Leaning on Our Father in Heaven While we Watch the World Fall Apart

Leaning on Our Father in Heaven While we Watch the World Fall Apart

by Rabbi Daniel Travis

The Gemara in Sota 49b lists 20 things which will take place before moshiach’s arrival:

1) חוצפא יסגא  Massive amounts of audacity

2) ויוקר יאמיר  Expensive will replace Honor

3) הגפן תתן פריה והיין ביוקר  Vines bear fruit but wine will be expensive

4) ומלכות תהפך למינות  Government members will become apostates

5) ואין תוכחת  There will be no reproof

6) בית וועד יהיה לזנות  Places of meeting will be turned into brothels

7) והגליל יחרב  The Galil will be destroyed

8) והגבלן ישום  The boarders will be dormant

9) ואנשי הגבול יסובבו מעיר לעיר ולא יחוננו  The residents of the border towns will travel from place to place

10) וחכמות סופרים תסרח  Learning of Torah would be putrid

11) ויראי חטא ימאסו  Those who fear sin will be considered disgusting

12) והאמת תהא נעדרת  The truth will be hidden

13) נערים פני זקנים ילבינו  Youth will disgrace their elders

14) זקנים יעמדו מפני קטנים  The elders will stand before the youth

15) בן מנוול אב  A son will disgrace his father

16) בת קמה באמה  A daughter will go up against her mother

17) כלה בחמותה  A daughter in law will go against her mother in law

18) אויבי איש אנשי ביתו  Members of one’s home will become enemies

19) פני הדור כפני הכלב  The face of the generation is like the face of a dog

20) הבן אינו מתבייש מאביו  A son is not embarrassed by his father

ועל מה יש לנו להשען?  על אבינו שבשמים

Seeing Chazal’s Words In Front of Our Eyes

The above Gemara speaks about what life will be like in the times of moshiach. Today we see all of these predictions coming true in front of our eyes. There is one common denominator amongst all these events – the accepted boundaries are being wiped away:

  1. Chutzpah out of control: There are common decencies which those of us over 40 are familiar with. If you try to explain them to the younger generation they may have no idea what you are talking about. I hear from teachers every year that the chutzpah is getting worse and worse, and they see it in front of their eyes.
  2. Expensive will switch with honor: The idea of kavod, honor, based on what is really important will disappear, and everything will be judged purely by its price tag.
  3. Wine price increase: Wine prices today have reached the point where people can spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a single bottle of wine.  Why is this so?  Wine destroys all boundaries so it is the preferred drink during ikvasa d’moshiacha, therefore it is one of the most expensive and sought after items during these times.
  4. Government members will become apostates: Government is meant to make sure people follow the accepted laws and maintain a civil life. The situation has gotten so bad that even the government itself has become corrupted.
  5. Lack of reproof: Reproof serves to keep people within a certain boundary and framework.  No one is interested in being in a framework today so there is almost no one to reprove. The older generation has no idea what the younger generation is going through and since we ourselves are so weak, how can we reprove them?
  6. Places of meeting turn into brothels: One would think that people would have the basic respect to treat a beis vaad, a place where rabanim meet to make important decisions, with respect. Not only do people lack all respect but they express this by turning these places into places of impurity.
  7. The Galil will be destroyed: The Yad Rema (Sanhedrin 97a) explains that the Gemara should read gavil, i.e. the parchment that sifrei Torah are written on. People will be so disinterested in Torah that no one will want to purchase a sefer Torah.
  8. As a result the writers of sifrei Torah will have nothing to do.
  9. They will go from city to city and no one will want to purchase sifrei Torah.
  10. Torah will be considered putrid: If people are trying to smash all boundaries it is self understood that Torah and talmidei chachamim will be the most unpopular people around, since their study puts boundaries on our behavior.
  11. People who have fear of Hashem will be considered disgusting: Since the fear of Hashem places boundaries on people’s lives, people will be disgusted by such individuals.
  12. The truth will be hidden: A new reality has kicked in that completely hides Hashem’s presence, and the truth is extremely difficult to find since it is so unpopular.
  13. – 18. There will be no more sense of honor and respect: and all of the individuals who are meant to show respect to you will hate you: Since your presence limits the lives of these individuals, therefore they want to distance themselves from you.
  14. The face of the generation is like the face of a dog: The leaders, who are meant to be running Klal Yisrael according to Torah, will be running the generation based on chutzpah and audacity, the primary attributes of a dog.
  15. A son will not be embarrassed of his father: The final stage of this process is that things will get so bad that there will not be anymore yeridas hadoros – things will have dropped so low that both the father and son will have the reached the lowest possible level.

