I read an article from the website Torah Musings titled "Was Rabbi Hillel a Heretic?" I found the explanations offered by rabbis throughout the ages interesting and it's got me thinking, the Torah speaks nothing of any messiah. The central message is always aligning personal responsibility, the responsibility we have with our own reality, and therefore a personal responsibility.

I know this is probably a minor opinion, but are there other members here that have a similar thinking? If so, what has brought you to your conclusion? Am I wrong for believing doing away with this retrograde ideology of a Messiah solving all our problems?

Here's a link to the article: https://www.torahmusings.com/2010/06/was-rabbi-hillel-a-heretic-2/

  • 3
    How does removing a Messiah solve any problems? What makes it retrograde? – Double AA Mar 3 at 17:14

The Torah does include a reference to the Messiah, when Balaam [the Gentile prophet] says:

[I] heard the words of God, and know the knowledge of the most High, [and] saw the vision of the Almighty... A star shall shoot forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel… A ruler shall come out of Jacob... [Numbers 24:12-19]

This passage is understood by all commentators to refer to the future Messiah. The prophet Isaiah elaborated:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government is upon his shoulder. His name shall be “Wonderful Counselor of the Mighty God, of the Everlasting Father, of the Prince of Peace”. [His mission shall be] to increase government, establish unending peace upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, and uphold it through justice and righteousness from that time forth and forevermore. [Isaiah 9:5-6]

Later, Isaiah adds:

And there shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow from his roots; and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord... And he shall not judge by what his eyes see, nor decide by what his ears hear, but he shall judge with righteousness... and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked... And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb And the leopard shall lie down with the kid And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together And a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed.
Their young ones shall lie down together.
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp. And the weaned child shall put his hand in the vipers' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse... To which the nations shall seek... And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again, the second time, to recover the remnant of his people... and He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth... Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim. [Isaiah 11:1-13]

  • 4
    Surely the reason why the commentators feel the need to say that it is a reference to the Messiah is that from just the Biblical text alone it is not a clear reference to the Messiah? – Alex Mar 3 at 19:40
  • 2
    Any reason to believe that those passages in Isaiah necessarily refer to a future Messiah? Also, Rabbi Hillel may or may not have interpreted those passages about the Messiah but even if there was a prophesied Messiah he says that he died in Hezekiah's time and there won't be another one in the future, so really the passages about the Messiah in Isaiah don't disprove this view, because the future for Isaiah can be the past for us (which is why the Gemara has to quote from Zechariah to at least prove there would still be a Messiah after Hezekiah) – b a Mar 3 at 22:06
  • @ba -- You can call the subject of the prophecy by any name you want. But what is expected of the Messiah is described there. – Maurice Mizrahi Mar 3 at 22:11
  • 2
    @MauriceMizrahi Maybe what the name exactly means isn't so clear, but given that there is a "there will be a Messiah" / "there will not be a Messiah" dispute in the Talmud, and that this is exactly what the question is about, I don't think that you can dismiss the question that easily. – b a Mar 3 at 23:30
  • Isaiah 9:5 is not about Moshiach. It's about King Hezekiah. – Ephraim77 Mar 8 at 17:43

The questioner is correct, there is no explicit commandment in the Bible/Torah to believe in a Messiah. And if someone bases religious requirements as: statements or commandments within the Torah/Bible; then there is no "need" to believe in a Messiah. The Torah has no outright mentions of a Messiah, and while others mention a "hint" of the Messiah in the Torah I find this hint to be far fetched.

[I] heard the words of God, and know the knowledge of the most High, [and] saw the vision of the Almighty... A star shall shoot forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel… A ruler shall come out of Jacob... [Numbers 24:12-19]

Sure the above statement from the Torah could be referring to a Messiah.... Or it could just be referring to a Kingship coming from the line of Judah, which I think reflects the words of the prophecy much more, and is still impressive considering the nation of Israel has no king and won't for hundreds of years. But to then say this hint must apply to a Messiah instead of a king from Judah seems like too much of a stretch to me.

