A Comprehensive Soul


The soul of Mashiach comprises the souls of the entire Jewish people. This is what enables him to redeem all of Israel from exile.

Mashiach, as is known,2 is the all-embracing yechidah of the Jewish people. [For, unique among the five levels of every soul, the yechidah within a soul is its sublime and innermost essence. To consider these five levels in ascending order:] King David was the all-embracing nefesh of the Jewish people; the Prophet Eliyahu was the ruach; Moshe Rabbeinu was the neshamah; Adam was the chayah; and the yechidah will be bestowed upon Mashiach.

At the same time, within every Jew there is a spark of the soul of Mashiach.3 This spark is the yechidah within him, which is a spark of the comprehensive yechidah.

Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XX, p. 522

Utter Humility (i)

Mashiach will be distinguished by extreme humility. Though he will be exceedingly exalted, and though he will study Torah together with the Patriarchs and with Moshe Rabbeinu,4 he will be utterly humble and self-effacing and will teach simple folk, too.

This explains why Mashiach is known by the name of King David, as in the prophecy concerning the End of Days,5 “And My servant David will be king over them.” For David was so exceedingly humble and self-effacing, that though he was a king he referred to himself as6 “poor and needy.”

Sefer HaMaamarim 5699 [1939], p. 194

Utter Humility (ii)

The Talmudic Sages7 speak of two possible ways in which Mashiach can come: (a) עם ענני שמיא — “with the clouds of heaven”;8 (b) עני ורוכב על חמור — as “a poor man riding on a donkey.”9

It may be suggested that these are not mutually-exclusive alternatives. Rather, Mashiach will be both powerfully exalted (“on the clouds of heaven”) and humbly self-effacing (“a poor man riding on a donkey”).

From a talk of the Rebbe on Shabbos Parshas Kedoshim, 5744 [1984]

Utter Humility (iii)

The Midrash teaches,10 “The donkey represents the King Mashiach; as it is written,9 ‘a poor man riding on a donkey.’ ”

This teaching unites two polar opposites — “the King Mashiach,” representing sovereign power, and “a poor man riding on a donkey,” representing self-effacing humility.

Sefer HaSichos 5749 [1989], Vol. I, p. 109

More Exalted than Moshe (i)

The sovereignty of Mashiach will be more elevated than that of Moshe Rabbeinu. For the Gemara teaches11 that Mashiach will “judge by his sense of smell,” whereas a king is permitted to judge only according to the testimony of witnesses. (The concept of “judging by the sense of smell” applies to Mashiach in his capacity as king, not in his capacity as prophet, for a prophet may not judge.)

The above observation throws light on the two views cited by the Sages12 on the verse,13 “Behold My servant will prosper; he shall be uplifted and exalted, and held very high.” According to one view, Mashiach will be “more exalted than Yitzchak”; according to the other view, Mashiach will be “more exalted than Moshe.” The first view speaks of his gift of prophecy, and in this he will not be greater than Moshe;14 the second view speaks of his sovereignty, and in this he will be greater even than Moshe Rabbeinu.

Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe, Vol. IV, p. 181

More Exalted than Moshe (ii)

Mashiach has a certain superiority even over Moshe Rabbeinu. On the phrase at the beginning of the Torah,15 “and the spirit of G‑d hovered...,” the Sages teach,16 “This alludes to the spirit of the King Mashiach.” That verse continues, “...over the surface of the waters”; this intimates a level higher than that of Moshe, who was so called17 “because from the water I drew him.”

And that is why this exile is so prolonged — in order that this lofty state be finally attained.

The Maamarim of the Alter Rebbe on the Parshiyos, p. 237

More Exalted than Moshe (iii)

A tradition handed down in manuscript18 recounts that the Tzemach Tzedek once delivered a maamar which implied that Moshe Rabbeinu was loftier than Mashiach. He was distressed by this, and fell asleep.

The Alter Rebbe then appeared to him in a dream and said: “Moshe Rabbeinu has a unique distinction and so too does Mashiach. Moshe was a physician with practical experience, and that is why the practical mitzvos were given through him; Mashiach is not a physician with practical experience, and that is why he will reveal the pnimiyus, the innermost dimension, of the Torah.”

From a talk of the Rebbe on the Last Day of Pesach, 5711 [1951]

Mentor and King


Mashiach is referred to as both a mentor and a king.

He is called a mentor, because in his spirit of wisdom and understanding he will teach all of Israel the reasons hidden within the Torah; he will teach the hidden wisdom known as chochmah stumah.

He is called a king, because there will remain within him an unseen transcendence over all the souls of Israel; and since their understanding will be unable to accommodate this superrational aspect of his, his directives will resemble royal decrees.

