The Messiah

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk



By Dr. Ursula A. Falk 

The doctrine of the Messiah has been a pervasive belief in our Jewish religion. Although other religions (The Greeks, the Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Persians, as well as, of course, the Christians) believed and believe in a redeemer, a savior, their basic ideas differed from ours. The Jewish concept of the Moschiach is a G’d elected Redeemer for Kol Yisroel, for the State of Israel and for all of mankind. Because of its mystical character and its supernatural goals, it remained shadowy in its outline and varied in description. Its early origins lie half concealed because no unitary or fully developed conception of the Moschiach was rendered at any time in ancient Jewish writings. The Messiah’s personality, his attributes, his stature and the manner of his “coming” and the time that this would occur are not definite. He would be sent by Haschem to free his chosen and all other just peoples from prejudices from misery, injustice and oppression and everyone would live forever in a kind of nirvana. At that time there would be heaven on earth for all good people. There would be unity and no dissention among all men who were worthy of redemption.

As a child I was always told by my parents that some day the Messiah would come. He would resurrect all of the dead, with the emphasis on my deceased grandparents, aunts and uncles, and they would arise from their graves, be free, happy and joyful. In my mind I could see these skeletons dancing, with Moschiach leading the way. I could picture myself eating candy, cookies, cake and ice cream all the time and forever (and of course never get fat – a later thought.  I was always told at my mother’s knee that in the hereafter when we arrive in heaven we would be coming to the set table and consume all the Leviathan we could eat – a form of fish. This was unappealing since I didn’t like leviathan in any event). What a wonderful thought for a child! For an adult also it is a great and peaceful thought and gives a feeling of eternity, since after each and all are resurrected no one will ever die again. This has a number of psychological explanations and serves a decided healing purpose; it is also an enforcer. If we as Jews obey the “Karyagim Mitzwot” (613 commandments or “blessings”) and be moral folk we will be rewarded when the Messiah comes. Therefore we must be “good” and righteous on earth. Also we will never die after we have reappeared from the “Kever” (grave). The fear that the majority of humanity has of death will therefore not be the pain and finality of our being that is so universally dreaded and anticipated with terror. The concept and anticipation of the coming of the Moschiach includes the edict that we as Jews must leave our bodies intact when we are buried. If we have lost a limb it must be buried with us so it can be utilized to our benefit and that of our bodies.

When faced with anti-Semitism, the bitter frustrations, pain, hatreds and disappointments in life, we yearn for a Messiah who will right all the wrongs that have existed. He will be very much like the idealized father figure (he will also of course have the attributes of the mother figure with the giving of unconditional love, the “lev tov” / good heart) that is described as and will protect us from all evil so that we will forever be enveloped in a utopian kind of existence.

Until the Moschiach comes let us say Shalom!

Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the co-author, with Dr. Gerhard Falk, of Grandparents:  A New Look at the Supporting Generation (publ. 2002)

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