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Why is the 12th principle of faith in the Ani Maamin poem about Moshiach constructed rhetorically - on a circumstantial situation "even if / in spite of that!"? In other words, the author says "I believe by complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he tarry in waiting, in spite of that, I will still wait expectantly for him each day that he will come"

Compare this formulation to the other principles - he doesn't say "Believe in G-d even if you don't see Him and have no inkling that He's there" or "Trust that G-d rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked even though a long time passes without justice." Why does Moshiach have this twist?

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Rambam writes in Hilchos Melachim (11:1):

...anyone who does not believe in (the Messiah), or one who does not wait for his arrival - he is not merely denying the other prophets but rather denies the Torah and Moshe Rabbeinu.

Moreover, the original source for these fundamental beliefs as described by the Rambam come from his introduction to Perek Chelek in a more straightforward fashion:

The Twelfth Fundamental Principle refers to the Messianic Era. We are to believe as fact that the messiah will come and not consider him late. If he delays, wait for him (Hab. 2:3); set no time limit for his coming

From these sources we see that there is a two-fold element to belief in the ultimate redemption: 1) to believe that there is an anointed Redeemer and that 2) we must actively wait for his inevitable arrival. Those two elements are distinct and must be met for one to fulfill that principle of faith.

Thus, the formulation rendered by the anonymous author of Ani Ma'amin (as noted in a now deleted comment to the OP's original question [before the question was edited to reflect the fact that Rambam did not in fact write the piece that is printed in most siddurim]) is able to address these two crtierion by a) asserting the belief in an anointed messiah (I believe in the arrival of the mashiach) and b) asserting the belief that he can come at any day, at any time and that we must actively anticipate this arrival (even though he may tarry... I await his arrival every day).

The anonymous author's poetic license seems fitting to me to cover both aspects of this fundamental of faith as it speaks both to the necessity of the latter part of the principle while accounting for the very reason why one may struggle with that aspect of the principle (i.e, the perception that there is a delay in his arrival).

  • The question was about mentioning "even though/if he delays". Your answer doesn't refer to that at all. If you want to make a connection between your answer and "even though/if he delays" (though personally I don't see one), I recommend you do so (in the answer post, natch). Right now, I don't see how this answer post answers the question at all. – msh210 Feb 21 at 17:31

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