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Julius Caesar, Moshiach, And the State of the World

We Are Ready for a New-Old Consciousness

    Rabbi YY Jacobson

    4954 views
  • April 14, 2020
  • |
  • 20 Nisan 5780

Julius Caesar

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Class Summary:

In 1988, on the last day of Pesach, the Lubavitcher Rebbe embarked on an incredible journey, explaining why the Talmud would associate the name of Moshiach with Julius Caesar—the famous Roman dictator, who would be assassinated on the steps of the Roman Senate, 24 years before the destruction of the Second Temple. Why would we want to refer to Moshiach as a “Caesar?”

The answer has to do with how Julius Caesar got this name—due to a Caesarian Birth, C-Section, in which the child is extracted through the mother’s abdomen. This procedure captures the great secret of what Moshiach represents.

Today, as the coronavirus and its aftermath brought the whole world to its knees, humanity is ready to open itself up to a new consciousness—of oneness, of interconnectivity, of transcendence, and a redefinition of man as a spiritual agent, an ambassador of love, light and hope. We are ready to live higher, to think higher, and to become the people we really are.

Dedicated by Ronald Cohen in honor of his wife Yehudith bat Evelyn

Moshiach's Meal

It was the custom of the Baal Shem Tov to partake of three meals on the last day of Passover. The third meal, which took place late in the afternoon, was known as the "Festive Meal of Moshiach," or “Moshiach's Seuda,” for on this day the energy and light of Moshiach and the future redemption shines and is more revealed.

That is why the Haftorah read on the eighth day of Passover is Isaiah chapter 11, containing many of the majestic prophecies about the redemption and Moshiach. Why on this day? Because the first two days of Passover celebrate primarily the past redemption, while the last days of Passover, especially the 8th day, represent the future Messianic redemption.

The Caesar

There is a strange statement in the Talmud regarding Moshiach. When the Talmud wishes to describe Moshiach, the man who will redeem the entire world from bloodshed, oppression, greed and corruption, it describes him as the “Caesar,” while describing King David as a “half a Caesar:”[1]

סנהדרין צט, ב: אמר רב יהודה אמר רב עתיד הקדוש ברוך הוא להעמיד להם דוד אחר, שנאמר ועבדו את ה' אלהיהם ואת דוד מלכם אשר אקים להם, הקים לא נאמר אלא אקים. א"ל רב פפא לאביי והכתיב ודוד עבדי נשיא להם לעולם? כגון קיסר ופלגי קיסר.

Rabbi Judah said in the name of Rav: The Holy One, blessed be He, will establish for the Jewish people another David, as it is written, And they shall serve the Lord their G-d, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them; not 'I raised up,' but 'I will raise up' is said. Rabbi Papa asked Abaye: But it is written, And my [first] servant David shall be their prince forever? They will be like a Caesar (emperor) and a half Caesar (viceroy). [Moshiach, the new David, will be the Caesar and the original David will be the Viceroy, the half-Caesar]. 

A few questions come to mind:

1) What does this mean? Why will there be a need for a Caesar and a half Caesar?

2) Why will Moshiach be the Caesar and King David the half-Caesar?

3) The title “Keisar,” or “Caesar,” originating in Latin, served as the family name of the powerful dictator of the Roman Republic, Julius Caesar (100 BCE—44 BCE), who lived 130 years before the destruction of the Second Temple (in 68, 69 or 70 CE), and played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar’s conquest of France, Britain, and Germany, and his assassination of the Roman leader Pompey (in 48 CE), had him emerge as the unrivaled leader of the Roman world. Julius was ultimately stabbed 23 times on the steps of the Roman Senate, where he fell to his death, and the title Caesar was embraced by subsequent Roman Emperors. What began as the family name (the cognomen) of Julius Caesar became a title of imperial character, used by all Roman and Byzantine Emperors. The change from being a familial name to a title adopted by the Roman Emperors can be dated to about 68/69 CE. This is quite interesting because it is the year of the destruction of the Second Temple by Rome.

Now, when the Talmud wants to describe Moshiach and King David it employs this term: “Caesar” and “half-a-Caesar.” Why? The term for a king usually used in Torah and Talmud is “Melech.” The viceroy is called “Mishneh Lamelech,” second to the king. Why, suddenly, when it comes to Moshiach, the greatest king of Israel, does the Talmud choose a Latin term, and what is more, the title embraced by the very Emperors who were responsible for the war against the Jews and the very destruction of the Temple—the exact antithesis of Moshiach who will redeem the Jews, rebuild the Temple, and bring us all back to the Holy Land?!

What is more, the very title Caesar was adopted by Rome in the very year it destroyed our Temple and exiled the Jews. Could the sages of the Talmud not find a better name for Moshiach than the title of the Roman Emperors, Caesar?