The latter explanation of the role of Mashiach throws light on the Talmudic teaching20 that Mashiach will come unexpectedly, when the Jewish people’s mind is momentarily diverted from his coming. Taken literally, the original phrase בהיסח הדעת means something like “in the absence of understanding,” implying that the fundamental sovereignty of Mashiach transcends understanding.

The Maamarim of the Alter Rebbe on the Nevi’im, p. 4

Of the Seed of David and Solomon

The Rambam writes that the King Mashiach is descended21 “from the House of David and from the seed of Solomon.”

The former phrase is to be expected, since royalty in Israel stems primarily from the House of David. But what is to be learned from the latter phrase?

An answer that could be suggested lies in the contrast between the war-scarred times of King David, (as G‑d tells him,22 “You have shed blood abundantly,”) and the peaceful reign of Solomon, which in fact gave him his name.23 This reign was a foretaste of the perfect peace of the Days of Mashiach.

This could be explained by the perfect wisdom of Solomon, for24 “the wisdom of Solomon (‘the wisest of men’) surpassed all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.” By virtue of his towering wisdom,25 “all the sages of the nations stood as if nullified before it, and not by means of war”; indeed, the nations of the world brought him sparks of holiness [that had been scattered and hidden throughout the world]. (An example is the visit of the Queen of Sheba,26 as explained in Chassidus.) This state was a foretaste of the perfect peace of the future time, when27 “they shall not hurt nor destroy..., for the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d....”

This is related to the state of perfect sovereignty, as in the time of Solomon, who28 “sat on the throne of G‑d” in tranquillity and peace, in contrast to the sovereignty of David, which suffered provocations and challenges.

We can now understand the point of the added phrase quoted above, “...and from the seed of Solomon.” The unique standing of Mashiach will relate both to the distinctive characteristic of David, i.e., sovereignty, and to the distinctive characteristic of Solomon, i.e., peace. For the sovereignty of Mashiach will be so complete, including the attribute of wisdom that characterizes perfect sovereignty, that he will be wiser than Solomon.28 Of him it is likewise written,29 “The spirit of...wisdom and understanding shall rest upon him,” and he will teach the innermost, mystical dimension of the Torah to the entire Jewish people.

From a talk of the Rebbe on Shabbos Parshas Emor, 5751 [1991]

Teaching the Innermost Dimension of the Torah (i)

Mashiach will teach all of Israel the mystical depths of the Torah and the reasons hidden within the Torah which will be revealed in the future time. This is alluded to in the verse,30 “He kisses me with the kisses of His mouth,” on which Rashi writes, “There is a promise from G‑d that He will again appear to [the Jewish people] to explain them its secret reasons and hidden mysteries.”

This cannot mean that at the time of that Divine revelation Mashiach will teach the revealed levels of the Torah, for the Resurrection of the Dead will revive Moshe Rabbeinu and all the mighty sages of the generations — and they already know the Torah. It is thus clear that the level of the Torah that will be studied at that time is its pnimiyus, its innermost and mystical dimension, which is more extensive that the whole world, and which embodies endless ascents.

Likkutei Torah, Tzav, p. 17a

Teaching the Innermost Dimension of the Torah (ii)

Moshe Rabbeinu’s apprehension of Divinity was at the coveted level called vision, as is hinted at in the verse,31 וירא ראשית לו (lit., “He saw the first for himself”). Moreover, he desired to make this level of apprehension accessible to the Jewish people, as it is written,32 אעברה נא ואראה את הארץ. (On the straightforward level of pshat, this phrase means, “Let me go over, and see the land.” As expounded in Chassidus on the mystical level of pnimiyus, these words intimate Moshe Rabbeinu’s request to make the direct level of apprehension called vision available to the entire House of Israel, who are known as33 ארץ חפץ — “the Land of [G‑d’s] Desire.”) His wish was not granted; as he continues in his parting address a few verses later,34 “And now, Israel, listen to the statutes...,” implying an inferior and less direct mode of apprehension.

In time to come, however, Mashiach will reveal direct visual perception to all the souls of Israel; in the words of the prophecy,35 “As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I (G‑d) will show [the people] wonders.”

The future revelation of the hidden reasons for the commandments will likewise be at the level of direct visual perception.

An instance of learning at the visual level may be seen in an experience recounted of the AriZal.36 It once happened that while visiting the Heavenly Academy37 during his sleep on the day of Shabbos, he learned wondrous insights into the episode of Balak and Bilaam. He later told his disciples that eighty years would not suffice for him to convey to them what he had learned in an hour or two. For his apprehension was at the level of vision, which transcends by far the kind of thinking that can be expressed in reason and articulated in letters.

