The Messianic Age is the focus of the entire Creation. The arrival of the Messiah is a fundamental belief in Judaism. This yearning gives Jews all over the world hope concerning the ultimate future of mankind. They look with a seasoned eye at the irrational oppressions and insults by so many nations around them, noting in their heart that these nations will eventually be confounded and confronted. Awaiting the Messiah gives Jews great optimism knowing that, in the end, they will be vindicated. Through His prophets, God promised better days for the Jewish People. He will surely keep His Word, regardless of the rise of new ideologies or social upheavals.
Rabbi Yosef GabayYosef Gabay is the rabbi of Kehillat Ohr HaChaim in Los Angeles. He is also the author of <I>A Bridge To Heaven</I>, an English commentary on the <I>Chumash</I>, published by Targum Press.
The Messiah will be a mortal human being, born of human parents (Rambam, Melachim 11:3). He will be a direct descendant of King David. He will inspire all of mankind to abandon evil and do good. The world will recognize his profound wisdom and Divine inspiration, and come to seek his advice.
Although man will still have free will in the Messianic Age, he will want to do good and follow God?s teachings. It will be as if the power of evil were totally annihilated.(*) The world will become increasingly Godly, as the prophet said (Isaiah 11:9): ?For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea.?
Peace and harmony will prevail between nations, as they realize the foolishness of war. Social justice, as well as economic affluence, will be the norm. Thus, the prophet foretold (Isaiah 2:2-4): ?And he (the Messiah) will judge between nations and decide between peoples. And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they practice war any more.?
During the Messianic era, all idols will be rejected and all the statues will be broken down in the same way those of infamous tyrants are eventually pulled down by popular revolutions.
Imagine when God?s presence shall once more rest over the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, setting the stage for a world without disease, malnutrition or crime. From the destruction of the Holy Temple to this day, the Divine Presence never left the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Jewish tradition(1) explains that God took an oath, as it were, that the Western Wall will never be destroyed. This in itself represents an irrefutable proof that Judaism is a God-given religion. Indeed, that special wall was for too long under the control of enemies who could have destroyed it any time they wished. Its very existence should confound the skeptics and the cynical alike.
Throughout our memorable and turbulent history, the prophets and sages of Israel longed for the Messianic era in order to serve God without any preoccupations. It will be the time to study the Torah and to discover God?s Wisdom. Israel?s yearning for this revered period is neither to rule over nations nor to indulge in an excess of food and drinks. This will be the time when the whole world?s priority will consist in knowing more about God.(2)
During that era, the prophecy of Zechariah(13:2) will be realized: ?It will happen on that day ? the word of God, Master of Legions ? that I will eliminate the names of the idols from the lands, and they will not be mentioned again; I will also remove the false prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land.? In the Messianic times, the tendency to choose right over wrong will be natural. This newly developed human nature will translate into the elimination of evil.
One of the most important signs heralding the Messianic age is the in-gathering of the Diaspora Jews and the resettlement of the Land of Israel. There is also a tradition that the land will be cultivated at that time, based on Ezekiel?s prophecy (36:8): ?But you mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people of Israel for they are at hand to come.? The Talmud teaches that there is no better sign of the coming of the Messiah than when the Land of Israel will once again give its fruit (Sanhedrin 93a). Today, the fruit grown in Israel is sold in many European countries, while the same land refused to yield its fruit to foreign occupiers as long as the Jews were not back to settle it.
An additional noteworthy event is reported in Kabbalistic books written two thousand years ago (Zohar Chadash 27b). An anti-religious Jewish leadership who will rule over the land of Israel during the pre-Messianic times. Jewish atheists with alien philosophies will strive to minimize, if not eliminate, Torah knowledge among the people of Israel. This remarkable prediction is currently being witnessed. Legislation to further weaken the observance of Judaism have passed in the Israeli parliament during the last few years.
Other important considerations heralding the arrival of the Messiah are the rebuilding of the Holy Temple and the return of prophecy, which can exist only in the Land of Israel.
The current resettlement in the Land of Israel by Jews is a precursor to this grand era, from which all of mankind stands to benefit.
The ongoing international talks and declarations favoring the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel will only result in wasted political energies and fruitless focus. Although the Land of Israel has been the subject of invasions and occupations by numerous armies, there has never been any independent sovereign nation in the land except for the nation of Israel. The reason behind this incredible and irrefutable fact is simple: this land belongs to God, as does the entire world, and He gave it to the Jews.
?They will dwell on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, within which your fathers dwelled; they and their children and their children?s children will dwell upon it forever; and My servant David will be a leader for them forever.? (Ezekiel 37:25) This divine commitment can not be foiled by a US president or by the leaders of a United Europe.(3)
If a group of Arabs had settled in France for one or two hundred years, does this fact make France theirs?
