"The End is Nigh"
There was a guy who used to walk up and down London's Oxford Street, I imagine it was the sixties, wearing a sandwich board bearing the phrase, "The End is Nigh". Though he was warning of the impending Christian vision of Apocalypse, the phrase entered the popular consciousness as a slightly derogatory term for someone or something warning of impending doom.
We are told that there were only two people in the history of mankind, Ya'akov Avinu and Daniel, who knew the exact date of "the End", the date in Jewish tradition when the long Exile will at last end, bringing on the final redemption, freeing Israel, read the Jewish people [including the lost tribes], from the servitude of the nations of the world. The Book of Daniel states this explicitly. The End was revealed to him, but simultaneously he is told to obscure it. We know from a Midrash that our forefather Jacob also knew the exact date, but "this knowledge was taken from him" so that he would not reveal it to his descendents.
Is it really possible that no-one else knew? Just before his death, Moshe rebukes the Children of Israel, telling them that he knows, with all certainty, that they will stray from the path and God will invoke all the punishments of which he, Moses, warned us earlier in his farewell soliloquy. But that later, at the End of Days, he will bring us back, back to our Homeland, back to Israel, smack in the middle of the Middle East, to Yerushalayim, the centre of the world.
Am I to believe that Moses didn't have a clue about how long this process would take?
Shlomo haMelech, the wisest of all men, who, other than Moshe, was the only man who understood the reason for all Torah's commandments [other than the Red Heifer], didn't know the date of the End? Not even approximately?
The reason usually given for the non revelation of the End, is that being so far into the future, no-one would be able to survive the long Galuth, Diaspora. In the words of Daniel's vision, "a period of time, a period of time and another half a period of time". Even if I were to assume or even "hazard a guess", at how long this period is (say 1,000 years), from what point in history do I commence my count? From the time of the vision (about 2,500 years ago)? From the beginning of the Babylonian exile sixty nine years earlier? Or perhaps from the start of the Roman, Edomite, exile, less than 2,000 years ago?
And do the two and half periods signify the beginning of the redemption or the end of it? Daniel himself miscalculated the end of Babylonian exile, and that was a "mere" seventy (or eighty-four, depending on your starting point) years in length.
The tribe of Ephrayim, again according to the Midrash, also miscalculated the end of the Egyptian exile, and for a similar reason. They had a tradition, from Avraham's revelation between the parts, that the return would occur after 430 years. 430 years from when? They tragically assumed it to be from the revelation, but the reality was thirty years later, 430 years from the birth of Yitzhak. As the Torah says of the Exodus, "on the self same day", not a minute earlier nor a minute later than the appointed time.
We are warned by many of our sources not to even attempt to calculate the End. It's a futile act. The Rambam thus warns us, but then proceeds to make some calculations of his own. All the "past" calculations, including those of Maimonides, the Vilna Gaon (1840--5600 or 1990--5750) and others, all have passed us by.
Or perhaps we can view each calculation as correct, yielding a step forward in the redemptive process. Perhaps in hindsight, all [or some] of these dates will prove to have been significant milestones along the longroad, if not the final redemption itself.
What's wrong with knowing the date of the End? You settle down and become complacent. The suburbs of Goshen are comfortable. Country club life is fun. Rav and Shmuel give daf yomi everyday in the vernacular. Teaneck is a lovely Jewish city. Berkeley publishes hundreds of Jewish titles annually. London has a wonderful Beth Din, Manchester great hinuch. Haven't you heard it all?
There is nothing for which to yearn. I can't think of what will be hundreds of years from now, when God comes to redeem my great-great-great-grandchildren. I'm living for now, for my kids, maybe I'll worry a little about my grandchildren. The Talmud tells us that my grandson is like a son to me, but after that the generation gap is too large for us to be able to have a meaningful relationship.
But if the salvation could come at any time, well that's a different story.
We are foretold of ten exiles of the Torah, ten expulsions that follow the destruction of Yerushalayim. Rabbi Hayyim [Chaim] of Volozhin tearfully told his students that America would be the tenth and last. [c.f. Isiah predicting the rise and fall of Babylon when it was barely a minor power, the known world totally dominated by Aram at the time.] Why in tears? He answered because you have to the realise the Jewish expense in the move from Lithuania to America, and then from America back home to Israel.
Was the Torah not very comfortable in Spain? Wasn't the Torah learnt in Bavel more holy than that of Tiberius? Aren't French and California wines more delicious than those of Hevron?
America is the home of Edomite culture. America at one time both hosts the world of Torah and is the cause the greatest imaginable loss to the Jewish nation. Flourishing yeshivas on one hand, mass assimilation, often under Jewish auspices helping the local culture, on the other.
