Lights are burning in the menorah, and within their pure flame one can see the vision of a new world. I would venture to say we are on the threshold of a tremendous burst of light.
For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the wicked people and all the evildoers will be like straw; and that coming day will burn them up, says God, Master of Legions…. But a sun of righteousness will shine for you who fear My Name, with healing in its rays…. [Malachi 3:19-20]
If God is indeed going to bring the Final Redemption soon, how then can we expect life to be ordinary? Huge events are occurring now, and even greater events will undoubtedly unfold. Civilizations will fall and a new civilization will arise. No place on earth will be the same.
In conformity with the magnitude of the apparent catastrophes currently being visited on the world will be the magnitude of the Redemption.
After all, how can the Redemption that has been predicted since the beginning of time, and for which we have been longing for two thousand years, be a small event? It must come with a shofar blast the entire world will hear, and a burst of light the entire world will see. No one will be unaware of its coming.
We recently read the following words concerning Edom, which is Rome, the nation that destroyed our Second Temple and sent us into the torturous Exile in which we continue to suffer.
Is there any doubt that on that day … Esau’s mountain will be cut down…. For your violence to your brother Jacob, shame will cover you and you will be cut down forever…. You should not have gazed on … your brother the day he was exiled. You should not have rejoiced over the children of Judah on the day of their destruction…. For the Day of God is near for all nations. As you did, so will be done to you; your recompense shall return upon your head…. For as you have drunk on my holy mountain, so shall all the nations always drink; they shall drink and swallow and become as if they had never been. [Ovadiah 1:8-16]
The doom of the children of Esau/Edom/Rome is predicted in Parshas Vayishlach. Our father Jacob refuses Esau’s invitation to “walk” with him and says, instead, “I will come to my lord at Seir,” which, Rashi informs us, refers to the End of History, at which time “saviors will arise upon Mount Zion to mete out justice to … Esau.”
But what about Ishmael? Our rabbis tell us that at the end of our present exile the world will suffer under the dominion of Ishmael. Since Vayishlach hints at the end of the exile of Esau, should we not also expect to find a hint concerning the end of Ishmael, under whom the world currently suffers?
Let me make a suggestion. At the beginning of the sedra, Jacob requests of God: “Rescue me please from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau.” This has been interpreted to refer to the two faces of Esau, but perhaps the term “my brother” refers to Ishmael who, after all, is the brother of Jacob’s father, Isaac. If Jacob foresees the trial his children are to have with Esau, surely he also sees the trial they are to have with Ishmael.
Immediately following the confrontation between Jacob and Esau comes the abduction of Dina. Who abducts Dina? Shechem ben Chamor. A “chamor” is a donkey. Ishmael is called “pere adam,” half man, half donkey. “Maase avos siman l’banim” – the actions of the fathers are a sign for the children.
Just as Shechem abducted Dina, so the descendants of Ishmael plot against us with violence and attempt to steal our inheritance and our Holy Land of Israel. On the holiest site in the world, the site of our eternal Temple, they construct their mosques, as if they have any right or title to the Land of Israel or even an understanding of its significance.
They try to steal our very identity, claiming that Ishmael, not Isaac, offered himself at the Akeidah and pretending that they were given our eternal blessing to be God’s emissaries in this world. They even steal from us the mitzvah of circumcision, pretending they are the recipients of the blessing given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.