BOOK EXCERPT: The Case for Judaism
Having outlined the fundamental tenets of Judaism and why we believe them, it is appropriate that we now discuss the era of the collective fulfillment and implementation of Judaism. This is referred to as the Messianic era.
In order to properly discuss this topic, we must first clarify the meaning of the Hebrew word for Messiah, Moshiach.
While there are those who think Moshiach means “savior” or “redeemer”, the word Moshiach actually means “anointed”.
Now, “Anointed for what?” you might ask.
When we speak of the Moshiach of the future, we are referring to an individual that will be anointed as king of the Jewish people.
The Tanach (Jewish Bible) and Talmud paint the picture of Moshiach as a Jewish male descendant of King David who is a pious teacher that returns the Jews to passionate Torah observance, brings them to the Land of Israel, leads the fight against the enemies of the Jewish people, and rebuilds the Bet Hamikdash (Temple). This culminates in the nations of the world sending their representatives to learn about God and Torah from the Jews.
IS NOW THE TIME?
In the Jewish world today, it is widely believed that we are in the era preceding Messianic times.
Let’s understand why.
Suppose I am a rabbi and someone comes to me with doubts about the authenticity of the Jewish Bible— one hundred years ago, in the year 1915.
Imagine the conversation:
“Rabbi, I’m having doubts about the authenticity and veracity of Tanach.
“Well, rabbi, it says in Tanach that, at the end of time, if the Jews are in the wrong place, they will become fat and kick away from God. God will then “hide” His face from them, resulting in utter destruction for the Jewish people. And, at the end of this decimation, the remnant of the Jews will start the return to the Land of Israel.
“Now, rabbi, here we are in cultured, educated Europe. We are in the year 1915! We are not living in the barbaric times of the middle ages. It’s modern times now. We have been given our emancipation because the world is full of progressive descent people who understand that it’s the right thing to do!
“And, rabbi, Tanach goes on to state that when the Jews are in the Land of Israel, the nations of the world will form a world army to kick them out, and the war will be fought primarily over Jerusalem.
“Now, rabbi, I can understand the prophets saying this stuff back in the day, when the Land of Israel and Jerusalem were important, but here we are in the year 1915, and Palestine is a deserted wasteland that nobody cares about. And, yes, I know there is a group of Jews calling themselves Zionists that has recently traveled to the Land in order to resettle there, but the Zionistic motto is “a land without a people for a people without a land” – one of their main reasons for going to Israel is that it’s a place that no one else cares about! And now you want me to believe that the nations of the world will go to such great lengths as to put together a world army to come kick them out!?
“By the way, what is a world army? In all of world history up until today in 1915, there has never been such a thing. Every empire fights for its own power, interests, and glory. You want me to believe that the nations of the world will come together to form a world army, which has never existed, to kick the Jews out of Jerusalem, which nobody cares about!?
“Tanach goes on to claim that the Edomites and the Ishmalites, the Christian world and the Arab world, will join forces in a shaky treaty for the common goal of kicking the Jews out of Jerusalem. It says that their unified army will march down from the north but then be struck with an instant plague in which their eyes and tongue burst and their skin melts off their bodies before their skeletons even hit the ground – and the whole world will see it happen. Additionally, the Talmud adds that this will all occur naturally.
“Following this instant plague, the mistrust between the “allied forces” comes to the forefront and they turn on each other, resulting in a one day war in which two-thirds of humanity dies.
When all is said-and-done, those throughout the world who survive awaken the next day to a reality in which just one day previous was inconceivable. They thought that the world had finally arrived at the day when Israel would finally be obliterated off the face of the globe, and in the end, Israel is like the ark of Noah, floating atop the flood of fire that has overcome the rest of the planet. Upon bearing witness to all this, the remnant of humanity acknowledges the God of Israel and His role in these events, and sends their representatives to the Jews to learn about God.
“Rabbi, here we are in 1915, and we don’t see anything remotely close to any of this. How am I supposed to believe this stuff?”
LIVING IN BIBLICAL TIMES – NOW
My friends, perhaps the rabbi of 1915 did not have much to say in response to such a questioner. Perhaps all he was able to say was, “Stay tuned”.
However, today, the question is not, “How could this happen?” Today, the question is, “How can you not see this happening?”
In the interconnected, nuclear, and information age in which we live, with the political realities as they are, it is hard to see an alternative finale to human history.
Yet, according to Judaism, the truth is that we do not need to take this route to reach Messianic times. In fact, this is the worst-case scenario of how to get there. Instead, we can go the route of positivity and miracles.
You see, what Messianic times is really all about is achieving the purpose of creation; living life in a refined state of God-awareness and God-relationship. As we stated in the first chapter, to build and facilitate our relationship with the Infinite is to achieve the max and live out the purpose of what this world was created for.
But this takes positive personal change and growth.
There are two ways we can change and grow – either we make the proactive moves to positive change and growth, or something happens to us that pushes us to change and grow.
Obviously, the first route is preferred (as well as being a higher, more refined level). But, the second route is an option if necessary. This is because there is nothing worse for humanity than to miss out on the Infinite opportunity offered it by the gift of life.
WHICH ROUTE WILL WE TAKE?
Today, it is easy to see the Jewish people and the world going down either route. As illustrated at length above, the stage is set for the secondary route by which we are pushed to make positive change by a scenario of difficult circumstances. However, there is also a movement within the Jewish world toward proactive positive change by taking God and the Torah more seriously through honest searching for truth and meaning as well as real introspection.
It is as if there is a tug-of-war between these two routes to Moshiach – and it is up to us, the Jewish people, as a nation as well as each individual, to step up and assume the responsibility that is already ours.
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