The Messianic Age: Out of this World?

“…And the tree of the field will give forth its fruit…” – Vayikra 26:4

וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ – ויקרא כו, ד

The Torah’s reference to “the trees of the field”—as opposed to trees planted in an orchard—denotes trees that do not currently bear fruit, according to the Midrash (Toras Kohanim, cited by Rashi on Vayikra 26:4). The promise that “the tree of the field will give forth its fruit,” says the Midrash, refers to the era of Moshiach, when even non-fruit-bearing trees will grow fruit.

This Midrashic teaching seems to contradict the position taken by the Rambam: “Do not presume that in the Messianic era any aspect of the natural order will be nullified, or that there will be innovations in the work of creation. Rather, the world will continue according to its pattern” (Laws of Kings 12:1). How can the Rambam reconcile this position with the Midrash’s teaching that even non-fruit-bearing trees will bear fruit when Moshiach comes?

The Messianic Age

A similar issue with the Rambam’s stance is presented by the belief that the dead will be resurrected at the end of times, one of the cardinal principles of Jewish faith, which is obviously a huge breach of nature.

We must conclude that even the Rambam agrees that there will be some changes to the natural order of the world after the coming of Moshiach (see also Rambam’s Iggeres Techiyas Hameisim, Part 6). The Rambam maintains, however, that these supernatural changes are not definitive components of the redemption, whose purpose is for the Jewish people to be able to serve G-d without hindrance or challenge, and to observe all the Torah’s laws in their entirety. The Rambam therefore regards as definitive components of the Moshiach-led redemption only the restoration of the Jewish kingdom, an end to war and hunger, and the removal of similar possible disturbances to devoting ourselves entirely to Torah study and mitzvah observance. In contrast, the supernatural events prophesied in the Torah, such as the resurrection of the dead and non-fruit-bearing trees giving fruit, might occur only in a later phase and not immediately upon Moshiach’s arrival, depending on the merits of the Jewish people (see Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a).

Ultimately, however, with the freedom to devote ourselves to Torah and Mitzvos that the coming of Moshiach will bring, even the Rambam agrees that we will eventually merit those supernatural blessings as well.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 27, pp. 191-206


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