Mashiach and Olam Haba Part 3: Mashiach ben Yosef

  • In Part 1 we saw the position of the Rambam - that the Messianic Age will be entirely non-miraculous, without any change in the natural order. Similarly, there will be NO change in the mitzvot or the principles of the Torah. As such, Yemot HaMashiach will relate entirely to THIS world (Olam Hazeh) and must not be confused with ‘Olam Haba’. Rambam’s vision of Mashiach1 is both restorative and to some degree utopian. For the Jewish people, the restorative element includes rebuilding the Temple, gathering in the exiles and returning the Jewish people to their prior state of redemption. For the wider world, the universal acceptance of God’s presence will usher in an age of peace, reason, morality, and mutual cooperation. The Rambam also plays down any apocalyptic element of the messianic age.
  • In Part 2 we saw the position of the more mystical thinkers for whom Yemot HaMashiach is an entirely miraculous age which merges and morphs with Olam Haba. They see Yemot HaMashiach as a blend of physical and spiritual; the return to an Edenic state in which people will live eternally in a life free not only from sin, but from the urge to carry out that sin. In those times we will no longer need the system of Torah and mitzvot and we will receive a new Torah which is more suited to our redeemed world.
  • However, the process of Mashiach is made more complex by the formulation of Chazal that Mashiach ben David will be preceded by another Messiah - Mashiach ben Yosef. What is the role and purpose of that pre-messianic Mashiach?