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Israel, Gentiles, & Gog U'Magog

Rav Zalman Baruch Melamed explains the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the era of Mashiach and Gog U'Magog.

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Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

Adar I 16 5782
Translated by Hillel Fendel

The relations between Israel and the gentiles are complex and complicated. This has been the case ever since the Jewish Nation ascended the stage of history, and up until today, throughout the generations. The nations relate to Israel in a very "interesting" manner. On the one hand, they admire us, but on the other, they are very mocking and scornful of us. They have compassion on us, but they also hate us.

They know that Am Yisrael is a unique nation with a great history, and for this they hold us in great esteem. But sometimes it is precisely our special, very blatant virtues that arouse among the nations estrangement and opposition. They feel threatened by us – not economically or militarily, but spiritually. True, Jewish successes stand out in many practical areas, but that is not the primary factor in the gentiles' hostility towards us; they have plenty of success themselves in these areas, and need not feel jealous of us. They have wisdom, they have wealth, and they have might. These are not the areas in which the differences between us and them are noticeable.

That which renders us absolutely different from the other nations is our Torah, our faith. The Torah distinguishes us essentially and absolutely from the rest of the world. Our belief in G-d, the Master of the Universe, its Creator and Leader, the absolute Oneness, sets Israel apart from everyone else. Yes, the entire world is in search of the True G-d, the G-d of Israel, but it does not manage to attain the great heights of faith that mark the Faith of Israel, which is uplifted above all physicality. Many nations accepted Israel's faith in G-d, the belief in One G-d – but not completely, not in purity.

These are the differences that have caused the complex and entangled relationship between Israel and the nations. Our Sages said it straight out (in the Midrash Sh'mot Rabba 2,4): "Why is the mountain on which we received the Torah called Mt. Sinai? Because from there hatred (sin'ah) of Israel descended to the nations of the world." That is, ever since Israel received the Torah, an abyss has been opened between Israel and the others; this is the source of all the tension, the root of both the admiration and the hostility.

In our recent generations, with the hour of true clarification and elucidation of the faith approaching, with the People of Israel beginning to return to its land, and with the return of Israel to the Land of Israel and Jerusalem heralding the victory of Jewish faith – it is now, during this period, that the complexity of the relations between Israel and the gentiles reaches its climax. On the one hand, they admire us and offer help, but on the other hand, they block us and deter us, because of their subconscious desire to prevent Israel from its complete return to the Holy Land and the Holy City.

Our Sages foresaw this situation long ago when they said (Tr. Avodah Zarah 3b): "In the future times [i.e., at the beginning of Israel's Redemption], many gentiles will come to convert to Judaism. But will we then accept them? After all, we learned that converts are not accepted in Messianic times [because it will not be sincere and true conversion; they are coming only because Israel is prospering]?" The Gemara answers that they are "semi-converts," and they will begin fulfilling Torah commandments as if they are Jews, including tefillin, tzitzit, mezuzah, etc.

But aside from these converts, Israel's successes bring upon the nation increased opposition from the nations, to the point that they wish to impede and block them, and of course, fight against them. When this happens, and the recent converts see that Israel is under international attack, they will immediately desert, abandoning the Torah and mitzvot they took upon themselves. G-d is then depicted as sitting and laughing, because they don't know what is about to happen: that the massive armies of Gog [and Magog] are about to be soundly defeated, proving conclusively and finally that the G-d of Israel is the G-d, and that "there is none other beside Him" (D'varim 4,35).

The Sages foresaw this. With their profound psychological insights, and with their recognition of the real source of the relations between Israel and the others, they knew to say that in future times, the gentiles will first extend aid to us and help us, but when we start getting stronger, they will change their stripes and will start interfering with our progress. This will be the result of a longing for Hashem, the G-d of Israel, on the one hand, and at the same time, a difficulty with accepting him.

Yes, most certainly, "He Who sits in the Heavens will laugh" (Tehillim 2,4), because the hour is approaching of the Divine appearance and revelation, and the great clarification, that the G-d of Israel is the True G-d.

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