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Beit Midrash Family and Society Redemption - Geula

Could Zionism Be Just Another False Messiah?

The fulfillment of so many prophecies including the ingathering of the exiles, the revival of the Holy Land, the Holy Language etc. raises the question: How do we know that this is definitely the redemption? How do we know this isn't just another "false messiah"- that there won't be another exile?
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There is a famous story about Rav Yitzchak Herzog, the Chief Rabbi of Israel at the time of the Second World War, who refused to listen to even the most influential of personalities, who feared and pleaded with him not to return to "Palestine". Despite the fact that German Field-Marshall Erwin Rommel, had already succeeded in conquering most of North Africa, Rav Herzog countered assuredly that his troops will be stopped before reaching the Holy Land. He explained with confidence that we have a Jewish tradition that there will never be another destruction of the Jewish settlement in Israel. We are now witness to the final redemption, and there simply cannot be another exile. 1
This story is often quoted by various rabbis, all of them citing Rav Herzog as the source of this Jewish tradition. Moreover, I have heard several of them say that they did not know his source in the writings of chazal. Needless to say, a "tradition" quoted in the name of a rabbi from the previous generation which does not appear in the ancient sources, is problematic, to say the least. Moreover, attributing this tradition to one particular rabbi infers that other great rabbanim of his generation were not as convinced, as he. Accordingly, identifying Rav Herzog as the source of this tradition cheapens it, almost to the point of contradiction.
Especially today, in the aftermath of the crisis of Gush Katif and the Second War in Lebanon, when even some religious–Zionists have joined the "redemption-deniers", some even joining the ranks of the post-Zionists, it is important to remember that these setbacks were to be expected. "'My Beloved is like a deer'- just as the deer is visible, then disappears, then is seen once again, so too is the mashiach". 2 Rav Hai Gaon 3 and the Vilna Gaon 4 cite a tradition that even when the mashiach comes, many will not believe him! 5 Occasional setbacks do not change chazal’s (!) decision that the return to Zion in our time is the beginning of our redemption and that, indeed, there will not be another exile.

1. The Certainty that we are in the Beginning of Redemption
In wake of both internal and external hardships, many people forget the formidable list of great leaders who unabashedly declared that the present return to Zion is indeed the beginning of redemption, including the Chafetz Chayim, 6 the Netziv, 7 the Yeshu’ot Malko, 8 the Malbim, 9 R. Baruch Epstein (author of the Torah Temima), 10 Rav Kook, 11 Rav Yitzchak Isaac Herzog, Rav Ben-Zion Uziel, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rav Yehoshua Landau (Rabbi of Bnei Brak), Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, 12 Rav Y.M Tikochinski, Rav Zalman Sorotzkin (famed head of Va'ad Hayeshivot), Rav Yechezkel Sarna (Rosh Yeshiva of Chevron), Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin, Rav Hillel Posek, Rav Unterman, R. Ovadia Hadaya (author of Resp. Yaskil Avdi), 13 the Husiaton Rebbe, 14 and Rav Y. S. Kahanaman (Rosh Yeshivat Ponevitz). 15
The skeptics may not be familiar with the decisiveness of R. Yechiel Ya’akov Weinberg, author of Resp. Sridei Eish, who wrote that he believes with complete faith that the State of Israel is Hashem’s answer to the six million souls who gathered around His throne after the Holocaust and requested a clear sign of His love and protection for His children, and of the beginning of redemption. 16
It is important to note that these rabbanim declared so, despite the fact that they had already seen the catastrophes wrought by the revelation of Shabtai Tzvi as a false messiah. 17 If they had even the slightest doubt, they would surely have been more cautious in their declaration.
The question is: how were these great rabbanim so certain that we are, in fact, witness to the final return?
If we search for their source, it is hard to base it upon most of the signs of redemption which appear in the Tanach and chazal. Even if there will be a world war, an earthquake, poverty, holocaust, rudeness, or any of the other signs mentioned, it can always be claimed that perhaps, in the future, the same occurence may be repeated yet on an even larger scale. Historically, most of the false messiahs appeared in the wake of a wave of anti-Semitism, expulsion, pogroms and the like, when their main argument was "this must be the advent of redemption, for it can not get any worse". Unfortunately, in the course of Jewish history we have discovered time and again, that it can always get worse.
Apparently, this problem in identifying the majority of the signs of redemption, is what brings R. Abba and his colleagues to search for the "קץ המגולה", the " revealed end" - that is, as opposed to all of the other signs which are unclear or unrevealed. "There is no more 'revealed sign' than that which is written, 'And you, mountains of Israel, give forth your branches, and carry forth your fruit, for My Nation of Israel is coming soon'. 18 Rashi explains that when the Land of Israel (barren for so long) will return to produce fruit abundantly, that is the clearest sign that the "end of days" is near. 19
In order to appreciate this point, it must be remembered that until recently, the fruitful Israel that we are familiar with from the Tanach and today, was deserted. The famous American author Mark Twain, visited Israel in 1867, and reported as follows:
"We traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given wholly to weeds- a silent, mournful expanse… A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action. We reached Tabor safely… We never saw a human being on the whole route. We pressed on toward the goal of our crusade, renowned Jerusalem. The further we went the hotter the sun got and the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became… There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country. No landscape exists that is more tiresome to the eye than that which bounds the approaches to Jerusalem…
Jerusalem is mournful, dreary and lifeless. I would not desire to live here. It is a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land… Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies… Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise? Can the curse of the Deity beautify a land? Palestine is no more of this work-day world. It is sacred to poetry and tradition- it is a dreamland." 20
This testimony to the fulfillment of the Biblical curse upon the Land, 21 as long as the people of Israel are exiled from her, shows the fidelity and loyalty of the land towards her lover, Am Yisrael. 22 From Twain's description, it's hard to believe that this land was formerly so fruitful that is was part of the famous "fertile crescent" of the ancient world. The area referred to as "The Land which lacks nothing", 23 "A Land of wheat, and barley, vineyards and figs, and pomegranates, a Land of olives and dates". 24 It is similarly hard to believe that this description was written about the Israel we know, one of the world-leaders in modern agriculture. It should be noted that the central location of Israel, at the international junction of the ancient world, uniting Europe, Africa and Asia, made it a most popular place to try settling throughout the generations, yet all nations failed in these many similar attempts. 25 All of the above make the desolation during the exile, and the subsequent sudden fruition upon the Jewish return, that much more remarkable. 26
Nevertheless, even in the "revealed" sign- that the Land of Israel grows fruit abundantly, - it is possible to claim that perhaps this refers to an even more amazing fruitfulness than the present one. Or maybe it refers to a supernatural miracle, as the Satmar Rebbe claims, based upon a literal understanding of another g’mara that in the future, trees will produce fruit on a daily basis. 27 We have to admit that even religious-Zionists do not attribute importance to the rest of the signs mentioned there in the g'mara for the "revealed end" (financial difficulties and lack of peace), for the same reason, 28 that it is hard to say that there will not be even worse financial or security problems in the future.

