RABBI WINSTON'S WEEKLY PARSHA PAGE

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Parshas Mikeitz

Prepare For The End

FRIDAY NIGHT:

It happened at the end of two years to the day: Pharaoh was dreaming that behold! - he was standing over the River . . . (Bereishis 2:1-3)
Many times I have mentioned the following Talmudic statement:
All punishment comes to the world because of Israel. (Yevamos 63a)
It is not something that we should say too loud, especially in this day and age of increased anti-Semitism. As TIME Magazine aptly observed, and US Report echoed, Israeli politics have already given the anti-Semites of today enough justification to dislike Jews once again. We certainly don't need to add fuel to their fire with an explosive statement such as this one from our own Talmud.

Yet, it addresses this week's parshah so accurately. There was Pharaoh, the most powerful ruler of his time, dreaming about skinny cows eating fat cows and skinny sheaves of wheat consuming heavier ones, just to cause Yosef to be released from prison and jettisoned to the second-in-command over Egypt. That simple little dream that Yosef had once shared only with his brothers and father was directing the thoughts and actions of the greatest ruler of his time!

Such is the power of a keitz. A keitz is an appointed time, a pre-designated immutable moment in Jewish history, and through that time some form of redemption MUST occur- even if history has to be turned upside down to bring it about. If need be, G-d will have one nation attack another, and trigger a war that involves massive armies and expenditures just to bring about a keitz, and this is what the Talmud means, or rather, warns.

Thus, it also says:

Rav said, "All the dates of redemption have already passed, and now it depends upon repentance and good deeds." Shmuel said, "It is enough that the mourner remains in mourning!" This is like an earlier disagreement: Rebi Eliezer said, "If Israel will repent then they will be redeemed, and if they will not, then they will not." Rebi Yehoshua said to him, "If they do not repent they will not be redeemed?! Rather, The Holy One, Blessed is He, will cause to rise a king who will make decrees as difficult as Haman's were and Israel will repent and return to the right path." (Sanhedrin 97b)
In other words, to stimulate the Jewish people to do teshuvah and good deeds to merit the redemption, G-d is prepared to involve other nations, as many as is necessary given the goals of Creation and the needs of the keitz.

Just look at the effects of the last two years of history. I have been lecturing for years now, often traveling to different cities in the United States, Canada, and England. I never intended to get into this End-of-Days business, and my body still cringes when I even mention messianic terms. I had more than enough to write about without even mentioning the concept of Moshiach and the Final Redemption.

As Divine Providence would have it, if I turned right, there was an important source about the End-of-Days waiting for me there. If I turned left, there was another one waiting there as well. As I learned a little Kabbalah, purely to deepen my understanding of Torah, there was something about the End-of-Days there that painted a different picture than what I was used to seeing about this stage of history, and as I probed the Talmud, there was much to be learned about the End-of-Days there as well.

And, when history began to act in a way that seemed to support what I had been learning, I was compelled to share much of it with others. However, 10 years ago, since the Oslo Accords held out hope of peace in Israel and the entire Middle-East for so many Jews, there was only a handful of Jews that would even listen to what I had to say about the topic.

However, five years later, that number increased dramatically as the Oslo Accords failed, Rabin was shot, and Y2K was a harbinger of a worldwide catastrophe. And, even though Y2K passed with minimal damage, the attack on the World Trade Center followed through with what Y2K only threatened to cause: worldwide chaos. The message began to sell itself, and I noticed far less resistance to concepts to do with the End-of-Days.

And now, as anti-Semitism emerges with incredible speed and an indelible need to persecute Jews, on my most recent trip, I found people thinking aloud about issues that only 10 years ago I was wary to broach with them. Imagine my surprise when a totally secular Jew, quite rooted in North American society financially and philosophically, said to me with a tone of seriousness and concern, "How long will it be before the only safe place to live will be Israel?"

Until that moment, I would have thought that this was one Jew about whom the Talmud says will be amongst the masses of Jews inMoshiach's time who just won't get it even at the very end. How history and the events of the world change a Jew's thinking literally overnight! What will G-d do next to make our focus even sharper?

