A Torah Perspective on Iran and Achris Hayomim

38

yerushalayimBy Rav Yitzchok Fingerer

Iran’s supreme religious leader announced that today, February 11, it will “deliver a punch that will leave the world stunned”. Is this mere rhetoric? Is Iran building nuclear arsenals to nuke Eretz Yisrael and the West? Is there any hint as to when Moshiach will come? Are we running out of time? What do the Torah and Chazal say? Is there anything we can do?

According to Chazal (Sanhedrin 97), Moshiach will arrive before the seventh millennium (the year 6000). According to many Rishonim this means that the full-range of spectacular prophecies and super-natural events associated with Achris Hayomim and Yemos Moshiach (which will encompass several Doros, generations-see Sanhedrin 99 and Ben Ish Chai), must occur within the next 230 years.

The Navi (Michah 7:15) says that our future redemption will be like the Geulah from Egypt. According to Yalkut Shimoni (2:806) this is precisely what Rabbi Dosa (and according to Peskita Rabbasi, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Elazar) refers to when he says that the period of Moshiach will last 400 years. The four hundred years correspond to the period that Avrohom was told that we would be in the Egyptian exile. According to Maharsha, those years of persecution will have the potential to be transformed into years of joy.

Interestingly, 400 years prior to the year 6000 “deadline” is the year 5600, which corresponds to the secular calendar year of 1839-1840. What was special about this time period? The Zohar (Vayera, 1:117a) states: “In the six hundredth year of the sixth millennium (the Hebrew year 5600), a great light will shine forth from the heavens, causing a transformation in the world.” Indeed, that year heralded a drastic change in the world. This era was the start of the Industrial Revolution. From that time onwards, extraordinary advances were made in science and technology. We will soon see that coinciding with this same time period a national power began brewing in the Middle East that would serve as a harbinger for Yemos Moshiach.

Imagine a person living in the thirteenth century. If this fellow could propel himself five hundred years into the future-into the eighteenth century-he would look around and, aside for changes in fashion, find himself in his familiar world. Now, if a fellow living in 1839 propelled himself a mere one hundred years into the future, the world would be unrecognizable to him: steam engines, trains, automobiles, telephones, electricity – wonder after wonder would confound him. The world during that century became totally transformed. And the rate of change has only accelerated since then. What happened?

The Industrial Revolution and subsequent scientific development seem to be a prelude to the Nevua concerning the epoch of Moshiach. Genetic engineering is ushering in an existence where food will be available in an infinitesimal amount of time. Biotechnology, sequencing the human genome, adult stem cells, and cloning has fostered the ability to halt disease and, potentially, prepare indigenous replacement organs that will guarantee longevity. Researchers are even grappling with thwarting apoptosis (programmed cell death), thus conquering the natural aging process. The Navi indicates that in Yemos HaMoshiach women will have the ability to bear sextuplets; with fertility advances today, multiple births are a common occurrence. Transportation and technology are also making great strides in the realization of prophecies that travel to Israel will be speedy and efficient. This entire theory concurs with Rambam’s view that the age of Moshiach will be dependent on the natural progression of knowledge and discovery.

Wahabism and Moshiach

Particularly fascinating is that another seminal event transpired during this same period. It was in 1840 that the Saudis retook Riyadh and that Wahabism (an ultra-fanatical, terror-driven branch of Islam) came firmly seated at the centre of power. This is stunning in light of the Torah’s Nevua concerning the role of Yishmael in Acharis Hayomim.

First some background:

In the year 2047, Hashem promised Avraham that Yishmael would become a dominant world power. The fulfillment of this prophecy commenced in the secular calendar year 622 (the year 4383), with the founding of Islam-2,336 years after the promise! In their jihad wars, Islam almost became the dominant power in the world, as they attempted to conquer Western Europe, marching to Vienna (in 1683).  In fulfillment of the prophecy mentioned to Avraham, the Arabs were awarded a protracted dominion of Eretz Yisrael lasting from Omar’s rule in 638 until the end of the Ottoman rule in 1916 (with a relatively brief interruption by the Crusaders from 1099 to 1291). However, despite this, over the last several centuries, the Muslims have been in a state of dormancy, barely wielding power.

