In a time when we are bereft of Neviim, how is Hashem able to communicate with us; how are His messages transmitted? The answer is simple. We believe with complete faith that Hashem runs every aspect of the world. It is therefore understandable that Hashem would use current events to convey His messages to us. In fact Chazal tell us that tragedies are Hashem’s messengers. In the tefilla Barchi Nafshi, that we recite on Rosh Chodesh the pasuk says “[He] makes His messengers strong winds, His attendants the raging fire” (Tehillim 104:4). Towards the end of the tefilla the pasuk says “Hashem looks at the earth and it trembles.” The Yerushalmi in Brachos says that this pasuk is referring to earthquakes.
The Chofetz Chaim (leket aimurim 12: ma licha nirdam) writes concerning several earthquakes that occurred in his time that if there would be Neviim alive today, they would be going to everyone and warning them to do teshuvah. Now that we do not have Neviim, Hashem has other messengers.
We must also keep in mind the Gemara in Yevamos 63a that says that tragedies only come to this world because of Klal Yisrael. Rashi there explains that this is in order to instill fear in their hearts, which will lead them to teshuvah.
The Gemara in Brachos 59a asks why Hashem makes earthquakes. The Gemara answers that when Hashem sees how much the nations of the world make the Yidden suffer two tears (kaviyachol) come down from Shamayim into the yam hagadol causing earthquakes and tsunamis. Rabbenu Chananel there explains that the reason Hashem makes earthquakes is to show Klal Yisrael that He has not forgotten us. Earthquakes are to remind us that just as galus Mitzrayim had an end, our current galus will have an end as well.
The Yerushalmi in Brachos says that Rav Nehrai once met Eliyahu Hanavi and asked him why Hashem brings earthquakes. Eliyahu Hanavi responded that when Hashem sees the goyim having a good time while the Beis HaMikdash is destroyed, Hashem lets out a roar for the Beis HaMikdash, which causes earthquakes.
The pasuk in the second perek of Shir HaShirim says “Kol dodi henei zeh bah.” Hashem, our dod in Shamayim, will let out a kol shofar before the geulah to announce His arrival. The Yalkut Shimoni on this pasuk says once the shofar is sounded, twenty massive earthquakes will shake the earth; ten places there will be many deaths and ten places there will be much destruction. The geulah will not come all at once; rather Eliyahu Hanavi will come to one city at a time to be meorer Klal Yisrael to do teshuvah. While he is in one city the other cities will not know that he is he there. He will speak to one person and the other will not know of his friend’s encounter.
Rav Eliyahu Desler, zt”l, in his sefer Michtav M’Eliyahu (chelek 1 kolos shel Eliyahu page 209) explains this Yalkut that there will be an era of earthquakes before the geulah. During this time Eliyahu Hanavi will come to this world to help inspire us to do teshuvah. Rav Desler explains what the Yalkut meant when it said that ‘Eliyahu will be in one city and another will not know, and speak to one person and his friend will not be aware’, is that one city will understand that the zman hageulah is here and another will not. One person will realize that Hashem is orchestrating all of the “natural” disasters in order for us to do teshuvah, and another person will not come to this understanding.
The Yalkut Shimoni in the end of Malachi says Yisrael will not be redeemed until they do teshuvah, and they won’t do teshuvah until Eliyahu Hanavi comes. When Klal Yisrael realize that Eliyahu Hanvi is here, and that we have reached the zman hageulah we will do teshuvah and be zocheh to the geulah. The Yalkut says that before the geulah there will be a time of preparation – a kol shofar – announcing the arrival of Hashem the King. Part of this kol shofar will be earthquakes. Why earthquakes?
Well, as we explained there are many reasons that Hashem brings earthquakes, all of which help us bring the geulah. They are meant to instill fear of heaven in us and at the same time they are meant to display Hashem’s love for us. Additionally, Hashem wants to show us that He is pained by our suffering, and by the bitter galus. The lack of a Beis HaMikdash pains Hashem. He does not want to watch the goyim destroy the world with their lifestyles; this is not why He created the world. Hashem wants the Beis HaMikdash to be able to uplift and inspire the entire world.
I suppose I should mention that I was inspired to write about earthquakes because there were two massive earthquakes in Israel last week. Now there was “miraculously” no serious damage or loss of life from these quakes, but hopefully we can all get the message without that occurring, r”l.
This shofar has been blasting very often lately. Hashem is sending powerful messages. We are in the era of preparing for the geulah.
The shofar that was blown on Har Sinai inspired us to accept the Torah and begin living lives of Torah. The shofar of today is meant to do the same. The “earth shattering” massive earthquakes that have recently wrecked so much havoc on different parts of the world are part of the sound of the shofar blast. If we will listen appropriately we will see the gilui Shechinah being revealed. This appreciation will lead to increased teshuvah. Through this we will be zocheh to see the revelation of Hashem’s reign once again, just as we saw on Har Sinai.
May we be zocheh to hear the kol shofar loud and clear, including the final kol from the shofar gadol of the geulah, speedily in our days, amen.