I returned home from a trip abroad last week and found the following letter in my mailbox. I asked my neighbors if they had seen who might have put it there, but no one had a clue (not many people are out strolling in our lovely summer swelter).
So I share this with you, as requested by the author.
Dear Fellow Jew: Although I, and my predecessors, have been quiet for many, many centuries, I have decided to finally share some of my thoughts with you all.
This is a unique generation, one that has seen the Jewish people finally reacquire its own home and grow to where its place in the world is secure and established.
History – both Jewish and the world’s – is at a crucial stage right now; on the one hand very dangerous, yet on the other hand extremely dynamic and destiny-driven. So I am coming “out of the shadows” a bit to offer some words of encouragement and enlightenment.
I wasn’t sure just how to actually communicate with you. I know the electronic media is “where it’s at” today – yes, I have picked up some of the vernacular here and there! – and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., are all probably quicker and more efficient. But I’m an old-fashioned person, to say the least, who’s always gone by the book, so I decided to put these sentiments in letter form.
Let me start by clearing up a couple of things. First, you may be surprised to learn that I actually do exist – right here, right now. Fact is, there is a “Moshiach” – if that’s what you want to call me – in each and every generation. We live, we die, and we pass on our mantle to the next Moshiach to carry on our mission.
We are kind of “saviors-in-waiting,” biding our time until the moment is right, when all the systems are “go.” We are at the ready to step up and do our part – if and when that moment arrives. More on this later.
I also want to tell you that while I can’t reveal my exact location and identity – that’s part of the rules – I currently reside in Israel. Former Moshiachs have lived in lots of other places, from Cairo to Constantinople, in Rome, Rabat, Russia and, well, every place where Jews lived and struggled and prayed fervently for us to appear. But now it’s become pretty clear that we need to be right here in Israel, because that was always meant to be our jumping-off point. Why so many Jews refuse to come home, at long last, to the place where we belong is simply beyond me – and I’m supposed to have the answers to every unanswerable question! For a long time, I “pitched my tent” at the back of the Kotel. You probably saw me there but never took notice. I love to watch the throngs of people, every kind of Jew and non-Jew, come there to spiritually recharge. But I must sadly admit that I don’t go there much anymore.
Too much commotion, too many egos focused only on themselves and their own private agendas, rather than on what’s beyond the Wall. There’s actually more energy there than ever before – I can somehow feel these things – but it’s an energy that goes sideways more often than upward.
I also want to tell you that I am not – definitely not – superhuman. I’m flesh and blood, just like you. I breathe, eat, feel pain and joy, heat and cold. True, I do have some special qualities, but then, don’t we all? Could we have gotten this far down the path of history if we weren’t – each and every one of us – gifted with incredible strengths, eternal faith and an indestructible soul? So please, don’t expect me to leap tall buildings in a single bound or make mountains disappear.
In point of fact, my strength is directly commensurate with your own.
When you, as a people, are strong and stalwart and united, I am energized and raring to go. But when you are splintered, divided, fractured and antagonistic toward one another, then I have little or no strength to do my job. Perhaps that’s why I’m descended from my great-great-ancestor David and his son Solomon. That was about the last time we Jews were all on the same page. But then it all came unraveled.
I and my fellow Moshiachs have watched and agonized over this syndrome for millennia: Kingdom of Israel vs Kingdom of Judea, Babylonians vs Jerusalemites, Sadducees vs Pharisees, Hasmoneans vs Hellenists, hassidim vs mitnagdim, maskilim vs traditionalists, secular vs religious. It seems as though one of the few places we Jews came together as one was at – dare I say the word? – Auschwitz.
Now, I’m not saying diversity is bad.
After all, we were designated early on as separate tribes, and we have religious (e.g. kohen, Levi, Yisrael), cultural (e.g., Sephardi, Ashkenazi) and gender distinctions.
That just makes for a fascinating tapestry of Jewish life. The trouble is, we’re always much more focused on what divides us rather than on what brings us together. And that’s a dilemma, frankly, that I can’t solve – that’s up to you.
I’m nothing if not patient; I think I’ve proven that. But without giving away too much – that would be against our creed – I can tell you that things are coming to a head. We’re fast approaching the moment of decision, when each of you will have to act – or be acted upon. According to the rules set up for me long ago, I can appear on the scene only when things are as bad as they can possibly get, or as good as they can be.
Which scenario will come to pass, you ask? That, my fellow Jew, is entirely in your hands. I pray you make the right choice.
Faithfully yours, Moshiach The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana and a member of the Ra’anana City Council; email@example.com