In recounting this historical record in his commentary to the Mishna, the great Maimonides ends with the enigmatic statement: "... and the tenth red heifer will be accomplished by the king, the Messiah; may he be revealed speedily, Amen, May it be God's will."
With this amazing statement, Maimonides recounts an ancient tradition - that the tenth red heifer is associated with the Messianic era. Does this perhaps mean that the appearance of a red heifer in these waning end times is an indication, a forerunner of the appearance of the Messiah himself, who will officiate at its preparation?
If there has been no red heifer for the past 2,000 years, perhaps it is because the time was not right; Israel was far from being ready. But now... what could it mean for the times we live in, to have the means for purification so close at hand? With the words of Maimonides in mind, we cannot help but wonder and pray: If there are now red heifers... is ours the era that will need them?"(1)
Many sages calculated specific dates for the Messianic Redemption, in spite of Talmudic disapproval such as that found in Sanhedrin 97b. These saints included R.Sandish Gaon, Rashi, Ba'aler Tossafet, Rambam, Abarbanel, R. Isaac Luria etc. These sages did not follow the Talmud on date setting prohibition. That is because it was believed not all prohibitions last forever.
Rambam, after citing the Talmudic injunction in his code and elaborating on it in his "Igeret Teyman" himself offers in the latter (ch.3) a date passed on to him by his ancestors! Rambam confronts the problem by stating that the Talmudic prohibition was but for a limited time only and no longer applies to the present era of "Ikvot Meshicha."(2)
“Whoever does not believe in him (Messiah), or does not await his coming, denies not only the other prophets but also the Torah and Moses, our teacher, for the Torah attests to his coming.”(3)
In his Thirteen Articles Of Faith, Maimonides reflects on this issue in article #12 which states "I firmly believe in the coming of the Messiah; and although He may tarry, I daily hope for His coming". This principle was put into the form of a prayer (Yigdal), often said each morning which reads; "By the End of Days He will send our Messiah, to redeem those longing for His final salvation."(4)
Rambam thus rules that whoever does not believe in and whoever does not await (eagerly looking forward to) - the coming of Messiah, in effect denies the whole Torah, and all the prophets beginning with Moses.(5)
Rambam views believing in the coming of the Messiah and waiting for the coming of the Messiah as two separate concepts. "To believe" is a doctrinal affirmation of the Torah, believing that Messiah will come, whenever that may occur. "To await" means an active and eager anticipation of the redemption. It means we are to be of the mind set that we await for him each and every day.(5)
Rambam also wrote "What is the manner of Messiah's advent....there shall rise up one of whom none have known before, and signs and wonders which they shall see performed by him will be the proofs of his true origin; for the Almighty, where he declares to us his mind upon this matter, says, `Behold a man whose name is the Branch, and he shall branch forth out of his place' (Zech. 6:12). And Isaiah speaks similarly of the time when he shall appear, without father or mother or family being known, He came up as a sucker before him, and as a root out of dry earth, etc....in the words of Isaiah, when describing the manner in which kings will hearken to him, At him kings will shut their mouth; for that which had not been told them have they seen, and that which they had not heard they have perceived."(6)
Learn more about The Miracles Of Messiah.
The writings of a great midlevel scholar Moses Maimonides (The Rambam) reflect the way Judaism is guarded against accepting the idea of God being a compound unity. In Rambam's famous 13 articles of faith (Yigdal), a writing that declares what every Jew should believe, concerning article two which relates to the unity of God, Rambam removed the words Moses wrote in the Deuteronomy 6:4 passage (the Shema) and replaced Echad (plural) with Yachid (Singular).(7)
For more on this please read Lessons From The Shema.
This is why I command you to choose these three cities. Carefully obey all these laws I’m giving you today. Love the Lord your God, and always do what he wants you to do. Then the Lord your God will enlarge your land as he promised your ancestors, giving you the whole land he promised to them. After that, choose three more cities of safety so that innocent people will not be killed in your land, the land that the Lord your God is giving you as your own. By doing this you will not be guilty of allowing the death of innocent people (Deut. 19:7-10).
Neither the final borders of Israel or these 3 cities of refuges have been created yet. Six was not the final and absolute number for cities of refuge. Maimonides writes that in the future it will be necessary to add another three cities of refuge (Hilkhot Rotze’ah u-Shmirat ha-Nefesh, 8.4):
In the days of the Messiah another three cities will be added to these six, for it is written, “then you shall add three more towns to those three” (Deut. 19:9). Where are these cities to be added? In the towns of the Kenites, the Kenizites and the Kadmonites, who were included in the covenant with Abraham but had not yet been conquered; of them it says in the Torah, “And when the Lord your G-d enlarges your territory.” (2)
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat...(Isaiah 11:6). Rambam believes this to be an allegory and a metaphor, meaning that Israel will be able to dwell securely with its neighbors. He also realizes that the majority of people take this messianic passage literally and allows for this interpretation as well.(8)
Rambam did not believe that the Messiah could die.
Much of Judaism recognized two different roles for the Messiah. One to suffer for our sins as in Isaiah 53. The other to become king and rule over the world as in Isaiah 9:6. It was popular to believe in the coming of two different messiahs. One to die and one to rule. They were known as Messiah ben Joseph (Messiah the son of Joseph) and Messiah ben David (Messiah the son of David). Most of the Rabbis could not understand the same Messiah coming two different times. For more on this please read Two Messiahs. (8)
Rambam teaches that all the prophets said that the Messiah is to be considered the redeemer of Israel and their savior.(8)
The Torah (as explained in the Talmud - Sanhedrin 58b) presents seven mitzvot for non-Jews to observe.
Maimonides, explains that any human being who faithfully observes these laws earns a proper place in heaven. So you see, the Torah is for all humanity, no conversion necessary.(9)
1). The Temple Institute (http://www.templeinstitute.org/red_heifer/red_heifer_contents.htm).
2). Mashiach, The Principle of Mashiach and the Messianic Era in Jewish Law and Tradition by Jacob Immanuel Schochet (New Expanded Edition) p.43.
3). Hilchos Melachim from the Mishneh Torah of the Rambam, 11:1.
4). The Complete Artscroll Siddur p.15.
5). Mashiach, The Principle of Mashiach and the Messianic Era in Jewish Law and Tradition by Jacob Immanuel Schochet (New Expanded Edition) p.51-52.
6). From the Letter to the South (Yemen), quoted in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, Ktav Publishing House, 1969, Volume 2, pages 374-5.
7). Messianic Perspectives from the Christian Jew Foundation.
September/October 2001 and March/April 2005. And John J. Parsons: Published by Zola Levitt Ministries (January 2004) Used with permission.
8). Mashiach, The Principle of Mashiach and the Messianic Era in Jewish Law and Tradition by Jacob Immanuel Schochet (New Expanded Edition) p.75-77. (Laws Concerning Kings).
Photo of Maimonides from Jewish Encyclopedia: (jewishencyclopedia.com)