How does God prevent the complacency? Every time the Jews become too comfortable, the time quickly arrives for them to leave, to move on, to another Galuth, a different exile, a further away geography. Bavel, Jews under self administration; the Golden Age of Spain; Vilna, the Jerusalem of Lithuania; the Yehivas of Berlin, Poland, Russia; Monsey. All gone, all destroyed by some "random" act of history. Always a tearful exit. No exception -- it has always been the same. And it has to be thus.
So please tell me, oh Jews of America, especially you "so-called" religious Jews, please tell me why you expect it to be different this time? If you know God controls history, and God wants us here and not elsewhere, how can you expect this time be different? That God will blame Rabbi Mary for not leading the flock home?
One of the great rabbis of the early twentieth was the Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan [Kahan or Cohen; the Russians, with their 36 letter alphabet, don't have an 'H' -- they went to war against Gitler]. The rabbi was known as the Hafetz Hayyim, a lover of life after his famous work of the same name. He lived until the age of 95 in the year 1935. During the latter part of his life, the renewal of settlement in out homeland was in full swing. One day, the Hafetz Hayyim's son, Reb Leib, came to see him. The rabbi's carers didn't want to let him in -- he's resting, he's very old, come back tomorrow, or perhaps next week.
Reb Leib was insistent. He had in his hand a poster that was being circulated in Yerushalyim. The placard announced to all who bothered to read it, that, because of its intrinsic holiness, Israel was not a place for settlement. The writers were trying to prevent, not just nonreligious immigration, but religious as well. Perhaps they wanted to continue living their supposed holy lives on charity. People working the land would make donors rethink support.
The son wanted the opinion of his father, the venerable sage of the time. The Rabbi requested a full text of the Bible. He started at the very beginning. He flipped through the pages, slowly and purposefully. He read. A long time elapsed before the reached the last page. For the first time since being handed the tome, he looked up. I see trees and houses and people. I see agriculture, villages and society. I see a proud nation living in its land. I cannot see holiness so severe that it is impossible to survive, requiring remaining in voluntary exile.
The Talmud tells us that when the Land of Israel again produces fruit and produce in abundance, know there is no greater sign that the redemption has commenced. Compare this to Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)'s visit to the Holy Land in 1867, shortly before the start of modern day Jewish agricultural settlement. "The further we went the hotter the sun got, and the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became." He refers to ruins wherever he goes.
Clearly, as prophesied, the Land of Israel was not giving forth in the absence of its children. Only on their return would the land come alive again. And the Land is clearly flourishing today.
Our leaders may not always act in our "best" interests. They kow-tow to political dictates from Obama, from Spain, the Vatican -- Europe, America, Russia, a quartet -- the list is long. Must they act in this way? We want to bomb Iran's reactors so we have to play to the American's tune. Without approval from the Administration, we won't get access, support, blessings, maps, aircodes. Really? Or are our leaders too part of the worldwide trend toward global government.
Some of our leaders have written about a borderless entity from Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf, a nation of its citizens as opposed to a nation of Jews, a Jewish nation. We become oblivious to their background chatter. We have enough to worry about. And that is what they want. This is how the globalists carry forward their sinister plans, everywhere.
Sovereignty is being gradually whittled away in all societies. It's not just "our" problem. But here we see under our noses.
Local councils in Britain (I assume elsewhere in Europe too, but I read a report about Britain) have been told by Brussels to provide, by 2013, slop buckets to every household in their jurisdictions. Why? Because food in landfills is detrimental to the environment -- it causes global warming, greenhouse gases. What rot! In a test run this summer in a small area of England, all involved in the experiments complained of an increase in vermin in their abodes.
Central bureaucrats making decisions on behalf of once proud, independent countries.
What do I, Menachem Baruch the son of Yisrael Moshe, see for the dawning year? for 5770?
I see the last mishna in Tractate Sotah. That we will, after many tragedies, reach the situation where there is no hope for us other than to look to "our father in Heaven". The commentaries argue whether this another in the long line of listed curses; or perhaps it is a blessing, the breaking point from affliction to benediction, the pinacle of the Jewish people to look to God, their King?
I personally believe the statement is one of the curses, the very last of the curses, the ultimate curse, a realisation that we can do nothing on our own. But it is the turning point, the point from which we at last see the light at the end of the tunnel, a very fast moving light, that will carry us to the final redemption.
Western Anti-Semitism is fast on the rise, higher now than at any time since the fall of Nazi Germany. The thin veneer of European Christianity is fast peeling away to reveal the nakedness of Paganism, xenophobia, hatred and jealousy. Their "leaders" are pushing toward global government; the people are pushing to local, laissez-faire, control. Both are Godless ideologies, worse, they are extremely anti-God. The ages long task of the Children of Israel is to bring the Godless to the belief in one supreme God.
God, whose Hand caused our Exile, is again acting through history to bring about Redemption.
This year will see great strides forward for the Jews, backwards for the Edomite nations, may they speedily receive their deserved punishment.
I wish you all a Shana Tova -- a year of redemption and homecoming for the Jewish people.
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and don't forget to stop by my site to look at my latest (and classic) photographs.