28 August 2013

Medinat Yehuda: "Thoughts on Redemption"


PART 1: Redemption "In Its Time"

Of the final redemption Isaiah 60:22 states, "I, the L-rd, will hasten it in its time." Our Sages learn from this that the redemption can come in one of two ways. If Israel is meritorious, it will be "in haste." Otherwise, it will be "in its time."

Rabbi Meir Kahane, ztz"l Hy"d wrote at length on this subject in his two-volume book, Or Hara'ayon, The Jewish Idea. In Chapter 27, "The Final Redemption," he wrote the following:

"The final redemption for which we have been waiting anxiously for thousands of years, the return to Eretz Yisrael from the great, long exile, is not like the redemption from Babylonia. When G-d exiled Israel to Babylonia, He decreed for them seventy years....Yet, our present exile is not that way. G-d never decreed a specific amount of time. Rather, if Israel were to repent fully and completely, they would bring the Messiah, complete redemption, immediately, overnight....In other words, if Israel merits redemption through mitzvot and good deeds worthy of redemption, it will come with 'haste'...Otherwise, it will come only 'in its time,' in the latest time it can possibly come, near the end of the six thousand [years].... This redemption will be accompanied, G-d forbid, by the terrible suffering of chevlei mashiach, Messianic birthpangs. ...Because this redemption does not come by virtue of Israel's deeds, but only for the sake of sanctifying G-d's name, defamed among the nations by the exile...."

According to Rabbi Kahane (and many other wise and discerning teachers of Israel), we have already seen the beginning of the redemption in our days:

"Only the blind and those who refuse to see will fail to understand that today we are right at the heart of the Ikveta DeMeshicha, "the footsteps of the Messiah," the beginning of the redemption. Our sages declared decisively (Sanhedrin 98a): 'R. Abba said: There is no end of days more revealed that that of Ezekiel 36:8: 'But, you O mountains of Israel, shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel [for it is near to come]." (Rashi: "When Eretz Yisrael yields its produce in abundance, then the end will be near, and no sign of the end of days could be more clear.")

...The Men of the Great Assembly established by prophetic inspiration the order of blessings in the Shemoneh Esreh according to the redemption process, and they declared that before the complete redemption comes with the Messiah, the blessing over the Land would be fulfilled with the mountains of Israel returning to life. Then would come the ingathering of the exiles, and only then would the process continue with the annhilation of all evildoers, Jew and non-Jew alike. Then Israel's glory would be exalted in victory, and the Messiah, son of David, would arrive."

In chapter 28, the Rav wrote:

"We must delve into the topic of Atchalta De'Geula, the Beginning of the Redemption, the Footsteps of the Messiah, precisely in our day, when we are in this process. ...it is clear...that the Jewish People's suffering in our time, which culminated in the dreadful, unprecedented Holocaust, is a heinous, open blasphemy and Chillul Hashem [desecration of G-d's name] out of which came the beginning of redemption. ...After all, it was only the dreadful Holocaust which gave a part of the Jewish People the impetus to go up to Eretz Yisrael and risk their lives fighting for their land."

Although Rabbi Kahane seemed to imply at certain points that at the time of his writing (which I believe was in the vicinity of 1988-89) there was still time to bring redemption "in haste," it is eminently clear from other statements that he believed that decision had already been cast and that we were already at that time doomed to see redemption "in its time":

"...we must wonder why precisely we did merit it, [i.e., redemption in our days] albeit redemption 'in its time,' when even this we did not deserve."

"There is another reason why precisely in our day G-d has inaugurated redemption 'in its time.' "

"In accordance with what I have written, there is no doubt that we have presently begun redemption 'in its time,' with all the travail associated with it."

Looking back at that time through the haze of the Oslo Process and the terror wars it spawned, one can only marvel at the spiritual prescience and insight that most still cannot begin to appreciate.

For those who can accept the possibility, or even the probability, that we are today firmly ensconced in a time period known as Acharit Hayamim or Keitz, the End of Days, it is worthwhile to examine Rabbi Kahane's writings further for clues about what we might expect to be facing in the very near future. Continuing in Or Hara'ayon, chapter 28:

"Trouble and strife will be the lot of Israel, especially the righteous among them, and this even before the War of Gog and Magog. As R. Yochanan concluded (Sanhedrin 98a), 'If you see a generation engulfed by troubles as by a river, wait for [the Messiah],' We also find (Ibid., 97a):

'The Rabbis learned: 'The L-rd will take up the cause of His people [and comfort His servants]. He will have seen that their power is gone, with no protection or help' (Deut. 32:36): The son of David will not come... until they despair of redemption, as though there is no support or help for Israel, as it says, 'with no protection or help.'