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SHABBOS DAY:

For there is yet another vision about the appointed time; it will speak of the End and it will not deceive. Though it may tarry, await it, for it will surely come; it will not delay. (Chavakuk 2:3)
From the following statement, it sounds like a lot more may be coming our way:
The Son of Dovid (i.e., Moshiach) will not come until the generation is either completely worthy or completely unworthy. (Sanhedrin 97b).
One would like to be optimistic about this, and some still try to be - all the power to them. However, rationally speaking, it is hard to be optimistic given the onslaught against the Jewish people today, from the world and from within our own people. As the Vilna Gaon predicted and warned, the reigns of power are in the hands of the Erev Rav right before Moshiach's arrival.

Indeed, barring a miraculous and phenomenal massive return to Torah by the majority of Jews, it is hard to imagine Moshiach coming in a peaceful manner. Indeed, the Vilna Gaon says that the generation in which Moshiach will come will certainly not merit it (Tikunim): oh-oh. Prepare for the worst.

Well, not so fast. The Leshem has this to add to the discussion:

[However, "completely unworthy" does not mean completely evil, G-d forbid, since this is impossible. As it says in Rosh Hashanah 16-17, even just a majority of sins is called "culpable".] Thus, Yemos HaMoshiach does not depend upon merits or actions at all. Likewise is it in Sanhedrin 97b, in the argument between Rebi Eliezer and Rebi Yehoshua . . . in the end, Rebi Eliezer does not answer back, agreeing with Rebi Yehoshua that the future redemption will not depend upon teshuvah and good deeds. (Sha'arei Leshem, p. 510)
Such is the power of a keitz, which, fortunately for the world, dances to the beat of a different drum. Indeed, the Ramban also wrote in Parashas HaAzinu that the promise of the future redemption is not based upon teshuvah or the service of G-d, but will come no matter what. Thus, the Leshem continues:
Therefore, when many aggados speak about teshuvah being the basis, it means what is taught in Sanhedrin 111a: one from a city will cause the entire city to merit, and two from a family will merit the entire family. It is clear in the Midrash Ne'elam of the Zohar Chadash, near the end of Parashas Noach: Rebi Eliezer says that it will depend upon teshuvah, but if one congregation returns, they can cause the entire redemption. (Ibid.)
In other words, a keitz is affected by our teshuvah. But is this a complete reversal of what we have just explained? No. It simply means that the few who do teshuvah- and perhaps who already have done teshuvah - will merit the rest of the entire Jewish people! Perhaps THIS is why the outreach door quickly swung open only to slam shut a few years later, as funding dried up for expansive outreach programs.

However, as the Leshem adds, even this may have been unnecessary to bring the keitz:

In truth, there are many righteous people in each generation; 36 who greet the Divine Presence daily (in Tikunim, Tikun 21, 57a, 72 are mentioned: 36 in Eretz Yisroel and 36 in other lands, and it seems that they are hidden) . . . Thus we are never missing the many righteous people in each generation in whose merit the redemption will come for all of Israel, even if the majority are unworthy. There are many verses in Yechezkel that teach this, [such as] in [Chapters] 36 and 37 . . . that the last redemption is not dependent upon teshuvah or good deeds at all, but is guaranteed to come. (Ibid.)
Sounds conclusive? Wait, it gets even better.
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SEUDAH SHLISHIS:

"Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; and he lifted up his right hand and his left hand to Heaven, and swore by the Everlasting One that after a time, times-and-half and when there shall be an end to the crushing of the power of the holy nation, all this will be over." (Daniel 12:7)
This is Daniel's prophecy about the keitz, keitz HaYomim - the End-of-Days. However, apparently, within this subtle hint about the Final Redemption is the answer to our question as well, as the Leshem explains:
And thus the "man clothed in linen," which was the angel Gavriel (see Bereishis Rabbah 21:5), came and swore by the Everlasting One that it will be "Moed Moadim v'Chetzi" - a time, times-and-half - as mentioned in Daniel (Chapter 12). If the keitz of the redemption is dependent upon teshuvah then it would not be relevant to take such an oath, since teshuvah is dependent upon free-will. (Sha'arei Leshem, p. 510)
Taking an oath means that one must perform the act he has sworn to do, which means the redemption would have to come when he said G-d would bring it. But, if the Final Redemption is dependent upon teshuvah, which is only valid when done willingly, then what would happen to Gavriel's oath if the Jewish people did not choose to do teshuvah, as they don't seem to be choosing today? Hence:
This was the final proof that Rebi Yehoshua presented for which there was no answer. It also says in Chavakuk (Chapter 2): "For there is yet another vision about the appointed time; it will speak of the End and it will not deceive. Though it may tarry, await it, for it will surely come; it will not delay" (Chavakuk 2:3). When it says that "it will not deceive . . . it will not delay," it means that nothing will prevent it. When the keitz comes, it will happen regardless of whether we are completely worth or unworthy. Thus we see that the future redemption is not dependent upon merits or deeds at all. (Ibid.)
Case closed: the Final Redemption will not depend upon our teshuvah, but is a date that is coming at us whether we are ready or not, because it is built into Creation. No wonder history feels like a horse with no rider. Ah, well, no human riders at least.