However, the concept of the Messiah is one of the longest ongoing concepts in Judaism, with Messianic "hints" increasing toward the closing of the Tanakh. Byy the time of the Mishnah, belief in a Messiah is so common it can be considered a central tenet of "normative Judaism" from then til today. We even find outside religious sources such as Josephus discussing a Messiah. Fast forward close to a thousand years and belief in a Messiah is codified as one of Rambam's principles of faith, which a lot of Jews believe is a definitive list of belief requirements. So in the year 2021 it would be hard to be taken seriously as a religious Jew if you didn't believe in a Messiah.

But from a strictly Torah commandment perspective, I cannot find even a worthwhile hint of a Messiah or a required belief in one from the Torah.

  • 1
    I am somewhat confused by this answer. You begin by saying that one does not need to believe in a Messiah, but then note that it is codified as one of the principles of faith. You then conclude that it is not a Biblical requirement, implying that it is a rabbinic requirement. Can you clarify? – Alex Mar 9 at 0:42
  • 1
    Migrate to Biblical Hermeneutics? The question is about Judaism, not what is literally written explicitly in certain books. Do Tefillin not need to be black "from a strictly Torah commandment perspective"? – Double AA Mar 9 at 18:21
  • 1
    @DoubleAA I disagree. This is the part of the question I'm focusing on "it's got me thinking, the Torah speaks nothing of any messiah....I know this is probably a minor opinion, but are there other members here that have a similar thinking?" I don't see how my answer isn't completely in line with the question as asked. – Aaron Mar 9 at 18:29

According to Rashi, Rav Joseph did not call Rabbi Hillel a heretic when Hillel said that the messiah will not come. He felt that Hillel's sin was in the saying, not believing. Besides, the Talmud does not say that Rabbi Hillel is a heretic.



Original question:

"Does one need to believe in a messiah?"

Asking why we need to believe in Moshiach is similar to asking why we need to put on tefillin, eat matzah on paysawch, stay away from non kosher food, not worship idols, keep Shabbos, not steal, not murder, believe in the Torah, Hashem's unity, prophecy, the prophecy of Moyshe etc., It's part of the fundamental aspects of the entire Torah

Here are the thirteen fundamental principals of the entire Torah, codified by Rambam and accepted by the entire people of Yisroyayl, see number 12 specifically:

The Thirteen Principles of Jewish faith (as recorded in Maimonides' introduction to Perek Chelek) are as follows:

  1. Belief in the existence of the Creator, who is perfect in every manner of existence and is the Primary Cause of all that exists.

  2. The belief in G‑d's absolute and unparalleled unity.

  3. The belief in G‑d's non-corporeality, nor that He will be affected by any physical occurrences, such as movement, or rest, or dwelling.

  4. The belief in G‑d's eternity.

  5. The imperative to worship G‑d exclusively and no foreign false gods.

  6. The belief that G‑d communicates with man through prophecy.

  7. The belief in the primacy of the prophecy of Moses our teacher.

  8. The belief in the divine origin of the Torah.

  9. The belief in the immutability of the Torah.

  10. The belief in G‑d's omniscience and providence.

  11. The belief in divine reward and retribution.

12. The belief in the arrival of the Messiah and the messianic era.

  1. The belief in the resurrection of the dead.

Besides for that, the Rambam writes in the laws of kings chapter 11 https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1188356/jewish/Melachim-uMilchamot-Chapter-11.htm the absolute fundamental importance of the belief in Moshiach, and that one who denies him, or even "doesn't hope for his coming", denies not only all of the prophets, but even the prophecy of Moyshe in the 5 books of the Torah itself

He then brings 3 sources for Moshiach (or at least the idea of the redemption) from the Torah itself, then makes it clear that there is no need to bring a proof from the other prophets, since they are "all filled with this idea"

In the Rambam's own words {cited above}:

In the future, the Messianic king will arise and renew the Davidic dynasty, restoring it to its initial sovereignty. He will build the Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel.

Then, in his days, the observance of all the statutes will return to their previous state. We will offer sacrifices, observe the Sabbatical and Jubilee years according to all their particulars as described by the Torah.