"Such redemption comes not because of Israel's merit, but only to sanctify G-d's name. It says (Zechariah 14:1-2):

'Behold, a day of the L-rd comes when your spoil shall be divided in your midst. I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go forth into exile, but the remnant shall not be cut off from the city.'

[My insertion: Could the word "spoil" refer to that which was retaken in 1967?]

"This refers to the attack of Gog and the nations against Eretz Yisrael, as Redak wrote:

'That is a time when Gog and Magog will attack the soil of Israel... 'I will gather': G-d will plant in their hearts the idea of waging war on Jerusalem, as in Ezekiel 39:2: 'I will cause you to come up from the far sides of the north and will bring you upon the mountains of Israel.'

'The city shall be taken': This trouble will come to refine the third that remains in it, of which it says, 'Hide yourself for a brief moment until the wrath is past' (Isaiah 26:20); and in Daniel 12:1, 'There shall be a time of trouble, such as [until then] never was since you became a nation.'

"Redak's quotation from Isaiah is part of the following (26:20-21):

'Come, My People, enter your chambers and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for a brief moment until the wrath is past. For the L-rd shall leave His abode to punish the earth's inhabitants for their sin.'

"With this, G-d informs Israel that before redemption comes, before G-d leaves his abode to punish the nations for their sin, there will be a moment of wrath; that is, a period of wrath and suffering. This clearly is referring to the War of Gog and Magog. Redak wrote: 'This says that in the war of Gog and Magog, Israel wil suffer briefly.' Our sages taught (Yalkut Shimoni, Yeshayahu, 432):

'Come My People, enter into your chambers': Examine the chambers of your heart regarding precisely why I have brought you suffering... Do not citicize Divine justice. rather, shut your doors behind you.'

"Although it says, 'Hide yourself for a brief moment,' and Redak commented that they would 'suffer briefly,' woe to us for that brief moment, for it will include Jerusalem's conquest and accompanying atrocities, as I have explained, and the nations' conquest of Eretz Yisrael for nine months, and in G-d's eyes, that, too, will constitute a 'brief moment.'

"...Gog and the nations with him will initially take control and claim victory.... Dreadful troubles will ensue, and only later will G-d defeat Gog and the nations and bring redemption.

"The 'moment' is, thus, that specific span during which the nations attack Israel, G-d's people, proclaiming, 'Come, let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may no longer be remembered.' (Psalm 83:5)

[My insertion: They will call it 'Palestine' instead.]

"Jeremiah said of this (Jer. 30:7), 'Alas! That day is great; none is like it. It is a time of trouble for Jacob, but he shall be saved out of it.' ...Yalkut Shimoni teaches (Yirmiyahu 30:31):

'The Rabbis learned, 'Out of anger [against Israel will later emerge G-d's] acceptance; out of wrath, mercy; out of trouble, relief; out of distancing, bringing near; out of falling, rising; and out of darkness, light.'

"The anger, wrath, trouble, etc., are the content of the 'brief moment' and the 'time of trouble', and after them will come redemption. Such is the intent of, 'In the overflowing of wrath I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have compassion on you.' (Isaiah 54:8) ...Woe to us for the 'brief moment' of Gog and Magog and for the Messianic birthpangs that precede it. ...it says, 'The L-rd will remove men far away; the Land shall be largely abandoned. If one tenth remain in it, that, too, shall be consumed' (Isaiah 6:12-13). It also says (Zechariah 13:8-9):

'In all the Land, says the L-rd, two thirds shall be cut off and die, but the third shall be left. And I shall bring the third part through the fire and refine them as silver is refined and try them as gold is tried.'

"...We must never forget that only a small minority will survive this suffering, as in Zechariah 13, above. This minority will only be in Eretz Yisrael, whereas in the exile not even one per city and two per family will remain, for whatever remnants there are will only be at Mount Zion: 'But in Mount Zion shall be the remnant, and it shall be holy (Obadiah v.17) Redak comments, 'Although many Jews will die in the exile, there will still be a large remnant at Mount Zion, from which they were once exiled.' It also says (Daniel 12:1):

'At that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who defends your people, and there shall be a time of toruble such as never was since you became a nation, and your people, everyone found to be inscribed in the ledger, shall be delivered.'

Ibn Ezra comments:

'This trouble will beset the whole world. Only, since Michael the great prince defends Israel, 'your people, everyone found to be inscribed in the ledger,' shall escape. These are the righteous, as it says, 'A ledger shall be inscribed before Him for those who fear the L-rd' (Malachi 3:16)

PART 2: "Forty-Year Trial Period"
(Sorry, this file was not recoverable.)

24 Nissan 5764
Day 9 of the Omer