Passover, the time of Our Redemption and the Messiah
By Avi Lazerson
One of the most fascinating topics of discussion is what will be in the future. What is death and is there life after death. The concept of the messiah and who is he, has also caused much debate through the centuries.
Interestingly enough, the concept of the concept of the messiah is not brought up in the five books of Moses. If that be the case, how is it that the belief in the messiah is so fundamental, not only to Judaism, but also to Christianity and Islam? These religions are based on the Jewish belief in paradise, hell, resurrection and the final payment for goodness in this earthly life. We as intellectual and logical thinking creatures who believe in the validity of those pillars of Judaism, being those original five books written by Moses, must understand the source of the messiah and resurrection.
There are various concepts which have become mixed up together: the redeemer, the redemption, and the revelations. The messiah is the redeemer, who is to come at the end of days to herald the building of the third and finally Temple. There are the signs and wonders that will accompany this era, and there is time for the final reward which seems to be garbled up between heaven and the resurrection.
This actually corresponds to the various steps that happened during the exodus from Egypt. The first step of our exodus came when Moses appeared before Pharaoh and called for him to stop enslaving the Jews and to permit them to serve G-d in the dessert. Moses served as G-d's agent to take the Jews out from Egypt. Through Moses, the Egyptians and the Jews viewed and experienced the signs and wonders that were the turning point in the status of the Jews in Egypt, going from slave to freemen.
The next stage was the revelations that the Jews were shown on Mount Sinai and culminating with the giving of the Torah, the written revelation of G-d's will on earth. Here at Mount Sinai, the Jews heard and SAW, the voice of G-d, a revelation which literally caused their souls to jump out of their body.
The last stage was the entry into the land of Israel. This was the completion of the promise that G-d had given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This was the reward that the Children of Israel received for the actions of their forefathers.
These three aspects correspond to the three stages that we look forward to: the first is the coming of the messiah. The second is the revelations that we will see and feel during that period. The third is the final reward that will be given to those who are worthy of receiving this reward.
Now Moses was the prototype of the messiah. He was selected by G-d to redeem the Jews and perform the signs and miracles that we read about in the Passover Haggadah. Although the Jews were seemingly on a very low level of belief in G-d and certainly did not appear deserving by their own merits to divine redemption. Never the less, G-d made the decision based on His calculation alone and decided that the time for the redemption from Egypt had come. Moses was selected and give the super natural powers needed to bring that desired redemption to fruition.
During the process of redemption, the Jews, together with the Egyptians, were spectators to divine revelations of supernal powers that far exceeded the imagination of wildest Egyptian magician's abilities which forced them to admit the supremacy of the powers of G-d in the world. Even more so, these vary signs and wonders, that form such an important part of the retelling of the story of the exodus, instilled in the Jewish nation a belief in G-d that became inherent in their descendents.
The final process of the exodus was the settlement of the land of Israel and the building of the Temples in Jerusalem. It was here that we came to absorb and be inspired and spiritually recharged each year during a period of some one thousand five hundred odd years until the final exile and destruction of our Holy Temple.
Now this exodus which we celebrate during Passover was the culmination of G-d's promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It took some 210 years from the death of Jacob until the exodus from Egypt. During this time the Jews were subject to torturous slavery and reduced to a people with out means or hope. The promise that G-d made to our forefathers was passed on verbally from father to son. It is certainly reasonable to speculate that the verbal promise that was so vivid in the minds and hearts of the forefathers, was much diluted in the hearts and minds of the children who existed in such strained circumstance some two hundred years after the passing of the forefathers. It would not be absurd to assert that those Jews who were born in slavery and endured the brutality of the Egyptian taskmasters had abandoned for the most part the belief in a divine redemption from slavery, and even more so, a belief that they would inherit their own land. Perhaps we could even say that had one of the enslaved and embittered Jews mentioned these verbal promises that he had heard from his grandparents to his fellow Jews, meaning the concept of the promised redemption, we could certainly understand his fellow Jews refusing to listen to him and even mocking him.
Yet in spite of this lack of seemingly belief in G-d, signs, wonder and miracles were performed for their benefit so that subsequent generations would be given this extra measure of belief to pass over to their children. Even the lowly and evil Egyptians saw the signs and wonders, but it only instilled in them the knowledge of G-d's powers for their generation, but it was not instilled in their children's hearts.
This belief that was given to us was the belief not only in the supremacy of G-d's majesty in the world, but also in the eventual triumph of good over evil. For just as during the time of the exodus, where as evil appeared to be victorious over good, G-d stepped in, via an agent, Moses, and actively turned the tables. Moses was the prototype of the messiah. G-d will not leave the world to be trampled upon eternally by the powers of evil. He will bring about the triumph of good because He is the essence of good.
In the same manner that the Jews in Egypt saw signs and wonders during the time of their redemption from bondage. So too, we shall see revelations of G-dliness, revelations that our eyes of flesh and blood can not believe, revelations that our minds will stutter to comprehend, revelations of G-dliness so amazing that we will walk like drunkards, unbelieving our own eyes and ears. When the final redemption comes, with the arrival of the messiah, we will stagger from the power of one revelation, until we are shown another revelation, which is even greater than that which preceded it. We will not have words to express the sights that our eyes will behold.
The culmination of these revelations will herald a new era and begin the building of the new Temple, the third and final Temple, which will provide a constant well of divine inspiration. An new spirit will posses the entire world to leave their follies and abandon their false religions to serve only G-d, with no other intermediates or false prophets.
This will bring in the era of peace, when all nations will literally "beat their swords into plows." The revelations of G-dliness that will abound in the world will cause jealousy and hatred to disappear. True co-operation between nations will be based on providing fertile fields for developing greater resources of G-dly revelations.
This concept of redemption and a redeemer is based on the logical extension of our belief that G-d did not leave the world to run with out His constant personal guidance. This coupled with our present personal experience of national redemption provides us with a vivid expectation of the future. In addition to this our prophets have given us many prophecies that allude to the coming of the redemption of our people.
Today, we are seeing with our own eyes the actual beginning of our national redemption. After nearly two thousand years wandering from nation to nation, enduring national and personal hardship, deprivation and discrimination, we have returned to our land. We have this land that G-d has promised to us and re-populated it and made it the most productive country in the region. All of this is only a preparation for the true redemption, that of the messiah and the building of the Temple.
This is the message that we take with us from the Passover seder, this is the message inherent in the matzot which we eat reclining as free men. Soon the wars of Gog and Magog will finish; soon the messiah will come and tell us to prepare for the building of the Third Temple and of the end of days.
from the April Passover 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine