Hoshea and the Three Requests
There is a fascination with arcane interpretations of world events and bizarre mystical behaviors that might expedite the redemption. This is not the way ordinary Jews are supposed to react. We are supposed to turn to the Torah and get back to basics.
Just as one does not need to be a medical “expert” to recognize that the healthcare system is controlled by con artists and gangsters, one does not need to be a Torah scholar to understand that the talisman approach is not what Hashem wants from us. On the contrary, believing that salvation will come if we mindlessly recite some holy text or perform some heaven-controlling ritual is antithetical to the Torah, and bears greater resemblance to idolatry than Judaism.
Tanach and Chazal are abundantly clear about what got us into this mess and what will get us out of it. Those who invent talisman-type solutions are misleading the Jewish people, and should be viewed with great suspicion. They might as well be pushing “vaccines”.
Here's some real Torah:
אחר ישבו בני ישראל ובקשו את ה' אלהיהם ואת דויד מלכם ופחדו אל ה' ואל טובו באחרית הימים
Afterward the Sons of Israel will return, and they will seek Hashem their God, and David their king, and they will fear with yearning to Hashem and to His goodness in the end of days. (Hoshea 3:5)
Rashi and Radak quote the following Midrashic teaching, which aligns well with the plain meaning of the pasuk:
תנא משום רבי שמעון בן יוחאי בשלשה דברים מאסו בני ישראל בימי רחבעם במלכות שמים ובמלכות בית דוד ובבית המקדש הה"ד (מלכים א יב:טז) אין לנו חלק בדוד כמשמעו לאהליך ישראל (שם) אל תקרי לאהליך אלא לאלהיך ראה ביתך דוד (שם) זה בית המקדש אמר רבי שמעון בן מנסיא אין מראין סימן טוב לישראל עד שיחזרו ויבקשו שלשתן אחר ישובו בני ישראל ובקשו את ה' זו מלכות שמים ואת דוד מלכם כמשמעו ופחדו אל ה' ואל טובו זה בית המקדש כד"א ההר הטוב הזה
They taught in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, the Sons of Israel were disgusted with three things in the days of Rechavam: in the kingdom of Heaven, in the kingdom of the house of David, and in the Beis Hamikdash...[based on Melachim I 12:16]...Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya said, a good sign will not be shown to Israel until they return and seek these three things. “Afterward the Sons of Israel will return and they will seek Hashem” – this is the kingdom of Heaven; “and David their king” – as it plainly means; “and they will fear with yearning to Hashem and to His goodness” – this is the Beis Hamikdash, as it says “this good mountain”.
We will not see a light at the end of the tunnel until we seek the three fundamental things we rejected thousands of years ago. If we continue to be mired in darkness, it is an indication that we are not yet sincerely and sufficiently seeking these three things. This is not an opinion or a subjective interpretation; it is a straightforward prophecy clearly explained by Chazal.
Metzudas David notes that a return to Israel predates this teshuvaprocess, which is sand in the eyes of all the galus Jews who stubbornly want no part of Israel until Moshiach chauffeurs them home in style. This is one of numerous sources that indicates just the opposite. First we are supposed to return – physically – and the spiritual return follows.
(Rav Yosef Kara explains the beginning of the pasuk as a reference to Jews in galus doing teshuva when they are in trouble, but this is no contradiction to the above. It is clear that both will occur. Far better to be part of the teshuva process in Israel than thousands of miles away in a foreign land.)
As straightforward as this pasuk is, let's analyze it more deeply.
What does it mean that we will “seek Hashem”, the “kingdom of Heaven”? What Jew with an ounce of connection doesn't seek Hashem and His kingdom?
If we do not yet see a siman tov, if we are still floundering, then clearly we have not been seeking Hashem sincerely and sufficiently. Even Jews who live outwardly religious lives, and are generally good people, need to ask themselves if they really want Israel to be run according to the Torah. My experience tells me that most religious Jews are complacent with life in Israel – or, to my great dismay, in exile – so long as they are not being persecuted “too much”. When they are persecuted, they seek an end to the persecution, or to devise ways to cope with it, but fail to consider if the persecution is a call for them to seek Hashem and His kingdom.
