With rising global tensions, and ongoing economic and security conflicts between many countries, including the US Russia and China, the world seems shaky.
Recent Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping were having a significant negative impact on international trade. Iran is considered to be the main driver of Houthi and other terrorism and unrest in the region. The Houthi attacks hampered sea traffic through the Suez Canal, thus threatening an important source of revenue for Egypt. The US has formed a coalition to patrol the Red Sea, but so far Houthi attacks are continuing.
In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ attack, Jews in Israel and worldwide saw a tremendous increase of widespread antisemitism. It seemed that nowhere was safe.
The Yalkut Shimoni (a 700 year old compilation of ancient Aggadic Torah teachings), in reference to Isaiah chapter 60, cites a teaching that the Lubavitcher Rebbe talked about during the First Gulf War. The Rebbe explained that the passage described events happening then, thirty-three years ago. Perhaps the Rebbe’s insights were also meant to shed light for the future, including nowadays.
Let’s look at the Medrash (translated from the original Hebrew):
“Rabbi Yitzchok said: The Year in which the King Moshiach is revealed, all rulers of the nations will antagonize one another. The Persian King will antagonize an Arab King, and the Arab King will go to Aram to ask their advice. Then the Persian King will continue to embark on destroying the entire world. And all the nations of the world will make a tumult and be frightened and will fall on their faces, and they will be gripped by pain like labour pains. And Israel will make a tumult and be frightened and say: ‘To where can we come and go, to where can we come and go?’ And He says to them: ‘My children, don’t be afraid, everything that I am doing, I am doing only for your sake. Why are you afraid? Don’t be afraid, the time of your Redemption has come.’
“Our Rabbis taught: At the moment when the King Moshiach comes, he will stand on the roof of the Beis Hamikdosh (the holy Temple), and he will announce to Israel and say: “Humble ones, the time of your Redemption has arrived.”
Could this Medrash be describing current conflicts? Let’s see.
“The Year in which the King Moshiach is revealed, all rulers of the nations will antagonize one another.” As mentioned above, there is now much antagonism and tension between countries.
“The Persian King will antagonize an Arab King.” Iran (which occupies the land of ancient Persia, and which changed its name from Persia to Iran less than a hundred years ago), has fueled terrorism and unrest in the Middle East, including arming the Houthis and presumably directing them to attack world shipping, which is threatening an Arab King’s (Egypt) economic security.
“And the Arab King will go to Aram to ask their advice.” The Rebbe explained (thirty-three years ago) that ‘Aram’ (from the word ‘Ram’ — high) represents the US (a high, or super power). The US has now organized a coalition to defend against the Houthis.
“And all the nations of the world will make a tumult and be frightened and will fall on their faces, and they will be gripped by pain like labour pains.” Countries remain very concerned. (It’s similar to labour pains, where one generally needs to wait for the situation to resolve itself.)
“And Israel will make a tumult and be frightened and say: ‘To where can we come and go, to where can we come and go?’” Right after Hamas attacked, Jews worldwide became very worried about antisemitism, with no place seemingly safe.
“And He says to them: ‘My children, don’t be afraid, everything that I am doing, I am doing only for your sake. Why are you afraid? Don’t be afraid, the time of your Redemption has come.’” G-d tells us not to be afraid, the time of Redemption has come.
Indeed the current awakening among the Jewish people, vis-a-vis our Jewish identity, our unity and caring for each other, and the strengthening of our inner bond with G-d, encourages optimism that we will see the complete Redemption with Moshiach very soon.