1) THE RAMBAM'S OPINION OF THE WORLD IN THE TIMES OF MASHI'ACH
QUESTION: There are two opinions concerning what the world will be like in the times of Mashi'ach. According to Shmuel, the world will be the same as it is now, with the exception that the Jewish people will be autonomous and not subjugated to foreign dominion. According to Rebbi Chiya bar Aba, the world will change fundamentally; all of the prophecies of the prophets will come true, and war and poverty will be eradicated.
When the RAMBAM describes the times of Mashi'ach, he appears to contradict himself. In Hilchos Teshuvah (8:7), the Rambam writes that all the prophecies of the prophets apply to the times of Mashi'ach, and not to Olam ha'Ba. Similarly, in Hilchos Melachim (12:1, 5) he writes that there will be no more war or hunger in the times of Mashi'ach. The Rambam clearly rules in accordance with the opinion of Rebbi Chiya bar Aba. However, in the same chapter (12:2), the Rambam quotes the words of Shmuel, "There is no difference between this world and the times of Mashi'ach except the lack of subjugation to foreign dominion," who argues with Rebbi Chiya bar Aba and the other statements that the Rambam writes. How are we to reconcile the words of the Rambam?
ANSWER: The Rambam himself writes the answer to this apparent contradiction. In Hilchos Melachim (12:1), the Rambam writes that all of the prophecies in Yeshayah that refer to the times of Mashi'ach (chapter 11) such as the wolf living with the lamb are all metaphorical. They represent the fact that there will be peace between the Jews and the seventy "wolves," the other nations of the world.
The Rambam understands that Rebbi Chiya bar Aba maintains that although the prophecies will come to pass in the days of Mashi'ach, the natural order of the world will not change. There will be no miraculous changes in the physical nature of the world. Any prophecy that alludes to a miraculous change is a metaphor.
According to Shmuel, on the other hand, the prophecies will not come to pass at all in the times of Mashi'ach, and there will not be peace among the other nations. That is why the Rambam -- who says that the prophecies will come true in the time of Mashi'ach (not like Shmuel) -- still says that there will be no change in the actual nature of the world. (See LECHEM MISHNEH, Hilchos Teshuvah 8:7.)
Why, then, does the Rambam use the words of Shmuel to express this thought, when Shmuel himself means his words literally (that there is no difference between this world and the times of Mashi'ach even with regard to peace in the world, and not just with regard to the physical nature of the world)? Why does the Rambam use those same words to refer to a different concept -- that there will be a significant difference between this world and the times of Mashi'ach?
The answer seems to be that we find that the Rambam favors the phraseology of Chazal when they express his point, even when those words themselves were originally stated in a completely different, and even opposite, context (see, for example, Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 1:3). Here, the Rambam quotes the words of Shmuel to express his own view, even though Shmuel himself meant something entirely different. (M. KORNFELD)
2) THE WORLD IN THE TIMES OF MASHI'ACH
OPINIONS: What will the world be like in the times of Mashi'ach, according to the Chachamim who hold that the prophecies of the prophets will come true?
(a) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Melachim 12:1) writes that the prophecies will come true, but they are all metaphors. The nature of the world will not change; it will change only insofar as peace and plenty are concerned, but the physical properties of the world will not change. (See previous Insight.)
(b) The RA'AVAD disagrees and cites as proof the verse, "And I will cause all wild animals to cease..." (Vayikra 36:6). The Ra'avad apparently means that even if the words of the prophets can be understood figuratively, the words of the Torah must be understood literally (as we find in the 32 Midos of Rebbi Eliezer ben Rebbi Yosi ha'Glili, Midah #26). Since the Torah says that the physical properties of animals will change in the times of Mashi'ach, we see that there will also be physical changes in the nature of the world.
(c) The RADBAZ on the Rambam (ad loc.) compromises and suggests that in Eretz Yisrael, the words of the prophets will come true in their literal sense, while outside of Eretz Yisrael, they will occur only in a figurative sense.
3) "KODESH LA'HASH-M"
OPINIONS: The Gemara says, according to one opinion, that the words "Kodesh la'Hashem" were written on the Tzitz on two lines, with "Hash-m" written above and "Kodesh La" written below. According to this opinion, how exactly was "Kodesh la'Hashem" written on the Tzitz?
(a) According to RASHI's first explanation, "Kodesh La" was on the center of the bottom line, and "Hash-m" was on the center of the top line (see diagram below).
(b) According to RASHI's second explanation and the RAMBAM (Hilchos Klei ha'Mikdash 9:1), "Kodesh" was on the center of the bottom line, and "la'Hashem" was on the center of the top line. In order to explain why the Tzitz found in Rome did not look like that, the Rambam adds that it is acceptable, b'Di'eved, to write both words in one line, "and sometimes they did write it in one line."
(c) TOSFOS says that "Kodesh La" was on the beginning of the bottom line, and "Hash-m" was inscribed on the end of the top line.
(d) The RASHBA, in the name of RABEINU TAM, explains that Tosfos' explanation is not acceptable, because it is not the manner of people to read the second (bottom) line first. He says that "Kodesh La" was written on the end of the top line, and "Hash-m" was written on the beginning of the bottom line. He explains that when the Gemara says that "Hash-m" was written "above," it means that it was written on the first vertical column. "Below" means that "Kodesh La" was written on the second vertical column (TZITZ diagram follows).
(Diagram best viewed when converted to Courier 10pt. font)
(a) RASHI (1):
- HASH-M -
- KODESH LA -
(b) RASHI (2); RAMBAM:
- LA'HASH-M -
- KODESH -
-KODESH LA -
(d) RABEINU TAM:
- KODESH LA-