Introduction: The Timing
Rava says that mashiach will come motzei shmita—after the sabbatical year, this coming year. What is interesting is that we know that shmita begins this September but, after seven of these (49 years), is the yovel—Jubilee. For Rava, the “proclaiming of liberty throughout the land” when many things return to original ownership is, conceptually, that all returns to G-d.
Since G-d has given away everything so that everyone can take--whether money or anything else--the money is Mine, G-d can say. Everything is His: The Earth is G-d’s. So, the yovel year, Rava is saying, comes at the end of this shmita when G-d takes back everything. That is the messianic era, when we realize that everything is G-d’s, that He is the boss.
We’ve lost the count of yovel. We count shmita so we know that cycle, but we don’t know which shmita is the yovel year. Wouldn’t it be incredible if this were to be the last shmita of the cycle and that taf shin chaf gimmel—5723 (2023 of the Gregorian calendar) would be yovel and mashiach would come? If this is the last shmita, and yovel comes the year after, and mashiach comes, it will start in yovel and the preparation will begin in shmita.
That is what’s going to happen because you can’t just drop the mashiach on people. The shock will be much too great. You have to prepare the world, like in Egypt. G-d didn’t appear to everybody first. Prior, G-d appeared through the plagues. When it says that the Nile turned to blood, we’re talking blood that could qualify for Blue Cross. Real blood. It wasn’t colored water. I wonder which type it was. (laughter). Unbelievable right?
People began to realize what G-d is, His power. Then, at krias yam suf—splitting of the Reed Sea came the miracle that the world had never seen before. There’s a midrash that describes what it was, an event divided into twelve sections, fruit growing from the water, experiencing a fairyland. That was second stage preparation. Then came the 49 days and we don’t know what happened but, whatever it was, it was beyond our understanding. Then came matan Torah—giving of the Torah, something extraordinary.
We see from there that what G-d does is prepare people, overthrowing materialism, physicality. That is why if mashiach does come in this yovel year, then this pending shmita year will be a year of tremendous change. I believe that this coming shmita doesn’t even start with Rosh ha’Shana, the new year. It really starts on rosh chodesh Elul—the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul (Elul is the “erev,” the preparation for Tishrei, the first month of the new year—a kind of erev Shabbat—because the shmita is akin to Shabbat, a sabbatical year—author’s note). So I think something shocking may happen around the time of the advent of rosh chodesh Elul.
Last week, no one could think what that shocking event could be so, lo and behold, the day after rosh chodesh, on Tuesday, Cuomo quit. It shocked America because he is a fighter, so the last thing anyone thought he would do would be to give up. Everyone is stunned. This has reverberated throughout the U.S. He is one of the Democratic Party’s main guys, not a low guy on the totem pole. He was considered to be a major contender for the presidency had they not gone with Biden. The Democratic Party adored him. That he should resign from the governorship amid scandals is unheard of, shocking.
This is a very good sign because when G-d takes punishes evil-doers, it means that the Satan is not doing a very good job of protecting his guys. He’s losing. When evil begins to see retribution, that means that good is not far behind. The overthrow of evil must come before the introduction of good. Makes sense. The fact that G-d topples Cuomo who lives and breathes power, and topples him over what? This is a sign that this shmita year is a precursor to yovel. This is extraordinary. Cuomo has been one of the most powerful men in the country. So, let’s hope this trend continues.
Rosh ha’Shana and the Divine Agenda
I want so speak about Rosh ha’Shana which is coming up. If you ask what it is about, most people will say “judgment,” when everybody is judged. You’re probably wondering what I could say that you don’t already know. I’ll tell you that, really, nobody knows what it is all about. I will tell you what it is really about. OK?
I will start with a series of questions to dramatize that you really don’t know what it is about. I want you to believe me. I have to convince you that we don’t really know what it’s about.
