TWO PERIODS IN THE ERA OF MOSHIACH
The Rambam writes in Hilchos Melochim ch. 12: “One is not to presume that in the Era of Moshiach anything of the world’s natural order will be nullified or that there will be any innovation in the order of creation; Rather the world will continue according to its natural pattern. As for that which is written in Yeshayahu (11:6) that “The wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard . . with the kid” – this is an allegory and metaphor. It means Israel will dwell securely together with the wicked gentiles, who are likened to wolves and leopards.
In this Era, all nations will return to the true faith and no longer plunder or destroy. Similarly, all other such expressions and prophecies concerning Moshiach are also allegories. And in the Era of King Moshiach everyone will realize what was implied by these metaphors and what they alluded to.
Our Sages taught: “There will be no difference between the present age and the Era of Moshiach except our [delivery from] subjugation to foreign powers.” This Rambam seems to contradict many statements of our Sages (in Midrash and Talmud) which indicate that the Era of Moshiach will usher in a new and miraculous world order. As the Raavad takes issue with the Rambam citing the possuk in our Sedra (Bechukosai 26:6) “And I will rid the land of predatory animals” – which is meant in the literal sense, not as a metaphor. Similarly, the Gemara (conclusion of Kesubos) and Toras Kohanim (quoted in Rashi ibid 26:4) state: In the Era of Moshiach ‘barren trees’ [non fruit bearing] will produce fruit.”
It is clear that “barren trees” producing fruit is not the “natural order” of the world. The above contradiction is magnified by various statements by the Rambam himself alluding to miraculous events in the Era ofMoshiach. Primarily, in the Rambam’s Thirteen Principles of Faith, is the belief in Techiyas Hameisim (Resurrection of the Dead) which will take place after Moshiach comes.
[In Hilchos Teshuvah (3:6) the Rambam underscores the importance of our belief in the Resurrection, stating that one who denies this belief will not have a portion in the World to Come], What greater “change in the natural order” of the world (and “innovation in creation”) is there than the Resurrection of the Dead?
So how can this be reconciled with the Rambam’s statement that the natural order will remain? However, the explanation of the Rambam is, that there will be two periods in the Era of Moshiach: (1) The period associated with the arrival of Moshiach, when the natural order will continue to prevail, and (2) after the initial period of Moshiach, will be a later period wherein Hashem will innovate changes in the natural order of the world, including the Resurrection of the Dead.
In Hilchos Melachim, where the Rambam writes that there will not be a change in the natural order, he is referring to the first period of Moshiach’s era; however, the Rambam’s various references to miraculous events including the Resurrection of the Dead, is referring to the later period in the Era of Moshiach. May we merit to see his immediate arrival. (Dvar Malchus # 12 ch. 3. Likkutei Sichos v. 27, p. 191)