"The End is Nigh"
There was a guy who used to walk up and down London's Oxford Street, some time in 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 Daniyel, who knew the exact date of "the End", the date in Jewish tradition when the long Exile will at last run its course, bringing the final redemption, freeing Yisrael, read the Jewish people [including the lost tribes?] from the servitude of the nations of the world. The Book of Daniyel states this explicitly. The End was revealed to him, but simultaneously he is told to obscure it. We learn in a Midrash that our forefather Ya'acov also knew the exact date, but "this knowledge was taken from him" so that he would not reveal it to his descendants.
Is it really possible that no-one else knew? Just before his death, Moshe rebukes the Descendants of Yisrael, telling them that he knows, with all certainty, that they will stray from the path and haShem will invoke all the punishments of which he, Moshe, warned us earlier in his farewell soliloquy. But that in a later time, at the End of Days, He will return us, back to our Homeland, back to Yisrael, smack in the middle of the Middle East, to Yerushalayim, to the centre of the world.
Given all this, am I to believe that Moshe did not have a clue about how long this process would take?
Sh'lomo haMelekh, the wisest of all men, who, other than Moshe, was the only man who understood the reason for each of the Tora's commandments [other than the Red Heifer]. Did he not know the date of the End? Not even approximately?
The reason usually given for this non-revelation of the End is that being so far into the future, no-one would be able to survive such a long Galuth, Diaspora. In the words of Daniyel'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 the length of this period (say 1,000 years) from what point in history do I commence my count? From the time of the vision (over 2,500 years ago)? From the beginning of the earlier Babylonian exile [598 or 586 BCE]? Or perhaps only from the start of the Roman, Edomite, exile, less than 2,000 years ago?
Do the two and half periods signify the beginning of the redemption or the end of it? Daniyel himself miscalculated the end of Babylonian exile, and that was a mere seventy (or eighty-two from when Daniyel was exiled — all depends on your starting point) years in length.
The tribe of Ephraim, again according to a Midrash, also miscalculated the end of the Egyptian exile, and for a similar reason. They possessed 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 moment of the revelation, but the reality was thirty years later, 430 years from the birth of Yiẓḥak. As the Tora says of the Exodus, "on the self same day", not a minute earlier nor a minute later than the appointed time. And as Y'shayahu prophesies [60:24] בְּעִתָּ֥הּ אֲחִישֶֽׁנָּה, "at its time, I shall hurry it".
We are warned by many of our sources not to even attempt to calculate the End. It's a futile act. Rambam thus warns us, but then proceeds to make some calculations of his own. All the past calculations, including of Rambam himself, Abravanel, the Vilna Gaon (1840—5600 or 1990—5750) and many 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 long road, if not the final redemption itself.
What is problematic in knowing the date of the End? Armed with this knowledge you would settle down, become complacent, and wait it out. The suburbs of Goshen are comfortable. Country club life is fun. Rav and Shmuel present daf yomi each day 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 we heard it all?
Today there is nothing for which to yearn. I cannot even imagine what will be hundreds of years from now, when haShem comes to redeem my great-great-great-grandchildren. I am living in the now, for my own children — maybe I shall worry a little about my grandchildren when they come along. The Talmud tells us that my grandson is like a son to me, but after that the generational 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 Tora, ten expulsions that follow the destruction of Yerushalayim. Rav Ḥayim of Volozhin tearfully told his students that America would be the tenth and the last. (cf Y'shayahu predicting the rise and fall of Babylon when it was barely a minor power, the then known world, including Egypt, in his time totally dominated by Aram.) Why the tears? He answered because you must realise the Jewish expense in the move from Lithuania to America, and only then from America back Home to Yisrael.
Was the Tora not very comfortable in Spain? Wasn't the Tora learnt in Bavel more holy than that of T'verya? Aren't French and California wines more delicious than those of Ḥevron?
America is the home of Edomite culture. America at same time both hosts the world of Tora and is the cause of the greatest imaginable loss to the Jewish nation. Flourishing yeshivas on the one hand, mass assimilation, often under Jewish auspices, helping the local culture on the other.
How does haShem prevent the complacency? Whenever the Jews become too comfortable in a particular locale, 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 Yerushalayim of Lithuania; the Yeshivas 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 haShem controls history, and haShem wants us here and not elsewhere, how can you expect this time be different? Will haShem hold Rabbi Mary responsible for not leading her flock Home?
One of the great rabbis of the early twentieth was the Rav Yisroel Meir Kagan [Kahan or Cohen; the Russians, with their 36 letter alphabet, do not have an H — they once went to war against Gitler] of blessed memory. 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, passing away in 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 visit him. The rabbi's carers did not want to let him in — the rabbi is resting, he is 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 Yerushalayim. The placard announced to all who bothered to read it, that, because of its intrinsic holiness, Yisrael was not a place for settlement. The writers were trying to prevent, not just nonreligious immigration, but religious as well. Perhaps they were content 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 Rav requested a full text of the Tanakh. 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, based on the Prophets, that when the Land of Yisrael 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 Yisrael was not giving forth in the absence of its children. Only on their return would the Land come alive again. And the Land is distinctly 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 that Administration, we shall not gain access, support, blessings, maps, air-codes. 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 have become oblivious to their background chatter. We have enough to worry about, that they ensure. However this 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 it all, clearly under our very 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, those involved in the experiment complained of an increase in vermin in their abodes.
Central unelected 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 Sota. That we shall, 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 pinnacle of the Jewish people looking to haShem, their King, whom we anoint each and every Rosh haShana?
I personally believe that this statement is one of the curses, the very last of the curses, the ultimate curse, a final realisation that we can do nothing on our own. However 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 our 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 so-called leaders are pushing toward global government. The people are pushing to local, laissez-faire control. Both are godless ideologies. Worse! They are extremely anti-haShem. The ages-long task of the Descendants of Yisrael is to bring the godless to the belief in one supreme God.
haShem, whose Hand caused our Exile, is once more acting through history to bring about our Redemption.
This year, אי״ה if it pleases haShem, will see great strides forward for the Jews of the Land, backwards for the Edomite nations, may they speedily receive their just and deserved punishment.
I wish you all a Shana Tova — a year of redemption and homecoming for the Jewish people.
Menachem Kuchar, 15th September, 2009
Please feel free to and don't forget to stop by my site to look at my latest (and classic) photographs.