The idea of a future Final Redemption for the Jewish nation is linked to Judaism. It’s so important, two of Judaism’s “Thirteen Principles of Faith” focus on the issue of Redemption.
Our Jewish Heritage reminds us repeatedly about Redemption. It appears in our Tanach, our written Torah. It’s explained and explored in our Talmud, our Oral Torah. It’s studied and discussed by our Sages and their successors throughout the generations, to this day (if you know the writings of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, zt”l, you will notice that this essay relies heavily on—and in many instances, comes directly from--Rav Kook’s “The Redemptive Vision”, reprinted in The Koren Mahzor for Yom HaAtzma’ut and Yom Yerushalim, Nusach Ashkenaz, Koren publishers, Jerusalem, 2015, pp 3-15; any misstatements about Redemption are mine, not his).
Paradoxically, Redemption begins with exile. Exile includes the conquest of the homeland of the Jewish people, the destruction of the life of the Jewish nation and the removal of the Jewish nation from its rightful place.
Exile scatters the Jewish nation. It turns the land of Israel into copper. It renders the land barren.
Exile devours the hearts and souls of Jews. It diminishes Torah. It banishes Torah.
Redemption is the reverse of exile. It’s the process of nullifying the exilic experience.
Redemption is rejuvenation. It rejuvenates the life of the Jewish nation.
It brings the return of the Jewish nation to Israel--its rightful place. It uplifts the Jewish spirit. It empowers Israel’s greatness.
Today, the Jewish nation has been restored, reconstituted. Jewish sovereignty in Israel has been rejuvenated. Jewish hearts and souls have been rejuvenated. Torah has been rejuvenated.
Torah no longer diminishes. It increases. It grows stronger.
The land of Israel is no longer copper. It’s no longer barren. It blossoms with world-class agriculture advances, medical technology and high-tech creativity.
Some say that this rejuvenation and empowerment are sure signs Redemption has begun. Others aren’t so certain. Yes, in 1947, the United Nations passed Res. 181 to create the modern state of Israel. That triggered a process of return to Israel that runs concurrently with an equally great return to Judaism and Torah. But what does it all mean?
In 2015, where do we stand relative to Redemption? Are we still far away from it or close to its threshold? Are we at the beginning of Redemption, the end of the beginning of Redemption or the beginning of the end of the entire Redemptive process (Rabbi Jacob Schacter, “The Beginning of the Flowering of our Redemption,” reprinted in the Koren Mahzor (above), pp93-100)?
Personally, I believe that history tells us two things about Redemption: first, it tells us that Redemption will be a process, not a single one-moment event. Look at what’s happened to the Jewish people in the last 100 years: the Balfour agreement in 1917; the founding of the state of Israel in 1948; the increase of the Jewish population of Israel from perhaps 83,000 total (in 1915) to more than 6 million (in 2015) (“Demographics of Israel: Population of Israel/Palestine (1553 – Present, jewishvirtuallibrary); the absolute explosion of Torah-study in Israel; the increase of Torah-observance in Israel as a percent of population.
The Jewish nation rejuvenates. The Jewish religion rejuvenates. The Jewish land of Israel rejuvenates.
The second thing history tells us about Redemption is that our Tanach’s descriptions of the Final Days before Redemption reappear almost every month—sometimes every day—in our news headlines.
The nations turn against Israel (Yechezkiel). Jerusalem is under ‘attack’ (Zechariah). The presumed most powerful leader in the world plots evil designs against Israel (Yechezkiel). Edom (the Christianized West) and Yishmael (essentially, the Muslim word) lead a ‘counsel’ (the United Nations?) against Israel (Tehillim).
The foes of Israel are in an uproar (Tehillim). They seek to cut off Israel from its nationhood (ibid). Their goal is that Israel’s name will be remembered no longer (ibid).
‘Palestinians’ aim to conquer Israel. They want to rename Israel, ‘Palestine’. The creation of this ‘Palestine’ requires that the state of Israel be destroyed (see maps of ‘Palestine’ produced by the Palestinian Authority).
The Catholic Pope has endorsed this ‘state’. The European Union threatens Israel if Israel refuses to empower this ‘state’. The US threatens that Israel will suffer ‘consequences’ if it refuses to midwife this ‘state’.
In 2015, the gentile nations inch closer and closer to war against Israel. That movement towards war is the Redemptive echo of our Tanach.
If you want to see how this story ends, don’t wait for the movie. Read the Book.