The End of Days
(כג) כִּ֤י לֹא־נַ֙חַשׁ֙ בְּיַעֲקֹ֔ב וְלֹא־קֶ֖סֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כָּעֵ֗ת יֵאָמֵ֤ר לְיַעֲקֹב֙ וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מַה־פָּ֖עַל אֵֽל׃ (כד) הֶן־עָם֙ כְּלָבִ֣יא יָק֔וּם וְכַאֲרִ֖י יִתְנַשָּׂ֑א לֹ֤א יִשְׁכַּב֙ עַד־יֹ֣אכַל טֶ֔רֶף וְדַם־חֲלָלִ֖ים יִשְׁתֶּֽה׃ (כה) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר בָּלָק֙ אֶל־בִּלְעָ֔ם גַּם־קֹ֖ב לֹ֣א תִקֳּבֶ֑נּוּ גַּם־בָּרֵ֖ךְ לֹ֥א תְבָרֲכֶֽנּוּ׃ (כו) וַיַּ֣עַן בִּלְעָ֔ם וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אֶל־בָּלָ֑ק הֲלֹ֗א דִּבַּ֤רְתִּי אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־יְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֹת֥וֹ אֶֽעֱשֶֽׂה׃ (כז) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר בָּלָק֙ אֶל־בִּלְעָ֔ם לְכָה־נָּא֙ אֶקָּ֣חֲךָ֔ אֶל־מָק֖וֹם אַחֵ֑ר אוּלַ֤י יִישַׁר֙ בְּעֵינֵ֣י הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים וְקַבֹּ֥תוֹ לִ֖י מִשָּֽׁם׃ (כח) וַיִּקַּ֥ח בָּלָ֖ק אֶת־בִּלְעָ֑ם רֹ֣אשׁ הַפְּע֔וֹר הַנִּשְׁקָ֖ף עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַיְשִׁימֹֽן׃ (כט) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר בִּלְעָם֙ אֶל־בָּלָ֔ק בְּנֵה־לִ֥י בָזֶ֖ה שִׁבְעָ֣ה מִזְבְּחֹ֑ת וְהָכֵ֥ן לִי֙ בָּזֶ֔ה שִׁבְעָ֥ה פָרִ֖ים וְשִׁבְעָ֥ה אֵילִֽים׃ (ל) וַיַּ֣עַשׂ בָּלָ֔ק כַּאֲשֶׁ֖ר אָמַ֣ר בִּלְעָ֑ם וַיַּ֛עַל פָּ֥ר וָאַ֖יִל בַּמִּזְבֵּֽחַ׃
(23) Lo, there is no augury in Jacob, No divining in Israel: Jacob is told at once, Yea Israel, what God has planned. (24) Lo, a people that rises like a lion, Leaps up like the king of beasts, Rests not till it has feasted on prey And drunk the blood of the slain. (25) Thereupon Balak said to Balaam, “Don’t curse them and don’t bless them!” (26) In reply, Balaam said to Balak, “But I told you: Whatever the LORD says, that I must do.” (27) Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come now, I will take you to another place. Perhaps God will deem it right that you damn them for me there.” (28) Balak took Balaam to the peak of Peor, which overlooks the wasteland. (29) Balaam said to Balak, “Build me here seven altars, and have seven bulls and seven rams ready for me here.” (30) Balak did as Balaam said: he offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.
ת"ר שבוע שבן דוד בא בו שנה ראשונה מתקיים מקרא זה (עמוס ד, ז) והמטרתי על עיר אחת ועל עיר אחת לא אמטיר שניה חיצי רעב משתלחים שלישית רעב גדול ומתים אנשים ונשים וטף חסידים ואנשי מעשה ותורה משתכחת מלומדיה ברביעית שובע ואינו שובע בחמישית שובע גדול ואוכלין ושותין ושמחין ותורה חוזרת ללומדיה בששית קולות בשביעית מלחמות במוצאי שביעית בן דוד בא אמר רב יוסף הא כמה שביעית דהוה כן ולא אתא אמר אביי בששית קולות בשביעית מלחמות מי הוה ועוד כסדרן מי הוה
The Sages taught in a baraita: With regard to the seven-year period, i.e., the Sabbatical cycle, during which the Messiah, son of David, comes: During the first year, this verse will be fulfilled: “And I will cause it to rain upon one city and cause it not to rain upon another city” (Amos 4:7). During the second year of that period, arrows of famine will be shot, indicating that there will be famine only in certain places. During the third year there will be a great famine, and men, women, children, the pious, and men of action will die, and the Torah is forgotten by those who study it. During the fourth year there will be plenty but not great plenty. During the fifth year there will be great plenty and they will eat, and drink, and rejoice, and the Torah will return to those who study it. During the sixth year, heavenly voices will be heard. During the Sabbatical Year, wars, e.g., the war of Gog and Magog, will be waged involving the Jewish people. During the year after the conclusion of the Sabbatical Year, the son of David will come. Rav Yosef said: Haven’t there been several Sabbatical cycles during which events transpired in that manner and nevertheless, the Messiah did not come? Abaye said: Have the phenomena: During the sixth year, heavenly voices, and during the Sabbatical Year, wars, transpired? And furthermore, have all these phenomena transpired in the order in which they were listed in the baraita?
