"The earth shall be full of knowledge of G‑d as water covers the sea bed"—Isaiah 11:9.

The Messianic Era will be one of tremendous prosperity—"delicacies will be commonplace like dust." That will leave humankind with ample free time—and all the nations of the world will be preoccupied with one pursuit: the study of G‑d and the Torah.

One of the promises regarding the Messianic Redemption concerns the Torah we will then study: "A new Torah will emit from Me" (Midrash Rabbah Leviticus based on Isaiah 51:4). In fact, "The Torah which we study in this world is naught in comparison to the Torah of Moshiach" (Midrash Rabbah, Ecclesiastes 11:8).

"The Torah which we study in this world is naught in comparison to the Torah of Moshiach" This does not, G‑d forbid, mean that the Torah we have now will be exchanged for a new one. One of the principles of Jewish belief is that the Torah and all its commandments are eternal and immutable. Judaism has always steadfastly rejected foreign doctrines that claimed that there is a "New Testament" that replaces, or modifies, the Torah.

Nevertheless, while there is only one Torah, this Torah is multi-layered. Every word in the Torah and every one of G‑d's commandments can be understood on infinite levels—which is quite understandable considering that the Torah is the wisdom of an infinite G‑d. Every one of these layers is extant in the Torah that was given at Sinai, simply waiting to be uncovered. Moshiach, who will be greater than even Adam and Moses, will reveal a completely new and profound dimension of Torah. He will reveal a Torah that will make all the Torah that was studied until then pale in comparison, "as naught."

The deepest of the four general dimensions of the Torah (see How Is the Torah Interpreted?) is sod, the esoteric teachings of the Torah, also known as kabbalah. Moshiach will teach a hitherto untapped level of kabbalah.

What about the other levels of Torah, the "practical" dimensions of Torah, the study of the many do's and don'ts that comprise the bulk of what is studied today?

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, citing the kabbalistic text Raya Mihemna, explains that we will no longer need to preoccupy ourselves with these areas of Torah during the Messianic Era. How, then, will we know the laws of the Torah, how will we know that which we must do and that which we mustn't? Rabbi Schneur Zalman suggests two possibilities:

  1. Forgetfulness is a by-product of kelipah (the spiritual forces that oppose holiness). Kelipah causes people to sin by making them "forgetful": forgetful of G‑d; forgetful of their mission in life; forgetful of the consequences of their actions. With the disappearance of kelipah during the Messianic Era, we will no longer forget. We will study the Torah's laws once, and there will be no need to ever revisit a topic. That will leave the rest of the time available for the elevated Torah that Moshiach will teach.
  2. All the dimensions of the Torah, from the most profound to the most simple, are layers of a singular wisdom. We will study the most profound levels, and automatically understand the resultant do's and don'ts. By way of example: a true understanding of the mystical significance of the mitzvah of tefillin will reveal why its boxes have to be black, square, etc.

Seeing vs. Hearing

"The glory of G‑d shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see that the mouth of G‑d has spoken"—Isaiah 40:5.

In addition to the greatly superior level of Torah that will be studied during the Messianic Era, our capacity to integrate that Torah will be much different than today.

The human being can become conscious of an entity or idea in one of two manners:

  1. Hearing; apprehension; logical inference. A concept acquired via this method can never be considered conclusive, as human intellect is always prone to error. Perhaps more importantly, even if the concept is never disproved, it will never attain absolute definitiveness in its knower's consciousness. Thus, a person would never board an aircraft simply because someone explained to him the principles of aerodynamics.
  2. Our present-day knowledge of G‑d is limited to the "hearing" varietySeeing; revelation. Most of the phenomena we take for granted are such that we may not understand, but we have seen or sensed. These ideas we accept as fact; they constitute our daily reality. Most people don't fully understand aviation science, and many don't know the first thing about it, yet they have no problem embarking on a transcontinental flight—for they have seen that it works. "Seeing is believing."
    It is also possible for an entity that cannot be seen or sensed to attain seeing-like status. On occasion, a certain fact is so patent, and its effects so clear, that it becomes incontrovertible although it cannot be physically sensed. For example, no one has ever seen electricity or a radio wave, yet we all are certain that they exist.

With the exception of very great tzaddikim (righteous individuals), our present-day knowledge of G‑d is limited to the "hearing" variety. We may study about Him, we may assiduously research and analyze the hosts of spiritual worlds detailed in the kabbalistic teachings, yet they will never be as real in our perception as the computer screen you are now looking at. One is theory, the other is real.

Moshiach will permanently change this dynamic. As Isaiah prophesied, "All flesh together shall see that the mouth of G‑d has spoken." We will look at the world and perceive the divine energy that provides its existence just as we look at a vacuum cleaner and perceive that there must be an electrical current that powers it.

Moshiach will teach about G‑d and we will "see" it. At last, G‑d will be really real.

And all that we perceive to be real today? We will see them for what they truly are: mere extensions of the ultimate reality.