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In Judaism, who is the Messiah?
The messiah is a God fearing, pious Jew, who is both a great Torah scholar and a great leader as well. He is a direct descendent of King David, and will be anointed as the new Jewish King. (In fact, the Hebrew word for messiah - "Moshiach" - means "anointed one.").
When the messiah comes, there will be a universal recognition of the truth of Torah and the God Who gave that Torah at Mount Sinai. All Jews will return to the Land of Israel, where they will throw off the yoke of their enemies and undergo a complete spiritual revival. They will embrace the faith of their forefathers and dedicate themselves to God's service forever.
They will re-build the Holy Temple, from where the Divine presence will shine forth, spreading the light of truth, justice, tolerance and peace throughout the world.
Today, the world is beset by jealousy, greed, theft, violence, lying, impatience, intolerance, deception and fraud. We are suspicious of our neighbors and cynical of our leaders. We are factionalized, and we worship different gods. Rather than cooperate, we compete. We are manipulative and seek advantage at the expense of others. It's dog-eat-dog and every man for himself. We withdraw into our homes behind a curtain of satellite dishes, internet, and take-out food. We shield ourselves from the harsh realities and worst of all, we despair of the notion that things can be much better. We shrug our shoulders and lament, "That's just the way life is."
Judaism says "No." When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, God assured us of a path back. Statesmen may speak of "peace in our time," but the Jewish prophet said it best: "The lamb will lie down with the lion... and young children will play at the cobra's nest" (Isaiah 11:6).
"Shalom," the Hebrew word for "peace," comes from the root "shaleim," which means complete or whole. "Shalom," says the Talmud, is one of the Names of God, for His unity encompasses all. This "one-ness" is the primary theme of the Jewish Pledge of Allegiance: "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One!" The word "Shalom" is also part of the name "Jeru-Salem."
How can we hasten the coming of the Messiah? The best way is to love all humanity generously, to keep the mitzvahs of the Torah (as best we can), and to encourage others to keep them as well.
We also must pray to God to hasten the coming of the Messiah. The Talmud says that one of the first questions a Jew is asked on Judgement Day is: "Did you yearn for the arrival of the Messiah?" Praying for such an event increases our sensitivity to what we currently lack, and demonstrates our sincere desire for the Messiah to arrive.
If we so desire, he can come today.