End of Days
Resurrection and The Messiah - Rabbi Zamir Cohen
Will Jews from previous generations take part in the era of The Final Redemption? Is the Revival of the Dead possible? How long will the world exist for? Rabbi Zamir Cohen on the Prophecies regarding Resurrection and The Final Redemption
Will only the Jews who live in that period be privileged to take part in this wonderful era, or will the Jews of early generations also be with us?
“And many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken — these (those who awake) for eternal life, and those (who remain in the ground) for disgrace, for eternal abhorrence.” (Daniel 12:2)
Therefore, prophesy to them:
“So says the L-rd G-d : Behold! I open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves as My people, and bring you home to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the L-rd, when I open your graves and lead you up out of your graves as My people. And I will put My spirit into you, and you shall live, and I will set you on your land, and you shall know that I, the L-rd, have spoken it and have performed it," says the L-rd.” (Ezekiel 37:12-14)
The Creator of the world taught us in his Torah that a person was put in This World for a trial period in which his free choice will be tested concerning how he lives and keeps G-d’s commandments. If he keeps them and restrains the willfulness of his heart, he will benefit himself in the Hereafter and also This World. If he overcomes his challenge, he will add light to his soul, elevate it, and after completing his period of free will, will separate from the body whose whole purpose was to confine him to the physical world so he can exercise free will. According to the degree that he withstood his trials, he will shine and flourish, take pleasure in G-d and enjoy the brilliant radiance of His Presence.
If he withstood all the trials while he was a “person” composed of a body and soul, then he will get his great reward while inside a body — but in a body and a world which is pure of all desires, lusts, and physical cravings. This is the world as it will be after the Final Redemption and the Revival of the Dead, when the false religions and falsehood will no longer exist in the world, and the truth will be evident to all. “And the L-rd shall become King over all the earth; on that day shall the L-rd be one (everyone will know that G-d is one), and His Name shall be one.” (Zechariah 14:9)
We will mention two important sources to conclude this chapter:
1. The holy Zohar explains (Vol. 2 28:2) that a tiny bone remains of the body, and during the Revival of the Dead, it expands like yeast in a dough, rebuilding the entire body. (It is interesting to note here the scientific discovery of how the body’s cells reproduce and multiply by dividing themselves. The Bible and Jewish sages have long discussed the miraculous phenomena of people coming back to life, with part of the process involving the dead person’s remains multiplying. See the Zohar, Vol. 3 169:1.
2. The Talmud in Brachot 17a explains that the ability of physical matter to renew itself and come to life only exists with a body infused with a flow of spirituality (in modern parlance it is termed “spiritual energy”) which is stored in the holy words of our Creator’s Torah. This flow and absorption occurs specifically by means of Torah study. Women, who are exempt from fixed Torah study due to their being preoccupied and busy with the family’s needs, will merit being revived because they wait for their husbands to return from their Torah lectures and because they bring their children to Torah schools. The immense spiritual energy which G-d implanted in His powerful Torah is that powerful.
Do we have any dates concerning when these wondrous events will take place?
On the verse dealing with the date of the Final Redemption: “I am G-d; at its time I will expedite it.” (Isaiah 60:22), the Talmud (Sanhedrin 98a) says: There are two possibilities how Israel’s Final Redemption and the world rule by an exalted personality who will be the anointed [= mashiach] king from King David’s descendants, will occur. (See Daniel’s vision concerning the Mashiach on page -PAGE-.)
One time will be a fixed date which is the final date set by G-d, without any connection to Israel’s spiritual state. When this time arrives, the Redemption process with fully take place. There is another possible date which is earlier than the final set dateand depends on us. If we arrive at a situation where all of us will live according to the Torah, immediately we will be worthy of the Redemption and it will happen immediately!
These are the words of the Talmud ibid:
“I am G-d; at its time I will expedite it.”
“If they merit — I will expedite it (I will make it happen early.)
“If they don’t merit — it will be in its time.” (It will occur at the fixed time set for it.)
We therefore find that the date of “I will expedite it” is determined by us. And what is the date of “its time”?
The Talmud says (ibid. 97a):
The world will exist 6000 years.”
In other words, the world was set to exist in its present state for 6,000 years. It should be noted that we are now in the 5775th year since Creation. (See Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s solution on page -PAGE-above, and page -PAGE-where we bring Daniel’s own vision of the events that will occur in the world from the First Exile more than 2,500 years ago until the rule of the Mashiach king. It is astonishing to see the parallelism between these Bible prophecies and their historic fulfillment. It is clear that we are in the period between the idol’s toes and the idol’s destruction, which matches our time period and the final years of “the world’s 6,000 years of existence.”)