Anyone who does not believe in him or does not await his coming, denies not only the statements of the other prophets, but those of the Torah and Moses, our teacher. The Torah testified to his coming, as Deuteronomy 30:3-5 states:

God will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you. He will again gather you from among the nations... Even if your Diaspora is at the ends of the heavens, God will gather you up from there... and bring you to the land....

These explicit words of the Torah include all the statements made by all the prophets.

Reference to Mashiach is also made in the portion of Bilaam who prophesies about two anointed kings: the first anointed king, David, who saved Israel from her oppressors; and the final anointed king who will arise from his descendants and save Israel in the end of days. That passage Numbers 24:17-18 relates:

'I see it, but not now' - This refers to David;

'I perceive it, but not in the near future;" - This refers to the Messianic king;

'A star shall go forth from Jacob' - This refers to David;

'and a staff shall arise in Israel' - This refers to the Messianic king;

'crushing all of Moab's princes' - This refers to David as II Samuel 8:2 relates: 'He smote Moab and measured them with a line;'

'decimating all of Seth's descendants' - This refers to the Messianic king about whom Zechariah 9:10 prophesies: 'He will rule from sea to sea.'

'Edom will be demolished' - This refers to David as II Samuel 8:6 states 'Edom became the servants of David;'

'Seir will be destroyed' - this refers to the Messianic king as Ovadiah 1:21 prophesies: 'Saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau....'

א הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ עָתִיד לַעֲמֹד וּלְהַחְזִיר מַלכוּת דָּוִד לְיָשְׁנָהּ לַמֶּמְשָׁלָה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה. וּבוֹנֶה הַמִּקְדָּשׁ וּמְקַבֵּץ נִדְחֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְחוֹזְרִין כָּל הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים בְּיָמָיו כְּשֶׁהָיוּ מִקֹּדֶם. מַקְרִיבִין קָרְבָּנוֹת. וְעוֹשִׂין שְׁמִטִּין וְיוֹבְלוֹת כְּכָל מִצְוָתָן הָאֲמוּרָה בַּתּוֹרָה. וְכָל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַאֲמִין בּוֹ. אוֹ מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְחַכֶּה לְבִיאָתוֹ. לֹא בִּשְׁאָר נְבִיאִים בִּלְבַד הוּא כּוֹפֵר. אֶלָּא בַּתּוֹרָה וּבְמשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ. שֶׁהֲרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הֵעִידָה עָלָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ל, ג) "וְשָׁב ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת שְׁבוּתְךָ וְרִחֲמֶךָ וְשָׁב וְקִבֶּצְךָ" וְגוֹ' (דברים ל, ד) "אִם יִהְיֶה נִדַּחֲךָ בִּקְצֵה הַשָּׁמָיִם" וְגוֹ' (דברים ל, ה) "וֶהֱבִיאֲךָ ה'". וְאֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים הַמְפֹרָשִׁים בַּתּוֹרָה הֵם כּוֹלְלִים כָּל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁנֶּאֶמְרוּ עַל יְדֵי כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים. אַף בְּפָרָשַׁת בִּלְעָם נֶאֱמַר וְשָׁם נִבֵּא בִּשְׁנֵי הַמְּשִׁיחִים. בַּמָּשִׁיחַ הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁהוּא דָּוִד שֶׁהוֹשִׁיעַ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִיַּד צָרֵיהֶם. וּבַמָּשִׁיחַ הָאַחֲרוֹן שֶׁעוֹמֵד מִבָּנָיו שֶׁמּוֹשִׁיעַ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל [בָּאַחֲרוֹנָה]. וְשָׁם הוּא אוֹמֵר (במדבר כד, יז) "אֶרְאֶנּוּ וְלֹא עַתָּה" זֶה דָּוִד. (במדבר כד, יז) "אֲשׁוּרֶנּוּ וְלֹא קָרוֹב" זֶה מֶלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ. (במדבר כד, יז) "דָּרַךְ כּוֹכָב מִיַּעֲקֹב" זֶה דָּוִד. (במדבר כד, יז) "וְקָם שֵׁבֶט מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל" זֶה מֶלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ. (במדבר כד, יז) "וּמָחַץ פַּאֲתֵי מוֹאָב" זֶה דָּוִד. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (שמואל ב ח, ב) "וַיַּךְ אֶת מוֹאָב וַיְמַדְּדֵם בַּחֶבֶל" (במדבר כד, יז) "וְקַרְקַר כָּל בְּנֵי שֵׁת" זֶה הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בּוֹ (זכריה ט, י) "וּמָשְׁלוֹ מִיָּם עַד יָם". (במדבר כד, יח) "וְהָיָה אֱדוֹם יְרֵשָׁה" זֶה דָּוִד. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל ב ח, יד) "וַתְּהִי אֱדוֹם לְדָוִד לַעֲבָדִים" וְגוֹ'. (במדבר כד, יח) "וְהָיָה יְרֵשָׁה" וְגוֹ' זֶה הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (עובדיה א, כא) "וְעָלוּ מוֹשִׁעִים בְּהַר צִיּוֹן" וְגוֹ':

