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The War of Gog of Magog is not something any of us should want to face (Ezekiel chapters 38-39)!
Can it be avoided?
According to Rambam any of the following conditions will bring in HaMashiach ben David, establish Israel, and end global suffering. These conditions can be divided into two parts. If the first takes place then the world will avoid a LOT of suffering and HaMashiach ben David (THE Messiah) may come without this most dreadful of all wars. This option now seems to be too late in my opinion.
Under the second option, Mashiach ben Yosef will come and end the war and all of the terrible sufferings BEFORE the coming of Mashiach ben David. This way seem all but certain now. We seem to be in the early phases of this World War Three scenario.
IF the Jews were to succumb to genocide as large sections of the world are again supporting, then all hope would be lost and the world would become a living Hell until its inhabitants finally destroy the human race and much of the natural world. Then perhaps HaShem would plant a new Gan Eden. Here are the two clauses that would bring in Melech Mashiach ben David:
If one of the first three clauses are met there will be no reason for Mashiach ben Yosef to come since his primary role is to defeat our enemies and lead the Jews to teshuvah (a state of heartfelt repentance). If we do this first, HaShem will do what is needed and Melech Mashiach ben David will assume his throne.
- If Klal Israel repents in a single day;
- If Klal Israel observes a single Shabbat properly;
- If Klal Israel observes two consecutive Shabbatot properly (based on a much discussed text but which may have other implications);
- If a generation of Klal Israel is totally innocent or totally guilty;
- If a generation of Klal Israel loses all hope;
- If a generation if Klal Israel produces children that are totally disrespectful towards their parents and elders;
The same would be true of a generation in which all Jews become Torah observant (and hence totally innocent). So we have the ability to prepare the way for Mashiach ben David and to avoid the pain and sorrow foretold by certain prophets.
In a generation in which Torah observance is non-existent the remaining conditions will exist. These will require the negative experiences of divine coercion to make us look to our King with emuna. It is into such a generation that Mashiach ben Yosef will required. How can we avoid the negative judgements of providence? By choosing teshuvah, by changing our direction, and, by seeking harmony with HaShem now (Deuteronomy 30:19). Imagine if all the Jews would choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19)! We would rock the world for the good!
As Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught concerning the following verse:"I have strayed like a lost sheep: seek out Your servant"(Psalms 119:176).When a person sins, it makes a big difference if he comes to his senses at once and repents, in which case it is easy for him to return to his place because he has not yet strayed too far from the good path. For when a person sins, he turns from the straight path and enters a different, twisting pathway. A multitude of wrong turns branch off into ever deeper error and corruption. The person may stray so far and become so entangled that it is very hard for him to turn back and get off the wrong track.Millions of people still exercise faith. Were these people to unite their voices and call out to HaShem alone, to embrace His Torah and His LOVE, then surely He would hear and send HaMelech Mashiach to rescue us! HaMashiach is not yet here because we are not yet ready to receive him!
But once the sheep strays far from the path, it forgets the shepherd's voice and no longer recognizes his call. The shepherd also gives up searching because the sheep has been lost for such a long time . Similarly, when a person has been going in the wrong direction for a long time , having strayed far from the true path into all those corrupt, devious and confusing pathways, it is hard for him to repent.
This is the meaning of the verse, "I have strayed like a lost sheep: seek out Your servant" (Psalms 119, 176). "I have strayed like a lost sheep": I have strayed from the good path like a lost sheep that has strayed from the road. This is why I beg of You: "seek out Your servant, because I have not forgotten Your commandments." Hurry and search for me as long as I still remember the voice of the Torah and mitzvot. Hurry and search for me immediately, because I have not yet forgotten Your mitzvot: I still recognize the call of the mitzvot of the Torah. That is why I beg You to take pity on me and search me out quickly, as long as "I have not forgotten Your mitzvot" and still recognize the voice of the call of the Torah and the mitzvot.
For when a person grows old in his sins, it is very hard to seek him out as he has already forgotten and no longer recognizes the voice of the Torah and the mitzvot. We must therefore beg God to hurry and bring us back to Him before we completely forget the call of the Torah and mitzvot. This was King David's prayer: "Search out Your servant, for I have not forgotten Your mitzvot."
-- Likutey Moharan I, 206"If you hear Messiah has arrived in the town square while you are busy in your garden, finish your work and then go see him." We each have a service to perform!
Rabbi Immanuel Schochet ZT"L tells us of an authoritative tradition handed down from the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov stating that the extraordinary length and severity of the galut or diaspora may has already been so severe that the death of Mashiach ben Yosef may not need to occur (see R. Shemuel of Sochachev, Shem MiShemuel, Vayigash, s.v. Vayigash 5677 (s.v. venireh od, p. 298bf). He sees the silence of the Rambam as support for this.
