Rav Yechezkel Levenstein, ztl: ‘Anyone who doesn’t anticipate Moshiach is a heretic’

Rav Yechezkel Levenstein, ztl: ‘Anyone who doesn’t anticipate Moshiach is a heretic’

Anyone who doesn't anticipate moshiach is a heretic - Rav Yehezkel Levenstein
Rav Yehezkel Levenstein underlines the importance of yearning for Moshiach

RAV YECHEZKEL LEVENSTEIN, ZTL: ‘ANYONE WHO DOESN’T ANTICIPATE MOSHIACH IS A HERETIC’

(Translated and annotated from Issue 57 of the ‘Knishta Chada’ newsletter)

Chazal wrote about all the occurrences that would surround Moshiach, and how these things would also occur around every true Tzaddik of the generation, as well, as history bears out.

In his book Kochvei Or, Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Nachman discussed the passages from Isaiah that describe the persecution that will happen to the Moshiach, and showed how everything written there had actually been experienced by Rebbe Nachman.

Rebbe Nachman himself famously taught that:  “Every Tzaddik of the generation is from the aspect of Moshe / Moshiach.”

The Chasam Sofer also made a halachic ruling that there isn’t a single generation where the soul of Moshe doesn’t return, ‘clothed’ in the person of the Tzaddik of that generation, and that when the generation is worthy, he will redeem them. (See the Chasam Sofer’s responsa 6:98).

Sadly, in our lowly generation, we’re now witnessing a strange new phenomenon that’s trying to obscure the geula: today so many Jews, even very frum Jew, appear to be so scared about the whole idea of Moshiach coming, they’re scared to even talk about it, or to discuss the idea.

Yet the coming of Moshiach has been a central tenet of Judaism for millennia, and is also one of the Rambam’s 13 Principles of Faith.

Rav Yechezkel Levenstein, ztl, the former mashgiach ruchani (spiritual guide) of the Mir and Ponovezh yeshivos, wrote in his book Or Yehezkel (v 7) the following words about the importance of believing in, and hoping for, the coming of Moshiach.

Emuna (belief) in the coming redemption is one of our fundamental obligations. And not just a grudging, low level of emuna; the Rambam writes that: “A person is obligated to stand and wait for the coming of Moshiach, and anyone who doesn’t wait [i.e. anticipate Moshiach’s coming] is a heretic.

“And even though the whole of the nation of Israel believes in and recognizes the [idea of the] coming of the Moshiach, there is still an obligation to wait for it, and to anticipate it actually happening, and anyone who stops anticipating [the coming of Moshiach], even for just a moment, we see from this that they are not a believer.

“Once a person really expects and yearns for the coming of the Melech Moshiach (King Moshiach), then any of the occurrences happening in the world appear to him to be a hint, or connected with the [imminent] redemption, and will cause him to think that maybe, the Melech Moshiach is truly on the threshold [of being revealed].

“It should be underlined that people don’t see the signs of redemption because they don’t think about it all, or reflect on the matter [of Moshiach coming]. I remember how the Chofetz Chaim, ztl, used to wait for it, and connect everything to the geula (redemption).”

Elsewhere, Rav Levenstein returns to the subject, and adds: “The Rambam already wrote that anyone who doesn’t wait for him [i.e. the Moshiach] to come every single day, is a heretic in regard to the whole Torah. And this is particularly true in our time, when we shouldn’t only wait and hope for the Melech Moshiach, but actually know that we are in the days of Moshiach.”

So says the holy Rav Yehezkel Levenstein, ztl.

PEOPLE ARE BEING RIDICULED AND DISMISSED FOR TALKING ABOUT MOSHIACH

Sadly, his words aren’t being heeded by many people today, who are being duped by the evil inclination into making every effort to avoid talking about, or believing in, the coming of the Moshiach. Not only that, if someone else tries to talk about, or think about, the coming of Moshiach, he’s immediately ridiculed and dismissed.

But these things shouldn’t make us despair, because they themselves are a sign that we are very close to redemption. Chazal wrote: “Ben David [Moshiach] won’t come until people despair of the geula.”

Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, wrote the following response to a question that was asked of him, about how the situation could even come about that people would despair of the redemption happening, when we say three times a day in our prayers that ‘may the shoot of David your servant [i.e. the Moshiach] sprout speedily in our days’. Rav Kanievsky replied: “They say it, but they don’t know what they’re really saying.”

What’s even more distressing is when people try to justify their own feelings of deep despair with the words of Tzaddikim who lived in previous generations. For example, we’ve heard people say, God should have mercy on them, that Moshiach won’t come until the very end of the six thousand years.[1]

Some of them claim to be basing this view on the words of Rav Natan, who said: “Even if I was in the last moments of the six thousand [years], and I saw that the geula still hadn’t come, even if it was thus, I would still believe with emuna shleima (complete faith) in the coming of Moshiach.”

The words of Rav Natan are meant to strengthen us, not to cause us despair! People want to justify and excuse their feelings of despair over the geula, but we already know from Rabbenu Hakadosh – ain yeoush be olam clal! ­ There is no despair in the world!

In its time, God will hasten it.

[1] According to Jewish tradition, the world is meant to last for a total of 6,000 years from the year of creation, until the period of time called ‘the world to come’ begins. We are currently in the year 5777, at the time of this writing.

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