Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues
Golus YishmaelWe are now more than a month into the current war with Hamas and with each passing day we see no end in sight. This is a very frightening time. Bnei Yishmael are violently, cruelly, and inhumanely doing everything they can to annihilate the Jews. Hamas are raining missiles down on Eretz Yisroel, planning mass massacres through hidden tunnels, suicide bombers using paragliders, and who knows what else.
Medinas Yisrael was founded with the hope that by establishing a Jewish nation it could 1) guarantee safety for all Jews, and 2) earn recognition and validity in the eyes of the Nations. Today, that dream basically shattered. Eretz Yisroel is in terrible danger. And all around us the entire world has turned against us and even former friends have turned enemy. The United Nations have embarked on a holy mission of Israel bashing. Ignoring the atrocities and butchering that is taking place all over the world, their entire focus is concentrated on condemning Israel for the audacity of trying to protect itself against a ruthless enemy. They are planning all manners of strategies to isolate and invalidate us and no one utters a protest. All over the world scores of violent demonstrations are taking place purportedly attacking Israel for their war crimes. However the chants are overtly anti-Semitic and many observers are drawing a horrifying comparison to Europe in the 1930's.
This all leaves us bewildered. What is Hashem doing to us? How do we understand world events, and what should be our response? What should we do? Where will this all lead us? And what and when will be the end of this carnage?
There is much talk that we are on the threshold of the Moshiach. Truthfully, no one can accurately prophesize the time for the final Geula. This has been attempted often enough in the past, never successfully. This is totally up to the will of the Holy One Blessed Be He. However, Rav Elchanan Wasserman said over 70 years ago that we're in Ikvese d'Meshicha. And in our generation current events are making us intensely and acutely aware that something is happening around us. Today the signs of the Geula are becoming more and more evident to everyone. We haven't seen anything like this in all of the 2000 years of our Golus. All of the nations of the world are unsettled as long as Israel exists.
The Malbim on Tehillim 118 points out the simple reading of the possuk, "All nations surround me; in the name of the Lord, I will cut them off." This means that when we see all the goyim surrounding us we must realize that they are merely following a Divine directive, they are surrounding us "in the name of Hashem," in order that we should cut them down and destroy them. Hashem is causing all the goyim to come and lay siege to Yerushalayim, in order that they be defeated there." We should not be afraid, but realize everything is following the Divine Plan and we should prepare ourselves and watch as the Geula unfolds.
Bezras Hashem, we will soon see the fulfillment of words of the Baal HaTurim at the end of Parshas Chayei Sarah: "and he fell in the presence of all his brothers": "When Yishmael falls at the end of Days, the Moshiach ben Dovid, from the descendants of Yitzchak, will arise."
We read the news and everyone is scrambling to propose their political analyses of current events. However, if we look into Chazal, we are amazed how they accurately foresaw everything that is happening today and they gave us the method how to conquer Yishmoel.
In Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer (32) it says that six people were named before they were born. One of these is Yishmoel, based on the posuk, " . . . and you should call his name `Yishmoel' " (Bereishis 16:11).
"And why was he named `Yishmoel'? Because in the future Hakodosh Boruch Hu will hear the voice of the keening (na'akas) of the [Jewish] people, from that which the children of Yishmoel will do [to them]. That is why he was called `Yishmoel,' so as to say, "Keil will hear and will answer them (Tehillim 55:20).' "
That son of Avrohom is named "Yishmoel" because he will bring the Jewish people to a level of distress so serious that the Creator of the world will hear their voices. Even before Yishmoel was born, it was known that Hashem will hear the keening of our people, the Jewish people, as a result of what the children of Yishmoel will do then.
The reason for this special mention is that the normal middoh of Shomei'a Tefilloh is insufficient in the conflict with Yishmoel. There is a need of a special shemi'oh, a special receptivity to prayer that is not present throughout the generations. This special middoh is called "Yishma Keil" and it is a new type of hearing on the part of Hashem that must be established "at the end of days," to hear our supplications in response to the attacks of Yishmoel. What Yishmoel will do to us is not extraneous, but an essential part of him. It is part of his name and his name refers to his essence. Within Yishmoel, and intrinsic to him, is a power that will cause Hashem to hear the prayers of our people at the end of days.
