Then Ya’akov called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I
can tell you what will happen to you at the end of days.” (Bereishis
We have arrived at 2012. You know, the year that the Mayans predicted would
be the last one, because they didn’t refer to one after 2012. But, it is
probably all just hype, a storm in a teacup as my English neighbor says. I
think they just ran out of Inca. Just kidding.
Acharis HaYomim—the end of days—is a very fascinating topic. It is
appropriate to discuss it here, because the end is near. The end of Sefer
Bereishis, that is.
Though some people prefer to avoid it altogether, every culture seems to
have embraced it, at one time or another, believing that history as we know
it will come to end, and lead to something else. Whether it is mankind
himself who will cause it to happen, some rogue meteorite, or even a massive
solar flare, either way, most probably believe that the end will only be a
transition to another period of history.
Of course, the Torah point of view is clear, though many Jews are not so
clear about what it is. Some are even less clear about why it is even
important to be clear about such ideas, and why Ya’akov Avinu felt compelled
to share such information with his sons just before he died. Going over some
of the more basic points may make that a little bit clearer, and what is
called the “End of Days.”
First of all, according to the Talmud, what we call Olam HaZeh—this world—is
destined to last 6,000 years:
This world will last for 6,000 years, and for 1,000 it will be destroyed.
So, Armageddon is at Year 6000? No. According to Kabbalah, destroyed does
not mean destroyed in the Armageddon, End-of-Days-type of way. Rather, it is
more like what happens to adolescence when a person becomes an adult: he
moves on. The previous period of time isn’t destroyed, just left behind as
life advances to more sophisticated stages.
Likewise, Kabbalah explains, at 6000, existence is elevated to a higher
spiritual plane, and this world ceases to be as it presently is. Year 6000
marks the beginning of what is called Olam HaNefashos—the Soul World—in
preparation for even higher spiritual planes of existence.
But, not before passing over the threshold of the Great Day of Judgment,
which, apparently, is at the end of the seventh millennium—not that
conventional time will be operating then—at Year 7000. That is when we are
judged for how we lived our lives—all of them—and it is decided whether or
not we require additional rectification before assuming our eternal
positions in the World-to-Come.
At that stage of existence, the body is no longer physical as we know it
today. Just to reach Olam HaNefashos, the body will have to be more like a
soul than a body, because after 6000 the world is more spiritual than it was
for Adam HaRishon in the Garden of Eden before the sin. Death will no longer
be a reality in Olam HaBah, which raises the issue, when does the
resurrection of the dead take place, if there is no need for it after Year 6000?
The obvious but not-so-well-known answer: Before 6000, as the Leshem,
quoting the Zohar, explains:
The duration from death to resurrection will be the same for everyone, but
the time of death will not be the same for everyone, and thus the period of
time of the deaths and resurrections for the entire generation will continue
for a long period of time. However, righteous people who have died
previously will resurrect immediately after the 40 years from Kibbutz
Golios—the ingathering of the exiles. This is what it says in Midrash
Ne’elam (Zohar, Parashas Toldos 140a): There will be many resurrections, and
the duration of time will be, according to Rebi Yehudah, from 40 years after
Kibbutz Golios, at which time the first resurrection will occur, and the
resurrections will continue from then until the last resurrection for 210
years. According to Rebi Yitzchak, 214 years ... (Drushei Olam HaTohu,
Chelek 2, Drush 4, Anaf 12, Siman 9)
Kibbutz Golios is not a term used with respect to the World-to-Come, because
at that time, there will be no need to ingather Jewish exiles from around
the world. There will be no Diaspora anymore after Year 6000, when the world
is elevated to a whole new spiritual level. Rather, it is a term used by the
Torah as follows:
And it will be, when all these things come upon you the blessing and the
curse which I have set before you that you will consider in your heart,
among all the nations where the Lord your God has banished you, and you will
return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul,
and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you
this day you and your children, then, the Lord, your God, will bring back
your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you
from all the nations, where the Lord, your God, had dispersed you. Even if
your exiles are at the end of the heavens, the Lord, your God, will gather
you from there, and He will take you from there. And the Lord, your God,
will bring you to the land which your forefathers possessed, and you will
take possession of it, and He will do good to you, and He will make you more
numerous than your forefathers. (Devarim 30:1-5)
Kibbutz Golios clearly belongs to our side of history, to this side of 6000,
which means that Techiyas HaMeisim, the resurrection of the dead, also
belongs to this side of Year 6000. Indeed, the Leshem says this specifically:
Likewise, Yom HaKippurim, which is the level of Binah, is the sod of the
World-to-Come of the Seventh Millennium, of which we say, “the entire day
that is Shabbos,” as it says in Rosh Hashanah (31a). Therefore, Shabbos, Yom
HaKippurim, and Purim, which allude to periods after Yemos HaMoshiach, to
periods of the World-to-Come and to eternal lights, will remain [as
holidays] in order to allow access to their lights and revelations of the
future. However, all the [rest of the] holidays allude only to lights of
rectification of Yemos HaMoshiach after the beginning of the time of
Techiyas HaMeisim onward until the end of the 6000 years. (Drushei Olam
HaTohu, Chelek 2, Drush 4, Anaf 12, Siman 10)
Elsewhere, he explains that the whole point of resurrecting our dead bodies
is to restore them to their former glory, back before the first man sinned
and caused the physicalization of Creation. Once, our skin was like light,
not opaque and physical as it is now, and how it will have to be in order to
get through the gate to the World-to-Come at 6000. In other words, the
period called The Resurrection of the Dead has to be before 6000, because it
is necessary to prepare us for after 6000.