תניא ר' נחמיה אומר דור שבן דוד בא בו העזות תרבה והיוקר יעות והגפן יתן פריו והיין ביוקר ונהפכה כל המלכות למינות ואין תוכחה מסייע ליה לר' יצחק דא"ר יצחק אין בן דוד בא עד שתתהפך כל המלכות למינות אמר רבא מאי קרא (ויקרא יג, יג) כולו הפך לבן טהור הוא ת"ר (דברים לב, לו) כי ידין ה' עמו [וגו'] כי יראה כי אזלת יד ואפס עצור ועזוב אין בן דוד בא עד שירבו המסורות ד"א עד שיתמעטו התלמידים ד"א עד שתכלה פרוטה מן הכיס ד"א עד שיתייאשו מן הגאולה שנאמר ואפס עצור ועזוב כביכול אין סומך ועוזר לישראל
It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Neḥemya says: During the generation that the son of David comes, arrogance will proliferate and the cost of living will corrupt people so they will engage in deceit. The vine will produce its fruit, and nevertheless, the wine will be costly. And the entire gentile monarchy will be converted to the heresy of Christianity, and there will be no inclination among the people to accept rebuke. This baraita supports the opinion of Rabbi Yitzḥak, as Rabbi Yitzḥak says: The son of David will not come until the entire kingdom will be converted to heresy. Rava says: What is the verse from which this statement is derived? It is the verse: “It is all turned white; he is ritually pure” (Leviticus 13:13). One is a leper and ritually impure only if he has a leprous mark, however small, but not if his skin is completely leprous. Similarly, the world will be redeemed only when the Jewish people reach their lowest point. The Sages taught in a baraita: The verse states: “For the Lord shall judge His people and atone for His servants, when He sees that their power is gone and there is none shut up or left” (Deuteronomy 32:36). From the phrase “their power is gone” it is derived that the son of David will not come until informers will proliferate. Alternatively, the Messiah will not come until the number of students of Torah diminishes. Alternatively, the Messiah will not come until the peruta will cease from the purse. Alternatively, the Messiah will not come until they despair from the redemption, as it is stated: “And there is none shut up or left,” as though there were no supporter or helper for the Jewish people.
ובעונותינו שרבו יצאו מהם מה שיצאו
That is the course that history was to take, but due to our sins that time frame increased. The Messiah did not come after four thousand years passed, and furthermore, the years that elapsed since then, which were to have been the messianic era, have elapsed.
מאי ויפח לקץ ולא יכזב א"ר שמואל בר נחמני אמר ר' יונתן תיפח עצמן של מחשבי קיצין שהיו אומרים כיון שהגיע את הקץ ולא בא שוב אינו בא אלא חכה לו שנאמר אם יתמהמה חכה לו שמא תאמר אנו מחכין והוא אינו מחכה ת"ל (ישעיהו ל, יח) לכן יחכה ה' לחננכם ולכן ירום לרחמכם
The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the phrase “And it declares [veyafe’aḥ] of the end, and does not lie”? Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says that Rabbi Yonatan says: May those who calculate the end of days be cursed [tippaḥ], as they would say once the end of days that they calculated arrived and the Messiah did not come, that he will no longer come at all. Rather, the proper behavior is to continue to wait for his coming, as it is stated: “Though it tarry, wait for it.” Lest you say we are expectantly awaiting the end of days and the Holy One, Blessed be He, is not awaiting the end of days and does not want to redeem His people, the verse states: “And therefore will the Lord wait, to be gracious to you; and therefore will He be exalted, to have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgment; happy are all they who wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:18).
