By Mordechai Lewis
On December 23rd (Shabbos Parshas Vayigash), Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin said, “May we channel the simcha of the past few days and merit to see the real Geulah with the coming of Moshiach.” (Ami Magazine, Issue 348, December 27, 2017, Shabbos with Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, page 78). He also said something similar on December 20.
Rav Wasserman writes, “… Moshiach will come בהסח הדעת, when we aren’t thinking about him. Just as when the Jews were redeemed from Egypt, it says, ‘They did not heed Moshe because of shortness of breath and hard work’ (Shemos 6:9), before Mashiach’s arrival, too, people will be so dulled by pain and suffering that they will be incapable of accepting words of comfort and consolation…” (see Rav Schwab on Chumash by Rabbi Myer J. Schwab, page 231)
Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin’s release was a microcosm of Rav Wasserman’s statement!
In the winter of 5678 (1918), Rav Yisrael Meir HaKohein Kagan or better known as the Chofeitz Chayim was told about the joy that was spreading to Jewish homes everywhere over the signing of the Balfour Deceleration. He broke out crying and could not understand everyone was so happy because, after all, Hashem had promised [to Yaakov Avinu]: “You shall spread forth to the west, east, north and south” (Bereishis28:14). This promise said the Chofeitz Chayim, is like an I.O.U. from Hashem and when the time comes, He is certain to pay it. But people are giving thanks now for what amounts to just a small part of Hashem’s promise. Everyone is rejoicing over the Deceleration and thinking of it as if it were the Redemption. He lamented, “They are settling for less… They do not look forward to more… Oy, what has happened to us?!” And he kept on crying (Chafetz Chaim on the Torah – Volume 1, page 212, Maasai L’Melech).
Don’t be satisfied with Sholom Rubashkin’s release from prison! This simcha that we felt on December 20 will dissipate within a few weeks. The only people that will remember the day of his release will be him and his family. The Satan wants us to be complacent with Sholom Rubashkin’s release and move on with our lives instead of beseeching Hashem for the Final Redemption!
“When it comes to the arrival of Moshiach and the resurrection of the dead, we are quiet, as if we are embarrassed to speak about them as if we have given up them altogether…” [read Waiting for the Redemption].
“While in London I heard from the holy Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, quoting the Chofetz Chaim, that Chazal say the War of Gog and Magog will be threefold. After the First World War, the Chofeitz Chayim said that it was the first battle of Gog and Magog and that in about 25 years there would be a second world war, which would make the first one seem insignificant. Then there would be the third war…” [Leiv Eliyahu, Shemos, (page 172) “וכעת בעיקבתא דמשיחא”. See also Rav Schwab on Chumash by Rabbi Myer Schwab, pages 240 – 241]
True, to the Chofeitz Chayim’s prediction, WWII began in 1939, exactly 25 years later! How did his prediction materialize so accurately? The Gemara states, “The tzaddik decrees and Hashem fulfills” [(Kesubos 103b) See also Tehillim 145:19].
Nevertheless, does there really need to be a third world war? It depends on us.
As the Gemara says, “There are three things that have the ability annul harsh decrees. They are: tefillah, teshuvah and tzedakah” [seeYerushalmi, Ta’anis 8b “שלשה דברים מבטלין את הגזירה קשה ואלו הן תפלה וצדקה ותשובה”; Bereishis Rabbah 44:12 “רַבִּי יוּדָן בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר אָמַר שְׁלשָׁהדְבָרִים מְבַטְּלִים גְּזֵרוֹת רָעוֹת, וְאֵלּוּ הֵם, תְּפִלָּה וּצְדָקָה וּתְשׁוּבָה”; Yalkut Shimoni, Tehillim 106:865 “פעמים” and Nidchei Yisrael volume 2, chapter 34 “והנה”].
Furthermore, one should involve himself in Torah, doing acts of kindness and eating three meals on the Shabbos. [see Zohar volume 3,Parshas Va’eschanan, page 270a: “פָּתַח וְאָמַר… בִּזְכוּ אוֹרַיְיתָא יְתוּבוּן לְאַרְעָא קַדִּישָׁא, וְיִתְכַּנְּשׁוּן מִן גָּלוּתָא”; Sanhedrin 98b, Nefesh HaChayim 4:17, Berachos5a, Tehillim 18:51, Sotah 14a; ArtScroll Shabbos 118a, footnotes 15 and 17].
1) What is Geulah?
