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Our verse in parshat Balak (Numbers 24:17) indicates that “a star will shoot from Yakov…he will devastate all the descendents of Seth.” The Targum Onkelos explains that means only that the Jews of the future will rule and govern the non-Jews. But, other commentaries (Ebn Ezra, Targum Yerushalami and Targum Yonatan) indicate otherwise, saying that there will be no non-Jews after the future redemption.

In the prophets are to be found many verses indicating the presence and positive attitude of non-Jews in the time of the meshiach. Among them are Isaiah (2:2), “And it will be in the end of days, the mountain of G-d will be established...and all the nations will flow to it, saying ‘let us go and ascendŔ Also in Isaiah (66:18) at the end, “to gather all the nations and languages to come and see my HonorŔ And in Zephania (3:9), “Then I will turn to the nations in a clear language, calling all of them in the name of G-d, to serve Him as oneŔ And yet, there’s an enigmatic verse in Zecharia (13:8), saying, “And it shall come to pass that in all the land, says G-d, two parts in it shall be cut off and die, but the third shall be left in it.”

In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 111A) is to be found a difference of opinion about the “third” that is to be left in the land according to the above verse in Zecharia. Resh Lakish says the “third” refers to the descendents of Shem. His perennial study partner and mentor, Rebbe Yochanan replied, “this would not be acceptable to their Creator – really, even a third of the descendents of Noah will remain.” According to one commentary (the Ramah) here, their argument is about whether the third to be left in the land refers to the Jews, or to the non-Jews as well. But, in any case, if it is to refer to the non-Jews, then we must understand how that juxtifies with the numerous verses quoted above from the prophets, indicating how non-Jews of the future will fulfill a positive role after the messianic redemption.

In explanation, it is clear that the future redemption, led by the Jewish meshiach, of the line of King David, who fulfills all of the requirements mentioned in the Rambam (Hilchot Melachim, ch. 11-12), will be a redemption of, by and for Jews. The purpose of that redemption will be in order to enable Jews to study Torah peacefully, without any disturbance, and get closer and closer to the One Above. However, that doesn’t mean that the rest of creation has no role to play. The question is, what is that role? Is it

1. The rest of the world plays only a supporting role in the redemption of the Jews, and their role is only to enable and help the Jews do what they have to do; that is, study the Torah?

2. Or, does the rest of the world also undergo a redemption, each creation on its own level, that coordinates and interacts with the Jewish redemption?

From various sources in the Rambam (which we will G-d willing cite at a later date), it is clear that not only the Jews, but also the entire world will undergo redemption in the time of Meshiach. That is, on the way to enabling the Jews to fulfill their spiritual role as the learners and keepers of the Torah, the rest of the world will also undergo a form of redemption, that will enable each and every creation to realize and actualize its function to the fullest. And that’s what is meant by these two approaches to the verses above. Those commentaries that indicate the destruction of the non-Jews and their absence in the world take the first approach above; that is, that the non-Jewish world plays only a supporting role in the redemption of the Jews, and therefore has no existence in and of its own. However, the Jewish halachic and especially Chassidic sources take the second approach, which is that the entire world goes through its own redemption on the way to redeeming the Jews. And that’s what is meant by those commentaries that indicate that non-Jews will not only exist but play a positive role after the redemption; they exist not only in support of the Jews, but because they have a role to realize and actualize.

Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol.23, pp. 172-181 Rabbi David Sterne, Jerusalem Connection in the old city of Jerusalem