The Gemarah concludes: Amongst all of these phenomena, our only hope is that we have nothing to rely on except Hashem. We now understand what is happening now during the ikvasa d’meshicha. Let us try and understand what we are meant to do about these phenomena.

Hashem’s Presence Weakened

According to Chazal the world as we know it can only exist for 6000 years. After that moshiach must come and this will signal the end of the world as we know it.  Practically speaking this leaves 223 years left.

The Ramchal (Sefer Daas Tevunos) explains that the purpose of evil is for it to destroy itself and for us to recognize that it is completely futile.  For this reason every philosophy and ideology that is not Torah must be destroyed before moshiach comes.

All of the great movements and ideologies must end, and we must realize that the only truth is Torah in order for the geula to come.  This is what Chazal mean (Sota 49b) that before moshiach comes we must realize that we have nothing to rely on except Avinu Sh’beshamayim, i.e. anything else that appears to be true and that which we think we can rely on will not help us at all.

Broken Barriers

There are natural boundaries that Hashem has created in the world, respect for parents, respect for rebbeim, and respect for elders.  Yet the Gemarah teaches us that all of these boundaries will disappear and be replaced with chutzpah and other bad midos.  Why is this and what is this meant to teach us?

When Hashem created Adam HaRishon, it was clear from His creation that Hashem had created him.  There was a sense of awe of Hashem in the world. Even in latter generations there was still an awe of Hashem, just that people believed that avoda zara was also an option and they got drawn after it.

When Hashem’s presence is strong in the world then we feel Him in every iota of creation.  This is especially true about human beings, who are created in tzelem Elokim.  When a talmid chacham reaches very great heights in Torah, you can see it on his face and in his personality.

There are less and less rabanim of this stature in the world today, and as a result, Hashem’s presence is becoming less and less felt in the world.  When people do not see this, then it is more difficult for them to respect rabanim.

There was once a time when there was malchus, kingship, in the world.  People understood what it meant to have awe of a king and what it meant to be the subject of a king.  Since all of these institutions have disappeared, children do not know what it means to be in awe of anything today.

As the world comes closer and closer to the end, the feeling of Hashem’s presence in the world is weakening.  This is due in a large part to the exponential increase of tumah that exists today in the world.  The more tumah that there is, the more that Hashem’s presence in this world cannot be felt, for tumah and kedushah cannot exist simultaneously.

When there is no awe for Hashem, government, people or anything else then the whole society starts to break down.  This is what Chazal said that if it were not for the government then people would eat each other alive; it is only the fear that stops this.  Once there are no natural boundaries, the only thing left to rely on is our Father in Heaven.

A New World Order

Avraham Avinu said “There is no fear of Elokim (midas hadin) in this place, therefore I was afraid that the people would kill me”.  The Seforno explains that Elokim means the Almighty, but also governmental order.  Government and structure can only exist when there is a fear of the Almighty.

The Maharal says that the entire world has to break down before moshiach comes.  We are witnessing this today as the truth of Hashem’s existence becomes more hidden, and society is breaking down.

Chazal teach us that during this time, things will break down so much that we will realize that we really have nothing to rely on except Hashem.  We need to instill in our children and ourselves that Torah is the only way for a Jew to survive in this world.  It is a literally a life preserver in a sea of insanity that exists today.