Question #1: Every yom tov--holiday is tied to a Jewish historical event: Pesach is exodus from Egypt; Shavuot is receiving the Torah; Tisha b’Av is the destruction of the Temple, etc. What Jewish event is Rosh ha’Shana connected to? It doesn’t seem to be connected to any. We do know that the first man, Adam ha’Rishon, was created on that day, but was he Jewish?—no. The first Jew was Avraham avinu—our father. He was called “ivri”—Hebrew. Later, the Jew was named) for Judah. Neither was Noach Jewish. We might think, what do you mean, not Jewish? They were all in the Torah! That doesn’t mean they’re Jewish. So, what does the holiday have to do with Judaism.
Question #2: What happens on Rosh ha’Shana? You will say, “We’re all judged.” The answer is “yes” and “no.” Not really. Not really judged? What does that mean? So, what happens? What’s it all about?
Question #3: Ever hear of judgment once a year? Can you imagine what would happen if New York State courts only convened once a year? There would be crime all over the place. Funny thing is that you have crime all over right now. How can you have a society when there is only one day of judgment? It must be every day.
Question #4: How can something contradict the gemara--teachings of sages known as “Amoraim” which says that a man is judged every day. What is the difference between a man being judged every day and judgement once a year on Rosh ha’Shana?
Question #5: We understand that everything is judged, but how can that be? Animals, angels don’t have free will so how can they be found guilty? So how can they be judged? Something is going on that we don’t understand.
Question #6: How is it celebrated? You come home after shul to a great meal and enjoy yourself. Do you think, from the appearance of this activity, that people anticipate being judged over life or death? They don’t act as if they are going to be judged. Like it says in U’netaneh Tokef (a prayer composed by Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, Germany, who lived about one thousand years ago) : “….who will die by drowning or….? (a list of various means of dying ensues) Some are judged and they die, right? But, nobody acts that way. How can a yom tov—lit. “good day” be a holiday when it could be decided whether or not you live or die? Seems contradictory. Instead of sitting down to a great meal, he should be up in his room popping pills, filled with anxiety. Our behavior is incongruous with reality. There is a chazal—sage’s exegesis that asks, “if it is a yom tov, why don’t we say Hallel—the prayer of praise and thankgiving? G-d answers: since the Books of Life and Death are open before Me, you can’t say it. What is this discussion about, between G-d and His angels? Their intelligence is far beyond what we can imagine.
Question #7: Why is Rosh ha’Shana on the first day of the month of Tishrei when it could be any day of the year?
Question #8: What is shofar all about? It is the only mitzvah of the Torah on that day. What does this mitzvah have to do with judgment? There is a traditional list of ten reasons why we blow shofar: warns us, reminds us of matan Torah—giving of the Torah, but is there a deeper reason? We know there are the three sounds of the shofar that imitate the sound of crying: the staccato--the person breaks down. Another is like a sigh—shvarim. The tekia is a wailing sound. They imitate a cry, but why?
The Satan is hoping that they don’t blow shofar. He is confused due to things we do in order to confuse his anticipation of the blowing. The Satan has a very high I.Q. so you would think that after 5781 years, he would figure out that on alef Tishrei—the first day of Tishrei we will blow. You would think he could anticipate that we would try to confound him.
Question #9: Why do we blow as during the Akeida—the episode of the binding of Isaac?
We agree that you don’t know what it’s really about. If you did, these questions could be easily answered. Based on a true understanding, you will know how to prepare for it. One of the most important things to come out of the notion of “judgment” is: what is the best way to negotiate with G-d, to convince the judge to rule in your favor? Is there a strategy?--yes.
What is interesting is that you don’t need nine answers, just one. Isn’t that beautiful?
The way to understand Rosh ha’Shana is to delve into the blueprint of Creation. The problem is that we don’t know much about the Divine agenda that originated thousands of years ago. G-d follows that plan. If you understand it, you begin to see Judaism and the world in a completely different light. If you really get into it, your life changes. I’ve spent lots of time on current events and connecting those events to the Divine agenda in order to convince people that there really is a Divine agenda.
