Rabbi Mendel Kessin: The Purification of America in the End of Days

The following lecture was given in August 2016, less than three months before Trump’s election. This video–linked here–is one of 21st-Century series of lectures which can be found on the rabbi’s website: torahthinking.com

MK:I am revisiting our last class concerning the ohr rishon–first light, messianic light. It is a very important to understand the entire development of the ohr rishon in historical context and as the main idea behind the mashiach. But first, you have to remember that when we speak about geularedemption, liberation, freedom – we are speaking about freedom from several kinds of captivity–not just one.

What is Golus–Exile?  Inability to Actualize Potential:  We talk about freedom from physical bondage, from the physical exile, but it’s much more than that. The Jews are still in exile – golus– and you have to understand what that really means. Golus is not just struggling under someone else’s domination. It looks that way and, of course, the worse the domination, the greater the golus. The essential deprivation of golus, however, is that you cannot be what you can be. One is not free to develop one’s potential. Even if the ruling authorities allow you a degree of freedom, you are, nevertheless, constrained by their laws and values and, essentially, preoccupied with materialism. You live there because where else are you going to live? You’re in golus because you cannot develop your spiritual potential. It’s not just the domination of a country or an empire. It’s the fact that you cannot be what you’re meant to be.

I always love that advertisement that says: “Be all you can be.”  What the authors of that slogan mean is that they will take you out of golus. That’s an appealing argument because the golus is preserved when you are in an environment that afflicts you, or a place that is incredibly steeped in materialism, where the evil inclination is always banging on the door. That’s why you’re not making it spiritually. In fact, you shouldn’t be in that environment in the first place, but that’s golus.

Liberation: What I want to speak about is that fundamental experience of liberation, when suddenly there comes a time when you are free to fulfill your potential because the whole environment, the climate, changes. At that time, a messianic process is unfolding around you; there is growth of spirituality and now you can develop into a profoundly holy person. Mashiach liberates you, providing an environment where you can really grow, flourish and thrive. If you are not so inclined, you don’t have to, but you can if you want. Your spiritual potential can now be actualized. That’s the essential idea of the mashiach; he removes the physical constraints and allows for, and brings, a spiritual environment.

Geularedemption essentially means two things: (1) the removal from the physical locales wherein the nations of the world preside and (2) the establishment of the necessary provisions and circumstances that allow for a world where mankind can flourish and thrive, spiritually. That’s the ohr rishon–messianic light, revealing that which makes everything false fall away because you see the truth.

You should bear in mind that the real disease from which mankind suffers is that of ignorance. Mankind doesn’t see that there’s a spiritual dimension. Mankind thinks of itself as the supreme being and, as such, does whatever it wants and destroys its ability to pursue what’s authentic. If an individual wants to be spiritual, society tends to destroy that. The mashiach removes the ignorance. When reality is apparent, everyone can comprehend all the promises of which the prophets spoke, namely, the lion dwelling with the lamb, turning swords into ploughshares, those famous utterances of Isaiah.  When ignorance is removed, you see the true spiritual nature of reality, which has always been the basis of existence. Now you can grow.

Trump and the Election: What I want to do is to discuss something which I have only spoken about in general terms and that is about a Trump win. I believe he will win. What would be the significance of his victory from the vantage point of Hashkafah?

The Good Side of Esav: We have seen from the various sayings of the Jewish sages that Esav (generally associated with evil) will have a taharah–purification. In other words, there are three expressions associated with Esav/Edom: Rome, Christianity, and Western Civilization. Those three parts correspond to three nations associated with the negative traits of Esav: his arrogance is manifest in modern times by what was Soviet-Communist Russia. His fraudulence is demonstrated by the imposter, Europe. His hedonism is the cultural hallmark of North America.