Likkutei Torah, Tzav, p. 17b

Teaching the Innermost Dimension of the Torah (iii)

It is explained in Chassidus that Mashiach will teach the Torah to the entire people, including Moshe Rabbeinu. (This accords with the statements in the Midrash38 that Mashiach will be greater than Moshe Rabbeinu.39 )

Now, the Torah testifies that40 “There never since arose a prophet in Israel like Moshe.” In this spirit, too, the Rambam writes that Mashiach will be41 “a prophet close to Moshe Rabbeinu.” It will be noted, however, that both these quotations relate specifically to the gift of prophecy,42 not to the study of Torah. This distinction is particularly significant with reference to the innermost dimension of the Torah — its pnimiyus — which will be taught by Mashiach. For this mystical nucleus of the Torah is its innermost soul, its yechidah, which is thus the province of Mashiach, whose soul is the sublime nucleus of the souls of the entire Jewish people, their all-embracing yechidah.43

From a letter of the Rebbe published in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, p. 351

The Lofty Worth of a Simple Jew (i)

The Tzemach Tzedek once said that Mashiach will delight in the company of unscholarly, self-sacrificing Jews. A unique chamber will be set aside for them, and they will be envied by the greatest of intellectuals.

Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. IV, p. 148

The Lofty Worth of a Simple Jew (ii)

When Mashiach comes, everyone will recognize the lofty worth of the hodaah (the acknowledgment of G‑d rooted in pure faith) and temimus (the artless earnestness) with which all Jews believe in G‑d and His Torah and His commandments. The study of Torah44 is basically mortal comprehension, which even at its highest level is finite. By contrast, the acknowledgment of G‑d rooted in faith is a feeling which is boundless. Mashiach will explain the ultimate superiority of temimus, of artless and earnest avodah springing from the heart.

HaYom Yom, p. 9, entry for 5 Teves

The Lofty Worth of a Simple Jew (iii)

When Mashiach comes, the simple and artless earnestness with which unscholarly Jews serve G‑d and pray and read Tehillim, will be recognized in its true worth.

Sefer HaMaamarim 5699 [1939], p. 194

Concern for Every Jew

The Midrash45 relates that when Moshe Rabbeinu noticed one day that a lamb had run away from the flock and had strayed in the wilderness, he left the flock and ran after it in order to bring it back. From this we can learn how meaningful every Jew is in the eyes of Moshe Rabbeinu, even if he is a Jew who has run away from the flock....

And since46 “the first redeemer is also the last redeemer,” it is clear that what is true of Moshe Rabbeinu is likewise true of Mashiach — every Jew, wherever he may be, is precious.

Moreover, if Moshe Rabbeinu acted in this spirit even before the Giving of the Torah, how much more so should one act in this spirit after the Giving of the Torah, for this was the time at which47 “You chose us from among all the nations.”

From a talk of the Rebbe on the Last Day of Pesach, 5743 [1983]

The First Redeemer and the Last Redeemer

As the Midrash46 teaches, משה הוא גואל ראשון, הוא גואל אחרון — “Moshe is the first redeemer and he is also last redeemer.”

This does not mean that Moshe Rabbeinu himself will be the “final redeemer,” because he belongs to the tribe of Levi, while Mashiach is of the tribe of Judah (being descended from the royal House of David). The meaning, rather, is that Mashiach will come by virtue of Moshe. For the capability to redeem the people of Israel derives from the Torah, which is48 תורת משה — “the Torah of Moshe,” just as it is by means of the Torah that Israel is able to bring about the Redemption.

This integral connection between Mashiach and Moshe is also hinted at on the level of gematria. The letters of יבא שילה (meaning “Shiloh shall come,” a phrase which alludes to Mashiach49 ) are numerically equal to the letters of משיח (Mashiach), while the letters of שליה are numerically equal to the letters of משה (Moshe).50 For the two words יבא שילה (“Shiloh shall come”) refer to the revelation and actual coming of Mashiach; they therefore equal משיח (Mashiach). The name Shiloh, however, refers to him at the stage before he “shall come,” i.e., to the power [in the Torah of Moshe] which makes possible the coming of Mashiach; the letters of שילה are therefore numerically equal to the letters of משה (Moshe).

Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XI, p. 8

Moshe plus One = Mashiach

The letters of the name משה (Moshe) plus the letters of the word אחד (“One”, alluding to the all-encompassing Unity of G‑d) are numerically equal to the letters of the word משיח (Mashiach).

Sefer HaSichos 5696 [1936], p. 330

* * *

The Rebbe explains the above teaching as follows:

The coming of Mashiach will be brought about by avodah on the level of Echad (as defined below), and the power to carry out this avodah is given to us by Moshe. This is why the letters of the name משה (Moshe) plus the letters of the word אחד (referring to the avodah itself) is the gematria equivalent of משיח (Mashiach).

