Ishmael's descendants could 'overpower' world

Dear Rabbi Fried,
In the wake of this Iranian deal, I’ve been contemplating what has been happening over the past decade or so, and it seems like there’s some kind of Muslim takeover around the world.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Muslims seemed relatively insignificant in worldwide politics; of course there was always the politics over their oil and with Israel, but it never seemed as if they were controlling things.
Suddenly we wake up and here they are, pretty quickly controlling a lot of what’s going on in Europe, having America hearken to their every wish, and having a disproportionately strong voice on American campuses (where Israel can barely be mentioned, if at all, anymore). Suddenly there are huge mosques just about everywhere.
One leading sheikh said that in 20 years, just by their birthrate, they’ll have taken over all of Europe without firing a single shot! And, with some European countries now showing an over-50 percent Muslim birthrate of all births, he doesn’t seem that far off.
Do you have any insight into what is happening?
Marc T.
Dear Marc,
I know your question is on the minds of many; it occupies a tremendous amount of space in my own mind. To describe in-depth what is transpiring would be too lengthy to explain in this column (I’m considering doing a short course on it this fall). We will attempt to touch upon a few points, in a nutshell.
We have discussed in past columns, and it is a well-known Jewish belief in the teachings of our tradition, that the Jews will endure four exiles during our history (besides Egypt). Based upon various verses we are taught that the four are the Babylonians, Greeks, Persian-Medians, and finally, the Edomite exile, in which we are still languishing today.
These were foretold by prophecy and we have seen their fulfillment. The Babylonians destroyed the First Temple, destroying the land and dispersing us among the nations.
The Persians decreed the first “final solution,” which eventually led to the Purim miracle. The Greek decrees destroyed the academies of Torah study and mitzvah observance, until the Chanukah miracle. The Edomites destroyed the Second Temple and ushered in the period of unimaginable darkness which has witnessed anti-Semitism, inquisitions, expulsions, massacres, pogroms, and the unspeakable Holocaust.
Most of the anti-Semitism and all its massacres that have been carried out during the Edomite exile have been perpetrated by the Christian world. (Prophecy and the early Sages attribute Rome to Esau, the father of Edom, Esau being the progenitor of the Christian world.)
‘Exile of Ishmael’
One of the earliest books of our tradition, the Pirkei D’Rabi Elazar (a pre-Mishnaic work), teaches that there will be a fifth and final nation which will exile or cause trouble with the Jews even beyond what the previous nations have done; that is the “Exile of Ishmael.”
Ishmael, the son of Abraham and half brother of Isaac, is the progenitor of the Arab nation. In the prophecy of his birth, the Torah says, “…he will be a wild man, his hand will be upon everyone and the hand of all will be in his…”
This is alluding to Ishmael being different from the others preceding him; he will not have one place to dwell and call his country. Rather, like the Bedouin, he’ll be everywhere. Furthermore, some commentaries explain, he will not produce anything himself so “his hand will be upon all;” he will import all he has from others, but the others’ hand will be in his; they will all need him and his oil.
R’Eliezer teaches that Ishmael is the only nation which shares the Name of God at the end of his name, like the Jews do (Isra-el). This indicates a tremendous power which Ishmael harnesses against the Jews and a frightful ability to overpower the rest of the world, the power of the Name of God, Whom they serve with almost unparalleled dedication.
Like I said, we can only begin to touch upon this subject, but perhaps in the upcoming weeks we will attempt to explain more.

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