Our Mesorah (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer chapters. 28, 32, 36:32; Eitz HaDaat Tov, ch. 124; Daniel 7:4, 25 and Malbim there; Zohar III 32a; Baal HaTurim, Genesis 25:18) teaches us that in Achris Hayomim a sect of fanatical Ishmaelites will arise and act subhuman, executing horrendous and unimaginable attacks upon people around the world. They will first team up with Christian nations (which the Torah refers to as “Edom”) against the Jewish people [recently documented in Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005], and later go out to war against the Christians (Ibn Ezra, Genesis 27:40; Ezekiel 38:3, Malbim and Abarbanel ibid).  Yishmael will be all-pervasive, enmeshed in every part of their enemies’ lands. They will wield tremendous power and be ruled by super-wealthy princes. Eventually the various wars will develop into a world war centered on Yerushalayim.

As mentioned earlier, over the last several centuries, the Muslims have been in a state of dormancy, barely wielding power. Beginning in 1840, the paradigm shifted. We are all familiar with the barbarism and heinous violence perpetrated by Wahabism and its followers. In fulfillment of the prophecy of the “resurrection” of Islam, it is interesting to note that according to National Geographic, Islam is now the fastest growing religion on earth. One in every four human beings alive today is Muslim.

Iran: the definite prelude

The enigma that must be solved is the following: The Medrash (Vayikra Rabah 13:5), based on  Sefer Doniel (7:2-28), which discusses Doniel’s futuristic dream of four archetypical animals, explains that the animals allude to the nations of Bavel (Babylon), Paras (Persia), Yavan (Greece), and Romi (Rome)- the four powerful nations that will rule the world and subjugate the Jews. Many meforshim find it exceedingly puzzling that the Chachamim do not include Yishmael as the fifth and final nation to persecute Klal Yisrael. After all, Chazal stress that there will be no nation as brazen and callous in Achris Hayomim as Yishmael.

Some Rishonim posit the following answer: It was the Romans who exiled the Jews. The nation of Yishmael did not add any new element of exile. Ergo, Yishmael does not warrant special classification (Ramban). Tosafos Rid, Maharal, and others, say differently. They explain that there is no need for a fifth classification because Yishmael is included in the second listing, the kingdom of Persia. Ultimately ancient Persia will return to power and Yishmael will be incorporated by modern day Persia (Iran). According to this reasoning, the two nations are synonymous and it is superfluous to mention a fifth nation. This is patently clear in our times. As the Iran fund proxies (Hamas, Hezbollah, etc…) against Eretz Yisrael and as we confront Iran’s threat of a nuclear Holocaust, we bear witness to prophesies thousands of years old unfolding before our eyes.

As was cited in a previous article published by this author on The Yeshiva World (please refer to Torah’s View on Iran, Eretz Yisroel, America & Moshiach; October 19, 2009) the Talmud (Avodah Zara 2b) and meforshim say that Iran’s threat is a prerequisite for Moshiach. This notion suggests quite strongly that we are the generation of Moshiach.

The Yalkut Shimoni (Yeshaya, 499) says that as a result of the Iranian threat we will be compelled to turn to Hashem in desperation and prayer. Chazal tell us that in the zechus of our teshuvah we will be saved.

How can we beat Iran?

It took 2,336 years for Hashem’s beracha to Yishmael to be fulfilled. We, Bnei Yisrael, are waiting over 3700 years for our beracha to be fulfilled. It seems that the fulfillment of our beracha has never been more palpable. Time is short. We can bring Moshiach and arrest the threat of Iran. How?

The Arizal (Etz Hadaas Tov on Tehillim 124) says that Yishmael’s major merit in Achris Hayomim is zechus avos-that he is the son of Avraham. The challenge for us is to counteract this mitigating zechus. How can we do this?

Only one individual in the entire Torah is described by Hashem in the most intimate and endearing terms, as “my beloved.” In Yeshaya (41:8), Hashem calls Avraham Avinu, “Avraham Ohavi-Avraham my beloved”. Why does Avraham deserve this unique appellation? Chazal explain that Avraham made every sacrifice to cause Hashem to be beloved to others, thus he merited to be called the beloved of Hashem. Perhaps this is something that we can aspire to in our resolve to vanquish the threat from Iran. Let us make Hashem beloved to others.

