The Lubavitcher Rebbe used to say that all the news we need is contained in the current weekly Torah portion! Indeed, some clues found in the later sections of this week’s parshah of Noah dealing with the offspring of Shem, Ham and Japheth and the ill-fated Tower of Babel may help throw some light on U.S. President Obama’s declared hopes of reaching a peaceful accommodation with Iran over its nuclear programs (i.e. diplomatically allowing Iran to build bombs, which it will most certainly brandish against Israel).
The U.S. President is in some ways reminiscent of Nimrod, who was the first-born of Ham’s son Kush. Nimrod is described as a “mighty hunter” (Genesis 10:9), i.e. “he ensnared people’s minds with his mouth and deceived them into rebelling against the Almighty” (see Rashi there). Likewise, Obama attained the presidency through compelling, honey-sweet rhetoric that won the hearts of millions. He has subsequently proved himself a true revolutionary, rapidly turning America, one-time bastion of liberty, into what increasingly resembles a communist tyranny.
Obama has succeeded in demoting America from its mission as the world’s policeman of freedom, abandoning and even sabotaging some of her most loyal and democratic allies in favor of repressive regimes that have traditionally been foes of the USA. Obama’s goal appears to be more than merely to diminish America. It may be that this ego-maniac’s dream is to go down in history as the ultimate Nobel-laureate world peace-maker, who will “solve” not only the Iranian crisis but also the seemingly most intractable problem of all: the Arab-Israeli conflict. Facilitating the State of Israel’s demise would apparently pave the way for an impregnable New World Order, which is precisely what Nimrod sought to build, a world from which all recognition of the God of Israel and the right of His people to practice the Torah in their land is erased.
“Many are the thoughts in the heart of a man, but the counsel of God will prevail” (Proverbs 19:21).
Official Opposition, Tacit Support
My late father, of blessed memory (1912-98), who grew up in the post World War I era and witnessed the ascent of Nazi Germany, had a very clear view of political realities, acquired among the impoverished Polish-Jewish immigrant tailors in London with whom he grew up. In numerous discussions I had with him about the history of his times, my father never ceased emphasizing that in the period before World War II, Britain, France and the other western powers officially opposed Hitler and his ambitions but in fact tacitly facilitated and encouraged his ascent in the hope that he would destroy communist Russia. But in the end the dog broke free from its leash and turned against its masters, leading to the devastation of World War II.
Likewise, since the 1980’s Iran-Contra (“Irangate”) affair, it has been evident that despite official western declarations of intent to contain Iran, the actual effects of European-American-Russian-Chinese connivance in bypassing sanctions and continuing trading with Iran, while endlessly procrastinating in seriously confronting her nuclear build-up, have been to greatly strengthen her to the point where Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are now laughing because they know the way is wide open for them to start production of nuclear weapons.
The irony is that if Obama (arguably an Ishmaelite), is current leader over Edom (just as a number of Roman emperors were black), his underhand connivance in the build-up of Iran will ultimately prove Edom’s undoing as soon as Iran really does start brandishing its nuclear bombs.
Persia, Nemesis of Edom
An important clue to Persia’s leading role as the nemesis of Edom is contained in our present parshah of Noah. Commenting on Genesis 10:2 listing the sons of Noah’s first-born Japheth, Rashi states about the last-mentioned, Tiras, that “This is Persia” (Rashi on Gen. 10:2).
The identity of Japheth’s youngest son is significant because in Jeremiah’s prophecy about the downfall of Edom, we learn that this will come about through “the young of the flock”.
“Hear the counsel of HaShem, that He has taken against Edom… surely the youngest of the flock shall drag them away, surely their habitation shall be appalled at them” (Jeremiah 49:20).
In the words of Rashi in his commentary on the above verse, the “youngest of the flock” is “the most despicable of the nations, and our rabbis explained that this is Persia, who is the youngest of the children of Japheth”. The despicability of Persia is seen in the fact that even though the Persian king Cyrus authorized the building of the Second Temple, the Divine Presence did not dwell there as it did in King Solomon’s Temple (see Rashi on Genesis 9:26 and Yoma 10a).
