End of Days - Where are we? (part 2 of 3)
Continued from Part 1
[Disclaimer: the dates mentioned here are suggested only. No dates are set in stone, as we know from tradition. -YY]
The Seven Years that Precede the Revelation of Mashiah
The Gemara describes in cryptic words how the 7 last years that precede the revelation of Mashiah will pass over Israel. Haza"l describe this using the 7-year Shmitta-cycle. Following is the description of Haza"l, and in the parenthesis is the appropriate Jewish year. (Be aware that these years do not mandate reality; rather they are just one possible explanation out of many.)
The rabbis learned in a Beraita:
The seven-year cycle that Ben David comes in:
- The first year (5762), the following verse is fulfilled: (Amos 4)
והמטרתי על עיר אחת ועל עיר אחת לא אמטיר
and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city
- The second year (5763): arrows of famine are sent
- The third year (5764): a great famine - men, women and children along with pious people and people of action [righteous people] die, and Torah is forgotten from those who learn it
- In the fourth year (5765): plenty, but not plenty
- In the fifth year (5766): great plenty - people eat, drink, and are happy, and Torah is returned to those who learn it
- In the sixth year (5767): Sounds
- In the seventh year (5768): Wars
- In the year after the seventh year (5769): Ben David comes
[Another source that speaks about the "7-year cycle that Ben David comes in" is the Pesikta Rabbati (36), and I thought it would be nice to mention this here.
The 7-year cycle that Ben David comes in, they bring iron beams and put it on his neck, until his posture became crooked. And he screams and cries, and his voice goes up to heaven. He [Mashiah] said before Him [Hakadosh Baruch Hu]: "Master of the Universe! How much strength will I have [left]? How much spirit will I have [left]? How much Neshama will I have [left]? How much will my limbs [be able to take]? Am I not flesh and blood?" On that moment, [King] David was crying and said (Tehillim 22:16) יבש כחרס כוחי וגו (My strength is dried up like a potsherd...).]
At that moment, Hakadosh Baruch Hu said to him, "Ephraim, my righteous Mashiah! You already accepted this [suffering] upon yourself from the 6 days of creation. Now, your pain will be like My pain - that from the day that the evil Nevuchadnetzar arose and destroyed My house and burned My sanctuary and exiled my children among the nations of the world, [I swear] by your life and by the life of My head that I had not entered My throne. And if you don't believe Me, look at the dew that went up on My head [כביכול]," as it says (Shir Hashirim 5:2) שראשי נמלא טל קוצותי רסיסי לילה (for my head is filled with dew, my locks with the drops of the night).
At that moment, he [Mashiah] said to Him: "Master of the Universe! Now, I have calmed down. It is enough for a servant to be like his master..." (The Midrash continues with the description of the war with Paras, as was described in the previous section "Rabbi Yitzhak said...")
And from the little that it's possible to understand here, it's possible to see that it's true that 5763 was the year of [Israeli] elections, in which the evil government of Shinui-Likud rose to power, where they began to issue economic decrees against the weak population. And that is what's meant by "arrows of famine are sent". But this was just the beginning. In the year 5764, there was already a budget passed on the weak population, and the number of starving people in Israel continued to increase, and many actually died, and among them were even righteous people. Regarding the Torah that is forgotten, Rashi explains "Because they have nothing to eat." It's also possible to explain [that Torah was forgotten] in the shadow of budget cuts to Yeshivot and Kollels, which caused many Torah scholars to stop learning Torah. The year 5766, which we are smack in the middle of, will bring a turning over of the wheel [180-degree turnaround] - a cessation of famine and a return of the Torah after the budget allocations to the weak population and Torah-learners returned. In the year 5767, there will be "Sounds", and the meaning according to Rashi is "Rumors will go out that Ben David is coming" or "Sounds from the blowing of the Shofar as it says 'אז ייתקע בשופר גדול'". In other words, either it means that everyone will speak about the fact that Mashiah "Ba" ["בא" in Hebrew could mean "came" or "is coming"](which could mean either that 1)Mashiah already came and it's referring to Mashiah Ben Yosef or 2)Mashiah is set to arrive since there are many opinions that hold that he will be present already during the final war) or that the sounds of the blowing of the Shofar will be heard, and this is a spiritual blowing, which according to what I know, heralds a harsh judgement for the wicked. In the year 5768, the final war will begin - the final battle of the War of Gog Umagog between the nations and Israel (Rashi ibid). On the year following this, in other words in the year 5769, the full and final Redemption will arrive for Israel and for the remnant of the other nations of the world after the wicked is destroyed. (As can be recalled, even the Tsunami-foretelling rabbi said early on that the final Redemption will be in 5769, as was brought in the first update [from him], but he changed his mind along the way, from what he saw that everything is open and not obligated to be fulfilled according to the aforementioned calendar of events.)
