Special Mitzvot that Can Bring Moshiach
A. Special Mitzvot
Teshuvah: First and foremost among these mitzvot is the principle of teshuvah. “When you return unto G‑d, your G‑d, and will listen to His voice.. G‑d, your G‑d, will return your captivity and have compassion upon you, and He will restore and gather you from all the nations to which G‑d, your G‑d, has dispersed you..” (Deuteronomy 30:2ff.) Teshuvah will bring about an immediate redemption, “Today, if you will listen to His voice.” (Psalms 95:7)76
“Watchman (i.e., G‑d), what will be of the night (i.e., the galut)? Said the Watchman: ‘Morning (i.e., the redemption) has come, and also night (i.e., retribution for the heathens and oppressors of Israel); if you will request, request. Return and come!” (Isaiah 21:11-12) G‑d says that He is ready, indeed anxious, to make the ‘morning’ shine for us. Upon Israel’s question ‘when?,’ the Divine response is: “Whenever you want, He wants! If you want to make your request to hasten the end, request!” What then is deterring the redemption? The lack of teshuvah; thus “Return and come!”77
Teshuvah, the comprehensive principle of submission to G‑d and His will, thus is the most obvious means to bring about the immediate coming of Moshiach.78 It does not require any extraordinary action or undertaking: the simple — though sincere — thought of regretting misdeeds with determination to better our ways is already complete teshuvah.79
Shabbat: If Israel will keep just one Shabbat properly, Moshiach will come immediately.80 “Though I have set a limit to ‘the end,’ that it will happen in its time regardless of whether they will do teshuvah or not .. the scion of David (Moshiach) will come if they keep just one Shabbat, because the Shabbat is equivalent to all the mitzvot.”81
Torah-study: “Torah-study is equivalent to all [the mitzvot].” (Pe’ah 1:1) By virtue of Torah they will return to the Holy Land and be gathered in from the exile.82 Israel shall be redeemed by virtue of ten people sitting one with the other, each of them studying with the other.83
Especially significant in this context is the study of pnimiyut Hatorah, the mystical dimension of the Torah: “In the merit thereof ‘You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land’ (Leviticus 25:10).”84
Tzedakah, too, is equivalent to all the mitzvot.85 Our compassion for the needy and downcast evokes a reciprocal compassion from Heaven, thus hastening the day of the scion of David (Moshiach) and the days of our redemption.86 “Zion shall be redeemed by justice and her repatriates by tzedakah.” (Isaiah 1:27) “Keep justice and do tzedakah, for My salvation is near to come and My tzedakah to be revealed.” (Isaiah 56:1)87
Other mitzvot charged with special efficacy to bring about the redemption are procreation (Genesis 1:28),88 the four species of Sukot (Leviticus 23:40),89 and the sending away of the mother-bird (Deuteronomy 22:6-7).90
B. Unity of Israel
Before Jacob passed away, he addressed all his sons: “Gather together and I shall tell you that which shall occur to you in the end of days. Assemble yourselves and hear..” (Genesis 49:1-2) With these words he warned them against any dissension among themselves.91 He said to them:
“Though it is not known when the Day of Judgment will be, I do tell you that the hour you gather and assemble together you shall be redeemed, as it is said, ‘I will surely gather Jacob, all of you [i.e., when all of you are together]..’ — for then immediately — ‘their king shall pass before them and G‑d at the head of them.’ (Michah 2:12-13).”92
The unity of Israel, all being as one, is the preparation and condition for the ultimate redemption.93
“It is presently ‘dark’ for you, but the Holy One, blessed be He, will in the future illuminate for you as an everlasting light, as it is said, ‘G‑d shall be for you an everlasting light’ (Isaiah 60:19). When will that be? When all of you will be a singular band.. Israel will be redeemed when they shall be a singular band, as it is said, ‘In those days and in that time, says G‑d, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together..’ (Jeremiah 50:4); and it is said, ‘In those days, the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together from the land of the north to the land I have given as a legacy to your fathers’ (Jeremiah 3:18). When they are bound together they shall receive the Face of the Shechinah!”94
Internal unity, ahavat Yisrael, peace and harmony, safeguard even against punishment for the worst sin;95 but when “their heart is divided, they shall bear their guilt.” (Hosea 10:2)96
Notwithstanding the idyllic ritual observance in the days of the Second Temple, dissension, gratuitous hatred and divisiveness, caused the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash and the present galut.97 Rectification of this condition will bring about the restoration of the Bet Hamikdash and the Messianic redemption.98
One other principle to hasten and actualize the Messianic redemption, of utmost significance and in fact at the very core of our affirmation of the fundamental doctrine of Moshiach, is the very belief in, and anticipation of, the coming of Moshiach — Awaiting Moshiach.
76. Sanhedrin 98a; Zohar Chadash, Bereishit, 8a. Hilchot Teshuvah 7:5. See Midrash Hagadol on Deuteronomy 30:2; and below, note 78.
77. Yerushalmi, Ta’anit 1:1, cited by Rashi and Redak on Isaiah 21:11-12. See also Zohar Chadash, Bereishit 8a.
78. See Sanhedrin 97bf; Yerushalmi, Ta’anit 1:1; and Zohar Chadash, Noach 23c-d.
79. Pesikta Rabaty 45:9 (ed. Friedmann, ch. 44); Kidushin 49b. See Zohar I:129a-b; and cf. Avodah Zara 17a. Note the trenchant comments of Chafetz Chaim on the application of the condition of teshuvah to the present time, in Tzipita Liyeshu’ah, ch. 1.
80. Yerushalmi, Ta’anit 1:1
81. Shemot Rabba 25:12
82. Zohar III:270a. See there also 178b.
83. Eliyahu Zutta, end of ch. 14 (see there Yeshu’ot Ya’akov, note 4).
84. Tikunei Zohar 6:23bf. See also Zohar III:124b; Tikunei Zohar 31:53b; Zohar Chadash, Tikunim 96c; and the sources cited in my The Mystical Tradition, p. 115ff; and see Even Shelemah 11:3, and ibid., note 5 (end of p. 52a).
85. Baba Batra 9a
86. Eliyahu Zutta, ch. 1. See Shabbat 139a; Rambam, Hilchot Matnot Aniyim 10:1.
87. See Baba Batra 10a. — See also below, note 117, for another sense of tzedakah by virtue of which we shall be redeemed.
88. Eliyahu Zutta, ch. 14. See Yevamot 62a.
89. Bereishit Rabba 63:8; Vayikra Rabba 30:16.
90. Devarim Rabba 6:7. See Tikunei Zohar 6:23a-b; and see Keter Shem Tov, sect. 415.
91. Bereishit Rabba 98:2. See Midrash Hagadol on Genesis 49:1; and cf. Sifre, Berachah, par. 346.
92. Agadat Bereishit, ch. 82 (83).
93. Bereishit Rabba 98:2
94. Tanchuma, Nitzavim:1.
95. See Tanchuma, Tzav:6 and Shoftim:18; Bereishit Rabba 38:6; and see also Devarim Rabba 5:10.
96. Bereishit Rabba 38:6
97. Yoma 9b; and see also Tossefta, Menachot 13:22.