בְּכָל הָאָרֶץ כִּי אָמְנָם לא קָם נָבִיא עוֹד בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמשֶׁה אֲבָל
הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ עוֹד יָקוּם לְגָאֳלֵנוּ גַּם מֵהַגָּלוּת הַזֶּה כִּי מָשִׁיחַ
דָּא משֶׁה וּמַה שֶּׁהָיָה הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בְּיֶתֶר שְׂאֵת וְיֶתֶר
עָז (‘Let this be made known
throughout the whole world’ [Yeshaya 12:5]—Because indeed ‘Never again
has there arisen in Yisrael a prophet like Moshe’ [Devarim 34:10], but
he himself will arise again, to redeem us also from this exile because Mashiach
is Moshe, and he will be mightier and more powerful than he ever was before).

Why will he be so much
greater than he was before? Because each time his soul was reincarnated
throughout time from generation to generation, it received double from the soul
of the Tzaddik from the previous generation. We learn this principle
from Elisha the prophet. Just before Eliyahu ha-Navi was taken up to
heaven in the fiery chariot, he asked Elisha to make one final request of him (2
Melachim 2:9
): וַיְהִי כְעׇבְרָם וְאֵלִיָּהוּ אָמַר
אֶל־אֱלִישָׁע שְׁאַל מָה אֶעֱשֶׂה־לָּךְ בְּטֶרֶם אֶלָּקַח מֵעִמָּךְ וַיֹּאמֶר
אֱלִישָׁע וִיהִי נָא פִּי־שְׁנַיִם בְּרוּחֲךָ אֵלָי (And as they were crossing [the river], Eliyahu said to Elisha,
Request what I should do for you before I am taken from you. And Elisha said,
May a double-portion of your spirit come upon me). And this doubling would have
taken place over and over again with respect to the soul of Moshe Rabbeinu in
each generation!

Hopefully now, we can begin
to appreciate just how awesome the potential Mashiach must be in our

May our righteous Mashiach
be revealed speedily soon in our day to redeem us from this long and painful
exile, to sweep away rebellious and arrogant authorities and governments, to
restore the sovereignty of the Jewish People in our land, to rebuild our Holy
Temple in its place, and to usher in an everlasting age of peace, prosperity
and enlightenment for all mankind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *