Parshas Mishpatim (5772)
This weekend, in synagogues all around the world, Jews will be reciting a special monthly blessing – called the Birkas HaChodesh – for the New Month of Adar, which falls out this coming week on Friday.
Which can only mean one thing …. that the festival of Purim is just around the corner. [Purim is celebrated this year on Wednesday evening, March 7th, and Thursday, March 8th.] And this year I think we need Purim more than ever.
You see – in case you haven’t heard - there is a crazy nut in Iran by the name of Ahmadinejad who is developing dangerous nuclear weapons as we speak, and who has publicly threatened many times to wipe Israel off the map (G-d forbid).
It’s funny how history repeats itself, eh? The festival of Purim commemorates the divinely orchestrated victory of Mordechai, Esther and the Jewish people over the wicked Achashveirosh, King of Persia (which is modern-day Iran) and Haman, his evil Prime Minister, who threatened to destroy the entire Jewish nation in a single day. And around 2300 years later, we have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran (whose last name sounds like a combination of Achashveirosh, Haman, and Jihad) trying to do the exact same thing to us! It’s like deja-vu all over again! The truth is that what we are witnessing today – the rapidly escalating conflict between Iran and the United States over Iran’s nuclear program, with Israel caught in the middle – has all been prophesied thousands of years ago.
The Talmud in Avodah Zarah 2b states that the nation of Edom (which, according to the mystics, refers to the Western nations such as the U.S. etc.) and the nation of Paras (Persia/Iran) will be the last two powerful nations standing just before the coming of the Messiah. And the Talmud in Yoma 10a discusses whether Edom will fall into the hands of Paras during the wars preceding the coming of the Messiah, or vice-versa.
An early Midrashic source, the Yalkut Shimoni (Yeshaya 60:499), records the following amazing but scary prophecy regarding the events that will unfold just prior to the Messianic Era: “Rabbi Yitzchak said: The year in which the King Messiah reveals himself [to all of mankind], all the nations of the world will be fighting with each other. The King of Paras [Persia] will fight with the King of Arabia, and the King of Arabia will go to Aram [Syria] to seek counsel from them. The King of Paras will [attempt to] destroy the entire world, and all the nations of the world will be screaming and confused and falling on their faces, and they will experience pains like those of a woman giving birth. The Jewish people will also be screaming and confused, and will say, ‘To where shall we come and go? To where shall we come and go?’. And G-d will say to them, ‘My children - don’t be afraid - for all that I have done, I only did for your sake. Why are you afraid – the time for your redemption has come! And not like the previous redemptions will be this last redemption – for the previous redemptions were followed by more pain and persecution, but this last redemption will have no more pain and persecution after it.”
Now we can never know with 100% certainty the ultimate meaning of these obscure Talmudic and Midrashic prophecies – only G-d knows exactly how things will unfold before the coming of the Messiah.
Yet, at the same time, the upcoming holiday of Purim, which commemorates the miraculous salvation of the Jews from nefarious plans of the evil King of Persia over 2300 years ago, coupled with the prophecies that indicate the downfall of Persia/Iran just before the coming of the Messiah, can serve as a great source of strength and a reminder for us in our own times - when the wicked President of Iran is threatening to annihilate the entire Jewish people – that in the end the good guys will win.