The Actions of G-d as Part of the Divine Agenda
What can we gather about this plan that will help us understand Rosh ha’Shana? All the acts of G-d can be summed up into three categories:
1- Hanhaga ha’kiyum—actions to fulfill the purpose of Creation: There is much to this but, in the simplest terms, what is the purpose of Creation? G-d created a reality of this world that he hides from, but he doesn’t want to remain concealed. He wants to come back but not on His own; we must bring Him back—we, the Jewish people—we! G-d created a stage, like a play, the world as a stage, and placed humans on that stage. There, He conducts the test. He says: O.K. I want you to act in certain ways and those acts will bring me back. What do we call that “way”?—“tikkun,” meaning “rectification” or “restoration” or “repair.” It’s as if He says: I created this whole thing and then exited. I want to reveal myself to you and to the entire Creation but I won’t do it unless you do the right actions. G-d has subjected Himself, voluntarily, to the acts of mankind. Without going into the details of this, suffice to say that when He comes back and we experience Him, that is to be the greatest experience you could ever have, being privy to Who G-d is, to experience Him for eternity—not through an intermediary like an angel, no—but directly according to the capacity you have. It is the greatest pleasure of all. The condition G-d placed on His return and giving you that experience is based on the extent to which you declare My existence. To the degree you believed in Me, guess what?—I will accede to your belief. I will pop up. You will see me. It’s measure-for-measure, like an equation. If you do A you get A. If you do B, you don’t get A. He created the staging for this test, so that man could engage in a series of actions that show that he believes in the reality of G-d. That is really what a mitzvah is. It is aidut--testimony that G-d exists and, therefore, I will submit my will to His. If you believe in G-d, you will experience G-d. That’s the way it works.
2- Hanhagas ha’Mishpat--actions of judgement: G-d waits for what a person will choose and, based on his actions, there are consequences. What is judgment?—consequences. If you do this, I will do this. If you do that, I will do that. If a person sins, then I will act accordingly. If you do a mitzvah, I will certainly improve your situation. It’s cause and effect. It is a determination of what a person deserves. If you do good, you get good. If you do bad, you get retribution.
3- Hanhagas ha’Yichud—actions of the Supreme Being: This third action is interesting but problematic. Since G-d gives you free will, you can decide what to do. It is possible that all mankind can frustrate the Will of G-d. If all mankind decides to be sinful, it will frustrate His Will. You can say: Ppfff, that never happened! But it did, the generation of Noach. It’s as if G-d said enough is enough. I’m going to press the restart button and destroy the entire planet. That’s extreme behavior to wipe out the entire program! But He did. Then G-d decided that it wouldn’t happen anymore. There must be a Future World and people in it to experience Me. It is an assurance that, no matter how we frustrate His Will, He will get us into that Future World. Even with free will and sinful behavior, G-d ensures our entry but there are now methods which He will employ to do it. This is quite different than the actions of justice which say, you didn’t do it, so it’s over with. Justice doesn’t guarantee that you’re gonna pass. Hanhagas ha’yichud is a guarantee that anyone, whoever is a mesaken—someone who contributes to the rectification, the tikkun, has a place in the Future World. Nice. That’s the good side.
The bad side is this: there are three methods of bringing G-d back.
#1 is the doing of mitzvahs. You do it and you get rewarded in the Future World. What if you don’t do that?
#2 G-d gave the method of teshuva. If you blow it, and you sin, G-d will allow you to retract what you did. That’s a tremendous chesed—act of compassion. Justice doesn’t give you the option to start over again. But G-d says, I will allow you to repent. But many don’t repent or they do so only for the moment.
#3. So G-d says, I give a third method, yisruim--suffering. It is not a punishment but an undoing of what you did. Kapporah—atonememt. The problem with suffering is you don’t want it; it’s not “good.” There are so many ways a person can suffer: bankruptcies, sickness, poverty, exile, and suffering on a national level.
These three methods will do the tikkun. The guarantee that everyone will be in the Future World is via the method of being subject to suffering if one doesn’t perform commandments or repent. And the suffering doesn’t have to be now. What an act of compassion that is if the guy didn’t do anything to afford him atonement, G-d brings him back in gilgulim—reincarnations! He gets a second chance, third chance. In the end, G-d wants everyone, certainly every Jew, to be in the Future World.
We now understand the actions of G-d: creating the world, the stage, examining actions of man and administering justice via judgement, and taking whatever actions are needed that guarantee one’s access to the Future World.
