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Weekly Chizuk

Golus Yishmael Part II

We live in a time of Hester Panim. Not only is the Hashgacha Pratis seemingly missing, but we are being bombarded with political and editorial analyses of all the cataclysmic occurrences presently taking place. We are overwhelmed and terrified by current events as the whole world seems to be spinning out of control.

As Torah believing Yidden we must believe with a deep faith that behind the scenes Hashem is manipulating history to fulfill His Master Plan. This will give us a totally different outlook on the events unraveling before us.

There is a famous gemara at the end of Makos (24b):

Rabban Gamaliel, R. Eleazar b. 'Azariah, R. Yehoshua and R. Akiva were walking on the road coming up to Jerusalem together, and just as they came to Mount Scopus they saw a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies. They fell weeping and R. Akiva laughed. Why, said they to him, are you laughing? Said he: Why are you weeping? Said they to him: A place of which it was once said, And the common man that draws near shall be put to death, has now become the habitat of foxes, and should we not weep? He answered them: Therefore am I laughing; for it is written, And I will take to Me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the Son of Yevarachiah. Now what connection has this Uriah the priest with Zechariah? Uriah lived during the times of the first Temple, while Zechariah lived [and prophesied] during the second Temple; but Scripture linked the [later] prophecy of Zechariah with the [earlier] prophecy of Uriah. In the [earlier] prophecy [in the days] of Uriah it is written: Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field etc. In Zechariah it is written: Thus said the Lord of Hosts, There shall yet old men and old women sit in the broad places of Jerusalem. So long as Uriah's [threatening] prophecy had not had its fulfillment, I had misgivings lest Zechariah's prophecy might not be fulfilled; now that Uriah's prophecy has been [literally] fulfilled, it is quite certain that Zechariah's prophecy also is to find its literal fulfillment. They said to him: Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva, you have comforted us!

Reb Zadok (Pri Tzaddik Parshas Devorim) asks, didn't the other Tannaim know and believe in the prophecies so clearly delineated in the Tanach? The p'sukim specifically console us for the future. Why did they need Rabbi Akiva's consolation?

The gemara (Bava Basra 12b) states that a Chacham is better than a Navi. (He uses his intellect and Torah sources to make his predictions). Also, the Medrash Tanchuma (Parshas Chukas) states that secrets not revealed to Moshe, were revealed to Rebbi Akiva. The meaning behind this statement is that Rebbe Akiva was the embodiment of the wisdom of the Oral Torah (as is found in the writings of the Arizal). He was able to perceive more than Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe Rabbeinu's perception came from prophecy. He didn't just understand it, he saw it. If Rebbe Akiva's perception was even greater, then his clarity was even more intense. Therefore he was affected even more deeply by the sight of the Churban, and so felt the consolation that emanated from it beyond what Rebbe Elazar and Rebbe Yehoshua felt. This is what they meant by stating, "Akiva, you have consoled us." It was specifically Rebbe Akiva's intense insight that flowed over to them and gave them a consolation they couldn't attain on their own. They realized that the deeper and more intense their awareness of the Churban, the more intense is their joy and happiness in the consolation.

The great and holy Tannaim went up to Har Habayis and saw a fox coming out of the Kodesh Kodoshim, the Holiest place on Earth, where due to its tremendous sanctity, no one was allowed to enter except for the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur. They cried. And how could they not. The sight was so extremely heartbreaking. Such degradation of the Holy. They burst out in tears over the desecration of Holy place and mourned over the destruction of the Temple. Rebbe Akiva saw the same sight and laughed. His vision was deeper and more penetrating. He saw in the sight of the fox coming out of the Kodosh Kodoshim a fulfillment of prophecy. His perception was tangible. He not only saw, but he felt it with such a deep clarity that confirmed that the second prophecy was about to be fulfilled. And therefore, observing the terrible painful situation, he found chizuk which strengthened his emuna.

Reb Elchonon (Kovetz Ma'amarim, Ikvesa d'Meshiva II) wrote, "We too, when we see a fulfillment of the parsha of Ha'azinu which foretells the occurrences that will take place at the time of our Geula. When we see the possuk, "For Hashem will judge His people" (Devorim 32:36) we are sure that soon the second half will also come to fruition, "and His servants will be consoled." We just have to make sure that we are included in the category of "servants of Hashem."

* * *

Everything happening today has been foreseen and predicted by our Holy Torah. Dovid Hamelech has already foretold of our era: "All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of Hashem I shall cut them off. They surround me like bees they are quenched like a fire of thorns; for in the name of the Lord I will cut them off" (Tehillim 118). Rashi comments that this chapter of tehillim discusses the final War of Gog and Magog when all the nations of the world encircle us.

