What is the Messiah Waiting For?

“And a redeemer will come to Tzion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Yaakov, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 59:20 (The Israel Bible™)

The question of the timing of the arrival of the Messiah is on more lips than ever before. In videos published last week, two rabbis addressed this question to very different audiences.

Last month in Jakarta, Indonesia, Rabbi Tovia Singer taught an 8-hour seminar on Jewish ideas to a mixed audience of 100 Jews, Christians and high-ranking Muslim leaders and scholars. There are approximately 220 million Asian Muslims, 25 million Christians and fewer than 20,000 Jews in Indonesia.

Speaking to Breaking Israel News, Indonesia-based Singer said, “I’m asked to speak by non-Jews. They love that I teach Torah and answer their questions.”

As part of the seminar, Singer took questions from the audience. One audience member asked, “When will the Messiah come? What are the Jewish people waiting for?”

In the video of his response, Singer cautioned, “We are actually warned in Tanach (the Jewish Bible) never to make a calculation of when Moshiach (Messiah) will come. If someone tries to make a calculation of the time of the end, their bones will never be at rest in the grave. This is a very severe curse.

“Why is this such a great sin? Because if you say there is a date, you are saying that Isaiah is a liar. If you say there is a date, you’re saying that God is untruthful.”

Singer is referring to this verse in the Book of Isaiah:

And a redeemer will come to Tzion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Yaakov, saith the LORD. Isaiah 59:20

He continued his explanation. “Isaiah says, ‘What will trigger, what will spark the coming of Moshiach? The repentance of the Jewish people.’ That the people of Israel return to the God of Israel. So if you say there’s a specific time, that means it has nothing to do with the repentance of the Jewish people.

“You may be asking, ‘Why just the Jews? Why is their repentance so important?’ What is the role of the Jewish people? What is our job? What are we doing here?

“The role of the Jew is to be an ohr l’goyim, a light to the world. Before the Ten Commandments were given at Mt Sinai, the Almighty said that the Jewish people are to be ‘a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’. And therefore the role of the Jew is to be an example to the world of how to worship God.

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“And it is for this reason that God punishes the Jewish people much more than any other nation. Because if we sin, we cause the world to sin. And if a Jew performs a mitzvah (Biblical commandment), does a good thing, it raises up the world.

“Therefore it’s not the clock that tells us when Moshiach is here, but it is a return of the Jewish people to their God that triggers the Messianic age.”

In an interview with Breaking Israel News, Singer spoke about the severity of the prohibition not to reveal the End of Days. He mentioned how the prophet Daniel started to give the calculation of when the End of Days would come and the Angel Gabriel ordered him to close the book.

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end. Daniel 12:4

In response to the idea that the coming of Moshiach is dependent on the repentance of the Jews, Singer told Breaking Israel News, “Moshiach cannot come to a wicked generation, so God will force the Jewish people to repent. God will not stop waking us up, even if He needs to use the enemies of the Jews. Whatever it takes, God will tweak the circumstances until we have no choice except to repent.”

This exact idea was echoed by Rabbi Alon Anava in a talk called “How do I know Moshiach is coming soon?” which he delivered to an Orthodox Jewish audience in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel last week.

“It says in the gemara [Talmud] that if the Jews do teshuva (repent), then the geula (final redemption) is going to come b’chesed u’b’rachamim (with kindness and mercy). If they’re not going to do teshuva, I’m going to put a king on them whose decrees are going to be worse than Haman.”

Anava asked his audience, “We’ve been talking about Moshiach for thousands of years? Why now? The Torah itself is already giving us so many hints when Moshiach is coming.”

After reviewing hundreds of End of Days prophecies, which he compiled into a 300-page document, Anava asserted, “Right now, we are at the time for the geula to happen.”

Explaining that the suffering of slavery in Egypt was a necessary part of being able to get the Torah, Anava hinted to the grandeur in store for the world when Moshiach comes. “They suffered for 210 years [of slavery], and look at the Godly revelation that they got. They saw the Shechinah (feminine aspect of the the Divine) coming down on the mountain. Just imagine what type of revelation we are about to get, for waiting 2,000 years of suffering from this exile.”

Nevertheless, he said, “I don’t know how many people really, honestly wake up in the morning and they open the paper or whatever to see if Moshiach came. I don’t know how many people b’emet (in truth) really live like that. The point is, ‘Am I ready?’ Unfortunately, I believe that most will fail in the question if they really, really believe Moshiach can come now.”