There have been 5,780 holidays of Rosh Hashanna since the creation of the world but if a prominent rabbi’s prediction proves true, in just a few short weeks, Rosh Hashanna number 5,781 will be quite special.
Rabbi Shalom Arush, an Israeli Breslov rabbi and founder of the Chut Shel Chessed Institutions, made an entirely uncharacteristic announcement: On September 18, Jews will be celebrating the last New Year without the Messiah.
“I am going to tell you with certainty that Hashem (God, literally ‘the name) will help us meet together after Rosh Hashanna,” Rabbi Arush said in an interview last week. “And remember well what I am telling you, that this Rosh Hashana will be the last one without Moshiach (Messiah). And it could very well be that on this Rosh Hashanna the Messiah will be revealed.”
The rabbi emphasized that he has never made such a statement before.
“Anyone who knows me knows that for over 40 years I am teaching, and have I never spoken about Messiah,” Rabbi Arush said. “But these are things that are clear and everyone sees them. I can’t explain but please, don’t miss out on this. Because this year, you will receive gifts like never before.”
The rabbi then discussed the tradition of Breslov Chasidim to travel to the burial site of Rabbi Nachman in Uman, Ukraine on Rosh Hashanna. Last year, more than 30,000 Jews arrived in the city of Uman for the holiday.
Due to pandemic travel restrictions, both the Israeli and Ukrainian governments have issued statements saying that they will forbid anyone from traveling between the two countries. Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that the mass gathering could create a large spike in COVID-19 infections, spreading it among pilgrims as well as the local population.
Rabbi Arush insisted that this year would be unprecedented.
“I know that in heaven they are going to ask me about every word I am saying now,” Rabbi Arush said. “I cannot just say things without meaning them. This year, people are going to get great gifts. I am telling everyone, don’t miss out on this. Make the effort. There is nothing to be afraid of. Our sages have told us that emissaries sent to do a mitzvah (Torah commandment) are never harmed: not on the way, not when they are performing the mitzvah, and not on their way home. And this is even for a small mitzvah.”
The rabbi again praised those who traveled to Uman for Rosh Hashanna.