I have three suggestions on how to accomplish this:

1. Project holiness. We project holiness by treating other human beings as holy, as Tzelem Elokim. Greet people with happiness and respect. When we ignore another person and don’t even nod a hello, we cause Hashem to be less beloved. Rav Yisrael Salanter said “Al yehudi asur ledaber, el Yehudi mitzvah ledaber-one is forbidden to speak ABOUT a Jew, but TO a Jew it’s a mitzvah to speak.

2. Think about an act of chesed that you can do. Persia is Paras in Lashon Hakodesh, meaning reward. Their motivation is reward. Ours should be nobler. Don’t do chesed looking for honor and homage; rather perform chesed lSheim Shamayim, in order to make Hashem more beloved in the world.

3. Learn Torah, al menas lilmod vlaasos, in order to teach it and implement what you’ve learned. There’s no greater method to make Hashem more beloved than by learning Torah, teaching what you’ve learned to others, and integrating what you’ve learned into your psyche.

We hope and pray to Hashem that in the zechus of our efforts, Iran and all our enemies will dissipate and we will be zocheh to Moshiach, speedily in our days.

Some of this material is based on the Hashkafah book, Search Judaism: Judaism’s Answers to a Changing World by Rav Yitzchok Fingerer.

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38 COMMENTS

  1. The Rambam writes at the end of hilchos melachim that there is no mesorah regarding how the events preceding Mashiach will unfold. Over the past 20 years we have all heard darshanim proclaim shrilly that the fall of communism, Persian Gulf War I, 9/11, the Intifada are signs that Mashiach is imminent. It is well known that when R’ Yaakov Kamenetzky was in Toronto, a nonreligous Jew came to him asking for help to kasher his kitchen, as he heard that Mashiach is coming. R’ Yaakov told him not to bother. While I cannot disagree with the recommendations for improving our avodas Hashem cannot disagree at the end of the article, we should do these things just because it is the ratzon Hashem, not because a selective reading of Midrashim leads us to think that Mashiach is almost here.

  2. One more thing, in 1839, Abe Lincoln moved into a new cabin and went into politics.

    But, most Talmidei Chachomim believe, that there is a correct way we can save our selves from the onslought that HKB”H brings onto us from other Nations.

    We must do real Tshuvah, and start loving and caring for the well being, and happiness, of every person, Yid or Non-Yid.

    HKB”H certainly does not derive any Nachas from prejudice, no matter whom it’s directed at. Especially when it’s directed at Oilulim V’Yonkim shel Umos Ho’Olom.

    It must be sincere, not make a show for the on-lookers and call it Kiddush Hashem.

  3. It’s not how many “years” left to Moshiach but how many “days” left to Moshiach?

    As Jews, we start the days/Shabbat/Holidays in the evenings, which is several hours before midnight.

    If Moshiach should be arriving before the seventh millennium (the Shabbat of all the years), we should expect him in the eve of the year 6000, several years before the 7th millennium, which means any day now.

    Let us hope we will all merit this great day bimherah veyameinu amen!

  4. To translate the words of the Husiatiner Rebbe O”bm on this topic: “Those that know don’t tell & those that tell don’t know!”

  5. It is so refreshing to read such an article. I’ve been thinking that here we are facing a nuclear Holocaust, much worse than World War II and not one Gadol has told us what to do! This article spells out the Torah perspective beautifully.

  6. To # 2, Are you making Choizek of all the mekoros that the article mentioned? It says explicitly that the last Galus will be Yishmael and the author quoted in his previous article from Rav Yonason Eibushetz, Iran is the signpost. It’s also an explicit Gemarah, as well. Who are you to say such things against our mesorah?

  7. This is a beautiful Devar Torah, that should be circulated to every Jew. If Moshiac must come before 6000 and there will be several generations during the Moshiach then we are clearly running out of time, depending on how many generations are supposed to be included in the 230 years. Kol Hakovod to Rav Fingerer for giving us chizuk and being mechanech us with a Torah perspective on Inyanei Dyoma.

  8. To #’s 1 and 2

    Did you know that when Rav Elyashiv spoke about Iran recently he shuddered and trembled stating that it is the world and the Jews greatest danger?