The Gemara states a metaphor: “The ultimate Redemption will be like the morning star, which sheds very little light as it begins to emerge, but then burst forth and can be seen in its full and luminous glory” (Yerushalmi, Berachos 4b “אמר רבי חייא רבה לר‘ שמעון בן חלפתא בי רבי כך היא גאולתן של ישראל בתחילה קימאה קימאה”). As Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein explains: “The Geulah is not a moment. Rather, it’s a process.” Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai says, “The redemption is not to happen all at once, but rather a little at a time” (Zohar volume 1, page 170a).
Similarly, the Malbim says, “A long time before the redemption a few men of the Diaspora will gather and settle in Yerushalayim. After many years of settlement there, the birth pangs of the redemption will come to them and then the general ingathering of the exiles begin” (We Are Not Alone by Adi Cohen, pages 207).
2) How many people does it take to bring the Final Redemption?
Hashem Himself answers this question: *
“I searched for someone who would stand before Me and daven on behalf of Klal Yisroel, that I should not destroy them, but I did not find anyone, so therefore I will pour out My wrath against them and consume them with the flame of My fury.”
One person could have saved all of Klal Yisroel – one person could have prevented the churban. If even one person would have stood up and prayed on behalf of Klal Yisroel.
Hashem would have rescinded His decree. This is a message of Hashem which is repeated by another one of His prophets as well:
“Go in the streets of Yerushalayim… and seek in its plazas if you will find a just man if there is one who dispenses Justice and seeks emunah if you find even a lone man like this then I will forgive the whole city.”
If there would have been even one person in all of Yerushalayim who was just, Hashem would have forgiven the entire city [*see Days Are Coming by Rabbi Moshe Silberstein, page 80. In addition, see ArtScroll Sotah 37a, note 60; Maharsha, Chiddushei Aggados on Sotah 37a “קפץ שבטו של בנימין וירד לים כו‘” and Bamidbar Rabbah 13:4, regarding the uniqueness of an individual].
There’s a poster which has a picture of Uncle Sam pointing his finger at you, saying, “I want YOU for U.S. army.” Similarly, our Creator says to each and every one of us, “I want YOU to have a part in hastening the redemption.” As Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz said, “Every person may change the course of history; it is in the power of every individual to shorten the exile” (Four Hasidic Masters and Their Struggle Against Melancholy by Elie Wiesel, page 19).
If you think Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz is exaggerating, here are the words of the Rambam:
“A person should view his life all year long as if his merits [for his mitzvos] and his guilt [for his sins] are exactly balanced, and that a single mitzvah could tilt the scales in his favor. Likewise, he should view the entire world as if it is exactly balanced in this way and that his mitzvah could tilt the entire world toward favorable judgment” (Mishnah Torah, Hilchos Teshuvah 3:4 and Kiddushin 40b).
Continuing, the Mesillas Yesharim* states the following:
Now, if a person should say, “Who am I? What is my importance that I should pray about the end of the exile of Israel and about the rebuilding of Yerushalayim, etc.? Will my prayer cause the exiles to be ingathered and the redemption to sprout forth?” The Gemara responds to a person with such a mindset: Man was created as an individual: so that each person should say to himself, “For my sake, the world was created”.
The Gemara is teaching us that was worthwhile for Hashem to create the world for the sake of a single person! Thus, each individual is of inestimable importance and his prayers may indeed have a powerful impact. (see Rav Tzadok HaKohein of Lublin, Tzidkas HaTzadik #154).
Moreover, in any case, it is a source of satisfaction to [Hashem], blessed be He, that His children request and pray for this. Even if their requests are not fulfilled because the appropriate time for the Redemption has not yet arrived or for whatever other reason, they have, regardless, done their [part] by praying for it and the Holy One, blessed be He, rejoices over this concern of theirs for His honor [*excerpted from ArtScroll Mesillas Yesharim, pages 403 – 408].
“The exodus from Egypt liberated only one out of five Jews — and some say one out of every 50 – because all those who were bound to Egypt and did not want to depart died in the three days of darkness and were not privileged to leave (see Rashi on Shemos 10:22 “ויהי חשך אפלה”).That is, only those who desired redemption with all their hearts were redeemed. The Final Redemption, likewise, depends upon our yearning”[read MELAVE MALKAH and Moshiach and the World Today. See also Shemos Rabbah 14:3, Shebolei HaLeket HaSholeim, chapter 274 andZohar, Shemos, page 7b].
Still, Rav Yechezkel Levenstein isn’t the first person to speak about yearning for the Geulah. For every morning we say, “By the End of Days He will send our Messiah, to redeem those longing for His final salvation” (Birchas HaShachar “יִשְׁלַח לְקֵץ הַיָּמִין מְשִׁיחֵנוּ, לִפְדּות מְחַכֵּי קֵץיְשׁוּעָתו”).
