Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Are We Living in Messianic Times?

Screenshot of a scene from the trailer for Finding Mashiach 
On this day, the eve of Shavuos, my thoughts this year turn to Sefer Rus - the Book of Ruth which we read annually on this day.  

One of the questions dealt with by Chazal is how Boaz, a devout Jew and leader in Israel could have married Ruth -  a Moabite women? The Torah tells us that we are forbidden to accept Moabite or Ammonite converts. Thus making it impossible to marry any of them. The Gemarah (Kesuvos 7a) explains that only a male Moabite or Ammonite cannot join the Congregation of Hashem. Females are permitted to join. Thereby allowing the already converted Ruth to marry Boaz.  

Another intriguing thing about Ruth (at least for me) is that Moab was the son of Lot (Our patriarch Abraham’s nephew) He was the product of an incestuous relationship (Lot and his daughter) - and the progenitor of the entire nation of Moab. 

The book of Ruth informs us at its very end that Ruth was King David’s great-grandmother. And as we know the Messiah is called Moshiach Ben Dovid – King David’s direct descendant. That means that Moshiach himself will have descended from an incestuous relationship. 

Just an observation whose significance – if any - I have always wondered about.

My thoughts turned to Ruth because there seems to be a lot of talk these days that we are living in messianic times and are on the precipice of the coming of Moshiach. The reason given is that there there are a lot of things happening currently that are signs discussed in the classic sources about what it would be like at that time. What happened on October 7th - before and since has been pointed to as such signs.

This is not the first time in history Jews thought they were living in Messianic times. It is thinking like that which can lead to false Messiahs like Shabsai Tzvi. He was quite good at convincing even some prominent rabbinic leaders that he was in fact Moshiach.

But he was not. This became obvious when he converted to Islam  - although there were already telltale sign before that - which resulted in those leaders abandoning him.

One of the most propitious times for Moshiach to have come was in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust. The signs were all there then too. The tribulations  Jews will suffer during the war between Gog and Magog that is supposed to precede Moshiach’s coming surely happened during the Holocaust. The war between the Axis and the Allies could easily have been interpreted to be the war between Gog and Magog.

But  Moshiach did not come then either. 

Now Jews are suffering again. And similar predictions are being made. One of which is coming soon to a theater near you. There is a documentary film trailer about it on X presented by its star and producer, a Chabad Chasid. If there was ever a red flag - that would be it. And yet there are some people that seem to be jumping on his bandwagon as does Hillel Fuld on whose X account I watched this trailer. And who suffers from his own personal tragedy ever since his brother was ambushed and killed by a Palestinian terrorist.

But the skeptic in me is not buying any of it. We cannot predict when Moshiach will come. We have to wait and see.. At least until his messenger, Eliyahu HaNavi comes and tells us he’s coming. Until then I would urge people not to trust anyone who predicts Moshaich’s arrival is imminent. We can hope and pray that he comes soon - speedily and in our days. But to say anything more is nothing more than mere speculation. We should instead wait for the real thing to happen and not speculate based on perceptions and interpretations of current events. No matter how tempting it might be to do so. 

With this, I would like to wish the entire Jewish community a wonderful Yom Tov - and pray that all the hostages are soon reunited with their families.