The mainstream media was quick to jump on news predicting the pre-Messiah battle of Gog and Magog, with many outlets misstating facts and misrepresenting the important theological concepts. But Rabbi Pinchas Winston, the victim of this “fake news,” saw the hand of God, using their errors to spread a true message.
On November 12, Breaking Israel News (BIN) published an article titled, “IDF: A Special Army Preparing for Gog and Magog.” The article quoted former Chief Rabbi of the IDF Rabbi Rafi Peretz, spokesman for the nascent Sanhedrin Rabbi Hillel Weiss, and the prominent author and end-of-days expert Rabbi Winston.
The article was picked up by dozens of other media, many of them focusing on Rabbi Winston’s statements that the ultimate end-of-days conflict described in prophecy as the War of Gog and Magog might begin with the type of conflict being seen on Israel’s southern border at present. He put this into the context of history as well as citing classical Jewish sources. As an author and a rabbi, Rabbi Winston was precise in his language and BIN presented his words in as accurate a manner as possible.
Though most media reposting the story did so in a faithful manner, other media that cited the BIN article were not so careful. The British tabloid Daily Mail online version described “Rabbi Wilson” [sic] as a “former Chief Rabbi of the IDF.” Rabbi Winston has never served as a rabbi in the Israeli army. After being contacted several times, the editors at the Daily Mail still have not corrected the error. Another British tabloid, The Daily Star, described Rabbi Winston as “a prolific doomsayer,” a moniker that was picked up by several other sites that reposted the story. Some sites misrepresented Winston as claiming the current conflict with Hamas is the beginning of the War of Gog and Magog, a claim he was very careful not to make, maintaining that it might be.
In his weekly online Torah lesson, Rabbi Winston addressed the episode, describing the interview with this reporter.
“The basic question was, ‘Can we know what events will lead to the War of Gog and Magog?’” Winston wrote. “The basic answer was, ‘No.’ I explained to him that the War of Gog and Magog is a variable, meaning that its final form can change based upon where the Jewish people are holding at the time.”
Rabbi Winston speaks extensively about the end-of-days, a complicated process discussed in esoteric sources, in a manner not as cut-and-dried or as simple as the one described in the tabloids. There are many stages, each with its own dynamics and meanings.
“I am well aware of the dangers of making predictions having to do with the End-of-Days,” Winston wrote. “I know the danger of telling people something SPECIFIC will happen by a certain date, and it doesn’t. I’ve learned the curse of the Talmud for people who predict Moshiach’s arrival because of the despair this can cause when it does not come to fruition. I couldn’t predict such a date even if I wanted to.”
“My message is controversial, so I am VERY careful how I say it. There are many things that have been discussed by me which I have not allowed to make it to print. I know how people react to such information. I was reminded of this again just last week.”
“But alas, we’re living in an age of sensationalist journalism and what has come to be called ‘false news.’ So, the Alex Jones Report picked it up, and they added a great sense of urgency to the message, quoting me as saying that the war in Gaza WILL lead to the biblical War of Gog and Magog.”
“The Drudge Report, also a right-wing media source, picked it up from the Alex Jones Report, and just like that, a couple million more people potentially were exposed to the War of Gog and Magog beginning in Gaza last week. One person, probably seeing one of these two ‘news sources,’ wrote me personally, angry that I spoke about such a conflict, even calling it disgraceful.”
In a truly inspiring manner, Rabbi Winston managed to find what he called “Divine Providence” in the situation.
“It was just weird, and somewhat amusing…how THIS particular message THIS time got so much attention,” Winston wrote. “The more I thought about it, the more I considered the chain of events, the more it felt as if God had been the One to make a point of making this local message more international.”
“But the message is the message, and when it is not adulterated by sloppy reporting, it is one that I stand by 100 percent,’ he concluded. “And, if God decided to take it to the masses (He obviously doesn’t need my copyright permission), in whatever form it gets there, then you must wonder, what’s He trying to tell us?”