How about King David?  He lived 800 years before Julius Caesar. Why is he defined as a “half-Caesar?”

The Relationship Between Julius Caesar & the Jews

True, the Jews did take a special liking to Julius Caesar. Many earnestly mourned the murder of Julius Caesar on March 15, 44 CE; but none so vigorously as the Jews.

Caesar’s biographer, Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, wrote this:  At the height of the public grief a throng of foreigners went about lamenting each after the fashion of his country, above all the Jews, who even flocked to the place [of his burial] for several successive nights.

Why were the Jews so shattered? The proverb “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” definitely applies in this case. The High Priest at the time was a descendant of the Chashmoneim, Hyrcanus, who had been somewhat in alliance with Pompey, the great Roman general, Caesar’s enemy, who marched into and dominated the Land of Israel. Yet Hyrcanus later allied with Caesar against Pompey. Hyrcanus’ change of heart might have been partially motivated by Pompey’s harsh decrees and burdensome taxes and partially motivated by the power that Caesar was rapidly gaining over Pompey.

If Hyrcanus hadn’t committed thousands of Jewish soldiers to Caesar’s Alexandrian siege, Caesar’s ending might have come a lot sooner than 44 BCE.  As it were, the Jews were instrumental in helping Caesar to win this civil war and become the sole ruler of Rome. Caesar never forgot this.  Not only did Caesar revoke Pompey’s decrees and taxes, but he also allowed the walls and fortifications of Jerusalem to be rebuilt and restored Jaffa, as well as a number of other coastal cities, to Jewish rule.

Yet, notwithstanding the benevolent relationship, we are still baffled why Moshiach is defined by his title Caesar?

I want to share with you an explanation I heard from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, 34 years ago, during a public address on the last day of Passover 1988,[2] as he celebrated the Moshiach feast of the Baal Shem Tov.

Caesarian Birth

First, we need to understand the origin of the family name Caesar.

Tosefot, the commentary on the Talmud authored by the Ashkenazic scholars in Germany and France from the house of Rashi during the 12th and 13th centuries, explains the origin of the name Caesar:[3]

לסוף כמה שנים מלך עליהם אחד בחזקה, שמתה אמו בלדתה ונבקעת בטנה ומצאוהו חי ומלך עליהם ונקרא קיסר בלשון רומי, והוא לשון כרות בעברית, ועל שמו נקראו כל המלכים שלאחריו קיסר.

Caesar in Latin means a cut, hence the English name for a “Cesarean Birth,” what we call today C-Section. When the fetus cannot exit the womb of its mother via the natural birth canal, the mother’s stomach is cut, and the fetus is extracted. This procedure, which was performed on a dead or dying mother, dates back around 700 years before Julius Caesar. In the Mishnah and the Talmud[4] we discuss the “Yotze Dofen,” the child who “comes out through a wall,” extracted from the mother’s abdomen and uterus, as a natural delivery is not possible.

Julius Caesar had a grandfather who was born through a Caesarian procedure. His mother died and they extracted the fetus through “the wall.” This child was thus given the name Caesar and it became the family name of all his descendants, including Julius. Thus, the title: Julius Caesar.[5]

Which only intensifies and expands our original question: Why did all the Emperors wish to adopt the name Caesar? What is even more absurd: The title Caesar as a title for a King has become universal, adopted in almost every culture and language. In German and Yiddish we have the “Kaiser,” in the Russian dialect we have the “Tzar.” In English, we have “Caesar.” Many other languages, including Japanese, Arabic, the Slavic, Baltic, Germanic, Turkic, Uralic, African, Asian, African dialects and many more—use this term to describe Imperial power. And the Talmud ensures us that even Moshiach will be described as the Caesar! Why?

Stuck

To explain this, I am going to tell you a little story. There was a poor Jew, Mosheleh, who trudged up and down the steep staircases in the high apartment buildings in his neighborhood. He knocked on doors and asked for charity. At the end of a tiring day, he sat on a park bench and counted the coins people had given him. His mind wandered and he dreamed of better times.

"One day, I will be rich. I will own great fortunes and have a lot of influence in the community." The poor man rubbed his hands and his forehead became wrinkled as he thought.

"Then," he thought to himself, "I will make a new law. All new houses which are built will have to be only one or two stories high. My life will be much easier! I will not have to climb all those stairs in order to collect alms!

Yes, poor Mosheleh, could never liberate himself from the idea that he will one day not have to beg for money. His greatest fantasy, his most broad vision, was that he would not have to climb up all those stairs in order to get his few dimes and quarters.

What Is a Leader?