When the Babylonians conquered the Land of Israel, they did not create an independent Babylonian state in Israel. Their king, Nebuchadnezzar continued to rule his empire from Babylonia. Later in history, the same development took place with the Persian invaders, then with the Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Ottomans and finally, with the British. None of these powers were successful in establishing an independent state in the Land of Israel. God has promised that as long as the Jews are away from their land no other nation will be able to settle it: ?I will make the land desolate; and your foes who dwell upon it will be desolate.? (Leviticus 26:32)
When dealing with the Land of Israel, the international community significantly fails to consider the most important component of the equation; namely, God. One cannot rationally fail to recognize God?s persistent involvement with the Land of Israel and the Jewish People, for better or for worse. Similarly, no one can deny the persistent fascination the world shows with the political and religious upheavals taking place in Israel. The international media seems to be stubbornly obsessed by any small or large story developing in Israel. This interest is neither coincidental nor a passing fancy. Rather, it is Divinely inspired to ready mankind for the great day when the whole earth will proclaim God as their King: ?On that day, the Lord will be One and His Name will be One.? (Zachariah 14,9)
For the past 60 years, secular Zionist leaders have caused severe harm to the Jewish people and the Jewish cause by failing to unequivocally make this point. They stood before the United Nations, before kings and presidents, and deliberately brushed aside this special, albeit tumultuous, relationship between God, Israel and the Holy Land. As a result of their haughty attitude toward Judaism, many generations in the Arab world, in Asia and Europe have been raised to believe the biggest lie of this past century - that Israel, or any part of it, belongs to the Palestinians.
The disdain of secular Israeli leaders toward our holy Torah and the harm they caused the Jewish people are unforgivable. Not only are they ashamed of their religion, but they have acted shamefully. For the first time in history, and through the power of international telecommunication, they had the opportunity to show the world that we are indeed a "light unto the nations." They would have earned the respect and admiration of the world had they conveyed to mankind God?s message. Instead, they deliberately avoided any reference to God in their discourses, which were delivered to so many viewers. In this area, too, they failed miserably.
Additionally, for the past sixty years, these secular leaders have devised educational curriculums intentionally devoid of Torah and of God?s veneration, the historical identity and essence of the Jew. The disastrous outcome is a new Israeli generation on the verge of a spiritual holocaust. Sixty years of Israeli secular leadership is causing more spiritual damage to the Jewish people than the lengthy years of European persecutions. This force-fed culture of atheism upon the Jewish youth is dutifully overseen by a tyrannical Supreme Court - a bastion of atheism that disdains religious tolerance. The court constantly issues ?legal? rulings thwarting Torah education.(4)
The Jewish People is now living through the fifth and most trying galut, or exile. Indeed, sages of mysticism(5) have predicted that the Jews will undergo five agonizing exiles before the realization of the Messianic times. These are: the Babylonian exile; the Persian exile; the suffering under the Greek pagans; and the long tribulations under Edom, Christianity. The final and most challenging exile is currently taking place in the Land of Israel, under secular leadership. It is at the end of this exile that the Messiah will be heralded.
Notwithstanding the physical suffering and humiliations incurred during these various exiles, their real common denominator is the trying aspect through which we are to unequivocally maintain our faith in God and the Torah.
When a tragedy strikes a wicked person, he refers to it as natural coincidence. When it strikes a righteous individual, he sees God?s hands in it. He takes stock of his deeds and then repairs his ways. The secular Zionist politicians have been slapped with numerous wars, terrorist attacks, Scud missiles, international condemnations and an ailing economy.
The country and its commendable citizenry are in an incessant gasping mode. To the leaders, the daily anxieties and financial uncertainties of the people are of little relevance. The leaders justify these tragedies as national struggles and coincidences in the land about which it is written: ?A Land that the Lord, your God, seeks out; the eyes of the Lord, your God, are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to year?s end.? (Deuteronomy 11,12) If anything can stand unquestioned, it is that in the Land of Israel there is no such concept as "coincidence".
In his work Laws of Kings, Maimonides writes that if a king from the House of David arises who studied Torah constantly and occupies himself with commandments like his forefather David, in accord with the written Torah and the Oral Torah, and he compels all of Jewry to follow it and support it, and wages God?s wars, then he is assumed to be the Messiah. If he acts and succeeds, and builds the Temple on its site, and gathers in the Jewish dispersed, then he is certainly the Messiah. He will improve the entire world, to serve God together, as foretold: ?Then I shall turn the nations with a clear language, to have them all call God?s name to serve Him in unison.? (Zephaniah 3:9)
As long as these prophecies have not been fulfilled, no one should delude himself as to whether the Messiah has arrived. Notice this Divine Promise:
It will be when all of these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have presented before you - then you will take it to your heart among all the nations where the Lord, your God, has dispersed you; and you will return unto the Lord, your God, and listen to His voice, according to everything that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and all your soul. Then the Lord, your God, will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which the Lord, your God, has scattered you. (Deut 30:1-3)
*) Talmud, Succah 52a.
1) Song of Songs 2:9: ?He [God] was standing behind our wall.?
2) Maimonides, Laws of Kings 12,4:5
3) Although the actual international political climate is conducive to the creation of a Palestinian state, it will simply not happen, notwithstanding the motivation and will of the world leaders, because this international stance defies God's plan.
4) The judges of the Supreme Court dominate the appointment process and can use it to appoint their favorites, thus, perpetuating their agenda. This dictatorial process has predictably produced an ideologically and demographically homogeneous court. In May 2005, Ruth Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, both from the US Supreme Court, labeled Israel?s current system for appointing judges as untenable, in an address to a committee of Israeli jurists visiting Washington.
5) Tikkunei Zohar; Vilna Gaon