To clarify: The Redemption will come by virtue of our endeavors (throughout the era of exile) in refining and purifying the material world to the extent that the world itself, worldly and material as it is, becomes refined and elevated. The concept of Echad really means that even though the world has a tangible existence, it is nevertheless incorporated within its Maker in an indivisible unity. This inseparability in hinted at in the very letters of the word אחד,51 in which the daled represents the four directions of the world, the ches represents the seven heavens and the earth, and the alef represents G‑d Himself, Who is known as Alufo shel Olam (“the L‑rd of the World”).52

We were given the power to carry out this avodah — relating to the world out of an awareness of the dimension of Echad which suffuses it — at the Giving of the Torah, “the Torah of Moshe.”48 At that time it was made possible for us to transform the world itself into holiness.

Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XI, p. 9

Heating the Frozen Seas

A certain illustrious scholar once visited the Alter Rebbe and asked that he turn him into a chassid.

“That I cannot do,” replied the Alter Rebbe; “the frozen seas will be warmed up by Mashiach....”

Sefer HaSichos 5703 [1943], p. 6

Secrets within Secrets

As is widely known, there are four levels of Scriptural interpretation — pshat, remez, derush and sod. The pshat of a verse is its straightforward meaning; the remez of a verse is an allusive message which is hinted at indirectly; derush is the non-literal level of homiletical interpretation; and sod is the mystical, superrational dimension illuminated by the teachings of the Kabbalah.

The following teaching regarding these four levels has been passed down to us by the chassidim of an earlier generation in the name of the Tzemach Tzedek:

Each of the four levels of interpretation incorporates all of the other levels. Within the level of sod, for example, there is the pshat within sod, the remez within sod, the derush within sod, and the sod within sod. The pshat within sod was revealed by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai; the remez within sod was revealed by the AriZal; the derush within sod was revealed by the Baal Shem Tov; and the sod within sod will be revealed by Mashiach.

Transmitted by oral tradition

The Fragrance of Mashiach

One day, some time after the saintly Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Horodok (formerly of Vitebsk) had settled in Eretz Yisrael, he heard a great tumult in the street. When he asked what it was all about, he was told that a Shofar blast had been heard from the top of a high mountain, and people said that this was the long-awaited Shofar of Mashiach. (In fact, as was later found out, the blast had been the doing of some crazed individual who had climbed to the top of the mountain.)

The tzaddik opened his window and said, “No, he hasn’t come; I can’t smell the fragrance of Mashiach.”

Chassidim at the time asked one another, “Why did Reb Menachem Mendel have to open the window?”

And they answered, “Because his room was always infused with the fragrance of Mashiach.”

Transmitted by oral tradition

His Name is Chayim

The Chumash with the commentary of Rabbi Chayim ben Attar entitled Or HaChayim was printed in Shklov in the year 5545 [1745] — with two typographical errors.

(a) In the passage which speaks of the sotah, a woman suspected of adultery, there is a verse that says,53 ואמרה האשה אמן אמן — “And the woman shall say, Amen, Amen.” In the course of his commentary, 54 the author of Or HaChayim cites the interpretation of the Sages55 on this dual oath — that she has not transgressed “by this man or by another man” — and concludes his paraphrase with the word מאחר (“by another”). In the above-mentioned edition, this word is replaced by the word מאשר.

(b) There is a verse which begins,56 כי יהי-ה אביון — “If there should be a needy man among you....” Expounding on the level of derush, the author of Or HaChayim relates this verse to the yearning of Mashiach to redeem Israel, and concludes with the words, משיח ה', שמו חיים — “G‑d’s anointed one: his name is Chayim.” In the above-mentioned edition, the last two Hebrew words are omitted.

These two printing errors have a history. In fact, they are connected.

As is well known, the author of Or HaChayim believed that his soul was a spark of the soul of Mashiach, and one of the allusions to this belief which he inserted in his writings is the above mention of his own name. Now the publisher of this edition was a clandestine adherent of the “Enlightenment” movement by the name of Asher. The above allusion to the coming of Mashiach ruffled the disbelief of this maskil, so, while alone in the printing house, he deleted the words, שמו חיים — “his name is Chayim.”

An old tradition recounts that the saintly author of Or HaChayim in Gan Eden sensed this at once, and decided: “Since this scoundrel has deleted my name from my book, I will insert his name there instead!”

Then and there, the letter ches in the above-quoted oath of the wayward woman was miraculously substituted by the letter shin, so that the word מאחר (“by another man”) now read מאשר...

A very short while later, a woman brought to the Rabbinical Court of Shklov on an adultery charge duly confessed: מאשר — “...by Asher!”

Transmitted by oral tradition

A Mashiach whom Everyone will Believe In

A gentile landlord once asked a chassid: “What will you do if your Mashiach comes and I won’t believe in him?”

Replied the chassid: “If you won’t believe in him, I won’t believe in him either!”

Transmitted by oral tradition