The Torah calls Esav a rasha–an evil person, but we also know that Esav, the progenitor of Edom, had good qualities and, as I’ve pointed out, America is that good part. We recall that Esav was very respectful to his father Isaac, so much so that Jacob was incredibly afraid of him, cognizant of the merit and power that Esav earned from doing this good deed. The rabbis relate in the midrash–biblical exegisis that before Esav visited his father, he used to change his rough hunting clothing and put on his finery, his best wedding suit, as it were. Who does that today? Most people go into their fathers and say, “Hey old man, get out of my chair!” In fact, Esav was so respectful that when Jacob was en route to meet Esav, Jacob was petrified. But why would he be petrified when G-d promised Jacob that his sojourn would be successful? After all, G-d promised, “I will be with you.” We know that G-d can promise but, if you sin, such a promise of success can be withdrawn. So Jacob compared himself to Esav and was afraid that Esav’s honor of their father left him wanting. No wonder he feared Esav!

Purification of the Impure America:  We recall America’s merits: Mother’s and Father’s Day, generosity with foreign aid, sponsorship of Jewish institutions, and so on. So the tov–good of Esav–America–will have a tahara, a process of purification. You find chazal–sages saying that. The first reference relating to the impure becoming pure relates to the pig. First, however, you should know that to qualify as a kosher animal that may be eaten by Jews, the animal must have split hooves and chew its cud. The pig, however, has split hooves but does not chew its cud. The pig seems to says, “You see, I’m really kosher,” which is the manner of the classic imposter. Superficially, it might be mistaken as being kosher; inside, however, the pig is really treif– forbidden food.

This is classic Esav, the imposter. However, the sages submit that in the End of Time, the pig will be kosher. Those Jews who always wanted to taste bacon and eggs or pork will get their chance! Why? Because, the pig symbolizes Esav and, therefore, if the pig is going to be kosher, it means that the nation whose progenitor is likened to this creature will be kosher too. The sins of Esav will be removed.

Another commentary regarding this purification describes an event at the Cave of Machpela in Hebron, the site at which the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs are buried, including, of course, Jacob. At Jacob’s burial, Esav (who was his twin) was present and challenged Jacob’s right to be interred in the tomb-cave, arguing that, as his brother, he should also have the right to be buried at this holy site with his forefathers. He exclaims: “I am also a descendant of Isaac. I too am entitled to be buried here!”

Of the several rabbinic commentaries concerning this event, the main one describes the behavior of a certain individual present at the burial,  Hushan ben Dan, who was deaf; consequently, he didn’t hear the nature of Esav’s objection to Jacob’s right to be buried in that tomb. Nevertheless, this Hushan was indignant and upset by Esav’s disruption. It amounts to saying, “This guy is blocking the burial of Jacob, our patriarch!” The claim is that Hushan ben Dan lopped off Esav’s head. Interestingly, he didn’t cut off Esav’s head from the front because Esav looked like Jacob; Hushan would have desisted. This shows how much Esav resembled his twin brother. So, what happened to Esav’s head? The body fell, and the head rolled and came to rest at Jacob’s feet in the cave-tomb. What does this mean?  Figuratively speaking, the head, the chochmah, the intellect and rational part of Esav found its honorable burial place. However, the body of Esav, signifying his arrogant and destructive aspect, was laid to rest outside the cave-tomb.

What these commentaries indicate is that part of Esav is good,  good enough to be buried in this most revered place. If a devout Jewish person would want to be buried anywhere, the Cave of Machpelah is that place because buried there are four significant couples: Adam & Eve, Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebecca, Jacob & Leah. So if Esav’s head is buried in the same holy place as the patriarchs and matriarchs, it surely indicates that there’s something about Esav that’s pure and good.

Now I will add my own interpretation: What does the head do? It leads the body. The head is in charge. Without a head you don’t go anywhere. The brain controls everything. So, I would ask, among these three parts of Esav, which is the head? America! Therefore, I am interpreting that America will ultimately be purified. It is the greatest nation on earth, the leader. Whatever America does, that’s what the world does.

Russia will also become great, and Russia will not defy America when the enemies of Israel, specifically Iran, attack. America will stand behind Israel. Putin, for his part, will not defy Trump even though Putin makes strange moves by supporting Iran. Putin’s interest in Syria is purely self-Interest on behalf of Russia, and self-interest can change overnight; we all know that. As I have mentioned, Putin is an unusual guy who actually has a soft spot for Israel and Jews.

