By: HaRav Menashe Sasson
Reporting from Jerusalem, Israel
Published in the U.S.A.
Jewish tradition teaches that the world, as we know it, will exist for no more than 6,000 years. As the Talmud teaches: “The world is destined to exist for six thousand years. The first two thousand years were of nothingness; the second two thousand years were of Torah; the third two thousand years are the days of Mashiach.” T.B., Masekhet Sanhedrin 97a.
The first 2,000 years (1-2000 [3761 B.C.E. to approximately 1761B.C.E.]), the years of “nothingness,” were the years before the Torah. The second 2,000 years, the years of Torah, were the years in which Torah flourished, a period which closed with the ending of the Tannaic era (2001-4,000 [1762 B.C.E. to approximately 238 C.E.]). The third 2,000 years are the years (4001-6000) during which it is possible for Mashiach to come. (Dates on the Christian/Gregorian calendar are inaccurate, and thus unreliable, due to internal discrepancies in that system of calendaring.)
On 9 Av 3831 (July 23, 0071), Roman emperor Hadrian destroyed the Second Temple; banished Jews from Yerushalayim; destroyed the city, and, on top of the rubble, built a pagan city which he named Aelia Capitolina, in honor of himself (“Aelia” was Hadrian’s middle name) and in honor of the “god” Jupiter, whose temple was located on Capitolene Hill, in Rome. Hadrian also renamed the land “Philistia” (Palestine), after the extinct Philistines, an enemy of the Jews who once occupied the area. The name “Palestine” was revived by the British in 1917, when they conquered the Ottoman Empire. Lands west of the Jordan river, as well as the country of Jordan, which the British later created in 1923, were renamed “The British Mandate for Palestine.”
Thus began a long history of Jewish galut ([גלות] exile). During galut, Jews have settled in many countries and, to varying degrees, have been persecuted in, or expelled from, each of those countries.
Parashat Noah contains an allusion to not only to the exile, but also to the fact that a Jew can never find permanent safety and security in the lands of galut.
Regarding the pasuk:
The Midrash teaches:
Bereshit, Midrash Rabbah 3:6.
The lesson is that, in order to ensure that the Jewish people return to Eretz Yisra’el, HaShem has decreed that Jews will never find “rest,” that is, safety and security, in galut ([גלות] exile). Although there are many historical examples of this truth, perhaps the two most glaring are the Exodus from Egypt and the Shoah (Holocaust). In both of these examples, a large number of Jews chose to remain in galut, instead of at least trying to make their way to Eretz Yisra’el, a decision which, unfortunately, ended in tragedy.
One need only read the news to know that antisemitism is alive and well in the countries of galut ([גלות] exile). Come home, dear Jew; come home to the land that HaShem has given you as an inheritance, an inheritance which Medinat Yisra’el protects with its Right of Return law. The year 6000 is rapidly approaching, which means that Mashiach could come at any time. Come home, dear Jew, before it is too late. You need Eretz Yisra’el and Eretz Yisra’el needs you.
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Menashe Sasson is a Sephardic rabbi and American attorney who resides in Jerusalem, Israel.