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What Is the Jewish Belief About Moshiach (Messiah)?

What Is the Jewish Belief About Moshiach (Messiah)?


What is the “End of Days”?

The term “End of Days” is taken from Numbers 24:14. This has always been taken as a reference to the messianic era. Here we shall explore—albeit briefly—the Jewish belief in the coming of Moshiach (Messiah).

What does the word Moshiach mean?

Moshiach is the Hebrew word for “messiah.” The word messiah in English means a savior or a “hoped-for deliverer.” The word moshiach in Hebrew actually means “anointed.” In Biblical Hebrew, the title moshiach was bestowed on somebody who had attained a position of nobility and greatness. For example, the high priest is referred to as the kohen ha-moshiach.

In Talmudic literature the title Moshiach, or Melech HaMoshiach (the King Messiah), is reserved for the Jewish leader who will redeem Israel in the End of Days.

What is the belief in Moshiach?

One of the principles of Jewish faith enumerated by Maimonides is that one day there will arise a dynamic Jewish leader, a direct descendant of the Davidic dynasty, who will rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, and gather Jews from all over the world and bring them back to the Land of Israel.

All the nations of the world will recognize Moshiach to be a world leader, and will accept his dominion. In the messianic era there will be world peace, no more wars nor famine, and, in general, a high standard of living.

All mankind will worship one G‑d, and live a more spiritual and moral way of life. The Jewish nation will be preoccupied with learning Torah and fathoming its secrets.

The coming of Moshiach will complete G‑d’s purpose in creation: for man to make an abode for G‑d in the lower worlds—that is, to reveal the inherent spirituality in the material world.

Is this not a utopian dream?

No! Judaism fervently believes that, with the correct leadership, humankind can and will change. The leadership quality of Moshiach means that through his dynamic personality and example, coupled with manifest humility, he will inspire all people to strive for good. He will transform a seemingly utopian dream into a reality. He will be recognized as a man of G‑d, with greater leadership qualities than even Moses.

In today’s society, many people are repulsed by the breakdown of ethical and moral standards. Life is cheap, crime is rampant, drug and alcohol abuse are on the increase, children have lost respect for their elders. At the same time, technology has advanced in quantum leaps. There is no doubt that today man has all the resources—if channeled correctly—to create a good standard of living for all mankind. He lacks only the social and political will. Moshiach will inspire all men to fulfill that aim.

Why the belief in a human messiah?

Some people believe that the world will “evolve” by itself into a messianic era without a human figurehead. Judaism rejects this belief. Human history has been dominated by empire builders greedy for power.

Others believe in Armageddon—that the world will self-destruct, either by nuclear war or by terrorism. Again, Judaism rejects this view.

Our prophets speak of the advent of a human leader, of a magnitude that the world has not yet experienced. His unique example and leadership will inspire mankind to change direction.

Where is Moshiach mentioned in the Scriptures?

The Scriptures are replete with messianic quotes. In Deuteronomy 30:1 Moses prophesies that, after the Jews have been scattered to the four corners of the earth, there will come a time when they will repent and return to Israel, where they will fulfill all the commandments of the Torah. The gentile prophet Balaam prophesies that this return will be led by Moshiach (see Numbers 24:17–20). Jacob refers to Moshiach by the name Shiloh (Genesis 49:10).

The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Joel and Hosea all refer to the messianic era. (For full references, the reader is referred to the book Moshiach by Rabbi Dr. J.I. Schochet.) It is interesting to note that the wall of the United Nations Building in New York is inscribed with the quote from Isaiah (11:6), “And the wolf shall lie with the lamb.” Furthermore, it is clear from the prophets, when studied in their original Hebrew, that Moshiach is a Jewish concept, and his coming will entail a return to Torah law, firmly ruling out any “other” messianic belief.

What sort of leader will Moshiach be?

Moshiach will be a man who possesses extraordinary qualities. He will be proficient in both the written and oral Torah traditions. He will incessantly campaign for Torah observance among Jews, and observance of the seven universal Noahide laws by non-Jews. He will be scrupulously observant, and encourage the highest standards from others. He will defend religious principles and repair breaches in their observance. Above all, Moshiach will be heralded as a true Jewish king, a person who leads the way in the service of G‑d, totally humble yet enormously inspiring.

