As the Hebrew year 5778 comes to a close, Breaking Israel News asked several end-of-days experts about how this year fits into the Geula (redemption) process and whether the Messiah can be expected to arrive in 5779. Though the questions seemed entirely hypothetical, the answers were not.
“You may not see Messiah until after it happens, if you even see it then”
“We are unquestionably deep into the final stage of the geula and this past year was clearly a large step forward in the process,” Rabbi Winston told Breaking Israel News. “This is something we should be talking about more but few people are thinking about it in a real-world way. Existing in a non-geula frame of reference makes it impossible to even see it when it happens. Unfortunately, the Jewish world is trained to avoid acknowledging the possibility of the Messiah because of our history of false Messiahs, like Shabbetai Tzvi (in the 17th century), and because of Christianity’s emphasis on the Messiah.”
Winston cited Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, the leading Torah scholar of the 18th century and known as the Vilna Gaon, who wrote extensively about the process leading up to the Messiah. According to the Vilna Gaon, the Messiah will be a two-stage process.
The first stage, Messiah from the house of Joseph, is a practical, mundane process of returning the exiles, the beginnings of the Third Temple, reestablishing the Davidic Dynasty, and building up the land of Israel. This is a social movement and though there may be outstanding figures, that stage of the Messiah will not be embodied in a single individual. The second stage, Messiah from the house of David, transcends nature and will be embodied in a single person. According to the Vilna Gaon, the Messiah from the house of Joseph had already begun and it is this belief that led him to order his students to move to Israel.
“Despite the Gaon being the pre-eminent Torah Authority of his generation, few Jews followed his example.”
“The Gaon wrote that tchiyat hametim (resurrection of the dead) will take place 210-214 years before the year 6000. That means that tchiyat hametim could begin in nine to thirteen years. What is significant about that is that when it begins, it means that the messiah has already come and gone. His work is already done and the next stage is beginning. God is bringing back the dead to prepare them for the world-to-come. This is a lengthy process and won’t happen overnight.”
“That being said, it means that Moshiach must come sometime within the next nine years.”
The rabbi suggested an alternative timing for the arrival of the Messiah.
“The Gaon wrote about the next stages in the Geula and history has precisely followed what he predicted. Truly remarkable global events have taken place in recent years. The two World Wars were scenarios that would have been unimaginable to previous generations but the Vilna Gaon described it, using the term galut Edom, (the exile of Edom/Esau). The Gaon described that this had three aspects, or stages: religious, murder, and business. The first stage that would take place is the religious, or false religious aspect, which was Rome The second stage of Edom, murder, or brute force, was personified by Russia. The last stage of Edom that immediately precedes Messiah is the businessman, which is America. This is the stage we are in right now.”
“The events leading up to the creation of the State of Israel were so unlikely yet the Gaon stated almost three hundred years ago, that the Jews would not be able to get back the land of Israel without the permission of the gentiles. Given the state of Jewish-Gentile relations in the 18th century, that should have been unthinkable. Even more so that it happened in the wake of the Holocaust when so much of the world was working to eliminate the Jewish people.”
“History is one miracle after another culminating in the return of the Jews to Israel. That can only be because it was a geula process. Otherwise, history does not make sense on the level of cause and effect. And if it is a geula process, the timing is fantastic. We are living in the final stage.”
“One of the signature traits of Hashem in situations like this is to do things right under your nose so unless you are paying attention, you will not even notice it. This is the aspect of Joseph standing in front of his brothers and them not recognizing him. King David was the same way. He came from the most unlikely place and no one noticed his greatness at first.”
“This Rosh Hashanah, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. The rubber band is stretched as far as it can go. It should have snapped this year. I am waiting for the boom, which would be the war of Gog and Magog.”
“If you look at history, major wars alway happen when the world is at its most liberal. Even businessmen know there is a 70 year cycle. As things stand today, we are overdue.”
Rabbi Winston explained that a multi-national war is described in the prophets as part of the Messianic process but it is not unavoidable.
“There is reason to believe instead of a horrific war, something else could happen that would serve the same purpose but appearing as a form of chesed (loving kindness). What is needed is something to shake things up. What form it takes is up to our actions and how we relate to Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’) at this stage in the proces.”
“People think that when the Messiah comes, a big banner will go up and every news channel will announce it. This allows them to feel that they won’t miss the boat. But the truth is that you may not see it until after it happens, if you even see it then. The Messiah is like musical chairs; the music stops and it is already too late.”
“In the aftermath of 9-11, a lot of Jews packed their bags and wanted to come to Israel because it really seemed like the end was near. But the unthinkable happened: all of the planes were grounded for four days and they couldn’t leave America. If a massive cyber attack accompanies the War of Gog and Magog it will be much worse.”
“Some people are asking if the Messiah is going to come next year, as if they are sure it didn’t come this year or nine years ago. You need the eyes to see Moshiach. Otherwise it could be right in front of you and you wouldn’t see it.”
“If you look a tiny bit into the future with eyes that are ready to see geula, it is blinding”
Rabbi Yosef Berger, rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, has commented on many of the events covered in Breaking Israel News in a prophetic context. As a direct descendant of King David, he is very much in tune with how current events fit into a geula process.
“It is impossible for anyone to say that we are not in the final stages of geula,” Berger told Breaking Israel News. “This year we saw so many things that show this. People can explain it away in political terms but the American president’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem was part of this, just as Cyrus was a part of ending the second exile.”
“The world is entering into situations that could explode at any moment into unprecedented conflict. Who could have imagined North Korea or Iran threatening the entire world. Who could have imagined the armies of the entire world poised to explode in Syria?”
“Even nature is crying out that we need to prepare for the geula and do tshuva (repentance) this Rosh Hashanah. Secular people talk about the universal threat of the ecology but they don’t know that the solution is to turn to the creator. Just last summer the most powerful country in the world, America, was struck by horrible hurricanes that crippled entire regions. Earthquakes are increasing around the world. How can people not see that these are powerful signs, specifically described by the prophets, and they are happening today?”
“But this didn’t begin this year,” Rabbi Berger said. “This has been happening for a very long time, for one hundred years, growing stronger every year.”
“Many people refuse to see, yet now, for the first time in history, non-Jews are coming to join with Israel. This too was described by the prophets. This is the final stage in the process and these are the people who are trying to board the train before it pulls out of the station.”
“There are so many ways to take part in the geula, more than ever before. Non-Jews can do the Noahide Laws. For Jews it is easier than ever before to come to Israel. Even people who are already religious need to move forward. It is like the moment before a train leaves the station and all the doors are open. Everyone can take part in the geula but once the doors are closed, the train is gone and those who didn’t come aboard are left at the station.”
“Seeing that this is true is not simple. The light of the Messiah is so bright and so close that many people go to great efforts to not see it. If you look a tiny bit into the future with eyes that are ready to see geula, it is blinding.”
“We are required by the Torah to anticipate the Messiah at every moment. No one can say when. But a person who says there never will be a Messiah is simply speaking foolishness. How could he possibly know what will be in the future? From what I am seeing, I know that the geula is close.”
“After the prophets and the Bible spent so many words, so much time, describing how this exile would end, what is for sure is that the redemption will be spectacular, even greater than coming out of Egypt. We will, God-willing, merit seeing God’s hand in a fearsome manner even more than the plagues in Egypt and wonders greater than the splitting of the Red Sea.”