DAY 9: FOOTSTEPS OF MASHIACH
Updated: May 31, 2020
The phrase of עקבתא דמשיחא (“the footsteps of Mashiach”), signifying our era at the very dawn of the Redemption, appears to point in two opposite directions.
The first word derives from the root עקב, meaning “heel”, the part of the body that is so far from spirituality that it has been called “the Angel of Death in man.” As such this word indicates that in these latter generations, Divinity is revealed in this world only minimally.
On the other hand, it is this very generation, lowly as it may be, that will witness the Redemption. Indeed, this era is called עקבתא דמשיחא because, as the latter word of the phrase indicates, we can feel and hear the footsteps of Mashiach.
It could well be argued that the second concept in this phrase depends on the first. Precisely because this generation is a “heel” in the sense that it is located at the extremity of Jewish history, the last generation that comes after and in the wake of all the preceding generations, it benefits from all the accumulated spiritual energy of its predecessors. For this reason, indeed, it is our generation that will be privileged to experience the Ultimate Redemption. A man’s heel is certainly situated lower than all the other organs, but it is upon the heel that they all, including the heart and the head, stand. Indeed, when the head wishes to move from place to place, it is the heel that makes this possible.
At the same time, a heel should realize that it is no more than — a heel. Being aware that all the other organs are superior to it, it is able to hold them erect and to move them about according to need. And the same is true of the generation of ikvesa diMeshicha. This “heel”-generation should realize that it is no more than a “heel”: its superior quality consists only in the fact that it comes after and in the wake of all the preceding generations.