    Also I fail to comprehend your point. The thesis of this article is that the zeman or era of Moshiach (as the Zohar says) began in approximately 1840, so all the events that #1 listed are part of this zeman that has the potential for Moshiach to come.

  9. This is an informative article concerning
    a relevant subject as alluded to in sacred Jewish literature.

    The author, however, places too much emphasis on the theme: “Bring Moshiach.”

    This is a slogan of dubious value.

    In my opinion, it is an idea which
    should not be presented as dogma.

    Upon sober scrutiny, “Avodas HaShem”
    should not revolve around such mysticism.

    Good manners and Mitzvah performance
    are mandated by HaShem. Therefore,
    we have to perform our religious duties
    irrespective of messianic theology.

    Belief in a personal messiah is
    not a dogmatic imperative. Yes,
    Judaism posits a future redemption of
    mankind. But this coveted millenium will
    be directed and ushered in by Almighty
    God without the need for a human messiah.

    The foregoing is substantiated in
    Torah literature:

    1)Midrash Tanchuma (Aharei Mos 12)
    2) Midrash Tehillim 107:3
    3) BT Sanhedrin 99a

    In the Talmud we read Rabbi Hillel’s
    firm conviction that there will be no
    future messiah. (This Rabbi Hillel is not
    to be confused with Hillel The Elder.)
    Rabbi Hillel’s colleagues disagreed but
    they neither condemned him as a heretic nor
    had him excommunicated.
    Of course, Rambam lists belief
    in Moshiakh in his thirteen-point credo
    on Judaism. This is, however, not
    universally accepted. The famous Jewish
    theologian, Rabbi Yosef Albo
    (Sefer Ha’Ikkarim) disagrees with Rambam
    on this issue.

    The author’s references to the
    “Yishmah-aylim” warrant serious consideration as part of a prophecy that is
    unfolding. (The question of whether this is
    actually “Askhalta Deh Geulah” is beyond the scope of this essay.)

    Current events combined with the
    re-emergence of Jewish sovereignty in Israel
    for the first time in 2,000 years cannot be
    dismissed as inconsequential pursuant to
    serious study of the relevant classical
    sources.

    It is definitely a time for “Teshuvah”.

  10. It’s amazing how Rav Fingerer takes so many different subjects (last week it was the Hashkafah issue with the importance of answering questions)and explains things so beautifully. I’ve never seen such well-written combination of history, science, and authentic Torah!

  11. Has anyone not seen today’s headlines. It’s prominently featured on Matzav.

    Iran announced that they are nuclear today!

    They’re intentions are no secret. They are intent on destroying much of the world. We’ve never, in history, confronted such potential for destruction. You can’t possibly compare this to any other epoch event in history.

  12. Every shul should have a vaad that works on implementing these 3 simple, yet powerful suggestions.

    Let’s begin with the first suggestion: Project Holiness

    We doing so we will create achdus -and maybe just as important- clarify to the broader community what we stand for and how we view kedushah, i.e. that when we become closer with H”KBH’s children we become -automatically- closer to Him. What a kiddush Hashem that would make! Let’s please work together to “inspire” the multitudes and merit all good things.

  13. It is also imperative to learn
    Rambam’s Mishnah Torah Hilchos
    Melachim 12:2 which essentially
    refutes Rabbi Fingerer’s main theme
    about a countdown to moshiach’s arrival.

    According to Rambam it is improper
    to be involved in messianic ideations.
    Below is a translation of the relevant
    segment:

    “One should not try to figure out
    the time of the messianic advent.”

    Elsewhere, Rambam admonishes us
    not to consider such subjects essential
    components of our religion.

    It is a bad idea to be obsessed
    with Moshiach since, in Rambam’s
    ruling, this sort of activity leads
    neither to Yiras HaShem nor Ahavas
    HaShem.

