Modern Jewish Messianism

Jewish messianism has been repeatedly reinterpreted in the modern era.

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The Conservative movement, however, has replaced the idea of the messianic rebuilding of the Temple by anticipating an age in which the religious and ethical teachings of the Torah will become universal. The Final Judgment is not meant to be taken literally; it is understood as the idea of God’s justice. The Conservative credo is agnostic on the question of the Messiah:

“We do not know when the Messiah will come, nor whether he will be a charismatic human figure or is a symbol of the redemption of humankind from the evils of the world. Through the doctrine of a messianic figure, Judaism teaches us that every individual human being must live as if he or she, individually, has the responsibility to bring about the messianic age (Emet ve-Emunah, p.31).”

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Dr. David S. Ariel

Dr. David S. Ariel is head of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. He was previously president of Siegal College of Judaic Studies (formerly the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies). He is author of Spiritual Judaism: Restoring Heart and Soul to Jewish Life and The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism.