God Is In Control
I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, to give
you the land of Canaan, to be God to you.(Vayikra 25:38)
One of the reasons for the mitzvah of Shmittah, the seventh year of a
seven-year cycle during which the land in Israel is left unworked, coming up
this Rosh Hashanah b”H, is to remind us that God controls everything. It
reminds us that even though we may put a lot of effort and resources into
our survival, still, it is all from God, the effort, the resources, and the
Even evil lacks a separate and independent existence, feeding off holiness
to survive. If evil exists it does so in His world which is made up of Him,
the Creator Himself. And even though evil can be incredibly destructive,
still it can never go against the will of God and must, in the end, be a
fulfillment of that very Divine will, no matter how counterintuitive it
seems to us.
For someone who does not believe in God, or at least in Divine Providence,
life is simple. For such a person “good” is what it seems to be to man, and
evil, likewise. Tragedy is exactly that, and therefore unfortunate and
meaningless. In the world of the disbeliever history is random and things
“just happen” for better or for worse.
For the person who believes in God and Divine Providence, however, life is
omplicated. Such a person does not have the “luxury” of believing in
“random” occurrences, nor can he just “sit back” and let history run its
course. For the believer life is an intellectual and emotional balancing act
between acting as if history is random while knowing that it is not.
What this means is that one must look at the events of history as if they
can be mitigated as a function of human will while keeping in mind that
nothing changes unless God sanctions it. Thus, sometimes the best of efforts
to do good or evil fail, while the weakest of attempts to do either succeed.
Ultimately, success in any respect, is totally a function of the will of
God, as it says:
All is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of God. (Brochos 34b).
Where it really gets confusing is when bad things happen to good people and
vice-versa. In fact very little makes people believe that God is not around
or involved in history more than this issue. When the matter is multiplied
by 6,000,000 it becomes intellectually and emotionally unmanageable for many
who end up “jumping ship” if they were once religious, or never boarding it
if they weren’t.
There is another option, and it is called emunah, or faith. Avraham Avinu
was fathered by the idol manufacturer of his time, Terach, which does not
make sense. How can someone so evil produce someone so great? Why would God
do that? These are good questions, but already being historical fact, we can
simply accept them on faith.
Yosef’s brothers sold him into slavery, a very disturbing event in the
course of Jewish history. It is also a difficult one to sell while teaching
our children the importance of getting along with each other and avoiding
sibling rivalry. But, if such great people could commit such a catastrophic
error, then how can we be expected to avoid making similar mistakes?
It’s another good question, but the bottom line is: It happened, it’s in the
Torah, accept it. As “believing” Jews do we have much of a choice? Isn’t
that what emunah is all about, about accepting the incomprehensible parts of
Jewish history on par with the comprehensible ones, especially if they are
part of Tanach or the Talmud?
The problem is that at some point in time the narration came to an end.
Tanach came to a close with the last prophet about 2300 years ago, as did
the Talmud about 1500 years ago. This has forced us to deal with the events
of history on whatever limited level we can, leaving us unsure about what is
happening, what its impact will be on our lives, and how to deal with it
today wisely for the future good.
This is rarely easy to do, especially in the heat of the moment. Emunas
Hachamim—belief in the wise men, that is, our Torah leaders, is a mitzvah.
We’d like to believe that being so, God for His part gives such leaders the
wherewithal to make “good” decisions even if making them is beyond their
personal abilities to do so.
But what happens if the people they are leading do not deserve to be well
led? Or what happens when the leaders themselves dispute one another, and
each has a very different approach to the same critical issue? Or what does
one do when they themselves are unsure about the direction to take for the
time being? Is there anything an individual can do when Heaven decides that
historical clarity is not forthcoming?
This is one approach, and it is the one I have taken, at least with respect
to the issue of Eretz Yisroel in our time.
Step One is to step outside the controversy and build an understanding of
the issue from scratch. What does the Torah say about Eretz Yisroel in
general? What does the Talmud write? What did the Rishonim say in their time
about the matter, and what do the Acharonim say in ours? It took a little
while longer, but eventually I even looked to see how Kabbalah weighs in on
My findings resulted in a couple of books, the first one called “If Only I
Could Stay,” which examines the attitude of many religious Jews today who
reject the idea of aliyah in their time. After further research and some
more years later, it resulted in another book called, “Talking About Eretz
Yisroel,” which focuses on the centrality of Eretz Yisroel throughout all of
It wasn’t about convincing myself to make aliyah. After spending four years
in yeshivah in the Holy Land, and then a few more after that while married,
I had already come to the conclusion that the Jewish homeland was the best
place to be Jewish. It was about trying to help others to feel the same way
on their own. When I first lived in Eretz Yisroel, it was a matter of “to
each his own.” After the research aliyah, or at least wanting to make
aliyah, was not only viable for all Jews, but even imperative.