It says that at the end of the prophecy of Bilaam: ". . . Oy! Who can live before he in whom is put Keil? (Oy! Mi yichyeh misumo Keil.) (Bamidbar 24:22)" Commenting on this posuk, Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer (30) says: Bilaam said: "Hashem put His Name in Yisroel [whose name includes `Keil' which is the Name of Hashem]. And since Hashem made the name of Yishmoel equivalent to the name Yisroel, Oy! who will live in his days. Of this was said the posuk, `Oy! Who can live from he in whom is put Keil?' "
The Radal explains that Hashem Himself, as it were, called both Yisroel (in the posuk, ". . . and He called his name Yisroel (Bereishis 35:10)") and also Yishmoel, through the agency of the Mal'ach Hashem (Bereishis 16:11). Thus Hashem Himself, as it were, made the names in this sense equivalent.
In the case of Yishmoel, it portends suffering. Who can stand up to this people whose name includes the name of Hashem? Who can survive? Who can withstand his oppression?
In response to what Yishmoel does, the Torah says: "Oy." This is a word that has no meaning; it is simply an exclamation, a pure expression of shock. This shock is the response of the Torah to the fact that the name of Hashem appears in Yishmoel's name and what that appearance implies, as we will explain. What is this extraordinary persecution that Yishmael will enact against the Jewish people?
Rav Chaim Vital in Eitz Hadaas Tov writes "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when Man rose up against us," this is Yishmael. "Then they would have swallowed us up alive." This is that fifth Golus, so totally different than anything else that we had previously experienced. Then they will want to swallow us alive so that nothing remains. For in their wrath they want to wipe Yisroel off the face of the earth so nothing remains; as if we had never existed. This is different than the other exiles. Their golus is lighter. Then we are compared to being swept away by running water. But we survived and were not swallowed up completely. During the previous galus our lot and suffering concentrated on our souls and not on our bodies.
This is not true of Golus Yishmael who will in the future persecute Yisroel with terrible and difficult suffering, the likes of which we have never seen. They want to destroy us entirely, body and soul; to impoverish us and swallow us alive, leaving over no remnant, entirely uprooting us. This is why his name is called Yishmael - Hashem will hear our cries. At that time we will not know what to do. We will have no other hope other than to have total trust in Hashem's great power that He will save us from their hands. Thus the Psalm ends with, "Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth." We know that He only created Heaven and Earth for the sake of Yisroel, in order that they should fulfill the Torah. If so, Hashem must help us and save us from their hands and bring the final Geula quickly so that the Universe should remain intact. The Universe has no ability to exist without Yisroel.
This is a frightening prophecy. Written almost 2000 years ago, before there was any Arab nation, it accurately predicts the difference between Golus Edom and Golus Yishmael. Golus Edom was a war against our religion. If only we would convert, we would be spared. Golus Yishmael is totally different in nature. They are not interested in our converting. They want total annihilation.
Rav Chaim Vital explains why the Golus of Yishmael is so much more difficult. Yishmael was the son of Avraham Avinu and also underwent Bris Milah. Therefore he was called a Pera Adam - wild Man, and not a whole Man. This is because on one hand he had the zechus avos from his father. He also had the zechus of Milah. Avraham Avinu had blessed him, "If only Yishmael will live before you," and Hakadosh Baruch Hu accepted this prayer: "I have heard you regarding Yishmael." This all gave him the advantages of being a Man. However, he had not performed a proper and complete Bris Milah, having jumped up in the middle not allowing the mitzvah to be finished. Therefore he is called a pera adam - a wild Man. The Maharil Diskin observes the order of the words. If the word "pera" meaning "wild" were a descriptive adjective the term should have been "adam pera". That would be accurately translated as a wild man, where "wild" is describing the man. However the reversed order "pera adam" indicates that the word pera is not merely a descriptive, it is a noun: this man is a pera, a wild beast in the form of a man.
The Chofetz Chaim often said, it says in the possuk, "he will be": future tense. The implication is that Yishmael will remain wild forever. Even if the entire world gathers to civilize this creature, and they give him the best education, he will always remain a pera. Even if he graduates university and becomes a doctor or a professor, he will be a doctor pera adam, or a professor pera adam. The Chofetz Chaim concluded, "Oy, who knows what more this wild man is liable to do to Klal Yisroel at the end of days!"
This is all hidden in Yishmael's name. The Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer (Chap. 31) writes, "Why is his name 'Yishmael' (Heb. For Hashem will hear)? Because in the future Hashem will hear the moans of the people from the deeds of Yishmael in the land at the end of days."