אמר ר' יוחנן אם ראית דור שמתמעט והולך חכה לו שנאמר (שמואל ב כב, כח) ואת עם עני תושיע וגו' אמר רבי יוחנן אם ראית דור שצרות רבות באות עליו כנהר חכה לו שנאמר (ישעיהו נט, יט) כי יבא כנהר צר (ו) רוח ה' נוססה בו וסמיך ליה ובא לציון גואל
Rabbi Yoḥanan says: If you saw a generation whose wisdom and Torah study is steadily diminishing, await the coming of the Messiah, as it is stated: “And the afflicted people You will redeem” (II Samuel 22:28). Rabbi Yoḥanan says: If you saw a generation whose troubles inundate it like a river, await the coming of the Messiah, as it is stated: “When distress will come like a river that the breath of the Lord drives” (Isaiah 59:19). And juxtaposed to it is the verse: “And a redeemer will come to Zion” (Isaiah 59:20).
ואמר רבי יוחנן אין בן דוד בא אלא בדור שכולו זכאי או כולו חייב בדור שכולו זכאי דכתיב (ישעיהו ס, כא) ועמך כולם צדיקים לעולם יירשו ארץ בדור שכולו חייב דכתיב (ישעיהו נט, טז) וירא כי אין איש וישתומם כי אין מפגיע וכתיב (ישעיהו מח, יא) למעני אעשה
And Rabbi Yoḥanan says: The son of David will come only in a generation that is entirely innocent, in which case they will be deserving of redemption, or in a generation that is entirely guilty, in which case there will be no alternative to redemption. He may come in a generation that is entirely innocent, as it is written: “And your people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever” (Isaiah 60:21). He may come in a generation that is entirely guilty, as it is written: “And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no intercessor; therefore His arm brought salvation to Him, and His righteousness, it sustained Him” (Isaiah 59:16). And it is written: “For My own sake, for My own sake will I do it; for how should it be profaned? And My glory I will not give it to another” (Isaiah 48:11).
אמר רב גידל אמר רב עתידין ישראל דאכלי שני משיח אמר רב יוסף פשיטא ואלא מאן אכיל להו חילק ובילק אכלי להו לאפוקי מדרבי הילל דאמר אין משיח לישראל שכבר אכלוהו בימי חזקיה אמר רב לא אברי עלמא אלא לדוד ושמואל אמר למשה ורבי יוחנן אמר למשיח
§ Rav Giddel says that Rav says: The Jewish people are destined to eat from the bounty of, i.e., enjoy, the years of the Messiah. Rav Yosef says: Isn’t this obvious? And rather, who else will eat from them? Will Ḥillak and Billak, two shiftless characters, eat from them? The Gemara explains that Rav Giddel’s statement serves to exclude the statement of Rabbi Hillel, who says: There is no Messiah coming for the Jewish people, as they already ate from him, as all the prophecies relating to the Messiah were already fulfilled during the days of Hezekiah. Rav says: The world was created only for the sake of David, by virtue of his merit. And Shmuel says: It was created by virtue of the merit of Moses. And Rabbi Yoḥanan says: It was created by virtue of the merit of the Messiah.
דרש רבי שמלאי מאי דכתיב (עמוס ה, יח) הוי המתאוים את יום ה' למה זה לכם יום ה' הוא חשך ולא אור משל לתרנגול ועטלף שהיו מצפין לאור א"ל תרנגול לעטלף אני מצפה לאורה שאורה שלי היא ואתה למה לך אורה והיינו דא"ל ההוא מינא לרבי אבהו אימתי אתי משיח א"ל לכי חפי להו חשוכא להנהו אינשי א"ל מילט קא לייטת לי א"ל קרא כתיב (ישעיהו ס, ב) כי הנה החשך יכסה ארץ וערפל לאומים ועליך יזרח ה' וכבודו עליך יראה
§ Rabbi Simlai taught: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord. Why would you have this day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light” (Amos 5:18)? It is comparable to a rooster and a bat who were looking forward to the light of day. The rooster said to the bat: I look forward to light, as light is an indication of my time to be active. But as for you, why do you need light? Nighttime for you is like daytime for me. And that is the background for the following exchange, as a certain heretic said to Rabbi Abbahu: When will the Messiah come? Rabbi Abbahu said to him: He will come when the darkness will enshroud these people, i.e., you. The heretic said to him: Are you cursing me for no reason? Rabbi Abbahu said to him, I am merely relating to you a verse that is written: “For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and fog the peoples; but the Lord shall shine upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you” (Isaiah 60:2).