Rabbi Joshua ben Levi met Elijah the Prophet and asked him, "When will the Messiah come?" The Prophet answered, "Go and ask him. He sits at the entrance to the city, among the poor and the lepers." The Rabbi asked, "How will I recognize him?" Elijah replied, "The lepers untie all bandages at once, and rebandage each separately, while he unties and rebandages each separately, thinking ‘Should it be the appointed time for my appearance, I must not be delayed.’” So Rabbi Joshua went to the place and greeted him, "Peace upon thee, Master and Teacher." The Messiah replied, "Peace upon you, son of Levi." "When will you come?" asked Rabbi Joshua. He replied, "Today." Rabbi Joshua returned to meet Elijah, and the Prophet asked, "What did he say to you?" The rabbi said, "Surely he was joking with me, for he said he would come today, and yet he has not." Elijah answered him, "This is what he said to you: I will come today, if you hear my voice. The Messiah is waiting to be called." (Mishnah Sanhedrin 98a.)
Much of the liturgy of the coming High Holiday prayers discusses the coming of Messiah. Perhaps it will be in this new year, 5770 in the Jewish calendar that the Messiah will come and peace will reign across the earth. But the story reflects that famous saying: the Messiah will come the day after he arrives. In other words, the Messiah will come only when we-each of us prepares the world for the coming of peace. The Messiah will come and peace will reign only if we listen to that voice telling us that we must work for peace in our lifetime, that we cannot put it off even for a day.
I wish for each of you a holiday season of happiness and inspiration, of a coming year of health and fulfillment, and a year that we can work together and achieve together the days of peace.
Dean Lawrence Raful