October 9, 2016
Beis Moshiach in #1041, Moshiach & Geula

By Rabbi Menachem Harpaz

Q. The Talmud (Bava Basra 75a) states that Hashem will make a sukka for the righteous from the skin of the Leviasan and a banquet from its flesh. Elsewhere, (see Brachos 34b) the Talmud talks about a superior wine that will be served at this feast. Is this banquet a poetic metaphor? Is it wholly symbolic of something esoteric? Will it really happen?

Short answer:

The banquet will indeed happen, just not in the way you imagine.


Comprehensive Answer:

To begin, let’s quote the sources you mentioned in your question, with a few additional sources which provide further details on how this incredible meal with unfold.

The Gemara in Bava Basra states, “The Holy One, Blessed Be He, will in time to come make a banquet for the righteous from the flesh of the Leviasanand a sukka for the righteous from its skin.” The Midrash (VaYikra Rabba 13:3) describes a battle that will take place between the Leviasan and the Shor HaBor (wild ox), with the Shor HaBor battering the Leviasan with its horns and the Leviasan piercing the Shor HaBor with its fins.

Another Gemara (P’sachim 119b) describes further what will happen at the end of that meal: At the end of the banquet, when the tzaddikim will want to say the Birkas HaMazon (grace after meals), each tzaddik will declare himself unworthy of leading the Birkas HaMazon and holding the cup of wine customarily held at that time. At the end, David HaMelech will do the honors.

The Alter Rebbe, in Siddur im Da”ch (Drush Birkas HaZimun) explains why all the tzaddikim will declare themselves unworthy. The wine in the cup for Birkas HaZimun is singular, as it is wine that “has been preserved in its grapes since the six days of Creation” (Brachos 34b). Each tzaddik will find in himself a flaw that he will feel disqualifies him from reciting the bentching over such exalted wine.

To your question, will this all really happen? The Maharsha writes that yes, it will indeed happen. “Know that we must believe all these things in their most literal sense. Although the commentaries extrapolate the explanation according to their understanding …, one cannot remove the content from its simple meaning.” Similarly, the Rebbe (Seifer HaSichos 5751, vol. 2, pg. 685) writes that “the banquet that Hashem will make in the Future for the righteous, in which they will eat from the Leviasan, the Shor HaBor and the preserved wine …, in addition to the spiritual ideas alluded thereto which are explained in Chassidic discourses, there will also be an actual feast.”

Although the banquet will surely happen, it is not a scene which we could accurately imagine. As the Gemara (Brachos 34b) says in regard to the “preserved wine,” that “no eye has seen it.” Nor have we ever encountered the Leviasan, as the Midrash (B’Reishis Rabba 7:4) tells us that Hashem created one male and one female Leviasan, which never reproduced, because He “castrated the male and killed the female and preserved it for the righteous in the future.”

Thus, precisely what the “preserved wine,” Leviasan, and Shor HaBor are, and how this meal will unfold, will be revealed to us only when it actually happens. But we can be certain that there will be an actual splendid feast at which we will all certainly soon partake.

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