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What Will We Live On?

Three great revolutions happened in the last two centuries: revolutions in agriculture, manufacturing and service. Until recent history, the vast majority of humanity worked in agriculture or animal herding. As late as 2011, an international labor survey showed that a third of the global workforce was still engaged in subsistence farming. But the change in employment trends has been swift: In developed countries, the private farm is rapidly disappearing.

A similar change has happened among manufacturing jobs. As of today, only 2% of the United States workforce and 20% of the international workforce is engaged in manufacturing. So what is everyone doing?

Today over 70% of the American workforce is in a “service profession,” serving other people directly. This includes the food and hospitality industry, the healthcare sector, the entertainment industry, and the financial and legal professions. But can we have an economy based solely on people performing services for each other? Furthermore, what happens when technology takes another flying leap and develops computers or robots that can take over most of the work? Today many jobs are being done by computers. Receptionists, bank tellers and supermarket cashiers are becoming obsolete. Much of the work of doctors, nurses, pilots, engineers and many other professionals is becoming automated.

Experts believe that most people will join the ranks of the creative entrepreneurs. People will use their newfound free time to engage in vast exploration of ideas and the arts. They argue that people who wish to stay employed in the next few decades must bring two important values to the table. The first is entrepreneurial ability—the ability to initiate or articulate an idea in a way that nobody thought of before. The second is creativity—the ability to innovate, to think outside the box.

Maimonides, in his classic halachic compendium “Mishneh Torah,” concludes with a description of the Era of Moshiach, a time of unprecedented affluence. “Goodness will be abundant and all delicacies will be freely available as dust.” It does not mention anything about who will be doing the work to produce all this abundance! In fact, the prophet Isaiah states that we will all be engaged in a different occupation: “The sole occupation of the world will be to know G-d.” In other words, we will spend all our time studying Torah and rising in our appreciation and comprehension of the Divine, as the prophet Isaiah states, “The world will be filled with knowledge of G-d, as water covers the sea.” Finally we will do what we were meant to do all along, what the world was created for.

But to get there, we need to start now.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe says that the quickest and smoothest route to the time of Moshiach is by studying Torah, particularly on the topic of Moshiach and Redemption. In this way we will begin to live with Moshiach and have a foretaste of the riches that await us.

 

 


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