Redemption "Be'itah" or "Ahishena"
There are 2 types of redemption that could exist according to our sources: a redemption that is "Be'itah" - i.e. one that is set at a predetermined time (Rabbi Ovadia Yosef holds that this is the Redemption with which we will be redeemed, even though he holds, on the other hand, that the generation is "זכאי" ["meritorious"]) and a redemption that is "Ahishena" - i.e. one that will come earlier than its set time. The main differences between the 2 types of Redemption, besides the time that it will take place, is the amount of suffering the Jewish people and the whold world in general will endure until the Redemption takes place and the manner in which the Redemption occurs:
- An "Ahishena" Redemption is a Redemption that comes suddenly, in a miraculous way. Mashiah comes, and the world reaches its correct fulfilment and purpose, together with all the beneficial designations that were promised by Hakadosh Baruch Hu by way of His prophets, as is described in Tanach.
- A "Be'ita" Redemption is a Redemption that a long and hard process precedes it, full of suffering and tests for the Jewish people and for the world in general, which concludes with the terrible death of about two-thirds of the world, in addition to those among the Jewish people who, according to Hakadosh Baruch Hu's calculation, are not fit to be redeemed. According to some of the sources along with Kabbalists from our time, the percentage of Jews that are said to be killed during this situation, could reach Has Veshalom to about 80%, corresponding to the percentage of the Jewish people who were killed in Egypt during the plague of darkness, as is described in the words of Haza"l.
The type of Redemption that we will receive is dependant on us and on our deeds. An "Ahishena" Redemption is dependant on repentance that the Jewish nation will do. The righteous among our generation say that it's not referring to [a repentance] of all of Israel - just the majority of it - everyone according to his ability. In this scenario - that repentance will work for Israel - then, the "Be'itah" process, which we are currently in the middle of, will stop suddenly, and the Redemption will come immediately. However, in the scenario that it will not occur, then the difficult "Be'itah" process will need to continue until it reaches its harsh ending, and only then will the Redemption take place, and not for all Jews, and definitely not for the whole world.
It's worth mentioning at this stage that there are those who claim that a Redemption of "Ahishena" is no longer possible after Tish'a Be'av, 5765 (the day before the Disengagement from Gush Katif), because the "Stations of Ahishena", which were the dates of good-will for Redemption, closed up exactly on that date, which was the last "station". With that said, there is a bit of a danger with this claim, since it contradicts the foundations of our faith - that there is a chance for Mashiah's arrival every single day. On the other side of the coin, there are those who claim that the harsh prophecies already took place in the past - for example, during the Holocaust - that there are those who see in it and in the entire WW2 - the true War of Gog Umagog. For the different approaches on this topic between the Sephardic Kabbalists and Hasidic Tzadikim, one should read here. For the heavenly war between these 2 opinions, the turning around of "Ahishena" to be further than "Be'itah", and the integration of these 2 opinions according to the Vilna Gaon, one should read here.
Anyways, it's worth adding that according to Haza"l, there exist a few auspicious time periods for an "Ahishena" Redemption. Among them, one can count the month of Tishri, the month of Nissan, and Tish'a Be'av. For short possible scenarios for the 2 types of Redemptions from R' Lazer Brody Shlit"a, one should read here.
Similarly, it is accepted that reading the Holy Zohar (even without understanding the meaning of the words) brings the Redemption closer, and it is a Segulah to save one who reads it from the pangs of Mashiah with mercy. And also, in connection to bringing the Redemption closer, our holy rabbi, Rabbi Nahman of Breslov, זיע"א, says that unity among the Jewish people is what will cause the Redemption, and therefore, an effort towards it [unity] will bring the Redemption closer. (Unity as a nation starts with unity in the family, unity among peers, in the synagogue, etc.)
