The following ideas are gleaned almost exclusively from a shiur that Rabbi Mendel Kessin gave on motzei Shabbat, December 23rd, 2017 in Lakewood New Jersey. In addition, there are a few ideas taken from his previous shiurim. I have tried to assemble his ideas and present them in a style that is both natural to me and allows me to express the power and importance that I ascribe to them. I have also incorporated some of the language as articulated by him.
The dramatic events of recent weeks, occurring in rapid succession — namely Trump’s brazen stance on behalf of Jerusalem and the U.N.’s consequential reaction to it, the commutation of Rubashkin’s imprisonment, the passing of the tax reform bill, and the reforms in Saudi Arabia — are all the more exciting if regarded as steps of a messianic process.
Trump’s action of declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was immediately denounced as “counterproductive.” Strident voices warned of risks to the peace process while cries of uprising resounded in the Muslim world. Trump’s action was reckoned as a possible cause for a crusade to wrest Jerusalem from the Jews, not unlike medieval Christendom’s crusades to wrest Jerusalem from the Muslims. Almost immediately, the U.N. demanded that Trump rescind his declaration.
Trump warned he would de-fund those who enjoy America’s largesse while spurning its values. Trump’s release of Rubashkin came suddenly on the eighth day of Chanukah. The ensuing raucous, global celebration is not unlike Yosef finding himself just hours after his release standing before the imperial man-god of Egypt. Auspiciously, on the same day as Rubashkin’s release, the long-awaited tax reform bill was approved, heralding for its proponents a prosperous future. Lastly, Saudi Arabia’s radical shift toward liberalism and modernity, its abandonment of Wahhabi extremism suggests that, this too, is messianic.
We know, according to the Ramban, that events of the Patriarchs are the template for their descendants. The hidden story of Ya’akov and Esau reveals the prophetic features of recent events. The epic struggle begun in Rivkah’s womb is, in actuality, the future unfolding of the messianic era.
The following is a synopsis of Rabbi Mendel Kessin’s shiur.
1- Background: Whereas the patriarchal task of Ya’akov was to bring down kedusha, dwelling in tents of Torah, Esau, who was no less a patriarch, had a different task. His was to subdue and destroy evil in the bloody, debauched fields of the world. Esau’s neshama as “shoresh” — root soul — was meant to destroy the root of evil, the Satan, ending evil’s existence. Unfortunately, Esau succumbed to the Satan’s wiles and, instead of fighting him, fed him. Having failed, the task of rectifying creation, which is referred to as the “tikun” process, continues instead with Ya’akov and his descendents’ observance of mitzvot, doing t’shuva, or enduring suffering. All three of these terms are tikun devices. But even Esau’s failure to be part of the tikun process and resultant loss of the blessing is destined for a reclamation and reversal.
2- The Prophecy: This state of affairs of Esau’s possible failure of his task was preceded by a prophecy given to our matriarch Rivkah, that the elder of the twin brothers, i.e. Esau, agitating within her would “serve” the younger. But the wording of “serve” in the Torah text can be read either as “ya’avod” he shall serve or “va’aved” he shall oppress, due to the absence of pronunciation markings — nekudot in the Torah text. Therefore two potential meanings emerge. Thus Esau must be involved in the tikun or rectification process by either assisting Ya’akov directly in his observance of the mitzvot, or being the cause of his suffering, which is also a tikun method.
What emerges from this is that Esau will serve Ya’akov if he serves G-d’s Will, or Esau will persecute and oppress him if he sins. Such has been the relationship between B’nei Yisroel (the nation of Ya’akov) and Edom (the nation of Esau) since the inception of the Roman subjugation which ultimately morphed into Christianity and its subsequent inquisitions and expulsions, and again morphing into Western Civilization and its subsequent pogroms, blood libels, crusades, and exterminations i.e. Holocaust.