Esav in Eden:  There’s another amazing rabbinic commentary that describes Esav in the Garden of Eden. It is said that he furtively snuck up to a higher position there. What’s Esav doing in that lofty paradise in the first place? Esav is a wily guy, so he’s sneaking up to get to a higher seat, so to speak. G-d could be said to reprimand, “What are you doing here? You don’t belong in this seat. Get back to where you were, down there!” So, how did Esav get into Gan Eden at all?

It is the good side of Esav that has earned absolution and now belongs in the Garden of Eden. This, of course, also indicates that Esav will have earned for himself, ultimately, a place in the World-to-Come because, once you’re in the Garden of Eden, that is where you will be until the World to Come is achieved. But the question still remains, how can that be? It can only be possible because Esav will have atoned. Each one of these commentaries by the Jewish sages substantiates this idea. But now, I will bring you the ultimate proof.

The ultimate proof is in the book “Yalkut Reuveini,” a vast compendium of midrashim indicting that G-d is going to take all the sins of the Jewish people and throw them onto Esav.  It is as if G-d says, “You are the cause of all their sins because of what you did to them, that being the climate and provocation you instigated.”

Esav objects saying, “How can I do this? I can’t bear this.”

This reminds us of the episode between G-d and Cain, G-d challenging Cain with the question, “Where is your brother?” and Cain’s notorious response, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

G-d responds, “What are you talking about? The blood of your brother is crying to me from the ground.”

Cain repented saying, “My sin is greater than I can bear.” So what is the substance of Cain’s repentance? Cain refers to “my sin,” acknowledging it. He didn’t say, “You gave me ‘something’ that I can’t tolerate.” He said that his own sin is greater than he can bear. Indeed, all G-d needs is a sin offering. With such a gesture, G-d is halfway there with you. With Cain, however, G-d was much gentler than with Esav. That is why He put a sign on Cain, a warning to others not to kill him.

Esav speaks similarly to G-d saying, “I can’t bear this. What must I do that I can bear this?” His penitent tone is clear. It’s like telling G-d, “You’re right and I am without recourse–finished.” Then, as the commentary recounts, G-d took Esav’s sins and put them on his garment; the garment turned red. Thus, in some way, G-d mitigated or softened the judgement against Esav. The decree was no longer resting on Esav himself but on his garment, and a garment, we know, is removable. Then the commentary indicates something even more profound, namely, that G-d took those garments which had become red and made them as white as snow. That is tahara –purification, absolution. Indeed, it reflects what the Jews say in their prayers on the sacred day of Yom Kippur: “G-d will take our sins and make them white as snow.”

So, yet again, we see an indication that, at the end, Esav will be tahor and that the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be healed, yet another surprising idea. The question is when, not if. When will Esav actually be absolved? The timing may be unclear, but the concept of a definite absolution for the good aspect of Esav is indisputable.

Service Versus Persecution: What does this all mean for hashkafah–Jewish philosophy?  Until now, I’ve been saying that Esav’s absolution is that his sins will be forgiven, but it’s much deeper than that. Let us return to the biblical account of Esav and Jacob. Jacob and Esav were “fighting” in utero. Within Rebecca’s womb, the twins are battling it out and she doesn’t know what’s going on. Tradition records that she consults the sages of that time, Shem and Ever, who prophecy that there are two nations within her and that, ultimately, the older will serve the younger and that the latter nation is greater than the former. Yes, Esav will serve the younger brother, Jacob, whose enterprise is to promulgate Torah and penetrate its meaning. This prophecy confirms that Esav’s bad attributes will eventually be overwhelmed by the good. He will destroy the Satan; he will “toil in the fields” of the world’s evil and corruption to subdue and eliminate it.

The midrash points out that, because the Torah is written solely with consonants, the words that recount this episode can be read in two ways, as “rav ya’avodtza’ir”—he will assist the younger, or as “rav ya’aveid tza’ir”—he will afflict the younger. Esav assists Jacob either by eradicating evil or by subjecting Jacob (the Jewish people) to suffering; either way, the Jewish people earn atonement and accomplish the rectification of Creation. (Remember that the Jews’ potential to rectify Creation is actualized in either of three “devices”:  the performance of commandments, repentance, and/or suffering.)

