No doubt some of my readers think it’s time for me to change topics. I agree. I wish I could. But as long as we are in jeopardy, I will use the platform The Jewish Press offers me and do my small part to alert our people about that which is unfolding before us.
So, yes, a new subject for discussion would be nice, and I pray I won’t have to write much more on this matter – as in the blink of an eye Mashiach will be with us.
There is a story about a chassidic rebbe who was walking with his disciples when he noticed a little boy behind a tree crying bitterly.
“Why are you crying, my child?” the rebbe asked the boy.
The boy replied, “I’m hiding and no one is looking for me.”
The words of the child were like a sharp knife in the heart of the rebbe. “Woe is us,” he said to his students. “G-d is waiting for us to find Him, but we have failed to search for Him.”
Maimonides taught that when suffering is visited upon us we are commanded to cry out and awaken our people with the sound of the shofar. Everyone must be alerted to examine his or her life and commit to greater adherence to Torah.Maimonides warned that if we regard the tragedies that befall us simply as “the way of the world” or “natural happenings,” we are guilty of achzarius – cruelty.
At first glance it is difficult to understand why Maimonides would choose the term “cruelty” to describe those who view trials and tribulations as “natural happenings.” Such people may be unthinking, apathetic, foolish, blind, or obtuse – but why accuse them of cruelty?
The answer is simple. If we regard our pain and suffering as mere coincidence, we will feel no motivation to examine our lives, abandon our old ways, and change. Such an attitude is cruel, for it invites additional misfortune upon us as well as others.
It would be the height of cruelty to dismiss what is occurring in the world today as mere happenstance. Great Torah luminaries of past generations such as the Chofetz Chaim and Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman told us we are entering the final stages of history – a period in time called “ikvesa deMeshicha” – footsteps of Mashiach.
Our Torah foretells four exiles through which our people would suffer. We are currently in the fourth, which commenced when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Beis HaMikdash.
In Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, an early midrashic work, it is written that before the coming of Mashiach we will have to contend with a fifth source of tribulation that will come from Yishmael (the Arab nations), who will inflict terrible suffering on the world and on our people.
We are the generation destined to witness the fulfillment of the prophecy given to Hagar (Genesis 16:11-13): “Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you shall call him Ishmael…and his hand shall be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and over all his brethren shall he dwell…”
There is yet another amazing prophecy in the Yalkut Shemoni, a midrashic compilation that eerily foretells the events of today. Rabbi Yitzchok said, “The year in which Melech HaMashiach will be revealed, all the nations of the world will be provoking each other. The king of Persia [Iran] will provoke the king of Arabia [Saudi Arabia]. The king of Arabia will go to the king of Edom [the Western nations; i.e. the president of the United States] to take counsel, and the king of Persia will threaten to destroy the world.