Day In The Life Of Melech HaMoshiach
Prof. Shimon Silman, RYAL Institute and Touro College
world was created only for Moshiach.”
HaShana is the day of the coronation of G-d as our king. Rav
Saadia Gaon says that it is for this reason that we blow the shofar
on Rosh HaShana, because it was the custom at the coronations of
kings. Many times throughout the prayers of Rosh HaShana we pray
for Moshiach who will bring the kingdom of G-d to its full
revelation and glory.
this paper we provide a glimpse into who and what Moshiach is.
It would certainly be impossible to describe the full greatness
of Moshiach. The Midrash
says that Moshiach will be greater than both Avrohom Avinu and
Moshe Rabbeinu. . We would first have
to have a full understanding of the greatness of Avrohom and
Moshe before we could start to understand the greatness of
another illustration of the unprecedented greatness of Moshiach,
consider the following prophecy of Zechariah (14, 4) about
Moshiach: “On that day his feet will stand on the Mountain of
Olives.” In addition to its literal meaning, this is an
allegory for the wisdom of Moshiach. Oil represents deep wisdom.
Olives, the source of oil, represent an even greater wisdom.
Olives on top of a mountain represent a greater wisdom yet. On
this mountain of wisdom stand the feet
of Moshiach, the wisdom of the head
being that much greater.
is our intention then to present some of the fundamental
characteristics of Moshiach so that the reader can formulate an
image of Moshiach.
peace and perfection of the Era of Moshiach is the climax of
creation. We find this goal stated at the outset, right at the
beginning of the Torah. The second verse of Bereishis says,
“The spirit of G-d hovered above the waters,” on which the
comments, “This is the spirit of Melech HaMoshiach.”
the Torah – and especially in the books of the prophets –
there are countless prophecies about the Era of Moshiach, some
explicit and some allegorical. Explanation of and elaboration on
these prophecies as well as further information is found in the
Talmud, Midrash, Zohar, and books on Kabbala, Chassidus, and halacha
throughout the generations.
the great Jewish philosopher and codifier of Jewish law,
concludes his major work on Jewish law, Mishneh
Torah, with two chapters discussing the laws of Moshiach,
i.e., the basic definitions of Moshiach himself and the
Messianic Era. Elsewhere, in his famous list of the “13
Principles of Jewish Faith,” the belief in the coming of
Moshiach and the belief in the revival of the dead are the 12th
and 13th on the list.
begin with a prophecy of Yeshayahu which describes first
Moshiach himself and then what the world will be like in the Era
of Moshiach. This will be followed by selections from the last
two chapters of Mishneh
Torah which follow the same pattern – first describing
Melech HaMoshiach (Ch. 11), then the Era of Moshiach (Ch. 12).
Finally, we will draw on these sources as well as selections
from the Talmud, Midrash, Kabbala, and Chassidus to sketch
certain prominent characteristics of Moshiach.
a staff shall come forth from the stump of Yishai and a branch
shall sprout from his roots.
the spirit of G-d will rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and
understanding, a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of
knowledge and fear of G-d.
he will judge [with ease] as with his sense of smell because of
his fear of G-d; neither with the sight of his eyes shall he
judge, nor with the hearing of his ears shall he prove.
he will judge the poor with justice and he will admonish with
fairness the humble of the earth; and he will strike [the evil
ones of] the earth with the rod of his mouth and with the speech
of his lips he will put the wicked to death.
righteousness shall be the belt of his waist and faith the belt
of his loins.
the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie
with the young goat; and a calf and a lion and a fat ox shall
lie down together and a small child shall lead them.
the cow and even the bear shall graze, together their children
will lie down; and the lion as the cattle will eat straw.
the nursing child will amuse himself over the hole of a
poisonous snake; and into the hole of a venomous snake shall a
weaned child stretch his hand.
shall do no evil nor shall they destroy throughout My holy
mountain, for the land will be filled with the knowledge of G-d
as the waters cover the ocean bed.
the one who comes forth from the root of Yishai [Moshiach] who
will stand on that day shall be for the nations as a banner
carrier – the nations shall seek him; and his peace shall be
it shall be on that day that G-d will continue to apply His hand
a second time to acquire the rest of his people who will remain
from Assyria and from Egypt and from Pasros and from Cush and
from Elam and from Shinar and from Hamas and from the islands of
He shall raise a banner to the nations to gather the exiles of
Israel; and the dispersed of Judah He shall gather from the four
corners of the earth.
the envy of Ephraim will depart and the oppressors of Judah will
no longer be; Ephraim will not envy Judah and Judah will not
[Judah and Ephraim] shall swoop down upon the Philistines on the
west side [of the land of Israel], together they shall plunder
the people of the East; upon Edom and Moav they will stretch
forth their hand and the children of Amon will obey them.