What else does the Final Redemption depend upon? Emunah, faith. This entails keeping Shabbos. Why? Because Shabbos is the basis of faith (Seifer HaChinuch, mitzvah #32; Rashi on Chullin 5a “אלא לאו הכי קאמר”). If our nation will keep just two Shabbosos properly, Moshiachwill come immediately (Shabbos 118b). However, the Yerushalmi says that our nation only needs to keep Shabbos (Ta’anis 3b “א”ר לוי אילו היו ישראל משמרין שבת אחת כתיקנה מיד היה בן דוד בא” and Shemos Rabbah 25:12 “אָמַר רַבִּי לֵוִי, אִם מְשַׁמְּרִים יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת כָּרָאוּי אֲפִלּוּ יוֹם אֶחָד בֶּן דָּוִד בָּא, לָמָּה, שֶׁהִיא שְׁקוּלָה כְּנֶגֶד כָּל הַמִּצְווֹת”). Rav Chaim Kanievsky said that we hold like the Yerushalmi.
Rebbe Shimon bar Yochaia frightening statement:
“…When Hashem decides to bring the Geulah He will look down on the world and see if there is a tzaddik who is worthy of bringing the redemption. Hashem will see that there is no one who has sufficient merit for this, and He will need to bring great tribulations on the Jewish people, in order that the Geulah should take place. At the same time, happy is this generation, for someone who passes the tests of this trying period with strong emunah will merit to see the light of Hashem” (Zohar volume 2, Shemos, page 7b “רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן זָקַף יְדוֹי וּבָכָה… בְּגִין דְּכַד יֵיתֵי קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא לְפַקְדָּא לְאַיַּילְתָּא, יִסְתָּכַּל מַאן אִינּוּן דְּקַיְימִין בַּהֲדָהּ, בְּכָל אִינּוּן דְּמִשְׁתַּכְּחֵי עִמָּהּ, בְּכָל עוֹבָדוֹי דְּכָל חַד וְחָד, וְלָא יִשְׁתְּכַּח זַכָּאי… וְכַמָּה עַקְתִּין עַל עַקְתִּין לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. זַכָּאָה מַאן דְּיִזְדָּמַן וְיִשְׁתְּכַּח בְּהַהוּא זִמְנָא, בְּגִין דְּהַהוּא דְּיִתְקָיָּים בְּהַהוּא זִמְנָא בִּמְהֵימָנוּתָא, יִזְכֶּה לְהַהוּא נְהִירוּ דְּחֶדְוָה דְּמַלְכָּא.”).
3) How does one accomplish both tasks?
The posuk says, “Noach went into the ark because of the waters of the Flood” (Bereishis 7:7). Rashi explains, “Noach, too, was one of those with little faith; he believed, yet he did not believe fully that the Flood would come…”
If Noach didn’t believe that the Flood would come, then we certainly need to ask ourselves, “Do I really believe that the final Redemption will come or is it just a ‘concept’ that is in the subconscious part of my mind?”
In the words of the Chofeitz Chayim:
“If we were truly yearning for the final Redemption and waiting each day for its arrival, then we would be preparing ourselves by learning the relevant halachos, for there are many halachos to be learned and they cannot all be covered in a short time… For if it would be revealed that in a short time the final Redemption would arrive, then certainly millions of Jews would quickly learn the halachos to the Beis HaMikdash, since at that time all of these halachos will be applicable, not only for kohanim but for all Jews, for instance, the halachos regarding eating karbonos and visiting the Mikdash… Therefore, if we are truly waiting and yearning for the final Redemption… we too should arouse ourselves and learn these halachos with all our strength” (Torah Ohr, chapter 12).
Why? Because Rabbi Avraham Danzig states, “It’s imperative to adopt a mitzvah that society generally ignores” (Chayei Adam 68:20).
Is there any sefer that exists nowadays which has relevant halachos regarding the Beis HaMikdash?
Yes! It’s called Days Are Coming by Rabbi Moshe Silberstein.
What is the sefer about? It’s an In-Depth Analysis of the Practical Halachos Relevant to Visiting the Bais HaMikdash. By studying thissefer, one is imbuing himself with faith that Hashem will redeem us. The Chofeitz Chayim had a special morning coat that he planned to wear to greet Moshiach; and from time to time he put it on and sit in anticipation (The Chafetz Chaim volume 2 by Rabbi Moses M. Yoshor, pages 621 – 622). Therefore, a person should designate some type of article of clothing – i.e. suit, shirt, hat, belt or shoes etc., that he/ she has designated to wear when Moshiach reveals himself. As the Sefer HaChinuch says, “A person is fashioned by his deeds” (Shemos, mitzvah #16 “משרשי המצוה”). Saying the 12th Principle of the Ani Ma’amins every day or learning Seider Kodshim isn’t enough.
