Why the Messiah Will Come?
By Nachum Mohl
There is a saying which is handed down by the students of the saintly Baal Shem Tov to the effect that the Messiah will come to teach the righteous how to return to G-d. This statement begs an investigation and an answer. At first glance it seems absurd that pious people who have never sinned must be taught how to return to G-d.
We know that the truly righteous people are few in number. Most people do not seem themselves as wicked, but most have their occasional downfalls. It is the common man who occasionally sins and he is the one who needs the guidance from the Messiah.
Additionally, we have been taught that the person who sins and repents resides on a level loftier than the righteous. He must struggle against his natural and evil desires to return to G-d, so why does the Messiah not come to help him? He certainly can use his help!
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When we consider the world and humanity, we realize that most people are strongly attached to materialism. This is due to the physical task of making a living, the various political occurrences and upheavals which strongly influence a person's life, or that of various natural disasters. The average person desires the luxuries and amenities that the world offers, he is bonded very strongly to the world. Try as he might, he can not escape it.
Not so the truly righteous individual. His goal in life is to be close to G-d. That is the center of his world. He lives and breathes closeness to G-d like a stock broker lives and breathes the markets and news. The genuinely righteous individual is a rare person to whom the bonds and activities of the world have very little effect. His life revolves around his prayers, his studies and his mitzvoth which are his venues to come closer to his Creator.
For the majority of people, since their world revolves around physicality, it is this material attraction and desire that brings them to sin. Since their worldly possessions are of prime importance, this draws the average person to acquire that to which he feels so connected, and unfortunately, either the object may be forbidden or he may acquire it in a manner which is forbidden. This does not mean that this type of person does not have belief in G-d, but rather this belief is in a state of slumber, awakening only at propitious times to perform ritual mitzvoth, prayer, etc. His belief is not in a state of awareness that can prevent him from sinning.
However there are indeed moments after his has sinned when his belief in G-d reawakens and becomes so strong that it causes him to regret his actions and return again to the proper path. Nevertheless, with the passage of time, once again because of his involvement with the world, he is drawn into sin, (either in the same manner as before or in another manner). Therefore, the average man is in a constant state of being drawn into the world, and then returning to G-d.
The righteous man, who is not tied or bound to the world, is not enslaved by worldly affairs or material objects. Not that he does not live and work in the world, but rather it is that he does not feel that strong attraction the world has on the normal person. Rather, the righteous person is compelled to live in the world against his wishes. When he is freed from worldly chores, he returns to where his heart's true desire is, to be with G-d. So since this righteous man is always seeking to be with G-d, how can the Messiah come to teach him to return to G-d? Rather the Messiah should come and teach the common man to properly return so that he should not sin again! In truth, the righteous man is already a spiritual person. It is the common man that needs to be taught to be spiritual!
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The Messiah will come, the students of the Baal Shem Tov explain, to teach the righteous man how he can return to G-d in a loftier and more sublime manner than that of the average person. Even though the righteous never sin and are spiritual, they lack the dimension of seeing G-d in the world. Not that they do not see the hand of G-d in the world as he constantly directs the world, they see it clearer than we do! What the students of the Baal Shem Tov mean is that the righteous do not see G-d Himself in the world.
They are aware that G-d controls all the events that happen in the world, but they know also that the world is an external manifestation of G-d. They cannot see the G-dliness that the world possesses. Instead they, like us, see only the physical world. But they know that the world is a concealment of G-d's desires, it is this that they desire to reveal and see, but cannot. It is this that the Messiah will come and disclose to them.
When the true G-dliness that abounds in the world is revealed to the righteous, they will in turn reveal it to us. Once this happens, there will be no more sin. Our desires then will become that of the righteous now. Our desire then will be to see more of G-d revealed in the world. The physicality of the world will no more have its overwhelming attraction to us. Rather, we will view the world as a magnificent laboratory in which we may reveal G-d's handiwork.
In that time men will no longer be driven by lust for money and material gain. They will instead abandon their material drives and long for the G-dly revelations of His greatness that the righteous will see thanks to the Messiah. Peace will come to the world by itself, since no one will covet material property. In its place, spirituality will become the substance of men's desires.
from the November 2005 Edition of the Jewish Magazine