Waiting for Mashiach by Alex Kalb


In Parashat Nitzavim, the Pasuk states, “VeShav Hashem Elokecha Et Shevutcha VeRachamecha VeShav VeKibetzcha MiKol HaAmim Asher Chefitzcha Hashem Elokecha Shamah,” “Then Hashem, your God, will turn your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you from all the nations where Hashem your God has scattered you” (Devarim 30:3). Why does the Pasuk repeat the word VeShav when it could have simply stated it once?

Rabbeinu Bachya explains that the repetition of the word alludes to the two stages of our exile, the first being the exile of the Ten Tribes and the second being the exile of Yehuda and Binyamin. The Pasuk is therefore hinting a reassurance to the redemption of both exiles.

According to the Meshech Chachmah, the first part of the Pasuk refers to the convergence of all the exiles who are alive at the time of the upcoming Geulah. The second part of the Pasuk refers to the meeting of all the exiles, including those who had passes away, as Chazal teach that they will all return to Eretz Yisrael through underground tunnels (Ketubot 111a) and will then be resurrected upon arrival. The Meshech Chachmah offers an alternative answer: the Geulah will occur in two stages. The first stage will encompass the Jews who have spent the Galut yearning for Geulah, desperately waiting to return, hence the word “Shevutcha” in the first part. Once those people are redeemed, a second redemption will occur, returning those who have become comfortable in exile and more reluctant to return.

This Pasuk serves as a Biblical basis for our belief in the coming of Mashiach. Anyone who does not believe in him, or who does not think he will come, has not only denied the validity of the Nevi’im  who said Mashiach would come, but also the Torah itself.

The Brisker Rav points out that the Rambam includes not only a person who denies the coming of Mashiach, but also a person who does not wait his coming. Rav Leib Gurwitz explains this with a story about Rav Nachum Zev Ziv of Kelm. There was a house in a small town where an extremely ill person lived. A doctor was called in order to put an end to his suffering. Nothing was left for the townspeople to do but to wait for the doctor to come to the house. All of a sudden, there was a knock at the door and everyone jumped up, expecting it to be the doctor. To their disappointment, however, it turned out that it was the neighbor instead, coming to borrow some milk. The neighbor left and the people sat down and waited again. Suddenly, there was yet another knock on the door, and everyone jumped up from their seats expecting it to be the doctor. But for a second time it was not the doctor; it was the mailman, delivering mail to the house.  Again and again the door was knocked upon, and after each disappointment, the worry and expectation of the people did not recede. Rather, they returned to their positions and listened by the door, hoping for the doctor to come.

Every Jew must realize that the situation of the Jewish people in exile is like the desperately ill person, whose only hope is through the coming of Mashiach. For one who internalizes this, even the long years of disappointment will not lessen the anticipation for the true Geulah. We should all learn to be like the people awaiting the doctor, and with Hashem’s help, Mashicach will come speedily in our days.

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