The omens that our sages received in the Oral Tradition concerning the characteristics of the pre-Redemption generation which were written down in the Talmud 1,500 years ago, are being fulfilled before our eyes at an astonishing pace. Here are their words (Sanhedrin 97a):
“Rabbi Abba said, there is no more clear sign of the oncoming End of Days than this, as it says: “And you, mountains of Israel, produce your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel, because they are about to come.” (Eze. 36:8)
This means that when the Land of Israel will lavishly give forth its fruits, this is a sign that the End of Days is near. There can be no more conspicuous sign than this.
Remember that these words were written when the Land of Israel was completely desolate.
Here is another quote from the sages in the Talmud (Sota 49b) which deals with the portents specific to the generation of the Redemption:
During the footsteps of the Mashiach period(the end of the exile before the coming of the Moshiach):
* Insolence will increase
* Costs will rise (inflation)
* The vineyard will give its fruit (unlike before, when the land was desolate) (In the past decade alone, dozens of wineries were opened in Israel. Israel has become a powerhouse in producing fine quality wine and wins awards around the world.)
* Wine will be expensive (despite the abundant production of grapes, wine will be expensive. Unexpectedly, in the past decade, Israel has become a leader in high quality and expensive wines.)
* The government will be heretical (there will be a Jewish government, unlike the situation that existed in the diaspora, but this government will be heretical and will not follow Jewish law).
* There will be no rebuke (there will be no point to rebuking a person because in place of being ashamed of himself and apologizing, he will respond brazenly).
* The place of meeting (the place where they meet to pass laws) will be a brothel (instead of passing laws forbidding illicit relations and heresy, they will pass laws promoting them, in complete contrast to what the Torah says: “You shall not go after your heart [heretical thoughts] and after your eyes [lustful eyes] after which you are going astray.” (Num. 15:39)
* The Galilee will be destroyed (Katyushas and bombs will fall on the Galilee) and the Golan (some say it is pronounced Gavlan) will be desolate (perhaps it means that residents will flee their homes in the north because missiles will be shot at them).
* The people on the frontier will wander from city to city without any one to pity them (exact description of how the Gush Katif Jews on the border of Gaza were treated after they were expelled from their homes)
* The wisdom of the educated (Torah scholars) will be considered repulsive (in the eyes of the public), and those who fear sin (the religious public) will be despised (they will be denounced as parasites, blood-suckers, fundamentalists, draft-dodgers, living at the public expense… This has taken place under the non-stop propaganda and brainwashing of the secular media).
* Truth will be absent (moral relativism)
* Youths will put old men to shame (there will be no respect for elders)
* The old will stand up in the presence of the young (society will value youth [physical looks and vigor] instead of wisdom, and older people will strive to imitate the young)
* A son will revile his father, a daughter will rise against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law (common family relationships will be characterized by antagonism instead of respect)
* A man's enemies will be the members of his household (family ties will disintegrate to the point that the relationship will be worse than that of a stranger, people will think their parents are their worse enemies)
* The face of the generation will be like the face of a dog (This means that 1. the generation will be brazen and audacious. 2. Just as a dog runs before its masters but keeps turning its head to see where its master is going, and then switches direction to follow him, the leaders of that generation instead of standing strong before the people and leading them, will follow public opinion and change their views in accordance with the polls. 3. In the Liberty Bell Park in Jerusalem a few years ago, there was a competition for the dog who looks the most like its owner. The three winners were published in the newspapers next to the pictures of their owners. Would this have happened in any other generation?)
* A son will not be ashamed before his father (parental authority won’t exist)
Our generation exhibits all of these manifestations, which are the exact opposite of what was found in nearly every generation. They foresaw these developments with amazing preciseness.
Let us go more in-depth in the subject of the End of Days.
First, several fundamentals which will serve as a short introduction:
1. The masters of Kabbalah taught us that the goal and purpose of the Creator in creating the world was to bestow his beneficence on others.
2. Since G-d is perfect in every way, His bestowal of beneficence must also be perfect, and not shallow in its quality or partial in its quantity. Since the greatest and truest joy and pleasure are those which emanate from spiritual achievements (which Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto defines in these words: “man was created for the sole purpose of rejoicing in G-d and deriving pleasure from the splendor of His Presence; for this is the true joy and the greatest pleasure that can be found.” See The Path of the Just, Chapter One) and every intelligent person knows that even here in This World, there is no physical pleasure of any kind or level that can come close to a spiritual pleasure. Because of that, G-d created mankind primarily as a spiritual being, so that he would be able to receive and have joy and benefit from His perfect spiritual beneficence.
3. However, giving this benefit as a gift would not be a perfect benefit, because it would be the “bread of shame”, reducing us to feeling like needy recipients. Therefore man was made of physical and corporal matter, and was placed in a world that was created to serve as a backdrop for both positive and negative struggles and challenges. A person was given the ability to choose between good and evil, and his purpose in the world is to overcome evil and succeed in his struggles and thereby achieve and acquire G-d’s beneficence by his own efforts.
