24 November 2015

Rav Shlomoh Zalman Auerbach and Rav Shmuel Hominer in Who is Moshiach and what will he accomplish?

The world is so messed up I wonder how will Moshiach do it?
This is going to be one BIG EVENT.

Who is Moshiach and What Will He Accomplish?

Moshiach is a Torah scholar descended from Dovid HaMelech who will reestablish the halachic Jewish monarchy in Eretz Yisroel and influence the entire Jewish people to observe halacha meticulously to the finest detail (Rambam, Hilchos Melachim, Chapter 11).

He will be wiser than his ancestor Shelomoh HaMelech, a prophet almost as great as Moshe Rabbeinu, will teach the entire people how to serve Hashem, and his advice will be sought by all the nations of the world (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 9:2).

He will gather the Jews who are presently scattered to all ends of the world, expand Jewish territory more than ever before, and rebuild the Beis HaMikdash. (This follows the approach of the Rambam, Hilchos Melachim Chapter 11.

There is a dispute whether the third Beis HaMikdash will be built under Moshiach’s supervision, or whether it will descend from Shamayim, see Rashi, Sukkah 41a; Yerushalmi, Maaser Sheni 5:2 and Meleches Shelomoh ad loc. There is also a dispute whether the ingathering of the exile is performed by Moshiach or occurs immediately prior to his arrival. We will find out for certain when the events unfold.)

After Moshiach establishes his dominion, there will be no more wars, famine, jealousy, or competition since the entire world will be filled with only one desire: to know Hashem and draw close to Him (Rambam, Hilchos Melachim, Chapter 12).

The fact that Moshiach is both the political leader of Klal Yisroel and also a leading talmid chacham, caused Rav Shmuel Hominer, a great tzadik and talmid chacham of the previous generation, to ask Rav Shlomoh Zalman Auerbach the following interesting shaylah, which I paraphrase:

"When we merit meeting Moshiach* (see footnote), we will be required to recite four brachos to praise Hashem upon the occasion: (1) Chacham HaRazim, The wise One who knows all secrets [which I will explain shortly]; (2) She’chalak Mei’chochmaso Li’rei’av, Who bestowed of His wisdom to those who fear Him; (3) She’chalak Mi’kevodo Li’rei’av, Who bestowed of His honor to those who fear Him; and (4) Shehechiyanu." Rav Hominer then proceeded to ask whether the second and third brachos, both of which begin with the word She’chalak should be recited as two separate brachos or are they combined into one bracha, She’chalak Mei’chochmaso u’mi’kevodo Li’rei’av, Who bestowed of His wisdom and honor to those who fear Him. Let me explain his question:

Chazal instituted that one who sees a Jewish king recites the bracha, Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam She’chalak Mi’kevodo Li’rei’av, that Hashem bestowed of His honor to those who fear Him; and a different, but similar, bracha when seeing a tremendous talmid chacham, Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam She’chalak Mei’chochmaso Li’rei’av, that He bestowed of His wisdom to those who fear Him (Gemara Brachos 58a).

Chazal also instituted the recital of similar brachos when one sees a non-Jewish king, She’nasan Mi’kevodo L’Basar Vadam, that Hashem gave honor to humans; and one when seeing a gentile scholar She’nasan Mei’chochmaso L’Basar Vadam, that Hashem gave wisdom to humans (Gemara Brachos 58a; Tur and Shulchan Aruch 224; cf. Rambam, Hilchos Brachos 10:11, who records a different text to these brachos.)

(Note that the brachos recited over a Jewish king or scholar use the word she’chalak whereas the brachos recited over gentiles use the word she’nasan. The word she’chalak implies that the recipient of this power or wisdom recognizes that they are gifts received from Hashem and that Hashem retains total control over them [Avudraham, quoted by Beis Yosef, Orach Chayim 224]. However, the gentile king or scholar views these Divine gifts as his own accomplishments and does not recognize Hashem’s ongoing involvement in his success.)

Since Moshiach will be both a king and a Torah scholar, Rav Hominer assumed that someone meeting him should recite both brachos. However, Rav Hominer queried whether these two similar brachos are combined into one bracha, She’chalak Mei’chochmaso U’mi’kevodo Li’rei’av that Hashem bestowed of His wisdom and honor to those who fear Him.

Rav Shlomoh Zalman replied that we do not combine these two brachos, even when seeing a Jewish king who is also a talmid chacham (Minchas Shlomoh 1:91:27). He points out that brachos are generally kept separate even when the themes are similar. As Rav Shlomoh Zalman points out, an earlier author, the Teshuvah Mei’Ahavah (2:237), discussed this same shaylah in the eighteenth century and reached the same conclusion.

It is noteworthy that several poskim contend that we no longer recite the bracha She’chalak Mei’chochmaso Li’rei’av upon seeing a noteworthy talmid chacham, maintaining that our generations no longer possess Torah scholars of the stature required to recite this bracha. (This approach is quoted by Shu"t Teshuvah Mei’Ahavah, 2:237; Ben Ish Chai, Parshas Eikev 1:13; and Aruch HaShulchan 224:6, whereas Chayei Adam 63:8; Kaf HaChayim 224:18; and Shu"t Shevet HaLevi, 10:13 rule that we do recite this bracha today.

Several anecdotes are recorded about great talmidei chachamim who recited the bracha upon seeing gedolim such as the Rogitzchover Gaon, the Chazon Ish, the Brisker Rav, and Rav Gustman. See, for example, Piskei Teshuvos, Chapter 224 footnote #17.) Nevertheless, both Rav Hominer and Rav Shlomo Zalman assumed that we will recite this bracha upon witnessing Moshiach, either because they held that we do recite this bracha today, or that Moshiach will clearly be a scholar of this league.

In the above-quoted correspondence with Rav Shlomoh Zalman, Rav Hominer, mentioned that we will recite two other brachos when greeting Moshiach: Baruch Chacham HaRazim and She’hechiyanu. What is the bracha of Baruch Chacham HaRazim?

The Gemara (Brachos 58a) records that someone who witnesses 600,000 Jews gathered together recites Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam Chacham HaRazim, the wise One who knows all secrets (Tur and Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 224:5). This bracha praises Hashem for creating such a huge multitude of people, each with his own unique personality and physical appearance. (The Gemara records a different bracha to recite when observing a similarly-sized large throng of gentiles.) The wording of the bracha notes that only Hashem knows the secrets that each of these people thinks (Rashi).

Rav Hominer pointed out that since the entire Jewish people will surround Moshiach, there will be no doubt at least 600,000 Jews together to enable saying this bracha. Note however, that we will recite this bracha upon seeing the huge crowd, and not recite the other two brachos until we actually see Moshiach.

* The Particular Brachot being spoken about herein can be found here
Yeshiva/Midrash by Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff

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