Friday, August 29, 2014

Judaism's Top 40 - Elul 7 and # 33: Messiah

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner has a somewhat unorthodox (and kabbalistically based) translation of the word: “yourself.”  Here’s his thinking:

The Messiah will only come, goes one legend, when things get so bad we cannot live without him or so good you don't need her.  Indeed, we often say that at the time all the contradictions, paradoxes and antinomies will be resolved.  Love and hate, male and female, even good and evil at last will be in perfect balance.  When the Messiah comes, we will understand how they all fit together and even why it seems so important they were once in conflict.  But until that time, the syntax written in our brains cannot simultaneously comprehend of thing and it opposite.  Because we cannot comprehend everything on one uncontradictory linear plane, we imagine a time when we won't need to.  In this way the notion of the Messiah is a metaphor for the resolution of all contradiction, when paradox will replace linear logic, right brain supersede the left.

According to the Talmud, Rabbi Joshua ben Levi  asks Elijah, “When will the Messiah come?”  Elijah says,”Go and ask him yourself.” Levi finds the “son of David” at the gates who tells Levi that the Messiah will come today. Levi goes back to Elijah and complains that he is been tricked, for surely the Messiah is not coming today.  But Elijah only explains that today refers to Psalm 95:7, which reads, “Today, if you listen to my voice.”  In other words, the Messiah will, only when we listen to the voice of God.

“Listening to the voice of God means attaining a rung of awareness on which hearing God’s voice is routine. And once that happens, all contradictions are resolved and you yourself are the Messiah.   You already have everything you need and you are where you need to be. Lions will lie down with lambs and then they will eat them because that's what lions and lambs do to and for one another.  The way things are just now is messianic.  The end of days is now and the Messiah is already here.”

For more explanations of this complicated concept of Messiah and messianism, see this intoductory article from myjewishlearing.  Also, my second day Rosh Hashanah sermon Apocalypse Later .

To catch up on other Judaism’s Top 40 entries, click here.

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