“And the earth with be filled with theknowledge of G‑d as water covers the sea bed.”(Isaiah 11:9)

What does the future hold? There is a Talmudic statement that the world will exist for 6000 years and then enter a new state. The current Hebrew year is 5766—which leaves us 234 years before the seventh millennium. The Kabbalah explains that each millennium is a Divine day, and as we approach the seventh millennium we are actually approaching the Divine Sabbath—a millennium which will mirror Shabbat.

To explain what this means in the simplest sense, the difference between weekdays and Shabbat is the cessation of work to create space for spiritual development. In historical terms, the 6000 year history of mankind represents human creativity, and the seventh millennium represents a step out of the creation and into the Creator. This era is classically called the days of Mashiach.

The word “Mashiach” actually means “anointed,” and was a term reserved for any anointed king in the Torah. In the context of the era of Mashiach, the term specifically refers to a dynamic human leader, a true Jewish king who will appear and rebuild the third Temple in Jerusalem and ingather the exiles. He will spiritualize the world and “out of Zion shall go forth Torah and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem.” There will be world peace and the “wolf shall lie with the lamb.” Though the year 6000 is the date by which he must come, the coming of Mashiach can happen at any time during the 6000 years if we merit his coming. In fact, we eagerly anticipate the coming of Mashiach, and requests for his urgent arrival are replete throughout our prayers.

What will life be like in those days? Maimonides, one of the greatest of Jewish scholars, summarizes by saying that although there will be a very high standard of living for all and delicacies will abound, the main pursuit of Man will be to “know G‑d.” In Kabbalistic terms, this means that Mankind will become aware of the mystical tradition, and even small children will be able to enter the prophetic state. Torah on all its levels will be fully revealed and Mitzvot fully practiced, and the world will return to its state in the Garden of Eden, materially abundant and spiritually focused.

The revelation of Kabbalah and the teachings of Hassidism in the years leading up to the seventh millennium are a foretaste of the Messianic Revelation. Based on the belief that the dissemination of mystical teaching ushers in the era of Mashiach, the leaders of ChaBaD have promoted the study of Hassidism in the widest possible circles and in the greatest number of locations.

As the world nears the era of Mashiach, knowledge in all areas of life is rapidly expanding. This concept is found in the Zohar, which comments of the verse, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life…the windows of Heaven were opened” (Genesis 7:11). According to the Zohar, the six hundredth year is also the sixth millennium, and the “windows of Heaven” are opening to allow knowledge and discovery to flow into our world at an unprecedented rate. To illustrate: the year 5600 (the six hundredth year of the sixth millennium) corresponds to the year 1840 in the Common-era. A cursory inspection of that period reveals that it was in the late 1800s that the Industrial Revolution began. This brought with it innovations in transportation, communication, and technology— which included enormous advances in communication, something ChaBaD has taken advantage of fully in the ongoing effort to educate. Our Sages say that Mashiach will teach Torah simultaneously to all Israel. A hundred years ago that was not possible. Today, we have the means to do so. In fact, the Lubavitcher Rebbe greatly encouraged the use of technology to teach Torah. ChaBaD was the pioneer in creating Torah in cyberspace.

It is clear that everything in our world, even technology, is leading somewhere. It was prophesied in the Zohar that scientific revelation—the knowledge from below—will converge with the knowledge from “Above”—the rapidly exploding revelation of mysticism and Hassidism. In a sentence, one may summarize the Zohar by saying that science and religion will converge. As time goes on, science will reveal the profound secrets of creation as already described in the mystical tradition, and it will provide the technological means for all to access that information. Science, which is sometimes used to push G‑d away, will reveal that Ein Od Milvado—“there is nothing else beside G‑d.”

But with all the advances of our world, there are pitfalls that could lead one into confusion and darkness. One of the greatest problems of the contemporary age is that our attention, focus, and concentration are diverted by media and material trappings. How can one survive the deluge? The only answer is to immerse in the purifying knowledge of the Torah, which refreshes one’s senses and allows one to develop and maintain a true perspective on reality. A test case for this was in communist Russia. Those who clung to their observance throughout all the years of oppression were students of Hassidism who were absorbed in its teachings and lived daily with a different reality. That lesson is one that is relevant today.