The Year of the Redemption

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R. Shmuel Wosner is a leading posek in Bnei Brak who has published 10 volumes of responsa, titled “Shevet ha-Levi.” I do not know why, but he will not only answer bizarre questions but will publish them along with his answers (although he never answered my letter about the status of Habad messianists).

R. Wosner (vol. 10 no. 1) was asked in 5759 (1999) by a rabbi who prepares annual calendars whether he should label the upcoming year, 5760 (2000), as the year of the redemption. His reasoning was that the kabbalistic work Galya Raza implies that 5760 will be the year in which the messianic redemption will take place. Thus, this rabbi asked in his simple piety, should he publish this news in his calendar?

R. Wosner did not respond as I would have – “No, you idiot!” – but instead gave a gentler answer:

My honored friend, we have no business in the hidden, and the coming of the righteous messiah is covered and hidden, not to be addressed in public. Rambam, the leading teacher of the generations, wrote (Hilkhos Melakhim 12:2*): “No one should ever occupy himself with the legendary themes or spend much time on midrashic statements on this and like subjects. He should not deem them of prime importance, since they lead neither to the fear of God not to the love of Him. Nor should one calculate the end. Said the rabbis: ‘Blasted be those who reckon out the end.’ One should wait (for his coming) and accept in principle this article of faith.”

Even though many great and righteous scholars of the generations may have let slip from their holy mouths or pens hints about the time of the messiah’s coming, that was out of the abundance of faith and hope for the revelation of G-d. However, it is know that throughout the ages – and particularly in 1948 – this has led to failing and weakening religiosity. Why should we endanger ourselves and please the masses with something that requires modesty. In the end, if Heaven forbid we do not merit the redmption many will leave the faith out of disappointment…

What is important is the strengthening of our Jewish brethren, believers descended from the faithful, in the principle of the messianic redemption of Israel through the will of our Father in heaven. We wait each day for it to come – today if we listen to His voice. But in that which is hidden from you do not investigate.

As a post-script to this responsum, I’ll point out to those who were not keeping track that, sadly, the messianic redemption did not occur in 5760 (2000).


* Hershman translation of the Rambam from the Yale Judaica Series.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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