1) What will be the Jewish people’s spiritual state at the time of the Redemption?
“And it will be, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse… you will return to the L-rd, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you this day, you and your children. Then the L-rd, your G-d, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations, where the L-rd, your G-d, had dispersed you. Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens, the L-rd, your G-d, will gather you from there, and He will take you from there. And the L-rd, your G-d, will bring you to the land which your forefathers possessed, and you will take possession of it, and He will do good to you, and He will make you more numerous than your forefathers.” (Deut. 30:1-5)
Behold, days are coming, says the L-rd G-d, and I will send famine into the land, not a famine for bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the word of the L-rd.” (Amos 8:11)
Maimonides writes on this (Hilchot Teshuva 7:5):
“All the prophets demanded repentance. Israel will only be redeemed after they have repented. The Torah has promised us that in the end, Israel will repent at the end of their exile, and then they will be immediately redeemed, as the verse says: ”when all these things come upon you… you will return to the L-rd, your G-d … then the L-rd, your G-d, will bring back your exiles, and He will have mercy upon you.” (Deut. 30:1-3).
We are now witnessing the beginning of this repentance prophecy materializing before our eyes. The word teshuva – repentance, has acquired powerful meaning in our generation. Just a few generations ago, the entire Jewish people observed the Torah and its commandments, and the word teshuva was usually understood to be referring to those occasions when a Jew slipped in not keeping the Torah properly, and then repented of his error. No one anticipated that the word teshuva would apply generally to the entire Jewish people and a whole movement to return and observe all the commandments. “The Torah has promised us that Israel will finally repent at the end of their exile.”
2) In which cities will the Jews live in during that period?
As we mentioned, we are in the middle of the fulfillment of the prophecy that the entire Jewish people will repent. The Torah observant public is astonished and flabbergasted at the rising tide of our brothers who are changing their lives and returning to the Torah. “It is not a famine for bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the word of the L-rd.”
It is thrilling to see youths leaving their comfortable homes and traveling throughout the country to yeshivas in the major Torah centers to obtain knowledge of the meaning and purpose of life, and study Torah and Jewish law. In fact, Amos’s prophecy mentioned above continues:
“And they shall wander from sea (the Red Sea in the south) to sea (the Mediterranean in the west) and from the north to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of G-d…”
Let us reflect for a moment. North and east are specifically mentioned in the verse (in contrast to the usual mention of opposite sides — north and south, or east and west). We find that two seas are mentioned in the verse (“from sea to sea”) which could only refer to the southern sea (the Red Sea) and the western sea (the Mediterranean).
The meaning is astounding.
Thousands of years ago (!) the prophet informed us that in the period before the End of Days, Jews would be living in Eilat (Red Sea) and alongside the Mediterranean — Haifa, Acco, Tel Aviv, Holon, Bat Yam, Yaffo, etc. And from north to the east. And from all these cities, they would wander and go to seek the word of G-d.”
Could anyone who lived even a hundred years ago been capable of speaking of a Jewish city on the coast of the Red Sea? And predict the mighty Teshuva revolution which is going on there together with all the other cities in Israel??
Notice also that the prophecy divides the Land of Israel into two parts — from the Red Sea up along the coast, and another part from the north (Golan) to the east (Israel’s West Bank and East Jerusalem). Is it a coincidence that the world today insists on dividing the Land of Israel into these two separate parts?
We are witnessing the beginning of the prophecy which appears in our sages’ words in Pesikta Rabati (1:3)
“In the future, Jerusalem will cover the entire Land of Israel.”
This means that there will be a tremendous momentum of construction in Jerusalem, and it will continually grow and expand until it “swallows” up other cities that will turn into its neighborhoods, until it expands throughout the entire Land of Israel.
Remember that a hundred years ago, Jerusalem was much smaller and its entire area almost consisted of the houses located within the Old City. Today, Jerusalem has not only grown and expanded with huge steps, but they are already discussing annexing all the satellite cities built around Jerusalem, and are already calling the area the “Jerusalem metropolis”!
