Thursday, October 20, 2016

The War That Will End All Wars

On Shabbos Chol Hamoed Sukkos, the Haftora is from Yechezkel (Ezekiel), and about the war of Gog and Magog, which will be the prelude to the coming of Moshiach. It is followed by Yechezkel's vision of the Third Temple. (Note: There is a Chasidic tradition, that this war may not need to occur, being that this exile has been so prolonged).

In the Haftora, Gog, king of Magog, together with his allies, which is understood to mean the whole world (this is hinted in the numerical value of the words Gog u'Magog, which equal 70. 70, is the amount of nations originally counted in the Torah, therefore, it represents the nations of the world), will converge on Yerushalayim.

The Haftora now describes what Hashem will do to Gog, Magog, his allies, and the lands that support the war. There will be an earthquake, fires, and much more. The armies that will converge on Israel will be so vast, that its weapons will provide fuel for seven years, and it will take seven months to bury all their dead.

After this war, hatred towards the Jewish people will cease, as all their opponents will be gone. It will be the war that will end all wars and everyone will accept Hashem as their G-d.

The question is, why do we read this Haftora on Shabbos Chol Hamoed Sukkos?

One connection, is its similarity to the Torah reading. On Shabbos Chol Hamoed Sukkos, we read about the making of the second set of tablets, which signifies, Hashem's acceptance of the Jewish people after the sin of the golden calf. Which can be seen as a new era of greatness and closeness between Hashem and the Jewish people. Our Haftora also speaks of the acceptance of the Jewish people following this dark exile, which was brought on us, as we say in the holiday prayers, "because of our sins." The difference between then and now, is that the acceptance after the golden calf, was followed by an exile. However when Moshiach comes, the acceptance will be complete, not to be followed by another exile.

Another connection, is that according to many, the war of Gog and Magog will happen during the month of Tishrei. But why read it on Sukkos? Because in the Haftora of the first day of Sukkos, it speaks of the same war and mentions that the gentiles will have to keep the holiday of Sukkos. Another reason, is that our Haftora tells about the transformation of the nations of the world and on Sukkos 70 sacrifices were brought for the nations of the world.

However, I feel, that the main reason is because Sukkos is the holiday of the harvest, when we gather all the produce we toiled so hard for. On a spiritual level, we start to gather in the spiritual benefits of our efforts throughout the month of Elul, the High Holidays and the Ten Days of Teshuva. After the war of Gog and Magog, we will reap the benefits of our toil in this dark exile, and we will be forever together with Hashem.

We are left with a question. I understand the connection between the Haftora and Sukkos, but why read it on Shabbos Chol Hamoed, why not read it on the first day of Sukkos? Because the message of the Haftora, while being connected to Sukkos, it is not an annually recurring theme of the holiday. Being that Shabbos Chol Hamoed doesn't occur every year, for example, when the first day of Sukkos is Shabbos, there is no Shabbos Chol Hamoed, therefore it is the perfect time to have a message that connects to the holiday but is not recurring.

This Haftora is about the coming of Moshiach, which we don't need to be recurring, we just need it to happen once. With or without a war, may he come soon.

1 comment:

  1. A Gutta Kvitel and a good year!
    Thank you so much1 We love your Haftara insights, keep 'em coming!