Translated and adapted by Chaya Sara Ben Shachar
Moments before his passing, Yaakov Avinu (Jacob) looked at his twelve sons and said: "Gather and I will tell you what will happen to you at the end of days." (Genesis 49:1).
Yaakov's gaze pierced through the thick fog of the future so as to be able to see "the end of days"-- the coming of the Moshiach.
In Yaakov's blessing to his fourth son, Yehudah (Judah), the son destined to royalty, he offers some visions as to what the world will be like when Moshiach arrives. "He binds his foal to a vine, and to a tendril [he binds] his young donkey. [He launders] his garment with wine, and with the blood of grapes binds his raiment" (Ibid 11).
Moshiach will ride a donkey. There is a parable here. A lesson to be learned.
The letters of the word chamor, the Hebrew of the word donkey, share the same root word as the Hebrew word chomarius, materiality. The donkey of Moshiach symbolizes the materiality of this world. It is a symbol of physical abundance.
Wealth. Physicality. Corporeality. Moshiach rides the donkey of day to day living in this world. His riding is symbolic of his having conquered it all; of his overcoming the strong pull of physical bounty. Overcoming the greed and constant feeling of pursuit from trying to attain it all. Moshiach lives on an above-physical plane. He lives in a world where trying to live up to the Joneses doesn't exist. For him physicality is but a tool with which to attain spiritual greatness.
And Moshiach will be there for all of humanity. He will show us all how to leave the haze of physicality for the eminent pleasure of living above it all. Above the competition and self-destruction of always trying to reach the top of the corporate ladder.
That is one of the messages that Yaakov gives his children before his passing. The message of Moshiach and all that he stands for. May he come speedily in our days.