At the end of his Laws of Kings Maimonides writes: “One should not think that any aspect of the world will be altered in the Days of Moshiach… Rather, the world will continue to function in its usual manner.” In other words, in the Messianic Era the world will still operate according to the laws of nature.
However, in the second of this week’s two Torah portions, Bechukotai, we find two contradictions to this ruling. “And the tree of the field will give its fruit” – in the Messianic Era all trees, including non-fruiting bearing varieties, will yield fruit. This is obviously a departure from the laws of nature. In another verse, G-d promises “And I will remove evil beasts from the land” – wild animals will no longer be predatory. This also contradicts the way nature operates at present.
Maimonides himself explains the discrepancy: When the world was first created, all trees produced fruit. It wasn’t until after the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, when Adam was punished with the decree of “Thorns also and thistles shall [the earth] bring forth to you,” that some varieties of trees stopped producing fruit, and some animals became predatory. In the Days of Moshiach, the world will simply revert to its original character. According to Maimonides, this does not constitute a change in nature. True, the world will be different from the way it is now, but nonetheless “continue to function in its usual manner.”
There are also several seeming contradictions in the Torah’s description of how Moshiach will be revealed. In one instance the Torah tells us that Moshiach will arrive “on heavenly clouds” – in a supernatural manner – yet Moshiach is also depicted as “lowly and riding on a donkey.” The first description relates to a situation in which the Jewish people will have “merit”; the second describes Moshiach’s arrival “if they will not have merit.” Likewise, the manner in which the Holy Temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt also depends on whether or not the Jewish people will be worthy. With sufficient merit, the Third Holy Temple will descend from heaven completely erected. If they are less deserving, Moshiach will build it.
The fact that Moshiach will arrive is certain, regardless of our actions. The only variable is how the Final Redemption will take place. Because the Laws of Kings is a legal work, Maimonides gives us the “worst case” scenario, describing how Moshiach will come if the Jewish people will not have sufficient merit. The existence of Moshiach will not necessarily alter creation, “and the world will continue to function in its usual manner.”
If, however, we will be worthy, Moshiach’s arrival will be accompanied by many more revelations of G-dliness, as well as open miracles. Moshiach NOW!!!