Friday, February 12, 2010

More on Persia in Avoda Zara 2b

As noted in the article I linked to yesterday, Avoda Zara 2b is very enlightening as far as Aharit Hayamim is concerned.

Much of what the article said can also be found on Shema Yisrael's insights on that daf, from which I will excerpt. Links are added by me:
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THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF

brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld


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4) MODERN WORLD POWERS

QUESTION: The Beraisa presents the arguments of the Roman and Persian nations at the time of their final judgement. The Beraisa does not mention the arguments of the other nations. The Gemara explains that the Beraisa mentions only the arguments of Rome and Persia because those two nations are the most esteemed, since their dominion will last until Mashi'ach comes.
We know that the nation of Rome still retains power today in the form of modern western civilization which, to a great degree, is based upon the foundations of ancient Rome and the Holy Roman Empire. However, what dominion does Paras (Persia) still have today? The modern nation of Persia, now known as Iran, is a single nation like any other and is not a world power.
Hold it right there! Can we still say such a thing nowadays? Is Iran still just another nation? It could be that the question doesn't even start when looking at the world in 2010, when they have declared themselves a nuclear state.
In addition, the Chachamim tell us that the nation of Yavan (Greece) took control of the world from Persia, and thus it seems clear that Persia will *not* remain in power until the arrival of Mashi'ach! (TOSFOS RID, Mahadura Kama)
Again, not a question looking at the world picture nowadays.


ANSWER: The IBN EZRA in Daniel (7:14) discusses Daniel's dream of four powerful animals, which allude to the four powerful nations that will rule the world. The Chachamim (in Vayikra Rabah 13:5) explain that the animals allude to the nations of Bavel (Babylon), Paras (Persia), Yavan (Greece), and Romi (Rome). The Ibn Ezra wonders why the Chachamim do not identify one of the powerful nations as the nation of Yishmael, since the descendants of Yishmael were a world power from about six hundred years after the Churban (they conquered Yerushalayim in the year 638 C.E.).
Interestingly enough, one of the derashot the midrash in Vayikra Rabbah has the strange order that I noted previously: את הגמל זו בבל... את השפן זו מדי ... ואת הארנבת זו יון ... ואת החזיר זו פרס


The RAMBAN (in Bamidbar 24:20, Chavel edition) answers that perhaps the dominion of Yishmael will end before Mashi'ach comes. Moreover, the Romans were the ones who exiled the Jews to the present Galus, and the nation of Yishmael did not add any new element of exile, nor did they take over all of the countries into which the Jews were exiled.
I guess this is only in the Chavel edition - I didn't see this in the Mikra'ot Gedolot version.
Perhaps, we can understand the Ramban in that very few Jews live in Arab countries nowadays.

Others, however, give a different answer to the question of the Ibn Ezra. The TOSFOS RID (Avodah Zarah 2b, Mahadura Tinyana) explains that that the kingdom of Yishmael is included in what the Chachamim describe as the kingdom of Persia. Regarding the question how Persia can still be considered a world power if Yavan conquered it, the Tosfos Rid answers that Yavan conquered the portion of Persia which was subjugating the Jews in Eretz Yisrael at the time. However, the kingdom of Persia remained in control of all of the other North African and Middle-Eastern countries. The nations of Rome and Persia will remain in control of their respective areas in which Jews live until the coming of Mashi'ach. (The MAHARAL has a similar approach.)

According to this approach, the two nations whose dominion will last until Mashi'ach are the two other descendants of Avraham and Yitzchak -- Yishmael and Esav. They are considered to be the leaders of all of the other nations (see Insights to Sukah 55b). This is why Hashem offered the Torah specifically to those two nations before giving it to the Jewish people (see RASHI to Devarim 33:2).
The fact that Iran supports Hamas and Hizbollah supports this view well.

As the CHIDA writes (in NACHAL KEDUMIM), the Jewish people responded to Hashem's offer with the words "Na'aseh v'Nishma" to counter those two nations. They said "Na'aseh" to counter Esav, and "Nishma" to counter Yishmael.
I could not find this in נחל קדומים. If someone can show this to me, please let me know. Nonetheless, it is a good devar Torah for this week's perasha.

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Shabbat Shalom!

2 Comments:

At Sat Feb 13, 11:38:00 AM 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to check out Gemara Yoma daf 10 and that will give incredible insight on today's situation

chodesh tov

barbaman

 
At Mon Feb 15, 10:33:00 PM 2010, Anonymous Neshama said...

Happy Birthday Lincoln!

 

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