Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Little By Little - The Big Picture

A major principle of the Keitz Meguleh is the idea that all comes little by little. Everything that we will have at the end of the road has its beginning. In our generation of instant gratification, this is an essential perspective shift that we must take. Looking at our current status and then dreaming of the steps between here and the end of the Geulah is daunting. One might want to say:

  1. All the Jews living in Israel? Look at how many Israeli's leave!
  2. Sanhedrin? The majority aren't Shomer Shabbat!
  3. Build the Beit HaMikdash? What would the Arabs do?!
But step back, see the big picture.
  1. When the students of the GR"A arrived in Yerushalayim in 1812, there weren't even 10 Ashkenazi Jews. Everyone went to the Sefardi shul (forced unity due to lack of numbers). Today, there are more than 5 million Jews in Israel.
  2. Just 100 years ago, the Torah center of the world was Europe. Now, Baruch Hashem, it is Yerushalayim.
  3. Yerushalayim is massive city, with dozens of neighborhoods, hundreds of thousands of Jews. Up until late in the 19th century, whether or not there was water was a serious issue on a yearly basis.

The general principle is that Moshiach ben Yosef starts, Moshiach ben Dovid finishes.

Moshiach ben Yosef is the miraculous working force for the physical Geulah, whereas Moshiach ben Dovid is the miraculous force working for the spiritual Geulah.

Now, do not think that the conclusion being Moshiach ben Dovid detracts from the importance of the physical side of Geulah. The physical Geulah is the "seat of David" that we have in our daily prayers. The Ariza"l taught (in Sha'ar HaKavanot) that on the words "and the seat of David your servant quickly set up within it (Yerushalayim)" we should be thinking that Moshiach ben Yosef shouldn't die. Moshiach ben Yosef is the preparation for Moshiach ben Dovid.

As such, we should appreciate the realization of this in our world. We see the physical has made seemingly great advances, and we see that the spiritual seems to lag behind. The events of 1948 and 1967 were not missed opportunities. They were Appointed Times that advanced the physical Geulah. The things that tend to really let down a religious Jew looking at these events (the actual text of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, handing over Har HaBayit to the Waqf, etc) were a function of where we stood on the road to spiritual Geulah.

Taking this perspective, of little by little, and seeing the big picture, we can understand that we have made great advances, and that there is still what to be done in our day to ease our path to perfection.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tu B'av

Here's my chidush for Tu B'av:

In Talmud Yerushalmi Masechet Taanit, chapter 4, halachah 7, we have an opinion as to why we celebrate Tu B'av. Translation is my own:

Rabbi Abun says that in it (Tu B'av), the digging was cancelled. And Rabbi Levi says (explaining the statement of Rabbi Abun): Every Tishah B'av Moshe would send out an announcement in the whole camp and say "Go out and dig! Go out and dig!" And they would go out and dig themselves graves and sleep in them, and in the morning they would stand up and find themselves missing 15,000 and change (the word is protrot), and in the last year they did thus and found themselves whole (i.e. no one died). They said "perhaps we made a mistake in our calculations, and thus on the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th. And because the moon was full they said that it appears that HaKadosh Baruch Hu has nullified that harsh decree from us, and they stood up and made a Yom Tov celebration.

The story is difficult. How could it be that Moshe tells them to go lie down and that no one passed away the last year? Korban HaEidah and Pnei Moshe explain that the Gemara is precise. Moshe didn't say to go out the last year, but "they", meaning the people, did so at their own volition, without an order from Moshe.

These people were in essence part of the collective group of people that did not have faith in Hashem when the Ten Spies came back from Eretz Yisrael. The next day some of them went to battle against the Emori and Amaleki, against the command of Hashem via Moshe. They were punished for lack of faith and not listening to Moshe.

Now here they are, essentially being freed of the punishment for this sin. Moshe didn't tell them to dig their graves. So what do they do? They dug their graves!

But even after that, they stay in the graves straight through the 15th of Av! Did they not know that every year the punishment was on the 9th of Av? The Gemara says that they got up on the 15th of Av, because only then the moon was full.