G-d will cut off the gulf of the sea of Egypt and He shall wave
His hand on the river with the strength of His spirit; and He
shall beat it into seven streams and He shall cause [the exiles]
to walk with their shoes [on the dry land].
there shall be a road from Assyria for the rest of his people
who will remain, just as there was for Israel on the day they
went up from the land of Egypt.
– Hilchos Melachim U’Melech HaMoshiach
HaMoshiach will arise and restore the ancient dynasty of King
David to its original sovereignty. He will build the Beis
HaMikdash and gather the dispersed of Israel [to the Land of
Israel]. In his time all the laws of the Torah will be restored
as they were in days of old: We will bring sacrifices and
observe the Sabbatical and Jubilee years in accordance with all
the mitzvos stated in
who doesn’t believe in him or does not await his coming denies
not only the prophets but also the Torah and Moshe Rabbeinu
since the Torah itself gives testimony regarding Moshiach. It
says, “G-d will return your exiles and will have mercy on you
and gather you in…. even if your exiles are at the end of the
heavens…and G-d will bring you [to the Land of Israel].”
These explicit words of the Torah contain within them all the
things that all the prophets said on the matter.
in the parsha of
Balaam there is a prophecy about the two Moshiachs – the first
Moshiach which was King David who saved the Jews from their
enemies, and the later Moshiach who arises from David’s
descendants who saves the Jews from the hands of the sons of
Esau. In that prophecy it says, “I see him but not now” –
this refers to David; “I see him but it is not close” –
this refers to Melech HaMoshiach. “A star will shoot forth
from Yaakov” – this is David; “And a staff will rise from
Israel” – this is Melech HaMoshiach….
regarding the cities of refuge the Torah says, “If G-d will
expand your borders you will add on three more cities.” This
has not yet happened. But G-d doesn’t give an instruction for
nothing. [Thus it will happen in the future – in the time of
do not, however, have to bring proofs from the prophets [about
Moshiach] since all their books are filled with this matter.
not think that Melech HaMoshiach is required to perform signs or
wonders, bring new things into the world or revive the dead or
a king will arise from the House of David who teaches Torah and
is occupied in the mitzvos
like David his ancestor in accordance with both the Written
Torah and the Oral Torah, compels all the Jews to follow the
Torah and to strengthen it where it has been broken, and who
fights the battles of G-d, he has the assumed status of being
Moshiach. If he succeeds further and is victorious over the
nations around him, builds the Beis
HaMikdash in its place and gathers the dispersed of Israel
– then he is Moshiach with a certainty and he will direct the
entire world to serve G-d together.
not think that in the time of Moshiach anything of the way of
the world will be cancelled or that there will be innovations in
the order of nature. But rather the world will follow its
natural order…. Some chachomim
say that before Moshiach comes, Eliyahu HaNavi will come. [But]
regarding all these matters and similar matters no one knows how
they will be until they happen….[The main thing is] to await
it and to believe in the matter in general as we explained
scholars and the prophets desired the Era of Moshiach…only so
that they would be free to pursue the study of the Torah and its
wisdom without anyone oppressing or distracting them so that
they will merit the “World to Come”….At that time there
will be no famine or war, no jealousy or rivalry since there
will be abundant good and all the delicacies will be as
plentiful as the dust of the earth. The only occupation of the
entire world will be to know G-d. Thus, the Jewish people will
be great scholars and will know the hidden secrets and will
attain knowledge of the Creator to the full capacity of man as
the prophet says, “For the earth will be filled with the
knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean bed.”
Rambam writes that Moshiach is not required to perform wonders,
this is only a halachic
requirement, i.e., the halachic
definition of Moshiach does not require
him to perform wonders but as we will see later from many
sources Moshiach will in fact have a miraculous nature. Rambam
is only stating the minimum halachic
requirements of Moshiach. Similarly, his statement that the
world will maintain its natural order applies only to the
initial period of Moshiach’s coming, described as the First
Era. Later on, however, in the Second Era, the order of nature
will certainly change as the revival of the dead will occur –
a very great change in the order of nature indeed.
The belief in the coming of Moshiach and the belief in the
revival of the dead are the 12th and 13th
principles of faith on Rambam’s famous list of the Thirteen
Principles of Faith. Similar to Rambam’s statement here that
one who does not believe in Moshiach denies the whole Torah, is
his statement elsewhere that one who does not believe in the
revival of the dead has not part in Judaism.
innovation of Moshiach is that through him the two concepts of
‘above’ and ‘below’ will be united.”
will use this concept of the union of opposites as the framework
for our presentation of the characteristics of Moshiach stated
in the works of the Talmud, Kabbala, and Chassidus.