We Can Only Rely on Our Father in Heaven

There will come a day when there is no visible trace of Hashem’s presence in this world at all. We are coming closer and closer to that day.  When Hashem’s presence has completely disappeared from the world then what hope is there for us?

The Gemara concludes we will have nothing to rely on except for our Father in Heaven.  Hashem has many names. Why does the Gemara refer to Hashem as our father in Heaven?

We refer to Him as our Father in Heaven because this refers to a time when we will not see or feel any trace of His existence in the world.  Even when Hashem’s presence is completely indiscernible in this world, we will know in our hearts that He is controlling everything from the Heavens.  In truth He is really in this world as well but we will only be able to mentally have emunah in Him as our Father in Heaven.

At one time there was yiras shemayim in this world, and we could feel Hashem’s presence with our eyes and all of our senses.  However at the end of days we can no longer rely on what we see to bring us to the truth.  We will have to have complete emunah that Hashem is running the world from Above, even though we do not see any trace of this below.

What is the meaning of lishan, why doesn’t the Gemara instruct us to have faith or trust?  Once there were things in this world that a person could rely on, and one did so together with emunah in Hashem. Today we are reaching a point where yiras shemayim is so foreign that our only hope is put our complete trust in Hashem.

When the world comes to the point where there is absolutely nothing to rely on, we will be forced to recognize that in truth the only thing to rely on is Hashem. Under these conditions the evil in the world will have reached its tachlis for it will have shown us that everything is futile except for trusting in Hashem.  When we reach that recognition moshiach will come.

As long as there is something of true substance or seeming substance in the world, we cannot rely completely on Hashem, for in the back of our mind we are thinking, “Well, we have — to rely on.”  When there is nothing left in this physical world to rely on – then we will be able to have complete trust in Hashem, and then the geula will come.

The Catch Phrase of This Generation

The Meiri explains that when the Mishnayos write “Hu haya omer” he used to say, this means that this was the message of that generation. I once asked Rav Perlow, the Noverminsker Rebbi, what the hu haya omer of this generation is. The rav replied, “That’s easy you don’t need me for that.”  I told Rav Perlow that I am stupid and did not figure it out – what is the answer.  The rav replied to be an Ehrilcher Yid.

I have not spoken to the Noverminsker rav recently, but I believe that this may have changed.  We have to convey to our children that the “reality” that we are seeing in today’s world is very far from the true reality.  Perhaps today’s catch phrase is “We have nothing to rely on except our Father in Heaven”.

The next generation will be exponentially worse.  We have to give our children the tools to deal with these nisyanos, to try and block out what they see happening in the world today, and focus on the true reality as it is described in the Torah.

Rav Goldstein, one of the great mechanchim of our generation, writes in his sefer “Upgrade” that while using fear and strict discipline was once an accepted mehalech in chinuch, today only the friendly approach works.  The reason is as we described earlier, that the concept of boundaries is created by the recognition of Hashem’s presence.  Today, this is not the case and therefore instead of using yirah we can only use ahava, love.

The Bottom Line

“We have nothing to rely on except our Father in Heaven”

implies two things

Firstly, we have to rely on Hashem completely even though we cannot see His manifestation in the world at all.

Secondly, we have to try as much as possible to isolate ourselves from outside influences.  Internet, smartphones, and even newspapers and radios, portray a reality of the world without Hashem and once we get sucked into that alternate reality then we are finished.

The Torah defines the boundaries that Hashem created in the world and helps us to see the world differently (through the lenses of the Torah.)  Tanach teaches us about great tzadikim who recognized Hashem’s presence in their lives.  We need to plug in to that reality as much as possible and hold on tight as we watch the world fall to pieces in front of our eyes.

Chazal teach us that the truth will be ne’aderes, hidden.  Yet Chazal also make a derasha, that ne’aderes teaches us that the truth will be found ederim ederim, literally in small herds, i.e. in small groups of people or chevrusos, who are searching for the truth.  We must search for these herds and join up with them, so we can protect ourselves from being dragged into the great darkness of chevlei moshiach.

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