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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Abravanel's Peshat on Shi'bud Malchiyot Bilvad

Shemuel's famous statement all over Shas (e.g. Shabbat 151b, Pesahim 68a):
אין בין העולם הזה לימות המשיח אלא שיעבוד מלכיות בלבד
There is no difference between this world and the days of Mashiah except for the servitude of the nations alone.
The simple explanation of Shemuel's statement is that finally the Jews will not be subjugated by the other nations, and nothing else will be miraculous.

The Rambam brings Shmuel's opinion down as Halacha, and explains that miraculous ideas mentioned in Nevi'im are allegorical.

However, the Abravanel takes issue with this explanation since the words "ימות המשיח" by definition mean freedom from the other nations, and furthermore, we had autonomy from other nations in the past, so what makes Yemot Hamashiah different? 

He therefore explains that the statement of Shemuel is interpreted to mean that in the Yemot Hamashiah, all the other nations will now be subjugated under Jewish rule, which is something that never occurred before.

In addition, he says that Shemuel is not denying the existance of miraculous occurrances (like the wolf living with the lamb) happening at all - rather, he says that this will not happen during the "Yemot Hamashiah", but will happen at a later period - during the time of Tehiyat Hameitim.


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