One can say that this is all G-d cares about. Everything He does and has created is to advance this objective. If it doesn’t advance it, He doesn’t create it. There are 300,000 species of beetles—species of them. Each is different yet all belong to that species. There are 7,000 species of ants. I think there are 3,000,000 species of plants. Scientists estimate that there are probably a hundred million different extant species--different beings. Does this mean that had He created only 299,999 species of beetles … what’s the problem? No. It means that you need that exact number. That exact number must be in the Plan, the program. We have no idea why.
We know what G-d wants, for every Jew--at least--to be in the Future World and He will do anything to accommodate that.
Evaluation the “Business Model”
What has this to do with Rosh ha’Shana? If you open a business on January 1st, it’s important is to evaluate that business a year later to see if you are profitable, have enough inventory, too much inventory, effective marketing, etc. You can’t just open a business and walk away. If it’s not working, you have to make a cheshbon—take inventory, take action, make an adjustment. The bottom line is making money. Whatever the venture is, it must be evaluated.
The bria--Creation is made for tikkun, so G-d evaluates it on Rosh ha’Shana on that basis. The business of G-d is rectification. Is it working or not? Am I closer to coming back or am I further away? Where is it holding? We now understand what Rosh ha’Shana is. It is less an evaluation of you than of the entiretikkun enterprise. If, in the examination, G-d finds that He is no closer to being brought back, He will adjust it. What is amazing to consider is that His examination of the entire Creation, His scrutiny of every nano-second of every action and decision ever made is assessed in the time-span of a nano-second! It’s not like it takes days, years, or centuries. The Mishna speaks of it. The evaluation of every living form of every action ever done is instantaneous.
But as a worker, so to speak, in this enterprise, you get evaluated too. But the primary focus is the Creation itself. Now we can surmise the answers to the questions.
As to question #1: Is Rosh ha’Shana a Jewish holiday?-- no. It is an “Israeli” holiday. How so? I don’t mean Israeli in the national Israeli-state sense.
What is the definition of “Jew”? As a descendant of Avraham, there is that “national” identity, yes. But we are really “Hebrew” in that Avraham was termed an “Ivri”--Hebrew. But that is not what makes a person Jewish. The title “Jew” is based on Judah who, with Binyamin, were the last two tribes after the nation split and parted from Levi and Kohen. It is not his physical body, his DNA, but his soul that makes him an Ivri. G-d gives the Jew a soul that is connected to all the spiritual realities. Therefore, any action that a Jew does has input into these realities. There are five parts of his neshama, and each has a kind of cable that can affect any of these five locations, realities, spiritual dimensions. When you do a mitzvah, you bring G-d back to that which you are connected to—down, down, into this world, olam ha’ze. A Jew has a national identity—from Avraham--and a spiritual identity by virtue of his unique neshama. Without that connection to affect spiritual worlds, a Jew couldn’t do the tikkun. That is why a goy—non-Jew can’t do it; he’s not connected to any except this lowest world—asiya, the world of action.
To be clear, all mankind originally had the soul of a Yisrael, capable of doing the tikkun. For 2,000 years, all mankind had that capability but failed repeatedly. A goy is simply someone that cannot do it because he lacks the soul of a Yisrael. G-d never intended for the tikkun to be done by only one nation. It wouldn’t be fair to have alienated a large portion of mankind depriving them of a chelek—portion in the World to Come. But due to their unremitting sin, they lost that opportunity to rectify Creation and bring G-d back. That capability remained with Avraham and would go down through time with his descendants. All others lost it. Since G-d is only interested in advancing Redemption, the non-Jew exists only to assist the Jews in one way or another in his tikkun task. G-d enabled them to have one purpose, to assist the Jew and, by that and G-d’s compassion, they were given the right to exist. The more the goyim hate the Jew, the more they bring upon themselves retribution. They have no idea the damage they do to themselves via their anti-Semitism. When judgment day comes, 90% of mankind is gone! They don’t realize that. It is ibud—annihilate; they cease to exist. They have no idea, particularly with anti-Semitism growing, of what their fate will be.