2. The source of the Tradition that there won’t be another exile
If so, in my opinion, it seems that the tradition that we mentioned, that there won’t be another exile, is what convinced all of those Rabbanim that this is indeed the beginning of redemption. After all:
a. A sign phrased in the negative (after the return there will not be another exile) is more definite and can not be explained any other way.
b. All of the great rabbanim above, cited proof from the ingathering of exiles but not all of them mentioned the revealed end of the flourishing of the Land of Israel. 29
c. The ingathering of exiles is the opposite of exile. Gathering and unity instead of scattering and distance. 30

Although the ingathering is self-apparent, sometimes, especially for the young who may take this for granted as a natural phenomena, it’s best to let the statistics speak for themselves. Throughout history the few attempted "mass" aliyot were relatively rare, small and unsuccessful. They amount to 300 tosafists attempting aliya in the year 4971/1211, several hundred expelled from Spain (5252/1492), and 1,500 with R. Yehuda Chasid in 5461/1700, most of whom soon returned to their countries of origin!
It’s ludicrous to compare these to the aliya of 40,000 Jews in the 17 years between the first Zionist Congress and WWI, the 3rd and 4th aliyot (between ’19 and ’29- an additional 122,000) , and the "fifth" aliya of 200,000 before the Holocaust. The Jewish population in Israel more than doubled in the four years following the declaration of independence: from 665,000 in 5/48, to 1,330,000 in 6/51 to over 1,425,000 by 5/52, "closing up" most of the Jewish communities in Europe, Africa, and Asia! The recent stream of more than 1,200,000 olim (80% halachically Jewish) after the fall of the Soviet Union in 5749/1989, another 70,000 from Ethiopia, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria in (especially in ’91), over 100,000 from North America (almost all since the Six Day War), and large aliyot today from South Africa, Argentina and France, make the present 5,390,400 in Israel, the largest Jewish population in the world today, for the first time since the exile of the 10 tribes 2,700 years ago.
Not only the number but the "spread" of 2,112,269 olim from Europe, 478,668 from Asia, 514,126 from Africa, and 211,329 from the Americas also are significant. 31 Anyone who doesn’t call the above "ingathering of the exiles" is denying reality!
Nevertheless, a skeptic could seemingly say that despite these undeniable facts, especially with the nuclear threat from Iran who knows what the future holds?
However, as we have said above, the certainty is based on the fact that chazal state that there will not be another exile after the third return to Zion.
Below is a list of sources affirming the ancient tradition on which Rav Herzog based his words:

1. Midrash Tanchuma (Warsaw) Parshat Shoftim Siman 9; Yalkut Shimoni Zechariya remez 581: "’and he will yield on the third’ 32 that they will only settle in their land in the third redemption, the first redemption is the redemption from Egypt, the second redemption is the redemption of Ezra, the third has no end". Note that as we mentioned above, the negative language used here, both at the beginning "will only settle in their land in the third redemption" and at the end "has no end" is much more definite than most other signs of redemption.

2. Sifrei Devarim 1:8: "’to give it to them’ this refers to those who came to Israel (from Egypt), ‘and to their children’ those who came back from Babylon, ‘after them’ these are the days of the Mashiach". 33

3. Eicha 4:22: "your sin has ended daughter of Zion, He won’t continue to exile you, your sin has been remembered daughter of Edom, your sin has been revealed".
Rashi there: ‘you won’t continue to be exiled’ - "from the exile of Edom and onwards". 34

4. Rav Yosef Albo, Sefer HaIkarim, 4:42: "and what Yirmeyahu wrote in the book of Eicha, ‘your sin has ended daughter of Zion, He won’t continue to exile you’, 35 can only be explained as referring to this, the final exile, which is the exile of the second Temple". He is writing in the 15th century.

5. Hoshea 6:2: "He will make us live from two days, on the third day he bring us up and we will live before Him".
Radak there: "and the explanation of ‘He will make us live from two days’ this is about the future and ‘from two days’ is a parable for the two exiles - the exile of Egypt and Babylon, ‘on the third day’: a parable for this third exile from which we will rise up and live before Him, that we won’t be exiled again and we will live constantly before Him always until we won’t sin again".
The same appears in Metzudat David, there.

6. Radak, Yeshayahu 34:1: "and so Yirmeyahu wrote in Megillat Eicha ‘your sin has ended daughter of Zion, He won’t continue to exile you, your sin has been remembered daughter of Edom, your sin has been revealed’ when the land of the Kutim (Edom/Christian, A.S.) will be destroyed, the Jewish people will go out of this exile, for He won’t continue to exile them..."

