While the civilized world is still celebrating the end of the evil life of the world’s most dangerous terrorist, Osama bin Laden yemach shemo, people are not focusing sufficiently on the disappearance from the public arena of many of Klal Yisrael’s longtime enemies. This may be fine for the rest of the world, but we members of Klal Yisrael, on whose behalf all these miraculous events are taking place, must take note and offer shevach v’hodaah on every one of these events.
Over the last few months, we have witnessed with astonishment that practically overnight our most feared enemies have quietly been removed from the world stage. From Libya to Yemen and hopefully soon to Syria, our enemies of decades have just vanished from the world arena. There has even been talk in the news of late that our archenemy in Iran, the Haman of our day, may be in the process of being impeached in the next few months.
Think tanks around the world are chasing their tails trying to figure out what is going on and how it is possible that the US State Department and CIA were caught completely off guard by these events. Talk shows and roundtable discussions are trying to predict who is next and where all this will lead.
What they failed to hear is the deep insight that the venerable mashgiach of Yeshivah Torah Vodaath, Rav Moshe Wolfson shlita shared with his students and mispallelim over these last several months. The Zohar describes that in Acharis HaYamim, the days preceding the final redemption of Klal Yisrael, the Sar shel Yishmael will fall, taking along with him the nation that he was assigned to protect. And that is what we are witnessing now.
It is clear from Chazal that the nation of Yishmael will be around even after the coming of Mashiach, but the latter will be preceded by the fall of the Sar of Yishmael. What is impossible to know is just how long and how painful to Klal Yisrael the period of Acharis HaYamim will be. As our gedolim have recently instructed all of us, we must increase our acts of chesed and our tefillos to merit a quicker end to this turbulent period.
The euphoria over the demise of Bin Laden has diverted our attention from the bigger picture of Hashem preparing for us our status in Acharis HaYamim.
Much has been written in recent weeks about the tenth yahrtzeit of Rav Avigdor Miller ztz”l. One particular story that caught my attention was an explanation of what first attracted a certain person to become a talmid of Rav Miller. He related that he had gone on a vacation with his family and, for the first time in his life, visited the Grand Canyon. He was so inspired by the absolute beauty and wonders of Hashem’s world and Creation that he had never felt closer to Hashem than at that moment. On his return home, one of his neighbors, who regularly attended Rav Miller’s famous Thursday-night hashkafah shiurim, convinced him to tag along.
Rav Miller came into the room carrying one flower. He sat down and held up the flower for everyone to see and then began to explain the beauty and complexity of this creation in a manner that only he could do. This talmid related that Rav Miller saw and felt the presence of HaKadosh Baruch Hu in this one small flower that the talmid could feel only by standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. At that moment he was committed to becoming a devoted student of Rav Miller.
Most of us are like that talmid. We need a spectacular event such as a group of Navy Seals jumping out of helicopters in the middle of the night and (thankfully) pulling off a successful and important mission, capturing the attention of the entire world, for us to stop for a moment and express shevach v’hodaah to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.
A close friend who davens with us every morning went up to the amud the morning after this wonderful news spread around the world. As he was about to begin, he turned to me and asked, very seriously, “Should we say Hallel today?” While this was a valid question — which I dedicated my shiur the following Shabbos towards answering it — I wondered why we did not think to ask if we should say Hallel over the events of the last few months, when we all witnessed the fall of the Sar of Yishmael in front of our eyes.
And the answer is that when we witness events that unfold quietly in front of our eyes, events that do not capture our imagination — whether the sudden collapse of Communist Russia, or the raining of thousands of missiles onto the towns of Sderot, Ashdod, Beer Sheva, and others without hitting any targets a majority of the time, or the end of the most powerful Arab governments within a few days — it does not resonate within us that this is all being orchestrated for Klal Yisrael in the Acharis HaYamim, as we prepare for the final Geulah.
The Midrash records an important insight and lesson from Rav Shmuel bar Nachman, imparting to us how to look at the events around us and to see the Yad Hashem. In the Torah’s narrative of the story of Yosef and his brothers, we see that the brothers were busy selling him, Yosef himself was busy mourning over his predicament, Reuven was busy with his pain at the realization that he couldn’t save Yosef, Yaakov was busy mourning over the loss of Yosef, and Yehudah was busy getting married and having a family. And during all of this, while everyone was so busy with his own trials and tribulations, what was HaKadosh Baruch Hu busy with? He was busy orchestrating through these very events: the creation of the light of Mashiach.
And so while we join with the rest of the civilized world in celebrating the end of an evil excuse for a human being, we members of Klal Yisrael must keep our eyes on the bigger picture, the continued fall of the Sar of Yishmael and the quiet events that are slowly removing our enemies from their positions of power.
If we do see the Yad Hashem in these events as clearly as the late Rav Miller was able to see Hashem in a simple flower, we will surely be zocheh to finally merit the days when Hashem’s role in the world and the exalted position of Klal Yisrael in that world will be evident for all to see.
May we merit it speedily, in our day.