As we all know, Judaism is a flexible, human-driven (human Rabbis I mean), masses-friendly religion. While the basic premises remain intact, the Halachic norms change - things that were widely accepted earlier become prohibited and the vice versa.

Throughout times, Rabbis institute various decrees or write interpretations that aim to fit Judaism more closely to reality, environment and the spirit of the time, for example, the attitude toward women (e.g. female Rabbis), Kiddushin and Gittin, Torah study (extent and scope), Shabbos technological leniences, attitude toward gentiles and the Israeli State.

Knowing the relative fluidity of practical Halachah, did any Rabbi speculate on possible future (to them) developments in Judaism (besides stating that the Halachah will return to Beit Shammai's position)?

E.g. did anybody say "we keep so and so, but one way that may/will change and the observant Jews may keep otherwise"? Also, I not only mean the strict Halachic changes but general norms, for example, clothes, language, non-halachic traditions, etc.

  • I'm sorry, but your entire premise is wrong. Torah observance has remained the same forever. There is no such thing as a Torah-observant female Rabbi, for one thing. The only thing that one could even begin to consider as having "changed" is that the Rabbis instituted several stringencies ONLY to prevent the infraction of already-existing laws. If something in Judaism apparently does not fit reality, you are simply not practicing Judaism. Apr 26 at 19:39

2 Answers 2


Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkay predicted (apparently wrongly, as indicated by the context) that a future generation would change a law, declaring a loaf of third degree impurity to be pure (Sota 5:2).

אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, מִי יְגַלֶּה עָפָר מֵעֵינֶיךָ, רַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי, שֶׁהָיִיתָ אוֹמֵר, עָתִיד דּוֹר אַחֵר לְטַהֵר כִּכָּר שְׁלִישִׁי, שֶׁאֵין לוֹ מִקְרָא מִן הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁהוּא טָמֵא

Rabbi Joshua said: who will remove the dust from your eyes, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, since you used to say that in the future another generation will pronounce clean a loaf which is unclean in the third degree on the grounds that there is no text in the Torah according to which it is unclean!


Maimonides writes:

"He [G-d] who is everlasting, constant, and in no way subject to change; immutable in His Essence, and as He consists of nought but His Essence, He is mutable in no way whatever; not mutable in His relation to other things: for there is no relation whatever existing between Him and any other being, as will be explained below, and therefore no change as regard; such relations can take place in Him. Hence He is immutable in every respect, as He expressly declares, "I, the Lord, do not change" (Mal. 3:6).

– Part 1, Chapter 11, verse 2.

And G-d is, “the stable one who undergoes no manner of change…nor a change in His relation to what is other than Himself” - Guide 1:11 (emphasis added). Yet some acts are not even commanded in the Torah but the rabbis made them as to show love of G-d. Moshe said you cannot add to the law. But these rabbis weren’t adding. These expressions are the divine Will. The rabbis have derived these acts through celebration and delving into the Torah with deep study (immersed in Torah study). But these exquisite commands are not alluded nor nuance in text. They are sensed. Take for instance the rabbinical enactments, safeguards, customs and embellishments (hiddur mitzvah). The community also sends gifts and food on Purim, not a biblical law found the Torah. We eat fruits on Tu B’Shvat, and even celebrate (dance) with the Torah when finished reading. 
Nevertheless G-d expects us add fences to the biblical laws. For instance, an eye for an eye is to mean compensation as in payment.

Another example are the sacrifices. G-d neither needs nor wants sacrifices, and only allowed it because people in ancient times felt differently. It is a concession to human needs. The Rambam also states that this is not only his view but is the view of the prophets.

We can add that the ancient rabbis around 70 CE when the temple was destroyed also felt that sacrifices were unnecessary. Therefore when the temple was destroyed, they did not seek a way to continue sacrifices. It would have been easy for them to do so if they felt it was necessary. 

Of course, as is to be expected, many rabbis disagreed. We still have many references in the siddur praying for the restoration of sacrifices. But the siddur is a compendium of many often conflicting ideas, which prompt us to think and to remember the past.

In the Babylonian Talmud, Nidah 61b, Rabbi Joseph says: “The mitzvot [commandments] will be abolished in the time to come (WtC).” Apparently, rabbis’ Abraham and Joshua Flak are in agreement. In his Sefer Ha-ikkarim, 14th-century rabbi Joseph Albo says that a future prophet may abolish or nullify all of the biblical commands except for the Decalogue, given that he has authority from Hashem. That is to say, he may do away with the Mosaic law if G-d’s voice is heard again under the canopy of six-hundred thousand people as was in the event at Sinai.

Is this person whom Albo is speaking of lives in the future Messianic earth? Maimonides said that nothing miraculous will happen except that all non-Jews will become Jews. So it appears that some say all the laws will be abolished because there will be no need for repairs. Yet others say that if a future prophet appears and claims to nullify the laws, Hashem must grant him authority first. Though Albo thinks this unlikely, he leaves room for its possibility.

Thus, if a prophet were to announce his prophethood to be greater then Moshe or in another country, or not at all, and whether or not he is the Moshiach, s/he must first find approval from Hashem in order to abolish or nullify the Mosaic laws (Mitzvos).

This in no way entails that Jesus (generally acclaimed to be the Messiah by Christians) or Muhammad (customarily declared to be the final prophet by Muslims) meet the requirements expressed by the views of R. Albo or Maimonides as neither of the two candidates advocate to be a good predecessor to Moshe Rabbeinu in front of mass witnesses (six-hundred thousand people) to proclaim that this is the new Will of G-d. As noted above, G-d does not change His Will but allows certain laws (sacrifices) in place of human needs, which may be removed when humanity is ready to progress.

  • I'm sure you are aware, but I fear many readers may not be aware, of the strong opposition the Ramban took to the Rambam's apparent position that sacrifices are only a response to people's needs. This is not a minor issue.
    – Mordechai
    Aug 9, 2019 at 4:37
  • @Mordechai Yes, I think you are correct. Most people do not know the Ramban’s position regarding sacrifices concerning the Rambam’s view.
    – Turk Hill
    Aug 9, 2019 at 4:43
  • You guys do realize he wrote that in מורה הנבוכים, right? Even he himself probably disagreed with the idea. Apr 26 at 19:42
  • @QwertyCTRL. Yes, in Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed 3:32, you will see that he takes a strong stand on the issue, saying that God neither needs nor wants sacrifices, and only allowed it because people in ancient times felt differently. It is a concession to human needs. He also states that this is not only his view but is the view of the prophets.
    – Turk Hill
    May 1 at 16:26
  • 1
    @QwertyCTRL. fair enough.
    – Turk Hill
    May 2 at 18:33

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