7. Ramban, Vayikra 26:6 and 42; Devarim 28:42; Sefer HaGeula 36 : In these sources the Ramban explains at length about the two rebukes that appear in the Torah - the one in Bechukotai describes the exile of Babylon, and the one in Ki Tavo describes the exile of Rome 37 , from which we will be redeemed and there won’t be another exile. 38

8. All who are waiting for the redemption to arrive every day, as well as those who calculated that it will come (in just about all cases) in or near to their time, did this on the basis of this tradition that after the return to Zion (which will happen in their opinion, in their time) there will not be another exile, amongst them are the Rambam, 39 the Ramban, 40 the Malbim, 41 and many others.

Nevertheless, the skeptic can still argue: even if we have seen that after the ingathering of exiles there won’t be another exile, how do we know that what is happening today is the ingathering of exiles? The majority of world Jewry still lives outside of Israel! 42
Therefore, in order to complete the picture, we need another tradition that we received from chazal, that the number that is fixed for the ingathering of the exiles is 600, 000 Jews in Israel. When we arrive at this number it is unreasonable that Hashem will "send them back" to chutz la’aretz just in order to bring them back to Israel.

9. Yalkut Shimoni, Hoshea remez 518: "It is written ‘and I answered her there like in the days of her youth and like the day that she went up from the land of Egypt’ 43 , just as 600, 000 left Egypt and 600, 000 entered the Land of Israel, also in the days of Mashiach it will be with 600, 000."

10. Vilna Gaon, Introduction to Kol HaTor 44 : "This number of 600, 000 has great power to defeat the powers of evil at the gates of Yerushalayim, and then the complete redemption will arrive in a miraculous form on heavenly clouds". 45

Thank G-d, today 5,390,400 Jews live in Israel, 46 so even if we calculate (as they did at the exodus from Egypt), only the number of men who are eligible to serve in the army, without the tribe of Levi, we have already passed the required number a long time ago.
In summary of the two traditions that we have seen: as soon as there are 600, 000 Jews in Israel there will not be another exile.
Accordingly, we can explain why the Rambam emphasizes the Torah’s association of redemption with the ingathering of exiles more than any of the other signs: "and anyone who does not believe in him (Mashiach) and does not wait for his arrival, does not just deny the truth of the rest of the prophets, but of the Torah and Moshe Rabbeinu, for the Torah testifies about him (the Mashiach), as it says ‘and Hashem your G-d will return you, and will have mercy on you, and He will return and gather you... if you have been cast away to the ends of the Heavens... and Hashem will bring you...’ 47 and these words which are written explicitly in the Torah include all that was said by the prophets". 48
As soon as the ingathering of exiles takes place there is no way back!

3. Documentation of the Story of Rav Herzog
However, we are left with the question: if we indeed received the tradition that there won’t be another exile from the prophets, and surely from the time of Chazal onwards, why is it quoted in the name of Rav Herzog?
When examining this story I found several different versions of what happened in the year 5701/1941. Ya’akov Herzog, who was also his father’s personal secretary, tells that this conversation was with no other than the President of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt. 49
In contrast, Geula Bat-Yehuda presents Lord Halifax, the British consul in Washington, as Rav Herzog’s partner in discussion. According to the account of Rav Y. Goldman, who was the Rav’s personal secretary, Lord Halifax sent a messenger to inform Rav Herzog that, due to the advancement of the German army, the British are considering evacuating their citizens from the Middle East. He suggested that the Rav, as a British citizen, should remain in America. Rav Herzog replied to the messenger, "inform them in London of my firm opinion that there is no reason to be afraid, because a Nazi victory in the Middle East would mean a third destruction of the Jewish settlement in our Holy Land, and our prophets did not prophesize about a third destruction. 50
If we had to choose between these two versions, it is logical to accept the second one, as Lord Halifax was not such a famous figure that a story would be told about him that really happened to the President of America, but the opposite is a logical "embellishing".
I have also heard rabbanical contemporaries of Rav Herzog tell a similar story of a conversation between the Rav and the Jewish (from his mother’s side) mayor of New York, Fiorella La-Guardia.
So far we have discussed private conversations, but there are similar stories from public gatherings where rabbanim also tried to persuade Rav Herzog from returning to Israel. In a meeting with some of the leading rabbis under the leadership of Rabbi Eliezer Silver, 51 and another summit with tens of rabbanim from all over America, 52 Rav Herzog replied to their pressure and "halachic decisions" that he is obligated to return, despite the danger, in order to prove his faith in the tradition that there won’t be another exile. He added that by staying in chutz la’aretz he is likely to cause a significant desecration of Hashem’s name, as if he himself is scared and unsure of his own declaration.
In the meantime, the German forces continued to overpower the Allies in the deserts of North Africa. They even began planning their conquest that was to include the entire Mediterranean basin. The threat caused great anxiety to the Jewish community in Israel. The Chief Rabbinate declared a fast day and special prayers, while kabbalists convened special ceremonies by the graves of tzadikim. The Settlement’s leaders even planned an escape plan, to prepare for the expected invasion, including the possibility of turning Mt. Carmel into "Massadah" as the last fortress of the Jews in Israel. 53
In the gloomy atmosphere that he found upon returning to Israel, Rav Herzog amazed the entire Yishuv when he publicized the following proclamation:
"I establish, with all the power of authority that rests with me at this time, and declare publicly that no enemy will enter the gates of Israel. We have a tradition that after the 2 destructions - the destruction of the first and second temples, there will not be a third destruction. This is clear to me and I say so with perfect faith." 54
Similarly, the Rav declared his faith in a public speech in the city of Rechovot in the year 5703/1942:
"Gentlemen, do no be afraid. No enemy will come into Israel, my heart tells me that this is true, and I can assure you as it says ‘and I will protect this city for My sake and for the sake of David My servant’ 55 ... two destructions were prophesied, they both already happened. There will not be a third destruction. Divine providence helped us build the Land, and I guarantee you that the Land will remain safe. 56
From the above quote, it can be suggested that the emphasis on Rav Herzog's personal guarantee ("my heart tells me, and I can guarantee... and I guarantee to you..." [and similarly, his phrasing in the proclamation that we mentioned: "I establish ... this is clear to me and I say so with perfect faith..."]...) probably done for rhetorical purposes, provides an explanation why this tradition is identified with him, and not with the prophets or Chazal.
In a completely different context, Rav Herschel Schechter mentions Rav Herzog’s words when he tried to use this tradition to persuade Rav Y. Z. Soloveitchik not to flee Yerushalayim for Switzerland during the War of Independence. 57
Due to the many different versions of this story, his speech in Rechovot and the peculiar identification of an ancient tradition with a specific modern rabbi, there is no choice but to conclude that this is a classic example of the expression מרגלא בפומיה". " In other words, this was not a one-time event that was repeated in different versions, rather Rav Herzog regularly mentioned and publicized this tradition in many conversations and occasions, both public and private.
Accordingly, we can understand why Prime Minister Levi Eshkol mentioned these words of Rav Herzog, both privately to Ya’acov Herzog 58 and in a public speech following the 6 Day War. 59 It is unlikely that Levi Eshkol was present at the speech in Rechovot, or that he saw the minutes of one of the aforementioned conversations. Rather, as we have said, this was a known מרגלא בפומיה of Rav Herzog.
Similarly, chazal attribute the biblical verse "don’t rejoice at the fall of your enemy" 60 to the Mishnaic sage Shmuel HaKatan 61 because he quoted the verse and the idea regularly. 62 It seems that this is what happened here as well, that an ancient tradition which is mentioned and agreed upon by chazal, rishonim and achronim, is attributed to Rav Herzog purely because it was מרגלא בפומיה on many occasions.
Accordingly, even though many other rabbanim of that period declared similarly (for example Rav Y.M. Charlap: "It’s as clear as the afternoon sun that there will never be a third destruction and that the State of Israel will never fall"), 63 the fact that Rav Herzog mentioned this tradition so regularly caused it to be associated with his name. Unfortunately, this attribution caused many people not to know that this tradition is indeed explicitly mentioned in numerous sources.

