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Insights - Q&A on Redemption


Does Judaism view the Messianic era as a supernatural time?



Maimonides sees the Messianic age as consisting of two eras:  A natural era followed by a miraculous one.

According to the Midrash, many supernatural events will occur in the Messianic era: Plants will yield their produce on the same day they are planted; entire trees will be edible, not only their fruit; and even non-fruit-bearing trees will bear fruit. The Talmud describes the Messianic era as a time when the earth will produce delicacies and silk clothing, wheat stalks will tower like palm trees and grains of wheat will grow as large as two kidneys of a large ox (Ketubot 111b).

On the other hand, Maimonides asserts that the nature of the world will not change in the Messianic era. He bases his opinion on a statement in the Talmud: "There is no difference between these days and the Messianic era, except that we will no longer be subjugated by the nations."

How does Maimonides reconcile his view with statements that imply a miraculous time? In particular, Maimonides himself believes that the dead will be resurrected, and in fact lists this belief as one of the thirteen principles of faith.

This suggests that Maimonides sees the Messianic age as consisting of two eras. In the first, the world will remain in its natural state. Moshiach will bring peace to the world, gather the Jews to the Land of Israel, and rebuild the Holy Temple. He will transform the natural world into a place conducive to the complete fulfillment of the Torah and its precepts. Later, the dead will be resurrected, the nature of the world will indeed change, and all the supernatural phenomena prophesied in the Bible and by our sages will take place.

Source: Likutei Sichot, vol. 27, p. 191 ff.



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