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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)

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  • 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? Dec 10, 2019 at 5:33
  • @YaacovDeane thats only referring to the firrst stage. and even then, "the world will continue to function as its normal way" is referring to the revelation of the ohr ayn sof before the tzimtzum that existed in the garden of eden before the chait, since thats the "natural" way the world is supposed to work, which will also cause all of the things that happened in the garden of eden etc. to happen again, and then at the time of the techiya, which the rambam also agrees with, there will be a chidush of maaseh bereishis, the atzmus ohr ayn sof, new light that didnt even exist before the world Mar 6, 2022 at 13:35
  • @Yaakov5777 I didn’t posit the question in my comment because I am unfamiliar with any part of the subject. I presented it in order to help the OP to improve their question by reflecting on the details I pointed to. Like I mentioned, the sources they seem to be deriving their question are predominantly Midrash and kabbalistic sources. But not filtering that through the halachic sources will get you into trouble. It will move away from the truth and create doubts and questions. And that is what the OP says they are experiencing. Mar 6, 2022 at 23:27

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BH

Question:

"if the age is one where the earth ceases to exist and instead merges with a divine plane of existence."

In a way yes, and in a way no

The Earth will definitely not cease to exist, Rashi in the beginning of Haazinu brings from Razal that the heavens and Earth will exist forever, which is why Moshe used them as witnsses who can "Warn" the Jews to continue to keep the Torah:

"..אמר משה אני בשר ודם למחר אני מת, אם יאמרו ישראל לא קבלנו עלינו הברית מי בא ומכחישם, לפיכך העיד בהם שמים וארץ, עדים שהן קיימים לעולם

Moses said: “I am [just] flesh and blood. Tomorrow I will die. If Israel says, ‘We never accepted the covenant,’ who will come and refute them?” Therefore, he called upon heaven and earth as witnesses for Israel-witnesses that endure forever."

But it still does say that "I will make a new heavens and new Earth", but its explained in many places, that this is similar to "A new Torah will go out from me", that's not, chos vishalom, to say that the Torah will be nullified Rachmana Leetzlawn; rather, it means that there will be a new depth to the Torah. So too, there will be a new depth to the Heavens and Earth, but you are right about the Earth having a revelation of the spiritual worlds, it says clearly in many sources, that the revelation will be "below, just like it is above", see Torah Ohr page 2 [and even before that a little, and end of Likutei Torah]:

" לעתיד לבא דכתיב ואת רוח הטומאה אעביר כו' ולא יהיה כלל בחי' קליפה המסתרת גילוי אלקות וכן נאמר ולא יכנף עוד מוריך והיו עיניך רואות כו'. א"כ א"צ כלל ענין בחי' הביטול של היש שזהו בחי' הרצוא דעכשיו לצאת מבחי' ההפך המנגד כו'. וזהו הנני עושה חדשה בארץ. פי' שלא יהיה כמו עכשיו בחי' רצוא ואתעדל"ת שעי"ז יהיה ההמשכה שאז כיון שיהיה הגילוי למטה כמו למעלה א"כ אין שייך רצוא "

brief summary: In the future, no more spirit of impurity, no more kleepas which conceal the revelation of Elokus, and so too "your teacher will not be concealed and your eyes will see", so we won't need to have the idea of ratso [going out of oneself] or working on ourselves to be nullified [bitul hayesh], since nowadays that is only to go out of the kleepa etc.

and it says that Hashem will make a "renewal" in the Earth [which refers to ratso as it said before], such that we won't need ratso in order to draw down Hashem's light, since the revelation will be "below, just like above"

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The primary opinion in the Talmud is that "the only difference between the Messianic era and our current one will be how the other nations treat the Jews." This is also how Maimonides rules in his Code.

The prophets' description of predatory animals dwelling with prey ones is thus interpreted as an allegory for an end to anti-Semitism -- itself no small feat.

The other midrashic/kabbalistic sources you cited either reflect minority opinions that things will work differently, or more likely were also intended as allegory. For instance, "the Temple dropping in from Heaven" is a way of saying how suddenly and surprisingly it will be constructed against the odds.

Maimonides himself opens his commentary to the last chapter of Sanhedrin with a diatribe against midrashic literalism. One example he gives explicitly is that the Talmud says "in the future, fine cakes and deluxe cloth will grow out of the land of Israel." That does not mean they will literally grow on trees; rather that the land will become an economic powerhouse -- like saying "Joe got so rich overnight, it's like money grew on trees for him."

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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

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  • 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). Dec 10, 2019 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, 2019 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, 2019 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. Dec 10, 2019 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, 2019 at 20:31

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