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Why Redemption?

by Rabbi Simon Jacobson


Library » Israel » Messiah | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Imagine that you have lived your entire life in a dark tunnel. Your parents and grandparents lived there too, and so did their parents and grandparents. You have grown accustomed to the darkness and developed the necessary skills to survive. You move through life, sometimes staggering in the dark, at other times feeling your way along. You are totally resigned to the fact that this is what life is, and that it will continue to be so.

But you have been told or have read in some ancient books that long ago, your ancestors lived in a very different, well-lighted place. You have heard that there is indeed a light at the end of this tunnel, that you don't necessarily have to spend your entire life in darkness.

However, you are skeptical after all, this darkness is the only life you know. After so many generations have lived in this tunnel, can you really believe some old tale about the possibility of a life on the outside? And besides, you have learned to cope here, to make yourself comfortable in the darkness, so why would you want to risk changing things?

And yet, something inside tells you that the darkness is just not right for your life. No matter how accustomed you have become to it, you still feel restless and insecure. You realize that although the darkness may be a part of life, it is not life itself.

As we stumble along and feel our way through life, we have all wondered whether we will ever find true happiness. Will we ever find peace within ourselves and lead a truly meaningful life, or are we destined to a life fraught with fear and confusion? Will virtue and kindness really prevail? If not, how can we justify to our children and ourselves the need to adhere to moral and ethical principles?

Redemption is G-d telling us that the reason for which He created the universe will indeed be realized - that goodness will prevail and that our lives can be meaningful
After all, even though human nature craves a higher purpose, what is the point of working so hard to live a virtuous life if it is not leading anywhere?

The answer to all these questions is just one word: redemption. Redemption is the light at the end of the tunnel. Redemption is G-d telling us that the reason for which He created the universe will indeed be realized - that goodness will prevail and that our lives can be meaningful. Redemption is both an integral part of G-d's plan and an integral part of human life. Without redemption, our lives would indeed be meaningless - a never-ending tunnel of darkness, with little awareness of an alternative existence and no hope of ever reaching the light.


Will redemption radically alter our lives? Yes and no. The physical world around us will not change; rather, we will change.

Maimonides states explicitly that no miracle must occur; redemption will not be an apocalyptic or supernatural event. The era of redemption (or "the Messianic Age"), says Maimonides, will be a time when we are all absorbed in "knowing G-d."'

This means, in part, that people will perceive G-d in all their experiences. Whether a doctor or a businessperson or a parent, we will all see our material pursuits through the filter of spirituality not as an end in themselves, but as a means to a higher end. Just as a hungry person naturally craves food, we will naturally crave goodness; we will intuit what is right and wrong and act accordingly. No longer will there be a dichotomy between our hearts and minds, our bodies and souls, our internal and external feelings. We will all come to recognize that every detail of this universe is the work of G-d.

The final redemption will come about in a manner similar to the redemption and Exodus from Egypt. Just as Moses was sent by G-d to lead the liberation from Egypt, a Messiah-"Moshiach"-will lead the entire world into the final redemption.

Why the need for a leader? Because even though we each have a divine spark within us, the darkness of the material world is overpowering. G-d sends us a selfless leader, therefore, who can rise above the material distractions, who is sensitive to the needs of a generation, and who has the ability to communicate the message of G-dliness to our complicated, confused society. And who, through his actions and teaching, inspires us to study G-d's wisdom and live according to His laws. All the nations of the world will be motivated to serve G-d together, to fulfill their obligations by following the moral and divine commandments as set down in the Bible.


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Posted by: Anonymous, malibu, Ca on Jan 06, 2009

I think Rabbi Jacobson's article hit the nail on the head. We must remind each other that these are the days of REDEMPTION.

The light is bursting through a veil of clouds. We must bring focus and clarity into our lives. We must help each other grow towards the light, like sunflowers. One by One by One. with kindness, patience and hope. Excellent Article.


Philosophy » Messiah

The Messiah. Moshiach is the person who will usher in an era of peace and tranquility for all of humanity when there will be no jealousy or hate, wars or famine. This is a fundamental Jewish belief.
Moses son of Maimon, born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.