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    What’s keeping the Messiah? – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why has the Messiah not come yet?

    King David playing his harp - by Domenico Zampieri

    A. Everything happens in God’s good time (Isa. 60:22). The prophet Isaiah says, hama’amin lo yachish, “The believer must not be in a hurry” (Isa. 28:16).

    According to the Chassidim, the Rimanover Rabbi assured his disciples before his death that he would refuse to enter Gan Eden unless God agreed to send Mashi’ach. But it was not time for the redemption, so King David was told to play his harp at the gateway to Paradise, and the music was so entrancing that despite himself the rabbi moved into Paradise… and the Messiah did not come.

    Realising what had happened, the Oheler Rabbi said, “When I die, they won’t trick me with David’s harp!” But the messianic era had still not arrived and they did a deal with the rabbi. He was told, “Just give us one d’rashah, one discourse, and when it is over Mashi’ach will be sent onto the earth.”

    Of course it took a little time to assemble the heavenly audience, but when he began speaking the rabbi was so inspired that… he is still speaking, and the Messiah has not come (“The Hasidic Anthology”, ed. LI Newman, 1963, p. 249).

    What does the story tell us about why the Messiah has not yet come? Perhaps that we are so entranced by the melody of the happier times in life that we forget the thought of redemption. Or that when we do remember we are so taken up with talk that we neglect the practical work of paving the way for the messianic future.

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