4. But how can a person with his limited intelligence know what is positive and what is negative from the divine point of view of truth? How can he know the spiritual mysteries embedded in creation, such as: the spirituality which infuses the seventh day and obligates desisting from the 39 main categories of work, sanctifying his physical body through circumcision on the eighth day after birth, the spiritual damage involved in eating certain animals or consuming untithed plants, eating meat and dairy together or cooking them together? Therefore the Creator gave mankind a Manual of Spiritual Guidance in an exalted, majestic event — the Revelation on Mt. Sinai, in which He detailed His 613 commandments. Besides giving man the opportunity to obey divine instructions, these commandments bring spiritual abundance (or in modern Hebrew: spiritual energy) primarily by a man’s spiritual self withstanding the challenges mounted by his evil inclination. This Manual of Spiritual Guidance is the Torah.
Therefore, a man who is composed of matter and spirit, who lives in a world saturated with trials and challenges and chooses what is good and the proper according to the Torah’s guidance manual, deserves the beneficence bestowed upon him by right and not as a gift.
After these foundations are clear to us, we can explain the topic under discussion.
Just as G-d created the world in six days, the number of years designated for the period of trials and challenges which we mentioned above is 6,000 years. (According to the mystical part of the Torah, the number six symbolizes the physical world. Anything physical has 6 sides — east, west, north, south, above and below. The number signifying overcoming physicality is seven. Therefore, after the six weekdays of creation came the Shabbat on the seventh day. Likewise, the sabbatical year is the seventh year. The jubilee year comes after seven sabbatical years. The holidays of Sukkot and Passover are for 7 days, and we count the Omer 7 weeks, etc. We can expand on each one of these topics, but the idea is clear.)
Similarly, the final purpose for which the world was created will be achieved after the 6,000 years which were designated as a period of trial and overcoming challenges. The time to receive reward will then arrive in a new world in which the souls will return and reunite with the body which will be rebuilt anew (from the tiny bone that remains from the previous body. The bone cells will multiply and be remodeled into a new body).
During their period of trial, the body and soul were together, so it is only fitting that their reward should be given when they are together. (The heavenly Garden of Paradise refers to a place of spiritual pleasure and flourishing where souls remain in accordance with the effort they had invested in the physical world, just as a seed that was watered becomes a flower. But the souls’ stay in this spiritual utopia is only temporary until their return to the body in the Revival of the Dead.)
Many prophecies speak about this wondrous epoch of souls returning to life inside a body and being ruled by an exalted man from the Davidic dynasty who will be anointed king. During this period, evil inclinations will not exist since their role in the 6,000 years of trial will have finished. Here is one of these prophecies:
“The word that Isaiah, son of Amoz, prophesied concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall be at the end of the days, that the mountain of the L-rd's house shall be firmly established at the top of the mountains, and it shall be raised above the hills, and all the nations shall stream to it. And many peoples shall go, and they shall say, "Come, let us go up to the L-rd's mount, to the house of the G-d of Jacob, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths," for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem. And He shall judge between the nations and reprove many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:1-4)
“And a shoot shall spring forth from the stem of Jesse, and a twig shall sprout from his roots. And the spirit of the L-rd shall rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and heroism, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the L-rd. And he shall be animated by the fear of the L-rd, and neither with the sight of his eyes shall he judge, nor with the hearing of his ears shall he chastise. And he shall judge the poor justly, and he shall chastise with equity the humble of the earth, and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips he shall put the wicked to death. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faith the girdle of his loins.
“And a wolf shall live with a lamb, and a leopard shall lie with a kid; and a calf and a lion cub and a fatling [shall lie] together, and a small child shall lead them. And a cow and a bear shall graze together, their children shall lie; and a lion, like cattle, shall eat straw. And an infant shall play over the hole of an old snake and over the eyeball of an adder, a weaned child shall stretch forth his hand.
“They shall neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mount, for the land shall be full of knowledge of the L-rd as water covers the sea bed. And it shall come to pass on that day, that the root of Jesse, which stands as a banner for peoples, to him shall the nations inquire, and his peace shall be [with] honor.
“And it shall come to pass that on that day, the L-rd shall continue to apply His hand a second time to acquire the rest of His people, that will remain from Assyria and from Egypt and from Pathros and from Cush and from Elam and from Sumeria and from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. And He shall raise a banner to the nations, and He shall gather the lost of Israel, and the scattered ones of Judah He shall gather from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:1-12)
Let us emphasize again that these amazing occurrences may happen before the set date. It is up to us! If we would all accept upon ourselves the yoke of G-d’s kingdom and lead our lives according to the sublime spiritual guidelines given to us by the Torah, then we would immediately merit and be worthy of the Final Redemption and it will happen immediately! In such a situation, we will be worthy of the Redemption occurring in an especially pleasant, respectable and sublime process. This is the intent in the vision which describes the Moshiach king arriving on heavenly clouds. [See Daniel 7:13: “and behold, with heavenly clouds” etc. The full vision was brought above on page -PAGE-] Clouds symbolize exaltation and elevation.
