Monday, May 30, 2011

Was this the Gra's ketz, according to Rav Moshe Aharon Stern?

As I discussed about a week ago, the day before Lag BaOmer was a predicted date for moshiach's arrival. Thus:
According to the Gra, the Vilna Gaon, one of the ways he taught (or rather wrote down, it wasn’t really to be shared) to calculate the ketz on it being “before it’s time in it’s time” gives an “early” date of the 17th of Iyar, 5771 and a “late” date of Rosh Chodesh Av, 5771.
So, we still have another date for the mashiach's arrival, Rosh Chodesh Av, 5771, which is August 1, 2011. So they have a little wiggle room until then; at which point, they will simply point to some random event which will occur on that day (as it surely will, since events occur every day) and declare it a stepping stone towards mashiach's eventual arrival.

Talk of a Gra / mashiach date that was not to be shared sounds rather similar to the following Gra ketz. To cite Thoughts on the Daf, on the gemara in Sanhedrin about predicting the ketz:
Rav Moshe Aharon Stern, zatzal
(It is interesting to note that the VILNA GA'ON, in his commentary to Safra d'Tzeni'usa, presents veiled hints to the year of the coming of Mashi'ach. RAV MOSHE AHARON STERN zt'l related that this tradition was passed down to the Vilna Ga'on's student, Rav Chaim of Volozhen, who passed it to Rav Zundel Salant, who passed it to his student Rav Yisrael Salanter, who passed it to Rav Naftali Amsterdam, who moved to Yerushalayim towards the end of his life. At one point, Rav Naftali accidentally revealed the date and immediately made those around him to promise never to reveal the date to anyone else. Rav Moshe Aharon Stern knew one person who heard the date from Rav Naftali, and once he and his friends pleaded with him to reveal the date. After much pleading, the man finally said, "I will not tell you the date. But I will tell you that these children that you see over there -- they will merit to be soldiers in the army of Mashi'ach!" Those children were forty years old at the time that Rav Moshe Aharon related this incident, which was approximately fifteen years ago.)
To clarify the above a bit, Rav Naftali Amsterdam accidentally revealed the date. Someone who heard said this bit about children in soldiers in the army of mashiach, referring to children who were actually children at the time. When Rav Moshe Aharon Stern repeated this, it was much, much later, when the children were 40 years old. Thoughts on the Daf says that this happened approximately 15 years ago, which would make the children 55 years old. When did Thoughts on the Daf write this? At the top of the page, it states:

SANHEDRIN 96-100 - Two weeks of study material have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham Fawer to honor the third Yahrzeit of her father, Reb Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner), who passed away 18 Teves 5760. May the merit of supporting and advancing Talmud study serve as an Iluy for his Neshamah

A third yartzheit means that this was in 5763. Now it is 5771. Thus, eight years ago. 55 + 8 = 63. Will mashiach's army be populated by the elderly? Perhaps. The average retirement age in the Israeli military is 46. Or perhaps (and indeed, I would guess so), that particular revealed ketz of the Gra was for much earlier, when the children were at age 20.

What does all this mean? I would say that it means that we should not put too much stock in messianic predictions coming from the talmidim of the Gra. We have this dubious one; we have the one about the rebuilding of the Hurvah synagogue which did not come to fruition. Indeed, way back in 1840, the talmidim of the Gra thought mashiach was going to come. When he did not arrive, a good many converted to Christianity, because of Christian missionaries who figured it would not come about and set themselves up to pick off souls. Indeed, the head of the Jewish community, a pious rav, became a Christian missionary himself.

Mashiach did not arrive on the day before Lag BaOmer. And my guess is that he will not arrive specifically on Rosh Chodesh Av of this year. I mean, I hope for mashiach tomorrow. But just because there is a purported oral tradition from the talmidei haGra, and from the Gra, does not mean much. There are just so many miscalculations of the ketz, even direct from the Gra, already.


S. said...

If you read Arieh Morgenstern's Hastening the Redemption he makes a pretty convincing case that the Gra's talmidim in EY thought 1840 was it. Although it's neat that this mesorah sidesteps them and goes through R. Zundel of Salant, he was already in EY in 1838. Why didn't he tell everyone else that they were wrong?

Garnel Ironheart said...

