In this week’s Parsha, we learn about the destruction of an evil place called Sodom.
As I write, our soldiers are entering an evil place called Gaza.
May Hashem watch over them. May they all return unscathed spiritually and physically. May we soon see the end of evil in this world, as we say on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, “And so too, the righteous will see and be glad, the upright will exult and the devout will be mirthful …. Iniquity will close its mouth and all wickedness will evaporate like smoke when You will remove the domination of evil from the earth.”
It is essential for us to understand the context of current events. Unless we understand where we are in history, we can become depressed and confused. The only way to gain strength is to understand that current events are leading directly toward the Day of Redemption.
The Redemption from Mitzraim was preceded by terrible suffering; the advent of the Final Redemption is no different. Redemption always comes after we reach bottom, the place where we think there is “no way out.” Hashem rescues us when it becomes clear that our rescue could come from nowhere else. “Ain od milvado … there is nothing but Hashem.”
On Sukkos, we sit under a roof of reeds and branches detached from living plants. This roof offers no physical protection. We sit under these plants because Hashem told us to do it. Regarding this, King David says that Hashem “will hide me in His sukkah on the day of evil; he will conceal me.” (Tehillim 27)
When Hashem protects you, you become invisible. I heard a story about a family near Gaza. The evil ones came into their house for hours. The family was in the shelter. The evil ones entered the shelter three times but did not see them!
The Chofetz Chaim predicted there would be three wars before Moshiach. The first was the First World War, which ended in 1918. The Chofetz Chaim left this world in 1933, but he predicted that there would be a Second War, which would make the first war look like “child’s play.” Then, he said, before Moshiach comes, there will be a Third War (unless everyone does teshuva first).
There is a hint of these wars in Tehillim 118, where it says three times, “[the nations] will surround me.” The Psalm says that our salvation at those times will be “b’shaim Hashem … in the Name of G-d I will cut them down.” Our salvation comes when we act in the Name of G-d. That’s what will save us.
On Sukkos, we read two Haftaras describing Milchemes Gog Umagog, the Final War, in which the combined enemies of Israel enter the Holy Land and are destroyed there by Hashem. There is a tradition that this war will begin during the Month of Tishrai.
The current war began on 22 Tishrai.
Remarkably, the second Haftara, which is read on Shabbos Chol Hamoed Sukkos, was not read this year because of the way the calendar fell out. In other words, this Haftara was hidden from us, just the way the attack itself was completely hidden. It caught everyone, including the Israeli military, by surprise. There are no coincidences.
Here is how the Malbim describes the Days Before Moshiach. “In the End of Days, after the Children of Israel have returned to their land, the children of Ishmael and the children of Esau will unite to attack Jerusalem. They will form a world coalition against the tiny nation of Israel. But something will go wrong with their plan. The religious beliefs of the children of Ishmael and the children of Esau will clash, and the two nations will collide and destroy each other. This is what is referred to as the War of Gog and Magog. Following this cataclysmic conflict, the Final Redemption of the Jewish People will occur with the coming of Messiah the Son of King David. (Malbim on Yechezkel Hanovi 32:17)
In other words, this period has been fully described by our Prophets, Rabbis and Sages over the centuries. It seems clear that this difficult period is leading directly up to the advent of the World of Moshiach.
What is our role, my friends? Here is the Chofetz Chaim’s advice. “Before Moshiach comes, Hashem will stretch a rope from one end of the world to the other and shake it vigorously. Those who hold on tightly will survive…. These turbulent times are testing our faith in Hashem. We must hold on tightly until the end.”
The rope is Torah. Hold on tight.
When Lot left Avraham Avinu for the evil city of Sodom, it appeared to be Lot’s spiritual and physical downfall. Indeed, the most terrible things happened and the most degenerate nations descended from him. But, amazingly, from his seed, which was buried in the waste heap for centuries, came one of the greatest figures in history, Rus Hamoavia, the great-grandmother of King David and the progenitor of Moshiach.
The Torah tells us, “Tamim tehiye … You shall be wholehearted with Hashem” (Dvarim 18:13) on which Rashi comments: “Look ahead to Him and do not delve into the future. But rather, whatever comes upon you, accept with wholeheartedness and then you will be with Him and of His portion.”
Hashem will save us and protect us if we stick close to Him and His Torah. We do not understand the depths of His plan, but we do know that we can trust Him completely. May it be His will that the events of today quickly unfold into the brilliant sunrise of Moshiach when “all wickedness will evaporate like smoke [and] You will remove evil’s domination from the earth.”
Mitzraim: Ancient Egypt