Rabbi Efraim Palvanov, a teacher and author, writes the blog Mayim Achronim (final waters) named for the little-known Jewish ritual of washing the fingers after a meal. Like the eponymous mitzvah, the blog covers Jewish subjects that are misunderstood or not normally discussed.
In a recent video, Rabbi Palvanov discussed the tractate of Sanhedrin 98a in the Talmud which describes details related to the end-of-days.
“I’ve read this many times before, but now it just blew me away because it seems to be describing exactly what’s happening in Israel right now, with this whole [judicial reform] crisis that started with the whole Knesset versus Supreme Court thing,” the rabbi began, noting that the anti-reform camp claims that the government is trying to take away some of the powers of the Supreme Court. This has led to a long period of mass protests against the reforms proposed by the Netanyahu government.
“At the same time, you have this new rapprochement in the Muslim world in which Iran and Saudi Arabia, who were enemies for many years, are now reestablishing diplomatic relations. And even [Syrian President} Assad is now welcomed back to the Arab community. And today in the news, it was reported that a Hamas delegation was visiting Saudi Arabia. So it’s like the Muslim world is kind of coming together all around Israel.”
Rabbi Palvanov referred to Ezekiel chapter 36 which was referred to by Rabbi Abba in the Talmud:
“But you, O mountains of Yisrael, shall yield your produce and bear your fruit for My people Yisrael, for their return is near.” Ezekiel 36:8
“When produce will grow in abundance in Eretz Yisrael, it is an indication that the Messiah will be coming soon,” Rabbi Abba said.
“Of course, we have seen this fulfilled in our days,” Rabbi Palvanov said. “Israel is self-sufficient and we are also seeing that Israel’s produce is being exported. This prophecy of Ezekiel has been fulfilled.”
The Talmud (Sanhedrin 98a) goes on, basing its next prophecy on a verse in Zechariah.
“For before that time, the earnings of men were nil, and profits from beasts were nothing. It was not safe to go about one’s business on account of enemies; and I set all men against one another.” Zechariah 8:10
The Talmud interprets this verse:
“Rabbi Eliezer says: You have no greater manifestation of the end of days than this following phenomenon as well, as it is stated: ‘For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; nor was there peace from the oppressor to him who exits and to him who enters.’”
“The end-of-days will be turbulent and it will be very difficult to make a living,” Rabbi Palvanov explained. “Hyperinflation, high-interest rates.”
“The Talmud uses the language of ‘he who enters and he who exits’,” he noted. “We look at Israel and wonder if we should move there. It has always been difficult to earn a living in Israel but now it is difficult here as well. It’s difficult anywhere you are.”
The Talmud continues, based on a verse in Ezekiel:
“Then I will let their waters settle, And make their rivers flow like oil —declares Hashem.” Ezekiel 32:14
The Talmud interprets it thus:
“Rabbi Ḥanina says: The son of David will not come until a fish will be sought for an ill person and will not be found, as it is stated with regard to the downfall of Egypt: ‘Then I will make their waters clear and cause their rivers to run like oil’ (Ezekiel 32:14), meaning that the current in the rivers will come to a virtual standstill.”
“This means that the water will be thick and dirty and polluted,” Rabbi Palvanov explained. “This has also come to be and in addition, the oceans and rivers have been depleted from over-fishing.”
The Talmud went on, citing two verses from Isaiah:
“For before the harvest, yet after the budding, When the blossom has hardened into berries, He will trim away the twigs with pruning hooks, And lop off the trailing branches.” Isaiah 18:5
“In that time, Tribute shall be brought to the lord of Hosts [From] a people far and remote, From a people thrust forth and away— A nation of gibber and chatter, Whose land is cut off by streams— At the place where the name of the lord of Hosts abides, At Mount Tzion.” Isaiah 18:7
The Talmud explains these verses in this manner:
“Rabbi Ḥama bar Ḥanina says: The son of David will not come until the contemptuous [hazalla] kingdom of Rome will cease from the Jewish people.”
“The Messiah will come when the bad parts of the government are pruned away,” Rabbi Palvanov explained. “Historically, this was always interpreted as whatever foreign government was ruling over Israel. But it doesn’t say that. It simply says ‘the corrupt government’.”
He noted that any government is considered a kingdom.
The Talmud then quotes the Prophet Zephaniah:
“In that day, You will no longer be shamed for all the deeds By which you have defied Me. For then I will remove The proud and exultant within you, And you will be haughty no more On My sacred mount.” Zephaniah 3:11
The Talmud continues:
“Ze’eiri says that Rabbi Ḥanina says: The son of David will not come until the arrogant will cease to exist from among the Jewish people,”
“That can probably refer to a lot of people, perhaps even our entire generation,” Rabbi Palvanov said. “There are so many people lacking spiritually and are proud of their immoral behavior.”
He then applied that verse to the current political situation in Israel.
“The protests are against the Netanyahu coalition which includes parties that are anti ‘pride’, anti-LGBTQ because they want to ban ‘pride’ parades, particularly in Jerusalem,,” Rabbi Palvanov said.
The Talmud continued, hinting that judicial reform was a precursor to the Messiah.
The Talmud then cites Isaiah:
“I will turn My hand against you, And smelt out your dross as with lye, And remove all your slag: I will restore your magistrates as of old, And your counselors as of yore. After that you shall be called City of Righteousness, Faithful City.” Isaiah 1:25-26
The Talmud interprets it in this manner:
“Rabbi Simlai says in the name of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon: The son of David will not come until all the judges and officers will cease to exist from among the Jewish people, and there will be no more autonomous government in Eretz Yisrael.”
“In Israel, both sides are corrupt,” Rabbi Palvanov said. “The courts do need reform and are corrupt but on the pro-reform side, a lot of the government is corrupt.”
The Talmud continues.
“Ulla says: Jerusalem is redeemed only by means of righteousness, as it is stated: ‘Zion shall be redeemed with justice and those who return to it with righteousness’ (Isaiah 1:27). Rav Pappa says: If the arrogant will cease to exist, the Persian sorcerers will cease to exist as well. If the deceitful judges cease to exist, the royal officers [gazirpatei] and taskmasters will cease to exist.”
“Who are the Persian officers?” Rabbi Palvanov asked rhetorically. “The Iranian regime.”
“The Talmud is saying that if we remove the proud sinners, the Iranian regime will go away,” Rabbi Palvanov concluded. “Those ayatollahs and Islamist wizards will disappear.”
“The Talmud also says that if you get rid of the corrupt judges, you will also get rid of the gazirpatei,” Rabbi Pavlanov said, referring to Rashi who defined gazirpatei as the idol-worshiping and heretical judges and government officials in Israel.”