4. Operational Conclusions on the Basis of this Tradition
In addition, the strong impression left by the words of Rav Herzog and his personal association with the tradition under discussion, may stem from the fact that despite his usual rationale approach, 64 he was prepared to take a practical decision on the basis of the belief that there won’t be another exile.
Just as today, also in Rav Herzog’s time there were two ways to see the situation, one optimistic, the other pessimistic. It seems that it was important to Rav Herzog to publicize that we should rely on this tradition in order to rule on the side of trusting in Hashem and against defeatism. Believing in this prophecy and tradition is so reliable that it is not considered contradicting the rule: "don’t rely on miracles"! 65
As opposed to the extremists who cynically ask, "Do you have a direct link with Heaven that you know what is going to happen?", the answer is, yes, we do have a direct connection with Heaven, namely chazal, and in this case we do know what will not be. There will not be another destruction of the Jewish settlement in Israel.
If this is definite enough for the Chafetz Chayim, Rav Kook, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, the Sridei Eish, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and the other aforementioned giants, then yes, it is enough for me.
Similarly, just as Rav Herzog felt the need in his generation to repeat this guarantee and to emphasize that it is possible to "bank" on it and even to act accordingly, it is also important to do so today. At this time of national crisis, with the understandable fall in morale in wake of the fiascos in Gush Katif, the Second Lebanon War, the pitifully immoral and "galuti" national leadership, the shelling in Sderot, the nuclear threat from Iran, it is particularly important to strengthen the moral of the people, to look at the events with a wise eye - realistic and believing at the same time - and not with a pessimistic and unbelieving eye. 66 These words of chazal were meant davka for our generation , and we would be wrong to ignore them.

If we hear particular rabbanim among the leaders of religious-Zionism who are in a such despair, that they compare today’s situation to the defeatism of Rav Yochanan ben Zakai on the eve of the destruction of the second Temple 67 it seems that not only are they forgetting to look at the sources that we have brought here, but, mainly, forgetting to look at reality. It is brought in the name of Rav Kook that when we come across difficulties, we must remember that there is no comparison between birth pangs (of redemption) and death pains (of exile).
The State of Israel is stronger today than ever before. The pessimistic and frightened atmosphere, emanating from the Israeli political pygmies and press, as if we are not able to protect our Land and citizens, is a psychological problem, a mindset of exile, and far from the truth. If Rav Herzog declared that there is no need to retreat, or to be afraid of the forces of the super-power German army storming towards Israel, how much more so it is a lack of trust in Hashem (as well as illogical) to run away from a few missiles from a group of pathetic unprofessional and undisciplined Palestinian terrorists which we ourselves established and armed!
Despite the weakness, the exilic mindset, the lack of trust, lack of responsibility and lack of vision in the decision of the Israeli government to give over parts of Israel to an enemy (and even more so, with no reason, in exchange for nothing, and unnecessarily!), we have no right and no reason to abandon all of the aforementioned rabbinic sources. There is no reason whatsoever to start doubting our age-old traditions, especially after they’ve proven true time and again, before our very eyes in this very century!
The time has come to review (and for the youth, to learn for the first time) the classic books: "Eim HaBanim Semeicha", "HaTekufa HaGedolah" and "Ayelet HaShachar" and maybe even to write some new ones in the same genre. To revive the eternal sources and remember the prophecy,
"Who heard of this and who saw such things? Can a land be inherited in one day, can a nation be born at one time, that Zion can inherit and also give birth to her children? Will I begin labor and not give birth?!’ says Hashem, ‘will I give birth and stop in the middle?!’ says the L-rd. 68 Rashi explains: "Will I bring a woman to the birth-stool and not open her womb to take out the fetus?! In other words, would I start something (the redemption) and not be able to complete it?! Am I not the one who enables all births and now I have stopped myself?!"
"'My Beloved is like a deer'- just as the deer is visible, then disappears, then is seen once again, so too is the mashiach". 69