But the 9th of Av is the 9th of Av. The 9th of Av is the ninth day starting from Rosh Chodesh. There is no doubt as to the date. Even if for some reason they think they counted wrong, all they had to do was walk over to the Sanhedrin and ask them the date, and that was the end of their doubt. But they didn't. Only on the 15th did they feel confident enough to celebrate. On the 15th, they had non-Torah confirmation that they were safe.

Shaar HaGilgulim Hakdamah 20:

..also then, in the last generation, the entire Generation of the Desert, including the Erev Rav, will be reincarnated...

This is the test of our generation. Faith. The Generation of the Desert, according to their level, had open miracles to prove Hashem's Hand in this world, and yet they couldn't translate their faith in to action. So too we see in our generation. Countless miracles occurred since 1948. However we have seen a consistent pattern, especially since the early 1990's, of running away from the consequences of these miracles.

It is my prayer that we speedily move towards a complete rectification of this fault and we begin to view our faith as a practical matter that is to be reflected in our daily and national lives.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Believing in Moshiach's Arrival

Some people may have problems with what I'm writing, because it sets the actual arrival of Moshiach somewhat far away (i.e. not now), as is inherent to any process. The GR"A in his Peirush to Sifra Ditzniuta wrote almost explicitly that the Moshiach would come after 5666 (this was not a specific year he was trying to state, but rather an explanation on why the Moshiach would come in the last third of the 6th millenium). The GR"A lived from 5480 - 5558. So the GR"A didn't believe Moshiach could come any day? The resolution of this problem lies in the same perush, that we are dealing with if Am Yisrael does not merit the Geulah. The GR"A indeed did not believe that Geulah without merit could happen in his own lifetime. So what is the belief that the Rambam mentions, that "even if he tarries, I shall wait every day that he should come"? Moshiach will come "today", "if you will heed His voice", as it is taught in Sanhedrin 98a. This of course means that Moshiach's immediate arrival is dependent on our merit. What we see from this is the following: The understanding that the latest revelation of Moshiach itself is not on the threshold does not in any way interfere with our pure faith in Moshiach's arrival.

Practical Goals

In Chapter 6 of Kol HaTor, we learn the following:

Our Goals in the Keitz Meguleh are as follows:

  • Ingathering of the Exiles - This has a minimum shi'ur of 600,000, which was reached in 1948. Further milestones to be reached are a majority of world Jewry and all of world Jewry.
  • Building of Yerushalayim - This is building the literal city. The Beit HaMikdash is the crown of the process.
  • Burning away the impure spirit from Eretz Yisrael - This is done by planting in the Holy Land, and fulfilling the associated Mitzvot (Shmitah, Orlah, Terumot and Ma'aserot, etc)
  • Setting up Men of Faith (Men of Truth) for the sake of the Redemption of Truth and Sanctification of G-d's Name - For it says in Masechet Shabbat that Yerushalayim was only destroyed because there ceased to be Men of Faith in her.
  • Torah MiTzion - That Yerushalayim should be the source of Torah (see Chapter 5B of Kol HaTor for the convergence of science and Torah in the End of Days)
  • War Against Amelek
  • To Heal Tzion - Spiritually (Done by Yishuv of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and performing the Mitzvot related to the land) as well as physically (getting rid of all the diseases that are in the land durings the period of desolation)
G-d willing I will discuss these items in depth in the future.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Misconceptions - Geulah in 5769

For a comprehensive discussion on Birkat HaChamah, click here.

This is slightly off the direct subject, but for the sake of Truth I feel compelled to write.

I've now seen in numerous places online that people think that the Geulah is going to come in 5769. Why?

Because Birkat HaChamah will fall on Erev Pesach, as it did the year the Jews left Egypt, and in the time of the events recorded in Megillat Esther. And this is only desinted to occur 3 times in all of history.

What is Birkat HaChamah?

In Masechet Brachot 59B, a Baraita is taught:

One that sees the Sun in its Tekufah, the Moon in its Strength, the Stars in their Paths, and the Constellations in their Order makes the blessing Praised is the One that did Creation.

When is this? Abaye says: Every 28 years, the cycle returns and Tekufat Nissan falls in Shabbtai (Saturn) at the beginning of the Fourth Day (Tuesday night by our count).