Now we understand that Rosh ha’Shana was the day that primordial Adam was created, the first of Tishrei. There is no Jewish event, only a “Yisraeli” event. Why on that day? The evaluation of a business is done on an annual basis. When did this business open?—on the first of Tishrei, when Adam was created. Again, it is an evaluation and readjustment of the tikkun initiated with Adam.
When G-d evaluates, it isn’t so much: aha you sinned! As far as G-d is concerned, He just wants to get you into olam ha’ba. So, if you were not meritorious last year, G-d judges what adjustment must be made to your life to drive success in earning your Future World. For example, say you were wealthy but that wealth was deflecting you from the tikkun you should be doing? G-d will lessen your wealth or impoverish you. A guy hears a stock tip, invests, and loses millions. G-d looked at his condition and adjusts it to facilitate a condition more amenable to his earning his Future World. This is that act of G-d termed “hanhagas ha’yichud” I mentioned earlier. This is what we’re afraid of. It’s as if G-d says: Some of the stuff you did was ok but, this stuff? No good. I gotta change your status. Before you were riding high and now you have Covid or whatever. Covid is a device. For the Jew, it is part of his adjustment, his doing tikkun through suffering through G-d’s adjustment of your circumstances. G-d’s purpose is not to “do you in” but to get you into olam ha’ba. For the goy, it is a punishment. Remember, in the messianic era, every iota of every experience, its purpose, will be explained.
A boss goes to his office to evaluate the business. He has a list of all his employees and the evaluation of them by their supervisors. He goes down the list noticing that many are not doing their jobs and will have to be pink-slipped. They’re out. G-d could have done something like that. Imagine if G-d sits in His Divine office and looks at the list, arranges for the pink-slips and no one has to know this is what was done. No! G-d tells them they will be evaluated so maybe they can have input. Get your act together! G-d says. It is a chesed—act of compassion that the boss, G-d, will notify everyone about the impending evaluation so they can turn their act around. G-d informed the Heavenly Host, everybody, so that the workers can keep their jobs if they improve performance. So, we are notified in the month of Elul, the precursor to the evaluation.
But, in doing so, G-d just created a very big problem. The good news is we get the evaluation to get the Future World and we are notified in advance. The problem is exemplified thus: Imagine G-d enters His Divine office and decides whose fates need adjustment. But now that the word is out, that the adjustments are decided upon to ensure the Future World, the Satan objects: Hey! You can’t do this! You want them to do teshuva? Let me examine their teshuva. Every judgement needs a prosecution and that is the Satan’s job as chief prosecutor. He might as well say: You want to notify them? Fine. I’m there! So, the chesed is that He told us. The down side is that, by doing so, he has introduced the kitrugim--prosecutions that go with the process. The Satan is examining the quality of every teshuva and laughing his head off as to the ineffectiveness of them. You call this teshuva? Most are really pretty bad. How many really examine their deeds, feel remorse? How many teshuvas are legit? We might as well say to G-d, “Thank you but no thank you.”
So, what G-d does is a tremendous chesed—act of compassion. G-d will suspend the kitrugim of the Satan. How? It is precisely the Satan’s job to be the Heavenly District Attorney. G-d says He will stop it but it is up to you. Free will. And what really stops it? The shofar. Now you know what the shofar really is. As soon as the Jews blow, G-d gets up from his kise din—chair of judgement and goes to sit in his kise rachamim—chair of compassion, mercy, also known as hanahagas ha’yichud. The Satan is going crazy. The court shuts and G-d goes into his private chamber to evaluate. He may need to adjust the destiny of some but He can add compassion. Were the Satan arguing, justice would demand its due.
There are six pasukim--verses that we read before the blowing of the shofar. It says “korah Satan” which means that the Satan is ripped apart. That is what saves us. A community that doesn’t blow shofar is vulnerable to a harsher judgment. The shofar is protection. Now we know why the shofar sound is likened to a cry. It is the sound of us begging him to save us, even if it means suffering. The Satan hopes that Jews won’t blow the shofar and, sadly, many don’t.