It will be highly ironic if Obama’s complicity in the build-up of Iran – which seems to be part of his overall strategy to force Israel into a suicidal “peace agreement” with the Arabs – will eventually result in the unleashing of Iran at the forefront of the world stage as the final nemesis of America, leading to an orgy of mutual destruction.
This indeed was foreseen by the rabbis thousands of years ago. That Edom and Persia were always destined to be the leading players on the world stage at the end of days is explicit in the Babylonian Talmud in Tractate Avodah Zarah 2b, which states that “their empires will continue until Mashiach comes”. The Tosafot on that page (in the comment beginning with the word mashchah) state that “Persia will fall at the hand of Rome just before Mashiach arrives”. However, the above-quoted prophecy in Jeremiah 49:20 suggests that this will only happen after Persia has totally devastated Edom.
Waiting for Superman?
Understandably, many Jews and lovers of Israel are highly perturbed at the specter of a nuclear Iran, and are still hoping against hope that some brave superman (Netanyahu and the IDF?) will knock out their installations. Others would like to trust Nimrod-Obama’s soothing promises that if diplomacy fails to dissuade Iran from her nuclear aspirations, the option of military intervention is still “on the table”.
To my mind these promises are as reliable as British Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain’s promise of “Peace in Our Time” following his infamous Munich meeting with Hitler just 75 years ago. In fact it took less than one year after that for Nazi Germany to attack Poland, thereby starting World War II.
To save Israel from the menace of Iran, we should ultimately rely neither on President Obama nor on Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli army nor anyone except God Almighty, because no human will be able to swerve the floodwaters of world history from their divinely ordained course.
I believe that all Jews and lovers of Israel need to internalize the moral of a famous rabbinic end-of-days teaching that foresees the very scenario we actually witness developing around us today. (The first time I heard this Midrash was during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war, when it was quoted several times by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. At that time few could have imagined that war-beaten Iran would ever take the center of the world stage, but now we are seeing it with our own eyes.)
“In the year in which king Mashiach is revealed, all the rulers of the world will be fighting one another. The king of Persia will fight the king of Arabia, and the king of Arabia will go to Aram to seek advice from them. [In recent years we have seen Saudi Arabia’s consternation in face of Iran’s build-up and repeated lobbying of the US/Europe=Aram for stronger action. ABY.] The king of Persia will then destroy the whole world and all the nations of the world will be raging in turmoil and will fall on their faces. Pangs will take hold of them like a woman’s birth pangs. Israel will be in tumult and turmoil, asking, “Where shall we go Where shall we go?” [This is exactly what many Israelis are asking today.] And the Holy One blessed-be-He will say to them, “Do not be afraid. Everything I have done, I have done only for your sake. Why are you afraid? Do not fear, for the time of your redemption has arrived, and the last redemption will not be like the first redemption. For after the first redemption, you suffered pain and were still subjected to the nations, but after the last redemption, you will suffer no further pain or subjection to the nations” (Midrash Yalkut Shimoni on Isaiah chapter 60).
Torah and Prayer
While Israel and Jews generally need to take proactive measures in the material world to seek to protect ourselves against those seeking to destroy us, we must at the same time keep in mind that the only two sure avenues to salvation at the End of Days and on God’s Great Day of Judgment are Torah and Prayer. This we learn from Isaiah chapter 26 verse 20: “Go My people, come into your inner chambers, close your doors behind you, hide for just a moment until the anger will pass.”
In the words of the classic Bible commentator Rabbi David Kimché (“RaDaK” 1160-1235): “This verse is speaking of the war of Gog and Magog, which will be a time of trouble for Israel for a short time. The prophet says figuratively, ‘Come into your inner chambers and close your doors behind you’: i.e. hide yourselves in good deeds and complete repentance, for the anger will only be for a short while and then it will pass, and the good people will be saved”. Rashi tells us that these “inner chambers” are the synagogues (prayer) and study halls (Torah learning).
Shabbat Shalom! Chodesh Tov UMevorach! Have a peaceful Shabbat and a Good and Blessed Month!