  14. #15 I believe the main theme from Rabbi Fingerer’s excellent article is “Chazal explain that Avraham made every sacrifice to cause Hashem to be beloved to others, thus he merited to be called the beloved of Hashem. Perhaps this is something that we can aspire to in our resolve to vanquish the threat from Iran. Let us make Hashem beloved to others.” It’s clear that Rav Fingerer’s article is a call to action. A break in inertia, or any change for that matter is always the result of some impetus, or cause. Clearly, Iran is a serious threat…

    In case you overlooked Rabbi Fingerer’s 3 suggestions:

    1. Project holiness. We project holiness by treating other human beings as holy, as Tzelem Elokim. Greet people with happiness and respect. When we ignore another person and don’t even nod a hello, we cause Hashem to be less beloved. Rav Yisrael Salanter said “Al yehudi asur ledaber, el Yehudi mitzvah ledaber-one is forbidden to speak ABOUT a Jew, but TO a Jew it’s a mitzvah to speak.

    2. Think about an act of chesed that you can do. Persia is Paras in Lashon Hakodesh, meaning reward. Their motivation is reward. Ours should be nobler. Don’t do chesed looking for honor and homage; rather perform chesed lSheim Shamayim, in order to make Hashem more beloved in the world.

    3. Learn Torah, al menas lilmod vlaasos, in order to teach it and implement what you’ve learned. There’s no greater method to make Hashem more beloved than by learning Torah, teaching what you’ve learned to others, and integrating what you’ve learned into your psyche.

  15. To # 5 and to Dr. Berger (#15): You’ve distorted the entire treatise.

    Since when is R. Fingerer making predictions or issuing calculations? He is merely citing empirical chazal as “evidence” that these are very auspicious and riveting times. A time time to wake up and do teshuvah.

    I think that you, Dr. Berger, are harping on the wrong idea here. The Iranian threat is cataclysmic and unprecedented and the rav is simply edifying us as to what this may mean in a broader context.

    That’s what I derived…

  16. All #2 is saying is, that we should not only greet people with respect (as putting up a good show), but we we should truly and sincerely love and care for every Human Being (Tzelem Elokim), Yid and Non-Yid.

    HKB”H does not get impressed, with fake acts.

  17. lets be patient a little bit more noshiach will be here i dont want to put a curse onyou but you know what the gmoro says about those wh oare mechashve es haketz if yopu are looking for publicity you re picking on a very dangerous topic

  18. #21 no novi: You are the fulfillment of the Gemarah that says that before Moshiach, Chutzpah Yasgeh… By the way you write you yourself are committing a self-fulfulling prophecy…

    I think you should read # 18.

    Also, do you, C”V, think that Rav Elchanan Wasserman was guilty of what you say? Or was he looking for publicity?

    Read ehat the author said, “We, Bnei Yisrael, are waiting over 3700 years for our beracha to be fulfilled. It seems that the fulfillment of our beracha has never been more palpable. Time is short.” He’s not being Mechasheiv anything or giving his own opinion. He’s just presenting facts.

    There’s much more I read about in the last chapter of his book. But I wouldn’t suggest you read it because you may just do Teshuvah…

  19. #21 you’re brazeness is why the Geulah is pushed off. Think about it: Are your words adding kedusha, or pushing away the Geulah?

    I pity your family, wife, cild, mother, father,

  20. I think that the people posting confrontational remarks just read the title and introductory sentences and not the article. I read the entire essay and found it to be quite excellent.

    Despite the Gemara that no novi, # 21, disrespectfully mentioned, there are so many Rishonim and Achronim who gave hints concerning the Moshiach in order to be mechazek the Hamon Am. This article gives no such hints.(just the initial title makes it sounds like it).

    The Rashbah says that when the Gemarah says, Shnei Alofim Moshiach (to explain: the Gemarah says that the 6,000 years, that are mentioned in the beginning of the essay, will be 2000 years of emptiness, 2000 years of Torah, and 2000 years of Moshiach)it means that any time during the 2,000 years is ripe for Moshiach. It’s just a matter of the people of the time meriting it. This means that there is nothing wrong with suggesting that this is a time that is apropos for Moshiach and it is up to us to harness the time for teshuvah and doing good things.

  21. i humbly beg you to ask/demand that Hashem send Moshiach NOW. the trick is to want Moshiach when things are good. not c’v the opposite. many of you so eloquently talk away the concept of Moshiach. ENOUGH. I am cerain that if c’v the above posters had issues in their life that were upsetting enough, they too would beg for Moshiach NOW. shalom al yisroel.

  22. FYI: If you do some searching -as I often do- you will find that the original title for Rabbi Fingerer’s article was, “A Torah Perspective on Iran’s Imminent Threat”. Apparently, it was changed.