So there are a few ideas that need be explained

  • Tekufat Nissan - This is the beginning of the Jewish Solar Year. Theoretically speaking it is the Spring Equinox.
  • Shabbtai - Chaza"l bring down that each of the 7 celestial bodies (that are visible to the naked eye) in our solar system are assigned an hour of the night. It is taught that this cycle started the beginning of the Fourth Day of creation (Tuesday night). The order starting at the beginning of the Fourth Day is: Shabbtai (Saturn), Tzedek (Jupiter), Maadim (Mars), Chamah (Sun), Nogah (Mercury), Kokhav (Venus), Levanah (Moon).

The Jewish Solar Year brought down in the Gemara there is according to Shmuel (Eruvin 56a) which is 365 days and 6 hours (365.25 days). If you do the math, you will see that every year, Tekufat Nissan advances 30 hours in the week. For our purposes here, we only care about when in the week this event occurs. If you continue the math, you will see that it returns to the exact same hour after 28 years. It is on those years, on the following morning, that we make the Brachah.

Therefore to see all of the years where according to this system, Birkat HaChamah would be said, simply take 1 + 28n, where n >= 0.

The first thing that you can check is to see if Birkat HaChamah occurred in 2448, the year that our forefathers left Egypt. Birkat HaChamah occured before we left Egypt in the year 2437, and afterwards in 2465.

The incidence of Birkat HaChamah with Erev Pesach is rare, but not unheard of. It last occurred only a few cycles ago in 5685 (1925). Persistence with a good Hebrew Calendar program will show you that this has happened between 5-10 times in the last thousand years (sorry, it's been a while since I checked). We simply cannot say that the third time is the Geulah.

So in order for us to be intellectually honest with this, we must say one of the following:

  • The Exodus did not occur in the year 2448 as our tradition dictates
  • The calculations used to determine when to recite Birkat HaChamah have changed, in which there is an inherent inconsistency to attach significance to 5769.
  • This prediction of the Geulah in 5769 is not correct.

Just as a side note, an interesting calculation that I've found:

If you line up the Solar Years according to Tekufat Shmuel and Tekufat Adda, and see which years are in common for Birkat HaChamah (for Tekufat Adda, which years fall during the entire first hour of the Fourth Day, as it never returns to the exact moment), you will find two years: year 1 and 4297 (637CE), which was the year that Jerusalem fell to Omar and the Muslims. For the sake of truth, we must note that this is because over the course of approximately 2150 years, the two "new years" drifted apart until it the difference became equal to exactly one week. So while 4297 is the one year that Birkat HaChamah would be true for both systems, it would not be the same week.

Note: This is not to say that 5769 will be an insignificant year. See here for more.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Understanding the Essence of the Keitz

From what I see written on Jewish websites, a lot of people seem to think that the Geulah is something fairly simple. It is when all the things written in the Rambam happen. This is simplistic and leads to people entering in to calculations and guessing games as to when it will occur. However, the awesome ideas behind what the essence of Geulah represents should dissuade people from these number excercises. The Ramban brings down in his explanation of Breishit that the events of the 6 Days of Creation parallel the events of the 6,000 years of human existence that followed. While the Ramban was definitely not the first to bring this idea, his explanation is in many of our libraries in Mikraot Gedolot. See Breishit 2:4 for the Ramban's commentary, where he describes the parallels for each millenium. It therefore is derived that the events of the 6th millenium parallel the day when Adam HaRishon was created. This is the background for the statement in Kol HaTor regarding the "hours of the day". The 6th millenium is divided amongst the hours/stages that Hashem created Adam HaRishon on the 6th day. In Kol HaTor, the 6th Day is divided in to 24 hours, with the creation occuring during daylight hours, from 5500-6000. In Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer, chapter 6, it is stated that 84 years is one hour for Hashem (The 84 years discussed here is a whole other conversation). Therefore we can say that the day is divided in to 12 hours (the night hours are swallowed up in the day). Know that there is no contradiction between the two. I will not delve in to this further, but understanding of the 6th day is key. When the GR"A proclaimed in his peirush on Sifra Ditzniuta that he knew the secret to the End, he stated that it was based on this knowledge. What results from this knowledge is the following:

  1. Calculating the Gematria of one word will not give you the year of Geulah.
  2. Adding 60 or 66 years to the starting year of your choice will not give you the year of Moshiach ben Yosef's revelation.
  3. The conjunction of Birkat HaChamah and Erev Pesach does not mean that the Geulah will occur in 5769.