Practically, it is important to remember that the youth of today do not remember the Six Day War. They did not see when the "deer was revealed". They don’t remember the successful revolution and the public affection that was once felt for "Gush Emunim" and only tasted the animosity against religious -Zionists after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin and Amona. They just saw the army ordered not to defeat Nasralla, to uproot yishuvim, retreat from Lebanon and Shchem, and run away from the stones of Arab children. They serve with unbelievable self sacrifice in the glorified but shackled and disgraced Israel Defense Force. They have only seen "Operation Entebbe" in movies! Despite the fact that they have merited to see the largest wave of aliyah since the exodus from Egypt (mainly from the Soviet Union and Ethiopia) and the expansion of the population of Yehuda and Shomron from thousands to hundreds of thousands, all of this happened gradually, without any one, big, glorious victory.
So ironic that it can only be G-dly, the world is progressing more and more in the direction of instant gratification, and the great and glittering excitement, but in contrast, the process of redemption is going slower and slower!
Precisely because of this, it is important to focus and identify the challenge in understanding the situation. To go back and publicize the absolute proofs that we brought. As our teacher Rav Tzvi Yehuda repeatedly said "הוודאי שמו, כן תהלתו", "His name is certain, so is His praise".

5. The State of Israel
The Maharal explains that it is possible to know how the redemption will be by looking at it’s opposite, the exile. Exile is characterized by three aspects, exile from our natural place; being scattered; 70 and servitude to another nation. Conversely, explains the Maharal, the signs of redemption are: the return to Israel; the gathering and unification of the nation; and independence . 71
In fact, the gmara 72 and the Rambam 73 simplify the issue even more, "There is no difference between today (literally: this world) and the days of mashiach except that (then) we will not be subject to the nations of the world ". In other words, independence.
The role of independence in the process of redemption is not just a philosophical idea, rather it is also well-based with practical halachic ramifications. The Shulchan Aruch rules: "one who sees the cities of Judea in their destruction must say: ‘your holy cites have become a desert’, 74 and tear his clothes" as a sign of mourning. 75
What is the halachic definition of "destruction" which obligates this tearing of one’s clothes? The g'mara learns from the story of the people who came to Gedalia and tore their clothes on the "destruction" of Mitzpeh, 76 despite the fact that many Jewish residents remained there. 77 From here the achronim learn that "even if Jews live there, they are considered to be in their destruction, because Arabs rule over them". 78 Clearly, independence is seen as the opposite of ,"חורבן" "destruction", and consequently, with today's independent State of Israel, we no longer need to tear our garments. 79
Thus, rules Rav Moshe Feinstein that "even though, through our many sins, we still have yet to be redeemed, one should not tear his clothes when he sees Yerushalayim, because, in Hashem's kindness, it has been gloriously built up, and is not under the rule of non-Jewish nations". 80
Can the end of the churban, independence, occur, before the arrival of the mashiach? This is also answered explicitly by the Maharal:
"And in the future, the messianic kingdom which will be re-established, will be a new kingdom, which will come out of the previous kingdom that preceded it. This is because the holy kingdom of Israel, which has an inherently G-dly level, will grow from within an unholy kingdom ". 81
350 years before the declaration of independence of an irreligious state, the Maharal already writes about the possibility of the appearance of "an unholy kingdom"! How did he know?
His source is apparently the words of the prophet Micha who prophesies: "And you, barn of the flock, fortress of the daughter of Zion, your flock will return to you, and the first kingdom will arrive, the kingdom of the daughter of Yerushalayim". 82 The Malbim, in his commentary on this verse explains that the redemption will come in three stages, symbolized by the transition from a small and smelly "barn" to a majestic "fortress", as follows:
a. In the beginning "daughter of Zion your flock will return to you" - that the exiles will begin to be gathered. Afterwards:
b. "and the first kingdom will arrive" - a small government will be set up, which has a small amount of rule and leadership, just as the Jews had in the early days before they had a king , when they had judges leading them. After that:
c. there will be a "kingdom of the daughter of Yerushalayim" - they will have an eternal kingdom, that of the house of David, the king of mashiach will rule over this permanent kingdom. 83
Interestingly, the Ramban 84 and Radak 85 wrote 700 years ago that the government which will rise will come to be with the permission of the nations of the world. At the time of their writing, the idea that those gentile Jew-haters would be sympathetic towards our needs was definitely understood in a miraculous fashion. Only today, in light of WWI and the subsequent Balfour declaration, and WWII which enabled international support for the UN Partition Plan, we can understand how Hashem facilitated this miracle, as always, through natural means and political processes.
In short, one of the stages of the ge’ula process is that in the advent of the ingathering of the exiles, the gentile nations will permit the founding of a small, secular, democratic Jewish state. Sound familiar? Anyone who isn’t shaken by the fulfillment of these sources either needs his faith checked out, is making a concerted conscious effort to deny reality, or simply hasn’t learned them!