As terrible as the pogroms, inquisitions, persecutions, expulsions have been, they were part of the adjustments made to ensure an eternity of bliss. Only G-d knows the extent of the iniquities of the Jews. Creatures, animals are evaluated too, but not on their deeds, only upon their strategic location. For example, G-d might deem it necessary that a swarm of locusts descend on Israel in order to help the Jews rectify Creation either with their mitzvot, teshuva or suffering. How can you judge a locust? Only he who has free-will can be judged. If G-d wants a nation to become rich, he will deem it necessary that their land have oil, for example, like Saudi Arabia. G-d wanted Ishmael to have its due so he enabled them to become fabulously wealthy. The oil was long there but they only discovered it in the 1930’s.
Now we understand why Hallel—prayer of praise and thanksgiving is not said. If you’re being tried in a court case and your father is the judge, you know there will be some kind of retribution but you aren’t scared that the edict will be very bad. This was the discussion between G-d and the angels. The angels’ point was that the evaluation was “fixed” in favor of the plaintiffs so Hallel should be said. But G-d’s position is, despite His mercy, it is still an evaluation that could have, for some, painful adjustments that should, rightfully, be dreaded. Hallel, therefore, is not appropriate.
The Appeals Process
Even after Rosh ha’Shana, there’s an appeals court, the aseret y’mei teshuva—ten days of repentance. There is even mercy beyond the notification and the shofar and the ten days of an appeal. The word “ha’Satan” has the gematria—numeroloy of 364. The Satan has three jobs: tempter, prosecutor, and “executioner” in the sense that, even if the verdict isn’t death, he carries out the sentence. G-d permits the Satan to persist as tempter, and executioner but not prosecutor on Yom Kippur. G-d dismisses him. He is given a one-day vacation. That is why on Yom Kippur, any teshuva is accepted. That is how desirous G-d is of our teshuva. That explains why the gematria--numerology is 364 rather than 365; for that one day, there is both no prosecution and, therefore, any teshuva is accepted.
What is the greatest strategy one can employ to help oneself? What is the teshuva that G-d really wants? What does he want you to repent on? He wants you to straighten your act out. You need to make your goal spiritual. That constitutes repentance. If you’re going in the direction of ruchniut—spirituality, then eventually you’re going to change. It is like G-d saying: Do you want to work for Me or not? Are you serious about this job?
A guy can say, “Yeh, I’m serious but I have two left hands and it doesn’t always work out.”
G-d says, O.K. What I really need is your loyalty and devotion and I’ll teach you how to do it.
What you can say to G-d is, “Up to now, my priorities have been more money, more pleasures, etc. but I really want to devote myself more to spiritual concerns. I will listen to more shiurim, learn more Torah, learn the laws of loshon ha’ra to avoid doing that which destroys the unity of the Jewish people. I will help others.” Doing this ensures a better year even if there are some things G-d has to do to “clean you up” to get you ready for the Future World. He will improve your situation so you can do even more mitzvahs. It’s like a guy who is doing much to help other Jews so G-d makes him win the lottery to enable him to help even more, giving him even more merit.
Now, you know what’s going on and what you can do to prepare yourself.
Q & A
Participant: About ha’Shem going into His chamber. I was told that chamber is called “shlita” but they say that because we are judged every single day, we should envision ourselves in that chamber with Him daily.
R’Kessin: RaMChaL (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato) calls that attribute (I’ve been speaking of) hanhagas ha’yichud—acts of the Supreme Being because only G-d can oppose justice (the system He instituted). In his work Derech Hashem, the RaMChaL calls it “hanhaga of shlita”--G-d overpowering justice and only G-d can dominate it. We are all subject to it.
Participant: We should all envision ourselves seeing ourselves in regard to mercy…..beyond mercy….on Rosh ha’Shana? (audio unclear)
R’Kessin: It’s a kavana—intention. Much of what happens to you is subject to your intentions. Intentions can be very powerful. That is why there are yichudim, kabbolos, a siddur—prayer book with all the Divine names to arouse different attributes of G-d. There is a mechanism for that.
