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THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
On The Arrival of the Messianic Era
I am writing this Drasha from the bomb shelter in the branch of my Yeshiva located in Israel, Yeshivas Sin'as Yisroel. The Yeshiva was named after a former Talmid of mine, Yisroel Schvantzylcrechtzin, who used to express his intense anti-Semitism by beating on his Brisoi Shel Avraham, daily.
Let's be honest: There is more than a little bit of disappointment in every one of us at the news of the past week. Our intense focus of recent weeks on the Iran nuclear deal - whether we are virulently opposed, accept it as an imperfect inevitability and are committed to making the best of it, or are fully supportive - has been distracted by two tragedies that are difficult to fathom.
- The savage stabbing of six marchers at a gay pride parade by a deranged Chareidi man, resulting in the death of a sixteen year old girl.
- The brutal attack on a Palestinian family in their home, resulting in the burning alive of a young child and the severe wounding of his parents and sibling.
While the vast majority of Israeli and global Jewish society has condemned these atrocities, it is terribly disturbing that these grotesque actions have clusters of supporters, as widely reported and seen in banners that have appeared in Israel and various news reports. The ultra Orthodox press has referred to the gay pride parade as the "Toevah" (literally, "abomination") parade. And ultra right Israelis point to Palestinian violence against Israelis and/ or "media bias" against Israel, as if brutality and victimization were a contest and justify immolation of a family sleeping in their beds.
I am reminded of a famous legend of the Chofetz Chaim. No one knows if it is true, but legend holds that the Chofetz Chaim always had a bag packed, so that when the Moshiach arrived, he would be ready to go to Eretz Yisroel at a moment's notice.
Of course, the paradox is that the Chofetz Chaim lived at a time when Jewish settlement became an option in pre-state Israel. He lived from approximately 1843 to 1933, a period which saw the growth of the religious community in Jerusalem, the First and Second Aliyot in the late 1800s, and the emergence of Zionism as a global political movement.
Had the Chofetz Chaim not waited in vain in Eastern Europe but actually traveled to the Holy Land, he would have discovered a world far apart from the fantastic descriptions of the Torah and the Talmud. He would have discovered poverty and swamps. He would have seen secular Zionists and Arabs. He would have seen violence, Jew vs. Arab and Jew vs. Jew.
In essence, he would have discovered a sparsely inhabited nascent society, dealing with many of the same social dynamics of today.
But the Chofetz Chaim did not come to Palestine. He remained in Europe, and died at the same time as Hitler was rising to power. And why didn't he come to pre-State Israel? Because the Messiah had not yet arrived.
Clearly, we can see from all of the current challenges facing Israeli society and the global Jewish community that indeed the Messiah has not arrived. There is military threat from Israel's neighbors, and concern that conventional weapons in the hands of Israel's enemies may be complemented by non-conventional weapons. There is internecine violence of Jew vs. Jew. And there is a latent brutal streak that represents a disturbing undercurrent in Israeli and Jewish society.
The Messiah has not yet arrived.
The Messiah has not yet arrived, despite that fact that some people think that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is the Moshiach and exists somewhere in suspended animation, watching Netflix and Hulu, catching up on the new episodes of Orange Is The New Black and old episodes of Seinfeld, and holding Farbreingins attended by the likes of Moishe Rabbeinu, Dovid HaMelech, and the Marx Brothers.
The Messiah has not yet arrived, despite that fact that there is an erudite African American president of the United States who is both Moslem and Christian, Jew lover and Jew hater, Socialist and Libertarian, American born and born in Kenya to natives that only speak in the clicking language. The only way to prove his true birth heritage is to show his Shmaaser on television during the next State of the Union address. If he can prove that it is less than 8 inches and is uncircumcised, then I will accept that he is an American born Christian. If not, I will assume that he is actually a deep cover agent for ISIS who can do a fantastic, on key rendition of Amazing Grace when not plotting to surrender to Canada.
The Messiah has not yet arrived, despite the fact that Bibi Netanyahu thinks that he is both the Likud Prime Minister of Israel and the Republican President of the United States, addressing the Knesset in Hebrew, the Congress in English, and a national web based gathering of the Jewish Federations across the US in hyperbolic terms describing how Israel is helpless, defenseless, and on the brink of destruction, while at the same time approving new housing in the West Bank and then complaining that it is the Palestinians who show no interest in a negotiated political settlement.
The Messiah has not yet arrived, despite that fact that so many of the Ultra Orthodox, the "True Believers", can practice their faiths freely, often live in affluence or be supported by the State, or both, and have the freedom and autonomy to run their own schools, run their own legal systems, and force their women to work three jobs while the husband sits in Koilel, but not allow the woman to drive, because a woman driving in traffic might lead to mixed dancing, Chass V'Sholom.
The Messiah has not yet arrived, despite the fact that the Secretary of the Treasury of the U.S. in a Orthodox Jew, which is more than the State of Israel can say.
The Messiah has not yet arrived, despite the fact that Donald Trump may be the next president, will rename the country the "Trump States of America", and after three years will declare bankruptcy and once again rely on the banks for a bailout (which he has done with his properties many, many times), while at the same time accusing the Mexicans of being "freeloaders".
The Messiah has not yet arrived, despite the fact that Hillary Clinton may be the next president, proving that Israel and Zimbabwe are not the only countries where a politician can engage in all manner of questionable behaviors and still get elected because of a famous name, a party machine, and a toothless electorate.
The Messiah has not yet arrived.
I am reminded of a Gemarah in Shabbos that discusses whether one can fry an egg that was just laid by placing it in the hot sun on Shabbos.
According to Rav Ashi, one cannot do such an act since the egg is a "Beitzah SheNoldah", an egg laid on Shabbos, which cannot be used until after Shabbos, and also cannot be cooked, even in the natural hot sun, because cooking is not allowed, even through "passive means".
Rav Pupa, on the other hand, holds that one can cook an egg born on Shabbos in the hot sun.
Toisfois asks: How can Rav Pupa hold such a Shitah, despite the fact that two Dioraisas are clearly being violated?
The Pnei Yehoishua offers a beautiful Vort. He says that Kooley Alma Loi Pligi, everyone agrees, that you are "technically" not allowed to fry a Beitsah SheNoldah on Shabbos Koidesh in the hot sun. However, they disagree about whether a rabbi is Chayuv to follow Halacha, or do whatever the fuck he wants simply because he is a rabbi.
So, according to Rav Ashi, Halacha is binding, even if someone is stranded on a desert Island, since Hakadoshboruchhu is everywhere. However, according to Rav Pupa, the Halacha does not apply to him, since he feels that he need not follow the rules, because, Reboinoisheloilumdammit, he can justify anything since he is smarter than everyone else, and is therefore exempt from the basic rules of Halacha and society. Plus he is hungry and wants to eat a fried egg, so don't tell him what to fucking do, you self hating Jew!
The Messiah has not yet arrived. So the best we can do is use our brains and our capabilities to chart a course on This earth, in This world, inspired by Jewish tradition, the realities of global society and common sense, and not function as if we live in a fictional, fanciful Messianic world, such as Brooklyn, Bnei Brak, Washington DC, or Jerusalem.
Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval
Rabbi Pinky Schmeckelstein
Yeshivas Chipass Emmess