6. Summary
1. The tradition that after the aliyah of 600, 000 Jews to Israel there will not be another exile is not the innovation of Rav Herzog. It is based on an accepted idea in chazal and the rishonim, and was agreed cited by many other modern day rabbanim.
2. The attribution of this tradition to Rav Herzog can be explained in any or all of the following ways:
a. We proved that this was aמרגלא בפומיה , a common saying he repeated often in both public and private conversations.
b. Rav Herzog emphasized that he personally ensures and guarantees this tradition.
c. Together with his clearly rational approach, Rav Herzog emphasized that it is not only possible but even obligatory to arrive at practical conclusions on the basis of our faith on the aforementioned tradition that there won’t be another exile. He did not consider this to be "relying on a miracle" but an undisputed historic fact.
If so, we too should draw practical conclusions from this tradition. Even if, G-d forbid, our leadership is tired, post-Zionist and has an exilic mindset, and even if it is possible that there will be retreats here and there in the process of redemption, it is forbidden to despair and there is no room for a crisis of faith. On the contrary, like Rav Herzog in his time, especially in times of difficulty, it is important to repeat, affirm, and stress our faith in the above tradition. To strengthen ourselves and continue building the Land, serving in the army, and, in particular to educate the youth with belief and confidence that our way is correct. Just because we encounter difficulties on the way, doesn’t mean we should throw out the map- especially when the map told us that’s what’s to be expected! We should not be amongst those who deny the redemption. Not only is there no doubt but there is no choice but to declare that there won’t be another exile. Despite the hardships in our times we are seeing the fulfillment of:
"And I will return the exiled of my people Israel, and they will rebuild and settle desolate cities, and they will plant vineyards and drink their wine, plant gardens and eat their fruit. And I will plant them on their Land, and they will not be removed again from the Land that I have given to them, says Hashem your G-d." 86

