A number of months ago, I sang at a wedding where the chosson had written a little sefer about Moshiach ben Yosef and Yehoshua. I recently came across the copy I had gotten, and called him up to ask for permission to reprint it in the blog. He graciously acquiesced, so here I will present, in segments, some of the interesting contents of this sefer, written by Rav Daniel Krentzman.
The concept of Mashiach ben Yosef appears once in Shas, in an obscure aggadah in (Succah 52a) that expounds a pasuk in Zecharyah. At the end of a prophetic portrayal of the war of Gog and Magog, it relates: The land will eulogize, each family by itself, the family of David by itself and their wives by themselves (12:12). One opinion amongst the Tannaim identifies this as the eulogy of Mashiach descended from the tribe of Yosef, who will have been killed in the war. The Maharsha explains that Mashiach ben Yosef will precede the coming of Mashiach ben David, saving the Jewish People, but dying in the process. After this, Mashiach ben David will be able to bring about the complete and total redemption.
Although little mention is given to Mashiach ben Yosef in the gemara, the Vilna Gaon teaches in Kol HaTor (1:2): It is incumbent upon each of us to learn and understand all the aspects and spiritual qualities of Mashiach ben Yosef, that they be a candle to light the way of our steps and accessible to us like a set table, to guide us in the way of action and the particular tasks that are upon us in order to assist the redemption of Yisrael, and bring it speedily.
The concept of Mashiach ben Yosef is discussed at great length in the Zohar and the writings of the Ari’’Zal. It is also discussed in later Kabbalistic works by the RamChaL, the Vilna Gaon, and others. Upon deeper analysis of Pasukim in Tanach and Midrashei Chazal, numerous references and teachings about Mashiach ben Yosef become apparent.
I was motivated by the above injunction of the Vilna Gaon to develop these ideas and to commit them to writing in English, in order to present an introduction to the concept of Mashiach ben Yosef, for the English speaking public. My ideas are based on the teachings of the Vilna Gaon in Kol HaTor but include ideas created from discussion with present influential Rabbeim in my life. I would like to thank in particular Rav Pinchas Winston and Rav Avraham Sutton for opening me up to and helping me gain a basis in this area of Torah. I must also extend deepest heartfelt thanks to Rav Yehoshua Gerzi for playing such a large role in my development in this area of Torah and for encouraging me to take on this project, as well as in other areas of my spiritual development
The topic of Mashiach is vast and deep. Therefore this work should be considered only a small introduction to taste of but a few drops of the Torah knowledge surrounding the topic. Yosef HaTzaddik established the spiritual foundation and prototypical form that the concept of Mashiach ben Yosef has taken throughout history. Yehoshua bin Nun was the first to fully manifest and develop this spiritual mission and take it further. I therefore am focusing on the two of them, which is the approach set before me by the Vilna Gaon in Kol HaTor, in order to give over the concept of Mashiach ben Yosef with the best clarity and familiarity.
To be continued…