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Does Judaism view the Messianic era as a supernatural time?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

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Well, there definitely are sources that would imply so. According to the Midrash, 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, when 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. His opinion is based on an opinion in the Talmud as well.

In the first era, immediately following the coming of the Messiah, the world will remain in its natural state. The Messiah ... brings peace to the world, gathers the Jews to the Land of Israel, and rebuilds the Holy Temple.
What would Maimonides do with other statements in our tradition that imply a miraculous time? An even greater difficulty with Maimonides’s assertion is posed by the fundamental belief that in the Messianic era the dead will come back to life. Maimonides lists this belief as one of the thirteen principles of faith. How can we believe that the dead will come to life, if the nature of the world will not change when the Messiah comes?

This suggests that Maimonides sees the Messianic age as consisting of two eras. In the first era, immediately following the coming of the Messiah, the world will remain in its natural state. The Messiah will not be accepted based on whether or not he performs supernatural feats, but based on whether or not he brings peace to the world, gathers the Jews to the Land of Israel, and rebuilds the Holy Temple. He will change the natural world as we know it into a place that lends itself to the complete fulfillment of the Torah and its precepts. In a later era, the era of the resurrection of the dead, the nature of the world will indeed change. Only then will all the supernatural phenomena prophesied in the Bible and by our sages occur.



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


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Philosophy » Messiah

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Maimonides
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.
Midrash
(Pl. Midrashim). Non-legal material of anecdotal or allegorical nature, designed either to clarify historical material, or to teach a moral point. The Midrashim were compiled by the sages who authored the Mishna and Talmud (200 BCE-500 CE).
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.