Chapter Seven The Messianic King
The following is a excerpt from When Moshiach Comes by Rabbi Yehudah Chayoun.
A shoot shall come forth from the stem of Yishai, and a
Branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord
Shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and under-
Standing, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of
Knowledge and fear of the Lord.
(Yeshayahu 11:1-2) .
THE MESSIANIC KING will be an unknown; nothing will be known about his background or family.
As Rambam writes:
“Know that you will not know of his arising before it happens, such that one could say about him that he is so-and-so’s son and from such-and-such a family. Rather, a man will arise who will be unknown before he is revealed” (“Iggeres Teiman”).
Yet the Gemara relates:
What is [Moshiach’s] name?
The school of R. Shiloh said, “Shilo is his name....”
The school of R. Yannai said, “Yinon is his name....”
he school of R. Chaninah said, “Chaninah is his name....”
And some say, “Menachem b. Chizkiyahu is his name.”
Rav Nachman said, “If Moshiach is among the living, he is like myself....”
Rav said, “If he is among the living, he would be our holy master [R. Yehudah HaNasi]. If he is among the dead, he would have been Daniel, ‘the most desirable man’ [Daniel 10:11].”
Rashi explains this gemara two ways:
1. If Moshiach is alive, he is certainly R. Yehudah HaNasi, who is ill and pious. If he is dead, he must be Daniel, who suffered.
2. If Moshiach is alive, he is someone like R. Yehudah HaNasi. If he is dead, he is someone like Daniel.
Lest Rambam contradict Rashi, we must posit that, even according to his first explanation, people did not believe R. Yehudah HaNasi was Moshiach, as they were not even sure Moshiach was alive or dead. They were simply emphasizing that each person mentioned in the gemara was suited to be Moshiach in his generation.
According to Rashi’s second explanation, Rav meant not that R. Yehudah HaNasi and Daniel were the sole Messianic candidates in Their generations, only that Moshiach would resemble them.
Thus, R. Chaim Vital implies that his rebbe, the holy Ari, was fit to be Moshiach. As R. Chaim writes: “Anyone who is the redeemer of Israel…will be someone who has suffered and known sickness…as was the case with the Ari” (R. Chaim Kohen, Toras Chaim, p. 17).
Similarly, the Rema’s rebbe, R. Shalom Shachna, Argues that Moshiach’s name is Shachna,and R. Chaim b. Atar writes that it is Chaim.
R. Yitzchak Abarbanel comments on our gemara:
They spoke about “Moshiach’s name,” not Moshiach himself, because they were discussing not Moshiach’s actuality but what the nation needed him to be, as intimated by his name:
[If] his name is Shilo, it implies that there will be shalom [a play on the word “Shiloh”] and truth in his days.
[If] his name is Yinon, it indicates that he will be superior [“elyon,” a play on the word “Yinon”] to all
And [if] his name is Menachem [literally, “comforter”], it will be a sign that “he will comfort us because of our deeds” [Bereishis 5:29].... Undoubtedly, each of the scholars was seeking his unique virtue [which Moshiach will definitely have] and [therefore] associated Moshiach’s name with his name.
(Yeshuos Meshicho, p. 47)