Well at least we're not putting the expected date on billboards across North America like that Chrisian preacher guy did.

shloime said...

moshiach's wars are not won with physical strength or weapons, but rather with torah ,tfila, ahavas isroel,etc,etc. therefore moshiach's army is made from good jews

joshwaxman said...

a nice teretz, but ultimately, it is a teretz.

certainly Rabbi Akiva and the Rambam maintained that the wars of mashiach are physical wars. thus, it is far from a settled matter that the wars of mashiach are only waged on the spiritual plane.

and if on the spiritual plane, then why not say that even the older Jews, and not just the children, will be soldiers in the army of mashiach? i suppose one could say that that meant that it would not be in their own lifetimes, but in the lifetime of those children. though that would require that the wars of mashiach only occur in a specific defined time. why? does not every good deed add a brick to the Beis Hamikdash?

in other words, a *possible* interpretation of his words, but i don't buy it as *plausible*. rather, i would deem it yet another rationalization, in a field already filled with countless rationalizations.

kol tuv,

shloime said...

you learn the pshat in the rambam that has to be only physical wars. you are rationalizing, right? or we can say that you are giving a tirutz(maybe a nice one) but still a tirutz.
and if gedolim made a statement , we need to understand according to their statement whats going on. if we want to go against their words, isnt that finding a tirutz and rationalizing just because we dont agree with them . most of us we justify, rationalize, and give tirutzim. even "according" to the torah and chachomim.
by the way whats the difference between possible and plausible?

Jr said...

Very relevant to this post is a passage from toldos eliyahu by Rav Aryei Lev Frumkin. He writes that once Rav Avrohom Simcha miamstislav wanted to tell his father the redemption year acc. to the gra. However his father wasn't interested and said:
והקץ לדעת הגר״א ז״ל אפונה מאד אם גם הוא כיוון לאמיתו כאשר גדולים ממנו והם ר״ע וחבריו מנו וטעו

joshwaxman said...

i learn pshat in the rambam that it refers to physical wars because that is the clear peshat. it is only certain meshichist Lubavitchers who take that Rambam entirely out of context and kvetch it. have you learned the Rambam inside?

"and if gedolim made a statement , we need to understand according to their statement whats going on."

which gadol made a statement? do you mean the purported statement of the Gra? if he did make it, then it does NOT do him favors to reinterpret his statement into something he never meant, just to make it work. כי השוחד יעוור עיני חכמים ויסלף דברי צדיקים. don't distort the words of the tzadikim. they are allowed to get things wrong. no one said the Gra was infallible. see this post, where Rashi is free to say that people were wrong in their ketz predictions.

if we want to go against their words, isnt that finding a tirutz and rationalizing just because we dont agree with them
no. it is understanding their words as they were intended. and not because 'we don't agree with them', but because they do not accord with the reality around us. to call this a 'teretz' and 'rationalizing' is krum, and a complete reversal of the natural order and the very meaning of the words. in my humble opinion, of course. :)

by the way whats the difference between possible and plausible?
many things are remotely possible. it *might* be likely, or *might* be exceedingly unlikely. but one could construct a scenario in which it *could* occur. if that possibility is plausible, then it is likely; or, it makes good sense that it may be true; or, it is a convincing explanation to someone not grasping frantically at straws for any sort of explanation that will prove X right.

for example, saying that Mashiach will build the beis hamikdash bimkomo. rambam means that he will build the Beis HaMikdash in its place, meaning where it used to stand. someone who wants to prove the Rebbe to have been mashiach, based on the criteria of the Rambam, would say that bimkomo means in HIS place, and that this is a reference to 770. can it be read into the words? sure. one can kvetch a good many things. is it a convincing, plausible, likely explanation of the Rambam? not in a million years!

kol tuv,

Devorah said...

[quote]why? does not every good deed add a brick to the Beis Hamikdash?

First time I've read Josh teaching chassidus.
Moshiach is very close.

Dov Bar-Leib said...

It is worth noting that Rav Moshe Aharon Stern's Jahrzeit is the 2nd of Av 5757. What I have to say about him is downright amazing. For the last four years of his life between 1993 and 1996 I had the privelege of spending two days out of every year in my car with this truly holy man. He would come to St. Louis, MO as the Mashgiach Ruchni of Kaminetz Yeshivah to raise funds, and I had the privelege of taking him around the St. Louis area for two inspiring days every year. He would usually show up during the 9 days of Av, and when he did not show up in 1997 because of his death, I really felt lost. If I had not met my future wife about three weeks later, it would have been a horrible month of Av that year. Rav Stern and I were usually engaged in discussions relating to the task at hand, rasising money for his yeshivah. Anyone who has ever driven Rabbis around the cities in the Diaspora can tell you that it is actually hard work to plan a route, to know in advance when people may be at home or at their office, and to not burn out an address with too many Rabbis every month. Yet, like most Rabbis that I took around, he had check copies from previous years for the previous three or four years. So we always had to go to those addresses too. So most of our work was not fun and games. But there were breaks. When I would drive from University City to downtown St. Louis or from Univ. City to Chesterfield. And we would talk about many things. including my favorite topic, the End of Days. Yes, even back then in the mid 1990s, I already had developed my Cosmic Clock which I have frequently written about on my blog since 2005. I told him about the build up to 1918 (5678) as being the Year of the 17th of Tamuz and why every year since has been like a day on the Jewish calendar starting with 5678. 5691 was RoshChodesh Av. 5699 was Tisha B'Av. 5705 was Tu B'Av. 5720 and 5721 were Rosh Chodesh Elul. 5750 and 5751 were Rosh HaShana. And the 1990s were the ten Years of Teshuvah, the Years of Awe. Then I confided in him that I was not sure if The years of Elul had 29 or 30 years, and that we will not know which is the case until the future events of 5759 or 5760 would show which of those years was Yom Kippur. Then I told him that extrapolating forward Sukkot would begin in either 5764 or 5765 and that Hoshana Rabba would be 5770 or 5771. All of a sudden he broke out in a big smile before I could even get to the Year of Shmini Atzereth. I asked the Rav, "Why are you smiling?" He looked at me for a few moments while smiling, and then he changed the subject to the task at hand. "Who are we going to see in Chesterfield first?," he asked. I never knew why he was smiling that day until today when I read your blog. Now I really know what a privilege it was to drive around this incredible Gadol, Rav Moshe Aharon Stern, ztl.

