When I read about the various descriptions regarding the messianic age, I can't help but wonder if the age is one where the earth ceases to exist and instead merges with a divine plane of existence.

  • The rising of the dead
  • The amount of Jews living in the State of Israel
  • The Holy Temple falling from the sky
  • Animals that were once predatory living in harmony
  • Knowledge of the Torah being accessible in the minds of all
  • etc.

There are various ideas which have been discussed regarding the messianic age. Obviously, there is debate regarding these ideas and much of these are up in the air.

I'm simply asking if the Messianic Age is an "end of the world as we know it" kind of situation and less of a revelation. If the events depicted actually came to fruition, the very nature of life on earth would be altered drastically and in a divine fashion. This makes me wonder if the messianic age is a union between heaven and earth (even partially)

  • Interesting question Avri. You are bringing many concepts mentioned in midrash and kabbalistic sources. But how do you resolve those with the straightforward idea mentioned in halacha (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 12:2 & Brachot 34b, for example) that there is no difference between this world and the’Days of Moshiach’ except in regard to servitude to the Monarchy? – Yaacov Deane Dec 10 '19 at 5:33

In truth, the Torah and Moses never described a godly messiah nor speaks of him arriving miraculously in the clouds of heaven on days of judgment. What the Torah emphasizes is improvement, for people to create a better world. The Bible stresses repeatedly, that if people act properly, all will be well with them and vice-versa.

The messianic age is a gradual evolutionary process. Nevertheless, people, as well as many respected rabbis need to feel better psychologically, that a personal savior will arise to save them and the world. However, Maimonides was convinced that this event will be a natural affair.[1] Natural law will continue to act as it always had. Isaiah spoke figuratively when he described lions lying with sheep and beating swords into plowshares. It is poetically describing a time when all countries, all religions, and all men and women will work together to improve themselves and society. It is a natural period and people should work hard to create such an age. Maimonides writes: “Do not think that the messiah must perform miracles. Do not think the laws of nature will change.”[2]

The word “messiah,” means “an anointed,” and it is mesheach in Hebrew. But neither the man nor the time will be supernatural. The messiah will be a human who lives and dies as all humans do. The messianic age will be a time when Jews live in peace and are not subjugated under foreign rule.

[1] Maimonides wrote to the Yemenite Jews that a messiah would come to help them psychologically. They apricated his letter, so much so, that they later added a kaddish prayer for him and they still say it, even to this day

[2] See Mishneh Torah, Law of Kings, chapters 11 and 12

  • If you ignore/deny the oral Torah, then your opening sentenced is 'possible' to argue. However, that position is forbidden (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah, 3:8). Good actions are indeed prescribed by the Torah. The idea that the "messianic age" is an evolutionary process is true. But how "gradual" it is, meaning unhurried as contrasted with sudden, is the opposite of our oral tradition (Mechilta d'Rabbi Yishmael 12:42). What "natural law" and the natural order means according to the Torah is also not as you suggest. (See for example section 3 of Rabbi Meir Ibn Gabbai's Avodat HaKodesh). – Yaacov Deane Dec 10 '19 at 19:03
  • I do not ignore the oral Torah, but I recognize that natural law will not change, now, in the past, or the future. Maimonides writes: “Do not think that the messiah must perform miracles. Do not think the laws of nature will change.” If we address the Torah, it becomes apparent that the messianic age is a natural event, Isaiah spoke figuratively. To answer your question, we do not know, and may never know when the age will arrive or how gradual the process will be. We should just do all we can while we are alive to create such an age. – Turk Hill Dec 10 '19 at 20:10
  • Touching tradition, I addressed the apparent contradiction in Rambam's letter to the Yemenite Jews when he told an “essential truth," showing his concerns. People often feel better psychologically if they believe G-d watches over them like a loving father, promising to send glorious victory, a godly messiah miraculously arriving in triumphant clouds. But G-d is not involved in the world, and it is up to us to better it. Let us not rely on G-d; but in ourselves, as G-d desires. Tikkun Olam. – Turk Hill Dec 10 '19 at 20:10
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    Rambam's letter to the Jews of Yemen was addressing a specific problem in that community at that time. It was not intended as a general teaching. This is common mistake. When reading responsa literature, it is extremely important to read through the filter of the question asked. That letter was in response to a false messianic individual and his claims to the community there at the time. – Yaacov Deane Dec 10 '19 at 20:28
  • The Rambam addressed their needs due to persecutions, and later he addressed that a messiah would come. His father did the same, though to a different community. – Turk Hill Dec 10 '19 at 20:31

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