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Is it correct to say “Moshiach must come in this generation”?

Related How do we understand Talmudic predictions of Moshiach?

The statement was made in a shiur I attended. I asked the maggid shiur how he could justify the statement. He asked me if I did not believe that Moshiach was coming. (Answer – of course I believe - Rambam's principles of faith no. 12; it's giving a time period that I worry about.) This made me doubt my thoughts which I present as a question to the community.

There seem to me to be two problems with saying now “Moshiach must come in this generation”.

One minor problem is that there is no definition of “generation”. But we could understand the Oxford English Dictionary word use

The average period, generally considered to be about thirty years, in which children grow up, become adults, and have children of their own.

So we could understand that Moshiach is to come within the next thirty years.

The other is that there is no need to believe the statement and it could be harmful.

Rambam's 12th principle is

"I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the messiah (mashiach), and though he may tarry, still I await him every day."

which places no date or time period on his coming.

Aish quotes sources that have a negative approach to attempts to calculate moshiach's arrival, The Talmud records:

Rabbi Shmuel ben Nachmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonaton: "May the spirit of those who calculate the end expire. For they say, "Since the pre-determined time has arrived, and [Moshiach] has yet to come, he will never come!" (Sanhedrin 97b)

and

Whoever forecasts the date of Moshiach's arrival has no place in the World to Come. (Derech Eretz 11)

Aish says further

We see that the Talmud is concerned about making calculations regarding the precise day for Moshiach's arrival, since errors in such calculations usually result in national disappointment, and perhaps, revelations of false messiahs.

Even the signs of Moshiach mentioned in Sotah 49b do not indicate a time period on it.

בעקבות משיחא חוצפא יסגא ויוקר יאמיר הגפן תתן פריה והיין ביוקר ומלכות תהפך למינות ואין תוכחת בית וועד יהיה לזנות והגליל יחרב והגבלן ישום ואנשי הגבול יסובבו מעיר לעיר ולא יחוננו וחכמות סופרים תסרח ויראי חטא ימאסו והאמת תהא נעדרת נערים פני זקנים ילבינו זקנים יעמדו מפני קטנים בן מנוול אב בת קמה באמה כלה בחמותה אויבי איש אנשי ביתו פני הדור כפני הכלב הבן אינו מתבייש מאביו

I asked one of my friends who replied in Yiddish די וואס ווייסט זאָגט ניט און די וואס זאָגט ווייסט ניט
Those that know don't say and those that say, don't know!

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    If such a claim followed from Maimonidies, and I could prove to you that anyone until 29 years ago who believed it believed a falsehood (and I can prove that), then that would imply one of the 13 ikkarim implies a falsehood which seems highly problematic. (In less formal speak: that Maggid Shiur is now "not recommended".) – Double AA Aug 11 '14 at 2:53
  • @DoubleAA The statement made by the maggid shiur related to the conditions of Sotah 49b being fulfilled now. For the past he could argue that they were not fulfilled. – Avrohom Yitzchok Aug 11 '14 at 16:50
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    This post asked about saying that statement based on Rambam's 12th principle. Such a derivation is fallacious, as I have shown above. If you want to deduce your statement from other sources, that is a whole 'nother question. I never said the statement was false; I said the derivation was. – Double AA Aug 11 '14 at 17:02
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    In my opinion, you have basically answered your own question. The statement made by the "maggid shiur" is simply nonsense, and harmful nonsense at that. – LazerA Aug 12 '14 at 20:03
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    see judaism.stackexchange.com/a/68776/1012 – wfb Mar 1 '16 at 17:38
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You are blurring two different issues. One is the subject of calculating end times, time limits when things must happen versus the second subject of how we as individuals are to view the subject of the coming of Moshiach.

The subject of calculating 'end times' is complex and merits a discussion by itself.

But based on the title of your main question however, each of us is to view when Moshiach will come exactly as it states in Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a, (היום אם בקולו תשמעו) "Today, if you will listen to His voice."

For many people this seems to place the subject in a very abstract and theoretical domain. Meaning Moshiach's coming is a theoretical possibility but has little relationship to concrete, day to day reality. It is very far away.

To this the Lubavitcher Rebbe advises that one should bear in mind that according to Niglah, the revealed, legal parts of the Torah, the coming of Moshiach literally, is a tangible reality of which one is required to be constantly aware.

See: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=15828&st=&pgnum=15

From a simple perspective, that is certainly viewed as 'in this generation'.

For those who don't read Hebrew, my translation from the link above which is from Rebbe's own writing is as follows:

The redemption is like the blink of an eye.

When speaking about concepts connected with Moshiach, there are those that reason these things are like the language found in Gemara Sanhedrin 51b and Zevachim 45a, "Halacha for the days of Moshiach". (Trans. Note: meaning it has no practical purpose currently)

It is necessary to know that these things are not so. And the proof is from the revealed part of Torah (Tran. Note: meaning Halacha)

There is a view found in Ta'anit 17a and Rambam, Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 1:7 which reasons that a Kohen is prohibited from drinking wine during the current day (HaZman HaZeh) because the Temple will be built quickly and intoxication is prohibited in regard to "Avodah".

Metabolizing the effects of intoxication from wine is possible in two ways according to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 99:2.

1) Sleep.

2) Waiting the time it takes to walk a "mil". (Trans. note: between 960 meters and 1150 meters)

This time period is 18 minutes. The maximum opinion for the time it takes to walk a "mil" is 24 minutes according to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 459:2.

From here is where a proof is found according to the revealed Torah. That over a brief time, less than the time to walk a "mil", that at most is 23 minutes and 59 seconds, Moshiach is made to come with the completed Beit HaMikdash and it will be necessary (for the Kohanim) to be available immediately for the Avodah.

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Well I agree with you.

The main saying says that we shall wait for him on anyday that he will come. That means today he MIGHT come and I have to get ready for him today! But saying that he has to come NOW or in this generation is problematic because if you look in our history we said that a lot and fell many times because of that. * Rabbi Akiva though that Bar Cochva was the meshiach. * Many fell under the impression that Shabtai Tzvi was the Meshiach *etc.

I disagree only with what you brough from Aish, because the Gr'a (Ga'on from Vilna) in Kol h-Tor tried to give dates for when the meshiach will come. His exuse was that the saying that you can't give dates is when the Meshiach is far from our generation. The reason why when the meshiach is far you can't give a date is because the people's spirits will fall.

By the way this shows us that we can not blame any one for being wrong on these issues. We see that Rabbi Akiva and the Gr'a dates were wrong. While these were part of our great leaders. (eventhough i heard a lesson how Rabbi Akiva was not totally wrong)

In a personal note: I believe that it doesn't matter to much to believe that he might come today and we have to get ready to the believe that he will come today! (there is no Nafka Mina)

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