Since the downing of the Russian plane by Turkey, we have been witness to the growing tension between the two countries. Russia has placed sanctions on Turkey and promised a suitable response, while Turkey in its turn refuses to apologize for the incident and declares that it will continue to protect its borders.
This tense situation reminds us of the words of the Vilna Gaon, which have been transmitted from generation to generation by his disciples: “When the Russian fleet crosses the Bosphorus, it is time to wear Shabbat clothes to greet Mashiach”. This place is also known as the Dardanelles strait or the Istanbul strait, and it is the point of division between Europe and Asia.
In the book “The Gaon” by Rabbi Dov Eliach it is related that the Tzaddik Rabbi Aryeh Levin said that he heard this from Rabbi Chaim Berlin who had heard it from Rabbi Yitzchak of Volozhin, who quoted his father, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, a student of the Gaon. The same idea was repeated by Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, a descendant of the Gaon, who added that even the Russian invasion of the Crimean peninsula is a harbinger of the Final Redemption.
It should be noted that in the time of the Gaon Istanbul was the capital of Turkey and of the entire Ottoman Empire. Moreover, many of the commentators on the prophecies of redemption in the Bible state that during the war of Gog and Magog, Magog who are descendants of Edom will start to fight the sons of Yishmael. According to a tradition transmitted by the descendants of the disciples of the Gaon, Magog is actually Russia, and this too is a scenario which seems to be unfolding before our eyes.