In Bilaam’s prophetic vision, he states,1 “There steps forth a star from Jacob and there arises a scepter out of Israel.” Targum Onkelos notes that this “star” alludes to Moshiach. The Jerusalem Talmud,2 however, learns that this term alludes to every Jew, inasmuch as Jews are likened to the stars. How do we reconcile these seemingly contradictory interpretations?

Actually, both meanings are correct. The star in our verse alludes to both Moshiach and to every Jew, as the Meor Aynayim3 writes, in name of Baal Shem Tov, that within each and every Jew there is a ‘spark’ of the soul of Moshiach. This reconciles both aforesaid interpretations. As such, every Jew today has the ability to rectify the ‘spark’ of Moshiach within the soul, which originates from the first human being — Adam. Adam (אדם) is an acrostic for: Adam (א), David (ד) and Moshiach (מ).

Since the Jerusalem Talmud makes its comment on the verse “there steps forth (a star)” and “there arises,” this indicates that it is a revealed aspect: Every Jew has the power to reveal the ‘spark’ of Moshiach within him.

In practical terms this means that everyone has the ability, through Torah and mitzvos — to hasten the actual revelation of Moshiach. For, through Torah and mitzvos one effects a refinement within himself and within the world at large, thereby decreasing — slowly but surely — the spirit of impurity,4 until we shall see the realization of the prophecy,5 “And the spirit of impurity I shall remove — completely — from the earth,” in the advent of Moshiach.

This personal and world refinement is also expressed in the Talmud with reference to the first Biblical commandment,6 “to procreate and have children”:

“The son of David (i.e. Moshiach) will not come until all souls will be brought forth from the spiritual treasure called ‘guf’ (“body” in the heavens above),” which at the time of birth, becomes vested into a physical, corporeal body.

It does not suffice that the neshamah, the soul, remain in its lofty soul-treasure called guf, or the way it stands beneath the Throne of Glory (from where all souls come forth), but the soul must descend to earth (through birth), and then must use the soul-powers to refine and elevate the materialistic world in and around the person. Through this endeavor we will bring Moshiach, a descendant of David.