"You can’t see the picture when you’re inside the frame," but we might not need a Moshiach ben Yosef or a war of Gog and Magog at all.
In a landscape brimming with global conflicts and uncertainties, a recent article from Rabbi Jack Abramowitz sheds light on a question that has been on the minds of many: Could the current Hamas war be the fabled war of Gog and Magog? Rabbi Abramowitz, with a blend of scholarly insight and a dash of whimsy, approaches this intricate subject by suggesting it's like "trying to see the picture when you're inside the frame."
Rabbi Abramowitz deftly navigates the rich tradition of Jewish thought concerning the enigmatic war of Gog and Magog, as laid out in the Book of Ezekiel. He underscores the complexity by noting the involvement of certain allies like Persia (today's Iran) in the current conflict. However, he also points out the absence of other allies like Ethiopia and Germany, which the Torah identifies as Kush and Togarmah respectively.
One fascinating point that Rabbi Abramowitz brings to our attention is the timing of the war. The Tur (OC 490) points out a tradition that the war of Gog and Magog will begin in Tishrei, which aligns with the timeline of the current conflict. "It’ll happen eventually and when it does, we’ll get the scenario that we deserve," he remarks. However, he also suggests that if "we play our cards right," there might not be a need for the war of Gog and Magog or even Moshiach ben Yosef, a messianic figure expected to be killed in this war.
What's the secret to bypassing such apocalyptic scenarios? It’s more straightforward than you might think. According to the Talmud, observing the third Shabbos meal can save one from the horrors of the war of Gog and Magog. Rabbi Abramowitz, quoting his childhood rebbe Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky, humorously adds, “That’s a pretty good deal for eating a challah roll and some tuna fish!”
As we navigate this complex weave of theology, prophecy, and current events, Rabbi Abramowitz provides not just a roadmap but also a viewfinder to glimpse at the bigger picture. While we might not be able to say definitively that the current conflict is the prophesized war, the teachings offer a prudent yet hopeful outlook. By adhering to our traditions, ethics, and observances like the Shabbos meals, we might just alter the course of history, inching ever closer to a more peaceful and redemptive future.