Esau has indeed fostered judgment and suffering upon the Jews for their myriad transgressions. However, this hostile and antagonistic relationship is destined for a reversal of his original task of serving Ya’akov. The elder will indeed eventually serve the younger, and will rejoin Yisroel in the final phase of the Jewish national task — tikun, and thereby receive merit and reward.
3- The Struggle: “A man fought with Ya’akov all night,” scripture says. The man is Esau’s guardian angel, Satan. Why all night? Four thousand years of crushing exile is indeed a long night. When morning dawns, and the messianic era commences, the angel demands to be released. Ya’akov refuses unless and until the angel blesses him. The angel’s blessing admits that Ya’akov has prevailed over him. As victor, Ya’akov is now the legitimate appointee of G-d. He has earned the name “Yisroel.” Esau also concurs by saying, “Let that which is yours, be yours.” It is of critical importance to note that Esau’s complaint against Ya’akov for stealing the blessings and the birthright is withdrawn.
So who are these fractured manifestations of Esau today? Edom’s three-fold nature, like that of its progenitor who is Esau, is arrogance, fraudulence, and hedonism. Who are Edom’s practitioners of recent times? They are: The Soviet Union, the arrogant Communist state descendant from the ruthless Czars and Russian aristocrats. Europe is the magnificent fraud which gave the world the Enlightenment even as it was brutalizing the Jews, ornamenting its treachery with gold-leafed splendor. Hedonistic America has been comparatively benign, a purveyor and consumer of pleasure and exponent of liberty and justice. America is the “tov she’b’Esau” to be purified by his t’shuva.
4- Vidui / T’shuva: Who will do this? Donald J. Trump is that man, though he is unaware of his Divine mission and certainly wouldn’t believe it if he were told so. What, basically, is a messianic figure but someone who creates a paradigm shift or, in Trump’s phraseology, “drains the swamp.” Certainly, Trump is not the messiah of the Jews; but he is the catalyst to “m’taher” — purify — the good part of Esau, which is America. Trump is Esau’s representative in the field, tamping down America’s evil, helping Israel, and, at long last, returning to the original task which he was born to accomplish, namely, tikun rectification.
The declaration that Jerusalem, the holy city of G-d, is Israel’s capital is Edom’s admission that Israel is, undeniably, G-d’s appointee, and Judaism is its spiritual root. And if Jerusalem is the Jewish capital, then what else is Israel but the Jewish homeland? “Let that which is yours, be yours” declares Esau. Consider too that shortly after his inauguration, Trump visited the Kotel, being the only U.S. president to do so. Recall that popular image of him in meditation, testifying to the supremacy of the G-d of Abraham in view of the entire world, an act of t’shuva on behalf of Esau. As an addendum to this, there are two more acts of t’shuva: First, Trump gave a Chanukah party at the White House. What is Esau/Edom doing praising Jews for their Chanukah? It is a form of vidui — confession — that the spiritual nexus of the Jews is the Beit ha’Mikdash for what else is the essential event of Chanukah but the rededication of the Beit Ha’Mikdash? Next, Edom/Trump, by commuting Rubashkin’s sentence, symbolically expresses regret and remorse for the continuing treachery toward the Jews who, though not unstained by sin, were, like Rubashkin, certainly ravaged and brutalized beyond their due. And the accompanying ecstasy, the dancing in the streets of the world by throngs of Jews implies that Rubashkin’s liberation was intuitively felt like the liberation of all Klal Yisroel. Furthermore, we should regard his liberation to be a subtle harbinger of the way Moshiach ben Yosef will appear, suddenly and with tumultuous fanfare.
5- Satan’s Demise: With Trump’s ongoing fortification of America and its might enlisted on behalf of Israel, that prosecutorial angel, namely the Satan, already weakened from millennia of our mitzvot, t’shuva and suffering, is nearly vanquished. His desperation is demonstrated by the opposition to Trump which is unprecedented and extraordinary.
