Why do Jews believe they can hasten the coming of the messiah even though they failed to stop the destruction of both the first and second Beis Hamikdash?

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    Why is it unreasonable to assume the possibility of success, just because one once failed?
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 16, 2017 at 4:32
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    Your underlying question begins with Het Adam HaRishon
    – Lee
    Feb 16, 2017 at 9:32
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    what makes you think the hastening the coming of moshiach is impossible because of the destruction of the first to beis hamikdashim?
    – Dude
    Feb 16, 2017 at 13:23
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    Why do we think we can cure cancer when we cannot prevent it from happening? The two concepts (destruction of the Temple vs encouraging redemption) are conceptually but not functionally related. Besides, Tanach seems to suggest we didn't do all that much to stop the destruction of the Temple... Feb 21, 2017 at 12:11
  • @YiddenForYiddishkeit If my answer is acceptable, I'll put it in the answer section: "Why do the Ninevites believe they can hasten the coming of their salvation even though they failed to stop Yonah's prophecy against their city? עוֹד אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם, וְנִינְוֵה נֶהְפָּכֶת. 'Yet 40 days and Nineveh will be overthrown' (Yonah 3:4)." We know this did not take place within the allotted time .... because of Teshuva on the part of the people of Nineveh. I suppose if the belief ("of hasten[ing] the coming of the messiah") of our fellow Jews is anchored in Teshuva, then that might be the answer.
    – ninamag
    Aug 24, 2017 at 19:39

5 Answers 5


All of the other answers are incredibly missing the point. This is an explicit Gemara (Sanhedrin 98a), based on Yeshaya 60:22.

אמר רבי אלכסנדרי רבי יהושע בן לוי רמי כתיב (ישעיהו ס, כב) בעתה וכתיב אחישנה זכו אחישנה לא זכו בעתה

Says R’ Alexandri: R’ Yehoshua Ben Levi posed a contradiction. It is written “[Mashiach will come] in its time,” and it is also written, “I will hasten it.” [He settles the contradiction:] If they merit it, “I will hasten it.” If they don’t merit it, [it will come] “in its time.”

Why do we believe we can hasten Mashiach? Because G-d Himself said we can.

  • Your post is incredibly missing the point. Even if we accept your questionable contention about what God himself said, that is irrelevant. The OP didnt seem to ask whether merits can hasten the redemption, but why people think their merits can hasten the redemption given that so many others proved themselves unworthy.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 21, 2017 at 16:04
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    @mevaqesh Do you really think G-d would give us an option that we can’t use? I’m not sure what’s questionable about it - the Navi made this claim, and the Navi speaks in the name of G-d.
    – DonielF
    Aug 21, 2017 at 16:09
  • Again, that is simply immaterial. The OP didn't ask for a proof that it is possible for the redemption to be hastened. He asked why folks think that they will be successful in that endeavour.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 21, 2017 at 16:12
  • (You like that question so much you had to post it twice?) I feel that I did - because G-d told us we can.
    – DonielF
    Aug 21, 2017 at 16:17

there is a concept that each generation rectifies a bit and this rectification remains intact. i.e. even if they sin, it does not destroy what was rectified. so each generation fixes a bit more until eventually it is enough to bring the third temple.

secondly, God commanded us on this and promised us it's coming through his prophets thus as the Ramchal writes in the Path of the Just (ch.19)

"it is Zion; no one inquires after her" (Jeremiah 30:17), which our sages expounded: "this implies it needs inquiring after" (Sukkah 41a). Thus we learn from here that we are obligated in this matter, and cannot exempt ourselves due to our lack of power. For on all such matters, we learned: "It is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but neither are you free to abstain from it" (Avot 2:16).

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    How do you know there is a concept like that or that it applies here?
    – Double AA
    Feb 21, 2017 at 12:36
  • @DoubleAA read it in few places over the years. forgot the sources though
    – ray
    Feb 25, 2017 at 19:35

Because we messed up again and again doesn’t mean we should give up. God believes in the potential of future generations to achieve what their anscestors did not.