Patriarchal Lineage:  To take this discussion of the various missions of Esav and Jacob to a deeper level, let us review the overall blueprint of the patriarchal lineage: Abraham was the patriarch representing the attribute or the Divine force referred to as chesed–compassion, also associated with the “right side,”  G-d’s “Right Hand,” so to speak. Isaac, the second patriarch, represents gevurah-justice, stringency, G-d’s “Left Hand.” In the center, the balance (or synthesis) of these two forces is tiferes-beauty, harmony. However, this middle force has two aspects, a right side (of the middle) and a left side (of the middle). The right side of the middle was represented by Jacob. The left side of the middle was represented by Esav. So, actually, there are really four patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Esav. Jacob and Esav, being twins, share the middle; they share the sefirah–divine emanation of tiferes. Because Esav veered from his mission, becoming arrogant, fraudulent and hedonistic, he left a vacuum on the left side of tiferes. Furthermore, Esav was supposed to have produced six tribes (out of the total of twelve tribes of Israel), symmetrical to the six tribes from Jacob. Jacob and Esav were thus to have been equally fundamental parts of the tikkun process, the rectification of this world.

Not only was Esav to have been a patriarchal figure as great as Abraham, but we know from a rabbinic source that asks: “Who is greater, Jacob or Esav?” Esav was potentially greater than Jacob because Esav’s mission was greater, more difficult. How do we know? If you tally the gematria-numerological value of the letters of Jacob’s name in the Hebrew (including the Hebrew letter vav in Ya’akov), the numerical sum of the letters is exactly half the total of the numerical value of “Esav.”

Joseph “Replaces” Esav:  Having undermined his patriarchal status and his mission, Esav was replaced with Joseph. Joseph was thus a “half-patriarch.” Until Joseph, Jacob had to undertake Esav’s job in addition to his own. That’s why both Jacob and Joseph were required in Egypt to compete and contend with Esav’s evil side. We should note, however, that even though Esav became an evil-doer and his presence in the scriptural narrative disappeared, he was never absent from the tikkun process. There are those who mistakenly think he went out of it. No! Esav is still in and has always been in!

The previously cited midrash expresses an incredible concept. There’s ye’aveid (subjugate, afflict)and ya’avod (serve, assist), but either way, Esav participates in rectifying Creation. If the Jews deserve punishment for sin, Esav afflicts Jacob; he causes the Jews to suffer. What does such an incredible midrash show you? It demonstrates that Esav is still a participant in the tikkun. It is only that his role fluctuates depending upon the behavior of the Jews.

Christianity’s Formidable Job: That is why you find in the midrash of the Rambam (Maimonides) that Christianity was set to undertake a formidable job, not only to spread the ideas of messianism and redemption to a pagan world, but also to spread the concept of a singular god, even though some Christian sects have another two going on. Rambam posited that when Jews sin, Christianity would afflict them. As horrendous as that affliction has been, we know that the suffering was a form of rectification. Christianity had to be the vehicle to give the world these concepts–flawed as they are–because the Jews lost that merit, that conviction. We know this because the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. That destruction reflects the ruined aspect of the Jewish enterprise which had to be taken up by Christianity.

You can now understand when I say that Esav is Edom, which is Rome, which became Christianity; there you are. And Christianity is Western Civilization with its three subsections, as I already explained. This is a tremendous understanding.

Having said all that, we must still wonder when Esav transitions from afflicting to assisting the Jews? For two thousand years he has been of sporadic assistance, via Christianity, by promulgating the idea of redemption, but when is he going to switch from the Christian pogroms, inquisitions, and expulsions, from the tactic of inflicting suffering to that of assisting? Until now, I have used the expression tahara-purification—as if G-d was going to annul Esav’s sins. No – it’s more than that. Esav is returning to his original task and this is about to happen.

America’s Transition

The question is: when this will happen? I believe that the one who is going to switch Esav’s orientation from ya’aveid to ya’avod is Donald Trump. Notice what he says; he’ll make America great. If you heard his speeches in the last week — wow! He really wants to make America great again.

Trump doesn’t mean “great” in only economic terms. I believe that all he promises to do, he’ll do. He wants to create equality for all citizens whether they are Black, Asian, Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. Yeah, he’s very careful about Muslims. He has to be because you see what’s going on in the world? They’re blowing up Europe all over the place. He must demand extreme vetting. Of course, it’s not that he’s against Muslims, as people charge; people are stupid. He has to control who comes in, particularly from countries that have all this terror going on.

