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Op-Ed: Will the messiah come soon?

Jewish prophesies indicate that recent events in Yemen and the Ukraine have the potential of bringing about the messianic era. The blood moon set to occur this Passover suggests that something significant to the Jewish people could happen.
Samuel anoints David Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Right as the Jewish people are preparing to celebrate Passover, Yemen appears to be heading into a protracted struggle between the Houthi rebels backed by Iran and a Sunni-led alliance headed by Saudi Arabia.   Although I am no prophet and I am not a great rabbi like my ancestor the Vilna Gaon was, based on my understanding of the Jewish scriptures, it appears that the messianic age is near.

According to Arutz Sheva, a Jewish text known as the Yalkut Shimona states, “In the year in which the Messiah-King appears, all the nations of the world are provoking each other. The King of Persia provokes an Arab king and the Arab king turns to Aram for advice. And the King of Persia goes back and destroys the entire world. And all the nations of the world are in panic and distress and they fall upon their faces and are seized with pains like those of a woman giving birth and Israel is in panic and distress.”

Persia is the ancient name for Iran and the totalitarian dictator of Iran has just provoked Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by an Arab King, prompting him to turn to Aram, whom Jewish scholars interpret to be Edom (Rome representing Europe and the US). Bloomberg reported that Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States Adel al Jubeir stated that their response to Iran backing the Houthi rebels that took over Yemen was coordinated with the United States, in other words Edom or Aram.

If the rest of the prophesy plays out, then Iran will respond to the Arab king by trying to destroy the entire world. Interestingly, as we speak, Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. They declared themselves to be the Farsi Empire and they are making moves to take over the entire Middle East from Yemen to Syria to Lebanon and Iraq. According to the Twelfth Shia ideology that guides the ideology of Ayatollah Khamenei who is the true ruler of Iran, Israel is to be destroyed before the mahdi’s (Shia messiah’s) appearance and the clerics ruling Iran believe that Khamenei is the one mentioned in a centuries old Hadith who will prepare for the mahdi, World Net Daily reported. It is critical to note that this existential threat to Israel’s right to exist emanating from Iran causes Israel to be in “panic and distress,” as Netanyahu’s speeches testify to.

Other clues that the messiah may soon come have appeared as well. According to my ancestor the Vilna Gaon, “When you hear that the Russians have captured the Crimea, you should know that the times of the messiah have started and that his steps are being heard. And when you know that the Russians have reached Constantinople (today’s Istanbul), you should put on your Shabbat clothes and don’t take them off because it means that the messiah is about to come any minute.”

Russia has already invaded the Crimea. The question is, when will the Russians reach Istanbul? Already, there is a cause for Turkey to get involved in the Crimean crisis. Crimea is ethnically divided between two minorities, Tatars, a Turkic ethnic group that opposes Russian annexation, and ethnic Ukrainians. According to a report in Open Democracy: “The annexation of Crimea by Russia is widely seen as a huge step back for the Crimean Tatars, who won the right to return to their homeland only in 1989, long after Stalin ordered the NKVD to deport them to Central Asia en masse in 1944. Despite winning moderate self-autonomy and property rights after Ukraine became independent in 1991, the achievements of the past two decades are now precarious at best. Reports of kidnapping, intimidation, and criminal investigations continue to emerge from the recently-occupied peninsula.”

The plight of the Tartars could prompt Turkey to get involved in the Crimea crisis and if they do that could lead to the realization of the Vilna Gaon’s prophesy. Already, Reuters reported that Turkey offered a $50 million loan to the Ukraine in order to help them better protect the persecuted Tartars. As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated, “We have expressed our support for the territorial integrity, political union, and sovereignty of the Ukraine including the Crimea in every platform. We also wish for the continuation of Ukraine’s stance on protecting the rights of all ethnic and religious minorities, especially Crimean Tartar Turks, who have proved their loyalty to their country during this crisis.”

Erdogan has repeatedly warned that the instability in the region could have implications, even though at this time Turkey continues to develop trade relations with Russia. While the Turkish government’s ties with Russia have so far caused Turkey to refrain from taking strong action, Turkey’s membership in NATO could force the country to stop its balancing act between supporting the Tartars while trying to maintain ties with Russia should the tensions between the West and Moscow intensify.

Aside from the Vilna Gaon and Yalkut Shimona prophesies, NASA reported the appearance of a tetrad of lunar eclipses otherwise known as four blood moons with four dark suns. The first ones occurred on Passover and Sukkot of last year. The second pair is scheduled to occur this Passover and Sukkot this year. Such a rare heavenly phenomenon has only occurred three other times in human history. According to the Times of Israel, a tetrad of lunar eclipses occurred following the Jewish expulsion from Spain and the discovery of the New World in 1492; the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948; and the Six Days War in 1967. It does not take a rocket scientist to ponder, will something significant to the history of the Jewish people happen this year, especially given Jewish teachings claiming that the messiah is more likely to come during the months of Tishrei and Nissan?

In every generation, Judaism teaches that there is a potential for the messiah to come. According to the Jewish belief, G-d can bring the messiah in any generation but it also has some deadline and there are things that lead to the messiah coming in the end of days. Whether this period of time is an era with great potential for the messiah to come or actually the events leading up to the deadline, we don’t know. We don’t know if it is the last generation when the messiah will come regardless due to a specific deadline or whether we are living during a generation where there is a great chance for the messiah to come but he may actually end up coming in another era.

What we do know is that according to the Jewish tradition, if we treat each other respectfully and do our best to bring holiness to this world, by behaving humanely and justly to one another, it can help bring about the messianic age quicker. According to Hosea 6:6, “I desire loving kindness and not sacrifices, and knowledge of G-d more than burnt offerings.” The Jewish people in Israel are now more united than ever! For the most part, we no longer feel a difference between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, between Mizrahim and Beta Israel. We live in a democracy that respects women’s rights, human rights, minority rights, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press. We have an inspirational justice system that doesn’t arrest and prosecute people without good cause! Our neighbors can only dream of obtaining what we have in Israel! Therefore, let us pray that the messianic era will come soon and we will witness peace in our time, where nations will no long lift up swords against other nations and the need for war will not exist any more!

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