Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Iran and the End of Days

The Talmud in Yoma 10a brings a discussion about the major players in the armageddon. Persia (modern day Iran?) and Edom (today's western world?) will come into conflict. Rav holds that Persia will be defeated by Edom, while Rabbi Yehuda argues, saying that Edom will fall before Persia.

I usually recoil from the urge to interpret current events as fulfillments of individual prophecies. The reason for this is that as we travel the timeline, our view is often disrupted by bumps in the road, which, without a wider perspective, can seem like mountains. We may consider certain things of paramount importance, when in reality, they are insignificant. Conversely, we often will ignore small facts that end up playing a major role in the progress of history. There are some notable exceptions to this rule, but not many.

That said, I cannot read the passage quoted above from Yoma without thinking of what the terrorist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, leader of Iran (also known as Persia, even today), recently announced. He is gloating about his country's soon to be limitless nuclear capability. With the western world tied up in the UN security council, this man has indeed made the US and its allies look impotent. He certainly makes no secret of his desire to see Israel wiped off the face of the globe. How much more apocalyptic can this situation get? How long will it take the world to realize that, whether or not this is the looming armageddon, we must deal decisively with this murderous tyrant, lest we allow another holocaust?

Yet, we have long ceased to expect action and bravery from the UN. We are losing our faith in the US, as well. And this gives me hope.

In Ezekiel (29:6), God punishes Egypt for being a staff for Israel to rely on. Ibn Ezra understands this as a punishment for being there for Israel to rely on to the exclusion of God. When Israel has no other to turn to for protection, we are forced to turn to God. Only by engaging Him can we unlock the power that lies within ourselves as a nation, the People of God. And only then, can we meet our enemies with faith, pride and courage, confident in the justness of our cause.

Is the present situation leading up to the vision of the Talmud in Yoma? I do not know. However, it can serve to jar us into action. May we merit and elect leaders who know this, and may our nation vanquish those who rise against her.