Dreaming of Moshiach

Monday, April 16, 2007

Generation of the Moshiach

Many great Jewish Sages of recent times have said that we are already in the phase of the End of Days called ‘Ikveta d’Mashicha’, which literally means ‘on the heels of Mashiach’.

The saintly Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman wrote a special treatise on the subject in which he remarked, “If we want to interpret contemporary events we must search after verses and statements that deal with the period known as ‘Ikveta d’Mashicha’, that is the period of transition from exile to redemption. If we compare the Torah’s teachings with events, we will see in the Torah a clear vision of all that is happening to us. Everything spoken in those verses has become real and all events were prophesied from the beginning.”

While it is beyond our scope to quote the plethora of Torah sources on the subject, I’ll present an overview of what they say will characterize this period and what will be the general order of events.

One major characteristic of the End of Days is the Jewish people’s lack of belief in G-d. Rambam, in Iggeret Teiman, writes, “Our sources have already revealed to us that toward the end of the exile, as a result of our suffering, many Jews will come to doubt G-d, be led astray from the Torah and eventually abandon their religion. And all this will be because of our lowly position in the exile and the elevated status of the non-Jews. But a few will still remain loyal and not become confused.”

Many verses affirm that before the redemption, the Jews will err after various forms ‘idol worship’, changing their allegiance from one to another. Indeed, during the last hundred years, most Jews have abandoned G-d, transferring their allegiance from one “ism” to another, to which they literally sacrificed their blood, children and money. German Enlightenment, Liberalism, Democracy, Socialism, Communism – yet each of these idols betrayed them. Rabbi Wasserman himself wrote that the Jews’ belief in Nationalism and Socialism caused their own downfall through National Socialism.

The second major characteristic is a lack of commitment to mitzvot. Many sources portend that in the End of Days, most Jews will despise the Torah, the mitzvot, and those Jews who observe them. Ramban confirms this and writes that in the End of Days, the majority of Jews will have forgotten the Torah and will therefore transgress most of the mitzvot. He notes one exception: brit mila. This is based on the verse, “With the blood of your covenant I have freed your prisoners from a pit [exile] in which there was no water [Torah]” (Zacharia 9:11). Interestingly, most non-observant Jews today inexplicably continue the covenant.

Many sources describe the order of events of the End of Days. The Vilna Gaon explicates one such source by noting that ‘Torah’ means instruction. This certainly applies to the explicit teachings of the Torah, but even events described in the Torah are also instructions. This is the meaning of the teaching of our Sages, “The deeds of the Fathers are a prelude for the children”. Inherent in the Torah narratives about the forefathers are all the future episodes to occur to Jewish people.

Thus, the events in Jacob’s life reflect what will happen to the Jews in future times. While returning from exile in Padam to the Land of Israel, Jacob is threatened by Esav (Gen. 30). Accordingly, during the last stage of exile, before returning to the Land of Israel, the Jews will be persecuted by the descendents of Esav, the European nations.

“And a man wrestled with him and smote him on the thigh”. A man refers to the mundane, and Jacob’s thigh refers to the supporting pillar of Israel. This portends that during that period, secularism will undermine the foundations of Torah. Jewish children will cease to learn Torah in favor of secular studies and wealthy Jews will cease to support Torah in favor of secular philanthropies. In either case, this blow to the thigh of Jacob will shake the supporting pillar of Israel.

“And Jacob put the handmaids and their children first”. This alludes to the fact that the descendants of the mixed multitude, who defy G-d and deny the Torah, will stand at the head of the people, particularly upon the Jewish people’s return to the Land of Israel after the long exile. “And Leah and her children after”, represents the Jewish masses that will be lured to follow after the mixed multitude and be deluded into forsaking G-d and the Torah. “And Rachel and Joseph at the end”, corresponds to the observant Jews and Torah scholars who will be put at the very end. They will be considered by the others to be the lowest part of the Jewish people, rejected and despised.

Other sources add, that once the Jews return to their land, they will be greatly distressed by the descendants of Ishmael (Zohar, Vaera p. 32a). Eventually, an extremely numerous and powerful people of the descendants of Esav, after having overrun the rest of the middle east, will invade the Land of Israel from the North (Daniel 11,12; Yechezkel 39). This will initiate the cataclysmic war of Armageddon, a conflict whose resolution will ultimately result in the victory of Mashiach and the final Redemption.

The Messiah will be revealed when people will be both healthy and brilliant so scientifically and technologically advanced, that they will have the power to destroy the world.

