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Rambam’s 13 Principles of Faith: The Internal Process To Bring Mashiach

Rome is the first culture of what is referred to today as “Western Civilization”. The Exile of Rome, the 4th exile of the Nation of Israel after Babylon, Persia and Greece, is the longest of the four, lasting for over 2000 years. When Yaakov saw the angels ascending and descending on the ladder in his dream, he saw an angel that represents each one of the exiles. Each angel ascended and then descended, except for the angel of Esav, of Rome, who ascended and did not come down. Yaakov was afraid – how long are my children going to be in exile (from Rome)? Hashem then responded “Al tira Avdi Yaakov” – do not fear my servant Yaakov, I will take care of them and ensure their return from all exiles.
The emergence from the exile of Rome will be the first signs of Mashiach. As a general rule, the process of the bringing of Mashiach is internal, not external. The essential understanding of our dedication to Mashiach is imperative and the real process of the coming of Mashiach itself, not an external force that will be forced upon us reluctantly. Mashiach will come once we as a nation gone through an internal spiritual process and redefinition. When the Jewish people return to their roots spiritually, not just physically return to the Land of Israel, then the foundation will be set for Mashiach to come.
The Rambam lays out the criteria for Mashiach to appear and for what is referred to as the “Times of Mashiach”. There needs to be a king, the king needs to be able to build the Beit HaMikdash and the nation of Israel needs to return to its roots. All of these criteria are important to understand what they do and do not mean. Rav Aryeh Weiss analyzes the Rambam’s intent with laying out his criteria, emphasizing that the Rambam was not listing external criteria, rather internal benchmarks as a reference point and foundation for the coming of Mashiach.

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