The first definition of a leader is that he does not follow, but leads. He can lead his people to expand the horizons of his people and lead them to new, previously uncharted terrains. He opens new pathways in their thinking process and achieves what others might think is impractical. Only then can he truly lead and significantly enhance the lives of his constituents. In the words of General Montgomery: “The difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes a little longer!”

The best way to describe such a personality is “Keiser,” or Caesar, that procedure which creates a “door,” an “opening,” where nobody saw it possible. The true leader extracts the child through unconventional channels and pathways. Where others see closed walls, he creates unconventional openings.

The Greatest Revolutionary

Yet from all revolutionaries in history—from all the Caesars in history--Moshiach is going to be the greatest one yet: transforming the very consciousness of the entire world. He will win the greatest battle of all time: the battle over our instinctive selfishness, greed and egocentricity; the battle over our perceived material crudeness.

Moshiach will help people discover the inherent spirituality and unity of the entire universe and every creature in it. Such a leader must think “out of the box” in the most radical way, as he will reveal a new reality which the rest of us see as almost impossible. He will usher in the ultimate Caesarian birth: The “wall” which separates us from each other, the “wall” which separates us from infinity, the “wall” which eclipses our vision of the true integrated reality of our universe, will be opened and a new child, the child of peace and love, will emerge.

An Integrated Revolution

Yet here is the deal: Where many kings throughout history, many Casers, were indeed brazen, audacious, and unabashed—this quality of theirs was often mean and destructive: they imposed new realities on the people, causing bloodshed, violence and untold pain. Our world has seen many revolutionaries, many people who dreamt big and achieved the seemingly impossible, but at what price, and for what purpose? The French revolution killed three million, and the Russian revolution—50 million! The Chinese revolution exterminated 70 million. Most revolutions in history have been brutal and bloody, ultimately denying the human right they initially came to secure.

The uniqueness of Moshiach’s leadership is this: Though it will be the greatest revolution in history, it will nonetheless not be superimposed on humanity. On the contrary, Moshiach will reveal the incredible potential each person already has inside of him or her which lay dormant. He will not superimpose on humanity a “world order” to suit his dreams but will show humanity how to actualize its own inherent and innate spiritual and emotional potential, bringing to the fore our incredible inner goodness and holiness which has always been there behind the “door” which Moshiach will burst open.

This is the idea of the Caesar and half-Caesar during the time of Moshiach: Moshiach will not only be a Caesar, creating an unprecedented, unmatched and unparalleled revolution unlike anything previously in history; his revolution will be one that is fully integrated in the consciousness of people, one that will resonate within our own souls and hearts. He will not only be a “Caesar,” creating an opening in a closed wall but also a “half-Caesar,” creating openings that don’t seem radical at all, since they resonate so deeply. He will penetrate walls, which when penetrated reveal themselves to be no walls at all. Yes, he will break open walls, but only those which are blockages eclipsing our true inner alignment with infinity and oneness. In this he embodies the legacy of the first King David, a great revolutionary indeed, but one who worked and operated within the structure and framework of the people, not destroying them, but enhancing them.

Today, as the coronavirus and its aftermath brought the whole world to its knees, humanity is ready to open itself up to a new consciousness—of oneness, of interconnectivity, of transcendence, and a redefinition of man as a spiritual agent, an ambassador of love, light and hope. We are ready to live higher, to think higher, and to become the people we really are—manifestations of infinity in our world. We are ready for the revolution Moshiach will bring about, one that will be non-revolutionary at all: a return to the truth of our oneness with each other and with infinity.

________________

[1] Sanhedrin 98b

[2] Sefer Hasichos 5748 vol. 2. Cf. Likkutei Sichos vol. 35 Vayigash

[3] Tosefos Avoda Zarah 10b

[4] Bechoros 8b

[5] There is a legend that Julius himself was born this way. So it would seem from the simple reading of Tosefot. Yet most modern historians challenge this legend, because in ancient times the mother would in most cases die during such a surgery (if she was not dead already), where Julius’s mother lived to watch his victory against Britain. Actually, in Tosefot you can interpret the story to mean that Julius’s grandfather who was also a leader was born this way, or we may assume that in Julius’ case the mother survived the surgery. Another possibility is that his supposed mother who watch him triumph, was really his stepmother.

Please leave your comment below!

  • DR

    Dani R -2 years ago

    Kol hakavod. Great message!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • JM

    JACOB MICHEL -4 years ago

    FOR THE RECORD

    SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE DONE A BETTER JOB OF PROOFREADING.--HISTORICAL ERRORS.

    THE TALMUD AND TANACH AS DO WE IUSE THE LANGUAGE OF THEIR TIME/S TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES AND IDEAS OF THEIR TIMEWITH THAT IN MIND AS A GUIDING LIGHT

    HOW IS ONE SUPPOSED TO UNDERSTAND THE TERM "MASIACH" --TODAY???!!!

