Dear Rabbi Fried,
I have been both upset, confused and scared by many comments I’ve been hearing about Israel. Often, it seems that Israel is quickly being painted into a corner, or worse, a stranglehold, with no one of significance coming to her defense. That explains my upset and fear. My confusion comes from my belief in God and not understanding what he is trying to do to allow Israel to get into this predicament. Your thoughts would be most welcome.
You can be sure that what you are feeling is being felt by many.
What is truly happening, one would need to be a prophet to know, and, sadly, I’ve never received my degree in prophecy (which would have jeopardized our status as a “non-prophet” organization). I can, however, share with you my personal thoughts and feelings on the issue.
In many Jewish sources, especially those based upon the Kabbalah, the final reign over the world before the coming of Messiah will be that of the offspring of Ishmael. Prophetically, there are four kingdoms who are said to rule over the Jews over the course of world history: Babylon, Persia-Media, Greece and Rome. We presently are still in the midst of the Roman exile, which began with the destruction of the second Temple in 70 of the common era and endures until today.
All the above four share the common denominator that they were defined kingdoms. They occupied a specific, definable area, and their wars and exiles were clearly defined. Ishmael, however, doesn’t have kings or kingdoms per se in the Torah, but chieftains and rulers. This is predicated on the prophecy that “his hand will be upon everything” (Genesis/Beresheet 16:12). This “non-kingdom” of Ishmael, the patriarch of the Arab and Muslim world, will be an undefined one, which will spread throughout the world, causing far greater fear and havoc than all the previous four combined (Kabbalistic writings).
We are beginning to see the fulfillment of this frightful prophecy. I’m sure you’ve seen the recent sobering email that circulated throughout the world about the numbers and percentages of Muslims in Europe today, including many who are radicalized.
To see Israel painted into a corner further prepares the stage for the final redemption. The prophets all foretold of the Jews’ eventual return to God, teshuva. The Talmud explains that this will happen when the Jews profoundly realize they have nobody to rely upon other than God. As long as they feel they can rely on a particular nation, their reliance upon God is not complete.
The Torah says of the Jews, “Behold, it is a nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers/Bamidbar 23:9). I will never forget a full-page New York Times ad that listed on one side of the page all the hundreds of countries of the world allowed full status in the United Nations Security Council, many of which I had never heard of. On the other side of the page was listed all the countries not allowed that hallowed status; the entire list was: Israel. The above verse in Numbers could not have resounded louder.
May we recognize our separate status and existence, and live it to the fullest extent it was intended. That will speed up the time when we will be recognized by all as the Chosen Nation.
Dear Rabbi Fried,