What Trump is saying is simple; forget about the agenda of the left and media, of Hillary and Obama and Trump’s other adversaries. It comes down to being tough with the evil that abounds in America and foreign countries. It’s like the saying, “When the cat’s away, the mice will play” and he’s the cat. The nations of the world are now going to have to contend with him when expresses, “Excuse me, but what do you think you’re doing! Why are you killing people?” He’s going to put America back on the police beat, no longer tolerating the nonsense. He’s going to enforce the law. It’s the return of law-and-order to America. Everything he says is incredibly logical and I believe that he’ll keep to that.

Let’s remember that Trump has an observant Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner. His daughter Ivanka is a converted Jew and also observant. Jason Greenblatt, his major council, is an orthodox Jew. Trump knows Jews. He’s hung around them for many years in the real estate business, as I’ve told you before. Therefore, I believe he will turn America from ya’aveid to ya’avod, and everything indicates that he will really be a great president. His policies will promote prosperity, peace, law-and-order, defying the nations of the world, siding with Israel. When he realizes that the Arab world cannot make peace with Israel because it’s theologically impossible, as I mentioned previously, all that nonsense will end.

Transformation of Nations–The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:  Now you can understand the significance of the gematria of Donald Trump being equal to that of Mashiach ben David. It doesn’t mean that he’s Mashiach ben David. Let’s forget that. However, someone who turns a nation toward a diametrically opposing path to the one it must be on has to be messianic. Trump is the messiah of Edom. What does a messiah do? He transforms a vast political and social landscape; he creates a paradigm shift.

As strange as it sounds, the forces of evil have also had their messianic figures. Do you know who the mashiach of the Satan is? Yes, he’s had a few. Who is his most recent in history? The messiah of Amalek: Hitler. Yes. Hitler was a messiah, an anointed individual who completely reversed the order and the trajectory of events. Hitler (may his accursed name be erased) was the mashiach of Amalek. He had the power of a mashiach; you couldn’t stop him. What does that sound like? What he was, in truth, was the greatest agent of the Satan that the world has ever seen. He was pure Amalek. He hated the Jews viscerally and he exacerbated and magnified Germany’s (and half of Europe’s) already-extant hatred of Jews. In other words, he made such a significant alteration in the mazalfortune of the Jews, that he qualifies as a mashiach of the Satan. It sounds very strange to say that Hitler was a messiah, but that’s who he really was. I realize that, for some people, these ideas won’t sit very well.

The word “Edom” is very similar to “Adam” and this too is significant in demonstrating that Edom is inherently critical to the process of rectification. I mentioned in a much earlier lecture that G-d originally did not intend for the Jews to do the tikkun at all. G-d gave that mission to all of mankind. It was only after two thousand years of refusing to comply with basic ethical standards and laws that Abraham and his descendants were given the task. Primordial Adam wasn’t Jewish; he didn’t have to be. He was a “Yisrael,” because the concept of a Yisrael is a being whose neshama—Divine soul is equipped to do the rectification. A Yisrael can affect the spiritual worlds. As I discussed elsewhere, only the Jews are like Adam now, meaning that only Jews can do the tikkun.They can be the agents of the rectification of Creation because all their souls are connected to all five spiritual worlds.

The Connection to Primordial Adam:  Who else is called “Adam”? What’s the difference in Hebrew between the spelling of “Edom” and “Adam”? It is the Hebrew letter vav. If you take the Hebrew spelling of “Adam” and you put a vav in the middle, it is no longer “Adam”; it’s “Edom.” What does the vav (upright rod-looking letter) represent? It represents the snake. And, yes, the distinctive problem with “Edom” is the snake connoting evil, but if you take out the “snake,” it reverts back to “Adam.” There you are. Yet again, that’s the distinction between the concepts of ya’aveid and ya’avod that we discussed before. Remember also what I told you, namely, that the Satan is dying. That means that the vav is about to be removed from “Edom.” What’s going to be left?–“Adam.”

