The Days of Judgment are approaching and we should be afraid.
It is well-known that, in previous generations, Jews trembled during the entire month of Elul. We should be no different. In fact, we should tremble even more, because it is increasingly clear that the fate of the entire world is extremely precarious at this time. Praying for our very survival is necessary and appropriate. With this in mind I am going to discuss some very serious matters. If we contemplate the gravity of the situation, perhaps the intensity of our prayers will merit Heavenly mercy.
There is a tendency to believe that the world is going to continue as it has, with enough sense of normalcy to lull us into forgetting that we are in exile and hoping that this state of affairs will continue into the distant future.
We need to consult our Torah Sages in order to bring us back to reality.
Please give your attention to the words of Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler zt”l: “The destruction of Edom [at the end of our last exile] will only come through the destruction of this world [as we know it]. the Holy One will cause the very foundations of life on earth to collapse. Tranquility will be disrupted, personal lives will be filled with worry, fear and suffering, and the entire world will cower in dread of destruction and devastation… Only then will the light of the Messiah be revealed … ‘and the saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau…’” (Obadiah 1:21, as quoted in Michtav Me’Eliya-hu).
These words should be contemplated. Rav Dessler is speaking about “the destruction of this world [as we know it]” and the collapse of the “very foundations of life”. If we understand what this means, then we will clasp with all our strength the Source of Life, the only means of rescue which can save us when the world as we know it is threatened to its very core. This necessitates that we not confine our intense supplication to the Master of the Universe to our regular daily prayers, but that we remain in the attitude of supplication for our entire day, our entire week, and – in reality – our entire life.
My dear friends, Rav Dessler’s words are coming about today.
When Titus the Wicked was returning to Rome by ship with the vessels of the Holy Temple, against which he had led the armies of Rome, he mocked G-d and challenged Him to “wage war” on dry land. “A Heavenly Voice … said to [Titus] … ‘I have a puny creature in My world and it is called a gnat…. Go up on dry land and fight [this puny creature!’ When] Titus ascended to dry land, a gnat came and entered his nose. It picked his brain for seven years…When [Titus] died, they split his head open and found [a gnat] inside like a swallow weighing two selas. A Tanna taught … [the gnat] was like a one-year-old pigeon weighing two litras. Abbaye said: We hold a tradition that its mouth was of copper and its nails were of iron” (Gittin 56b).
There is a tiny insect in our world called a mosquito whose Latin name is “Aedes Aegypti”. It carries a virus called “Zika,” which – interestingly – means “life-breath” in Aramaic. It injects fluid into a person without being noticed. This tiny, invisible droplet is capable of shaking the foundation of states, of regions, of multinational corporations, of entire populations consisting of millions of people, of the economies of vast regions of a country which considers itself to be an eternal culture.
We have a realistic basis to hope that G-d will have mercy on us and allow us to see with our own eyes the Holy Temple. We pray every day that “our eyes witness Your return to Zion in compassion”. Torah sages like the Chofetz Chaim and Rav Yechezkel Levenstein zt”l have stated that those who reject the dominant culture of Edom will survive the Birthpangs of the Messiah. That is why it is appropriate to discuss these things, especially at this time of year, when we are praying with intense devotion for nothing less than survival on every level.
The Prophet states, “You have said, ‘It is useless to serve G-d! What gain is there for us that we have kept His watch and that we walk submissively before G-d, Master of Legions?’ … Then those who fear G-d spoke to one another and G-d listened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear G-d and those who give thought to His Name. They will be a precious treasure for Me, says G-d, Master of Legions, on the day which I bring about, and I will have mercy on them as a man has mercy on his son who serves him. Then you will return and see the difference between one who serves G-d and one who does not serve Him” (Malachi 3:13ff, which we read as Haftaras Shabbos Hagadol).
“The day which I bring about” is coming, my friends. What kind of day will it be?
“Behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the wicked people and all the evildoers will be like straw, and that coming day will burn them up … but a sun of righteousness will shine for you who fear My Name, with healing on its wings” (ibid).
Yes, I know I have quoted these lines before. Should we not endlessly hear these great words, especially at this time of year? May they enter our hearts and transform our lives, so that we quickly see the consolation which the Al-Mighty is preparing for us, and – through our return to G-d and our kindness and our unity – we experience the Complete Redemption and live in a transformed world of spirituality and purity with the coming of the Messiah soon in our days!