ישיבת כרם ביבנה

Haftarah: "Many Nations with you"

הרב אברהם ריבלין, המשגיח הרוחני לשעבר

The war of Gog and Magog, which is the Haftarah of Shabbat Chol Hamoed Succot, is inherently connected to Succot, and also finds expression in its the timing. The AR"I is cited as saying: "Gog u'Magog has the numerical value of seventy, corresponding to the seventy nations, because Gog and Magog will then rule over seventy nations, and they will all come together against Israel. When they will be redeemed from them, it will be Hashana Rabbah. Now, when they were redeemed from Bavel, they were exiled to Media, and afterwards to Greece, and afterwards to Rome, and afterwards will come the definite redemption."[1]

This statement of the AR"I adds a new dimension to the notion of Hoshana Rabbah. Hoshana Rabbah is the last day of Succot, on which we add extra prayers of "Hosha Na," more than on other days of the holiday, and we hold the arava, which is also called 'Hoshana,' because of the special prayer of the Succot days. The war of Gog and Magog, according to the AR"I, will be on this day, and it will bring a "Hashana Rabbah," i.e., a great and final redemption from all the exiles and the troubles that will pass over Am Yisrael. In other words, it will bring the end to exile.

From this we can understand the purpose of the war of Gog and Magog, and its special place in the framework of the Day of Judgment and the future redemption. One who examines the prophecy of Gog and Magog, especially the verses before the Haftarah, will note the emphasis placed on the primary motive of seizing money and plunder of spoil from Am Yisrael:

You will say: "I will advance against a land of open towns ... to seize booty and to take spoils" ... Sheba, Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all its officers will say to you, "Have you comes to seize booty? Is it to take spoils that you have assembled your hordes, to carry off silver and gold, to take livestock and property, to seize great booty?"

This simple economic motive does not seem to fit with the central role that the war of Gog and Magog plays in vision of the end of Days of Am Yisrael. The terrible punishment that is destined to Gog and Magog, which is described in the beginning of the Haftarah, does not stand proportionately to an "economic sin."

It shall be on that day that on the day that Gog comes against the soil of Israel – the word of the L-rd Hashem/ Elokim – My raging anger will flare up; for in My vengefulness, in the fire of My fury, I have spoken: [I swear] that on that day a great earthquake will take place upon the soil of Israel ... I will punish him with pestilence and with blood; torrential rain and hailstones, fire and sulfur I will I rain down upon him..." (38:18-22)

Therefore, the AR"I emphasizes another aspect that is also embedded in the verses of the prophecy and the Haftarah, that of a universal war against Am Yisrael. The scope of the war and the participation of the multitude of nations in it demonstrates that not only the desire for money and spoil motivates Gog and Magog, but also their desire to destroy G-d's nation and His Mashiach

In the early verses of the prophecy we already encounter the conglomeration of nations who join the ranks of Gog and Magog: "The prince, leader of Meshech and Tubal ... Persia, Cush and Put will be with them ... Gomer and all her cohorts, the house of Togarmah in the uttermost parts of the north, and all its cohorts – many peoples will be with you." (38:3-6) From here on there is an allusion to the gathering of nations in almost every verse that describes Gog and Magog's army: "and all your hordes that are mustered about you" (7); "gathered from many nations" (8); "You and all your cohorts and the many nations with you" (9); a people gathered from the nations (12); "You and many peoples with you ... a vast horde, a mighty army" (15).

This non-Jewish coalition from end to end demonstrates that the cause for this war is not just the desire to seize booty. The booty enters the mind of Gog, but what lies deep in the war in the struggle against G-d and His Messiah. That parallels the description in ch. 83 of Tehillim:

For behold, your foes are in uproar and those who hate You have raised their head. Against your people they plot deviously (sod = 70= Gog U'Magog=70 nations of the world]; they take counsel against those sheltered by You. They said, "Come let us cut them off from nationhood, so Israel's name will not be remembered any longer! For they take counsel together unanimously, they strike a covenant against You." [Malbim: The purpose of their all coming is against you, that they are jealous of your Divinity in the world through Israel, and this is the special purpose of them all.]

Here, as well, comes a detail of the conglomeration of nations comparable to our Haftarah: .

The tents of Edom and Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagribes; Gebal and Amon, and Amalek: Philistia, with  the inhabitants of Tyre. Even Assyria joined with them, they became the strong arm of Lot's sons, Selah. (7-9)

Nations rose, nationss fell, but anti-Semitism is alive and well, and in each and every generation they stand against us to destroy us. Because what ever is connected to the hatred of the Chosen nation, all the nations are like one nation, and one man with one heart.

Against this unification will come the punishment of division: I will summon the sword against him to all My mountains – the word of the L-rd Hashem / Elokim – each man's sword will be against his brother. (38:21) Exactly like the first union of mankind against Hashem, The whole earth was of one language and of common purpose ... They said to one another ... "Come let us build a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens and let us make a name ... Hashem dispersed them from there over the face oft of the whole earth." (Bereishit 11:1-8) There also Chazal taught: "to one another" a nation to another nation, Egypt to Cush, and Cush to Put, and Put to Canaan," and there, also, there was sort of sword against each other, "This one asked for a brick, and the other would bring cement, and this one stood on him and cracked his head."

Against this gathering of nations, conversely, the salvation and sanctification of G-d's name which will thereby come will be in public to the eyes of all the nations: "I will punish him... I will be exalted and I will be sanctified, and I will make Myself known before the eyes of many nations; then they will know that I am Hashem.'

[1] Likutei Torah, Parshat Shemot. Cited in Be'er Moshe by the Ozrover Rebbe, Shemot, pp. 98-99.

 

 

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