Muffti has a theological question that you people seem eminently qualified to answer. Let him begin with an analogy.

Terminator 3 has roughly the following conflict set up: A terminator named T-800 (played by California’s Governor) comes back in time to protect John Connor, a young (possibly schizophrenic) man who later leads the resistance. A separate terminator (T-X) is sent back in time to kill Connor, and she’s very very tough (and very very hot). Anyhow, there is a great deal of shooting at John Connor causing him a great deal of angst, fear and concern. Not to mention ducking and covering.

One might, however, wonder at the last bit. If he trusts T-800, Connor comes to know something about the future: namely, that he will survive and lead the resistance. Doing so is incompatible with being killed by the very very hot T-X. So, had he reasoned it through carefully, he may well have come to the conclusion that whatever she did, no matter how many bullets went flying, he shouldn’t worry much because what he knows entails that none of those bullets will hit him: the future seems to make him invulnerable in the past. (This is related to an old paradox regarding time travel: you can’t go back in time and (permanently) kill your grandfather since if you did, you wouldn’t be born to do the actual time traveling. So, in a sense, your grandfather is protected by the laws of logic.)

Now, one plausible line of response in the case of Terminator is that Connor didn’t know, or at least wasn’t fully confident, that he would survive. After all, the terminator could be lying. Or perhaps it was all an illusion. As the bullets came closer and closer, Connor might well have started to doubt that he would survive until the future and that would explain his ducking and covering etc. (Of course, he in fact does survive, but that doesn’t mean that he knows that he will.) So, we can explain Connor’s apparent irrationality: despite having evidence about the future, he had counter-evidence at the present time suggesting (misleadingly) that he will die soon unless he ducks and covers.

OK, enough analogy. If you are still with Muffti, consider the following. Rambam requires that we can honestly, truly say:

I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach.

If we truly believe this, then we have some information about the future. Namely, there will be a time at which the Moshiach comes and does all the Moshiachy things. But this means that no matter what happens in the world, our faith dictates the coming of a Messiah.

This puts us in a John Connor like situation: as far as redemption goes, there can be no real crisis in Judaism since whatever crisis occurs will not destroy us at all. After all, our destruction is similar to John Connor’s immanent death: both are incompatible with how the future will go. So, Muffti wants to know, given that the Moshiach is inevitable, why do we worry at all about so called ‘crises’ in Judaism: intermarriage, secularization, even atheism. None of them can possibly block the coming of Moshiach: at best they can prolong it.

The interesting thing, for Muffti, is that we can’t resort to the explanation that helped in the case of Terminator 3. John Connor had the luxury of letting his subjective probability drop that the future would turn out as the Terminator says it would: he was allowed moments of skepticism. But we presumably aren’t: it’s downright incompatible with our faith to let our belief in Moshiach wax and wane (well, at least, wane). In fact, if we stopped believing in Moshiach, we’d be violating one of the 13 basic axioms of faith. We would then have excellent evidence that in doing so, we were perpetuating the crises.

So, one might ask, how can there be a big deal? If the coming of Moshiach is inevitable, there can be no fatal crises when it comes to Judaism.

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