    WITHOUT THAT COMPONENT WHOLE ARTICLE HAS LOST ITS VALUE

    WOULD LIKE TO HEAR /READ FEEDBACK PLEASE

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • ĢS

    Ģeraldine Shenkin -4 years ago

    I hoope we are able to remeber these imes and continue to be kinder and more thoughtful of others.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • DHT

    Daniel Henry Thomas -4 years ago

    Dear Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak: THANK YOU !!!

    B''H

    Quite possibly, apart from Torah, this following phrase herein contains the most beautiful, powerful, amazing words I have ever read in my life:

    Moshiach will reveal the incredible potential each person already has inside of him or her which lay dormant. He will not superimpose on humanity a “world order” to suit his dreams, but will show humanity how to actualize its own inherent and innate spiritual and emotional potential, bringing to the fore our incredible inner goodness and holiness which has always been there behind the “door” which Moshiach will burst open.

    This totally makes sense, and positively helps us to bring down the apparently far-fetched concept of Moshiach into our everyday real world. To me, you truly indeed make a difference, most respected and admired Rabbi YY Jacobson, thank you immensely !!!

    May our Infinite Creator Eternal protect and fill you with blessings now and always.

    Daniel

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • N

    Naomi -4 years ago

    Thank you Rabbi Y Y Jacobson. Yet again you inspire, encourage and uplift us. Thank you so much. Omein, May we indeed see the coming of Moshiach imminently

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Anonymous -4 years ago

    Rav Avrohom Ya'akov - Ba'al HaEmess

    It is so often that chabad gets sidetracked from the truth. I will not involve the rebbe who told me himself he is not the moshiach. This pandemic...is not from hashem!

    Until yiddin understand this point they will be like a dog chasing his tail. This pandemic was developed in the bio-logical warfare labs of Wuhan, China. The only lesson to be learned here is how easy it to kill and hard to save lives. Yes, Chabad, satmar Chasidim and those who lost so many fine rabbis, who devoted their lives to Torah, community and helping others did not have to be victimized by the stubbornness, ignorance and refusal of their community to follow medical advice, social distancing, wearing masks and clean hygienic habits.

    Today as I sadly type this reply, crown heights, Monsey and Jerusalem are the hot spots for the china virus. Not a pandemic from hashem. Hashem is in charge not moshiach! Screaming "moshiach now" to hashem is chillul hashem. Where has G-d disappeared to?

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • MN

      Madelyn Novitsky -4 years ago

      You are very  angry/ gevurah/ judgement  at your own people. Hopefully Hashem  won't be same towards you. 

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • B

      binyomin -4 years ago

      Safe to say the Rebbe MHM knows the ins and outs of what qualifies as Chillul HaShem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnhMntRHqpo 

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • JM

      JACOB MICHEL -4 years ago

      PROBLEM IS: RELIGIOUS LEADERSHIP

      OUT OF SYNC WITH THE WORLD IN WHICH THEY LIVE--WHAT DOES THE "STREET" HAVE TO SAY?! NOT ONLY WHAT IS WRITTEN IN BOOKS GENERATION/S AGO

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • HG

      hershel gruenberg -4 years ago

      if this pandemic is not from Gd then perhaps you are not from this world !   you are a strange thinker.  do you say the blessing thanking Gd 'for not making me a goy' every morning?   you are one of the proofs of Gd greatness!   Only Gd could create such a strange thinker

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  • P

    pinchas -4 years ago

    An outstanding essay - relevant to our moment in time.  Have a beautiful Yom Tov! 

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

Essay Last Days of Pesach/Moshiach

Rabbi YY Jacobson
  • April 14, 2020
  • |
  • 20 Nisan 5780
  • |
  • 4954 views
  • Comment

Dedicated by Ronald Cohen in honor of his wife Yehudith bat Evelyn

Class Summary:

In 1988, on the last day of Pesach, the Lubavitcher Rebbe embarked on an incredible journey, explaining why the Talmud would associate the name of Moshiach with Julius Caesar—the famous Roman dictator, who would be assassinated on the steps of the Roman Senate, 24 years before the destruction of the Second Temple. Why would we want to refer to Moshiach as a “Caesar?”

The answer has to do with how Julius Caesar got this name—due to a Caesarian Birth, C-Section, in which the child is extracted through the mother’s abdomen. This procedure captures the great secret of what Moshiach represents.

Today, as the coronavirus and its aftermath brought the whole world to its knees, humanity is ready to open itself up to a new consciousness—of oneness, of interconnectivity, of transcendence, and a redefinition of man as a spiritual agent, an ambassador of love, light and hope. We are ready to live higher, to think higher, and to become the people we really are.

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