On Sunday, a group of Jews praying on the Mount of Olives witnessed a large white cloud rise up out of the ground from the Temple Mount.
The phenomenon was recorded by Josh Wander, a Mount of Olives resident. A sunrise prayer session was organized on a plaza overlooking the Temple Mount for the holiday of Hoshana Rabbah, the last day of the week-long holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).
“Just after sunrise, I was recording a Facebook live video of the prayers when I panned my camera to the Temple Mount,” Wander told Breaking Israel News. “All of a sudden, I noticed a cloud or fog that erupted from the northeastern corner of the mount. It seemed to be coming from the area which was designated for women in the time of the Temple and the eastern gateway, which confused me, since I know that today, it is an orchard of olive trees and there is normally no activity there.”
The balcony of Wander’s home overlooks the Temple Mount so he is intimately familiar with the scenery. He is also a regular visitor to the site and said he has never seen anything like this before.
“It was billowing up so I thought some Arabs might be burning branches,” Wander said. “But it was much too early for Arabs to be on the Temple Mount and I didn’t see any Arabs there before, during, or after and certainly no fire. It was not just a thin mist and the video doesn’t really convey the presence of the mist.”
When he lived in the United States, Wander served as a pilot in the Air Force Auxiliary where he was trained to identify clouds. Meteorology and identifying clouds is an essential part of pilot training.
“There was very little wind and the smoke just seemed to crawl across the mount toward the Dome of the Rock,” Wander said. “It seemed to come out of a specific spot but after several minutes, it seemed to be rising up from multiple sources in the same general area.”
Wander reluctantly described the mist with a word he rarely uses.
“It looked supernatural,” he said. Not trusting his own eyes, Wander asked the people around him if they could also see the mist. Most were immersed in their holiday prayers and had not noticed but when it was pointed out, they confirmed the mist’s presence. The phenomenon lingered on the ground around the golden dome for more than 20 minutes.
“I am certainly not the kind of person who sees signs in nature,” Wander said. “But this was just too out of the ordinary to ignore. It looked eery and the location, the site of the Holy of Holies, is too significant.”
When Rabbi Yosef Berger heard of the sighting, he responded with equanimity.
“If you had told me that it happened any other day of the year, I would not have assigned it any significance,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News. “But to have this cloud appear on Hoshana Rabbah is highly significant and makes me happy, knowing the geula (redemption) is at hand.”
The rabbi cited Midrash Talpiot, a collection of homiletic and oral teachings compiled by Elijah ben Solomon Abraham ha-Kohen of Smyrna in the 17th century.
“It is written in the Midrash Talpiot that the War of Gog and Magog will begin three hours before the dawn on Hoshana Rabbah, the battle will last three hours, and then the Moshiach will begin to appear,” Rabbi Berger said. “Of course this war is accompanied by flames and smoke as was hinted at in Psalms.”
Hashem is in its midst, it will not be toppled; by daybreak…He puts a stop to wars throughout the earth, breaking the bow, snapping the spear, consigning wagons to the flames. Psalms 46:6-10
“It very well could be that a major battle was being waged on the Temple Mount on the spiritual plane and the only part of it that we could see was the smoke,” Rabbi Berger said. “It has been clear all year that a war is being waged for the Temple Mount.”
The rabbi noted that a record 28,000 Jews ascended to the Temple Mount in the past year and an additional 5,000 visited the site during the recent holidays.
“Smoke is only one aspect of the war, an illusion that we can see with our eyes while the real battle is being waged on planes we cannot see,” Berger said. “The real battle goes much deeper. We may be seeing other aspects of the battle in the near future.”
“During Sukkot we read about Gog and Magog in the Haftarah (a section of the Bible – usually from the Prophets – read in the synagogue that is thematically linked to the Torah reading). On Pesach, we read as the Haftarah Ezekiel’s vision of the Dry Bones,” Rabbi Berger said. “The war begins on the last day of Sukkot and the resurrection begins on Pesach.”
Rabbi Berger noted that Hoshana Rabbah is the day of judgment for the nations.
“We are seeing a realignment among the nations concerning Israel,” Berger said. “The United Nations is going through changes and may cease to exist. In England, America, Germany, and so many countries, their politics is being determined by how they relate to Israel and the Bible. This is a precursor to what will happen soon, what is already taking place on levels we cannot see.”