Our attention is drawn to the repeated mention of nations surrounding us. The implication is that our enemy surrounds us in several perimeters. The Brisker Rav (The Griz Halevi on the Torah, Devorim 1:44) notes that it mentions being surrounded three times. He cites the Gra that when an enemy lays siege to a city, and suspect an attempt to escape, they encircle the city again further out. Here the possuk wants to accent the extreme hatred of the goyim that they encircle us many times, circles upon circles to ensure that no one escapes.

Secondly the comparison of our enemies to bees draws our attention. It is an remarkably accurate reflection of our enemies. In the Torah we find the possuk (Devorim 1:44), "And the Emorites, who lived in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Chormah." Rashi explains the comparison to bees. "A bee, as soon as it stings the person, immediately dies. So too the Emorites, as soon as they touched you they immediately died." The Chizkuni elaborates on Rashi's perush: "This means that being extremely weak, the bee dies from the exhaustion of stinging the person. Similarly the Emorites were so weak that every time they smote a Jew they would immediately die. Even so, they continued attacking you from Seir until Chormah."

The Brisker Rav raises the question. The possuk is recounting the powerful and vigorous attack of the Emorites against Klal Yisroel. They continued the slaughter from Seir until Chormah. Yet the fact that whenever they struck a Jew they died indicates their extreme weakness. This seems contradictory. It must be, concludes the Brisker Rav, that the possuk wants to emphasize their tremendous hatred of Yisroel. Even though they knew they would die like bees, they were driven by intense animosity and they died like martyrs, all in order to get the pleasure of killing Jews.

This is an amazingly accurate picture of the phenomena we see today. Arab suicide bombers are happily prepared to go to their death as long as in the process they take down as many Jews as possible. They are willing to die like bees. So great is their animosity.

* * *

The holy Tanna, Rabbi Eliezer Hagadol, a talmid of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, lived close to 2000 years ago in the period right after the Churban. When we read his Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer we are awestruck at how accurate a picture he had of the descendants of Yishmael. (Remember, he wrote this 600 years before the rise of Islam.)

Yishmael was born under (the mazal of) the bow, and he grew with the bow, as it says, "And Hashem was with the lad, and he grew and he became an archer (Bereishis 21:20). He took bow and arrows and began to shoot at the birds. He saw Yitzchak sitting by himself, and he shot an arrow at him to slay him. Sarah saw this, and told Avraham. She said to him, "Thus and thus has Yishmael done to Yitzchak. But now arise and write (a will in favor) of Yitzchak, (giving him) all that the Holy One has sworn to give to you and to your descendants. The son of the handmaid shall not inherit with my son, with Yitzchak," as it is said, "And she said unto Avraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son."

[The animosity of Yishmoel for the Jews goes all the way back to his enmity to his brother Yitzchak. Yishmael felt that he was the bechor (first-born) and thus deserved to inherit his father Avraham. (He had a tradition from his mother Hagar that Yitzchak was not even Avraham's child. He had been conceived to Sarah by Avimelech. Thus Yishmael believes that he is the only descendant of Avraham.) Therefore he despised Yitzchak whom he knew would be the sole inheritor. From that time on the jealousy intensified into national animosity.]

Rabbi Yishmael said, In the future the children of Yishmael will do fifteen things in the land of Israel in the latter days: They will measure the land with ropes; [this portends how the Arabs will lay claim to every inch of Eretz Yisroel with claims of prior ownership] .; falsehood will multiply and truth will be hidden [this portends the national trait and aptitude of the Arabs to lie and distort the truth]; and they will build a building in the Holy Place [accurately foretelling the building of the Mosque on the Temple Mount}; and two brothers will arise over them, princes at the end [Muhammad died in the year 632, leading to a dispute over succession to Muhammad as a caliph of the Islamic community which spread across various parts of the world. This resulted in the current schism between the Shi'ites and Sunnis who hate each other almost (but not quite) as much as they hate the Jews]; and in their days the Branch, the Son of David, will arise, as it is said, "And in the days of those kings shall the G-d of Heven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed" (Doniel 2:44).

* * *

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (a talmid of Rabbi Akiva, who was a talmid of Rabbi Eliezer) was the author of the holy Zohar. He lived 3 generations after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. The Zohar also gives us an amazing insight into the underlying forces behind today's current events:

And Sarai was barren; she had no child." Woe unto that. Woe unto that time when Hagar delivered Yishmael. But Sarah gave birth after Yishmael was born, and she had a son from a holy seed. Hence, why do you say, "Woe"? Indeed, woe unto that time for because Sarah was delayed, it is written, "And Sarai said unto Abram, '... Please come to my maid.'" This is why it was the right time for Hagar to inherit her mistress, Sarah, and Hagar had a son from Avraham. And Avraham said, "Oh that Yishmael might live before You." And even though the Creator told him about Yitzchak, Avraham clung to Yishmael until the Creator replied to him, "And as for Yishmael, I have heard you." Afterwards he was circumcised and came into the holy covenant before Yitzchak came to the world. [Yishmael was the offspring of Avraham. Being the first born, in some spiritual way, he had a certain natural claim as the rightful inheritor of Avraham. However, he should not have been so important; after all he was the son of a maid-servant. But Avraham gave him a bracha and the Almighty affirmed it. From now one Bnei Yishmael were to play a major role in world history.]