    It never pays to jump to conclusions…

  23. Chezkel:

    You are absolutely right about, ‘no novi’. However you fail to realize that the whole purpose behind his post is to show that he knows a certain Gemara. However, if he would have internalized the article at hand and the numerous Marei Mekomos that the author mentioned he should have concluded that the author knrew this Gemara as well and despite that decided to go ahead with the article. The same applies with all of the derogatory posters looking for honor and recognition. Be a little humble, attempt to learn from your peers and we will merit blessings.

  24. I’M PREPAREING for mashiachs coming as it continues happening & getting closer BUR WE REALLY HAVE TO YEARN FOR MASHIACH IN ORDER FOR HASHEM TO SEND HIM

  25. #17 Comment From Out Of Town Rebbe

    “Avraham made every effort to make Hashem
    beloved…”

    Unfortunately, you fail to do so. Why do you need to repeat an entire paragraph? You
    think that is more impressive? You’re wrong.

    All the good points are negated by
    the hackneyed slogan: “Bring Moshiach now.”
    This is not mainstream Judaism. It is a
    cult. There is no obligation or precept
    to “bring Moshiach.”

    #18 “You’ve distorted the entire treatise.”
    You’re wrong. I have pinpointed its
    essential flaw: Messianic
    Obsession.

    “You are harping on the wrong idea..”

    No, you are harping on the wrong idea–
    obsession with moshiach. You fellows
    have established your own religion in this
    respect. Mitzvah performance is incumbent
    upon us irrespective of messianic mysticism.

    This might be an auspicious time but
    it should not induce us to focus on messianic calculations or ideations. Does Rabbi
    Fingerer also wish to proclaim the bogus messiaship?

  26. I think the cited three suggestions really hit the nail on the head. HaRav Elchanan Wasserman H’YD, said that WWII begins the countdown towards Moshiach. Rav Elyah Svei zt”l often repeated this.

    There’s no question that we are certainly getting closer. B”h with the proper tikkunim suggested will all be zocheh.

  27. It never stops to amaze me how some can take any issue and turn it into an attack on Lubavitch. The belief in Moshiach is not just for Lubavitchers but for all Yidden The Rambam lists it as an ikkar Emmunah which has been mekabal from Klal Yisroel. To deny The belief in Moshiach is Kefirah. This is one of the differences betwen Reform and Torah Yiddishkeit they believe in just a “messianic age” where as Torah Yidden believe in an individual Moshiach. This is a fundamental principal and for someone to advocate views against this and then be mevasse Lubavitch is just rediculous. So many Yidden are suffering so many dont know the ABC’s of Yiddishkeit how can one not want Moshiach. May we all unite in believing and waiting for Moshiach and be zoche to the Geulah Bkarov.

  28. Edom v. Paras is a PRELUDE to Gog and Magog. After Paras falls, Edom and Yishmael will team up against the Jews, G-d protect us.

    Google “Edom Paras” for more information!

  29. What kind of person asks “How many years till Moshiach?” What years ??? What’s the question–there are no years left-Now. I’m not reading an article with such a foolish title

  30. #35 T.Y. “What years?? There no years left-Now”.
    For guys like him it’s Purim all year long. Just please don’t drive. Drunk driving, at least in New York State, is against the law.

  31. First, let Rabbi Fingerer move to Israel and send his children to serve in the army. This would be his first act of teshuvah. We’ll then be able to move forward from there.

  32. I also think that people are not giving this threat enough attention. # 34 and #35 Rabbi Fingerer did not create the title to the article. The original title, if you search the Internet, was: “A Torah Perspective on the Imminent Threat from Iran.” Don’t be so rash or impudent next time.

    To # 36 maybe YOU would like to fight in an army that is giving away the land that our fellow Jews died for. Do you know Olmert was going to give away 98% of Judea/Samaria, land that people gave their blood for? I would suggest you learn how to have respect.

  33. To #37,
    Are you commenting from personal experience? Have you or your loved ones risked or even given their lives to defend our precious land? Or are you just another armchair American who kibbitzes but never plays? If you are a real fighting soldier, then we can discuss/argue on equal terms about Israeli politics. If not, then your opinion is just hot air.

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