However, the vast majority will be in desperate need of spiritual and moral instruction. They will he shameless and arrogant, and truthfulness will all but disappear. The wickedness of the times will have its effect upon children, who will act brazenly and disrespectfully towards elders, including their parents and parents-in-law. The exemplary behaviour of sin-fearing individuals. who will try to serve G-d, will not be followed. But rather they will be scorned and despised.

Wars, disharmony and social discord will be the order of the (lay, to such an extent that one will have enemies in his own family. The government of Israel will also be a victim of society, and will turn to heresy. And as if this is not bad enough, no one will rebuke them.Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the spiritual decay of that generation, caused it long ago to be compared to the face of a dog. So low will it be, that just as the wicked ways of the people living at the time of Noah brought upon them the flood, so also according to the Divine Attribute of Justice, the generation that will see the Messiah should rightly be destroyed. However, G-d will have mercy upon them, and He will instruct the Messiah to reveal himself, so as to prepare deserving people for their eternal existence on earth. This will happen immediately following a time when the Jewish Nation as a whole will spontaneously repent, and return to G-d and His Torah.

If they do not repent voluntarily, G-d will cause an evil ruler to arise over them, whose harsh decrees will force them to do so.

Considering all of the above, it is safe to assume that we are the people being described. But there is still further evidence.

After having spent trillions of dollars in developing sophisticated weapons, nations are now not only speaking about nuclear disarmament, but are actually destroying their arsenal to some extent. This is a giant leap toward the Messianic Era wherein all peoples will live in peaceful coexistence, totally free of war and destructive weapons.

The miracles of the Jewish people returning to their homeland, and rebuilding it up from wastelands, with the assistance of other nations , have all been foretold. This new reality has set the stage for the time when the Third Temple will be built, and Jerusalem will be the spiritual center of the world. But this is not all. The AIDS epidemic corresponds to predictions of a world-wide contagious plague, and the thinning of the Ozone layer fits the descriptions of the sun's shield being removed.

There is another most terrifying prophecy that is also to take place immediately before the revelation of the Messiah, and that is the war of Gog and Magog. There are authorities who said that this battle will not happen in the literal sense, but if its description is to be taken literally, then we could shortly expect all the nations to attack Jerusalem, only to find themselves fighting against G-d. The result will be that it will take seven months for the Jews to bury the enemy dead just around Israel's borders.

The fact that the Jewish Nation at that time will be a reincarnation of the Jews that were in the desert with Moses, will surely be among their many merits that will protect them in this war.

The Chofetz Chaim quotes a Raavad at the end of Idius: “Before the coming of Moshiach, Jewish families will be scattered in every direction. The parents will be in one country, and every child in a different country, until Moshiach comes when he will bring back the hearts of the fathers to the children.(Malachi 3:24)

The Gemara says in Sotah 49 in ikvesa d’Meshicha, the chutzpah will increase. The Gemara continues that in the days before Moshiach, nobody will be able to reprove others. In earlier times there were “mochichim” – those who could give ethical reproach: such as the Dubno Maggid and the Maggid of Kelm, and from the teshuvos of the Rishonim we see that every town had people who were in charge of being mochiach and speaking about the sins of the times. R’ Elchonon says that today we have many speakers, but few mochichim. The Gemara in Horiyus says that it is doubtful that a person exists today who knows how to reproach someone properly.
The great tzaddik, R’ Aryeh Levine was once walking on Shabbos. His gabbai was accompanying him. All of a sudden the gabbai spotted two people a short distance ahead who were smoking on Shabbos. The gabbai, knowing that Rabbi Levine would want to say something to these people about smoking on Shabbos, cautioned R’ Aryeh that both individuals have a reputation for being rough. Therefore, he suggested that perhaps it would be better if the Rabbi would not correct their actions. As the two men were walking past R’ Aryeh Levine, he called out to them “Gut Shabbos! I am sure that you must not know that it is prohibited to smoke on Shabbos. One of the men answered Rabbi Levine in a gruff manner. He said, “Rabbi, there is an expression that you should know: ‘Mind you own business’”. R’ Aryeh, undaunted, answered them, “Let me ask you a question. If you saw somebody who was involved in an accident, and they were lying on the ground bleeding profusely, would you ignore him or would you try to save his life?” The men looked at Rabbi Levine and said, “Of course, we would try to save his life!” Rabbi Levine continued, “When I saw you just now, I saw that your neshomos were bleeding to death. Should I not try and save you?”

In the generation of Moshiach’s coming, perhaps because of the lack of understanding of true da’as Torah, each individual will have to strive and work hard to know the special message that Hashem sends us.




והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו