End of Days
World War III, Redemption, The Messiah and Prayer
Is a third world war inevitable? It depends on us
Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian wrote: “While in London I heard from the holy Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman quoting the Chofetz Chaim who quoted our sages saying the War of Gog and Magog will be in three phases. The Chofetz Chaim said that First World War was the first battle of Gog and Magog and that in about 25 years there would be a second world war, which would make the first one seem insignificant. Then there would be the third war…”
True to the Chofetz Chaim’s prediction, WWII began in 1939, exactly 25 years later! How did his prediction materialize so accurately? The Gemara states, “The Tzaddik (righteous one) decrees and G-d fulfills.”
Nevertheless, is a third world war inevitable? It depends on us. The Gemara says, “There are three things that have the ability to annul harsh decrees. They are: prayer, repentance and charity.” In addition one should involve himself in Torah and acts of kindness.
What is Redemption?
Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein explains: “The redemption is not all in one moment. Rather, it’s a process.” Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai says, “The redemption won’t happen all at once, but rather a little at a time.” Similarly, the Malbim says, “A long time before the redemption a few men of the Diaspora will gather and settle in Jerusalem. After many years of life there, the birth pangs of the redemption will reach them and then the great ingathering of all the exiles will begin.” The Gemara describes the redemption with a metaphor: “The Ultimate Redemption will be like the morning star, which is very dim as it emerges, but then it will burst forth and be seen in its full, luminous glory.”
Rabbi Pinchas Winston says it’s well known that only one-fifth of the Jewish population in Egypt at the time actually left with Moses. As Rashi explains, four-fifths died in the Plague of Darkness, and Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein reiterates: “The exodus from Egypt liberated only one out of five Jews — and some say one out of every 50 – because all those emotionally attached to Egypt who didn’t want to leave died in the three days of darkness and were not privileged to leave. That is, only those who desired redemption with all their hearts were redeemed. Likewise, the Final Redemption depends upon our yearning.” As we say every morning in the Yigdal prayer, “By the End of Days He will send our Messiah, to redeem those longing for His final salvation.” So we must first desire the redemption.
Then we must have faith. Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai says, “…When G-d decides to bring the Redemption He will look down on the world and see if there is someone righteous worthy of bringing the redemption. Hashem will see that there is no one who has sufficient merit for this, and He will need to bring great tribulations on the Jewish people, in order that the redemption should take place. At the same time, fortunate is this generation, for someone who passes the tests of this trying period with strong faith will merit seeing the light of G-d.”
How can one develop both desire and faith in the redemption?
The Chofetz Chaim says, “If we truly yearn for the final Redemption and wait each day for its arrival, then we would prepare ourselves learning the relevant laws, for there are many laws to be learned and they cannot all be covered in a short time… For if it would be revealed that in a short time the final Redemption would arrive, then certainly millions of Jews would quickly learn the laws of the Holy temple, since at that time all of these laws will be relevant, not only for Kohanim but for all Jews. For instance, the laws of eating sacrifices and visiting the temple… Therefore, if we are truly waiting and yearning for the final Redemption… we too should arouse ourselves and learn these laws with all our strength.”
Is there any book that exists nowadays which has relevant laws about the Holy Temple? Yes! It’s called Days Are Coming by Rabbi Moshe Silberstein. What is the book about? It’s an In-Depth Analysis of the Practical laws relevant to visiting the Holy Temple. When you study this book you imbue yourself with faith that G-d will redeem us. Secondly, a person should designate some type of article of clothing – i.e. suit, shirt, hat, belt or shoes etc., that he/ she has designated to wear when the Messiah reveals himself. As the Sefer HaChinuch says, “A person is fashioned by his deeds.” Therefore, saying the 12th Principle of the Ani Ma’amins every day or learning the order of ‘Kodshim’ about sacrifices and service in the temple isn’t enough. You need actions. Conversely, the Rambam says, “Anyone who does not long for the revelation of the Messiah denies the teachings of the prophets; even worse than that, he rejects the Torah and Moshe our Teacher.” So we have: a. desire for the redemption, b. faith that it will happen and c. actions to bring us towards the redemption.