^ 1 We will discuss later the different versions of the story as recounted by Ya’acov Herzog in an interview on Galei Tzahal from 11/69, quoted at the beginning of his book "Am Levadad Yishkon", Tel Aviv, 5736, pp. 16-17; S. Avidor HaKohen, Yachid B’Doro, Yerushalayim, 5740 (below: Avidor) pp. 162-164; G. Bat Yehuda, "Rav Yitzchak Izaak HaLevi Herzog", The Encyclopedia of Religious Zionism, Jerusalem, 5720, vol. 2, pp. 151-152; S. Maizlesh, "Rabbanut b’Searat HaYamim" [Jerusalem, 5751,] (below:Maizlesh), p.54; Rav Y. Goldman, "Stories of the Rav in the Second World War", Hatzofeh, 1 Tevet 5719, 12/12/58; D. Tidher, "HaRav Yitzchak Herzog", Encyclopedia L’chalutzei Hayishuv Ubonav, Tel Aviv, 5710, p. 1979. The version cited by G. Ben Yehuda, as if Rav Herzog replied that the third Temple will not be destroyed is extremely doubtful, as this will not calm people down as long as the third Temple has yet to be built! [See footnote 54].
^ 2 Psikta Rabbati 15.
^ 3 Otzar Hageonim Sukkah, v. 194.
4Kol Hator, , Jerusalem, 5729, p. 485.
^ 5 See .א' שבט, "על שבט אפרים, האפרתיים, ומשיח בן יוסף", צוהר כז (כסלו, תשס"ז) עמ' 31-42
^ 6 Rav A. Poupko, the son of the Chafetz Chaim, Michtivei HaChafetz Chayim, pp. 28 and 44, cited by Rav Filber, Ayelet HaShachar, 5736 edition, pp. 126 and 150.
^ 7 Iggeret HaNetziv which is cited by R.A. Slotzki, Shivat Zion, Warsaw, 5752, vol.1, pp. 17-18, and vol.2 pp. 5 and 7.
^ 8 Resp.Yeshuat Malko, Yoreh Deah siman 66. The expression there, written more than a century ago, is still rather cautious, "almost certain".
^ 9 Shivat Zion 2, p.3.
^ 10 Torah Temima on Vayikra 19:9, 28.
^ 11 Iggerot HaRe’iyah 3, p.155, and see below, footnote 29.
^ 12 See the next footnote, and so he wrote in the year 5679/1919, in the Kuntres Har Tzvi, appendix to the book Drishat Zion of Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalisher, p.48, cited by Rav S. Weingarten, Al Miftan HaGeuala, Jerusalem, 5741, p.10, in the wake of the Balfour Declaration, "at a time like this when we have merited to see signs of redemption materializing and approaching, and the voice of the dove is heard in our land". And so he wrote similarly in Kerem Tzvi, Terumot, vol. 1, page38, while discussing the obligation of Trumot and Ma’asrot on fruits that the Arabs left behind when they fled in the War of Independence, "we have merited to see that Hashem has remembered His people to save us with the beginning of redemption, and the majority of the western vol.of Israel has been conquered by the Israel Defense Forces…".
^ 13 The last twelve rabbanim signed, together with more than one hundred of the great rabbanim of Israel, on 20 Tevet 5709 a declaration beginning: "we thank Hashem that we merited through His great mercy and kindness to see the first buds of the beginning of redemption, with the establishment of the State of Israel", cited by Rav M. M. Kasher, HaTekufa HaGedolah, Yerushalayim, 5729 pp. 374-378.
^ 14 ibid, p.209.
^ 15 ibid, p.541.
^ 16 In "DatUmedinah BeYisrael", appendix to his book Volk der Religion, and quoted by Rav Grunfeld, "Ba’al HaSridei Eish", The Torah Personality, New York, 5740, p.102.
^ 17 This consideration is mention by Rav Meir Simcha MiDvinsk, Eretz Yisrael Bsifrut HaTeshuvot, vol. 3, p.71, that despite his support for the return to Zion in his time, he is careful not to mention explicit messianic expressions. See at length in the book of G. Shalom, Shabtai Tzvi, who claims that the crisis of that false messiah was the greatest turning point in Jewish history in the modern era, and the main cause for the appearance of the Reform, Enlightenment, secularist, Hassidic and nationalistic movements.
^ 18 Sanhedrin 98a, based upon Y'chezkel 36, 8.
^ 19 Rav Kook and his son Rav Tzvi Yehuda, cited this source on many occasions, see in footnote 29. It seems that the reason they relate especially to the words of R. Abba, and not to the continuation of the g'mara there, is for two reasons:
1. The revival of the fruition of Israel is accepted by the g'mara unanimously, as opposed to the other opinions there which may be contended. "Rabbi Elazar says: even from this, as it says, ‘for before those days, there will be no livelihood for people, nor for animals, and those who come and go have no peace from the enemy...’ (Zechariah 8:10). What is ‘those who come and go have no peace from the enemy’? Rav says: even Talmidei Chachamim... have no peace from the enemy. And Shmuel says: 'until all the prices will be equal'". However, everyone accepts R. Abba’s opinion.
2. In addition, just as the fulfillment of most other signs mentioned are debatable, similarly, the lack of livelihood or peace is subject to many variable interpretations and can be applied to many different generations. On the other hand, when a desert becomes fruitful, it is a decisive and "revealed" sign, and therefore it is understood why R. Abba's revealed end is emphasized.
^ 20 M. Twain, "The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgram’s Progress", vol. 2, pp. 216, 359.
^ 21 Vayikra 26, 32; Dvarim 28, 23;
^ 22 See for example Yeshayahu 62, 5, "כי יבעול בחור בתולה יבעלוך בנייך וכמשוש חתן על כלה ישיש עלייך א-לוהייך" ; Eicha 1, 1, "איכה ישבה בדד העיר רבתי עם הייתה כאלמנה", and my article "ארץ ישראל והמשפחה: המחנכים לתפישה הכללית", עלוני ממרא 104 (ניסן, תשמ"ח), עמ' 107-129
^ 23 Dvarim 8, 9.
^ 24 ibid, 8, 8.
^ 25 See Ramban on Vayikra 26, 32.
^ 26 Some question that the revival of the land of Israel seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, which the chalutzim set out to fulfill the words of the prophets. Yet ironically, most of the chalutzim were not religious, having nationalistic, not religious or biblical motivation. They definitely did not set out to prove the truth of the prophecies of the Tanach. Moreover, as mentioned, many other nations tried but did not succeed. Furthermore, the prophets explicitly state that the rejuvenation of the Land of Israel will not be miraculous but will actually result from our labor: For example, Amos 9, 14: "… and they will build desolate cities and settle them, and plant vineyards… and make gardens, and eat their fruit." Yirmeyahu 31, 4, "… you shall yet plant vineyards in the mountains of the Shomron…". The Vilna Gaon, Kol HaTor, Jerusalem, see note 4, p.535, goes so far as to say that we should go and plant trees in Israel, thus hastening the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies.
^ 27 R. Yoel Moshe Teitelbaum, VaYoel Moshe, "Ma’amar Shalosh Shivuot", ch. 76, and also in the second explanation of the Maharsha on the g'mara in Sanhedrin 98a, according to Shabbat 30b and Rashi there.
^ 28 In addition, see above, footnote 19, that the first sign, the fruition of Israel, is the only sign unanimously accepted by all opinions there.