2 Similarly, with regard to the cities of refuge, Deuteronomy 19:8-9 states: 'When God will expand your borders... you must add three more cities.' This command was never fulfilled. Surely, God did not give this command in vain.

There is no need to cite proofs from the works of the prophets for all their books are filled with mention of this matter.

ב אַף בְּעָרֵי מִקְלָט הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים יט, ח) "אִם יַרְחִיב ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת גְּבֻלְךָ" (דברים יט, ט) "וְיָסַפְתָּ לְךָ עוֹד שָׁלֹשׁ עָרִים" וְגוֹ'. וּמֵעוֹלָם לֹא הָיָה דָּבָר זֶה. וְלֹא צִוָּה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְתֹהוּ. אֲבָל בְּדִבְרֵי הַנְּבִיאִים אֵין הַדָּבָר צָרִיךְ רְאָיָה שֶׁכָּל הַסְּפָרִים מְלֵאִים בְּדָבָר זֶה:

The Rambam also mentions the coming of Moshiach in the laws of Teshuva chapter 9:

2 For these reasons, all Israel, [in particular,] their prophets and their Sages, have yearned for the Messianic age so they can rest from the [oppression of] the gentile kingdoms who do not allow them to occupy themselves with Torah and mitzvot properly. They will find rest and increase their knowledge in order to merit the world to come.

In that era, knowledge, wisdom, and truth will become abundant. [Isaiah 11:9] states, "The earth will be full of the knowledge of God." [Jeremiah 31:33] states: "One man will no longer teach his brother, nor a man his colleague... [for all will know Me]." And [Ezekiel 36:26] states: "I will take away the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

[These changes will come about] because the king who will arise from David's descendants will be a greater master of knowledge than Solomon and a great prophet, close to the level of Moses, our teacher. Therefore, he will teach the entire nation and instruct them in the path of God.

All the gentile nations will come to hear him as [Isaiah 2:2] states: "And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of God's house shall be established at the peak of the mountains... [and all the nations shall flow to it]."

[Nevertheless,] the ultimate of all reward and the final good which will have no end or decrease is the life of the world to come. In contrast, the Messianic age will be [life within the context of] this world, with the world following its natural pattern except that sovereignty will return to Israel.

The Sages of the previous generations have already declared: "There is no difference between the present age and the Messianic era except [the emancipation] from our subjugation to the [gentile] kingdoms."

