The last 10 years has found the Jewish world awash in messianic hints and hypes. This week’s is a Midrash that involves Haifa and fire, which ties back to the terrible fire near Haifa in Israel over the last few days.
Our friend Rabbi Brody brings this to note a fire near Haifa will occur before Moshiach (also shown at Dreaming of Moshiach). Friendly blogger Josh at Parshablog notes that in context the quote is about the enemies of Hashem being burned out from non-Jewish towns planted next to Jewish ones in Israel (and therefore invalidates the premise that the fire in Haifa, which killed Jews, has anything to do with this Midrash.)
And Shirat Devorah notes this back and forth and says, “I wish people would stop playing games with predictions. It's very damaging to all of us.”
We used to spend quite a bit of time in the past on such predictions here at Mystical Paths, and Shirat Devorah’s response is EXACTLY why we stopped.
The question and points come down to this:
1. We have plentiful hints that the Geulah is close. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe and many other gedolim have pointed out, many world events over the last 20 years have aligned closely with statements of the navi’im (biblical prophets). But “close” and “the generation of the Geulah” has been over 20 years already. A process that may have started with World War I or World War II or the creation of the State of Israel or with the generation of the Rebbe may continue until when? AD MOSAI???
2. Do we really think that Hashem is going to share His hints of the geulah by finding obscure passages in non-literal seforim (holy books) that require a bit of fast reading to get them to line up with events? We have explicit holy navi’im (the Tanach, the biblical prophecies) who’s predictions for the future were specifically saved for us to tell us when the end of days has arrived. When you see those events happening or the apparent preparation for them, THEN you can FREAK OUT. [ And yes, some of them do seem to be in range – mostly around the (re)division of Jerusalem. ]
3. We are required to try and do and maybe be a little better EVERY SINGLE DAY. Do Torah and mitzvot, help others, make the world a dwelling place for Hashem and a better place for all of us EVERY DAY. We don’t start doing it because maybe Moshiach’s coming tomorrow, we start RIGHT NOW!
4. The world is changing. For the good or (apparently) bad, we don’t know. But this is a sea change generation with world chaos, reduced US power, economic turmoil, Chinese economic and political surging, Islamic religious surging, Islamic terrorism shaking the foundations of world civilization. Are these signs of Moshiach, a “time of trouble of Yaakov”, or just changing times with opportunities and risks and a yet unclear future, WE JUST DON’T KNOW.
Personally I think we are close and the macro signs are lining up with the biblical prophecies. But hyping every minor pasuk as an imminent sign of the geulah is neither healthy nor warranted.