The Jewish people are referenced as the Suffering Servant at Isaiah 52-54. Much has been written about our historic and present sufferings. What is certain is that no people have undergone what Am Y'israel has and yet survived! The Hittites are no more. The grandeur of the Assyrians has past. No one today bows before Oannes and Atargatis (at least not knowingly!). But Israel and the God of Israel are still here! B"H!! How much more suffering is in store for us before we bow before our King remains to be seen. What is certain however is that emuna, active faith in HaShem, is the key to our continued existence and to the eventual coming of Mashiach ben David.
How to Avoid the Inevitable
Ideally Mashiach ben Yosef will not need to come and die because Klal Israel will return to Torah en masse and the Seventy Nations, seeing this, will come to the Light of HaShem (Zechariah 8:23). Ideally this could happen. This is what we pray for.
Rebbe Nachman tells us that the main reason for the Galut (the exile or diaspora of the Jewish people) is our tenancy to deny the importance of faith and miracles (Likutey Moharan 1.7.1). HaMashiach's coming is dependent on the development and exercise of our faith (emuna). Faith in HaShem is the answer to everything and yet our societies are built on the rejection of faith! We say, 'I'll believe it when I see it' but Derech HaShem, the Way of God, is built on emuna. When we look to HaShem we will see miracles! The Olam Haba (or World to Come) will be a time of miracles because it will be the age of faith.
Faith alone is not enough however. The notion that 'It does not matter what one believes, as long as one believes' is not the teaching of Torah, Rebbe Nachman or our other sages. Emuna must be based on firmly on Truth and Truth is revealed by Torah. As we read:But it is impossible to reach faith without truth (emet), as taught in the Zohar (iii:198b): "Righteousness will gird his loins, and faith [emuna] [will gird his waist]" (Isaiah 11:5): "Is not righteousness identical with faith?" [one might ask] And the Zohar answers, "When righteousness is combined with truth, it is called faith [emuna]."If the Jewish people choose to humble themselves and embrace the truth of Torah they will lead the world to HaShem and then:
Likutey Moharan 1.7.2.Isaiah 56:7 I will bring them to My holy mount, and I will cause them to rejoice in My house of prayer, their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon My altar, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.If this does not happen however, and history is not encouraging on this score, then HaShem will eventually make it happen through Mashiach ben Yosef according to our sages:Sanhedrin Folio 97a: ...Thus hath R. Johanan said: in the generation when the son of David [i.e. Messiah] will come, scholars will be few in number, and as for the rest, their eyes will fail through sorrow and grief. Multitudes of trouble and evil decrees will be promulgated anew, each new evil coming with haste before the other has ended.'
Sanhedrin 97b: ... Rab said: All the predestined dates [for redemption] have passed, and the matter [now] depends only on repentance and good deeds...
R. Eliezer said: if Israel repent, they will be redeemed; if not, they will not be redeemed.
R. Joshua said to him, if they do not repent, will they not be redeemed! [i.e. not so] But the Holy One, blessed be He, will set up a king over them, whose decrees shall be as cruel as Haman's, whereby Israel shall engage in repentance, and he will thus bring them back to the right path.
A man once complained: "The world is filled with evil people who have no love of God, their neighbors or the planet!"
- HaMashiach ben David will come as foretold, one way or the other.
- There will only be one HaMashiach.
- He will have many assistants and associates including:
- The man called Mashiach ben Yosef (possibly the Prophet Elijah returned),
- A minimum of thirty six righteous assistants (i.e. the tzadikim of that generation) who see clearly by the Light of the Shekhinah's countenance,
- Eighteen thousand others who see by the Light of Shekhinah's countenance but obscurely (Ezekiel 48:35, Sanhedrin 97B).
- HaShem will bless everyone (and every nation) who blesses Israel and curse all those who oppose us (Genesis 12:3). In the Olam Haba anti-Semitism, racism, false religion, and the like will no more (Isaiah 11).
- HaMashiach will likely come during a time of unparalleled troubles when Torah observance and accurate knowledge will be difficult to find and heresies will abound.
- Many of the rabbis will not be found worthy of the title in that day.
- Much of Judaism will be embracing beliefs not supported by Torah.
- The War of Gog of Magog will not be avoided.
- HaMashiach and his associates will be successful and the Messianic Age will come to pass.
- As individuals we can develop emuna and come to HaShem now, thus hastening his reign. As we do this we bless ourselves, our families, our communities and the world entire.
"Is everyone like that?" the rabbi replied shaking his head.
"No, but only a few have emuna any more!"
"So, join the minority!"
Choose today whom you will serve. If HaShem is God choose Him and embrace His Torah. If materialism or the gods of other religions are true, then go after them but choose! We have been granted free will.
Seek HaShem while He may be found -- Isaiah 55:6.
* This page draws from the research of Rabbi Immanuel Schochet ZT"L (1935-2013).
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