Rosh Hashana: “The Righteous Will Be Saved”

Our sages teach that there are two distinct ways in which the final redemption can occur: Either it will be a “hurried” (Achishena) redemption which comes with majestic glory and free of pain and tragedy, or it will be “in its time” (Bi-Eta). “In its time” means that the redemption will come despite our unworthiness, accompanied by terrible destruction and holocaust as the deserved punishment that precedes the final glory and salvation. G-d stretches the process out, one painful step after another. This suffering is known as the “birth pangs of Moshiach.”

End of Final Grace Period

These painful steps are actually periods of grace which G-d, in His abundant mercy grants us, in the hope that we will heed His warnings and do “Tshuva”. They are warnings intended to awaken us to repentance, so that we may prevent the final stage of “redemption in its time”, in which we will experience unprecedented suffering and holocausts. However, there is a limit to these grace periods. Our teacher, Rabbi Meir Kahane, HY”D, constantly warned in his speeches, classes and books, that we are extremely close to the final hour, after which there will be no more grace periods. In such a scenario, G-d will pour forth His wrath, and only afterwards will He bring the redemption. Only a few will remain to see it, and according to our rabbinical sources, the remnant will include only the righteous.

Who Will Be Written in the Book?

This is what the prophet Isaiah says (6:13): “And if one tenth remain in it, then that shall again be consumed… the holy seed will be the vitality ofthe land”. Rashi explains this passage: “And that remnant G-d shall cleanse one step after another, and it shall be barren until there will remain only the totally righteous, who will return to G-d with all their hearts.” (also see Ketuvot 112).

More words of the prophet (4:3-4): “And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remains in Jerusalem, shall be called holy (Rashi – they will all be righteous), every one in Jerusalem that is written
to life (Radak: it will be decreed upon them to live because of their uprightness and good deeds): when the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Yerushalayim from its midst by the spirit of judgment (Rashi – through suffering) and the spirit of burning (Rashi – to burn them out from this world).

On the verse 26:20 in Isaiah, Radak comments: “This is talking about the war of Gog and Magog, in which troubles will befall Israel for a short time…the righteous will cloak themselves with good deeds and complete repentance, because for a moment there will be fury and then it will pass -and the righteous will be saved, as it says – all that are there will be written in a book.”

And in Daniel’s awesome vision (12:1): “And at that time shall Mikhail standup, the great chief angel, who stands for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was seen since there was
a nation till that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered,every one who shall be found written in this book.” The Ibn Ezra comments: “They will only be salvaged because of the great heavenly prince Mikhail. Therefore, only those written in the book will be saved – and they are the righteous.” Rav Sadia Gaon explains it the same way.

Total “Tshuva”

Only those who sincerely believe in G-d will be saved. Only those who understand the obligation to stand up to the test of faith and trust in G-d during difficult times when external and internal enemies are poised against us will be salvaged. While Shabbat, Kosher food, and the laws of family purity are great mitzvot in which one can attain eternal life, they are simply not enough. Without genuine trust in G-d, then all these mitzvot have no real meaning. When G-d’s Name is being desecrated daily and we persist in perpetuating national Hillul Hashem by our refusal to fulfill mitzvot which may anger the nations, fulfillment of private mitzvot will not suffice. By not performing “difficult” mitzvot which express real faith in G-d, we remain mere practitioners of sterile ritual.

Who really believes in G-d? Who really says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will make mention of the Name of the Lord our G-d”,and means it? Does he really believe that the Syrian tanks, the Iraqi missiles, and most importantly, America’s money are not the least bit relevant in light of our obligation to fulfill G-d’s “national”
commandments? This is the true “tshuva”; this is “the return will all their hearts” which Rashi spoke of.

Let us not smooth things over, but rather take these words very seriously. We are speaking about facts which our prophets and sages warned about if we do not do complete “tshuva”. Just as all their previous words have come true to this day, there is no reason to believe that the rest of their words are mere “doomsday fairy tales.”

A Plea to Individuals

No one amongst us really knows the precise accountings of G-d and how much of an extension He will grant us before the final stage of the redemption. But one thing is clear: We know the tragedy the nation is facing, as they
follow their wicked leaders whose motto is “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” And so it is our obligation to at least turn to individuals who want to save themselves. Perhaps by pleading to individuals, who by nature want to save themselves and their loved ones, we can find hearts open to our words. Perhaps this reawakening, with G-d’s help, will effect the general populace.

Our sages made an additional comment on the passage, “And if one tenth remain in it, then that shall again be consumed”: “G-d said to Isaiah… I have created for them ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur so that they would repent completely during these days.” Incredible! Instead of punishing us blow after blow until “she is consumed”, G-d gives us a ten day grace period to repent and salvage ourselves from these horrors. It is our last chance to bring in the redemption with splendor and majesty. Today, if we will listen to His voice.

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