"The Cohen shall cause then to go up in smoke on the Altar, a fire-offering to HaShem; it is a guilt offering" -- Vayikra,7:5).
But as we read later:
“Of what use are your many sacrifices to Me? says the HaShem. I am sated with the burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle, and the blood of bulls and sheep and he-goats I do not want… Learn to do good, seek justice, strengthen the robbed, perform justice for the orphan, plead the case of the widow.” This is from Isaiah 1:11, 17.
This week we begin the Omer Count once again, today is day one as I write these words. What insights are we supposed to receive from the counting of the Omer? What message are we supposed to draw from the sacrificial offerings which, because of our collective sins, have been discontinued? These lessons are one and the same: We need Emunah or active faith and Kavanah or proper intention if we want HaShem to receive our prayers and offerings. Emunah that HaShem will accept our offerings and the Kavanah to bring them before Him properly. On Shavuot, we trust that HaShem will once again reveal His Torah to us. But, what's makes us so sure He will? I mean, the Torah requires holiness. Let's face it, the world, including us Jews, are falling farther and farther away from that ideal! What if this year HaShem decides not to reveal His Torah? Do you doubt this could happen? Open your eyes beyond time and space, there is nothing HaShem can not do! Of course, He has promised to keep our Tribe alive despite ourselves, and without His Torah what are we? Merely the most hated minority on earth. Fear not, I'm sure He will restore the Torah to us once again but we are in no way worthy that He should! Consider these words of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov:
Great atheism is coming to the world as a test from on high. The world's many sins are causing a terrible lack of emunah. Happy is the person who stays firm in his emunah during these times.
The fact that I am predicting this will not prevent the increase of Godlessness and confusion. Long ago Daniel and others made it known that this would happen in the days before the Mashiach. "Many will purify themselves and be refined, and make themselves shining white. But the wicked will do evil. and only the wise shall understand" (Daniel 12:10 ). Knowing that this has already been foreseen, it would seem that it should not be such a great trial for people to remain strong and firm in their emunah. But the truth is that even though the prophets made this known long ago, it will still be a great trial. Many will fall by the way, and that is why it is written: "the wicked will do evil." I am revealing this for the sake of the few pure souls who will remain firm in their faith. They will certainly face great battles even in their own minds. But when they see that this has already been predicted, it will give them greater strength and encouragement, Sichot Haran #35
The days before the arrival of Mashiach ben David will be very dark indeed! Plaques, like COVID-19, Severe storms and tornadoes, like those that devastated part of my town just last night, brutalities on a scale never before witnessed, wars, global governance... and of course, ever-increasing anti-Semitism; and then the War of Magog will mark the days prior to our Final Redemption. What does this have to do with the latest Chinese Virus? Maybe a lot! As of today, the estimated number of people killed by the Wuhan Virus worldwide is 1,870,076 In the US the estimated number is 558,526 and continues to rise with no sure end in sight. This is, by any definition, a plaque of "biblical proportions." Do you want to know why this is happening? Just read Deuteronomy chapter 27. Verse 1 promises “It will be if you obey the Lord, your God, to observe to fulfill all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord, your God, will place you supreme above all the nations of the earth...” But verse 15 warns “If you do not obey the Lord, your God, to observe to fulfill all His commandments and statutes which I am commanding you this day, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” Read Deuteronomy chapter 27! The text then delineates these curses we will receive if we disregard HaShem's instructions. Who can read this chapter and not get the point? We are going in the wrong direction both as Jews and as a planet! Is the Wuhan Plaque G-d's Judgement on our sinful world? Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches us that "There is no despair in the world at all" -- (Likutey Moharan II:78). Rabbi Shalom Arush points out this saying:
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov made a powerful statement, "There is no despair in the world at all!" These are not words of relative truth, allowing for the existence of some low, dark place where despair reigns, so that if a person falls there, God forbid, he never emerges. Rebbe Nachman looked to the very root of creation, from beginning to end, and saw that despair simply does not exist, no matter what. God created His world so that nothing is ever completely lost. Everything can achieve its final tikun.
G-d has historically used plagues to call us to teshuvah, sincere repentance. In this case, He has done the seemingly impossible, He has caused the majority of human beings to stop dead in their tracks! No bars, no shows, no sporting events, no gatherings of any kind. As my friend Carol said recently, "God has sent His children to the rooms to think about what they have done!" We are all powerless and completely vulnerable despite our many pretenses. Will we finally look to HaShem? Is HaShem giving the world a stern warning and undeserved opportunity to change course before it's too late? The evils of the world today are limitless and in many ways far worse than ever before. Mothers are murdering their own children by the millions; 57 million innocent babies in the US alone since 1973! 57 million murdered human beings! Let that number sink in! Hitler didn't even begin to touch such numbers! And these are mothers and doctors murdering children! Fathers have no say about the slaughter of their children! And this is only in one country? Government officials on the political Left and Right are working feverishly to establish the dream of King Nimrod of a One World Order! Every such attempt to build the Babylonian Tower system has been thwarted by G-d to date, and yet so-called leaders from all countries and all political parties are doing their best to create such a system of global enslavement today! Shortly after Hitler failed the United Nations took up the challenge. The names change, Socialism, Nazism, Globalism, Islamism, New World Order, but the goal is the same: global domination and enslavement by a few despots. People frequently comment on Social Media pondering why this current plaque has been released upon us. They point fingers at whoever or whatever they dislike. In our fallen state, we have no clear prophets to speak the Word of G-d to us as we did in biblical times, but surely these plaques come upon us as Divine Warnings and judgments: Make Teshuva Now or prepare to reap the whirlwind our combined sins have kindled! But who is heeding these warnings? One day, perhaps this day, perhaps another, if we continue the way we are going, HaShem will force our collective hand. The War of Magog will commence and most people, including 2/3 of the Jews, will die. Our Sages warn about this at Sanhedrin Folio 97a:
...Thus hath R. Yochanan said: in the generation when the son of $avid [i.e. Messiah] will come, scholars will be few in number, and as for the rest, their eyes will fail through sorrow and grief. Multitudes of trouble and evil decrees will be promulgated anew, each new evil coming with haste before the other has ended.'
Addressing this, at Sanhedrin 97b the sages continue:
... Rab said: All the predestined dates [for redemption] have passed, and the matter [now] depends only on repentance and good deeds... R. Eliezer said: if Israel repent, they will be redeemed; if not, they will not be redeemed. R. Joshua said to him, if they do not repent, will they not be redeemed! [i.e. not so] But the Holy One, blessed be He, will set up a king over them, whose decrees shall be as cruel as Haman's, whereby Israel shall engage in repentance, and he will thus bring them back to the right path.
PERHAPS this plaque is our final warning. PERHAPS not... Yet. But what are we waiting for? Do we think G-d will change His Mind? His moral standards? It is within our power to rectify this world through acts of tikkun olam. Covid-19 has completely annihilated the always false claim that we just don't have the time to study Torah, to pray, to bless others... HaShem has "sent us to rooms!" What are you doing with your precious time of mandatory time off? HaShem is watching and waiting. If we continue to refuse devekut, attachment to the Beloved, and His Way, the result will on our heads! Our excuses have all been shattered.
This day, I call upon the heaven and the earth as witnesses [that I have warned] you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life so that you and your offspring will live; to love the Lord your God, to listen to His voice, and to cleave to Him. For that is your life and the length of your days, to dwell on the land which the Lord swore to your forefathers to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob to give to them – Deuteronomy 30:19,20