Deutoronomy 30:1-3

אוְהָיָה֩ כִֽי־יָבֹ֨אוּ עָלֶ֜יךָ כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה הַבְּרָכָה֙ וְהַקְּלָלָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תִּי לְפָנֶ֑יךָ וַֽהֲשֵֽׁבֹתָ֙ אֶל־לְבָבֶ֔ךָ בְּכָ֨ל־הַגּוֹיִ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֧ר הִדִּיחֲךָ֛ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ שָֽׁמָּה: 2and you will return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you this day you and your children, בוְשַׁבְתָּ֞ עַד־יְהֹוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֶ֨יךָ֙ וְשָֽׁמַעְתָּ֣ בְקֹל֔וֹ כְּכֹ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־אָֽנֹכִ֥י מְצַוְּךָ֖ הַיּ֑וֹם אַתָּ֣ה וּבָנֶ֔יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכָל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ: 3then, the Lord, your God, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the Lord, your God, had dispersed you.

Or as it says in Tehillim 68:

לְמַ֚עַן יֵֽדְע֨וּ | דּ֣וֹר אַֽ֖חֲרוֹן בָּנִ֣ים יִוָּלֵ֑דוּ יָ֜קֻ֗מוּ וִֽיסַפְּר֥וּ לִבְנֵיהֶֽם:In order that the last generation might know, sons who will be born should tell their sons. 7And they should put their hope in God, and not forget the deeds of God, and keep His commandments. זוְיָשִׂ֥ימוּ בֵֽאלֹהִ֗ים כִּ֫סְלָ֥ם וְלֹ֣א יִ֖שְׁכְּחוּ מַֽעַלְלֵי־אֵ֑ל וּמִצְו‍ֹתָ֥יו יִנְצֹֽרוּ: 8And they should not be as their forefathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, who did not prepare its heart and whose spirit was not faithful to God. חוְלֹ֚א יִֽהְי֨וּ | כַּֽאֲבוֹתָ֗ם דּוֹר֘ סוֹרֵ֪ר וּמֹ֫רֶ֥ה דּ֖וֹר לֹֽא־הֵכִ֣ין לִבּ֑וֹ וְלֹֽא־נֶֽאֶמְנָ֖ה אֶת־אֵ֣ל רוּחֽוֹ:

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    Please excuse the poor formatting, my device is acting up.
    – LN6595
    Mar 5, 2018 at 3:26

We believe we can hasten the coming of Moshiach, meaning the final redemption because the entire Jewish people were present at Sinai and accepted the whole Torah, written and oral. And one of the teachings of the oral Torah is that fulfilling the mitzvot, in particular the mitzvah of Tzedakah, which is called the mitzvah in Yerushalmi Peah 1:1 because it is equated with all the mitzvot in the Torah

וצדקה תציל ממות ולא מית אלא שלא ימות לעולם הבא צדקה וגמילת חסדים שקולות כנגד כל מצותיה של תורה

, hastens the redemption, like is found on Bava Bathra 10a.

It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda says: Great is charity in that it advances the redemption, as it is stated: “So said the Lord, uphold justice and do charity, for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed” (Isaiah 56:1).

The destruction of the first two Temples, or sinning in general, is not a factor in that relationship. And in fact, that doubt arises from the presumption that G-d did not intend for sin. But the Torah teaches that this type of belief is incorrect.

The Torah preceded the creation of the universe by 2000 years like is found in Midrash. And it is written in the Torah that Adam sinned. That means all these consequences of sin, including the destruction of the two Temples, are intended too from before the creation of the universe. And all of it is for the good like is said in the Amidah prayer three times each day כי אל טוב ומטיב אתה.

