On Saturday night, a broadcast radio station from Jerusalem interrupted its regular programming for a special newsflash: the Messiah had arrived.
The announcement took place from the Western Wall of Jerusalem, where thousands were gathered to mark the ending of the somber day of Tisha B’Av, a holiday of mourning which commemorates the destruction of both Jewish Temples.
The bad news: unfortunately, the recording was a clever studio creation, and not an actual news report.
However, the breathless reporting, accompanied by the sounds of the crowd and realistic dipping up and down of sound quality, made for a report so lifelike that some people were really convinced, Radio Kol Chai, the station behind the broadcast, later told Breaking Israel News.
At the scene of the Western Wall on Saturday night, Tzvi Tessler, a Radio Kol Chai correspondent, reported on the Hebrew station that the arrival of the Messiah “seems like it is about to happen at any moment.” The roar of the crowd was audible in the background.
“Everyone here is excited for the arrival of the Messiah at the gates of Jerusalem,” said Tessler.
“It is still unclear whether he will be riding on a donkey or descend on a cloud from heaven,” the on-site report continued, addressing an ancient debate on the method of the Messiah’s arrival. “The emotion is at a peak and we are especially high.
“All types of representatives from many different nations are waiting here as an honor guard, and they are here, bringing about the prophetic vision.”
“I don’t know if you can still hear me, I can barely hear myself, but it is happening right now,” Tessler continued excitedly. “The procession is approaching and the singing of the crowd is deafening. Here it is, exactly 1,946 years after the destruction of the Second Temple, the end of the bitter exile, and the Messiah is arriving in Jerusalem.”
The reporter even recited part of a blessing invoked upon special occasions, called the shechiyanu, which is listed by the rabbis as one that should be recited upon witnessing the arrival of the Messiah: “Blessed art thou, Eternal our God, who has kept us alive and sustained us to arrive at this moment.”
A voice was then heard crying out over a loudspeaker to the crowd, reciting the full blessing. The crowd answered with a deafening, “Amen!”
The loudspeaker again crackled, blasting out the recitation, “Blessed are you, God, King of the world, Master of secrets,” another of the blessings said upon seeing the Messiah. The crowd answered again with a resounding, “Amen.”
“There are no words to describe this,” Tessler reported. “What can you say? We’ve waited for this moment for so long!”
Kol Chai’s radio drama was based on a 1938 American radio report which caused a real-life reaction with a terrifying report of an alien invasion from outer space. The program, based on Orson Welles’ science-fiction novel, War of the Worlds, was crafted to be as authentic as possible and succeeded in fooling thousands of listeners, creating a nationwide panic.
The CEO of Kol Chai, Avi Rozen, told Breaking Israel News that their radio drama had also had an effect.
“A lot of people heard the broadcast, and most of them understood that is was a scripted drama,” said Rozen. “But despite our efforts to make it clear that this was a dramatization, some people, called the station and asked if they should run to the Old City of Jerusalem to greet the Messiah.”
Rozen noted that the station’s intention was spiritual and not satirical, with an aim of giving people a taste of what the real event might be like and to strengthen belief in the Messiah.
“For the most part, the program exceeded our expectations in this respect,” Rozen said. “The majority of the responses were incredibly positive, many saying how it reinforces their belief that the Messiah can really arrive at any moment.”
Radio Kol Chai brought to life a prophecy in Zechariah which predicts that in the Messianic era, the ninth day of Av will be transformed from the saddest day of the year into one of joy and celebration.
Thus saith Hashem of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Yehudah joy and gladness and cheerful seasons; therefore love ye truth and peace. Zechariah 8:19
For those who missed the announcement, not to worry. There will probably be another broadcast someday – hopefully very soon.