ב וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה נִתְאַוּוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל נְבִיאֵיהֶם וְחַכְמֵיהֶם לִימוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּנוּחוּ מִמַּלְכֻיּוֹת שֶׁאֵינָן מְנִיחוֹת לָהֶן לַעֲסֹק בַּתּוֹרָה וּבַמִּצְוֹת כַּהֹגֶן. וְיִמְצְאוּ לָהֶם מַרְגּוֹעַ וְיִרְבּוּ בְּחָכְמָה כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּזְכּוּ לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. לְפִי שֶׁבְּאוֹתָן הַיָּמִים תִּרְבֶּה הַדֵּעָה וְהַחָכְמָה וְהָאֱמֶת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה יא ט) "כִּי מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ דֵּעָה אֶת ה'". וְנֶאֱמַר (ירמיה לא לג) "וְלֹא יְלַמְּדוּ אִישׁ אֶת אָחִיו וְאִישׁ אֶת רֵעֵהוּ". וְנֶאֱמַר (יחזקאל לו כו) "וַהֲסִרֹתִי אֶת לֵב הָאֶבֶן מִבְּשַׂרְכֶם". מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאוֹתוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ שֶׁיַּעֲמֹד מִזֶּרַע דָּוִד בַּעַל חָכְמָה יִהְיֶה יֶתֶר מִשְּׁלֹמֹה. וְנָבִיא גָּדוֹל הוּא קָרוֹב לְמשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ. וּלְפִיכָךְ יְלַמֵּד כָּל הָעָם וְיוֹרֶה אוֹתָם דֶּרֶךְ ה'. וְיָבוֹאוּ כָּל הַגּוֹיִם לְשָׁמְעוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה ב ב) "וְהָיָה בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים נָכוֹן יִהְיֶה הַר בֵּית ה' בְּרֹאשׁ הֶהָרִים". וְסוֹף כָּל הַשָּׂכָר כֻּלּוֹ וְהַטּוֹבָה הָאַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁאֵין לָהּ הֶפְסֵק וְגֵרָעוֹן הוּא חַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. אֲבָל יְמוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ הוּא הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְעוֹלָם כְּמִנְהָגוֹ הוֹלֵךְ אֶלָּא שֶׁהַמַּלְכוּת תַּחֲזֹר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. וּכְבָר אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים אֵין בֵּין הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה לִימוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ אֶלָּא שִׁעְבּוּד מַלְכֻיּוֹת בִּלְבַד:

As well as there, chapter 3 {it should be noted that in general this only refers to people of the earlier generations who truly knew about Hashem in a much greater way than we do now (source in Torah Ohr and other places, don't have exact pages now) but nowadays besides for the fact that almost everyone is a tinook shineeshbuh but even do the knowledge of Hashem at this time is so diminished it's hard of not impossible to say chos vishawlom that this would apply to anyone not rawchmawnuh leetzlawn, but this is just being quoted to show the importance of the belief in Moshiach}:

  1. The following individuals do not have a portion in the world to come. Rather, their [souls] are cut off and they are judged for their great wickedness and sins, forever:

the Minim,

the Epicursim,

those who deny the Torah,

those who deny the resurrection of the dead and the coming of the [Messianic] redeemer,

those who rebel [against God],

those who cause the many to sin,

those who separate themselves from the community,

those who proudly commit sins in public as Jehoyakim did,

those who betray Jews to gentile authorities,

those who cast fear upon the people for reasons other than the service of God,



וְאֵלּוּ הֵן שֶׁאֵין לָהֶן חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֶלָּא נִכְרָתִים וְאוֹבְדִין וְנִדּוֹנִין עַל גֹּדֶל רִשְׁעָם וְחַטָּאתָם לְעוֹלָם וּלְעוֹלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים. הַמִּינִים. וְהָאֶפִּיקוֹרוֹסִין. וְהַכּוֹפְרִים בַּתּוֹרָה. וְהַכּוֹפְרִים בִּתְחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים וּבְבִיאַת הַגּוֹאֵל. הַמּוֹרְדִים. וּמַחֲטִיאֵי הָרַבִּים. וְהַפּוֹרְשִׁין מִדַּרְכֵי צִבּוּר. וְהָעוֹשֶׂה עֲבֵרוֹת בְּיָד רָמָה בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא כִּיהוֹיָקִים. וְהַמּוֹסְרִים. וּמַטִּילֵי אֵימָה עַל הַצִּבּוּר שֶׁלֹּא לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם. וְשׁוֹפְכֵי דָּמִים.

As for the notion:

"The central message is always aligning personal responsibility, the responsibility we have with our own reality, and therefore a personal responsibility."

