‘2012’ Film, Apocalyptic Times and Jewish Wisdom
by Mark Pearlman of JInsider
The big box office winner for this past weekend was the
apocalyptic film “2012.” The highly produced doomsday plot is based on an interpretation of a Mayan calendar that points to an earthly catastrophe in 2012 – specifically on 12-21-12.
Irrespective of Hollywood-tastic prophecies, what does Jewish wisdom suggest about the years ahead? We asked a number of leading scholars and teachers whether our final days are right around the corner.
Blessings or Bloodshed
The world was created in six days and every day was 1,000 years. Right now we are in the year 5770. Right now is Erev Shabbos in time – Friday noon. There is no way of knowing when this Shabbos will come. But one thing is for
Jewish Theological Seminary
certain; we are the generation when the footsteps [of the Messiah] can be heard.
All the signs are here. It says in the Torah that this last generation will see all the icons collapse so people can come to understand that God is one and his name is one. If someone had told you that the giants of industry, the giants of Wall Street would collapse overnight, you would have thought they were crazy.
There have been natural disasters one after another. Despite all of our scientific discoveries, there is terrible illness. Governments will collapse; there will be chaos in the world. Arrogance and impudence and audacity will increase. Young people will war against their elders, and people will have no respect for one another.
Are we seeing it? Absolutely. So it’s in our hands now. The Messiah can come either through blessing, or God forbid, through bloodshed. He is coming – how he will come is dependent on us. Let us hope he will come through blessing.
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, prolific author, world-class lecturer and founder of Hineni (www.hineni.org)
Judaism does not deal with an apocalypse but rather deals in Messianic times. The Messianic time is always present and always a potential. We are really not interested in speculating on any of these things. Maimonides says, “When it happens, we will know about it.” Speculation leads to all sorts of problems because expectations will not be fulfilled or occur. We just don’t deal with it.
Rabbi Berel Wein, founder and director of The Destiny Foundation (www.rabbiwein.com)
A Different Apocalypse
As a Jew, I too believe we are now in “the end of days” – and that makes me very happy. You see, one of the most fundamental beliefs of our faith is the Messianic concept, the idea that mankind someday will finally realize its potential and re-create the world as God originally intended it to be when He placed Adam and Eve into Paradise.
The rabbis teach us we must hope for this to occur at any moment. But we are also given some clues as to when we might most expect it. It will happen after a cataclysmic and horrible age of disaster for the world and the Jewish people. I take that to mean the Holocaust. Then will come the beginning of redemption as Jews return to the Holy Land. I see that as the creation of the State of Israel. Next we will get back the sacred city of Jerusalem. For me that was the moment in 1967 when we liberated the site of the ancient Temple.
And what’s next? The tragedies are in our past. The good news is that the Jewish apocalypse is coming soon – and everything about it is only blessing.
Rabbi Benjamin Blech, prolific author and professor at Yeshiva University.
If there is any “apocalypse” around the corner, it will be of our own making. Although Judaism has certainly speculated about an End Time, the precise date of such a period and a clear portrait of what it might look like have always been murky. Will it involve, as the Scriptures forecast, a cataclysmic battle between wicked and divine forces leaving in its wake an era of sanctity and peace? Or, as Maimonides wrote in the 12th century, will the end of days simply be an extension of the many and varied conflicts of human history, but that take place under the guiding hand of God’s sovereignty – and ultimate deliverance?
I don’t really buy any of these classic, often fantastical Jewish ideas. Doomsday won’t arrive in 2012. Still, if we continue down the current path of social injustice, war, terrorism, famine, global warming, and all of the other human-constructed problems, our world will continue to degrade itself – physically, morally, and spiritually – and, in the end, self-destruct. If that happens, it won’t be the fault of God, the Devil, or an ancient Mayan tablet, but rather our own narcissism, materialism, and heartlessness.
Niles Elliot Goldstein is a prolific author and rabbi emeritus of The New Shul in Manhattan. His most recent book is “The Challenge of the Soul: A Guide for the Spiritual Warrior.” www.nilesgoldstein.com
Also, a must see video on the subject...http://www.torahohr.net/gogumagog/
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