We are not supposed to be comfortable under a foreign kingdom, even in the land of Israel – especially in the land of Israel! We are not supposed to be complacent. This is not why we are here! We must actively seek Hashem and His kingdom, which means ceasing to turn to foreign powers in any subjugative capacity.
This further requires a return to Torah as the law of the land. That is why we have the Torah. It is not an academic exercise, a hobby, a cultural way for Jews to connect, or a mystical occupation. It is our instruction manual for all facets of life, including and especially governance of the Land of Israel.
This manifests itself in the second request, seeking the kingdom of David. We can no longer be satisfied with a political structure that runs contrary to the Torah, and gives power to those who trample on it. We can no longer content ourselves with playing political games to support a little religious bubble, while giving up on the spiritual sanctity of the entire land. We cannot bury our heads in little settlements and shtetls, and remain unconcerned while the rest of the land becomes Sodom and Amorrah.
This brings us to the third request. How many religious Jews truly seek the Beis Hamikdash? Where is the demand to put this on the agenda? We excuse ourselves by claiming that we are waiting for Hashem to send us Eliyahu HaNavi and Moshiach to lead the way. Fine. But why should He?
Are we dissatisfied with the Kotel, or even the severely restricted access to Har Habayis? Do we really want all the marbles, or are we content with just a taste? Are we raising public consciousness about our essential need for a Bais Hamikdash? Are we studying the relevant halachos and teaching them in schools? Are we drawing up architectural plans? Are we preparing resources to build it the moment we are allowed?
We are not supposed to wait complacently for the Bais Hamikdash. We are supposed to seek it. So states the pasuk in Hoshea in plain language (also see the beginning of Chagai, which I discuss at length in Go Up Like a Wall).
The redemption must come at a certain time if we fail to merit it sooner, and this return must precede the redemption. Therefore, if we fail to return on our own, and time is running out, Hashem will force us to return and seek what we had previously rejected. Galus Jews who continue to pine for the good old days in exile – the very notion of which is anathema to a Jew with his head on straight – will come to detest it. There will be no return to normal, at least not as they perceive it. A return to normal is a return to Israel living under Torah law; anything else is abnormal for a Jew.
The Jews in Israel who have made a religion out of settling the land, or living in a religious bubble in the land, or worshiping the Erev Rav who control the land, or otherwise just want to be “a free people in our land”, are getting the ultimate wake-up call. The Erev Rav are marshalling the state institutions and all their shills to brainwash them, manipulate them, and destroy them.
Those who are fortunate to survive this war against God and His people will truly seek the kingdom of Hashem, the kingdom of David, and the Bais Hamikdash. They will no longer settle for anything less. Anything less is tyranny, enslavement, physical and spiritual death. There will no longer be anything in between.
This is the meaning of the end of the pasuk in Hoshea, “they will fear with yearning to Hashem and to His goodness in the end of days”. It doesn't say that we will fear Hashem, but that we will fear to Hashem, and to His goodness. The fear of the troubles at the end of days will bring us toward Hashem as the only solution. We will yearn for His salvation, and only His salvation – not a mere respite from the troubles but a true salvation. We will yearn for His goodness, not the good graces of an evil, corrupt ruling class to loosen their bonds over us and throw us a few bones.
We will finally come to realize that there is no such thing as “freedom” in the colloquial sense. Either we serve Hashem, or we serve someone else who will have power over us. Hashem has only our best interests in mind. The alternative will not, to say the least. Better the most difficult restrictions of Hashem's Torah than the most charming “freedom” of some other ruler.
When we seek Hashem's kingdom, Moshiach's government, and the Bais Hamikdash – no substitutes or compromises – we will see a sign of blessing, and the redemption will follow. May it be speedily in our days.
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On another note....I was quoted here. Let's just say I don't kiss any rings.