Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Part 2 of yesterday's Messiah post

The most basic Jewish idea of Moshiach, that is the core belief found in most, if not all the interpretations, predictions and writings on the subject, is that when Moshiach arrives (whatever that means; more below) things are going to be GOOD.
  • We don't know what laws or practices will be brought back, or discontinued. 
  • We don't know if life will change dramatically with a new supernatural order being introduced, or if things will carry on pretty much as they did before.
  • We don't even know if the Temple service will be restored. (Authorities argue about all these points; anyway their predictions have no influence over how reality, over time, unfolds.) 
  • In fact, if we're going to be honest and precise, we don't even know if "Messiah" is an authentic Jewish idea going back to Sinai. The whole thing might be the invention of disappointed, impatient and tired-of-being-persecuted Jews during the Persian or Greek periods.[*] 
All we do know, and I mean really know, is this one thing: Whenever a Jewish thinker made a prediction, or shared a deduction about Moshiach he always, always, always predicted or deduced that things post-Moshiach would be GOOD.

So let's go with that.

In my post yesterday, I made my own prediction. I said that, unless God magically lobotomizes everyone,  Moshiach and his followers will crack down on those Jews who were expecting a different kind of Moshiach, and aren't ready to accept the New Order. I imagined that Moshiach would inevitably advocate a style of Judaism that some other Jews would find intolerable and that infighting would be the inevitable result. 

I still think there is something to that, but I recognize its not the only possible outcome. 

See, maybe Moshiach doesn't come on a donkey. Maybe "Moshiach" is a word to describe the goodness that results as mankind gets its act together. I don't know if we're there yet, but our Southern States are certainly closer to Moshiach then they were when Jim Crow was the rule of their land. We may have miles to go, but Russia is closer than it was 30 years ago, isn't it? 

As mankind improves, and puts away its ancient prejudices and pettiness, aren't we getting closer to the GOOD? Might that be what's meant by Moshiach? People getting along, and treating one another with justice? 

Moshiach may not appear in the Pentateuch or the Prophets, but this idea that Zion is only redeemed with justice, and that we're all going to suffer until the widow and the orphan are treated properly is everywhere in those books. Everywhere.

[*]I am aware the Talmud and virtually every Jewish thinker of note  - from the Mishna on - thought Moshiach was an old, old Jewish idea. However, what can't be denied is that no mention of him appears until Daniel (though hints are discovered in other books) and that nothing overt is said about him, or what he will do anywhere in the Hebrew bible. If you're of a skeptical bent, this is strange and troubling, and perhaps strongly suggestive of something at least quasi heretical.  

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