Yechiel Weisz

Gratitude, Gog Umagog: A Retroactive Redemption

Gratitude, Gog Umagog, and a Retroactive Redemption

At the heart of our Jewish heritage lies the enigmatic concept of Gog Umagog—a pivotal moment signifying the arrival of Moshiach, our long-awaited redeemer. Yet, within this anticipation often brews a storm of fear, a dread of an imminent war that might usher in this era of redemption.

Gog Umagog, this mystifying topic, has intrigued generations. Delving into the intricacies of Talmudic and Midrashic texts reveals detailed tales of a colossal war involving us, the Jewish people. These ancient texts depict its sudden end, akin to a powerful blast—similar to what we now recognize as nuclear warfare. In today’s news, especially with nations like Iran in the picture, anxiety grips us. The knowledge that Moshiach waits on the other side clashes sharply with the looming threat of war and chaos. 

Avoiding Gog Umagog: A Path Through Gratitude

Yet, what if Gog Umagog could be sidestepped, or as I propose, has already occurred?

Millennia ago, the righteous King Chizkiyahu stood on the brink of redemption. His victory over the menacing forces of King Sancheriv (Melachim 2, Perakim 18 et al) held the promise of ushering in the time of Moshiach. Gemara Sanhedrin 94a unveils Hashem’s plan to transform Sancheriv into Gog Umagog and Chizkiyahu into Moshiach. However, Chizkiyahu’s hesitation, his reluctance to express gratitude, to sing Shira to Hashem, disrupted His plan. Sancheriv could have been Gog Umagog, and Chizkiyahu could have been Moshiach—until they weren’t. The Talmud acknowledges this lapse – It was Chizkiyahu’s humility, his sense of unworthiness compared to his ancestor King David, that prevented him from singing Shira. Yet, even so, Shira was apparently the right response. This tale underscores the paramount importance of gratitude in shaping our destiny.

The Echoes of History: Holocaust, Redemption, and Gratitude

The recent tragic events have left us all in shock, drawing chilling parallels to the horrors of the Nazis. The collective vow of “never again” reverberates. We thought we were done with all that cruelty. There is more?

When contemplating the terrible events of the Second World War, the malevolence of the Nazis, and the valiant battles against the Allied forces, it raises a thought-provoking possibility: what if these events held the potential to be Gog Umagog? We see from the Talmud that there was at least one other potential Gog Umagog event. Apparently, Gog Umagog is purposely clouded in mystery because there are many possible events in our history that can potentially qualify as Gog Umagog. Sancheriv is one of them.

Consider this: the State of Israel, emerging in the aftermath of the Holocaust, could well mark the genesis of our Redemption. Yet, are we missing the point again, neglecting to sing the Shira of gratitude? By overlooking the miracles and blessings that led to the creation of the State of Israel, are we inadvertently disregarding a redemption that might have already begun? I know that many of us are thankful for living here, but where is the Shira?

The Missed Notes of Gratitude: Yom Haatzmaut and Beyond

Many in the religious world, growing up after the war, had valid concerns about the secular influences that the modern state of Israel brought. But these concerns seemed to overshadow the gratitude we should have felt – not for Zionism or the State per se, but for the incredible gift of living and being in Israel. The miracles of ’48 and ’67, the remarkable story of Israel – all of it was a missed opportunity, a chance to sing Shira, the song of praise. Perhaps the situation wasn’t ready for Shira back then – the early stages of this Gift called Israel might not have been ripe. However, when we contemplate the incredible blessings we have received, it’s time to recognize the profound gratitude we owe for our country.

Just as Chizkiyahu had his reasons not to sing, there are those among us who have had legitimate reservations. But none of us are greater than Chizkiyahu; if he could err, so can we. Even though his reason for not singing Shira stemmed from humility and ours might be due to concerns about secular influences or other considerations, the time has come to express our gratitude. Maybe the situation right after the Holocaust and the early stages of the modern State of Israel wasn’t ready, but the undeniable blessings we enjoy today tell a different story. Did we miss an opportunity again? Was the terror of the Holocaust not Gog Umagog? There is more?

A Song of Gratitude: Paving the Way for Redemption

But what if it’s not too late? What if we can avert the horrors of yet “another” Gog Umagog? What if we can start singing the Shira now, the songs of praise for Israel? For the State that emerged from adversity, for the land that cradles our history, and for the resilient people who resurrected their lives. Let’s sing praises for the airline that unite us, for the highways that weave through our land, for the schools that nurture our children, and for the serene beaches and parks that adorn our nation.

Consider the myriad Yeshivos and centers of Torah, the vibrant bastions of Chassidus, and the thousands of sacred texts studied and printed daily. Let’s express gratitude for organizations like Tashbar, Bnei Akiva, Beis Yaakov, and countless others shaping our youth, for the courageous souls in our army, and for the compassionate hearts in our hospitals. Through this gratitude, can we influence the narrative? Perhaps, we possess the power to retroactively trigger the necessary Shira, qualifying the Holocaust as the War of Gog Umagog. We do not seek another wave of pain and suffering. Let our collective gratitude echo through time, rewriting history with hope, unity, and peace.

A Symphony of Gratitude: Uniting Hearts and Minds

The outpouring of love and gratitude in these past days, especially to our armed forces, has been spectacular. Finally, we are recognizing them for who they are: Heroes. We are uniting in kindness, prayer, and love. Let’s transform this feeling into a resounding Shira echoing from every corner of our land.

Let us, as a united Jewish community come together, embracing every shade of religious or non-religious observance—regardless of the color or material or existence of your kippa, irrespective of the length of your skirt or pants. Let’s unite in thanking Hashem for this extraordinary, sometimes imperfect yet utterly glorious country we call home.

Our grandparents could only have dreamed of living the way we do. Imagine, we walk the same paths as Avraham, and we have planes that take us to the skies. We reside in the city once ruled by King David and frequented by prophets, and we have buses that transport us through its ancient streets. We can pray at the Kotel, Kever Rachel, and Meron. We study in the same buildings once graced by Rabbi Akiva, and we have trains that connect us across this sacred land, and hospitals where healing and compassion abound. We ski on Mount Hermon, sunbathe in Netanya, learn and study in Bnei Berak and Kiryat Sefer, walk the streets of Yerushalayim, sow and plow the fields in the Galil, and produce outstanding wine in the Golan. Let’s celebrate this profound connection to our history and embrace the miracles of modernity, all while expressing our deep gratitude to the Almighty. Through our shared song of thanks, let’s pave the way for a future filled with peace, understanding, and harmony.

Triggering the Geula: Through Gratitude and Shira

If we recognize the everyday miracles that surround us in our not-so-new State of Israel, especially the brave fighters who protect us, understanding that all of this is a divine embrace from Hashem, then we possess the power to trigger the Geula, the redemption. Just as Chizkiyahu could have turned the potential Gog Umagog into a reality by singing the Shira, we too can usher in the Moshiach through our gratitude. 

With a general increase in gratitude for this land, we can retroactively declare the last Holocaust as the final one. We, too, can usher in the Redemption without more pain. All we need is gratitude and Shira.

Yechiel Weisz

והיה ביום ההוא יהיה ה’ אחד ושמו אחד

About the Author
Yechiel Weisz lives in RBS and originally from Switzerland. He is a Rebbi, teacher and public speaker.