Here is another amazing fact about the teshuva movement which is spreading throughout the Land of Israel.
The last prophet “after whom no other prophet or seer will prophesy until the time of End of Days” (the Malbim’s words to Malachi 3:22) was the prophet Malachi.
Let us listen to his last prophecy — which was the last prophecy delivered in human history. The prophecy deals with what will happen to the Jewish people in the End of Days. Let us hear his words and reflect on them:
For lo, the sun comes, glowing like a furnace [in the future, G-d will take the sun out of its sheath and the wicked will be judged by it, and all the righteous will be healed by it. See Rashi’s citation” of the Midrash] and all the audacious sinners and all the perpetrators of wickedness will be like stubble. And the sun that comes shall burn them up… And the sun of mercy shall rise with healing in its wings for you who fear My Name… Keep in remembrance the teaching of Moses, My servant, and the laws and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. (This means, since this is the last prophecy, the prophet tells them in the name of G-d ‘Remember forever the Torah of Moses My servant in every period and situation. And you will thereby merit to be counted with those who are called “those who fear My Name.”) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the L-rd, that he may return the heart of the fathers through the children, and the heart of the children through their fathers — lest I come and smite the earth with utter destruction. (This means that to prevent a situation in which I will have to come and smite the earth with utter destruction, I will send Elijah the prophet to arouse the people to repentance. Once they choose to return, they will merit to be counted among those about whom it is said, “And the sun of mercy shall rise with healing in its wings for you who fear My Name.”) (Malachi 3:19-24)
Let’s reflect on this.
It is known that Elijah the Prophet went up in a storm to heaven after he had refined his body to a spiritually rare level (See the amazing words of the Malbim on Kings II 1:8-13). Ever since his ascent, he has revealed himself many times to the greatest sages in every generation to teach them Torah secrets and help them in their spiritual growth. More than a few times, he revealed himself to someone while remaining hidden to another person who was in the same room. This is well known.
The above prophecy “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet … that he may return the heart of the fathers…” means that Elijah’s role to provide spiritual assistance to people living in This World, will take on immense proportions before the great and fearful Day of G-d, and he will awaken the heart of the people to repentance. Even though these people that will need to be aroused to repent will obviously not be on a spiritual level allowing them to experience a concrete revelation of Elijah, the Maharal writes that Elijah will connect with them spiritually and arouse them through thoughts of repentance that they suddenly sense inwardly. They will think that this is their own inexplicable desire to repent but in actuality, he is arousing them inwardly. (See the Maharal’s Netzach Israel, Chapter 28(.
Indeed, what other convincing explanation do we have were for the mighty tidal wave of teshuva in our days, in which masses of youths and young adults are tenaciously swimming against the stream of hedonism and lusts which have been imported from gentile culture.
But that is not all. These are the words of Rashi, the great Bible commentator, on the verse: “that he may return the heart of the fathers through the children, and the heart of the children through their fathers” (Malachi 3:24)
]Elijah the prophet] will return the heart of fathers — to the Almighty, through the children — by the children. He will say to the children affectionately and appeasingly, “Go and speak to your fathers to adopt the ways of the Almighty.”
Think about it. Through Jewish history, the parents educated their children to observe Torah and its commandments. To come and say that a period will arrive when the sons will teach their fathers to repent would have sounded totally absurd! Despite that, a thousand years ago, Rashi wrote these indisputable words to explain this verse. It is materializing before our eyes, as we see many parents becoming religious in the wake of their children. “He will return the heart of fathers to the Almighty through the children.”
 The Babylonian Talmud (Shabbat 138) explains: What does “the word of G-d” mean here? It means Jewish law, the End of Days, and prophecy. See (ibid.) the words of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai that this prophecy means that they won’t find in that period a definite halachah or an absolute Mishnah anywhere, i.e. in which their reasons are not subject to controversy.