What’s the purpose of the redemption? To sanctify G-d’s Name … As the Rambam says, “The Messiah will correct the entire world to worship G-d together, as it says, ‘For then I [G-d] will turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the G-d, to serve Him with one consent.’”
What’s the main reason we pray for ‘restoring our judges as we had formerly’ every day? So that You G-d alone should rule over us. The whole world should know of Your existence! In the evening prayer we ask our Creator, “Gather us from among the nations” in order that, “… All the nations that You have made will come and bow down before You, O L-rd, and they will give glory to Your Name.” So sometimes, a person needs to ask himself, “Am I in this world to sanctify G-d’s Name or my own name? The Prophet gives us the proper mindset: “You are My servant, Israel, through whom I am glorified!”
Can one repent after the Messiah reveals himself?
The Ramban says that repentance is no longer a possibility.
Where will the Messiah reveal himself from? Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai says, “He shall reveal himself in the land of Galilee because in this part of the Holy Land the desolation (Babylonian exile) first began, therefore he will manifest himself there first…” The Jewish Messiah is truly a human being; He is born of ordinary human parents and is of flesh and blood like all mortals. He will be a leader of all the Jews,( unprecedented since King Daivd and Solomon!) having great wisdom, power and spirit. In addition, he will bring eternal peace, love, prosperity and moral perfection to the entire world. A feat which no world leader has been able to accomplish!
Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, wrote in a letter: “Several times I heard from the holy Chofetz Chaim, that we can learn about the end of our exile from what happened at the end of our exile in Egypt…”
Rabbeinu Bachya wrote: “Even though the time of the redemption had arrived, they weren’t worthy of being redeemed. However, once they all cried out in unison from the work that they were undergoing, their prayers were accepted… This is to teach you that the prayer of a person is only complete when one cries out from the pain and stress that are contained within one’s heart. This type of prayer is more accepted by G-d than mere lip service.” Along the same lines the Midrash states: “Just as the first redemption from Egypt was caused through crying out to G-d, so too, our upcoming redemption will happen in the same fashion.”
The Chofetz Chaim states: “All the many troubles which came upon us which we still suffer from are because we don’t scream and pray more fervently because of them. If we’d pray properly, we wouldn’t return empty-handed. Praying the Amidah prayer three times each day is insufficient; several times a day we must pour our requests out to G-d in solitude, at home, from the depths of our hearts. The three regular prayers are so much part of our routine that one does not really concentrate on them. But if each person would contemplate his plight in solitude... then he would pour out his heart like water to G-d. This prayer would be full of very deep intent and great humility, coming from a broken heart. Such a prayer will certainly be answered…!” Indeed every morning we say, “He responds to His people when they cry out to Him.”
The Midrash states, “When Israel went out of Egypt, they looked back and saw the Egyptians chasing after them… When Israel saw that they were surrounded on all sides; the sea in front of them blocking their path, their enemy chasing them from behind, and wild animals on both sides in the desert – they lifted up their eyes to their Father in Heaven and cried out as it is written: ‘…and the Children of Israel cried out to G-d.’ Why did G-d surround them from all sides? Because G-d yearned to hear their prayers.”
Rav Yitzchak said, “The salvation of Israel depends only on crying...as it is written: ‘...with crying, they will come and with lamentations, I will lead them.’” When an infant wants his parents to give him attention, he cries. If they don’t hear him or ignore him, he screams even louder or throws a tantrum, until his parents come and attend to his needs. The Chofetz Chaim says: “We must demand the redemption, just as a hired worker demands his wages; if we fail to do so, it shows this matter doesn’t really bother us!”
With G-d’s help, may we all merit, very soon, to witness the revelation of the Messiah, who will make our Creator’s Name Great Again!
This article is dedicated in memory of The Chafetz Chaim, Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman and the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Article compiled by Mordechai Lewis, noted in a comment on YeranenYaakov.