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    I don't see how this answers the question. The question didn't seem to be about the mechanism for hastening the arrival of the messiah, but about why Jews think that they will succeed in performing such behavior given that their great forebears failed at it.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 21, 2017 at 13:59
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    I agree with @mevaqesh. How does this indicate Jews will choose to perform Tzedakah which would hasten the redemption? The question isn't how to do it, but why do we think Jews will do it. Plus if we are sinning so much as to delay the coming of Mashiach, even this little bit of hastening could still leave a net delay.
    – Double AA
    Feb 21, 2017 at 16:45
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    ״in fact, that doubt arises from the presumption that G-d did not intend for sin״ What doubt? I don't understand what God's intention for us to sin has to do with anything. "And all of it is for the good like is said in the Amidah prayer three times each day כי אל טוב ומטיב אתה." Not only do I not say that phrase three times a day, I don't believe I've ever said it once. Moreover, the phrase itself doesn't seem to imply the claim you say it does. Moreover, the link you included discusses a different phrase.
    – Double AA
    Feb 21, 2017 at 19:49
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    @YaacovDeane, you seem to be confusing two different things: the blessing הטוב והמטיב and the blessing in the Amidah called ברכת השנים.
    – paquda
    Feb 21, 2017 at 20:49
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    @YaacovDeane I do pray the Amida but without those words. I clicked the link and searched for exactly the phrase you suggested but couldn't find it.
    – Double AA
    Feb 21, 2017 at 20:51

I think you might attain a significant perspective on this issue by watching this interview segment with the late Prof. Yesha'yahu Leibowicz:

ישעיהו על ליבוביץ על ביאת המשיח

The subtitles do not quite express what he's saying though, so let me restate it:

Q: And you, do you believe in the coming of the Messiah?

A: I am one of those people who believe the Messiah will come [Leibowicz puts extra stress on the prefix "YA", which indicates the future tense].

Q: When?

A: [shouting] will [again, stress on the "YA" prefix] come. For ever. A messiah which has come is a false messiah. Any Messiah who comes is a false messiah, since the essence of the Messiah is in that he will come.

So (my non-believer interpretation now) the coming of the Messiah is something like the horizon - it never actually materializes, but a feature of your existence is that you sense it in the distance. And thus, expectation of the Messiah is an existential state which does not go away.

Thus, hastening the coming of the Messiah does not mean that you expect him to arrive in 100 years and with your Tzdaka or with your devoutness you would shave off 5 years or 20 years (or just a day), so it will now be 95 or 80 years or whatever. It's that the existential state of expectation is improved, i.e. your life or the world is in the state of the Messiah more hastily approaching than less hastily approaching. It is certainly a great thing to live during times at which the Messiah approaches with haste rather than very slowly - wouldn't you say?

PS 1: So whatever happened or didn't happen with the temples doesn't have any bearing on it.

PS 2: Leibowitz was a philosopher, not an accepted authority on Halacha nor any other position in established Judaism.

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    How many practitioners of Judaism subscribe to this? That the Messiah will never come? Isn't this like saying the anticipation of dinner is more valuable than the dinner itself?
    – JBH
    Jul 22, 2017 at 20:25
  • @JBH: That depends on what you mean by 'subscribe'. Note that Leibowitz himself does not subscribe to the notion that the Messiah will never come. Ask yourself this: Is yearning for the horizon more or less valuable than reaching the horizon?
    – einpoklum
    Jul 22, 2017 at 21:08
  • For me, an horizon represents a mystery and a challenge. But the horizon is merely symbolic of what I discover "beyond" it. The value of an horizon is always temporary because the horizon is not the goal. Discovering what is beyond the horizon is the goal. Does your metaphor extend like this? It suggests the Messiah's only value is to help us strive for something else. Something hidden today as the horizon hides my destination.
    – JBH
    Jul 22, 2017 at 21:35
  • @JBH: The horizon metaphor does not extend like that. But the Messiah is more like the horizon than like dinner, which you routinely actually have...
    – einpoklum
    Jul 22, 2017 at 21:48
  • Fair enough. Thank you for helping me understand the matter better.
    – JBH
    Jul 22, 2017 at 22:00

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