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Rabbi Yochanan tells us that “אין בן דוד בא, אלא בדור שכולו זכאי, או כולו חייב”. “the son of David (Mashiach) comes only in a generation that all the people have merits or in a generation that all are wicked ”

What does Rabbi Yochanan mean by that? Could one hasten the coming of redemption by spreading wickedness?

It seems to me more straightforward and faster to bring all people to wickedness than (as in Daniel 12:3) many/all to righteousness. Do any sources discuss this approach in earnest?

  • You want to know specifically about causing people to be wicked, or what the meaning of Rabbi Yochanan's statement is? – Y     e     z Feb 11 '15 at 13:33
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    why is it easy to bring everyone to wickedness? i think many will not listen to you – user813801 Feb 11 '15 at 13:39
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You can't possibly find any classic Jewish sources that discuss making people wicked - for any reason.

Firstly: One of the ways to lose your portion in the world to come is by making other people sin.

See Rambam Hil. Teshuva 3:6:

ו: וְאֵלּוּ הֵן שֶׁאֵין לָהֶן חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֶלָּא נִכְרָתִים וְאוֹבְדִין וְנִדּוֹנִין עַל גֹּדֶל רִשְׁעָם וְחַטָּאתָם לְעוֹלָם וּלְעוֹלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים. הַמִּינִים. וְהָאֶפִּיקוֹרוֹסִין. וְהַכּוֹפְרִים בַּתּוֹרָה. וְהַכּוֹפְרִים בִּתְחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים וּבְבִיאַת הַגּוֹאֵל. הַמּוֹרְדִים. וּמַחֲטִיאֵי הָרַבִּים. וְהַפּוֹרְשִׁין מִדַּרְכֵי צִבּוּר. וְהָעוֹשֶׂה עֲבֵרוֹת בְּיָד רָמָה בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא כִּיהוֹיָקִים. וְהַמּוֹסְרִים. וּמַטִּילֵי אֵימָה עַל הַצִּבּוּר שֶׁלֹּא לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם. וְשׁוֹפְכֵי דָּמִים. וּבַעֲלֵי לָשׁוֹן הָרַע. וְהַמּוֹשֵׁךְ עָרְלָתוֹ: ‏

We all hope to merit being revived to see the glory of Hashem in Mashiach times. By being wicked - and encouraging other to do so - we forfeit that chance. Sort of defeats the purpose of having Mashiach come.

Secondly: We have 613 Mitzvot we are commanded to do. That's our purpose in this world. Making Mashiach come is not one of them - and we are under no obligation to make it happen.

Unless you say that Making Mashiach come is part of the Mitzva of glorifying Hashem's name in this world. By making people wicked you'd be doing the very opposite.


So what does R' Yochanan mean by “אין בן דוד בא, אלא בדור שכולו זכאי, או כולו חייב”?

The answer I like is that the world will be in a state where each person is either good or bad - no more people who are half-half. It will be easy to classify every person as being either totally committed to keeping the entire Torah, or totally disconnected from the Torah.

  • Any source for your final paragraph? – msh210 Feb 13 '15 at 5:41
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    @msh210 - one more thing I learned many years ago - must be in some Mussar Sefer (Michtav M'Eliyau or Alie Shur or something similar). I now have 2 assignments for homework from you! :-) – Danny Schoemann Feb 15 '15 at 8:02
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Rav ABY in his commentary on Isaiah 59:16 cites the RaDak to resolve the difficulty of 'entirely guilty':

RaDaK (on verse 16) seeks to reconcile the different opinions in the Talmudic discussion on this question as follows: "The majority of Israel will repent after they see the signs of redemption, and this is why it says, 'And he saw that there was no man' – for they will not repent until they will see the beginning of the salvation. But there will still be sinners and rebels among them and they will leave the exile together with the majority of Israel, who will repent, but they will perish on the way and they will not come to the Land of Israel… Even the majority will not repent completely or pray to God wholeheartedly until they see the signs of redemption… It makes no sense to say that there will be no righteous, good people in Israel who will be fit for redemption – but they will not be sufficiently worthy for the entire people of Israel to be redeemed in their merit. And thus when the rabbis said that the redemption would come in a generation that is 'entirely guilty', this means the majority – for there was never a generation in Israel that was entirely guilty without having some righteous, good people. And even the guilty are not necessarily liable to be wiped out; rather, they will simply unworthy to be redeemed in their own merit."

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