This year, for the first time in history, more than 100 million people around the world were displaced as climate-induced displacement increased both in number and magnitude around the world. According to the report of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, 23.7 million people suffered displacement in 2021 as a result of cyclones and floods.
The number of mass shootings recorded annually in the US has more than doubled in the last 8 years, from 254 in 2013 to 692 in 2021, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and in the last 16 years there have been 523 mass murders resulting in 2,727 deaths as of November 19, 2022, according to The Associated Press/USA Today database of mass murders in the US.
Firearm deaths killed 1.5 million Americans between 1968 and 2017, a number greater than the number of soldiers killed in all American conflicts since the American Revolutionary War in 1775.
Massive economic losses due to sweltering temperatures brought on by human-caused climate change are not just a problem for the future. A study published in the journal Science Advances found that the most severe heat waves resulting from global warming have already cost the world economy $16 trillion since the early 1990s.
The UK is facing its biggest drop in living standards on record as rising cost of living eats away at people’s wages. The government forecaster said household incomes, once price rises were factored in, would decline by 7% over the next few years, and the number of unemployed would rise by more than 500,000.
Many Americans who come from fundamentalist Christian circles view the great future changes within human society preceding the Messianic Age from the perspective of the Book of Revelation (The Apocalypse of John). This New Testament book emphasizes a catastrophic Judgment Day, which can last for many years, preceding the birth of the Messianic Age.
The Jews, whose Biblical prophets were the first to write of a future Messianic Age, acknowledge that the birth of a Messianic Age must be preceded by their birth pangs, but mainly emphasize the glories of a world living in peace and prosperity with justice. for all. The ancient Jewish prophecies proclaimed that there would be an end to the world as we know it, but they did not prophesy that the world will come to an end.
Rather, the Jewish date cannot be fixed in advance because humans have free will and what humans do partly influences what God decides to do. The pre-Messianic Era marks the beginning of a time of great transition from one World Age to another.
How we move through this transition, whether with resistance or acceptance, will determine whether the transformation will occur through catastrophic and violent changes or through a gradual religious reformation of human society that will lead to a world filled with peace, prosperity, and spiritual tranquility. .
The Messianic Age is generally seen as the solution to all of humanity’s basic problems. This may be true in the long term, but the great changes that the transition to the Messianic Age entails will provide challenges to society for many generations to come.
But even when events are quick and dramatic, people rarely associate them with their messianic significance for long. The astonishing rescue of 14,235 Ethiopian Jews on a 1991 airlift to Israel, which lasted less than 40 hours, moved and inspired people for a few weeks. Subsequently, the difficult problems faced by the newcomers (similar to those of the 900,000 Soviet immigrants) occupied the Jewish media. Now both are taken for granted. The miracle has become routine.
But if you had told the Jews of Ethiopia two generations ago that one day they would all fly to Israel on a giant silver bird, they could only conceive of this as a messianic miracle. If you had told Soviet Jews a generation ago that the communist regime would collapse, the Soviet empire would disintegrate, and hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews would immigrate to Israel, they would have conceived it only as a messianic dream.
In our own generation, therefore, we have seen the dramatic fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “I will bring your descendants from the (Middle) East and gather you from the (Europe) West. To the North (Russia) I will say ‘leave them’ and to the South (Ethiopia) ‘don’t keep them’. Bring my sons from afar, my daughters from the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 43:5-6) Isn’t it amazing how people adjust to living in a radically new world and forget how bad things were in the past?
Repentance produces changes in the future of both individuals and nations. Repentance allows some individuals and communities to escape the consequences of previous evil. On the other hand, God’s promise is that evil powers will never succeed in destroying Israel or defeating justice in the long run. Thus, even without full repentance, God will act if God’s promise of a messianic age is threatened.
As Isaiah says: “Says the Lord: you were sold, but no price was paid, and without payment you will be redeemed.” (Isaiah 52:3) that is, all of his suffering in exile was not actually fully deserved, and his redemption from exile will not really be fully earned. Both are part of God’s blueprint for human destiny and will occur sooner (through repentance) or later (in God’s own time).
Reciprocity and interaction are the fundamental foundations of the covenant between God and the Jewish people, and make Judaism special, just as all kind and loving relationships and religions are special and unique.
God shines that light into the world, illuminating the pitfalls and stumbling blocks along the way. However, the Torah remains merely a book, its instructions are mere words, if we do not translate them into living deeds. It is in our hands to take the teachings of the Torah and later rabbinical knowledge and let them shine through our example and teaching others.
When humans shed light on God by living according to God’s commandments and teaching others to do so, then “In Your light we are bathed in light.” as the Book of Proverbs says, “the mitzvah is a lamp, and the teaching is a light.”
By living our lives according to Mitsvot, we respond to God’s light illuminating a path for ourselves and those we teach to avoid the precipice of selfishness, hedonism, self-righteousness, or materialism.
The Passover Haggadah (a book that has been revised, reprinted, and republished more than 6,000 times, most in the last 200 years) states: Passover is a journey “from sorrow to joy, from mourning to feasting, from darkness to the light and from slavery to redemption.
And as the Qur’an says: “Verily We sent Moses with Our signs, [saying], “Bring your people out of darkness into light, and remind them of the days of Allah.” In fact, there are signs for everyone to be patient and grateful.” (14:5) and “Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out of darkness into light.” (2:257)
Finally, if one believes that God-inspired prophets can describe scenarios of various developments in the distant future, then one has to accept that one’s understanding of these passages must change and improve as we get closer and closer to the times they describe. . As an example, Jeremiah describes a radical future in which women surround men: “The Lord will create a new thing on the earth: a woman will surround the man” (Jeremiah 31:22).
The great commentator Rashi understands that ‘surround’ means to surround. The most radical thing Rashi can think of (and in 11th century France he was radical) is for women to propose (a wedding ring, or encircle the groom in the wedding ceremony) to men. Now the proportion of Australian women in managerial occupations has risen from around 18% in 1966 to almost 40% in 2021. And the proportion in professional occupations has grown from 35% to 56%.
In today’s generation of feminists, we can see women surrounding men in fields that were once almost exclusively male, such as law, medical, and rabbinic schools. This of course means that within a few generations we might have a better understanding of some predictive passages from the prophets, so humility should always be with us.
But the real lesson in all of this is that humans should not wait for a Judgment Day when all our enemies and all evil suddenly vanish in a catastrophic purge. Instead, we must have faith and trust in the ability of religiously inspired human beings to transform our world into a messianic age of justice and peace.
In the words of a 15-year-old Jewish girl who was about to die: “It is really a miracle that I have not abandoned all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. However, I keep them, because despite everything I still believe that people are very good at heart. I simply cannot build my hopes on a foundation that consists of confusion, misery, and death.
“I see that the world is gradually turning into a desert, I hear the thunder that is getting closer and closer and that will destroy us too, I can feel the suffering of millions and yet, if I look up to the skies, I believe that everything will come. true, that this cruelty will also end, and that peace and quiet will return again.
“In the meantime, I must maintain my ideals, because perhaps the day will come when I can carry them out.” From the diary of Anne Frank”, whose words have been read by tens of millions of people around the world.
In fact, there is an opinion, defended by the well-known Jewish writer Franz Kafka, that the Messiah will not come at the beginning, but at the end of the Messianic Era; congratulate humanity on achieving the vision of the biblical prophets.
Thus we will fulfill the 2,700-year vision of the prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be a road from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and the Assyrians will worship together. On that day, Israel will join a tripartite alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing to the heart. The LORD of hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage”… (Isaiah 19:23-5)