But today, it isn’t required. When the Jews were all holy people, they had things appropriate for them, but Jews today are of such a low stature. There are many who don’t want G-d, or say G-d is dead. There is an avenue of thought for enhancing intention but, today, G-d doesn’t expect that. We haven’t the sophistication. Chaim Vital, student of the Ari, lived in 1572—I could tell you stories!—came to him and bemoaned the low status of that generation saying that, if the previous holier generations couldn’t bring the mashiach, how could he, his generation? Shmuel ha’Navi, Moshe Rabbeinu, the great Rabbi Akiva….who can fathom their greatness? The Ari answered that the value of your avoda---service depends not only on who you are, but when you live. We have no idea how dark this time is and how low we are.
America used to be a land of decency. Now, it is like the inmates have taken over the asylum. We live in Sodom. It used to be the United States of America. Now it is the “United Sodomites of America.” We all know what G-d did to Sodom. The only reason
G-d won’t do the same to America is that He needs America to work with Israel to bring mashiach. It’s about fulfilling the prophecy of the teshuva of the tov she’b’Esav—the good aspect of Esav (which is America). The value of the act of a mitzvah in Chaim Vital’s time was greater than the acts of the gedolim or rishonim, those holier generations. Chaim Vital’s environment was terrible compared to theirs living in the midst of tumah—defilement, filth in his time, 1571. Now, today, you go to Manhattan and you’re accosted by LGBTQ. Is this a human creature? In that climate, how can you do mitzvos? Who cares about your mitzvos? Every day they’re promoting “critical race theory,” G-dlessness, maligning the Jews. Therefore, your acts are incredibly superior to those of the previous generations. You can’t know what your acts are worth.
Let me tell you what the Rhisiner Rebbe, a great chassid, said—two things. What kind of test will it be in the generation before mashiach? You can recall that test in which Eliyahu ha’navi went up to Mount Karmel and told the priests of Baal to prepare their altar with their cow, and he would do the same, and G-d would choose which sacrifice he favored—a supreme test. When the time came, which altar would be struck by lightning out of a clear, blue sky and ignite the sacrifice to go up in smoke, his or theirs? The priests of Baal tried, made a lot of commotion, but nothing happened. Eliyahu prayed at mincha and the lightening came to his altar and the people proclaimed “Ha’Shem hu ha’elokim!”—G-d (of Avraham) is Lord!
The Rhiziner Rebbe explained that the test in the last generation would be akin to G-d sending the lightning to the altar of Baal—imparting that G-d agrees with Baal worshippers and not Judaism--and expecting us to retain our faith and trust in Him regardless! It will appear as though G-d is rooting for the tumah!
Wherever you look, it appears that the evil have the dominion whether it’s Israel, China, Iran, America, Russia, Iran, the EU. The evil people dominate the world. It does seem that G-d is behind evil. That’s the test in this time before mashiach.
What is the reward for passing the test? The reward, the rabbi said, of a Jew who can survive the irrationality of this world, can remain a Jew under these conditions, is greater than the akeidas Yitzchak—binding of Isaac. We’ve been collecting reward for that for four thousand years. (That is the connection between the Akeida and the shofar. There too, the shofar was sounded.—author’s note). Even though, one might minimize his service and think: what did I do, recite Ashrei? We don’t have to be like previous generations were with their spiritual accomplishments. Though we are nothing in terms of our scholarship or service, ours is, ironically, greater. Sounds crazy but if given the choice to return to the world at any time in history, a guy should say, “the end of time.”
Participants raise the issue of anti-Semitism and the privileges of living in America….
R’Kessin: When the Jews get too assimilated, one of the things about anti-Semitism is that it stops assimilation. If you want to be tested, just have a smartphone because it immerses you in the values of America. The Satan is destroying Judaism through the smartphone and the internet. If, in the past, you want to commit a sin, you had to go somewhere. Now just pick up a smartphone.
Participant argues that, particularly during Covid, the internet enabled people to unite and learn together.
R’Kessin: You are correct in theory but not in practice. The majority are influenced negatively by the smartphone. I don’t have internet, television, smartphone. I miss some things. I would watch good stuff like documentaries. I like things like that. Amazon is fascinating. Some people spend years on there. Who knew so much stuff was available? I don’t know who Jeff Bezos is but he’s worth 180 billion dollars. He is a smart guy. He realized the value of making something available and making it available now!
