A recent article questioned the desirability of redemption. After all, sacrifices will be reinstated as well as Torah based law which includes capital punishment for what some feel are minor offenses or private life choices. Seen from that angle redemption is framed as a primitive reversal. So why want it, why constantly ask for it?
Those questions are based on a fundamental misconception of what redemption is. Redemption at its core is the complete fruition of Torah and Mitzvos. At their fruition the entire world will arrive at an ever lasting peace. No war, no strife, no conflict between nations or individuals, even the entire animal kingdom will know peace. (As the Arizal teaches “the wolf lying with the lamb” is literal, and the Rambam also indicates as such in his letter to Yemen. ). Through redemption all human suffering will cease.
The Torah puts forth a very somber, almost fatalistic, but at the end decidedly hopeful diagnosis about human society. It teaches us that mankind cannot reach complete peace and harmony, cannot heal its deep dysfunctions without Moshiach and redemption. Yet G-d’s promise to us is that with great wonders (even greater than when we left Egypt) redemption will absolutely occur.
So now, how can any of us question the deep need for redemption or the sensibility of us all asking for it? Even if life is grand and endlessly fulfilling for us individually how can we remain insensitive and not pray every day for G-d to end the human suffering which is rampant across our globe? It doesn’t just make sense for us to ask for and work to bring Moshiach but it is our core Jewish responsibility.
This leads to the next misconception. Just what does Moshiach and redemption mean? Is it simply a cosmic Divine aspirin? Why and how does the fruition of Torah and Mitzvos create world peace and end suffering? As above, the very definition of Jewish redemption is that it is not man made but rather man elicited or perhaps co-created. Redemption itself is the moment G-d becomes tangibly known to mankind. Underline tangibly. We will see and feel how G-d is the continuous force that creates everything we see and experience. How there is no place he is not, no power remotely compares to him and how there is nothing outside or separate from him. That all existence is one with G-d. The tangible experience of all this is what will create peace on earth and an end to all suffering. Evil and pain will no longer exist. Can no longer exist.
This is the Jewish vision, but not for peace, pleasure or plenty did our great sages want Moshiach, only for the ability to fulfill Torah and Mitzva in fruition. To say it another way, they wanted Moshiach and redemption to be tangibly united with G-d to the greatest extent man can be. Other wise known as the purpose of creation.
The experience our ancestors had at Sinai was akin to this. It was of course temporary. However, G-d then gave us the means, Torah and Mitzvos, to make it permanent. That is an important aspect to keep in mind. G-d is beyond any human conception no matter how sublime, sophisticated, elegant, scientific (think qauntum physics) or elaborate. He revealed to us how he can become tangibly known and experienced, how peace on earth happens. Torah and Mitzva is the only means, nothing else can do it. Take pride in this wondrous and deepest of Jewish wisdom, in its unique formula.
Redemption (the tangible experience of G-d) for all mankind happens through the Jews, how it happens for the Jews is through Moshiach and a Bais Hamikdosh. A holy (overtly connected to the experience of G-d) nation, uniquely holy individual within that nation and most holy of places are the means for mankind to tangibly experience G-d while the human parameters of people and place remain intact.
When redemption occurs there will be no more crime and thus no further punishment. As far as the sacrifices go – when G-d, loving benevolent and all powerful, the life and force of ourselves and all that is, becomes tangibly known to all mankind, when peace on earth reigns and all suffering has ceased – if he has told us that sacrifices will still be done, we can be certain our sensibilities will be in harmony with it.
So let us pray for peace on earth, for creations purpose to be realized, for all suffering to cease and for mankind to know G-d. In other words, let’s all ask G-d for Moshiach now!