And, as I have mentioned before, this keitz is a very special one, because it marks the completion of the missing 190 years we were supposed to have spent in Egypt to merit the Final Redemption. Instead of bridling Egypt, it saddled us and we sank down to the forty-ninth level of spiritual impurity, necessitating an early redemption from Egypt.

Hence, the Final Redemption is not only a keitz, but keitz HaYomim - the end of THE days. Which days? The days we owed from Egyptian servitude, but have been paying off over the millennia so we will not be destroyed by them. And no one makes a single mortgage payment past the last one, and likewise, when we are through with that debt, Moshiach will simply be here. If only we knew how much of that debt is left.

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MELAVE MALKAH:

One that after a time, times-and-half and when there shall be an end to the crushing of the power of the holy nation, all this will be over." (Daniel 12:7)
Since we happened to mention it, the Zohar does take a stab at Daniel's allusion to the future redemption, as per the explanation of the Ziv HaZohar, a commentary on the Zohar itself. He writes:
. . . What he means is that the gematria of the word "moed" is 120 . . . half of moed is 60. The idea of chetzi-moed is in Daniel (12:7), when the angel swears that the life of the world will be a "moed, moadim vacheitzi." In general, there are three "moadim" (literally, appointed times) each year: Matzos, Shavuos, and Succos, the total gematria of which is 1,800. This means that, only after the 1800th year [after the destruction of the Second Temple]- according to the counting from creation- will the year of the number "sixty" arrive, at which time the redemption will begin. Since there is a difference of opinion as to when the Bais HaMikdosh was destroyed, it could be that it lasted for three years, beginning in the year 3828 and ending in the year 3830. Eighteen hundred years henceforth would be the year 5630 (1870 CE). Half of a moed, which is 60, would make the year 5660 (1900 CE), which is when Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said the "remembrance" of the redemption would be . . . Now, in our days, the truth of his words is evident, since the chevlei Moshiach have begun - they are persecuting the Holy Nation, murdering Jews in every place they are found. As well, major wars are beginning to occur ... (Ziv HaZohar, Zohar, 1:119a)
The Ziv HaZohar's calculation is more complex than presented here, but the main point of bringing his words is to hear his testimony of the state of Jewish security in his days. And he didn't live to witness the Holocaust!

If his explanation of the Zohar is correct, then what WE are witnessing is not the beginning of the redemption process, but perhaps the end of it. And everything that has occurred since that time has been all part of that process, both the happy and the sad events. Thus, Yechezkel prophecised:

"It shall come to pass on that day, on the day that Gog shall come against the Land of Israel," says the L-rd, G-d, "My fury shall rise up . . . And in My jealousy, in the fire of My anger, I have spoken-surely on that day there will be a great shaking in Eretz Yisroel. The fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field, and all the creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the people who are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at My Presence; the mountains shall be destroyed, the steep places shall fall, and every wall will fall to the ground."(Yechezkel 38:18-20)
Let's just hope that the prophet was being allegorical. However, other prophets seemed to have echoed his words as well, such as Zechariah (12-14), Yirmeyahu (30), Daniel (11-12), and Yoel (4). There is even a reference to the war of Gog u'Magog in Tehillim as well (83). Indeed, according to the Zohar (Shemos 7b), Moshiach's coming is supposed to stir up the nations and precipitate a major war against the Jewish people. Said Daniel:
A time of trouble such as has never been seen. (Daniel 12:1)
Such is the power of a keitz. Ask all the American soldiers what they were doing before they became embroiled in Afghanistan and Iraq, and what they had planned to do. War is not one of the answers. The pieces are being moved around, and very little free-will seems to be involved on our part. A keitz is coming and yes, G-d WILL turn history on its ear, if need be, just to set up the Final Redemption of Klal Yisroel.

May it come quickly, but peacefully.

Have a great Shabbos,
PW

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