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Tuesday
May212019

Moshiach’s Job Description 

By Levi Liberow 

In principle 3, we discussed the existence of halachic literature on Moshiach, found primarily in the works of the Rambam.

These halachic rulings address the areas where Moshiach affects our life prior to the Redemption; as much of what will happen after the Redemption commences are things to which we can apply the rule coined by the Rambam that “no one knows how they will come to pass, until they come to pass.”

In this and the following essays we will explore two aspects within this category:

What our faith in Moshiach must include?

Our reaction to messianic related events. Namely, who can be Moshiach and what is or isn’t required of him.

Like any topic in Halachah, it is important to first define its core in order to arrive at a certain “cutoff” point that can determine which details are part of its main function, and which are only add-ons that don’t “make it or break it” and therefore may come to be at a later stage.

Case Study: Must Moshiach Perform Miracles?

Let’s take the example of Moshiach and miracles: biblical and midrashic sources allude to the fact that Moshiach will have divine power to perform miracles.

That is the fact. But how important is miracle making to the basic, most fundamental, messianic process?

From the Rambam it is clear that miracles and Moshiach aren’t synonymous, therefore all Moshiach’s miraculous and prophetic capabilities may come to him at a later stage of the Redemption and don’t serve as proof or disproof to his worthiness as a messianic candidate.

This is in sharp contrast to a prophet, who by definition is someone who transmits the words of G-d, and therefore must be tested by showing supernatural powers to prove that he indeed is a messenger of G-d. Moshiach, however, is identified by nothing else than spearheading activities which bring the world towards its ultimate Redemption. As such, miracles don’t play a role in Moshiach’s identification process according to the Rambam.

Redemption Defined

But what exactly defines “Redemption?”

In principles 1 and 2 we studied how the era of Moshiach is when the world would have reached its purpose of creation – being a place G-d can “feel at home,” through the world and all of its inhabitants following His Will as described in the Torah.

When we translate that definition into halachic terms, we arrive at the following description of Moshiach, which happens to be the opening statement—and a sort of preamble—to the laws of Moshiach in the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. 

 “The Messianic King will arise in the future and restore the Davidic Kingdom to its former state and original sovereignty. He will build the Sanctuary and gather the dispersed of Israel. All the laws will be re-instituted in his days as they had been aforetimes; sacrifices will be offered, and the Sabbatical years and Jubilee years will be observed fully as ordained by the Torah.”

By using this definition, we can easily determine if an individual claimed to be Moshiach is indeed “doing the job” or not, as well as what exactly his job is.

This definition is culled from the biblical sources telling us of Moshiach, as explained in the oral tradition (see box in full edition).

Why We Can’t Observe over Half the Mitzvos Now?

Let us explain this Halachah sentence by sentence, but first a general introduction is necessary to understanding it:

To date, due to three factors, unfortunately most of the mitzvos of the Torah (over 50% of them! – See pie chart) cannot be observed:

1. The Jews lack self-government; both political-material (the office of the melech – the Jewish king) as well as judicial-spiritual leadership (Sanhedrin – the Jewish supreme court).

2. We lack the presence of the Beis Hamikdash (the Holy Temple in Jerusalem).

3. Not all the Jews live in Israel.

Furthermore: because of subjugation to foreign governments and foreign cultures during Galus (the period of exile), there is a great qualitative and quantitative lack of observance even of those mitzvos we can fulfill today.

Step 1: Restoring Jewish Monarchy

So the first step in bringing the world to Torah-Halacha perfection is the re-establishment of the Davidic monarchy under a righteous king:

  “He will restore the Davidic Kingdom to its former state and original sovereignty.”

True self-government for the Jewish people is only possible under a totally independent Davidic monarch, who is a learned and righteous man devoted to the task mandated to him by the Torah: upholding the will of G-d. As long as any Jews exist under an authority other than the king of Israel whose office represents the rule of G-d, the most basic foundation of a Torah-guided world is lacking. Moshiach, if necessary, will fight wars in his capacity as king of the Jews (“the wars of G-d”) to protect Jews and Judaism.

