Dreaming of Moshiach

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kuzari's Dream

"The Kuzari", written by Rav Yehudah HaLevi, zs'l, recounts actual events. King Bulan had a dream, and an angel appeared to him [+/-] show/hide text
and told him that his intentions were pleasing to God, but his deeds were not. When the same dream occurred several times, the King was troubled.

The King called in a philosopher, a Christian and a Mohammedan, that they might declare to him what is a man’s proper behavior. The Philosopher offered ideas about a First Cause, and Primal Matter, and the like. The King found no comfort in his words, for the laws of the universe, as conceived by the philosopher, have no interest in standards of human conduct, and no concern for the miseries of mankind. The Christian and the Mohammedan expounded the principles of their respective faiths, each after his own way.

The King had not invited any Jew, for he deemed the low estate of the Jews in the world sufficient evidence that God was not fond of them. But when he heard that both the Christians and the Mohammedans ultimately base their faiths on the facts of Jewish history and the teachings of Jewish prophets, he sent for a Jewish scholar.

Harav HaLevi began with the particular experience of the Jewish people at Sinai and the uniqueness of the Jewish people. He talked about the special capacity to receive prophecy, which he understood as philosophical truth. He parted company with many other medieval Jewish philosphers in elevating the experience at Sinai as the criterion for truth and for proving the existence of God.

He distinguishes between Elohim, the God one discovers through the use of reason and logic (in the mode of the philosophers) while Adonai is the God people experience in their lives.

Harav HaLevi described the unique characteristics of the Land of Israel and the Jewish people, the importance of Hebrew as a holy tongue, and the gift of prophecy which is intimately connected to both the Land of Israel and the Hebrew language. He further explained the special relationship between Jews and God and the elevated spiritual state obtained through observance of God's commandments.

Upon hearing this, the king of Khasar converted to Judaism and taught his people about Judaism so that they, too, can convert.

Judah HaLevi zs'l, known as the "Sweet Singer of Zion" was a poet and philosopher. He wrote magnificent poems, many of which were paeans to the Land of Israel and mourning the loss of the Land to Jews.


The poem opens with a greeting to the beloved land from all the corners of the earth, and particularly from the poet who is an instrument attuned to bemoan her present sorrows and to sing her future joys

Zion, thou askest how fare thy prisoners,
They that seek thy weal, the remnant of thy flocks?
From west and east and north and south, the greeting
Of far and near, receive from all sides of thee!

Also the greeting of one hope-bound, who sheddeth his tears like the dew
Of Hermon, and longeth to drop them on thy mountains!
To bewail thy sorrow I am a jackal, and when I dream
The return of thy captives, I am a harp to sing thy songs.

He then speaks of his heart’s yearning for the land, and how he would love to intone his hymns in places hallowed by Royalty and Prophecy. Alas! Slaves now occupy the places of Israel’s divinely appointed kings.

My heart unto Bethel and unto Peniel doth exceedingly yearn
And unto Mahanayim and all the places where thy pure ones met,
There God’s Presence was thy tenant, and He that created thee
Hath opened thy gates opposite the gates of Heaven,

And God’s Glory alone hath been thy light, nor sun
Nor moon nor stars thy luminaries were.
I choose that my soul pour itself forth in the place
Where God’s Spirit was poured out on thy chosen ones!

Thou art the House of Royalty, and thou the Throne of God, and how
Have slaves sat upon the thrones of thy rulers?

If only he might wander there! How he would linger over every plot of ground made sacred by historical event or religious association.

Would I were awandering in the places where
God had been revealed unto thy seers and messengers.
Would I had wings that I might fly afar
And move the breakage of heart over thy mountain-breaks.

I would fall on my face upon thy soil, and love thy stones
Exceedingly, and adore thy dusts,
Ah, surpassingly, while I stood upon my fathers’ graves,
And marvelled in Hebron at the choicest tombs!

I would pass through thy woodlands and vinelands, and stand
In thy Gilead, and wonder at thy Mount Abarim,
Mount Abarim, and the Peak of Peaks, where thy two
Great lights thy pathlighters and teachers were!

Spirit-lives make thine earth’s air, and of myrrh-spice
Is thy powdered dust, and of sweetest nectar are thy rivers.
Sweet it were for my soul to walk naked and barefoot upon
The dismal ruins that were once thy Temples –

In the place of thine Ark, now hidden, and the seat
Of thy Cherubim, who had dwelt in thine innermost sanctuaries.

He grieves for the heroes of Israel, become a prey to lowly and evil races.

How shall eating and drinking be savory to me, when I see
How dogs are dragging thy lions about?
Or how shall the light of day be sweet unto mine eyes, whilst
I see in the mouths of ravens the corpses of thine eagles?

The cup is too full! He can no longer bear the sorrow! The poet turns about and begins to sing of the beauty of Zion, and of the love all her exiled children bear for her.

Cup of tears, enough! Cease a while, for
My kidneys and soul are overbrimming with thy bitternesses.
When I remember Alalah, I drink thy venom,
And when I mind me of Aholibah, I drain thy dregs.

Zion, perfect in beauty, with love and grace dost thou enwrap thyself
Of old, and in thee are wrapt the souls of thy lovers:

They are those who rejoice at thy peace, and are pained
By thy desolation, and weep for thy misfortunes.
From the prison-pit they yearn towards thee, bowing
Each from his place toward the frontage of thy gates,

The flocks of thy multitude, who have been exiled and scattered
From mountain to hill, yet have never forgotten thy walls;
They who hold thy garment’s hem, and strive
To climb up and grasp the branches of thy palm-trees.

Proudly he maintains Zion’s greatness against Shinar (which is Babylon) and Pathros (which is Egypt). All the kingdoms of idolatry are destined to fall, while Zion’s strength is everlasting.

Shinar and Pathros, can they match thee in their greatness? Can they
Liken their follies to thine Urim and thy Tummim?
To whom can they compare thine anointed ones, and to whom
Thy prophets, and to whom thy Levites and thy princes?

Will fade and utterly pass away the kingdoms of idolatry –
Thy strength is unto eternity, forever and forever are thy crowns!

He concludes with applause for whomever goes forth to dwell in Zion in her desolate state, and sounds a Shofar for her final deliverance.

Thy God hath elected thee for His residence, and happy is the man
Who chooseth to come near and dwell in thy courts.
Happy he who waiteth, and shall live to see the arising
Of thy light, and thy dawns shall break over him;

To see the good of thy chosen ones, and to rejoice
In thy joy, when though returnest to the ancient state of thy youth.

May the merits of HaRav Yehuda HaLevi, zs'l, help and protect Am Israel.

Please HaShem, send us Melech HaMoshiach, resurrection, Kingdom of Dovid HaMelech, and Bet HaMikdash speedily and with mercy in the merits of all the Tzaddikim and Tzadkaniot, Amen!
"Happy he who waiteth, and shall live to see the arising
Of thy light, and thy dawns shall break over him
To see the good of thy chosen ones, and to rejoice
In thy joy, when though returnest to the ancient state of thy youth."html




והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו