Title: The Alternative
Author: Rabbi Yehuda Schwartz
Publisher: Mazo Publishers
The Alternative, by Rabbi Yehuda Schwartz, outspoken “Inside View” columnist, is his first book since retiring from The Jewish Press more than 20 years ago. In it, he describes the cosmological connection between Israel and the nations and looks into the future on the subject of Messianism.
In the early 80’s, Rabbi Schwartz’ weekly column earned him an enviable reputation for his impeccable integrity, even as some may have argued with his style. In The Alternative, as a student of the late gaon Reb Chaim Zimmerman, z”l, the author has faithfully presented his understanding of the gaon’s position of redemption in our time, as he heard so many times at his public lectures and sitting at this table in Jerusalem for more than 20 years.
With a vengeance against all political correctness that permeates Jewish thinking on the controversial subject, the author also challenges both Christianity and Islam to come up with a better solution for all mankind than provided for in the Torah.
In The Alternative, Rabbi Schwartz presents the halachic argument for the other option in redemption, a natural evolution from Jewish statehood in 1948 until this very moment, when the nations are coming “on Jerusalem,” exactly as predicted by Jewish prophecy. It is the first comprehensive compendium in English on redemption which, except for a few sections limited to Torah scholars, is written in lucid, straightforward and precise language, with adequate endnotes and references to corroborate its conclusions.
Until now, the Rambam’s description of Messianism (see end Hilchot Melachim) has singularly dominated discussion and understanding on the subject of Moshiach. However, the transfer of Jewish ownership from the United Nations back into the collective hands of tzibbur in Israel, Rabbi Schwartz posits, effectively changed the rules of “his coming.”
The new school of thought no longer speaks of the “coming of Moshiach.” Rather, the modern understanding supports the probability that the Jewish nation, returned to its homeland, through a series of “natural causes,” is now preparing the infrastructure for the eventual body of Jewish law which will probably appoint the King of Israel, who will then be anointed with the oil of kings reserved for his occasion, according to tradition, now lying buried beneath the present Temple site.
In Chapter 4, the two redemption possibilities – “hastened” or “in its time” – based on the Gemara (Sanhedrin 98a) – and specifically outlined and developed in detail in the traditional Shmoneh Esreh, are opened to the reader perhaps for the first time, even though it is recited three time daily. At the beginning, to be worthy of the complete redemption in a “hastened” scenario, we need perfect faith, perfect repentance and perfect healing from the effects of the long exile.
The “in its time” possibility following, outlines and presents in detail the program of a natural redemption in our time, based on the Gemara (Megilla 17b).
Additional Messianic subjects covered in The Alternative are: Messianic Origins, Redemption and the Seven Proofs, Religious Wars, the Temple Mount, and the End of Days – The Future. When asked what he hoped to achieve with The Alternative, Rabbi Schwartz said he hoped it would open the hearts and minds of those many who simply have been confused over the years on the whole subject of Moshiach and were stuck with slogans.
To this reviewer, The Alternative is “an eye-opener,” a must for all serious students of the redemption, and a guidebook to future events as the world continues coming against Israel and Jerusalem.
Rabbi Schwartz’ courage and willingness to put his understanding of this period in book form, as he gleaned from a master of Torah and logic, will leave the burden of proof on future generations against his erudite presentation on the subject.
The Alternative is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Mazo Publishers and selected bookstores.Simon ben Simonov