Parshas Beraishis tells us that, when Hashem first created the world, all the elements were in chaos, which is called “tohu vavohu.”
Twenty years ago, I wrote a book called “Worldstorm,” in which I predicted that, before Moshiach comes, the world will return to tohu vavohu, chaos. Through our own rebellion against Hashem, we will try to push Him out of His world. The result will be total chaos.
My friends, it’s happening before our eyes. On Shabbos/Simchas Torah there was a massive attack against Israel, from the air and from the ground and from the sea. As I write, Israeli forces are fighting terrorists in Israeli cities and Gaza. Thousands have been killed, injured or captured, thousands of our brothers and sisters. Some of them have been taken to Gaza as prisoners. We have to cry to Hashem to save them!
People are asking why Israel, with the world’s most sophisticated intelligence service, was not prepared for this. Why were they blind to this upcoming attack?
The answer is that we are weak and defenseless because we are attacking each other. Jew is fighting Jew. The hatred against Torah and against religious Jews is burning out of control. All our troubles come from sinas chinom, unwarranted hatred between Jew and Jew, and the fires of self-hatred are burning. Hatred makes a person blind.
At its core, this hatred is directed against Hashem. It manifests itself as hatred toward Jews who are loyal to Hashem. The magnitude of this emergency defies description.
Someone suggested that my wife and I leave Israel and return to the United States. That idea represents a total misunderstanding. Tohu vavohu, chaos, is everywhere. The United States is crumbling. Stores are closing in large cities because of unrestrained theft. In Philadelphia mobs are looting. But it’s not just America; the entire world is in a state of chaos.
This year, many people were concerned because Rosh Hashana began on Shabbos and we could not blow shofar, which is our cry for Heavenly protection. For the same reason, the Yom Tov of Sukkos also began on Shabbos and, for this reason, not only could we not make the blessing over lulav and esrog on the first day, but there was also no Shabbos Chol ha Moed. For this reason, we did not read the Haftara for Shabbos Chol ha Moed Sukkos. I will quote now from that Haftara, because it impinges exactly on today’s news.
“It shall be on that day, on the day that Gog comes on the soil of Israel … My raging anger shall flare up. For in My indignation and in My blazing wrath I have spoken, I take an oath that on that day a great earthquake shall come upon the soil of Israel. And there shall quake before Me the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that move on the ground and every human being on the face of the earth. Mountains shall be overthrown; cliffs shall topple and every wall shall topple to the ground.” (Yechezkel 38:18ff)
This Haftara is meant to be read during Sukkos. The Artscroll Machzor points out that, “Nimukei Yosef to Megillah quotes a tradition from Rav Hai Gaon that the victory over Gog and Magog will take place in the month of Tishrai, the month of Sukkos.” The war broke out on Shemini Atzeres, the last day of Sukkos.
Gog, the enemy of Israel, will come upon the soil of Israel and Hashem’s anger will blaze. I do not of course know if the Haftara refers to the events currently taking place, but the Novi tells us that Hashem will allow the enemies of Israel to enter the Holy Land, and the result will be that He will bring them down forever. At that time, there will be no refuge for Hashem’s enemies, for He “will dispatch a fire against … those who dwell confidently in the islands, and they shall know that I am Hashem.”
What are the “islands?” I believe this refers to any place where the enemies of Hashem and Israel dwell, where they are confident that they dwell in safety. But no! A “fire” will be dispatched all over the world. I am sorry to be so blunt, but are we not all aware of the distinct possibility of worldwide nuclear war? Does the Prophet Malachi not warn us about the “day which is coming, burning like an oven ….”
My friends, I will speculate on the reason that we did not read this Haftara this year. Perhaps the punishment awaiting those who hate Hashem and His Children is being hidden in order to embolden them and trigger the events which will bring about the Geula Shelemah.
As we begin 5784, it is clear that we are living in times of unprecedented danger. There is no way out except to cry out to Hashem with the words we said on Hoshana Rabbah, the words which pierce the Heavens, “Please G-d, please! Save now and bring redemption now!” There is nowhere to go except to stand in front of the Ribono shel Olam with broken hearts and beg for salvation. No island is safe. We beg Hashem to manifest His Presence as He did in Mitzraim and as He did at Har Sinai!
Each one of us can and should examine ourselves to see if we need to do teshuva in any area of our lives. This is the time. As it says in the Yom Tov Mussaf, “purify our heart to serve You sincerely!”
We beg Hashem to bring about the day described by the Novi in the Haftara that we did not read this year: “I will make known My holy Name among My people Israel and I will never more desecrate My holy Name, and the nations shall know that I am Hashem, the Holy One in Israel.”
“Please Hashem! Save now and bring redemption now!”
Geula Shelemah: Final Redemption
Machzor: Holiday prayer book
Ribono shel Olam: King of the Universe, G-d
Tohu Vavohu: Chaos, the condition of the world at the first moment of Creation