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11 January 2018

Ben Zoma, Mashiach and Lucid Dreams

Brachot 12b – Ben Zoma, Mashiach and Lucid Dreams

Preamble by the author: last night I had a really powerful dream that Mashiach was coming/had come. I can’t recall much of it now, but I remember being amongst a big crowd, looking up in awe, lots of blue and white and also the feeling of elation/joy was so real – it’s hard for me to convey. Please God may he come speedily in our days. Amen.

At the end of the first chapter of Brachot, we encounter the famous Mishnah that we read at the Seder:

“Said Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya: “Consider, I am like a seventy-year-old, yet I did not merit that the Exodus from Egypt be said at night until Ben Zoma explained it,” as it says, “So that you will remember the day of your departure from the land of Egypt all the days of your life” — “the days of your life” [refers to] the days, while “all the days of your life” [refers to] the nights. However, the Sages say: “the days of your life” [refers to] this world, while “all the days of your life” [refers to] the Messianic era.”

The Gemara explains that the argument hinges on the miracles of the times of the Mashiach and how they are perceived against the miracles of the Exodus from Egypt.

Ben Zoma quoting Jeremiah explains that in the Messianic era:

‘…behold, the days will come, says God, that they shall no more say: ‘As God lives, [He] that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt but ‘As God lives, [He] that brought up and that led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them and they shall dwell in their own land.’ Jeremiah 23:7-8

The Exodus will be eclipsed by the future miracles and wonders of Mashiach!

The Rabbis disagree and say that although the future miracles and wonders will be awesome, lurking in the background we will still recall the wonders of the Exodus. (The Rabbis use the term ikar(principle) and tofel(secondary) – terms used in the laws of making a brachah on mixtures of foods ie. shmaltz herring on a cracker)

It is quite remarkable to be able to look back at the speculations and arguments of the Rabbis, with the perspective and privilege of living in a generation 2000 years later, where perhaps with humility we are able to make this judgement ourselves and ask ourselves the question, at Seder – have I fully contemplated and appreciated the miracles that God has done for us in our own times? How has this reflected itself in my own life, in my relationship with God? And most importantly, have I passed this appreciation [on] to my children and is this something we speak about as a family?

Who do you hold by?

Source: Reflections on the way to Mincha

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