Living On Edge

“…They shall take to you a perfectly red heifer…” – Bamidbar 19:2

וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ פָרָה אֲדֻמָּה תְּמִימָה – במדבר יט, ב

The Rambam’s compendium of Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah, is famous for its precise wording and organization. It is therefore most unusual that in the midst of a discussion on the laws of the Parah Adumah, the ashes of the red heifer that were used for ritual purification, the Rambam interrupts with a prayer for the immediate revelation of Moshiach.

Parashat Chukat

In the Laws of Parah Adumah (3:4), the Rambam writes:

Nine red heifers were offered from the time that they were commanded to fulfill this mitzvah until the second destruction of the Temple. The first was brought by Moshe. The second was brought by Ezra. Seven others were offered until the destruction of the Temple. And the tenth will be brought by the King Moshiach, may he speedily be revealed. Amen, so may it be G-d’s will.

What place is there for a wishful prayer in the middle of a text on Jewish law? And what’s more, not while discussing the laws related to the coming of Moshiach, but in the midst of an entirely unrelated topic!

Evidently, with this “spontaneous” prayer the Rambam intended to teach us yet another law, the fulfillment of which is expressed by such spontaneity.

In Hilchos Melachim (11:1), the Rambam writes in that it is a fundamental principle of the Jewish faith to believe in the future redemption of the Jewish people through Moshiach, and to constantly long for Moshiach’s arrival. The obligation to yearn for Moshiach, not only conceptually but also emotionally, means that a Jew must sense that the redemption of the Jewish people is a critical need; without it, his life severely lacking and incomplete. He therefore anxiously awaits the coming of Moshiach, to the extent that the mere mention of the topic is be deeply emotional for him.


This explains why the Rambam inserted the prayer for the immediate revelation Moshiach specifically in the midst of an entirely unrelated set of laws, merely upon the mention of the word Moshiach. In doing so, the Rambam demonstrated that our intense yearning for the Redemption must be such that the mere mention of Moshiach triggers heartfelt prayers for his immediate arrival, may he speedily be revealed. Amen, so may it be G-d’s will.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 28, pp. 135-136


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