There are indicators that G-d must take action. The concept of internet and smartphone prompts G-d to “reveal His Hand.” He has to stop it. In ten years, what you are looking at now will seem holy. That is how much it will deteriorate. G-d realizes there is no turning back. The world is in a downward spiral, no chance for rehabilitation. The LGBTQ-plus phenomena is not reversible.
Participant questions the choice of the rainbow for the LGBTQ movement.
R’Kessin: They chose that because it was the symbol of G-d’s promise that He wouldn’t destroy the world wholesale again due to that sin that LGBTQ represents. They picked it as a means to defy G-d.
Participant: How do we understand that part in the chumash—five books of Moses in which G-d “remembers” and G-d “heard” their cry? If he does the tabulation in a nano-second, what does “remember” mean?
R’Kessin: You have to remember that these expressions are anthropomorphisms. It speaks of G-d as though he had human qualities when He doesn’t. G-d remembers nothing. G-d has never forgotten anything. G-d doesn’t remember because there is no time. There is no past so there is nothing to forget. There is only now. Torah speaks of Him with human qualities to make Him more understandable.
Participant: Do you know how they say that there are certain times of the day when ha’shem—G-d, literally “the name” has more mercy on am---nation of Yisrael. Is that when that nanosecond of judgment is done?
R’Kessin: Either it is immediately when Rosh ha’Shana starts and, in less than a nano-second, everything is judged. How does G-d know I’m giving a shiur?
Participant: He’s Willing it into existence?
R’Kessin: No. We emanate from Him and because G-d knows Himself, He knows everything. G-d is not external to this shiur. For me to know something, I have to see it.
Who is G-d? What is He? What are His attributes? What can He do? Is there anything He cannot do? That is a lecture I have to give someday. Most people have a kindergarten understanding. He’s the big guy, a giant, they think. He has super-hearing. It’s infantile.
Participant: G-d is Oneness of everything.
R’Kessin: If I asked you if He “has” existence, what would you say? G-d doesn’t “have” it. He “IS” it. We “have” it because it can be taken away. We don’t know what that means. Being existence itself enables Him to do things that are, to us, incomprehensible. There are four levels of Who He is, the fourth being something that will shock you. What I told you now is not true. I had to tell you something! He is not even that. We would have to examine all four levels.
Participant: So now that Cuomo resigned--at some point you were talking about the messianic process and the “five R’s” and we were on “rehabilitation.” Since his resignation is a turn of events, do we move to that next level? When do we get to that point?
R’Kessin: With Cuomo’s overthrow, and the overthrow of Biden—which must happen because G-d will not allow him to destroy the world, which is what he is doing….G-d is giving Biden freedom because, as per the Satan’s argument, all the Jews are sinning so I have to have my cut, G-d has to satisfy justice. G-d cannot NOT satisfy justice because, otherwise, people can achieve the future world without deserving it. What we are looking at is just about satisfying justice. When that is achieved, they will be destroyed. Until then, G-d lets them run amok, indulge their urges for prikas ohl—overthrowing the yoke, as I talked about before.
Ultimately, G-d gives Biden free reign, just like Cuomo. Do you think that before the charges were leveled against him, he anticipated what was coming? As the governor of New York State, such a powerful position, do you think that two weeks before he was compelled to resign, he could have foreseen it? That is what G-d does; miyad—immediately upon the merits of a person being used up—and he obviously had a lot of merits—G-d says; It’s over! Instantly he was finished. When the justice of G-d finally swings, it is a sledgehammer but it takes time. There is a saying: “the millstone (as in the stone used to crush the wheat kernels in the old days) of G-d grinds exceedingly slow but exceedingly fine.” That means that when it gets to you, you are pulverized. Until then, everyone gets a fair shake. Eventually, the world must be redeemed through justice.
What you are looking at is not just the success of the internet. Incidentally, the internet is messianic because one guy who is the mashiach is gonna talk to the whole world. How? G-d needs global connectivity. So, G-d allowed for two phenomena to exist: a global connectivity device, and wireless. Someone can sit in the desert and learn from the mashiach. Let’s hope that Cuomo is the beginning of the End.