Lessons in Truth – SEFER SHEM OLAM – 26th Av, 5769
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Lessons in Truth
23 Av, 5769 / August 13, 2009
Day 82 – The Footsteps of Mashiach
SEFER SHEM OLAM — Chapter Twelve: The Birth pangs of Mashiach (cont.)
That which the Talmud predicts (Sanhedrin Ch. 11) will take place prior to Mashiach’s arrival has, in fact, occurred in our times. The same is true of the predictions in the final mishnah of Masechta Sotah.
The eleventh chapter of Masechta Sanhedrin is replete with statements concerning the period preceding Mashiach’s arrival. One passage there (Sanhedrin 97a) is similar to the concluding Mishnah of Masechta Sotah to which the Chofetz Chaim referred:
With the footsteps of Mashiach insolence will increase, and inflation will soar, the vine will give its fruit but wine will be dear, and the government will turn to heresy, and there will be no rebuke, the places of meeting will be used for immorality, and the Galilee will be destroyed and the Gavlan desolated, and the border dwellers will wander about from city to city, but will not be pitied, the knowledge of scholars will be lost, those who fear sin will be despised, and the truth will be hidden; youths will shame old men and old men will stand up for youngsters; [it will be a time when] “a son shames his father, a daughter rebels against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, [and] a man’s enemies are the members of his household” (Michah 7:6); the face of the generation will be like the face of the dog [i.e. without shame — Rashi]; [and] the son is not ashamed before his father. On whom can we rely? [Only] on our Father in Heaven (Mishnah Sotah 9:15).
On whom can we rely? [Only] on our Father in Heaven. This means that before Mashiach’s arrival, the Jewish people will find themselves in a position so precarious that everyone will come to the realization that only Hashem can rescue us from our plight (heard from Rabbi Moshe Wolfson).
As the Jews headed toward the Sea of Reeds at the time of the Exodus, they found themselves trapped on all sides (see Shemos Ch. 14) and they cried out in prayer to Hashem. Rashi (citing Mechilta and Tanchuma) writes: “They adopted the craft of their forefathers,” meaning that they prayed the way Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov would pray — with a feeling and awareness that without Hashem’s intervention they were totally lost. This is what Hashem had been waiting for and He immediately commanded Moshe: “Speak to the Children of Israel and let them journey!” (ibid. v.15). It is this sort of recognition which the Jewish people will need to demonstrate as a prelude to the Final Redemption (based on the thoughts of Rabbi Yeruchom Levovitz).
A daily lesson from “Chofetz Chaim: Lessons in Truth,” a project of Mesorah Publications and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.
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