December 26, 2012
Boruch Merkur in #862, Moshiach & Geula

Chazal tell us that the reason why King Dovid was not given the privilege of building the holy Beis HaMikdash was because his hands were red with the blood of the wars that he fought. How, then, can the Rambam say that Moshiach will fight wars and build the third Beis HaMikdash?

Dear Readers sh’yichyu:

We have just finished celebrating the Yom Tov of Chanuka, the celebration of the miraculous oil that burned for eight days straight. In one of our previous articles, we quoted the Sifsei Kohen Al HaTorah that explains that the oil the Maccabees found was the oil prepared by Moshe Rabbeinu, known as the “Shemen HaMishcha – the anointing oil.”

One of the functions of the Shemen HaMishcha is to anoint a Kohen – known as the “Meshuach Milchama – anointed for war” – to speak to the Jewish soldiers prior to any war. In the words of the Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 7:1-2): “In the cases of both a Milchemes Mitzvah and a Milchemes R’shus, a Kohen is appointed to address the nation before the battle. He is anointed with the oil of anointment and is called the Meshuach Milchama.

“The Meshuach Milchama speaks to the nation twice: The first time is at the border, as the army is leaving before they assume battle positions. At that time, he tells the nation: ‘Is there a man who has planted a vineyard and has not redeemed his first crop…’ (Deuteronomy 20:6). When these individuals hear his words, they should retreat from the battlefront. He speaks a second time when the army has assumed battle positions: Then, he declares: ‘Do not be afraid. Do not panic…’” (Ibid. 20:3)

The question arises regarding the time of Yemos HaMoshiach: will we need to have a Meshuach Milchama? It seems that in the times of Moshiach, when the world and all nations will be at peace, there will be no need for war and therefore no need for a Kohen to be appointed and anointed to speak to the Jewish soldiers.

Yet is seems, based on the words of the Rambam, that Moshiach will still be fighting wars with some of the neighbors of Eretz Yisroel even after he has revealed his identity. In his words (Hilchos Melachim 4:8): “The Messianic king may take a thirteenth portion of all the lands conquered by Israel as his own. This will be an allotment for him and his descendants forever.”

The Rambam also states: “If a king will arise from the House of David who diligently contemplates the Torah and observes its mitzvos as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law as David his ancestor, will compel all of Israel to walk in (the way of the Torah) and rectify the breaches in its observance, and fight the wars of G-d, we may, with assurance, consider him Moshiach.” (Ibid 11:4)

It is therefore important to understand that the wars that Moshiach will fight will not be with soldiers and weapons. It will be with miracles and verbal convincing. The Navi (Zecharia 9:10) says: “And I will cut off the chariots from Ephraim, and the horses from Jerusalem; and the bow of war shall be cut off. And he shall speak peace to the nations, and his rule shall be from the sea to the west and from the river to the ends of the earth.”

The Metzudas David comments: “Melech HaMoshiach will not conquer through war, rather through convincing words.” (See also Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim Vol. 4 responsa 81.) Therefore there may not be a need for a Meshuach Milchama.

The above explanation of “fighting the wars of Hashem” helps resolve an age-old question. Chazal tell us that the reason why King Dovid was not given the privilege of building the holy Beis HaMikdash was because his hands were red with the blood of the wars — of Hashem — that he fought. How, then, can Rambam (Ibid) say that Moshiach will fight wars and build the third Beis HaMikdash? Rather, Moshiach will fight his wars in a manner of peace, as we have just explained.

I would like to finish with the words of the Rebbe (Parshas Chaya Sara 5752): “…And we see in reality how it was and it will be that ‘he will fight the wars of G-d’ and be victorious in various situations, and specifically through a war of peace. And ‘victory’ is also an expression of ‘eternity,’ connected with the revelation of ‘Endurance.’”


One of the highest positions in the Jewish religion is that of the Kohen Gadol. He led the service in the Beis HaMikdash. He had a very special dress code. While a regular Kohen wore four garments, the Kohen Gadol wore eight.

One of those garments was the “Choshen – breastplate.” It had twelve gems with the names of the twelve tribes engraved on them. The Torah (Shmos 28:30) tells us of a special addition to the Choshen: “You shall place the Urim and the Tumim into the Choshen of judgment so that they will be over Aaron’s heart when he comes before the L-rd, and Aaron will carry the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the L-rd at all times.”

There were three main occasions when it was necessary to ask the Urim V’Tumim for direction:

1) The Jewish people did not go out to war (of r’shus) without consulting the Urim V’Tumim (Sanhedrin 16a).

2) The dividing of Eretz Yisroel was done through the Urim V’Tumim (Baba Basra 122a).

3) If Klal Yisroel wanted to add to Yerushalayim to sanctify an addition to the Beis HaMikdash, it needed to be done through the Urim V’Tumim (Hilchos Beis HaBechira 6:11).

This is the way things were until the second Beis HaMikdash. However, during the era of the second Beis HaMikdash “similarly, the Urim V’Tumim that existed in the Second Temple did not answer with Ruach HaKodesh (Divine Inspiration) and questions were not asked of them, as stated [in Ezra 2:63]: ‘Until a priest will arise with the Urim V’Tumim.’ [In the Second Temple,] they only made them to fulfill the requirement of eight garments for the High Priest. Thus, the High Priest would not lack one of the required garments.” (Ibid 4:1) However they will return in the times of Moshiach (48b).

The question arises: Will there be a need to use the Urim V’Tumim for the three above-mentioned functions in the times of Moshiach? Regarding going out to war, we explained in our previous article that there will not be physical wars in Yemos HaMoshiach; rather everything will be accomplished peacefully and willfully.

In regards to having the Urim V’Tumim when sanctifying the Beis HaMikdash and the expansion of Yerushalayim, in the times of Moshiach, we find conflicting opinions. According to the Meshech Shlomo it would seem that we would not need. He holds that just as in the time of the sanctification of the Mishkan having a prophet like Moshe Rabbeinu was enough to sanctify the Mishkan, the same will be true in Yemos HaMoshiach, when Moshe and Aharon will return (Yoma 5b). It will not be necessary to use Urim V’Tumim. Others – like the Sidrei Taharos – hold that we will still need to have the Urim V’Tumim there.

Regarding the re-division of Eretz Yisroel in the times of Yemos HaMoshiach, many commentaries hold that it will not be done through the Urim V’Tumim. Their reasoning: Firstly, the first division through Moshe and Yehoshua is everlasting (Mishnas Yaavetz) and the re-division will be done by Hashem himself, as the Navi (Yechezkel 48:29) says “This is the land that you shall allot, of the inheritance to the tribes of Israel, and these are their divisions, says the L-rd G-d.” (See Yemos HaMoshiach B’Halacha Vol. 1 Siman 34 for an in-depth analysis of the above.)

I would like to finish with the words of the Rebbe (B’Haalos’cha 5751): “All this receives greater emphasis in recent generations, described as ‘in the heels of’ and as ‘the heels of the heels of Moshiach,’ particularly in this generation, the last generation of exile… Only the heel of the foot, i.e. the absolute last generation has the ability to rise on its own and elevate all previous generations, because the last generation of exile will be the first generation of Redemption – the Redemption for all Jews throughout all generations!

“In particular, the shepherd Aharon HaKohen of our generation, my sainted father-in-law, the Rebbe, the leader of our generation… has emphasized this through his invocation of ‘Immediate T’shuva, immediate Redemption,’ and the announcement that we only have to ‘polish the buttons,’ and afterwards the declaration that this too has already ended, and it only requires us to ‘stand prepared all of you’ to greet our righteous Moshiach in the true and complete Redemption.”

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at


Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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