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From the introduction to Mashiach: Hope for Turbulent Times:
Do you have a sense that the world is racing towards an unavoidable turning point? That’s because, according to thousands of years of Jewish wisdom, it is. We are seeing the evidence with our own eyes. Since the publication of the first edition of this book, Israel has been under attack, and antisemitism is on the rise. Jews are being verbally and physically attacked in the streets of Israeli, American and European cities.
In general, people are more polarized than ever before. What are they arguing about? The economy, racism, the global pandemic (vaccination, masks, policy), climate change, Israel and the Middle East, national and international politics, and more. Parents and students are finding it difficult to cope with swift and dramatic changes to the educational/intellectual landscape and in many cases, educators and parents are on opposite sides. The legacy media seems to be dying a slow death as many people turn to independent sources for their news, making it easier than ever for people to access both accurate and inaccurate information.
Depending on where you live, work, worship and what media you consume, you may believe that the economy is being strangled by pointless policies or you may believe that government regulations haven’t gone far enough. In some cities, local governments are still enforcing economically-crippling laws put in place during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic while many small and medium-sized businesses have closed their doors forever. We’re also seeing prices of gas, food, lumber and other goods skyrocket.
Of those who practice their religion, most agree that policies that clamp down on freedoms, especially those involving religion and free speech, have been ascendent during the past fifteen years. (Politicians seem to prioritize nearly every right except the right to freedom of religion.) Invectives are being hurled in the public sphere, as usual, but “cancel culture” is now an effective weapon of the intolerant. On the emotional front, despite online get-togethers, people are experiencing an unprecedented sense of isolation. Statistics appear to show that depression and anxiety disorders are on the rise. It seems like more people are lonely and afraid than ever before. It is an uncomfortable, even frightening time for many.
This book is a response to these turbulent times we live in.
Today it seems that most people yearn to know what will happen in the immediate and long-term future and how best to prepare. People like you and me also want to know what is going on, from a deeper, spiritual perspective, and how the coming changes will affect us. It’s also a time when many people are openly talking and asking questions about the Mashiach (Messiah) and the future of humanity.
The truth is, many people believe in God and believe in His special relationship with the Jewish people, but have sincere questions and doubts about the Mashiach and the world-wide Redemption. They find it difficult to believe in or envision the Redemption because they have never learned much about it. Others are turned off by confusing pronouncements put forth by some about the Mashiach’s identity, some of which directly contradict authentic Jewish teachings.
Many more are turned off to the idea of the Messiah because they mistakenly believe the concept comes from other religions. But it’s the other way around; the nations of the world took this completely Jewish concept, that of the Messiah, twisted it into a pretzel of confusing ideas and entwined it with idol worship. The result? We’ve been afraid to talk about the Mashiach ever since.
All of this confusion also makes us feel squeamish about asking questions. Yet the questions persist. The goal of this book is to as succinctly as possible answer the basic questions you have about the coming of the Mashiach and the Geulah (the world-wide Redemption). This book aims to provide an elementary understanding which you can use as a jumping-off point to other studies in this topic.
Originally printed as a special limited-edition in honor and memory of Chana bat Ephraim, beloved mother of Dr. Eleonora Goudis, the positive response from readers of Mashiach: Hope for Turbulent Times, has been unprecedented. Now, this updated version is being published and offered for sale in order to make it more widely-available.
To help make this book easy to navigate, there are six chapters, each presented in a question-and-answer format, so you can quickly find the answers to the questions most important to you. Chapter titles are in the form of questions and related, italicized questions are included as sub-headings in each chapter. The material in this book relies on straightforward explanations of widely-accepted, authentic Jewish sources and therefore endnotes are provided so you further explore the source material yourself. Also included is a glossary of terms. To help you learn more about this topic, there is also short list of suggested reading, both online and print. Rather than just publish this book electronically, we felt it was important to produce an inexpensive paperback version you can carry with you in your pocket or purse, and easily gift to friends and acquaintances.
It is my sincere wish that this little book inspires you to explore more of our rich Jewish teachings about the Mashiach, the Geulah, and our faith, and that it begins to answer the questions you have about Mashiach, but were afraid (or embarrassed) to ask. Most of all, may it offer comfort and hope, please God, to everyone who reads it.
Chaya Rivka Zwolinski
Iyar, 5781- May, 2021
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