Dear Rabbi Fried,
I’ve been reading your recent columns about Ishmael and their reign over the world according to kabbalistic sources and, although this has been fascinating, quite frankly, it has been quite depressing! Is there anything positive you can say about this before the High Holidays?
I’ve actually heard the same comment from a number of people! My point wasn’t to depress everyone and be a doomsday prophet, but to show how everything that transpires has its source in the Torah. The final reign of Ishmael before the Messianic time also has its source in the Torah — the same Torah which also tells us of Messianic times to follow.
Another point of this is to understand that events don’t necessarily have to unfold in such a negative way with the rule of Ishmael being so unbearable that we will all be crying out to God, as was mentioned in the previous columns you mentioned. The truth of the matter is, as we explained, that there are spiritual underpinnings which are the root cause of what is happening today with Ishmael.
Therefore, there are spiritual things that we can do, individually and as a people, which will do away with the need of that decree. God’s master plan can be accomplished in a much more positive way!
An insight into how things can be different is understanding what gives the nation of Ishmael so much power to carry out their plot. The deeper sources of Jewish thought explain that Ishma-el, like Isra-el, has God’s name attached to his name.
According to our tradition, they are the only nation among the 70 nations of the world which have that distinction. This similarity to Israel stems from Ishmael’s being a son of Abraham, and he was given his name from an angelic source, like Israel. The angel taught that he should be named “God will listen” because God listened to his mother’s prayer to have a son.
His name is grammatically in future tense, as his prayers will continue to be answered. This emanates from a very deep belief that Ishmael has in God.
Although the way they believe in God and how to serve him is diametrically opposed to our belief, his power lies in that very belief and the prayer which flows from it (five times a day!).
The way we can combat this powerful force, at its root, is for us, the Jewish people, to profoundly fortify our own belief in the Al-mighty. We trace our roots back to Abraham, the founder of Monotheism.
We are the teachers to the world of the Word of God; the light unto the nations how to truly be “…one nation, under God, indivisible…” Just like the nations learned this from us, the “People of the Book,” we must keep that book open and continue to be that light and not be ashamed to invoke the Name of God!
We have an amazing opportunity to do so in just a few days; we have almost arrived at the Days of Awe, beginning with Rosh Hashanah. The central theme of the Rosh Hashanah prayer book is that God is King of the universe and that we, the Jewish people, fervently pray and hope that His Kingdom should become revealed in a way that the entire world should proclaim God as the absolute King. The entire world should put their shoulders together and lift up that Kingdom, and destroy all wickedness and the wicked leadership of the world should be put to shame and disperse as a cloud. The shofar blast, reminiscent of the ram of Isaac and the shofar blast heard at Sinai, proclaims to ourselves and the world the we are coronating the true King of the universe.
If we would only use this opportunity to take our belief in God out of hiding and proclaim it, wholeheartedly to ourselves and the world, then there will no longer be a need to force us into it through the trials and tribulations of the reign of Ishmael. Our redemption will be sealed and will take place joyously and painlessly, if we only decide to do so!
May you and all the readers be blessed with a sweet New Year, with good health, nachas and prosperity, with peace in Israel and for our brethren throughout the world!
Dear Rabbi Fried,