Moshiach, the prophet Yeshayahu says,
“Behold, my servant shall have great wisdom. He will be
elevated, exalted and of very high stature.” In various
sources this high exaltation is explained to mean that Moshiach
will be greater than Adam, Avrohom Avinu and even Moshe
HaMoshiach will be exalted, greater and more honored and more
glorious than all kings who preceded him.
His reign will extend over the entire world and will last
His wisdom will surpass that of Shlomo HaMelech and he will be a
prophet of the caliber of Moshe.
He will reveal the deepest level of the Torah – both its halachic
content and its mystical secrets.
What we know of the wisdom of the Torah now is nothing compared
to what he will reveal.
the same time he will be of the greatest humility concerned with
the common man,
bringing this new wisdom and knowledge down to the level where
anyone can understand it. He will show that the sincere faith of
the simple Jew, who is totally dedicated to Judaism, is greater
even than the deep understanding of the scholars.
Midrash tells a story about Moshe from the time that he was a
shepherd. One of the sheep ran away from the flock and Moshe
left the entire flock to care for this sheep and bring it back
to the flock. This trait qualified him to be the leader of the
Jewish people as he would be concerned about every individual
Similarly Moshiach will cherish every single Jew – even one
who has run away from the flock.
two extremes of majesty and modesty are symbolized by two
prophecies, one which says that Moshiach will appear on a cloud
and one which says that he will appear as a poor man riding on a
chacham – man of
wisdom – and the prophet are two distinct personalities with
different characteristics and abilities. Each has an advantage
over the other. Moshiach will attain the highest levels of
perfection in both of these areas. As Isaiah says in the
prophecy quoted above, “And the spirit of G-d will rest upon
him, [ i.e. prophecy ] a spirit of wisdom and understanding…a
spirit of knowledge.” Rambam
Moshiach will be a chacham
greater than Shlomo HaMelech, who was called “the wisest of
all men,” and will attain a level of prophecy close to that of
Moshe Rabbeinu of whom the Torah says, “There arose none like
Moshe who knew G-d face to face.” There is a Midrash that goes
even further and indicates that Moshiach will be a greater
prophet than Moshe.
fact, there is a close connection between these two
characteristics of being greater than Shlomo HaMelech and
similar to Moshe, as we see from the continuation of Rambam’s
statement: “…therefore he will teach Torah to all Jews.”
This refers to a deep level of the Torah which will be revealed
by Moshiach. Now we know that the Torah has great depth. The
greatest rabbis and scholars – starting with Moshe Rabbeinu
himself – have been studying it, analyzing it and delving into
its depths for thousands of years. But the Torah being the
wisdom of G-d has infinite depth so even the deepest analysis by
the greatest Rabbis for the longest time cannot reveal its full
depth. Thus, Moshiach will reveal in it a new dimension
previously unattainable. So new will this revelation be that the
prophet Yeshayahu calls it “Torah
chadasha” – a new Torah. Shlomo HaMelech refers to it at
the beginning of Song of
Songs and symbolizes it with a kiss from G-d.
be able to accomplish this task, Moshiach needs two qualities.
Firstly, he needs to have the highest level of prophecy –
similar to Moshe – to be able to receive this revelation from
G-d, just as Moshe received the original revelation of the Torah
from G-d at Mt. Sinai. But that is not yet enough. To be able to
teach this new dimension of Torah to all Jews he must be able to
bring it down to their level. To do this one would have to have
the wisdom of Shlomo HaMelech – literally. The greatness of
the wisdom of Shlomo consisted of his ability to take the
greatest abstract concepts and by giving one example after
another to bring it down one level after another until even the
common man could understand it. Moshiach, who will reveal a
wisdom greater than Shlomo’s, must, therefore, have this
ability to a greater degree than even Shlomo.
is another aspect of Shlomo HaMelech’s wisdom which is also
essential to the wisdom of Moshiach. The prevalence of peace in
the time of Shlomo (for which he was named, as the prophet said,
“His name will be Shlomo, and I shall bring shalom
– peace –
and tranquility to Israel in his days”)
was a sample of the peace that will prevail in the time of
Moshiach. The power of his monarchy was due to the power of his
wisdom by which all the nations were awed. It was a great light
which dispelled the darkness of war and brought about unity just
as Yeshayahu says in the Messianic prophecy quoted above,
“They will not cause destruction…because the earth will be
filled with the knowledge of G-d.”
