If the current trend continues, the demographic tipping point marking a Jewish majority living in Israel estimated to be achieved in two years will also mark a spiritual watershed signaling the return of many Biblical commandments that officially end the final exile of the Jews.
MAJORITY OF JEWS IN ISRAEL
Ten days ago, Dr. Guy Bechor, a journalist and commentator on Middle East issues, published an article on his website, Gplanet, in which he cited statistics from the American Jewish Yearbook 2019. The report showed that 46.94% of the world’s 14.8 million Jews currently live in Israel. 39.3% of the world’s Jews live in the U.S.
In his article, Dr. Bechor emphasized that his data reflected Jews that were objectively identified as Jewish according to Jewish law, that is to say, a person whose mother was Jewish.
He noted that the Jewish population is growing in Israel and the opposite is true outside of Israel and that if this trend continues, more than half of the total number of Jews in the world will be living in Israel.
“Now, more than the Jewish People [in the exile] is supporting Israel, Israel is supporting the Jewish People,” Dr. Bechor noted. “In the end, they will be united anew.”
“There has never been in the history of mankind a nation that was forced to leave was scattered around the world, and most of its people returned to live in their land. In the beginning of the 20th Century, less than one percent [of the Jewish people lived in Israel] and today, we are on the verge of 50%. American Jewry has fallen to a new low and is a fading community while Israel is a surging one. We [Israelis] rely on the evangelicals there.”
“We are speaking of a true wonder.”
BRINGING IN THE THIRD INHERITANCE: CHANGING TORAH LAW
But the demographic milestone has serious implications. Rabbi Hillel Weiss, the spokesman for the Sanhedrin, explained to Breaking Israel News that this condition of a majority of Jews in Israel was anticipated in prophecy as the final return of the Jews to Israel. It is referred to as the third inheritance of the land, the first being by Joshua, the second after the Babylonian exile. The third inheritance refers to Jews’ prophesied return from the exile that followed the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. Jewish tradition holds that this return will usher in the building of the Third Temple, the return of the Davidic Dynasty, and the messianic era.
“Having a majority of Jews in Israel creates a different halachic (Torah law) reality, requiring Jews to perform certain mitzvoth (Torah commandments) they have not had to perform in 2,000 years,” Rabbi Weiss said.
GER TOSHAV: THE RESIDENT ALIEN SIGNALLING THE MESSIANIC ERA
One of the commandments mentioned in the Torah that will return is the status of Ger Toshav; literally translated as the resident alien, a non-Jew living in the Land of Israel who agrees to be bound by the Seven Noahide Commandments which he accepts before a bet din (rabbinical court of three). Most rabbinic authorities rule that the status of ger toshav exists only during the time that the Jubilee cycle is counted (see below).
Not to be confused with a convert to Judaism or a Noahide, a ger toshav is afforded a status and privileges that set him apart from the other nations. There is also a Biblical obligation to render him aid when in need.
Rabbi David Katz, the author of “Laws of Ger Toshav,” notes that the objective demographic reality is not the deciding factor in reinstating the status of ger toshav.
“These halachic (Torah law) realities are not dependent on demographics,” Rabbi Katz said. “The laws will only change when the leading rabbis decide to change them.”
“It is undeniable that we are objectively moving towards an absolute Messianic reality and at some point, we are going to be there. If we continue to live in Israel and we keep growing, it is inevitable.”
“The Temple could have been built in 1967. The objective reality was that there were IDF soldiers on the Temple Mount. The Third Temple could have been built but the rabbis decided not to. In 1967 we had everything we need to move forward for everything, the Third Temple, the Kingdom of David, and we still do.”
“As even more proofs come in, like data that shows that the majority of Jews live in Israel, the question is not whether or not we can reinstate the Biblical commandments and begin the Messianic era. The question is and has always been ‘how long can the rabbis put off deciding that this is so?’”
“There are different triggers that will signal the Messiah. Demographics are a sign in Torah law that a new era has begun and the exile is over. The rabbis have chosen to ignore the facts on the ground and can continue to wait for a different sign, a miraculous Messiah to appear. According to Jewish law, the law is determined by the reality. Unfortunately, this is not what is happening when it comes to ending the laws of the exile and beginning to observe the Jubilee and the ger toshav.”
When a majority of Jews live in Israel, Jews are required to count the 50-year Jubilee cycle, a mitzvah (Torah commandment) the Sanhedrin reinstituted almost two years ago.
“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a Jubilee unto you.” Leviticus 25:10
The Jubilee (Hayovel in Hebrew) is a Biblical commandment that is observed exclusively in the land of Israel. It is the fiftieth year that comes after a period seven sabbaticals. The year triggers a number of Biblical commandments concerning property rights and returning the land to its original inheritors, the Jews who were allocated the land by lottery. Debts were forgiven and slaves who sold themselves due to debt were set free.
The Talmudic view is that the Jubilee was not observed during the Second Temple period because the majority of Jews no longer lived in the land of Israel.
In 2016, the Sanhedrin began counting the first Jubilee cycle since the Jews returned to Israel. To begin counting the Jubilee, the Sanhedrin, as a bet din (rabbinic court), ruled that the Jews have returned to inherit the land as a nation, and not just as individuals. This requires at least 600,000 Jews, equal to the number of Israelites that returned to Israel from Egypt under Joshua.
“There are 5 mitzvot connected to the Jubilee: counting the Jubilee, letting free slaves, returning land, blowing the shofar, and forgiving debts,” Rabbi Weiss explained. “We have reinstituted one: the counting of the Jubilee.”
Rabbi Weiss added that blowing the shofar, performed on Yom Kippur, has not yet been reinstituted as part of the mitzvah of Jubilee, but if an individual feels so inclined, he can do so without a blessing.
It has been exactly one complete Jubilee cycle since the Six-Day War and the unification of Jerusalem. Had the Jubilee cycle not been interrupted 2,000 years ago by the Diaspora, the first year of the ongoing Jubilee cycle would have been in 1967, the year Jerusalem was unified, and again last year, when the Sanhedrin reinstituted the Jubilee. The next Jubilee will be declared in 2065, 48 years from now.
REVIVAL OF THE 12 TRIBES: DIVIDING THE LAND
Having a majority of Jews in Israel also allows for the division of land and the return of Jewish tribal identity as described by the Prophet Ezekiel.
And it shall come to pass that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you and to the strangers that sojourn among you Ezekiel 47:21-22
The Sanhedrin has made an official ruling on how this should be done and is prepared to do so now that the requirement of the majority of Jews live in Israel and the current situation requires it to be done according to Torah law.
“We are required to have twelve tribes,” Rabbi Weiss said. “The land will be divided according to the Biblical territories. Every Jew living in that territory will receive an inheritance and be considered as if he is from that tribe.”
SHMITA: THE SABBATICAL FOR THE LAND
The sabbatical year or shevi’it (שביעית, literally “seventh”) is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the Land of Israel. During shmita, the land is left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity is forbidden. All debts, except those of foreigners, were to be remitted. All debts, except those of foreigners, were to be remitted.
The biblical obligation holds only when a majority of the Jewish people is living in the biblical Land of Israel and hence the Shmita nowadays is a rabbinic obligation in nature allowing for some leniencies.
The Chief Rabbinate in Israel adopts the legal fiction of selling the land to a Gentile, thereby sidestepping the issue. Called heter mechirah this raises a difficulty as Jews are not supposed to sell land in Eretz Yisrael to non-Jews.