Making sense of world events
I am going to do something out of character with this post, and I accede that it represents a failing in myself. My better judgment tells me to never make predictions, and to generally try to avoid reading the news and hype that we, the Moshiach blogosphere, create for ourselves. For better or for worse, I part here from better judgment.
With that introduction, naturally you the reader may take what I am about to say with a grain of salt. I think that would indeed be well-advised.
A number of thoughts have been parading around my mind over the last bit of time. I watched with interest as the Israeli media coverage on North Korea stood in stark contrast with the American media coverage. Here we had the Israeli media reporting North Korea testing a second missile and threatening to “attack offensively without mercy” but not a word of this was mentioned in the American media. This seemed odd to me. It also was strange that not one blog that I have read seems to have made note of it. When there finally was mention made of the sanctions being prepared, nothing was even said of the North’s response. Then immediately afterward, North Korea has completely disappeared from the news. Perhaps just for the moment.
The parade continues with thoughts about Tamuz and Av coming. I came across an interesting piece of Zohar on Shavuos that was in my machzor, and it stated that the months of Nissan and Iyar, as well as Sivan until Shavuos, were given to the Jewish People. The months of Tamuz and Av, however, were given to Esav. This fact hit me with a certain weight when I considered that both last year on Rosh Chodesh Av, as well as this year on Rosh Chodesh Av, a certain event transpires – a solar eclipse. The solar eclipse, as we know from the Gemara in Succah, represents a negative sign for the nations of the world. Is it a coincidence that it occurs in the very months that represent the power of Esav?
Following last year’s eclipse, the world entered a steady economic decline. Edom elected a leader who represents an unprecendented shift from truth to falsehood. I don’t think it is necessary to continue the litany.
Rosh Chodesh Tamuz also pranced across my mind’s stage, as I realized that if the sin of the spies happened on Tisha B’av, they left forty days earlier, on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz, to begin their act of spying. As I said in the Parsha Podcast, the forty days represent a development of something that was conceived.
While Tisha B’av represents for us the loss of the light of Moshiach in the Midbar, it is also called the day that Moshiach is born. Hashem’s way is to take the evil itself and use it for His very purpose. He is like the Master Chess Player, who knows how to use every move of His opponent for His own benefit. Our Chazal tell us that Tisha B’av will be a holiday when Moshiach comes. In a similar vein, Esav’s grandchild, Amalek, who lives to destroy the Jewish people, is actually used as an instrument by Hashem to bring about the ultimate redemption, and the ultimate glory of His true chosen nation.
It is possible that Tisha B’av should have been the day when the Jewish people began their ascent to the Holy Land. This was the day the spies would have returned with the information to guide the people along the paths of Eretz Yisrael. It would have represented the culmination of the Exodus in this respect. When the opportunity was lost, the day still retained that potential, and it would indeed one day take on that greatest joy.
When Rebbe Akiva saw the Har Habayis lying in utter desolation, he laughed. He knew that in its destruction lay the potential for its ultimate deliverance. He was Moshiach ben Yosef – who is ‘codenamed’ the איש צמח – the man who sprouts. In fact whenever we talk of the צמח דוד, it is a veiled reference to him. Rebbe Akiva knew the secret – he knew the joke. The destruction itself is the construction – סתירת זקנים בנין. The redemption sprouts from the destruction.
Is it any clearer than the Holocaust? Of course, we can not fathom the depths of this devastating event, but isn’t it obvious that the destruction there directly led to a tremendous growth for our people in the the Holy Land?
The Zohar quoted earlier shows that there is a certain power that Esav has in the months of Tamuz and Av. This power was only given to him by Hashem in order to ultimately be handed back to the Jewish people when they return to their former glory. This power was wielded to destroy the second Beis Hamikdash, but that very destruction was the seed for Esav’s ultimate destruction. Tamuz and Av are only temporarily given to him. They are also the instrument for Esav’s downfall.
It is no coincidence that the solar eclipses have fallen in Av. As the power is drawn out of Esav and returned to the Jewish people, it becomes increasingly clear that there is a fall that is taking place in the Western world.
According to Rav Shimon Kessin, the sparks of Holiness have been almost completely removed from Edom, and we are seeing the final stages as they are completely transferred back to us, and the dawn of the era of Moshiach commences. While this is exciting, it also entails difficult times. Just as a woman giving birth undergoes birth trauma, our Chazal say that there is a birthing process of Moshiach that can entail great difficulty.
I would again return to a previous theme, which is that Tisha B’av represents a time of rising from the dust, of sprouting from the ashes. The potential for this is laid, however, on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz. Then, the seed of redemption is planted. But we only reep what we sow – whatever happens on Tisha B’av reveals what was planted previously.
We can use this time for introspection. Our sages tell us that whoever mourns the destruction of Jerusalem merits to see its rebuilding. I visited the Kotel today, and I had not been there since Pesach, so I tore my shirt and felt the sadness of the destruction wash over me. I went down to daven, and as I stepped back from the Kotel, I watched admiringly as some non-observant Jews placed tefillin on their arms and heads. There were a number of people interested, more than the few guys stationed to help could handle, so I gave a hand and explained to a young man from Connecticut a little bit of the significance of the Tefillin. The love of God for His people. Our love for Him. We rap ourselves in that love, and He does too. I walked away feeling really nice.
I can’t help but think how the Kotel, the ultimate symbol of our destruction, somehow draws these Jews, who literally know nothing, and are also the symbol of our destruction. Yet there are dedicated people who will give a spark of light to their lost brethren, helping them to strap on a mitzvah, make a little connection to Hashem. Right there at the very site of our greatest devastation, the seeds are being planted for a new light to shine on Tzion. May it be soon. Amen.