wisdom, Shlomo HaMelech says, “I saw that there is an
advantage to wisdom over nonsense similar to the advantage of
light over darkness.” The Zohar asks a powerful question on
this: “Does it take Shlomo HaMelech, the wisest of all men, to
see that wisdom is better than nonsense and light is better than
darkness? Doesn’t everybody know this?” The Zohar and
Chassidus explain that “wisdom” and “nonsense” here
actually refer to two types of wisdom, one which is termed
“light” and the other which is called darkness. The light
derives directly from the Torah – the search from above –
while the darkness is the view of reality resulting from the
groping search from below, the attempt to understand the world
in its own terms, for example, scientific research. The
difference between these two types of wisdom is so great that
the latter is called “nonsense” relative to the former. The
point that Shlomo was making was that when the sciences are used
to explain a matter in Torah – for example, when astronomy and
mathematics are used to explain the laws of the new moon –
this scientific knowledge ceases to be secular. It becomes part
of Torah. The darkness is transformed into light, a greater
light than that derived directly from the Torah. This is the
“advantage” that Shlomo is talking about. The light
resulting from transformed darkness has an advantage over the
light derived directly from the Torah.
greatness of Shlomo’s wisdom was due in part to his having
transformed the sciences. This transformation of “nonsense”
into wisdom is a major part of the refinement of the physical
world that prepares it for and actually brings about the highest
revelations in the Torah to be revealed by Moshiach. It is a
process which actually began with Yosef, who was the master over
ancient Egypt and its wisdom, reached a very high level with
Shlomo HaMelech, and will be completed by Moshiach himself.
is a human being with human parents whose ancestry goes back to
King David. Yet his soul is from the loftiest heights, from the
essence of G-d Himself. “Moshiach, as a messenger of G-d,
combines two extremes. On the one hand he is a being in and for
himself, a soul in a physical body. But at the same time, being
a messenger of Adam
HaElyon (G-dliness), he is literally like Him.”
The essence of Moshiach is the same as the essence of G-d.
essential fact about the life of Moshiach is connected with
another essential fact – that he lives forever, an
uninterrupted everlasting life. This fact is stated in the
Talmud based on the verse in Psalms, “Life he [Moshiach] asked
from You and You granted it to him, length of days forever,”
and is discussed extensively in the writings of Kabbala and
Chassidus. The Mitteler Rebbe in his explanation of this,
compares Moshiach to other tzaddikim.
He says that all other tzaddikim
require some refinement of their bodies and, therefore,
there has to be some sort of “passing away.” Even Eliyahu
HaNavi whose body ascended to the Heavens and became like an
angel, required a transformation of his body from its physical
condition on earth
to its totally spiritual state in Heaven.
Moshiach, however, is on a much higher level. “No change or
refinement takes place in his body at all. He will have a
physical body similar to the bodies of all Jews of that time”
and will eat, drink, wear clothes, and sit on a chair, but
“Moshiach will remain alive in his body together with the
essence of his soul – down here just as it is above,
literally. Concerning Moshe Rabbeinu “there was no difference
at all between his body and his soul...and this will hold true
of Moshiach in a much higher way. Therefore...he will not need
to ascend Above.”
There is, however, a period of concealment between the time he
attains the “assumed status of Moshiach” and when he attains
the status of “Moshiach with a certainty.”
addition to the comparison to Moshe Rabbeinu, there is also a
comparison to King David. While King David also lives an
everlasting life, his life comes only from the world of Atzilus,
whereas the life of Moshiach comes from the essence of G-d
Furthermore, the souls of both Moshe Rabbeinu and King David
will “enter into” the soul of Moshiach.
concept of a soul entering into another soul or one soul
containing another soul, is a deep topic in Kabbala. But one of
the most important facts about Moshiach is that his soul is a neshama
klalis, a general soul that contains all the souls of all
Jews. This means that the soul of every Jew is a part of
Moshiach and thus there is a part of Moshiach in every Jew. This
fact has wide ranging practical implications. Since the soul of
every Jew corresponds to a unique part of the soul of Moshiach,
each Jew has a unique role to play in preparing the world for
life of Moshiach is certainly a supernatural life. As the
Maharal of Prague writes, “Moshiach will be...beyond nature
and the way of the world.”
The Midrash says that G-d conceived of Moshiach even before He
created the world because Moshiach is higher than the order of
Yet at the same time, as we emphasized above, he lives within
nature and the physical world. Because he contains these two
opposites within himself, he will eventually bring the entire
world to a new world order which will be characterized by the
full revelation of G-d’s infinite essence within the finite
a world order in which the natural and the miraculous combine
and function simultaneously – “As in the days of your exodus
from Egypt, I will show you wonders.”