For four hundred years the Heavenly spirit of the sons of Yishmael stood and asked before the Creator. He told him, "Do those who were circumcised have a part in Your name?" The Creator told him, "Yes." He told him, "But Yishmael was circumcised, why has he no share in you like Yitzchak?" He replied, "One was circumcised properly and perfectly, and the other was not. Moreover, they adhere to Me properly for eight days, and the others are as far as several days away from Me" [Arabs perform circumcision much later, even as old as 13, just like Yishmael]. The appointed minister told him, "And yet, since he was circumcised, will he not have a good reward for it?"

Woe unto that time when Yishmael was born in the world and was circumcised. What did the Creator do with regards to the complaint of Yishmael's minister? He removed the sons of Yishmael from adhesion with the upper realm and gave them a part in the holy land below, because of the circumcision in them.

And the children of Yishmael are destined to rule over the holy land for a long time, when it is empty of everything, as their circumcision is empty without perfection. And they will detain the children of Israel from returning to their places until the merit of the sons of Yishmael is complemented.

[This Zohar amazing in its accuracy, is simply astonishing. As a result of the Roman oppression, approximately 200 years after the Churban, the Jewish presence in Eretz Yisroel dwindled to almost nothing. 400 years later (approximately the year 650) the Arabs took possession of the Holy Land. They ruled there for the next 1300 years (until 1948) while the land was totally desolate.

Mark Twain visited Israel in 1867, and published his impressions in Innocents Abroad. He described a desolate country - devoid of both vegetation and human population:

".. A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds a silent mournful expanse. a desolation. we never saw a human being on the whole route. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country."

In 1948 the Arabs lost control over Eretz Yisroel. The sefer Livnas HaSapir remarks that the Bnei Yishmael ruled over Eretz Yisroel for 1300 years. That is: 100 years for every year old Yishmael was when he did Bris Milah! And until then it remained miserably desolate and uninhabitable. Only now has it started flourishing once more.

* * *

Yishmael, Our Eternal Enemies

As we mentioned in the first article of Golus Yishmael Rav Chaim Vital stated that we will suffer more harshly under Yishmael than during the other exiles. This statement can be traced to earlier sources. In Bereishis (21:14) there is a very problematic possuk: "And Avraham arose early in the morning, and he took bread and a leather pouch of water, and he gave [them] to Hagar, he placed [them] on her shoulder, and the child, and he sent her away; and she went and wandered in the desert of Beer Sheva." This is totally incongruous with Avraham Avinu, the symbol of Chesed. He had developed the mitzvah of Hachnosas Orchim to a point unequaled in the annals of history. Even after undergoing Bris Milah at the age of 100, when still in excruciating pain, he unrelentingly sought out guests. Then when told that Hakadosh Baruch Hu was planning to wipe out the entire city of S'dom, the most decrepit and immoral place under the sun, he made super human efforts to daven for them. And here he is, taking his wife Hagar, and his beloved son, on whom he had davened "If only Yishmael should live before you," and he sends them away into the harsh desert with just a bit of bread and water?!? How could he be so cruel?

Rabbeinu Bachya was puzzled by this. He asks, "He should have given them silver and gold, and put them on camels to travel, with an affluent supply of money as was befitting a member of the household of Avraham. After all, he had davened for this child, 'If only Yishmael should live before you.' The Ramban explained that since Sarah had instructed him to divorce this woman and her child, and Hashem had told Avraham to listen to whatever she said, therefore he followed her orders and sent them away with a bare minimum of bread and water.

"It could be that Avraham's sending them out with barely enough bread and water was really a result of something else. Avraham saw prophetically that in the future that Yitzchak's descendants would be subjugated by the descendants of Yishmael and that they would hate them to an extreme and there would be no nation that hates Yisrael like the Bnei Yishmael. Therefore Avraham acted as is befitting to act with a cruel enemy and gave him only a morsel of bread and a bit of water."

Rabbeinu Bachya expands on this idea in Devorim on the possuk (10:7), "And the Lord, your God, will place all these curses upon your enemies and upon those who hate you, who pursued you." Thus explains Rabbeinu Bachya, "The possuk delineates enemies () and those who hate you (). The enemies are Yishmael, and those who hate you refers to Esav (Europe and the Church). So too has Michah (5:8) foretold the future, "Your hand shall be lifted up upon your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off." This refers to the two nations under whom we are dispersed and subjugated. Now, why is Yishmael referred to as the enemy while Esav is regarded as hating us? An enemy is worse than one who hates. One who hates, even when he harms you, still he will do it with a certain amount of mercy. But an enemy, however, harbors animosity in his heart forever. He has no mercy. He will persecute an old man equally to a young. This is hinted at in the actual word Oyev () which stems from and even has the same letters as "Avoy" (). This is the utterance of one in pain, Oy vavoy."