Israel Rising said...

Please read my post:

to understand the GR"As Churva prediction.

joshwaxman said...

Israel Rising:

thanks. indeed, i read that post, and referred to it in my past post on the subject. it is a nice post, though i don't find it convincing. had people been propounding this as the obvious meaning of the Gra's prediction in the months beforehand, it would have been one thing. but after the fact, sure, the human mind works to rationalize. it is a rationalizing organ, and can come up with all sorts of creative reinterpretations to make it work.

kol tuv,

joshwaxman said...

how do you now interpret his smile?


Anonymous said...

Rav Mishkelov = Rabbi Ofbrooklyn.

Dov Bar-Leib said...

I believe now that he knew a great secret, and that he had probably taken a vow never to reveal it. So when I mentioned 5771 as being the year of Hoshana Rabba, the most that he could do was smile.

Does that mean that 17th Iyar was the keitz for the coming of Mashiach? Obviously not. But given the events of Lag B'Omer weekend and the related speeches and yes, judgements, in the form of the fourth major system of killer tornadoes since Shabbat HaGadol, something happened on the Shabbat before Lag B'Omer and on Lag B'Omer itself whose final results we may not see until next Purim. Yes, I do verily believe that the process of the revealing of Mashiach ben Yosef has begun, and it began on the weekend of the 17th and 18th of Iyar, just as you mentioned above. And this time unlike the Year of Sukkot 5765, it will happen irregardless of our bad behaviour. Yes, many will be forced to do teshuvah for a lack of human decency out of sheer terror, but by next Purim all will realize that G-d means business. So let us all work on the idea that G-d gave us all Laws of human decency before He gave Israel His Torah. By the way, Rav Moshe Aharon Stern, ztl believed this precise thing. I know of another story about his father that testifies to that.

Ben said...

Dov, please tell us your next story about HaRav Moshe Aaron, who I also had the very big zechus to know.

By the way, I think the Chofetz Chaim told Mr. Herman (see the story in the sefer All for the Boss) that although Mr. Herman would not be around for Moshiach's coming, he would see the generation who would be. (I don't remember the exact quote)

Mr. Herman was HaRav Moshe Aaron's grandfather; he found for HaRav Moshe Aaron his shidduch, and he passed away after the 1967 war, in Jerusalem.

akapla1 said...

I seriously question anyone quoting a calculation in the GR"A's name when the GR"A himself wrote (Paraphrased and thanks to R' Pinchas Winston, shlita):

The Vilna Gaon (18th century Lithuania), whose commentary offers a formula for calculating the end, entreats those who understand the formula not to reveal it to others:
"...And from here [what I have just written] you can calculate the time of the Final Redemption if, God forbid, we do not merit [to bring it earlier]. However, I have imposed an oath, in the name of the God of Israel, on the reader of this that he should not reveal it." (Biur HaGra, Safra D'Tzniusa, Chapter

zach said...

Step 1: believe in the keitz prediction of some rebbe, or similarly interpret a cryptic saying (or even gesture such as a smile!) Step 2: rationalize/spiritualize the failure of said prediction to come to pass. Step 3: go back to Step 1.

All this goes to show is how many yidden are really no different in their cognitive processes than the gullible followers of Harold Camping.

Dov Bar-Leib said...

Zach: The problem with what you just said is that I wrote my most recent blogpost on Mystical Paths and at five days before R. Josh Waxman's post on this blog. So you got step one and two reversed. I was not even thinking about Rav Stern's smile until I saw this post six days after I had already posted my post. The smile on Rav Stern's face has nothing to do with my original post.

Secondly unlike Camping, I am not predicting with any sense of definity when ben David will show up. Thirdly Camping thinks that there will be a rapture which has nothing to do with what we believe. When I saw Rav Stern smile, I had no idea that he knew what he knew about the Gaon's keitz.

Dov Bar-Leib said...

Secondly, to Ben: I must speak to someone in St. Louis first who heard the whole story from Rav Stern when the Rav was in his house when I was learning in my car. Drivers do not normally accompany Rabbaim and Meshulachim into the homes of people where the Rav or Meshulach is collecting funds. Therefore, I heard the story from the Ba'al Habayit who heard it firsthand later that evening.


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