6- Gog u’Magog: It is critical to understand that the U.N. is the present-day Gog u’Magog that is prophesied by Ezekial, chapter 38. The numerical value of Gog u’Magog is “70,” which is the total number of roots of the nations of the world. It is Edom’s /America’s repentance and its mission to defend the Jewish nation against its enemies. We see now that the continual attacks on Israel are being blocked by Trump. We now have a formidable advocate powerful enough to temper their vicious and outrageous claims.
7- T’hara Purification of Ishmael: In the last days, Ishmael, like Esau, has a t’hara. Yalkut Shemoni 499 of Yeshayahu prophesies that shortly before Moshiach ben David appears, Poras (Persia, present-day Iran) wars with Arav (Arabia, present-day Saudi Arabia) and Arav seeks counsel with Edom (America). The Saudis/Sunnis and their allies (Ishmaelites) have woken up to the fact that unless it allies itself with America and Israel, they’re defenseless against Iran and its allies. Furthermore, with the advent of electric and hydrogen-powered cars, they anticipate the price of oil declining. So, having dismissed the radical Wahhabi clerics, replacing them with religious advisors amenable to Christianity and Judaism, and collaborating with Trump and Israel, Salman has aligned himself anew. The Palestinian Authority is becoming “neutered ” and rendered irrelevant. Deals disadvantageous to Israel are fading and there is a chance for Israel’s stunted growth to regenerate.
8- The Downfall of the “Erev Rav”: This term refers to those forces that seek to destroy the authority of the Torah which is the unique bond between G-d and the Jews. It would seem that the current manifestation of the Erev Rav is the media, the Supreme Court, the Knesset , the military establishment, and those prominent Jews who seek to sever or weaken the bond between the Jews and the Torah. They will fall as suddenly as Haman, and as surprisingly as Trump’s popular movement took hold. This is the classic “ve’nehapech hu” a term that refers to the sudden overthrow of Haman, that which seems to come out of nowhere. Another indication of the Erev Rav’s waning influence was the absence of Reform Movement representatives at Trump’s Chanukah party.
9- Preparation for Moshiach: The Jews require preparation for Moshiach’s arrival. As happened at Sinai, the exposure to the Messianic light is overwhelming and potentially lethal. After the Erev Rav are deposed, an interim and transitional leader can, with “besiyata dishmaya” — heavenly assistance, reform the government and raise Klal Yisroel’s spirituality and Torah scholarship. This can be brought about by restoring a true Torah curriculum in the elementary and high schools in Israel and by funding kiruv organizations. It must not be supposed that anyone will be forced or coerced toward this goal. However , a Jew’s neshama is always susceptible to Torah because of the Divine spark that exists within him.
Anyone seeking further clarification and explanation of current events and the messianic process should go to Rabbi Kessin’s website, Torahthinking.com for the complete “21st Century” series of video lectures. You will also find 300 shiurim which deal extensively with the hashkofa of Ramchal, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto.
His videos can also be found at https://www.torahanytime.com.
You’ll also find his video lectures on YouTube. Simply type in “Rabbi Kessin.”
Rabbi Mendel is also a teacher of the methodology of learning Torah which promises to significantly improve a person’s ability to learn Torah.
By: Robin Diamond
Robin Diamond, originally from Brooklyn, NY, taught Language Arts in an L.A. high school for 24 years. She and her husband Yonathan made aliyah to Israel in 2011 and live, very happily, in Ma’ale Adumim.
Rabbi Mendel Kessin received his first smicha from the late great Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and went on to receive several more from Israeli rabbis. R’Kessin is also a graduate of Fordham University, where he received his professional degree in psychology. In 1987, R’Kessin helped found the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. R’Kessin, an expert on the writings of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (RAMCHAL), lectures extensively and internationally on the Torah of R’Luzzatto. He also lectures on the Torah learning methodology of the RAMCHAL. Lately, he has given a series of lectures on President Trump and the messianic process. These lectures have been heard by tens of thousands of people on the internet.