What is the role of Gentiles in bringing the world to perfection?

The Second Holy TempleIn “Laws of Kings”, chapter 11, topic 4, Rambam explains that the true Messiah (Mashiach) will bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zephaniah 3:9. In the words of Rambam: “He [the true Messiah] will perfect the entire world, [motivating all the nations] to serve G-d together, as it is written, ‘For I [G-d] shall then make the peoples pure of speech so that they will all call upon the Name of G-d and serve Him with one purpose.’”

The following expositions by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, are presented from the book “From Exile to Redemption”, vol. 2, with permission from the publisher, Sichos in English.

“He [the true Messiah] will perfect the entire world”

From this we see that the culmination of Mashiach’s tasks (after he has become confirmed as “definitely Mashiach”) is his activity toward the rectification of the world and of the Gentile nations, not his activity for the perfection of Israel’s avodah [Divine service] through the observance of the Torah in tranquility. Why should specifically this be his main innovation?

In earlier eras, such as in the time of [Kings] Shlomo [Solomon] and Chizkiyahu [Hezekiah], Israel had already experienced the observance of the Torah in tranquility, even if not as completely as will be the case in the era of Mashiach. A state of perfection in the life of the Gentile nations, however, has never [yet] existed.  (Source:  Sefer HaSichos 5748 / 1988)

“He [the true Messiah] will perfect the entire world”

This statement has halachic [Torah Law] implications, because (a) Jews should believe that Mashiach will perfect the entire world, and (b) Jews should endeavor to influence the nations of the world to observe the Seven [Noahide] Commandments which they have been given – as a foretaste and preparation for the perfection of the world by Mashiach. (Source: Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIII)

“He [the true Messiah] will perfect the entire world”

The perfection of the world is merely a corollary of the essential meaning of the coming of Mashiach. In its own right, the point of his coming – “a king from the House of David” – is essentially different. The essential point of his coming is that Mashiach, who [himself] transcends the question of the world’s perfection, be revealed and drawn down into this world. As a mere corollary of this revelation, the world too will be perfected. This distinction explains why Rambam first writes “he is definitely the Mashiach,” and only thereafter, “he will perfect the entire world.” (Source:  Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVII)

…[motivating all the nations] to serve G-d together

Similarly, before the Giving of the Torah at Sinai, the Jews first had to be “like one man, with one heart” [as explained by Rashi on Exodus 19:2]. (Source: Likkutei Sichos, Shavuos, 5747 [1987])

…and serve Him with one purpose

“To serve Him” signifies prayer. This phrase thus echoes the prophetic promise [Isaiah 56:7], “…for My House [the Holy Temple] shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” (Source:  Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XX)

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