In a last-ditch effort to continue his twelve-year stretch as the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted a prediction made by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the mythic spiritual leader of the Chabad Hasidic movement, more than 30 years ago.
Four Israeli elections in two years
The current political saga began when elections were held in April 2019, again in September 2019, again in March 2020, and yet again in March 2021. After the last elections, Netanyahu was charged by President Rivlin with forming a government on April 5 but was unable to organize a coalition. On June 2, Naftali Bennett, head of the New Right party, informed Rivlin that he had signed agreements with Yair Lapid, head of the left-wing Yesh Atid party, and Mansour Abbas, head of the Joint Arab party.
Most Israelis woke up Sunday morning, fully expecting to have a Bennett inducted in the evening as the new prime minister. This would truly end an era as Netanyahu has served as the head of Israel since 2009. He also led the country from 1996-1999, making him Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister.
But “Bibi”, as his supporters affectionately call him, was undaunted. On Sunday morning he tweeted a prediction and photo invoking a prediction made by Rabbi Schneerson.
ג׳ תמוז ואני נזכר בדברים שאמר לי הרבי מליובאוויטש: ״אתה תצטרך להיאבק עם 119 אנשים, בוודאי לא תתרשם מזה כיוון שהקב״ה בצד הזה. ברכה והצלחה, נתינה של הקב״ה ברכה והצלחה״. pic.twitter.com/FvhbtRjHk9
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) June 13, 2021
In the tweet, Netanyahu notes that Sunday is not only the day that the new government enters office but it is also the day commemorating the passing of the Rebbe, as his followers called him. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson passed away on June 12, 1994, or the 3rd of Tammuz 5754. Chabad Hasidut commemorates this as a day for reflection, learning, prayer, recommitment, and positive action.
In the tweet, Netanyahu quoted the Rebbe as saying, “You will have to fight with 119 people, you will certainly not be impressed by it because God is on your side. Blessing and success, giving to God blessing and success.”
The Rebbe said this to Netanyahu in 1988 when he was returning to Israel from the US to join Likud. The young Netanyahu became close to the Rebbe while serving as the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations for four years. It was also at this time that Netanyahu became friends with Donald Trump.
Netanyahu met with the Rebbe again in November 1990, blessing the newly appointed deputy foreign minister before exhorting him to help bring the redemption, saying, “The Moshiach (Messiah) still hasn’t come. So you must do something to hasten his coming.” Netanyahu assured the Rebbe, “We are doing something.”
The Rebbe noted that despite the young Netanyahu’s efforts, the Messiah had still not arrived. But he encouraged Netanyahu, “There are still a few hours left in the day, so try still,” instructing the rising politician to do so with “joy and happiness”.
New government is not a done-deal
Netanyahu’s hopes may not be entirely baseless. According to news reports, Said al-Harumi, an MK for Ra’am, announced that as part of the Joint Arab List, he would not vote for a Bennett-led coalition. Two other Arab List MKs, Ahmed Tibi and Osama Saadi, are said to be waiting until the last minute to decide whether to vote against the coalition or whether to abstain. They told the media that if there were undesirable surprises, their opposing votes would prevent the government however if there were no such developments, they would abstain and allow the government to pass the Knesset vote. The coalition has the barest majority of 61 out of 120 Mks and will fail if even one MK breaks with their party.
If the coalition holds, this will mark the first time in Israel’s history that the Arab parties joined a coalition.
Rebbe: Netanyahu will “hand his keys over to the Moshiach”
Rabbi Schneerson died in 1994 but Rabbi David Nachshon, a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who witnessed the 1988 dialogue, related that the Rebbe was confident that some great good would come out of Netanyahu’s political trials.
“It really pains me, as a friend, as a brother, as a close friend, to see how people constantly spill Netanyahu’s blood,” Rabbi Schneerson confided to Nachshon. “But I have a surprise for you, he’s going to come out of it, and he’ll stand tall, on G-d’s side. He has a promise from the Rebbe, and he’s going to make it through this. We’ve seen it happen up to now, and that’s how it’s going to be now as well. He will make it through this, and he will continue, and I hope he’ll be able to hand his keys over to Moshiach (the Messiah), and we’ll have the complete and true Redemption.”
This sentiment was repeated by Rabbi Moshe Ben Tov, known for his ability to perceive the past and present of people by gazing at the mezuzah on their door. After attaching a mezuzah in the prime minister’s office, Rabbi Ben Tov made a remarkable statement to the prime minister.
“It is very important that your love of Israel continue until the Moshiach comes because you are going stay in office and are going to meet him,” Rabbi Ben Tov said to Netanyahu. “You are the one who will give him the keys to this office.”