Rav Chaim Vital tells us another important lesson: what are we to do in order to save ourselves from this bitter golus? During Golus Edom, which was an attack on our religion, our job was to remain firm and be willing to sacrifice our lives for Judaism and not to convert our faith. In the merit of our self-sacrifice we were freed from their subjugation. Golus Yishmael, however, is a war against our very existence. They want to totally annihilate us. We don't have the option of giving up our lives for the sake of our religion.
So what are we to do? We have no hope except to trust in the great power of Hashem Yisborach to save us from their schemes. We need an extraordinarily firm bitachon to believe that the existence of the whole universe depends upon there being a Klal Yisroel. And so Hashem will be forced, so to speak, to save us with the final Geula in order to preserve the existence of the Heavens and the Earth. The Universe has no reason to exist except in the merit of Klal Yisroel.
Yishmael is unique in that there is no other nation that so frequently and so consistently invokes Sheim Shomayim. The Name of Heaven is always on its lips. Everything that they do is done in the Name of Heaven.
However what does Heaven want? This -- they determine. It is completely clear to them that everything that they do is what Heaven wants. Heaven wants what they want. But that is not what Heaven really wants.
These are not weak-headed or silly people. They have a very firm belief: any place they go, they find, as it were, the Creator. It all is, according to them, the will of the Creator. Whatever they do they cry out "Allah akbar!"
Therefore, every murder, every horror, every decadent act, every corruption, every theft that they perform - is done in the Name of the Creator of the world.
Two nations were were given their name by the Holy One blessed be He, and Hashem put his name in their names: Yisroel and Yishmael. Yishmael is a tremendous kitrug (accusation) against Klal Yisroel because of their pure emuna in Hashem and not in any avodah zara. However, their emuna is superficial. Whatever they do is the will of the Creator. It is as if they decide the will of the Creator. We are different. Our emuna is a deeper emunah. Hashem gave us the Torah which is His will, and we are subservient to it. We are subservient to the Almighty, while they dictate to the Almighty.
In this conflict with Yishmael, as long as their emunah is stronger than ours, we stand no chance. They have a stronger faith than we. They believe with all their soul. The message we are receiving from Above is: now is the time for us to strengthen our emunah and bitachon and perfect it! Only with perfect bitachon can we prevail over the power of Yishmael!
Reb Elchanan Wasserman (Kovetz Ma'amarim, Omer Ani Maasai Lamelech) discusses a situation such as we find ourselves today. There are two categories of Divine conduct. 1) An act of Hashem. 2) An act of the Satan.
The decrees against Yisroel fall into one of these two categories. In each decree we must discern its course and there are signs that aid us in making this distinction.
If the decree is spiritual in nature, and there is a religious war to cause the Jews to abandon their faith, this is not an act of Hashem, but an act of the Satan. There are times when the middah of strict justice (middas hadin) is such a powerful force that the Satan is given permission to (so to speak) wage battle with Hashem himself. In order to weaken the power of the Satan Klal Yisroel must exhibit extreme sacrifice and be willing to be killed rather than give up their faith, literally war .
Reb Elchanan continues, that we see an example of this in his times (in the 40's). The Communist decrees (in Russia) were an act of the Satan, to detach Yisrael from any connection to their Father in Heaven. "I heard the Chofetz Chaim, zt"l, say, 'The Yidden made a mistake when the Communists launched their anti-religious decrees. The Yidden were obligated to go out, sacrifice their lives, and wage war against them. True, many Jews would have been killed. But the power of the Satan would have been weakened. However, when no one was willing to jeopardize his life in this war, the Communists gained power.'" [Thus a whole generation of Russian Jewry was lost.]
However, if the decree is aimed at physical extermination, like at the time of Haman, then that is an act of Hashem. Its purpose is cause us to do teshuvah, strengthen our bitachon, and rely on Hashem to save us. In such a case there is no room for battle, it won't help.
Today, we find ourselves in an onslaught similar to the time of Haman. Bnei Yishmoel are bent on total annihilation of the Jews. This, according to Rav Elchonon, is a Ma'aseh Hashem. Doing battle will not succeed. Hashem is expecting us to turn totally to Him. We must rid ourselves of materialism and false notions of "kochi ve'otzem yodi." These hashkofos hold sway in Eretz Yisroel through porkei ol Torah and in the rest of the world as well, representing the avodoh zora of our age. What is happening to us today is a clear message from Hashem for us to do teshuva and turn only to Him. We must develop absolute bitachon in Hashem to bring the salvation. "Hashem's justice covers the entire world, and there is no other force besides Him.
Ein Od Milvado!
Wishing everyone a Gut Shabbos!
Shema Yisrael Torah Network