Continuing from Part 3...
...Again and again we must stress the difference between redemption "in its time" and redemption "in haste," and the fact that both in Scripture and in our sages' writings we find constant mention of two possible processes. That is, there will be only one process, but what it will be depends on us. The same applies to Mashiach ben Yosef, all his grief, and the war he wages when he is ultimately sent to inaugurate redemption. Will that war be a debacle fought by minuscule remnants of Israel, or a fast, glorious victory? Will he be killed? All this depends on whether redemption comes "in its time" or "in haste," and that, in turn, depends on our own deeds. May G-d have mercy and give us the strength and will to fulfill His word.
If we undergo redemption "in its time," there will be great and bitter weeping as the nations rise up to destroy Israel. Also our enemies from within, the impoverished regime and its supporters, Jews who deny and loathe G-d's Torah, will declare war on G-d's Torah and try to remove it from the world. It will be a time of heresy and blasphemy; and if the end comes - and redemption "in haste" through Israel's merit is no longer possible - Mashiach ben Yosef will fight all of Israel's enemies, Jew and non-Jew alike.
Kol HaTor (Ch. 2, Part 2:2) quotes the Gra's holy words:
Our chief effort on behalf of the ingathering must be to produce men of faith worthy of being the two Messiahs in the gates of Jerusalem and of restoring the Divine Presence, the aim of complete and true redemption and Kiddush Hashem. According to our master, the Gra, we must come to G-d's aid through men of valor, the two Messiahs, and learn in practical terms everything there is to know about their characteristics and duties.
The general duty of the two messiahs, Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David, together throughout the generations, is defense and war against the three chiefs of impurity - Esau, Ishmael and the erev rav, the "mixed multitude." Mashiach ben Yosef's special duty is confronting Esau, [and he comes out of 'Esau'] the impurity of the left, that of Mashiach ben David is confronting Ishmael, [and he comes out of 'Ishmael'] the impurity on the right, and together they work against Esau and Ishmael, the ox and the donkey of impurity. The mating of Esau and Ishmael comes through Armelius, angelic prince of the erev rav, and it can destroy Israel and the whole world, Heaven help us! The main striving of the erev rav is to mate Esau and Ishmael and separate the two Messiahs, and our own main battle is to shatter and rout the power of the erev rav, the impurity of evil Armelius, from Israel.
The erev rav is our greatest enemy. It is what separates between the two Messiahs [one here in Eretz Yisrael and the other one trapped there in the Land of Edom]. Its impurity operates only via indirect deception. Hence, the war against the erev rav is the hardest and most bitter, and we must gird ourselves with our last strength toward this end. Whoever does not actively take part in the war against the erev rav automatically becomes a partner to its impurity, and whoever he is, he is better off not having been born. The main strength of the erev rav is in the gates of Jerusalem, especially at the entrance to the city on the western dividing line.
The erev rav is that part of the Jewish People intent on war against G-d and against the truth and credibility of His Torah. With them we face an uncompromising battle to the finish, and the Gra emphasized this in his call to holy war against them. When he says that whoever does not actively fight the erev rav becomes their partner and is better off never having been born, he means to warn against the distorted tolerance and groundless love which are the main impediments in this war.
...It thus emerges from the study of Mashiach ben Yosef, the Inaugural Messiah and Messiah of War:
1) Already at Creation, G-d prepared the Messiah (in other words, two Messiahs), as our sages said (Pesikta Rabbati, 36)...
2) Mashiach ben Yosef is the inaugural Messiah who starts off the redemption by fighting the nations. He begins the physical redemption without which there can be no spiritual redemption, through ingathering, the conquest of the Land and the war with the nations, as befits the anointed of war.
3) Mashiach ben Yosef is kept in suffering as long as Israel suffer in exile. He symbolizes the options of redemption "in its time" or "in haste." *** If Israel repented through deeds that prove faith and trust in G-d, thereby sanctifying G-d's name, G-d would redeem Mashiach ben Yosef and he would start the redemption. He is ready and present in every generation, for even the redemption from this exile stands ready to be fulfilled in every generation.
4) If Israel merit it through the right acts of repentance, the war of Mashiach ben Yosef will end in speedy, glorious victory, without Messianic birthpangs. Through deeds of faith and trust in G-d (i.e., deeds performed without fear of the nations' reaction), Israel will be ready to recognize the Messiah and follow him.....
(Pesikta Rabbati 37)...
...the Patriarchs will in the future rise up in the month of Nissan and will say to the Messiah, "Ephraim, righteous Messiah! Although we are your ancestors, you are greater than we, because you suffered for our children's sins and underwent hardships not experienced by the early or later ones. You were the object of ridicule among the nations for Israel's sake, and you sat in sightless gloom. Your skin shriveled on the bone and your body was as dry as wood. Your eyes lost their luster through starvation, and your strength dried up like a potsherd. All this occurred due to our children's sins. Do you wish our children to benefit from the bounty G-d has showered on Israel? Perhaps due to the immensity of your suffering on their behalf, and the time you spent imprisoned, you are displeased with them?"
The Messiah shall reply, "Fathers of the world, all that I did, I did only for yours and your children's sakes, for yours and your children's glory, that they might benefit from this bounty which G-d showered upon Israel." The Patriarchs then say, "Ephraim, righteous Messiah! You should be pleased, for you have pleased both us and G-d."
R. Shimon ben Pazi said: "At that moment, G-d shall raise up the Messiah to the highest heavens and envelop him in His glorious splendor, before the nations of the world, the wicked Persians. He shall say: Ephraim, righteous Messiah! Judge these and do whatever your heart desires, for if not for overpowering mercy on your behalf, they would already have obliterated you from the universe in a moment...."
To be continued, iy"H.