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The Maharal of Prague, in his sefer Netzach Yisrael (26:12) writes (quoted by Rabbi Yitzchok Sorotzkin in sefer Keitz HaYamin, Vol. 1, p. 14):

ולכך המשיח גדל בבירת ערבא - Moshiach will grow up [be groomed] in Arabia (my own translation)

The Maharal explains in great detail that Moshiach will overcome Yishmael, but he does not seem to explain what it means that Moshiach will be groomed in Arabia.

Are there any explanations on this Maharal? What does it mean that Moshiach will be groomed in Arabia? Has it perhaps something to do with the fact that just like Moshe Rabbeinu was groomed in the house of pharao, so too Moshiach will be groomed in the house of Yishmael?

Rav Daniel Glatstein shlita (Magid HaRakiah, Nisan, Pesach, Hagadah Shel Pesach, p. 364) explains that the final exile is rooted in the first exile, e.g. Mitzrayim. One opinion on why we were exiled to Mitzrayim is because we sold Yosef to the Yishmaelim. So, just as the first exile came because of the Yishmaelim, so too the final exile will.

As always, the more sources, the better!

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  • IIRC, R' Y.E Weintraub (Tekufos Saaros Eliyahu) quotes sources that 'ערביא' doesn't refer to Arabia or Arabs, but to עירוב רב, who he considers a certain sect of religious Judaism with hashkafa that runs unreconcilably contrary to authentic Torah belief.
    – chortkov2
    Commented Jan 15 at 18:36
  • @chortkov2 nice idea, very nice. Would you be able to locate the location of it and put it into an answer?
    – Shmuel
    Commented Jan 15 at 18:49
  • @chortkov2 I checked Tekufos Saaros Eliyahu by searching for Eirev Rav and Arabia but nothing shows up.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Jan 15 at 19:37
  • I attempted to find it again unsuccessfully. Will bli neder try find the source.
    – chortkov2
    Commented Jan 16 at 21:33
  • @chortkov2 wonderful. Please feel free to answer my latest question on this specifically and I will award the points :)
    – Shmuel
    Commented Jan 16 at 22:10

1 Answer 1

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The Maharal is explicitly referring to a well-known aggadah about the birth of Mashiach after the destruction of the Temple. In the Yerushalmi his birth was stated to be in Birat Malka of Beit Lechem of Yehudah and in Eicha Rabbah it's Birat Arava of Beit Lechem of Yehudah.1 Either way, this place was somewhere in Judea. In the aggadah, the Mashiach is said to have been born there and after he grew a little, a strong wind swept him away.

Among researchers it's debated where Birat Malka and Birat Arava were located. Some have suggested perhaps identifying the latter with Kiryat Arabiya (קרית ערבייה), a place mentioned in the Bar Kochva documents, but this is not agreed by everyone.

The Maharal offers a symbolic interpretation of the place-name, connecting it to the Arabs (interestingly enough, the story in the aggadah opens with an Arab informing a Jew that: a. The Temple has been destroyed. b. The Mashiach has been born). As the Maharal wrote one paragraph prior, it is, indeed, as you guessed, related to the birth of Moshe. The Redeemer has to be raised among the nation he is going to defeat, because if that nation enslaves Yisrael, that means they have a היעדר (absence, void), which will allow the Redeemer to cause that nation to become absent (=disappear).


1 A third variation of the aggadah appears in Rabbi Moshe Ha'darshan's Beresheet Rabbati 30:41 (Albeck edition, pp. 130-131). One of the differences is that the birthplace is stated to simply be Beit Lechem of Yehudah. A second textual witness of the Beresheet Rabbati version appeared in a Yemenite manuscript that used to be owned by Rabbi Yehudah Leib Fishman-Maimon, and it was printed in Yehudah Even-Shmuel's Midrashei Geulah, pp. 304-305 under the title 'Ma'aseh Eliyahu' (that's how it was called in the manuscript). There, the birthplace is also said to be simply in Beit Lechem of Yehudah. The whereabouts of Rabbi Maimon's original manuscript are not currently known.

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  • Very nice answer @Harel13. Kol HaKavod! If I might ask: I still have trouble getting the meaning behind his words in the previous paragraph. What is this absence and will Moshiach fill that absence? Could you please also explain what the Bereishis Rabasi is telling?
    – Shmuel
    Commented Jan 15 at 19:18
  • I'll try to explain the subject of the העדר when I'll have more time. The Beresheet Rabbati is really just a side-note, he brings a variant of the story where the main character isn't an anonymous Jew but Eliyahu, who goes out to seek the baby mashiach, but shortly after finding him, he learns that he was swept by a powerful wind and thinks there's no hope for the Jews, until Hashem calms him down. I only mentioned it because of the variant birthplace of the Mashiach (I studied the variants of the story last year while writing a seminary paper).
    – Harel13
    Commented Jan 16 at 20:19
  • thank you. The "side-note" really got my interest. Do you know if I can find an English translation somewhere of that Bereishit Rabbati or from that idea?
    – Shmuel
    Commented Jan 16 at 20:23
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    Yup, there's an English translation here (with some academic discussion): academia.edu/32814064/…
    – Harel13
    Commented Jan 16 at 20:40

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