Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Succot, Jewish prophesy and your evening news

Our daily news headlines are filled with dread for Israel. Arabs riot on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site (“Rioters hole up in mosque amid violent Temple Mount melee”, The Times of Israel, October 8, 2014). During July-August, 2014, Arabs attacked Jews in Jerusalem more than 150 times (“'Silent Intifada' Rages in Jerusalem”, israel today, September 17, 2014). The mayor of Jerusalem fears for the future (“Barkat Tells Netanyahu Jerusalem's 'Silent Intifada' Must End”, Arutz Sheva, October 3, 2014).

The West threatens Israel. It acts as if it’s about to join the ‘Palestinian cause’ in earnest (“Sweden to recognize state of Palestine as US, EU leaders criticize Israel’s new settlement plan”,, October 3, 2014).

Israel feels backed into a corner (“Israel alarmed at Sweden's plan to recognize Palestinian state”, Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2014). Its position on the international stage erodes (“Sweden’s recognition of Palestine will license activists”, mondoweiss, October7, 2014). Israel fears that the EU is preparing to tell Israel, ‘we don’t care about negotiations anymore; we just want a ‘Palestine’; and if you don’t agree to that, we’ll use sanctions against you (“Swedish Recognition of 'Palestine' - A Sign of Things to Come?”, Arutz Sheva, October 7, 2014).

Israel is cornered. It has no friends. The entire world seems to gather to demonize and criminalize the Jewish State.

What’s going on here?

Tomorrow morning, October 9, 2014, Jews around the world will get a look at the answer to this question. Tomorrow morning, Jews who go to synagogue services for the Holiday we call, Succot, will read a Haftorah portion from Zecharyahu (14:1-24). In that Haftorah, the prophet Zecharyahu appears to reference today’s headlines: he describe a war prompted by nations who gather together to attack Israel.

Isn’t that what your headlines suggest?

Using the poetry of prophesy, Zecharyahu presents a scenario that is familiar to all who read the news. He describes the day when the nations of the world will attack Jerusalem.

Our Sages teach that the war Zecharyahu describes contains sometimes-obscure language. They are uncertain how literally we should take his words. His words might be metaphor (see The Midrash Says on the Weekly Haftaros, Volume 5, Book of Devarim, Rabbi Moshe Weissman, Bnay Yakov, publications, 2003, p 427).

Our headline news stories aren’t metaphor. In real time, they  echo Zecharayhu’s words.

The nations of the world attack Israel. They attack Jerusalem. They want to see Jerusalem divided. They want to see East Jerusalem (at the very least) to be taken from the Jews. They want that to be the capital of the new Arab ‘Palestine’.

Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, is in East Jerusalem. The Arabs have already declared that there will be no ‘Israelis’ (Jews) in their new ‘Palestine’ (“Abbas: There Will be No Israelis in 'Palestine'”, Arutz Sheva, July 30, 2013). If Israel is forced to give up East Jerusalem, Jews will forever be sealed off from their holiest religious site, just as they had been between 1948-1967, after Jordan had seized and occupied all of East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount.

The nations don’t care about Judaism’s holiest site. They don’t care about a Jewish Jerusalem. They don’t care about Israel.

They care about the ‘Palestinian cause’. They care about attacking Israel. They want to see the Arabs get ‘their Jerusalem’.  

The war in Zecharyahu marks the beginning of the Final Jewish Redemption. It’s a war that will be led by Gog UMagog, which our Heritage translates as ‘the leader Gog from the nation of Magog’ (see Avodau Zarah, 3b, the ArtScroll edition). The words ‘Gog UMagog’ do not appear in this Haftorah. But most commentaries agree that this text refers to Gog from Magog (The Midrash Says, ibid, p. 428).

Gog is a leader who creates a coalition of nations to attack the Jewish State (see Yechezkel, the ArtScroll edition, Chapter 38:2, Note 2). He comes from a land far from Israel (ibid). According to our Sages, that land could be modern Germany, Iran, Turkey, Russia—or someplace west of Russia (ibid).

More than one commentary teaches that the chief ally of Gog will be Edom, the irreconcilable enemy of Israel (ibid). As you may know, in our Heritage, Edom is typically identified as ‘The Christian West’.

‘Gog’ will enlist the Christian West and the Arab to attack Israel.

‘Gog’ is a powerful leader who will create a coalition of nations to come to Israel—either physically or diplomatically, or both—to ‘attack’ Israel and Jerusalem. In some way, he will be connected to Edom—the West (the US?). The fighting force which will attack Israel will come primarily from Persia (Iran) and Ishmael (the Arab).

Can you picture that happening? Can you picture an American President so disgusted with Israel that he decides not to defend Israel at the UN? Can you picture such a President then being asked by the UN to form a coalition to advance against Israel—for peace?

This picture of Edom (the West) joining with Ishmael (the Arab) to attack the Jewish state doesn’t just appears in our Tanach—primarily in Zecharyahu, Yechezkel and Daniel. It also appears in our Midrashic commentary (ibid, Note 2)--and in our headlines.

We are reminded of this—the poetic prophecy and our daily headlines—when we read King David’s Tehillim (Psalms), who wrote the following words in Psalm 83:

“behold, Your foes are in uproar and those who hate You have raised their head. Against Your nation [Israel] they plot deviously. They take counsel [the UN?] against those sheltered by You. They said, ‘Come, let us cut them off from nationhood, so Israel’s name will not be remembered anymore!’[the Hamas and PLO Charters]. For they take counsel together unanimously, they strike a covenant against You [the UN vote for ‘Palestinian’ statehood]—[they include] the tents of Edom [the West] and Ishmaelites [the Arab], of Moab, and Hagrites, Geval and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia and the inhabitants of Tyre”.

That’s a coalition of nations come together to destroy Israel. Many today who seek to dismantle G-d’s Jewish Israel descend in some way from this ancient coalition. Once again, they join together to plot deviously against Israel.

The G-d of Israel has a Jewish Story for you to see. It’s a Story that focuses on Israel.

This Story will unfold in history. You will see it unfold through the headlines you read every day.

It’s the Story of the Final Redemption of the Jewish people. It’s prophecy-in-the-news.

Whose side will you be on when the G-d of Israel rescues Jewish Israel?




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