Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Prophecy of Redemption and its Precursor Stage

Put bluntly, no good news the Rebbe ever forecast ever failed to materialize, unless it has yet to materialize. The Rebbe, like his predecessors, was a prophet too. The Rebbe said quite clearly, in fact, he was endowed with prophecy (Shoftim 1991). For those of us who care to count, the list of his prophecies is long.

It's not for us simple earthlings to take prophetic verses from our holy books and interpret them with certainty. But when the Rebbe invokes such verses and says they apply to a particular interval in Jewish history, we can be sure of its veracity.

In 1990, in his 40th year of leadership of the "7th generation", the Rebbe made an unusual proclamation around when the Persian Gulf war broke out, one that went against the grain of public thought. The Rebbe requested it be publicized that "this year the world has seen which the words of our sages in Yalkut Shimoni (Isaiah 60:499) refer to." (Vayetzei, 1990). From the Midrash he quoted, "The year that King Moshiach is revealed is when all the kings of the nations antagonize each other, the Persian king ... the Arabian king ... and God tells the Jews, my sons, fear not, for everything I did I did only for your sake ... the time for your redemption has arrived!"

In fact, the Rebbe then spoke words concerning Israel meant to infuse tranquility, that there was nothing to fear (despite what the war "pundits" had figured out). (There were rabbis and non-Chabad chassidim who questioned the Rebbe's assertion. Perhaps they forgot similar proclamations before the wars of 1967 and 1973.)

Once the Rebbe invoked that Midrash, the expectation for Moshiach and the Era of Redemption jumped into higher gear.

(On a personal note, this was the time when I had just emerged from a stint in Yeshiva and returned to work my career. I was a fresh Chabadnik. In those days I held my transistor radio glued to my ear because we all knew the day the Persian Gulf War will break out. Sure enough, it began on time. The first Scud missile from Iraq that fired into a U.S. Army base in Saudi Arabia killed 27 Americans. Many Scud missiles then followed; But they fired, not into Iraqi's opponents, but rather - into Israel! This took me by complete surprise. What did Israel have to do with this war? They were innocent bystanders.

I remember feeling terrible, so deeply embarrassed for the Rebbe, for he had reinforced many times the notion not to be concerned; He discouraged the use of gas masks; People waited in line for hours to ask if they should recall their relatives from Israel, or go there for some scheduled occasion, and he encouraged them to be oblivious of any threats! Yet now, oh my goodness, Scud missiles, each packing tremendously destructive potential, each the size of a bus, were raining down on little Israel. I was afraid of what I might hear on the radio. But days went by, then a week and 2 weeks went by, and "What, nobody was killed?! Nobody?!" Sure enough, after 39 missiles fell in densely populated areas, not one Israeli died from these projectiles. The war ended on Purim. Nothing but property damage. Each missile entailed many miraculous stories. I began to regain my confidence in the Rebbe - of course. But this freshman chassid's faith was tested, to be sure.)

The Rebbe, referring to that Midrash, said, "As the Rambam says, 'and those days there will be no hunger, no war' ... and similarly, such will be the case during the last moments of exile - even when 'kingdoms antagonize etc', 'and the Persian king antagonizes the Arabian king ... and all the nations are in tumult and panic', the Jewish people find themselves in a condition and status of tranquility and peace, because God tells them "my sons do not worry, everything that I did I did for your sake ... the time of your redemption has arrived" and "King Moshiach" - the redeemer of Jewry - "stands on the roof of the Temple ... and says, 'modest ones, your time of redemption has arrived."

The point I want to bring out is this: The Rebbe is telling us we are in the last moments of exile and we are actually having a foretaste of the Era of Redemption. This, in effect tells us we will no longer have any so-called real Gog and Magog crisis to contend with, despite this notion's prevalence - at least among Jewish bloggers or Midrash interpreters.

By the way, elsewhere (See his famous 1992 "קונטרוס בית רבינו שבבל") the Rebbe explains the Midrashic significance of "standing on the roof of the Temple", as opposed to inside the Temple. It means the news will be announced from outside of Israel! Why? Because the temple's roof is akin to being outside of Israel, in that the territory beyond the Holy Land, like the roof of the Temple, even though it is physically part of the Temple, carries no sanctity! This is but one more of the Rebbe's strong hints Moshiach will make his grandiose reappearance from outside of Eretz Yisrael!

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