Looking forwards to this week’s Kiddush?
For some people it’s the highlight of the week. For others, the highlight arrives just before the Kiddush.
This week, as the Shabbat Morning Prayer is being said, take an extra deep look into the Musaf service. You might see something you never fully observed before.
In our Musaf prayer, we ask: “May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that You bring us up in gladness to our land and plant us within our boundaries. There, we will perform before You the rite of our required offerings, the continual offerings in their order and the Musaf offerings according to their laws”.
Every Shabbat, we are asking G-d to bring us to the land of Israel and in essence rebuild the Bet Hamikdash so that we can once again offer up holy sacrifices to G-d.
Thank G-d, the first part of this prayer has been answered and now we eagerly anticipate the latter.
It is not just in Shabbat Musaf that we mention our yearning; in fact it is daily in every Amida!
“Be favourable, Hashem, our G-d, toward Your people Israel and their prayer and restore the service to the Holy of Holies of Your Temple, and the fire-offerings of Israel”.
It seems our Sages wished to institute this clearly in our prayers for a reason.
There is a fascinating Gemara (Shabbat 31a) where our Sages explain:
“When they escort a person to his final, Heavenly judgment after his death, the Heavenly tribunal asks him … ‘Did you wait in hope for the salvation?’” Were you waiting with eager anticipation for the arrival of the Mashiach and the redemption of the Jewish people?
If this is the question asked at a person’s final judgment, it appears that awaiting the redemption is an obligation.
This ‘obligation’ comes clearer when reading the Rambam.
In his Mishneh Torah (Laws of Kings 11:1), the Rambam says: “Anyone who does not believe in him [the Mashiach] or does not await his coming not only denies [the truth of his coming, as stated in] the rest of the prophets, he denies Torah and [the prophecy of] Moshe Rabenu.”
The Brisker Rav Zts”l deduced from the writings of the Rambam, that awaiting the redemption is not only an obligation, it is one of the principles of our faith!
While the other twelve principles of faith focus on BELIEF (Belief in Hashem’s existence, His uniqueness, etc.), this principle in addition to belief in the arrival of the Mashiach also commands us to actively await his arrival (“I anticipate every day that he will come”.)
There is no shortage of sources teaching us that we are obligated to await the arrival of Mashiach.
In Parashat Balak, Bilam prophesises (24:17) “A star has issued from Yaakov”, hinting to the future Mashiach.
Similarly we are told in Devarim (30:3) “Hashem, your G-d, will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples”.
Yet where in the Torah do we find an obligation to eagerly await and hope for our salvation?
Perhaps it’s found in this week’s Parasha. When commanding us of the twice-daily “Tamid” offerings, the Torah instructs: “My offering, My food for My fires, My satisfying aroma, shall you be scrupulous to offer to Me in its appointed time – “Tishmeru Lehakriv Li Bemoado” (Bamidbar 28:2).
What does the Torah mean by “shall you be scrupulous (‘Tishmeru’) to offer Me in its appointed time”?
The simple meaning of the phrase is that we must be meticulous that the “Tamid” be offered twice daily at the appropriate times – once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
The term “Tishmeru”, however, has an additional connotation. When Yoseph related his dreams to his father and brothers, the Torah tells us “Ve-Aviv SHAMAR Et Hadavar” (Bereishit 37:11).
Rashi interprets this Pasuk as meaning “he was waiting and looking forward to when it would come true.
Following this usage of “Tishmeru” – to await- we can interpret the Pasuk “Tishmeru lehakriv li bemoado” to mean that in the absence of the Bet Hamikdash, we must eagerly await the day when we will be able to offer the “Tamid”.
The last Tamid was offered up close to two thousand years ago and we eagerly await the ability once more of offering up the next Tamid.
This could be a source in the Torah for the requirement to “wait in hope for the salvation”, which is brought in the Gemara.
What exactly does this anticipation entail? The Pasuk we have quoted refers to the daily “Tamid” offerings – that we must eagerly await the opportunity to once again offer it along with the other Korbanot.
In addition, we also impatiently anticipate the building of the Bet Hamikdash.
We cannot be passive and this is what these three weeks are here to internalise in us.
The story is told of a farmer who was a simple but G-d-fearing person, living on the plains of Russia. One day, he came home to his wife and told her that the Rabbi had said that soon Mashiach would come and take them all to the land of Israel.
“This is terrible”, said his wife. “Don’t we have enough problems already? Who is going to tend to our chickens and look after our geese? You better go straight back to the Rabbi and tell him that we can have no part in this. It will be a real disaster.”
When the husband returned to the Rabbi with his wife’s message, the Rabbi informed the farmer to go home and tell his wife that any day the Cossacks could come and plunder their farm and steal all their fowl.
Surely it would be much better for them to anticipate Mashiach’s arrival and help take them to the land of Israel?!
The farmer returned to his wife, relating the Rabbi’s response.
She contemplated what he had said and understood that he had a valid point.
Suddenly, she exclaimed, “I have a perfect solution. Why don’t we ask Mashiach to come and take the Cossacks to the land of Israel and everything will be fine!”
When we hear this story we might laugh, but the reality is sometimes no different closer to home.
Are we totally comfortable and at ease with the thought that when Mashiach comes we will be expected to leave the comfort of our home, and give up the security of our business? Are we really anticipating the coming of Mashiach?
The world was so different when we had the Bet Hamikdash – the ability to walk into the Holy site and feel G-dliness.
As our world advances both technologically and globally, the signs of Mashiach’s eminent arrival are out there.
Daily and every week as our morning Shabbat prayers come to a climax at Musaf, we have the ability to proclaim our anticipation, hope and faith in G-d rebuilding His Temple and us being part of this revelation, establishing an everlasting Kingdom.
Believe – Anticipate- It’s round the corner – Don’t miss out!