According to the Zohar, the entire period of time allotted for Techiyas
HaMeisim is between 210-214 years in advance of 6000. These are not the
opinions of obscure rabbis, but of Rebi Yehudah HaNasi, the author of the
Mishnah, and Rebi Yitzchak, a central figure of the same time period. They
are, therefore, mainstream opinions, with which no one argues, at least not
in the Zohar. As hard as this may be to fathom, that Techiyas HaMeisim may
be only 14-18 years away, there really is no reason not to believe it.
And, according to the Zohar, that begins after 40 years of Kibbutz Golios,
which makes the beginning of it 22-26 years ago, around 1986-1990. So, if
Kibbutz Golios lasts 40 years, and Techiyas HaMeisim comes at its
conclusion, then Yemos HaMoshiach—the arrival and reign of Moshiach—must be
part of the period of time called Kibbutz Golios, of which there is only
14-18 years left, according to Rebi Yehudah and Rebi Yitzchak.
Hence, if ever a period of history was called Acharis HaYomim, it is ours.
This week’s parshah took place at the end of Ya’akov’s days, in the year
2255, or 1506 BCE, but it is referring to the end of our days, some 3,517
years later. That may be hard to believe, but this is what the information
“But,” some may say, “there is a 167 year discrepancy between the Jewish and
Western dating systems. Even if the timeframe provided by the Zohar is
correct, how do we know where we are, historically, within that timeframe?”
I’ve never quite understood why so much credibility has been given to the
Western dating system when it comes to ancient events, given how that system
began. It wasn’t until Roman times that secular historians started to record
history with any kind of accuracy, since doing so in the past could have
been considered treason by ancient rulers, at least when it came to
recording their political mistakes and military defeats.
Yet, as early as 2448, or 1313 BCE, the Jewish people were given the mitzvah
of keeping track of the months and years. And, the people who usually did
this were the talmidei chachamim of society, not very likely to fudge the
dateline. It is possible, but unlikely, given the fear of God for which they
In any case, I dealt with this in my book, Talking About the End of Days.
ArtScroll also dealt with the issue at the back of one of their history
books. And all of this is before getting into the Kabbalah aspect that
basically mandates that the Jewish approach to dating history is correct,
and that we can assume that we are actually in the year 5772.
Even still, what difference does knowing this information make to any of us,
that Ya’akov Avinu wanted to reveal it to his sons? The answer may be all
the way back in Egypt, and back in time.
It is well known that 80 percent of the Jewish people did not leave Egypt
with Moshe Rabbeinu, dying instead in the ninth plague of darkness. They
thought that they could choose to stay behind in Egypt, and not go out with
the Jewish people, as if remaining in Egypt had been an option. Perhaps it
was, but not the way they had planned, for all of them died at that time,
leaving behind only one-fifth to make the exodus from Egypt historical reality.
Many have asked why so many Jews would choose to stay behind in Egypt rather
than leave with Moshe Rabbeinu and the rest of the nation. There are a few
answers, one of which is that after witnessing eight plagues, and after
watching Pharaoh relent each time, they found it hard to believe that the
end was near. Even though Moshe Rabbeinu had told them that they would only
leave after the tenth plague, still many found it too hard to believe that
the redemption was at hand.
People act differently when they know what is happening is part of the final
act. They start thinking about what’s next, and what to do in the meantime.
And, when it comes to Keitz HaYomim—the end of days —those are important
questions to answer, since according to the prophets, the transition from
our period of time to the next is not destined to be a smooth one. It
Furthermore, we have a habit of getting caught in the storm. Historically,
the Jewish people have usually been forced to go through bouts of
anti-Semitism rather than flee them. Individuals have seen the writing on
the wall and reacted to it in good time, but the masses have always, almost
without exception, fared far worse. If Jews in 1938 knew that Kristallnacht
had been the beginning of far worse to come, they might have fled with only
what they could carry rather than lose everything in the years that followed.
Because God gives signs. Exiles do not come to an end overnight. They take
time. Events develop, and as they do, they give us messages about where
history is heading. That’s the way Heaven works. God takes no pleasure in
springing anti-Semitism on us and bringing exiles to an ugly and abrupt end.
In fact, anti-Semitism occurs to avoid that. Unlike regular racism,
anti-Semitism is Divine in origin, designed to inform the Jewish people that
the present exile is coming to an end. That is the basis of a different book
and seminar called, Geulah b’Rachamim.
Cutting to the chase, it means that Ya’akov Avinu wanted to give us the
signs by which to recognize through the events of our day that history, as
we know it, is coming to an end. He wanted to give us the signs so that we
would not misunderstand the events of our time, so that we could use them to
help us prepare for the end of days, and allow us to take advantage of the
opportunities of our time. But, alas, he was denied the prophecy, and we,
However, the truth is, though we were denied the prophecy, we have not been
denied the signs. The signs are still there. The fundamental difference is
that we have to create the prophecy for ourselves, as a function of our own
understanding of Torah and our connection to the national goals of the
Jewish people. That is what provides us with the spiritual glasses necessary
to properly interpret the physical vision, each person on his or her own level.
So, as everyone today looks at the situation facing the Jewish people and
interprets it for themselves, they have to consider whether or not certain
options are as optional as they seem to be. Back in the 1930s and 40s, we
didn’t seem to understand that idea very well, and paid a heavy price for it
in the years that followed. Must we always make the same mistake, or can we
finally learn from Jewish history, and see the signs as signs, and respond
Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and Torah.org.
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