We learn Jewish history not only to avoid the mistakes of the past, but to understand where our destiny is taking us.
(aish.com) -- By Rabbi Ken Spiro
...The traditional Jewish understanding of the flow of history is similar to that found in all great epic stories: The plot unfolds within a finite time frame and is a clearly delineated into a beginning, a middle and an end. In the broadest of strokes the Talmud, in tractate Sanhedrin 97a, lays out the basic themes and periods of history:
The world is to exist for six thousand years. In the first two thousand there was desolation; two thousand years the Torah flourished; and the next two thousand years is the Messianic era...
The six thousand years mentioned in the Talmud is not calculated from creation of the universe, but rather from the birth of Adam and mirrors the weekly cycle. Just as the Jewish week begins on Sunday and runs through Friday, so too is human history is to comprise a maximum(5) of six millennia of history as we know it. At the end of this weekly cycle we enter the Sabbath, a day of spirituality and rest, so too after a maximum of 6,000 years of history humanity will enter the seventh millennium called "the World to Come," in Hebrew "Olam Haba." The World to Come is synonymous with the Garden of Eden and represents the culmination of the process of returning to God and perfecting the world (see Derech Hashem 1:3:4)
We see from this quote in the Talmud that these 6,000 years are further subdivided into three 2,000 years periods each with its own theme. The first 2,000 years, from Adam to the Tower of Babel is called desolation. The theme of this period: Humanity is spiritually desolate and has no relationship with God.
The second 2,000 year period, from Abraham to the completion of Mishnah c 240C.E, is called Torah. The theme of this period is Jewish national history in the Land of Israel and the flourishing of Torah (the Law).
The final 2,000 year period, from 240C.E. until the year 6,000 (the year 2,240 C.E.), is called Messiah. The theme of this final phase is humanity's return to God (led by the Jewish people). At the end of this period, but before the year 6,000, comes the Messianic Era which is the final preparatory stage before humanity enters the World to Come.(6)
So where do we, today, fit into this traditional chronology? We are in the final 2,000 year period. Specifically, at the end of the sixth millennium, Friday late afternoon, close to the approach of the Sabbath. From the Jewish perspective we are standing at the edge of history, rapidly approaching the final climatic chapter of human history that precedes the final redemption...MORE...LINK
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