At that time also the Sanhedrin will be re-established, which allows enforcement of another group of mitzvos associated to judicial powers such as monetary (knasos), corporal (malkos) and capital penalties. One of the duties of a Jewish monarch is to uphold and enforce the law of the Torah.

Step 2: Restoring Sacrificial Divine Service

“He will build the Sanctuary.”

Once that office is restored, the monarch can rebuild the Beis Hamikdash, thus putting back into effect countless mitzvos (see pie chart) that are only applicable when there is a Beis Hamikdash standing, which include the large groups of positive and negative mitzvos of Korbnaos (sacrifices), Tahara (ritual purity) and Hekdesh (contributions to the Beis Hamikdash).

Step 3: Restoring Full Jewish Presence to the Land of Israel

“…And gather the dispersed of Israel.”

That still isn’t enough: there are still more mitzvos that require the land of Israel to have “all her inhabitants upon her” – meaning all (or at least most) Jews of the world living in the land of Israel – in order for them to be biblically binding. This group includes all mitzvos associated with Shmita and Yovel (sabbatical and jubilee years), which includes the mitzvos of eved ivri (Jewish slaves) and others. (Though Shmita and other agricultural mitzvos are observed even today in Israel, according to many opinions they are only a rabbinic obligation, and for them to be biblically mandated all the Jews must be living in Israel!)

By Moshiach gathering the exiles, he places the final missing group of mitzvos back into effect.

In summary, we see then that Moshiach is given three tasks. Let’s continue to read and see what the result of fulfilling these tasks will be:

“All the laws will be re-instituted in his days as they had been aforetimes (-resulting from re-establishing self-government); sacrifices will be offered, ( – resulting from rebuilding the Beis Hamikdash); and the Sabbatical years and Jubilee years will be observed fully as ordained by the Torah ( – resulting from ingathering all the exiles back to Israel).”

Final Phase: Eternal World Peace

But that isn’t it; Moshiach has one more job. He must ensure that this spiritual paradise continues to exist. He also must make it his business that the Will of G-d is enforced not just upon the Jewish people, but also upon the rest of mankind. That’s why after Moshiach finishes his mission with the Jewish people, “He will [then] correct the entire world to serve G-d in unity, as it is said, ‘For then I will turn to the peoples a pure tongue that all shall call upon the Name of G-d and serve Him with one consent.’”

This will ensure:

• An unprecedented period of peace between the Jews and their gentile neighbors.

• A period of peace between the gentile nations themselves.

• As a direct result of this peace, there will be an abundance of physical goodness, “delicacies will be as freely available as dust.”

“In that era there will be neither famine nor war, neither envy nor strife, because good will emanate in abundance and all delightful things will be accessible as dust. The one preoccupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d. The Jews, therefore, will be great sages and know the hidden matters, and they will attain knowledge of their Creator to the extent of human capacity, as it is said: The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea!”

Such a world is the ideal and perfect world G-d has planned it to be. At last, G-d will feel at home in his own world.

Note: In Principles 5 and 11 we will apply this Halachic definition of Moshiach to address what our faith in Moshiach must include; In principles 10 and 12 we will apply it to who Moshiach may or may not be, and what he must or mustn’t do.

 

Summary:

• Moshiach has a Halachic defined role

• His role is to ensure that the world allows perfect observance of all 613 Mitzvos.

• For this to happen, Moshiach must, a) restore independent Jewish leadership, b) rebuild the Beis Hamikdash, and c) bring all Jews back to Eretz Yisrael.

• He must also engage in compelling all Jews to follow the Torah and fight off enemies of the Jewish people.

• Ultimately, he will bring all of humanity to recognize Hashem and to serve Him in peace and unison.

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