The Talmud discusses the generation before Moshiach. “It was taught in a Baraisa: Rabbi Nechemia says: [In] the generation when the son of David will come, insolence will increase; honor will dwindle; the vine will produce its fruit, yet wine will be expensive; the entire kingdom will turn to heresy and there will be no rebuke.” (Sanhedrin 97a)
The Talmud discusses the phrase “the entire kingdom will turn to heresy.” I had assumed that this refers to a Jewish government in the Holy Land, but Artscroll quotes the book called Meleches Shlomo, which says “the entire kingdom” refers to “the world’s dominant power,” which will be “drawn after the false beliefs of the heretics.” However this is interpreted, the Talmud portrays a world in which beliefs which challenge Hashem become extremely powerful.
“Rava said: What …verse [supports this]? ‘All of it has turned white; it is pure.” (Leviticus 13:13) This verse is found in our Torah Portion, and it refers to tzara’as, the spiritual disease which manifests itself with physical conditions. The complete verse reads, “The Kohain (priest) shall look, and behold, the affliction has covered his entire flesh. Then he shall declare the affliction to be pure, having turned completely white; it is pure.”
The entire subject of tzara’as is counter-intuitive. Tzaraas is a physical affliction, but the diagnosis and treatment are prescribed by a kohain/priest, not a doctor. This particular verse is particularly puzzling: if the entire body is afflicted, why is the patient is “tahor … pure?” One would think the opposite.
My friends, life makes absolutely no sense unless we absorb Torah into our souls.
As it is with tzara’as, so it is with the sickness of the world. Rava is telling us that, when the world reaches a point at which moral sickness appears to “cover the entire body,” then we can expect to see “purity,” which means that we should expect Moshiach the Son of David.
This ties in with Passover. In Ancient Egypt, the Children of Israel came within a hair’s breadth of total assimilation into the idolatrous culture of Egypt. As we know, our ancestors stood at “mem tes sha’are tumah … the forty-ninth level of impurity.” From there, it was either one level down into eternal oblivion – G-d forbid! – or the road upward to Mount Sinai. As it was, at least four-fifths of the Children of Israel were indeed lost in Egypt (see Rashi to Exodus 10:22 & 13:18). But those who awakened left with Moses to meet Hashem.
With regard to the spiritual condition of the entire world, “We must know that … [the Jewish People] to the nations of the world is like the heart to the [other] organs…” (Sefer Chevlei Moshiach, by Rabbi Yisroel Eliezer Kanarek, quoting the Zohar and the Kuzari). We pump Life into the world. It is all up to us. At this moment, when all systems are nearing collapse, this is an indication that we are close to the Final Redemption. This is also the message of the Season of Passover, which we are entering at this moment with the coming of Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the Month of Nissan.
“Wake up! Wake up!” (Lecha Dodi) The fate of the world is in our hands. If we take our job seriously, then we will soon see the day “Ki mi Tzion taitzai Torah … when Torah goes forth from Tzion and the Word of G-d from Yerushalayim!”