Hiding within the most important prayer of Jewish liturgy, known as the Shemonah Esrei (Hebrew for “Eighteen blessings”), lies a once-concealed message that explicitly outlines the detailed process of the messianic era, said Israeli Rabbi Yaacov Haber during a recent lecture in the city of Ramat Beit Shemesh.
What’s more, current events, particularly since the founding of the State of Israel, have highlighted the undeniable truth that humanity finds itself wedged in the very era for which it has endlessly prayed.
The Shemonah Esrei is recited three times daily by Orthodox Jews around the world. During his lecture, Rabbi Haber demonstrated how different parts of the prayer relate to the messianic process.
The part of the service called “Sound the great shofar and gather the exiles” (Teka B’Shofar Gadol) is closely related to the coming of the Messiah. It is widely held that during the messianic era, the Jews who had been scattered throughout the world during the period of exile will be called home by the “sound of the shofar” and will return to live in the Jewish homeland of Israel.
With organizations such as Nefesh B’Nefesh and Shavei Israel working tirelessly to bring home the scattered people of Israel, “How can anyone deny this is happening in 2016?” Rabbi Haber wondered.
The section of the liturgy called “Restore our judges” (Hashiva Shofteinu), taught Rabbi Haber, represents the return of Jewish sovereignty. Of the many curses God put upon the Jews during the time of exile, falling under foreign leadership is one of the most difficult. When Jews live in lands not their own, by default they live under the rulership of a non-Jewish government, sometimes making it difficult to hold on to their Judaism.
Hashiva Shofteinu holds that the messianic process will reverse the curse and restore Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel. Certainly the fact that the State of Israel is run by a Jewish government with an openly Jewish prime minister is evident that the prophecy has indeed come to fruition, said Rabbi Haber.
The meaning of the prayer’s phrase “May all wickedness perish” (V’lamalshinim) is clear: As the world grows increasingly closer to welcoming the Messiah and the Third Temple, the evil in the world will eclipse ever so swiftly. While terror against the good still reigns, it is indisputable that those carrying out wicked activities are carrying out such murderous acts against each other.
Hamas’ declaration that it would deliver capital punishment in the form of public executions against criminals and ISIS’s recent brutal killings of its own fighters prove an overall decrease in the amount of wickedness in the world.
The next part of the prayer, “For the righteous ones” (Al Hatzadikim), touches on respected elders. Though exile brings with it a mindset where the tzadikim (righteous leaders) are often disrespected and not held to any degree of importance, the era of Messiah will rectify all that and will see a renewed appreciation and reverence for those whom God cherishes, Rabbi Haber explained.
With lists such as “America’s Most Influential Rabbis” or the devoted manner in which the students speak of their scholars, it’s incontestable that the period of Al Hatzadikim is taking place before our very eyes.
It is at this point, Rabbi Haber maintains, where humanity currently finds itself, waiting with bated breath for the next stage in the process.
The last paragraphs of the shemonah esrei address glorifying Jerusalem, the building of the Third Temple, restoring God’s splendor, offering prayers of gratitude for His miracles, and of course, an eventual era of peace in the Land.
Thus, concluded Rabbi Haber, the evident truth is that 2016 is so much more than a world of iPhones, celebrities and political scandal. Rather, the seeming chaos happening in every moment is truly the next step towards ushering in the long anticipated era of the Messiah.