Monday, October 6, 2008

The Maggid of Kozhnitz teaches that Moshiach personifies the unity of Hashem and the Jewish people:

“The Tzaddik will sprout forth like a date palm.”

Tehillim 92:13

Why does the date palm allude to the Tzaddik? This tells you that just as the date palm appears beautiful, and all its fruit are sweet and good, so is the son of David (Moshiach) pleasant in appearance, and all his deeds are sweet and good before Hashem.

ibid., Medrash Tehillim

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said, “The soul of Adam and the soul of Moshiach were created on the first day, as it is written, ‘And the spirit of Elokim is hovering on the face of the water’ (Bereishis 1:2). This is a reference to the spirit of the king Moshiach, as it is written, ‘And the spirit of Hashem will rest upon him (i.e., Moshiach)’ (Yeshayahu 11:2).”

Bereishis Rabba, 8

The Zohar and the sages of truth (i.e., the Kabbalists—Kabbalah is known as “the wisdom of truth”) wrote that the son of David is himself the soul of Adam. Adam is an acronym for Adam, David, Moshiach. Thus, the spirit of Adam is the same as the spirit of Moshiach.

Eitz Yosef

When were the angels created? Rabbi Yochanan said, “On the second day.” Rabbi Chanina said, “On the fifth day.” ... Everyone agrees that nothing was created on the first day, so that people not say that (the angel) Michoel was stretching out on the south end of the sky, (the angel) Gavriel was stretching out on the north end of the sky, and Hashem was measuring out the middle section.”

Bereishis Rabba, 1

If everyone agrees that nothing was created on the first day, how can Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi assert that “the soul of Moshiach” was created on the first day? Won’t people come and suggest that Moshiach created the world?

The sages said that “the spirit of Elokim” refers to “the spirit of the king Moshiach,” who includes the souls of all of Yisroel. How pleasant is their statement that “Yisroel (the Jewish people) and Hashem are one” (Zohar 3:73a). ... Rather, it is certain that this (Hashem and the soul of Moshiach, which includes all Jewish souls) is a total unity (“achdus gamur”). This matter is well-known from the holy Zohar and (other holy) books.

Yakar MiPaz (Rabbi Yisroel Hopsztajn, the Maggid of Kozhnitz)

In my own words:

Mentioning Moshiach on the first day of the world’s existence does not lead to heretical claims because Moshiach is a Neshama Kelalis, a general soul, which contains all the souls of the Jewish people. Moreover, at their core the Jewish people and Hashem are totally one. The soul of Moshiach thus represents a level of holiness so great that it reveals this essential unity between the Jewish people and Hashem. Only mention of a separate entity such as an angel would lead to heretical challenges, but mention of the soul of Moshiach, a Tzaddik who personifies the utter unity of the Jewish people and Hashem, does not imply any plurality in the divine, G-d forbid, and thus would not prompt such claims.


This teaching fits nicely with the explanation of Chassidus Chabad discussed here (and elsewhere) concerning the various verses and rabbinic statements that appear to identify the Tzaddik with Hashem. Chassidus explains that the Tzaddik’s tremendous bittul—complete lack of ego and utter self-effacement to Hashem—enables Hashem to shine openly in the world through him, and this is what is meant by those surprising statements. Moshiach, who will be a very great Tzaddik, will surely possess this quality.

Here the Yakar MiPaz develops this general notion by explaining that Moshiach’s bittul simply reveals the G–dliness that is his inner self—the core oneness of the Jewish people with Hashem. This oneness is especially expressed in Moshiach because he is a Tzaddik who is a Neshama Kelalis, a general soul which contains the souls of all the Jewish people.

It should be noted that only the Tzaddik of the generation is on the level to act as a Neshama Kelalis for all the Jews of the generation. In contrast, Tzaddikim not on this level only act as a “mini-Neshama Kelalis” for their own disciples (see, for instance, this post).

This would seem to add explanation to the Rebbe’s famous statement (Hisva’aduyos 5746, Vol. 1, p. 343 and elsewhere): “The Nasi of the generation is the Moshiach of the generation.” Since Moshiach is a Neshama Kelalis that contains the souls of all the Jewish people, it is specifically the Tzaddik who is a Neshama Kelalis of this kind—viz., the Nasi of the generation—who qualifies as the Moshiach of the generation, the one who will merit to be revealed as Moshiach and actually bring the redemption if Hashem deems the generation worthy.


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