In contrast, the process which would occur not as a result of our spiritual awakening but because the set date has arrived, is described in another prophecy: “Behold! Your king shall come to you. He is just and victorious; humble, and riding a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). It doesn’t mean that the Mashiach king will reveal himself riding on a donkey as opposed to a different means of transportation. It is merely a parable to a different process contrary to the honorable and elevated process implied by heavenly clouds. (The source in the Talmud reconciling the verses is Shabbat 98a.) May it be G-d’s Will that we merit the first process soon in our days.
Notes and Sources
. Since the prophecy about the Revival of the Dead is difficult for most people to grasp, we will bring an illuminating question and answer about it based on our booklet “Nine Answers and a Question” (page 47):
Revival of the Dead — Is it possible?
“And many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken” (Daniel 12:2)
“Revival of the Dead is one of the Articles of Belief from those bequeathed us by our Teacher Moses. Any person who does not believe this, is not religious and is not devoted to Judaism.” (Maimonides in his commentary to the Mishna, Sanhedrin Chapter 11)
Many ask: Is it possible? The flesh rotted in the grave, the body was burnt and turned into ashes, or a person was torn to pieces by animals. How is it possible that we will ever see them again?? Is it possible that they will return to life?!
Let us try to understand the matter superficially through a parable. Imagine a resident from the North Pole who moved to a temperate climate. He is used to steppes of ice, and never saw plowing, seeding and harvesting. After arriving at a farm, he is sent with the veteran farmhands to learn and help out with the farm work. To his surprise, he sees them plowing rows in the ground. He doesn’t understand: “What are you doing? What do you need these rows for?”
After a few days, when the plowing of the field is completed, they take sacks of wheat and go out to the field. He asks: What are these seeds for? They reply: “The bread which provides us our sustenance is produced from these seeds.” The entire way he stares at the sacks of wheat with admiring eyes. He remembers that in the North Pole, it was difficult to feel satisfied without eating bread.
But he stares in shock when he sees the other workers scattering and burying the precious seeds in the ground… He can’t hold himself back and admonishes them, “What is the meaning of this insanity?”
They explain with a condescending smile: “The day will come and you will see how each buried seed of wheat will produce a beautiful green stalk containing many wheat kernels just like them.” He gets heated and irritatedly tells them to stop making fun of him. They smile and try to calm him down.
Then after a few weeks of watering, he goes out by himself to look at the field. He digs a little and finds one seed. Tears fall from his eyes when he sees that the seed has rotted and smells. Why did they make fun of him? Why are they ruining perfectly good wheat?!
More time passes and he goes out to the field with the reapers. He stands utterly thunderstruck. Instead of the dry, empty field, he sees tall stalks waving in the wind as far as his eye can see, as if smiling at him and whispering: They were right. This is the nature of the creation… revival of the dead.
We are not flabbergasted like that new immigrant, although we understand him. He really did see a miracle!
What is the difference between us and him? Why was he astonished and we’re not? It is obvious why. We are used to seeing it happen and he wasn’t. So let us stop taking it for granted and reflect. Isn’t it an amazing thing that a rotten seed can turn into a green stalk full of seeds similar to the mother seed?
So why can’t a rotten body return and be built anew? Why can’t one body replace another one?
One who understands what components a “man” is made of will find it easier to understand these things, as we explained in the first chapter above. One who knows the simple truth that the real person is the internal, spiritual soul which is merely wrapped in a suit of flesh and bones which fits his measurements and body shape, will find it easier to understand this. Even if a suit wears out, as long as the inner person exists, he can always get a new suit and return to being what he always was.
This idea is simple but it is the truth. If you believe that the Creator of the universe created the entire world including man from absolute zero, why is it so difficult to believe in His ability to recreate a man?
. We learn this from how divine providence worked in our nation’s ancient past. When the time arrived for the Redemption from Egypt, they were still not delivered until they turned to G-d and pleaded from the depths of their heart to be saved. As it says there: “And the Israelites groaned from the work and they cried out and their outcry went up to G-d because of the work.” (Ex. 2:24) As Rabeinu Bechayai writes (in his explanation to the Torah ibid): “Even though the time of Redemption had arrived (!) they were not deserving of it. Only because of their many cries to G-d because of the hard labor were their prayers accepted.” It is possible that this Torah section also hints to our Redemption and the future, which depends on our repentance and prayers. The deliverance from Egypt involved repentance and praying to G-d Who answers at a time of tribulation; their prayers were accepted and immediately the Redeemer was sent to them.
Adapted from "Journey to the Truth" by Rabbi Zamir Cohen