True understanding of our times, where we come from, and where we are heading, comes from understanding history, the calendar, and the parallel between the 6 days and the 6 millenia.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Choice

As I discussed in the previous post, we are interested in what *we* can do in order to reach the ultimate Completeness of the Geulah. But at first there is a seeming contradiction. I quoted before that the Geulah can be caused by our return to Tzion as well as us doing Teshuvah wherever we are. So obviously there are two different ways that we can choose. Right? Well, it isn't that simple.

The GR"A states in Even Shleimah that every generation has its own Keitz according to the Midah that is in control during that generation. This basically means that every generation is judged differently and as such, the level of Teshuvah required is different in each generation.

So if we all rely on influencing others to do Teshuvah (by itself, in the "dalet amot" sense, personal halachah only) in Chutz La'Aretz while ignoring the Keitz Meguleh, there is a chance that we will not reach the bar set for this generation. As such we could possibly be not only not meriting the Complete Geulah, but also we have not put forth effort to improve our situation as the End approaches us.

On the other hand, the idea of working with the Keitz Meguleh is to qualitatively improve the road to Geulah.

We have faithful promises transmitted to us by the Prophets of what will be in the End of the Geulah, namely: Ingathering of the Exiles to the Land of Israel, Re-establishment of the Sanhedrin, the building of the Third and Eternal Beit HaMikdash, the revelation of Moshiach ben Dovid. The question is how we will get there.

One thing we must understand is that these promises of Geulah are from Hashem, and as such, they are written in to the very fabric of Creation. One way or another, the aforementioned events will occur.

We see both possibilities in the Prophets. It is written in Yeshayahu 54:7 "With great mercy I will gather you", yet it says in Yoel 3:4 that a Tzion and Yerushalayim will be a refuge (implying that we must escape Galut). The GR"A knew that we must come home out of desire, for if we don't, it will be as refuge (G-d forbid). This worried him greatly, and was one of the reasons that he spoke so passionately to his students to make Aliyah.

G-d willing, I will discuss in the near future just what the vision of the Keitz Meguleh entails.

Paths to Geulah

Translation of Kol HaTor end of chapter 4

"For everything there is a time, and an appointed time for every desire" - According to Rabbeinu (meaning the GR"A), the time and the appointed time come according to the desire, and that is the meaning of "for every desire". In Chaza"l we see 4 different versions of the way Geulah will come.

  1. If Israel does Teshuvah, they are redeemed, and if not, they are not redeemed.
  2. And if they don't do Teshuvah, Hashem puts upon them a king who's laws are harsher than Haman and then they do Teshuvah.
  3. The Geulah will come with a "Beginning" (Atchalta) by way of a Return to Tzion and even in the beginning just one from a city and two from a family according to the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua, and this is the secret of the Revealed End (Keitz Meguleh).
  4. The Geulah will in any event be "in its time" (b'itah) and that is the "Concealed End" (Keitz Mechuseh)

However we should think in advance that all of these opinions are the words of the Living G-d, and therefore Rabbeinu said that we need to go ahead and choose the path which is in our hands, path 3 (the Keitz Meguleh). And by us fulfilling this path there will not be any need for the warnings of Chaza"l about difficult laws, etc, and this will cause General Teshuvah, so there will be no need for Hashem to put a king upon us whose laws are harsher than Haman, and the Revealed End (Keitz Meguleh) will bring forward the Final Redemption (Keitz HaGeulah).

(note - for more discussion on the sugya in the Gemara, see Doresh L'Tzion, page 282)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


On this blog, G-d willing, I will be discussing matters pertaining to the process of Geulah which unfolds before our eyes. The guides will be the teachings of the Vilna Gaon (GR"A) and the Ramcha"l.