On Friday afternoon, my hands deep in challah dough, there was a quiet knock on the door from a quiet man whose cause we happily support. He has a Kollel Chatzos, an erstwhile group of men who rise at midnight to learn Torah and Kabbalah all night long. We figure since we're unable to perform this beautiful feat ourselves, we are happy to have a share by proxy in this wonderful endeavor.
He is an assuming man, short and bearded, with kind eyes and an ever-apologetic countenance. He is sorry to disturb on a Friday, but he is not disturbing and we are happy to see him. While he lingers at the door, I venture away from my challah dough.
"Tell me," I ask, "In your kollel, you learn kabbalah. What is being said about...", I gesture vaguely, uncertainly. "About...Moshiach."
He smiles, sadly. I am searching for something deep and mystical; what he offers me is deep and classical.
"It is as the Navi describes," he says, referring to the many passages in Prophets where the era before the Redemption is described in vivid color.
I know it is what the Navi describes. The nations of the world ganging up on defenseless Israel, the mockery and scorn, the impending sense of doom. That is exactly what the Navi describes.
Then he says, "I have heard that Rav Mordechai Eliyahu awoke from his coma briefly and said that he had a dream that Moshiach was supposed to come on Pesach." My husband and I draw a bit closer to the door. "But two great tzaddikim (righteous scholars) prayed that Moshiach would not come."
"But why?" I ask, aghast.
"Because they saw that if Moshiach (Messiah) were to come, not enough of the Jewish People would survive."
It is a deflating moment, a moment that lingers long after the challah has risen and baked. I am reminded of the stark urgency of these turbulent times. When the Jews left Mitzrayim (Egypt), 600,000 strong, that number reflected only ONE-FIFTH of the Jewish nation. Four fifths died. It's a sobering thought, immediately followed by another one: What can we do to be amongst those who will be privileged to greet Moshiach? I really want to find the answer to that question. It is more than a question. It is a plea.
About Riva Pomerantz
I'm a freelance writer, widely published in several magazines including the internationally-distributed Ami Magazine and Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly. Riva's work also appears on the award-winning website www.aish.com, amongst others. You can buy my books here.