Two of the most fundamental tenets of the Jewish faith – as listed by Maimonides among the Thirteen Principles of the Jewish Faith – are the belief in the ultimate redemption, an awaited era of world peace, prosperity and wisdom, and the belief that the dead will be resurrected at that time.
The Messianic Era will be ushered in by a Jewish leader generally referred to as the Moshiach (messiah: Hebrew for "the anointed one"), a righteous scion of King David. He will rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and gather the Jewish people from all corners of the earth and return them to the Promised Land.
So it's going to happen—that's what we believe. But why is this important today? Why is the coming of Moshiach so central to the Jewish belief system? At that time, "delicacies will be commonplace like dirt." All the nations will "beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Micah 4:3). Humankind will be preoccupied with only one pursuit: the study of G‑dly wisdom. "The earth shall be filled with knowledge of G‑d as water covers the seabed" (Isaiah 11:9).
Okay, so it's going to happen—that's what we believe. But why is this important today? Why is the coming of Moshiach so central to the Jewish belief system?
Because the Torah teaches us that there is purpose to our world. And the Messianic Era is the actualization of that idea.
There are those who maintain that this crass physical world is merely a strategic challenge; one that the soul must battle and transcend en route to a heavenly paradise. According to this line of thinking, the physical and mundane has no intrinsic worth, it retains no value whatsoever once its function has been fully served—it is a means to a spiritual end.
While Jewish belief also speaks of the soul's reward in the hereafter, earned through its toil in the course of life's journey, it sees the refinement of the physical and the infusion of holiness and purpose into the mundane as the paramount objective. It is the sanctification of the human body and the world at large that constitutes the very purpose of its creation.
From the dawn of time, G‑d envisioned for Himself a "dwelling place" right here on Planet Earth. And He put us here to fashion this home. To transform darkness into light.
The curtain will be ripped aside, and all flesh will perceive G‑d. And soon the day will come when G‑d's glory will be revealed in this nether-realm, and we will enjoy the fruits of our millennia-long work, the end-product of our labor of love.
The curtain will be ripped aside, and all flesh will perceive G‑d. It will be the culmination of the master plan.
The belief in Moshiach has sustained our nation throughout a 2,000 year exile fraught with pogroms, expulsions and persecution—our ancestors' firm belief in a better time to come, and their trust that they would be resurrected to witness that day. And today, finally, we stand at the threshold of redemption. One more good deed by one more person may be all that's needed to seal the deal.