Balak-the Future

There are verses in our parsha (Balak) that allude to the future, after the arrival of the Jewish meshiach.  One such verse says, “a star will shoot from Yakov…he will devastate all the descendents of Seth.”  The Targum Onkelos explains that means that only the Jews will rule in the future, but there will be non-Jews as well in the world.  Yet, other commentators (Ibn Ezra, Targum Yerushalmi and Targum Yonatan) disagree, saying that there will be no non-Jews involved in the future redemption.

We can find both opinions throughout the prophets.  Here are a few examples: “And in the end of days, the mountain of God will be established…and all the nations will flow there, saying ‘let us go and ascend.'” (Isaiah 2:2).  And, “to gather all the nations and languages to come and see my Honor…” (Isaiah 66:18).  And in Zephania (3:9), “Then I will to to the nations in a clear language, calling all of them in the name of God, to serve Him as one.”  However, a more enigmatic verse appears in Zecharia (13:8): “And it shall come to pass that in all the land, says the Lord, two parts shall be decimated and die, but the third will remain.”

In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 111A), the sages disagree regarding the “third” that is left in Israel.  Resh Lakish says that they are the Jews, descendents of Shem.  However, his mentor and study partner, R’ Yohanan, says that the third will include non-Jews as well.

As is often the case, it is the Rambam who helps us attain clarity in this case.  He says (Hilchot Melachim, Ch. 11-12) that the future redemption will take place by the Jewish meshiach, descending from the line of King David, and the redemption will be for, of, and by the Jews.  The purpose of the redemption will be in order to enable the Jews to study Torah peacefully, without any disturbances and to get closer and closer to God.  However, that does not mean that the rest of creation has no role to play in the redemption.  The only question is: what kind of role will they play?

Will it be, 1) a “supporting role,” in which the non-Jews simply aid the Jews to fulfill their task of dedicating themselves to God and learning His Torah?  Or will 2) the non-Jewish role also undergo redemption, on their own level, separate from the Jews but nonetheless redemption as well?

From elsewhere in the Rambam, it is clear that non-Jews will undergo redemption and remain even after the Jewish meshiach arrives.  What, then will be their role?  First of all, every creation will realize it’s fullest potential and fulfill its ultimate task.  But according to the opinion and verses above that indicate that non-Jews will no longer “exist,” the ultimate non-Jewish role will be a supporting role, merely helping the Jews to achieve ultimate redemption.  In that sense, they will have no existence of their own – they will exist merely to assist the Jews.  Yet, according to the second opinion that non-Jews will continue to exist, we understand this to mean that they will play a positive role of their own in the future redemption, and not merely assist the Jews.

For a longer and more detailed treatment of this subject, go to www.jerusalemconnection.org

From Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol 23, page 172-181

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