Conversely, the Rambam says, “Anyone who does not anticipate Moshiach’s revelation denies [the pronouncements] of the prophets; even worse than that, he rejects the Torah and Moshe our Teacher” (Rambam Mishneh: Laws of Kings and Laws of Idol Worship by Avraham Yaakov Finkel z”l, page 54).
You’ll tell me, “But I’m not the Chofeitz Chayim.” That’s true. Here’s the following story from Yisroel Besser:
On Wednesday, Mrs. Leah Rubashkin got a call that her husband summoned to the to the warden’s office She got into the car and headed off to Otisville. She arrived with a change of clothing for her husband, but the guard said no, he couldn’t change on the premises – one last display of power on the part of the warden’s office. I wondered how she’d had the presence of mind to grab a change of clothing after having received the most exhilarating phone call of her life.
“I didn’t,” Mrs. Rubashkin answered. “I’ve been driving around with that change of clothing in my car for eight years” (Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly, Issue 691, December 27, 2017, Never Shackled, page 64). Mrs. Leah Rubashkin is the epitome of the Chofeitz Chayim!
4) What’s the purpose of the redemption?
That G-d’s Name should be sanctified… [(see Kol HaTor by Rabbi Hillel Rivlin of Shklov, chapter 1, page 53 #2; chapter 4, pages 75 – 76 and Meir Einei Yisrael volume 1, page 236). In addition, see Michtav M’Eliyahu volume 3, Golus v’Geulah, pages 204 – 205 ‘ירידתה של מלכותאדום’ and What to Expect from the Transition Phase of the Messianic Era
As the Rambam says, “Moshiach will correct the entire world to worship G-d together, as it says, ‘For then I [G-d] will turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Hashem, to serve Him with one consent’” (Mishnah Torah, Hilchos Malachim 11:7).
What’s the main emphasis of הָשִׁיבָה שׁוֹפְטֵינוּ כְּבָרִאשׁוֹנָה, restore our judges as we had formerly? וּמְלֹךְ עָלֵינוּ אַתָּה ה’ לְבַדְּךָ, rule over us – You, Hashem, alone. The whole world should know of His existence!
Why in Ma’ariv do we ask our Creator, “gather us from among the nations…”? In order that, “… All the nations that You have made will come and bow down before You, O L-rd and they will give glory to Your Name” (see Tehillim 106:47. See also Yechezkeil 20:34)
Sometimes, a person needs to ask themselves, “Am I in this world to sanctify G-d’s Name or my own name?” The Novi give us the proper mindset: “You are My servant, Yisrael, through whom I am glorified!” (Yeshayah 49:3)
The Ramban says that teshuvah is no longer a possibility (Devarim 30:11 “ומל ה‘ אלקיך את לבבך”).
Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai says, “He shall reveal himself in the land of Galilee because in this part of the Holy Land thedesolation (Babylonian exile) first began, therefore he will manifest himself there first…” (Zohar volume 2, Shemos 7b “מִפְּנֵי פַּחַד ה‘… בְּקוּמוֹ לַעֲרֹץ הָאָרֶץ, כַּד יְקוּם וְיִתְגְּלֵי בְּאַרְעָא דְּגָלִיל…”).
7) Is he superhuman?
The Jewish Messiah is truly human in origin, He is born of ordinary human parents and is of flesh and blood like all mortals (see Aryeh Kaplan Anthology Volume I, The Real Messiah, pages 274 – 276 and Rav Schwab on Prayer, pages 495-497).
8) How would one describe him?
He is a leader of the Jews, strong in wisdom, power and spirit. In addition, he will bring eternal peace, love, prosperity and moral perfection to the entire world (see Aryeh Kaplan Anthology Volume I, The Real Messiah, pages 274 – 276 and Rav Schwab on Prayer, pages 495-497). A feat which no world leader has been able to accomplish!
Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman zt”l, wrote in a letter: “Several times I heard from the holy Chofetz Chayim, that we can learn about the end of our exile from what happened at the end of our exile in Egypt…” (Redemption Unfolding by Alexander Aryeh Mandelbaum, page 78)
How? The posuk says, “It happened during those many days, that the king of Egypt died and the Children of Israel groaned because of the work and they cried out. Their cry for help from the oppression rose up to G-d”