When will Moshiach come?

Jews anticipate the arrival of Moshiach every day. Our prayers are full of requests to G‑d to usher in the messianic era. Even at the gates of the gas chambers, many Jews sang “Ani Maamin”—I believe in the coming of Moshiach!

However, the Talmud states that there is a predestined time when Moshiach will come. If we are meritorious, he may come even before that predestined time. This “end of time” remains a mystery, yet the Talmud states that it will be before the Hebrew year 6000. (The Hebrew year at the date of this publication is 5772.)

This does not rule out the possibility of Moshiach coming today and now, if we merit it. It should be noted that many Torah authorities are of the opinion that we are in the “epoch of the Moshiach,” and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, stated on numerous occasions that the messianic redemption is imminent.

Could Moshiach come at any time, in any generation?

Yes. In every generation there is a person who potentially could be the Moshiach. When G‑d decides that the time has arrived, He will bestow upon that individual the necessary powers for him to precipitate that redemption.

Any potential Moshiach must be a direct descendant of King David, as well as erudite in Torah learning. It should be noted that many people living today can trace their lineage back to King David. The chief rabbi of Prague in the late 16th century, Rabbi Yehuda Loew (the Maharal), had a family tree that traced him back to the Davidic dynasty. Consequently, any direct descendant of the Maharal is of Davidic descent.

Maimonides, a great Jewish philosopher and codifier of the 12th century, rules that if we recognize a human being who possesses the superlative qualities ascribed to Moshiach, we may presume that he is the potential Moshiach. If this individual actually succeeds in rebuilding the Temple and gathering in the exiles, then he is the Moshiach.

What exactly will happen when Moshiach comes?

Maimonides states in his Mishneh Torah—a compendium of the entire halachic tradition—that Moshiach will first rebuild the Temple and then gather in the exiles. Jerusalem and the Temple will be the focus of divine worship, and “from Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the L‑rd from Jerusalem.”

The Sanhedrin—the supreme Jewish law court of 71 sages—will be re-established, and will decide on all matters of law. At this time, all Jews will return to full Torah observance and practice. It should be noted that in this present age of great assimilation and emancipation, an unprecedented return of Jews to true Torah values has taken place. This baal teshuvah phenomenon is on the increase, and paves the way for a full return in the messianic era.

Will miracles happen?

The Talmud discusses this question and again arrives at the conclusion that, if we are meritorious, the messianic redemption will be accompanied by miracles. However, the realization of the messianic dream, even if it takes place naturally, will be the greatest miracle.

According to some traditions, G‑d Himself will rebuild the third Temple. According to others, it will be rebuilt by Moshiach; still others suggest a combination of the two opinions. Some suggest that there will be two distinct periods in the messianic era: first a non-miraculous period, leading into a second, miraculous period.

Maimonides writes, “Neither the order of the occurrence of these events nor their precise detail is among the fundamental principles of the faith . . . one should wait and believe in the general conception of the matter.”

What will become of the world as we know it?

Initially, there will be no change in the world order, other than its readiness to accept messianic rule. All the nations of the world will strive to create a new world order, in which there will be no more wars or conflicts. Jealousy, hatred, greed and political strife (of the negative kind) will disappear, and all human beings will strive only for goodness, kindness and peace.

In the messianic era there will be great advances in technology, allowing a high standard of living. Food will be plentiful and cheap.

However, the focus of human aspiration will be the pursuit of the “knowledge of G‑d.” People will become less materialistic and more spiritual.

What are the “birthpangs” of Moshiach’s arrival?

The Talmud describes the period immediately prior to the advent of Moshiach as one of great travail and turmoil. There will be a world recession, and governments will be controlled by despots. It is in this troubled setting that Moshiach will arrive.

There is a tradition that a great war will take place, called the war of Gog and Magog, and there is much speculation as to the precise timing of this war in relation to Moshiach’s arrival.

There is a tradition that Elijah the Prophet will come to the world and announce the imminent arrival of Moshiach. However, according to other opinions, Moshiach may arrive unannounced. Elijah would then arrive to assist in the peace process. Some suggest that if the Moshiach arrives in his predestined time, then Elijah will announce his arrival; but if Moshiach comes suddenly, then Elijah will appear after Moshiach has come.