[Warning: some of the details are graphic]
The closer we get to the decisive stage of the war, the closer we get to the difficult plague that will affect humans as with animals. The plague will be exceedingly grave, and will cause a lot of death among people. Unlike modern interpretations of the prophecy of Zecharia the Prophet, ע"ה, it's accepted nowadays to see his prophecy as being literal. According to the prophecy, the plague will cause decay of the bodies of the people affected. Before they die, it will affect the areas that have mucus, the eyes and the tongue, which will cause them to have a quick and advanced decay. According to part of the explanation of the prophecy, the decay will be so bad, that when a person wants to hold onto his friend's hand, some of the flesh of the hand will come off and remain in the friend's hand. This is the wording of the prophecy:
וזאת תהיה המגפה, אשר יגוף ה’ את כל העמים אשר צבאו על ירושלים: המק בשרו והוא עמד על רגליו, ועיניו תימקנה בחוריהן, ולשונו תימק בפיהם. והיה ביום ההוא, תהיה מהומת ה’ רבה בהם, והחזיקו איש יד רעהו, ועלתה ידו על יד רעהו… וכן תהיה מגפת הסוס, הפרד הגמל והחמור, וכל הבהמה, אשר יהיה במחנות ההמה,-כמגפה הזאת.
And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the peoples that have warred against Jerusalem: their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their sockets, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.
... And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in those camps, as this plague.
And it's brought down in a Midrash:
"התאנה חנטה פגיה" (The fig-tree putteth forth her green figs - Shir Hashirim 2:13) (The verse is expounded on to teach us about the death of those who did not merit to be redeemed in the exodus from Egypt during the plague of darkness, and nowadays, it can make sense on what will be in our era:) Said Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba: Close to the days of Mashiah, a great plague will come to the world and the wicked will perish.
(Shir Hashirim Rabba 2:33)
(In Tractate Avot (5:9), it lists the times where there is a great chance for a great plague (5768 and 5769 are 2 years which it can occur, and also, right after Sukkot any year). The Maharal explains according to this Mishna that the reason 'a great plague comes to the world' (i.e. that the plague will occur in the strongest proportion) is due to the theft of the poor that precedes it.)
There exists an opinion that's growing in popularity that the plague that's referred to here is the next stage in the development of the "Bird Flu" pandemic (H5N1). Since the pandemic has not yet developed into the next stage, it's impossible to know what the exact symptoms will be of someone who gets affected. However, according to the best scientists in the World Health Organization (WHO), we're talking about a development that will definitely occur - the only question is when, and the percentage of people affected and dying from this developing pandemic is of the proportion of a global holocaust.
The meaning of the development of the pandemic is that it will be possible to contract the disease - not only from animals that carry the disease (as is known, also other animals can contract the disease and transfer it. See this experiment, for example regarding cats), which is the case currently as these lines are being written - but also from human to human. The disease, according to scientists, will develop into the next fatal stage when it combines with another disease, and it will then form a new fatal disease, which according to estimates can affect one-third of the world (see the words of Scientific American brought down here where it mentions the proportions of the prophecy of Zecharia (13:9) that talks about this - that only one-third of the world will remain), and it will also hit the Western nations like the U.S. the worst. And surprisingly, unlike normal epidemics, it will hit the younger population more (which fits with the prophecy of striking the armies of the nations) than the older population.
For questions and answers of the WHO regarding Bird Flu and its development, click here.
Ben David Will Not Come As Long As Sharon is Prime Minister
A large number of Tzadikim, and at the head of them, the elder kabbalist, Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, זיע"א, said that Mashiah will come only after Sharon will stop being the prime minister, as was reported on this site a number of times. During the month of Tevet this year, we were surprised, along with the rest of the world, to see what happened to the Prime Minister (although the matter was hinted to earlier via the Tsunami-predicting rabbi and via Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, Shlit"a) that whether he's already dead or whether he's not, he will never return to being Prime Minister.
This situation that made Sharon neutral - in an almost-clear G-dly interference - from being Prime Minister while his party rose to power - hints to this clearly - that in the current tenure of the Knesset, Mashiah will arrive. Therefore, since according to the words of many Tzaddikim, Ariel Sharon will no longer be Prime Minister during Mashiah's arrival, there was a need to cause this [demise of Sharon] so he will stop being the Prime Minister.
If that's the case, the event that occurred to Ariel Sharon, as bad as it was, is nevertheless an additional encouraging sign for the complete Redemption of Israel. For additional hints to the topic of Sharon in the Torah, read here. Incidentally, if at any stage, there is an official pronouncement of his death, I have an interesting speculation according to the sources, regarding the events that should be occurring.