The Gaon in Aderes Eliyahu (Devorim 32:35) explains the difference between the two. He writes that one who hates will try to seduce the person to sin while an enemy wants to physically harm the person. This is amazingly in congruence with the Pirkei d'Rabi Eliezer (quoted in the first article of Golus Yishmael) that Golus Edom was a war against our religion; they tried to convert us. Yishmoel, however, wants to swallow us alive: they will accept nothing less than total annihilation.

* * *

From all this we are left speechless at how our Sages, hundreds of years before Yishmael evolved into the Arab nations, accurately foresaw the very character of Golus Edom and Golus Yishmoel and the underlying dynamics causing world events.

The Zohar at the end of Lech Lecha foresees the final world wars as Edom and Yishmoel, the progeny of Avraham Avinu wage their last final struggle against Klal Yisroel. These are the prophetical final Wars of Gog and Magog.

So now what are we supposed to do? How are we to react to all this?

On the one hand, we must learn from Rabbi Akiva. We should realize that the Divine Plan is unfolding before our eyes and keep sight of the glorious climax of the coming of the Moshiach.

On the other hand, we are human, and so we are terribly frightened by all we see around us. The answer is, as I wrote previously, that teshuva together with emuna and bitachon will be our shield against these onslaughts.

It is recounted that the Brisker Rav told over what he had heard from his grandfather Rav Chaim Volozhin, zt"l. One gentile government official once asked Rav Chaim, how can the Jews imagine that at the end of days when the messiah comes that they will reign over the entire world. The armies of all the nations number in the millions, whereas the Jews are only a minute fraction of that. How can you imagine that such a weak nation will conquer so many mighty nations?

Rav Chaim Volozhin replied to the official: Have you ever seen a farmer placing one lone hen in a pen filled with a hundred roosters. The chicken is petrified knowing that all the roosters will attack her, because all the roosters want the hen. But what happens? A major war breaks out between all the roosters as they fight between themselves who will win the hen. The roosters attack each other viciously in a fight to the death. In the gruesome aftermath all of them lie dead carcasses on the floor, while the poor weak little hen remains alone, healthy and whole. She's the only survivor of the battle, and all the roosters lie lifeless all around, having killed themselves without the hen having to do anything at all. All the dirty work was done by the hen's enemies among themselves.

So too will be the downfall of the goyim at that future time. There will be a bloody war among the goyim, one against the other, and they will kill each other without Yisroel having to enter the conflict at all. They will cause their own downfall and they will all lose while Yisroel will remain intact and unharmed. This was Rav Chaim's answer to that goy.

The Brisker Rav commented, that this is true of the goyim in general. The Navi (Yeshaya 63:1) writes: "Who is this coming from Edom, with soiled garments, from Bozrah." This is referring to Edom who destroyed the Beis Hamikdash and burnt the Holy Heichal and until today rules over us. His downfall will be by Hakadosh Baruch Hu Himself: "I trod alone, and from the peoples, none was with Me." Edom will not fall like the rest of the Nations. They will destroy each other. Edom will fall, without the help of any other nation, by the hand of Hashem Himself.

Ein Od Milvado!

Wishing everyone a Gut Shabbos!

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1. This possuk is an accurate description of the descendants of Yishmael. They are fascinated with firearms. At their weddings they shoot rifles as a sign of joy. Arabs are expert in using firearms from a very early age. Guns are a part of their very nature.

2. Yishmael had not performed a proper Bris Milah, having jumped up in the middle and not allowing the mitzvah to be finished.

Esav who is Edom however does not have the merit of Milah (and therefore they never inherited Eretz Yisroel). This is recounted in Da'as Zekeinim Ba'ale Tosfos (Bereishis 25:25). "And the first one came out ruddy (red), he was completely like a coat of hair, and they named him Esav." "In the Midrash it states that when his father saw him, he said that his blood has not yet been absorbed, and so he didn't want to perform Bris Milah at eight days After a year or two, Yitzchak saw that his complexion had not changed and he understood that this was his natural complexion. Still, he didn't perform Bris Milah. He said, since I haven't circumcised him at eight days like I was, I will wait until thirteen like my brother Yishmael and then I will circumcise him. When he turned thirsteen Esav refused to have Bris Milah performed on him"

3. The Nazis, in spite of stemming from Edom, were an exception. Being the embodiment of Amalek, they were totally devoid of any mercy.

4. ", (' '

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Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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