^ 29 However, some of them did emphasize the revealed end, in particular Rav Kook zt"l, for example: Iggerot HaRe’iya 1, p. 244; ibid, 3, p.155; Orot pp. 83 and.90; Arpelei Tohar , p. 35. These sources clearly disprove the claim of some academics (see Y. Garb, "Messianics, Anti-Semitism and Power in Religious Zionism", Religious Zionism: Edan Temurot - A Collection of Articles in Memory of Zevulan Hammer (ed: Asher Cohen), Yerushalayim, 5764, p.339, footnote 81) who for clearly political purposes, artificially create controversy, by saying that Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook zt"l "changed" his father’s approach, who did not, in their opinion, so definitely stress our period as the beginning of Geula.
As we have said, his son Rav Tzvi Yehuda (and his pupils after him) emphasized this approach, see for example: "Umimena Yivashaya", LeNitivot Yisrael 1, edition Yerushalayim, 5739, p.65; "Michtav al tekufat zmaneinu umahalach teshuvata", ibid, p.107; "Letokef kedushato shel yom atzmauteinu", ibid, p.181; "Birur devarim beta’anat shalosh hashevuot", ibid, vol..2, p.116; "Mizmor yud tet shel medinat yisrael", ibid, p.158; Rav Tzvi Hirsch Kalischer, Shivat Tzion vol.2, p.51; Rav Eliyahu Guttmacher, cited in LeNitivot Yisrael, vol.1, page107, writes that when there will be 130 Jewish families working the Holy Land this will be the "beginning", and Rav Hilel MiShklov in the name of his Rav the Vilna Gaon, Kol HaTor, see footnote 4, pp. 471-472 and 535.
^ 30 See Maharal, Netzach Yisrael, ch. 1.
^ 31 Israel Beareu of Statistics, "Aliyah", 2006.
^ 32 Zechariya 13:8
^ 33 The edition of the Vilna Gaon.
^ 34 We did not bring what chazal say on this verse, that there won’t be another exile, because the pshat of the pasuk in Eicha is referring to the destruction of the first temple. Despite the fact that in the midrashim, chazal apply it to say that after the second destruction there won’t be another exile, it’s possible to claim that chazal can be explained as saying that after the last exile (maybe the fourth?), there is no need to worry about another exile, just as they "twist" the pshat in Eicha. On the other hand, we have brought Rashi’s explanation because he explicitly states that he is referring to the exile of Rome, who destroyed the second Temple.
^ 35 Eicha 4:22
^ 36 Kitvei HaRamban, ed.: R. C. Chavel, Yerushalayim, 5723, p.275.
^ 37 For our purposes, it makes no difference that the Abarbanel say the opposite.
^ 38 This proof is cited by R. H. Schechter, B’Ikvei HaTzon, Yerushalayim, 5757, p.412.
^ 39 Iggeret Teiman, ed.: R.M. Rabinowitz, Yerushalayim, 5741, p.174.
^ 40 Sefer HaGeula, ed.: R. C. Chavel, Yerushalayim, 5723, p.295.
^ 41 Malbim on Daniel 12:13.
^ 42 However this is going to change in the near future. See the demographer Professor S. Dela-Pargola, "A Nazi Victory", Jerusalem Report, 24/07/97, p.14, according to whose calculation, by the year 5790/2030 (!), the majority of the Jews in the world will be in Israel, for the first time since the exile of the ten tribes.
^ 43 Hoshea 2:17
^ 44 See note 4 , p.475.
^ 45 Also in Olat Re’iyah, vol. 1, p.388.
^ 46 The Center for Statistics, Iyar, 5768.
^ 47 Devarim 30:3-5. One of my rabbanim, Rav M. Ch. Sosefsky pointed out that the last pasuk the Rambam cites, Devarim, 30:5, "and Hashem your G-d will bring you to the land that your fathers inherited and you will inherit it and he will do good to you and multiply you more than your ancestors", is the 5708th pasuk in the Torah (5708 was the year of the establishment of the State of Israel)!
^ 48 Hilchot Melachim, 11:1.
^ 49 Interview on Galei Tzahal from 11/69, see above in note 1. Rav Herzog’s meeting with President Roosevelt took place on 29/4/41, Mayzlesh, p.51.
^ 50 Rav Y. Goldman, cited above in footnote 1.
^ 51 Avidor, pp. 162-163.
^ 52 ibid, p.164.
^ 53 ibid, pp. 185-186.
^ 54 ibid, p.186.
^ 55 Melachim Bet 20:6
^ 56 Avidor, p. .178; Mayzlesh, p.60.
^ 57 Rav H. Schechter, B’Ikvei Hatzon, Yerushalayim, 5757, p.215. According to this account, Rav Soleveitchik replied to Rav Herzog that "I also have a tradition that I received from my father: when someone is shooting at you - run away!" However, the accuracy of this story is questionable because Rav A. Rakefet, heard contrarily, firsthand from Rav Yosef Dov Soleveitchik, that his uncle R. Y. Z. Soleveitchik refused to leave Israel to a safer place in chutz laAretz even at a time of siege and war, The Rav, vol. 2, p.115.
^ 58 Interview with Ya’acov Herzog on Galei Tzahal, cited above in footnote 1.
^ 59 Mayzlesh, cited above in footnote 1.
^ 60 Mishlei 24:17
^ 61 Avot 4:19.
^ 62 Ibid, Rashi, Rambam, Rabbeinu Yonah, Rav Ovadyah MeBartenura, Tiferet Yisrael Siman Katan 93, and more.
^ 63 Rav Ya’acov Moshe Charlap, Memaynei Hayeshua, p.227.
^ 64 In addition to having a PhD in Literature from London University, Rav Herzog specialized in a wide range of subjects: archeology, chemistry, marine-biology, philology, classic and Semitic languages, law, social sciences and philosophy. See Mayzlesh, p.17.
65 Pesachim 64b.
^ 66 See the last footnote at the end of the article.
^ 67 See Gittin 56b.
^ 68 Yeshayahu 66:8-9.
^ 69 Psikta Rabbati 15.
^ 70 The difference between the first two aspects can be seen in the aftermath of the destruction of the first Temple, where we were exiled from Israel yet we went together to Babylon, without being scattered.
^ 71 Maharal, Netzach Yisrael, ch.1.
^ 72 Shabbat 151b.
^ 73 Hil. Tshuva 9, 2.
^ 74 Y'shayahu 64, 9.
^ 75 Shulchan Aruch, O. Ch. 561, 1. The reason for this unique mourning specifically regarding the cities of Judea is because as the national capitol, her fall is especially significant. This point is directly connected with our topic, proving that the fall and rise of our national independence are a central expression of whether we are in galut or ge'ula. See footnote 78.
^ 76 Yirmeyahu 41, 5.
^ 77 Moed Katan 26a.
78O. Ch. 561 in Beit Yosef, Bach, Magen Avraham, Taz and Mishna Brurah. See the Bach and Eliya Raba, why destruction depends on a lack of sovereignty.
^ 79 Unfortunately, the advent of post-Zionism has brought new phenomenon, where Israeli political leaders initiate a voluntary exile, handing over Bethlehem and part of Chevron to the terrorist Palestinian Authority. There is a difference of opinion regarding whether one must once again rend his clothes upon seeing these areas. Rav Mordecai Eliahu, Kol Tzofayich, P. VaYigash 5763 maintains that one must wrend his clothing in those specific areas for they are no longer under Israeli rule, and so I heard in the name of R. Dov Le'or, as well. On the other hand, I have heard in the name of R. Ovadia Yosef that since the Israeli army enters, raids, and arrests in those areas as they wish, it is still considered under Israeli rule and consequently, there is no need for kriya.
^ 80 Resp. Igrot Moshe, O. Ch. vol. iv, 70, 11.
^ 81 G'vurot Hashem, ch. 18.
^ 82 Micha 4, 5.
83The Malbim adds that similar prophecies are found elsewhere, as well, see Y'chezkel 44, 23-24; 36, 24-25; Amos 9, 11. That the kingdom of the house of David will be revealed gradually, and that at the beginning it will only be a small state, which will progressively develop until it will be the kingdom of Hashem.
^ 84 Commentary attributed to the Ramban on Shir HaShirim, 8, 12.
^ 85 Radak, Tehilim 146, 3.
^ 86 Amos, 9:15-16.
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