Hebrew Bible

Who Is the Messiah in Judaism?

What does Judaism say about the coming of the Messiah, and what are the prophecies this figure will fulfill? What role does the awaiting of the Messiah play in everyday Judaism? Read on to learn more!

Who Is the Messiah?

The Messiah, known in Hebrew as Moshiach or Mashiach and meaning “the anointed one,” is a future Jewish leader from Biblical prophecy.

The Jewish Messiah hasn't come yet, but will be a descendant of King David, who will lead the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel and usher in a Messianic Age. The specific details and beliefs about what the Messiah will fulfill, or whether it will even be one singular person, can vary among the different Jewish traditions and streams.

The name "anointed one" refers to the fact that this future figure is expected to be anointed with holy anointing oil, as has been done for Jewish leaders and High Priests in Biblical times.

In Judaism, the Messiah is meant to be a human being, not a divine figure or deity. He is often envisioned as a political leader like a king, or even a military commander.

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What Will the Messiah Do?

According to traditional Jewish belief, the role of the Messiah will include:

1. Rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem and restoring traditional worship, potentially including sacrifices, incense, shofar blasts, and original Temple artifacts like the Menorah and Hoshen Priestly Breastplate.

2. Gathering all the Jewish exiles from the diaspora back to the Land of Israel.

3. Establishing an era of peace, justice, harmony and prosperity for the rest of time and throughout the entire world; this period is referred to as the Messianic Age or the World to Come.

4. Spreading knowledge and awareness of G-d and the Torah.

Even given all that that, it should be noted that Judaism does not view the coming of the Messiah as a central focus of religious life or salvation. Most observant Jews focus on the fulfillment of individual and collective responsibilities to G-d and humanity, rather than solely waiting for the arrival of the Messiah.

Many modern Jews also believe that the Jewish community as a whole, and every individual Jew, can and should work towards the coming of the Messianic Age through bettering the world and performing mitzvot (commandments).

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The Role of the Messiah in Modern Judaism

The awaiting of the Messiah plays some role in everyday Judaism, though its specific impact can vary among different Jewish communities and individuals.

1. Hope and Optimism: The belief in the eventual coming of the Messiah instills a sense of hope and optimism in many Jews. It provides a vision of a better future, where peace, justice, and harmony prevail. This hope can also serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for living a righteous life and working towards a better world.

2. Prayer and Liturgy: References to the Messiah can be found in Jewish prayers, liturgy, and religious texts. Prayers such as the Amidah (the central prayer of the Jewish prayer service) include petitions for the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of the Messianic Age.

3. Ethical Living and Social Justice: The belief in the Messiah and the Messianic Age encourages many Jews to engage in acts of kindness, compassion, and social justice. The vision of a world characterized by justice and righteousness inspires individuals to work towards these ideals in their daily lives. Many Jewish organizations and individuals are actively involved in initiatives aimed at repairing the world (Tikkun Olam) and creating a more just and equitable society.

 

Are you inspired by the prophecies of the Messiah? Connect with this powerful tradition by studying Hebrew Scriptures, engaging in traditional prayer, or exploring our Temple-inspired and Jerusalem gifts!

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