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A Debt and Two Prophecies

A Debt and Two Prophecies

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I have a debt whose time has come to repay.

It was in 1993, a few days before Rosh Hashanah, when the entire world was shaken up by the unexpected handshake between Yitzchak Rabin and Arafat in the presence of President Clinton on the White House lawn, after having signed the Oslo Agreement.

"Peace had finally arrived..."

At one of the many institutional parties that are the norm in our very close knit community, all the speakers spoke about the historical times we were living in.

I, too, was invited to say a few words and found myself in a dilemma. I was convinced that the scene in the Rose Garden did not represent anything durable; that it was nothing more than a mirage, that instead of speaking about a "historical" day we should be talking about a "hysterical" day.... But was it my job to throw cold water in everyone's face? Was it my responsibility to express an opinion that was so blatantly opposed to that of all those present? I opted for the diplomatic approach. I, too, referred to the "historical" day, thinking to myself that indeed it was historic--because the results would eventually, unfortunately, prove the Rebbe right in his assertion that peace cannot be achieved through negotiating with terrorists, nor by making territorial concessions that compromise Israel's ability to defend itself.


What is happening right now in Israel proves once again how right the Rebbe's words are regarding the security situation in Israel, the stand it should take vis-a-vis its enemies and the special protection that G‑d affords the Jews living in the Holy Land.

Why did it occur to me to pay this "debt" now?

Let me answer with a story.

The Talmud (Makot 24b) tells us:

Again it happened that Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria, Rabbi Joshua and Rabbi Akiva went up to Jerusalem. When they reached Mt. Scopus, they tore their garments. When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox emerging from the place of the Holy of Holies. The others started weeping; Rabbi Akiva laughed.

Said they to him: "Why are you laughing?"

Said he to them: "Why are you weeping?"

Said they to him: "A place [so holy] that it is said of it, 'the stranger that approaches it shall die,' (Numbers 1:51). and now foxes traverse it, and we shouldn't weep?"

Said he to them: "That is why I laugh. For it is written, 'I shall have bear witness for Me faithful witnesses--Uriah the Priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.' (Isaiah 8:2). Now what is the connection between Uriah and Zechariah? Uriah was [in the time of] the First Temple, and Zechariah was [in the time of] the Second Temple! But the Torah makes Zachariah's prophcsy dependent upon Uriah's prophecy. With Uriah, it is written: 'Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed as a field; [Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the Temple Mount like the high places of a forest.]' (Micha 3:12). With Zachariah it is written, 'Old men and women shall yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem.' (Zachariah 8:4).

"As long as Uriah's prophcy had not been fulfilled, I feared that Zechariah's prophcy may not be fulfilled either. But now that Uriah's prophcy has been fulfilled, it is certain that Zechariah's prophecy will be fulfilled."

With these words they replied to him: "Akiva, you have consoled us! Akiva, you have consoled us!"

Like the prophets of yore, in our generation the Rebbe, throughout the years, has intermittently expressed dire warnings as well as encouraging promises.

The Rebbe did not only address the situation in Israel. The central message that the Rebbe hammered away at time and time again was that we presently find ourselves at the threshold of the imminent arrival of Mashiach and we must do all that is within our power to prepare ourselves and the world around us in order to hasten his arrival.

To paraphrase Rabbi Akiva: Until we have seen the extent to which the Rebbe's warnings regarding the situation in Israel are true, we could not truly imagine the extent to which his promises regarding Moshiach would be fulfilled... Now that we see--once more--how the Rebbe's words regarding the state of affairs in Israel are being realized to the fullest extent, both on the strategic defense level as well as regarding the miraculous Divine protection we are witnessing, we can be more than assured that at any moment Moshiach will really be here!

Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov is the Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Montevideo, Uruguay, and a contributor to Chabad.org.
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