Next year is Shmittah.
The Gemora tells us that “B’motza-ai Shvi’is ben Dovid ba … after Shmittah the Son of David will come…” (Sanhedrin 97a) The “Son of David” is Moshiach.
But there have been many Shmittah years and Moshiach still has not come!
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky Shlita”h says, “The year following Shmittah is a particularly auspicious time for Moshiach to come. In this regard, the Chazon Ish commented that if the Jewish people observe Shmittah properly, the year following Shmittah can rightly be called ‘Motza’ai Shvi’is’ and it will be an auspicious time for Moshiach to come….” (Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Shmittah)
Oh! So Shmittah has to be kept correctly!
My friends, a distinguished Rosh Kollel in Kiriat Sefer told me this week that this coming year, for the first time since the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh, it appears that most of the land of Israel will be keeping Shmittah!
Please ponder this, because the implications are breathtaking.
Moshiach’s arrival has been predicted countless times, but we do not know when Moshiach will come. We do know that it will be a surprise, a shock, and it will happen suddenly, when we don’t expect it. As it is said, “Yeshuas Hashem k’heref ayin … the redemption from Hashem will come like the blink of an eye.” (Pesikta Zutra on Esther 4:17)
And yet, we have signs. Things are going down, down, down and we do know that redemption comes at the bottom, when things look hopeless, as in Ancient Egypt at mem-tes sha’are tumah, the forty-ninth level of impurity. And that’s the way this world is going: down, down, down.
When it looks hopeless, you can expect Moshiach.
“If you see a generation upon which numerous troubles come like a river, expect [Moshiach] …. And Rabbi Yochanan said: the son of Dovid will come only in a generation that is either entirely virtuous or entirely guilty.” (Sanhedrin 98a)
This week’s Parsha discusses what will be in the End of Days: “It will be that when all these things come upon you – the blessing and curse that I have presented before you – then you will take it your heart among all the nations where Hashem, your G-d, has dispersed you, and you will return unto Hashem, your g-d and listen to His voice, according to everything that I command you today …. Then Hashem, your G-d, will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you and He will gather you in from all the people to which Hashem your G-d has scattered you. …. Hashem your G-d will bring you to the Land that your forefathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will do good to you and make you more numerous than your forefathers. Hashem your G-d will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring to love Hashem your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. ….” (Dvarim 30:1ff)
My friends, we are living in tumultuous times. Clearly, the signs are there. It appears that Hashem is getting ready to wage war on His enemies. It’s going to be big, very big. It’s going to be like the downfall of Ancient Egypt, but this time “Ancient Egypt” will be the entire world. But, after the downfall of Egypt, Hashem came to Har Sinai and gave us His Torah. This is what we can expect this time, also. As we say on Shabbos Mussaf, “[Hashem] will let us hear, in His compassion, for a second time, before the eyes of all the living … ‘I am Hashem your G-d!’”
Please listen to the words of this week’s Haftara:
“Who is this that comes from Edom, sullied of garment from Borah? It is the One Who was majestic in His raiment, Who was girded with His abundant strength. It is I Who speaks in righteousness, abundantly able to save.” The Prophet asks, “Why the red stain on … Your garments, as one who treads in the wine vat?”
Hashem answers: “A wine press have I trod by Myself and from the nations not a man was with Me. I trod on them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath …. for the day of vengeance is in My heart and the year of My redemption has come. I trampled peoples in My anger and stupefied them with My wrath, and threw their lifeblood to the ground.”
We should not be surprised if tumultuous events occur this year.
The Prophet continues: “[But of Israel, Hashem says:] they are My people, children who will not be false, and He was unto them a savior. In all their troubles He was troubled, and an angel from before Him saved them. With His love and with His compassion He redeemed them. He lifted them and bore them all the days of the world.” (Haftara Nitzavim)
What are we to do?
“Ka’ve el Hashem … Place your hope in Hashem. Strengthen yourself and He will instill courage in your heart, and place your hope in Hashem.” (Tehillim 27)
May it be a year leading soon to the ultimate blessing, with the coming of Moshiach ben Dovid and the building of the Holy Temple in the Holy City of Yerushalayim!
“Let the year and its curses conclude! Be strong and rejoice, for the plunder is ended; place hope in the Rock and keep His covenant. You will ascend to Zion and He will say: ‘Pave! Pave her paths.’ Let the year and its blessings begin!” (Achos Ketana)