Trump’s Opposition: The key idea here is that the Satan is going crazy. Why? Do you see what the opposition to Trump is? It’s beyond belief. Obama hates him, campaigning actively against him, and every representative and tool of the establishment is trying to vilify, denigrate, degrade, demolish, and destroy him and his reputation. Hillary’s sole strategy in her campaign is to destroy Trump. That’s all the campaign is ever about. Get Trump. Who else is against him? The media vitriol is amazing to watch; in fact, it’s infuriating. Their job as journalists is to represent both sides without bias but they are not interested in journalism. They are interested in propaganda; they have become nothing more than a propaganda machine for Hillary. Imagine the chutzpah of the media to do this. Your job is journalism, not lambasting Trump. You want to do that? Quit the New York Times and do it on your own, but don’t call yourself “journalist.”

There’s a bunch of Republicans against Trump. Excuse me! He’s your nominee! They’d rather have Hillary the crook, the cheat, the pathological liar? She’ll appoint a couple liberal judges and, it’s over. Imagine that there’s a Talmudic academy and a homosexual rabbi applies for the job and then you have to give him the job because you’re not allowed to discriminate anymore against a homosexual.

G-d is no longer out to get only New Orleans for its annual Southern Decadence Day that was thwarted by Hurricane Katrina. Now, He’s after Louisiana, which shows you that a state can be chayav misah–subject to the death penalty. Why? –Because the government looked away. The immorality that prompted the flood was deemed permissible by the powers-that-be in that state. You see, it is no longer just private individuals who are indulgent and liable. Governments that legitimatize decadent, morally aberrant behavior by looking away render the situation as chayav misah. The whole state has been judged and that’s what’s happening. That’s the danger such a Supreme Court poses. Think about it; if America became subject to the death penalty, you wouldn’t want to be within 5,000 miles of America when G-d goes after these guys. He’d wipe out the whole of America. It’s not a big deal for G-d: earthquakes in California, more hurricanes and floods in the southeast, Yosemite blows….

Ishmael: Ishmael’s problem concerning America is different from that of Esav; America is civilized. Esav has his evil inclinations but he’s civilized because he’s an “Adam.” Ishmael is different; he’s uncivilized. As described in the bible, he’s a Pere Adam–an Adam, but uncivilized. Who ever heard of a parent telling his kid to commit suicide, to be a shahid, a martyr? It is simply not normal for parents to celebrate the deaths of their kids and tell them to kill Jews, that a father pushes his son into the way of soldiers. He wants the Israeli soldiers to kill his son; this is not civilization.

That’s the problem with Ishmael, the Arabs. They’re not civilized; at least the ones who lead. That’s how the Torah refers to Ishmaelites, as Pere Adam—wild man. I venture to say that it is harder for Ishmael to become civilized than it is for a civilized person to become less so. As I have already mentioned, there’s a midrash that says that Sodom and Gomorrah are going to be healed. Why does it say that “G-d will make their sins like snow” rather than say their sins will be absolved? Because the people of these two ancient cities weren’t just sinful; they were diseased.

The distinction is between being evil and being diseased. What Esav did was evil; but evil is not a disease. Esav’s problems were more an issue of morality, of confronting moral dilemmas, an inclination, rather than a disease. To be uncivilized is a disease; there’s something wrong with your brain. Therefore, such depravity has to be cured. I personally don’t believe that they will be cured until the entrance of mashiach. Notably, the biblical Ishmael did repent later in his life so there is a precedent for their eventual repentance in these pre-messianic times.

Edom, Ishmael and Trump: The reason why everybody is against Trump is that he’s a mashiach of Edom. And guess what? If the Satan is dying and he is about to lose his greatest agent, Esav, then the Satan is “going bananas.” It’s the Satan who’s delirious because he knows that if Esav/Edom undergoes taharah, he’s bereft of his most valuable and powerful agent. And let’s get it right; Esav is still much more powerful than Ishmael. The world is led by America; let’s not kid ourselves. It’s not led by Saudi Arabia or any of those guys. America is the world; you don’t realize that. That’s why Hillary is so dangerous, because if that Supreme Court turns America into a depraved place, the whole world will follow.

About the Author
Robin is a retired Language Arts high school teacher who taught in the Los Angeles Unified District for 25 years. After retiring in 2010, she hurriedly made aliyah in 2011.
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