“The earth was unformed and empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep; and the spirit of G‑d hovered over the face of the water.”

-Bereishit 1:2

The Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 2:4) reads this verse as a prophetic allusion to Jewish history. The terms “unformed,” “empty,” “darkness” and “deep” refer to the four empires which oppressed, persecuted and exiled the Jewish nation. The phrase “the spirit of G‑d hovered...” refers to Moshiach, the ultimate redeemer, as it is said: “The spirit of G‑d will rest upon him” (Isaiah 11:2).

The principle of Moshiach thus is found in the very beginning of the Torah, at the very beginning of creation. In later passages of the Torah it is mentioned again, in some cases quite explicitly. Maimonides rules, therefore, that “Anyone who does not believe in [Moshiach], or whoever does not look forward to his coming, denies not only the [words of] the other prophets but [also those] of the Torah and of Moses” (Hilchot Melachim 11:1).

The Messianic era has two stages. Of the first it is said: “One is not to presume that anything of the ways of the world will be set aside, or that there will be any innovations in the order of creation. The world will continue according to its norms... The essential difference will be [our deliverance from] subjugation to foreign powers” (Ibid. 12:1-2).

In the second stage, however, the norms and the natural order of the world will change. It will be a time of wondrous miracles such as the resurrection of the dead and the fulfillment of all the other prophecies of ultimate bliss in the Messianic era.

The fact that the Torah refers to the principle of Moshiach at the very beginning of creation, even before the creation of man (thus also long before the giving of the Torah), teaches us an important lesson:

The concept of Moshiach includes everything that is related to him, not only the basic principle of the initial redemption of Israel, but also all the details of the ultimate wonders and miracles.

The belief in Moshiach and the anticipation of his coming, therefore, must include awareness and knowledge of all the details of the Messianic era. First and foremost we must believe in, hope for, and look forward to the time when “Israel will enjoy relief from the wicked tyranny that does not leave them to occupy themselves with Torah and mitzvot properly, so that they will find rest and grow in wisdom” (Hilchot Teshuvah 9:2)-“they will be free for Torah and its wisdom, without anyone to oppress and disturb them” (Hilchot Melachim 12:4).

Even so, we must also keep in mind the later stage which transcends the first one. Practically speaking, this means the following:

As we “live with Moshiach,” our service of G‑d must be even now not only on the level of the first stage with its “normative order” marked merely by the removal of external impediments, but also on the level of the final stage which is marked by innovations. In other words, our service must transcend the calculations and restrictions of mundane boundaries.

When we act as if Moshiach were here already, we effect that the “as if” will become a fact of reality with the actual redemption and its bliss.

The ultimate goal of the world’s creation, the Messianic era, is firmly established in the very origin of the world: “last in deed, but first in thought.” The very beginning of the Torah indicates the final purpose towards which all our aspirations must be devoted. This alone, already, infuses us with the ability to attain that goal.