As mentioned before, it is unclear as to exactly how these events will unfold. However, this uncertainty does not affect the general matter of Moshiach’s arrival.

When will the resurrection of the dead take place?

One of the principles of Jewish faith is belief in the resurrection of the dead. According to the Zohar—an early Kabbalistic text—the resurrection will take place forty years after the arrival of Moshiach. However, certain righteous individuals will arise with the coming of Moshiach. All the dead will be resurrected in the Land of Israel.

There is a small bone in the body called the luz bone (some identify this bone as the coccyx), from which the body will be rebuilt at the time of resurrection. Our daily prayers are replete with requests for the resurrection, and there are many customs connected with it. (See the book To Live and Live Again by the present author, published by S.I.E. Publications.)

What can be done to bring Moshiach?

In general, mankind must strive to perform more acts of goodness and kindness. The Jew is mandated to learn and be aware of the messianic redemption, and strengthen his or her faith in Moshiach’s ultimate and imminent arrival.

Charity is a catalyst for redemption. And every day in our prayers, we sincerely plead many times for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the ingathering of the exiles and the return to Torah observance under the leadership of Moshiach. The Lubavitcher Rebbe mounted a worldwide Moshiach campaign to heighten the awareness of Moshiach’s imminent arrival. The Rebbe constantly urged every Jew to prepare on a personal, family and community level for the arrival of Moshiach. This can best be achieved by “living with Moshiach”—that is, by learning about Moshiach and yearning for his coming.


In conclusion, the Jew always was and remains the eternal optimist. Even in his darkest hour, he hopes and prays for a brighter future—a world of peace and spirituality.

Rabbi Nissan D. Dubov is director of Chabad Lubavitch in Wimbledon, UK.
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nd London October 15, 2017

The Rebbe! Reply

mendy green October 10, 2017

Who is Moshiach? Reply

Craig Hamilton Sandwich, MA October 15, 2017
in response to mendy green:

Moshiach is someone who will prove himself by fulfilling the deeds required of him.

In the same way that "G-d said to Moses: You want to know My name? I am called by My deeds"
— Midrash Rabbah

Moshiach will also be known by his deeds. Reply

joseph florida August 18, 2017

Very concerned with the times we are living in now. I have a strong sense that we're not far away from the end of days. Reply

Anonymous K. August 18, 2017
in response to joseph:

Re: Joseph Your sense is spot on. Read more into the Rebbe's teachings, particularly those from the late-1980's and on.

But I must say there is no need for concern. Whenever there may be a challenge, G-d also gives the appropriate capabilities to overcome them. Reply

Shari Victorville CA September 22, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

G ds Day We await G ds day, Messiah to come and have this disgusting, evil, cruel, and painful world to be gone. After that we will have paradise to me. Living in my own home, surrounded by beautiful flowers and plants. Whichever kind of things that I choose to grow. Neighbors, community, sisters, brothers, children and all because G d Will Be Ruling Above us Just as He Intended from the very start. Hashem created Torah for Her to be the blueprint of the Universe. When I start reading Torah anew every New Year, Hashem has answered my prayer to bless me and show me Torah in a way that always gives the directions to follow. G d also shows what will be the outcome that my choices will have. Sure we will be going through such things that we probably have never even knew where possible. But that is what we are doing by following all mitzvots. All things that Hashem Commands of us not only please Him, They teach, prepare and are to strengthen us.. Reply

Anonymous Alma Ata December 27, 2016

Re: Moshiach and Mashiach? Like most words of the Holy Tongue, there's no official way of spelling the word in English. For example, Chanukkah, Chanuka and Chanukah, are all the same thing. So too with Moshiach and Mashiach. Reply

Shiloh Indonesia December 26, 2016

Moshiach and Mashiach? I'm sorry for asking this, but i really wanted to know... what's the difference between "Mashiach" and "Moshiach"? some says it's the same, no difference at all... but some says it has different meaning... thank you for any reply Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for November 16, 2016

We continue to await the Messiah's imminent arrival. As Maimonides said some 850 years ago, this belief is fundamental to the Jewish faith, and we hold by it even if it takes longer than we would have liked. Reply

hk bham October 26, 2016

appearance? how will the messiah look like? Reply

Shari Victorville CA September 22, 2017
in response to hk:

G ds Day I wonder too. When Hashem gave us his description, he sounds far from the description of jc. Unattractive, dishevelled, dirty, spat on... I read about him, and I can't resist mentally to picture him going around like Saul did for his transgressions. Hashem has already told us when His day will come. It will be whenever He chooses and all of the Earth will know. There won't be any doubts that He Has Arrived. Reply

Craig Hamilton Sandwich, MA October 13, 2017
in response to hk:

see Song of Songs 5:9-15 Reply

Anonymous UK October 5, 2016

This blog post started in January 2006, and we are still awaiting this 'imminent' and no-show Moshiach. Do you think the sages got it all wrong, maybe it's not a person (male) at all? Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma August 24, 2016

what is in a word? Moshiach is pronounced with She as a prominent English word. People have come in asking why a he, and not a she. In Hebrew the English is curious as in the Hebrew he is 'she' and 'hu' is he. If you were to allow it is possible to cross Babel in this way then a hidden code exists in all words. Long ago I was told it is important to pray out loud. Could it be the rabbi that said this was passing to me a message that was, sage, as concerning hearing words and finding the sure treasures within. Reply

Michael Ruban Chennai - INDIA August 23, 2016

We want Mashiach now Very Nice Read. Thank you all for your article and comments. I sincerely wish all Jewish people to successfully build your Temple. I hope the whole world will understand the "Ten Commandments" handed over by Moses and the issues of life that arise when one breaks them. As God has said in the holy scriptures, "I will write them in the minds and hearts of men" I thank God for gathering the exiles back to their own land and establishing them as a nation. And last but not the least, I would love to see this world live together in Unity and Peace. It becomes very clear that we are all moving towards this very beginning, a new beginning, a new Age. Reply

Anonymous NY August 5, 2016

To LB from Canada LB, please take a look at the talk of the Rebbe dated 7th of Elul 5751 (1991) Reply

chaim kessler Israel April 7, 2016

We want Mashiach now I am in the midst of organizing Gmach Chaim that will bring the Mashiach soon, Reply

Kristine Holland Australia March 10, 2016

Where does it say that Mosciach is male? Reply

Debra H. Florida November 14, 2015

Though optimistic, Zach.14 describes the horror of punishment which will be heaped on those who are anti-G-d, anti-Torah, anti-religious(Judaism)...those who are wicked among the Jewish nation and the gentiles of the world. Hashem repeatedly describes the punishments for not keeping
Shabbat or observance according to His instructions for the world regarding the Seven Noahide Laws and the Holy Jewish Laws. There are severe consequences and great rewards depending upon the choices made by each individual. Thank you for the article. Reply

Saruk Israel November 12, 2015

Earlier usage of that line... Actually in comes first in Genesis, 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said: 'Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the end of days....בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים.... Reply

LB Canada November 4, 2015

Prophets of Biblical time and today? Why have we not heard about prophets of the 20th century? Reply

Rabbi Happyman NEW ROCHELLE August 6, 2015

Dont just wait for Messiah.

Be like, and act like Him Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma August 6, 2015

Return: we recycle We have all been in each other's tents around the world. G-d wrote us all into a story. A massive Cosmic Story. I am turning up the mic on this. It is a language-based Story. I am crossing Babel. We actualize all aspects of names and naming. The path is em-path-thy. A woman? Not necessarily so! Because it is a soul story. The keys are in the words. You cannot refute a totally synchronous Story in total alignment, a line meant, already on line. I am not asking. I am telling. There is El in this. G-d wrote not parts but the entire Story. This Story will move to Jerusalem to The Wailing Wall. We can petition for a new chapter in an ancient Book. Reply

Anonymous Sav'h GA USA August 4, 2015

DNA testing, awareness, observance later in life What men living at the present time are "top contenders" (i.e. descendent from King David (and the Maharal of the 16th century)? Must this Jewish man have always known he was Jewish or could he discover this late in life by way of DNA testing and, after his discovery, become proficient and scrupulously observant in both the written and oral Torah traditions leading to his incessant campaign for Torah observance among Jews and observance of the seven universal Noahide laws by non-Jews? Reply

Anonymous Australia June 2, 2015

Thoroughly enjoyed your wonderful article "What is the Jewish Belief about Moshiach?" I am now hungry to learn more.. Shalom . Reply

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