The discussion turned a crucial corner when I “chanced upon” (read: Divine
Providence) historical information that put the entire Eretz Yisroel issue
into a different and more urgent perspective. The information was so
critical and yet so unknown that I had to read it several times before I
could accept what it was saying. It was like reading about the cure for a
disease that was ravaging the population while all the doctors and
immunologists continued to act as if it did not exist.
The “Leshem,” Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv, zt”l, died in 1926. He was called the
“last Kabbalist” by the Chazon Ish himself, and he wrote many works dealing
with all that happened until Creation based primarily on the Zohar and the
writings of the Arizal. It is nothing short of remarkable how much
information he was able to marshal and organize, and best of all, clearly
In one of his landmark works, “Drushei Olam HaTohu,” literally “Discourses
About the World of Null,” he discusses the concept of Techiyas HaMeisim, the
Resurrection of the Dead. Unlike reincarnation, in which the soul of a
person is born into a new body during history as we now know it, Techiyas
HaMeisim is when God rebuilds the old body from scratch before returning the
soul that once gave it life.
When does Techiyas HaMeisim take place? The most obvious answer is in the
World-to-Come, after 6000. We are currently in 5774. By that time all bodies
will have dissolved in the ground and will need to be returned whole, albeit
in a far more spiritual state than now, with their souls, to stand in
judgment before God. After that, both body and soul, together, will be
punished or rewarded accordingly, as the Talmud states (Sanhedrin 91a).
A less obvious answer is this::
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 time. However, righteous people who have died previously
will resurrect immediately after the 40 years from the ingathering of the
exiles. This is what it says in Midrash Ne’elam (Parashas Toldos 140a):
There will be many resurrections, and the duration of time will be,
according to Rebi Yehudah, from 40 years after the ingathering of the
exiles, at which time the first resurrection will occur, and the
resurrections will continue from then until the last resurrection, [a total
of] 210 years. According to Rebi Yitzchak, 214 years. (Drushei Olam HaTohu,
Chelek 2, Drush 4, Anaf 12, Siman 9)
The ingathering of the exiles? What does the ingathering of the exiles, or
Kibbutz Golios in Hebrew, have to do with Techiyas HaMeisim? Kibbutz Golios
takes place in history on this side of 6000, as part of the Messianic Era.
Techiyas HaMeisim, assumedly belongs to history on the other side of 6000.
Or does it? Not according to the Leshem:
Purim and Yom HaKippurim will not be annulled at that time [in Techiyas
HaMeisim, as opposed to the other holidays], since Purim is the revelation
of the Yesod of Abba [which will govern history from 8000-9000] as it is
known in Kevanos Purim [of the Arizal]. Therefore it alludes to the Eighth
Millennium when [the sefirah of] Chochmah will be the primary influence.
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 is 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 Techiyas HaMeisim] 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)
In other words, explains the Leshem, contrary to popular belief Techiyas
HaMeisim does not occur after 6000, but in advance of it, and he spends many
pages explaining why this must be so. The Arizal, in Sha’ar HaGilgulim,
seems to conclude likewise. And, adds the Leshem based upon the Zohar, it
will last a long period of time, either 210 or 214 years, depending upon who
is right, Rebi Yehudah or Rebi Yitzchak.
Now, 500 years ago this information might have been eye-opening, but not
necessarily exciting. After all, 210 years could occur anytime between 500
years ago and 290 years later, and how much more so during earlier periods
When I first saw this section of the Leshem, however, it was around 1998, or
5758, only 242 years in advance of 6000. I had already researched and dealt
with the 150 year discrepancy between the Western date and the Jewish date,
and was comfortable that the Jewish year was indeed accurate. Therefore, I
understood from this, that the period of Techiyas HaMeisim at that time
could begin in 32 years time . . . within my lifetime!
Just to clarify, this is not considered to be predicting the date of
Moshiach’s arrival, which contrary to popular opinion, is not forbidden to
do, just “dangerous.” It can only be done using certain methods, but there
is always the risk of being wrong and misleading and disappointing people.
All the Leshem is doing is presenting historical information from the Zohar,
and I am just pointing out its implications.
One such implication is that, if Techiyas HaMeisim is destined to begin 40
years after Kibbutz Golios, then it would have to begin 250 years before
6000, in 1986 according to Rebi Yitzchak and in 1990 according to Rebi
Yehudah. When I realized that little fact it was no longer in the future but
in the past. If the Zohar was to be taken literally, which the Leshem seemed
to do, either 1986 or 1990 marked the official beginning of Kibbutz Golios.
I could spend at least an entire page describing the impact this new
information had on my life at the time, intellectually and emotionally. It
was a game changer, life altering. And as we will see next week, b”H, it put
a whole different light on the existence of the Jewish state at this time of
history, the events that have occurred in recent times, and the importance
of making aliyah, or at least, wanting to, in our times.
Text Copyright © 2014 by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and Torah.org.