After Maor was born, we decided to start looking for a bigger apartment. We felt both excited and hesitant to leave the space that had become our home for almost two years but also knew that moving would allow us necessary room to grow. We found our new apartment pretty quickly after seeing an ad posted online. I came to see the place and loved the size (a two bedroom instead of our studio seemed like a huge upgrade!) and how it was filled to the brim with light from three sides of the building. Ben came to see the place the next day and, after comparing with a few more places, we decided this one suited our needs best. The landlord agreed to send us the lease and told us to look it over and made any additions we felt necessary.
When we received the lease, Ben read it over and told me there was something I needed to read for myself. I told him I wasn’t really interested (time to read with a newborn around is very precious and I didn’t much feel like spending it reading legal jargon) but he insisted and pointed me to the end of the lease. As my eyes skimmed over the last few clauses, I did a double take upon reading the word “Messiah.” Sleep deprivation had been setting in so it wasn’t out of the question that I could be hallucinating. I read it again and realized I was not, in fact, mistaken. The clause read, “Upon the coming of the messiah, tenants agree to vacate the apartment within 15 days.” Period. As if this were a completely normal request and subject to appear in a rental agreement! The owners of the property live in America and apparently want to make sure they have a place in the holy city upon the arrival of the messiah. Seems reasonable, right?
At first we laughed at the silliness of two worlds colliding – our religious beliefs and legal contract. The spiritual and physical realms. Then I started thinking about what this could mean. “But Ben, what if Mashiach (the messiah) DOES come and then we have no where to live because everyone is trying to come to Jerusalem? And what does this say about the landlords? That their first act of this messianic era will be to evict their tenants so they have a place for themselves? And what if they belong to some fringe sect and think Mashiach is their cousin’s dog?” It was not comforting, to say the least. We went through many scenarios during the conversation, both chuckling at envisioning this seemingly far off reality and then questioning our own religious beliefs and their applications in our lives. It is what we are praying for, right? A basic tenet of Judaism being that we are eagerly awaiting and trying to bring Mashiach “speedily, in our days.” Honestly, It’s always been too huge a concept for me to wrap my head around I’m embarrassed to admit. One of those massive ideas I’ve come to terms with not fully grasping and deciding to table for the time being. But why not believe it could happen at any moment? This conversation went on for a while.
Finally, we agreed that defining the terms in the lease would make the most sense and set us a little more at ease. We told the landlord that we’d like to add in, just to be sure, that it must be the messiah as agreed upon by Clal Yisrael (the majority of the Jewish people). He laughed out loud and said, “Yes, of course.. come on, we’re not crazy!”
Follow up: Great article by Yehoshua Looks on the legality of the Messiah Clause: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/rabbis-round-table/.premium-1.573886
(click here to get behind the paywall: http://bit.ly/1bMmuYY )