Moshiach coming is not in contradiction to the responsibility we have to do the best we can to serve Hashem and refine ourselves in general, Moshiach's job is to teach Torah to the entire nation, restore the kingdom of Hashem, gather in the dispersed and build the temple (from it's spiritual state to the physical plain, see Yechezkiel chapter 40 and in), but we still have our own responsibilities in the Torah and mitzvah observance in general, Moshiach is not going to do all of our mitzvas for us, that would defeat the purpose, as the Rambam says in the above mentioned source halacha 4, that the efforts of even one person can bring salvation to the entire world:

if he performs one mitzvah, he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverance and salvation to himself and others. This is implied by [Proverbs 10:25] "A righteous man is the foundation of the world," i.e., he who acted righteously, tipped the balance of the entire world to merit and saved it.

עָשָׂה מִצְוָה אַחַת הֲרֵי הִכְרִיעַ אֶת עַצְמוֹ וְאֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ לְכַף זְכוּת וְגָרַם לוֹ וְלָהֶם תְּשׁוּעָה וְהַצָּלָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי י כה) "וְצַדִּיק יְסוֹד עוֹלָם" זֶה שֶׁצָּדַק הִכְרִיעַ אֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָם לִזְכוּת וְהִצִּילוֹ

So therefore:

"Am I wrong for believing doing away with this retrograde ideology of a Messiah solving all our problems?"

No, you're not wrong with doing away with the notion of a Messiah that will solve all of our problems, because that's not what Moshiach does, we still have to serve Hashem and fix ourselves on our own, Moshiach will just help us out by doing the things mentioned above etc., but it still has to come from within, as the Rambam says there chapter 7:

All the prophets commanded [the people] to repent. Israel will only be redeemed through Teshuvah.

The Torah has already promised that, ultimately, Israel will repent towards the end of her exile and, immediately, she will be redeemed as [Deuteronomy 30:1-3] states: ”There shall come a time when [you will experience] all these things... and you will return to God, your Lord.... God, your Lord, will bring back your [captivity].”

ה כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים כֻּלָּן צִוּוּ עַל הַתְּשׁוּבָה וְאֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל נִגְאָלִין אֶלָּא בִּתְשׁוּבָה. וּכְבָר הִבְטִיחָה תּוֹרָה שֶׁסּוֹף יִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה בְּסוֹף גָּלוּתָן וּמִיָּד הֵן נִגְאָלִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ל א) "וְהָיָה כִי יָבֹאוּ עָלֶיךָ כָּל הַדְּבָרִים" וְגוֹ' (דברים ל ב) "וְשַׁבְתָּ עַד ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ" (דברים ל ג) "וְשָׁב ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ" וְגוֹ':

Blessings and success, and Moysheeyawch now


I agree with Maimonides that there is no statement in the Bible about a miraculous messiah. Yet many believe there will be a miraculous messiah for many psychological reasons. Although there is no clear, explicit statement about a personal messiah, we can believe it if we want. But if there is a messiah, he will not perform miracles or arrive from the clouds of heaven. These are legends.

Can we say that the messianic age will be a gradual evolutionary process that inspires people to work together and improve society? Isn't this the more rational approach? Maimonides felt that when Isaiah spoke about lions lying with sheep and beating swords into plowshares, it was a parable poetically speaking about a unified world under Torah laws. Maimonides writes in his Mishneh Torah, Law of Kings, chapters 11 and 12, that the messianic age will be a natural affair and that Jews will have political freedom. The messiah will be a human who will die like all humans.

Maimonides explained in Code of Jewish Laws, Laws of Kings 11:3:

“Do not think that the messianic king must perform miracles and wonders, bring new things into being, revive the dead, or perform similar feats as foolish people believe. Don’t think that in the messianic age things will be different or that the laws of nature will change. To the contrary, the world will continue in its usual way…. The verses (from Isaiah) are parables…symbols that stand for what they represent.”

When the Bible speaks about a “messiah,” "mesheach" it means “an anointed.” King David was anointed. Rather than a personal messiah, the Bible says that if you observe the commandments, all will be well. People should not cry for a messiah but work together to bring about such a messianic age.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .