י״ט באייר ה׳תשע״ד (May 19, 2014)

Rosh HaShana 11a-b: When the Redemption Will Take Place

On yesterday’s daf we learned that Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua disagree about the time of year when the world was created. There are some events of note that took place during the course of Jewish history that they agree about. Both agree, for example, that three barren women in Tanakh – Sarah, Rahel and Hannah – all gave birth on Rosh HaShana, and that Yosef was freed from prison on Rosh HaShana, as well. Furthermore, both agree that the Children of Israel were released from their work as slaves in Egypt on Rosh HaShana, even though their redemption from Egypt does not take place until Nisan. They differ, however, on the time of the ultimate redemption. Rabbi Eliezer believes that the final redemption will take place in Tishrei; Rabbi Yehoshua believes that it will happen in Nisan.

Baraitot in the Gemara provide sources for dating all of these events, which, as we saw explained by the Ritva on yesterday’s daf, are more hints and less definitive proofs. With regard to the time of the future redemption, where we find a disagreement, Rabbi Eliezer derives the occasion of redemption as Tishrei by comparing the commandment of shofar on Rosh HaShana to the shofar that will announce the coming of the Mashi’ah (see Yeshayahu 27:13); Rabbi Yehoshua derives it from a comparison between the ultimate redemption and the redemption from Egypt. The passage describing the redemption says that it took place on leil shimurim – a night of watching (see Shemot 12:42). The pesuk repeats the words leil shimurim a second time, which is understood by Rabbi Yehoshua as a reference not only to the redemption from Egypt, but an indication that this date was established from the moment of creation as a time of redemption, foretelling the ultimate redemption, as well.

An interesting question is raised by R. Aryeh Leib in his Turei Even, who asks how a specific date can be placed on the coming of Mashi’ah, when the Gemara is clear that Mashi’ah can come at any time. In answer, he suggests that there are different Messianic paths that can take place. Mashi’ah can come be-itah – in its time – or ahishenah – in a hastened kind of way (see Yeshayahu 60:22). If it is in its time, there may be a specific date set for it. If it is “hastened” then it can come at any time. The Sefat Emet suggests that we must recognize the process involved in the coming of Mashi’ah. When Moshe comes to set the Children of Israel free from servitude in Egypt, he arrived well before the actual redemption takes place. Similarly in the future, Mashi’ah can come at any time, with the ultimate redemption set for either Nisan or Tishrei.

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