The War of Gog and Magog

Learning without fear — the Chassidus perspective

The Giant Fish Slaughters the Ox

The year 5781 was marked not only by the Corona pandemic, but also the tragic events of Lag B’Omer when 45 Jews perished during the celebration at the resting place of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.  A year later it is possible to see an amazing connection between these events and the sources that tell us that the war of Gog and Magog is the battle between the giant fish and the huge ox (Levyoson and the Shor haBor, explained in the previous article).

To understand how these things are interconnected, we first have to understand a halachic detail of the battle of the Levyoson and the Shor haBor.  The Midrash states that the giant Ox will rip the fish with its horns, while the fish will slaughter (“shecht”) the ox with its fins.  The word “shecht” means specifically kosher slaughter, which prompts the Midrash to ask: haven’t we learned* that “all may slaughter, and one may slaughter with anything except a jagged scythe, a saw, etc.” This includes, by extension, all jagged blades — including the fins of a fish.  The reason is that the jagged edges don’t make a clean, painless cut, rather they cut in steps, strangling the animal (rather than severing the windpipe and esophagus) and render the slaughter not-kosher.**  Similarly, if one pauses while cutting and then continues, the slaughter is not kosher.

These invalid manners of slaughter can be expressed as cutting in “waves” (rising and falling).  This provides another connection to Corona: it came in waves (“The first wave”, “the second wave”, etc.).  How is this connected to Lag B’Omer?  The word for “wave” in loshon hakodesh is “gal“.  “Gal” is of course the letters of “Lag” in reverse.  But more than that: in a seminal Chassidic Discourse the Alter Rebbe explains that there is hint to “Lag B’Omer” in the Torah, found in the verse “this mound is a witness” (“eid hagal hazeh”, עֵ֚ד הַגַּ֣ל הַזֶּ֔ה — Bereishis 31:52).  The word “gal” in the verse is a hint to the “Lag” of Lag B’Omer.  The Alter Rebbe then goes on to explain its significance: this “mound” was built as divider between Yaakov Avinu and his father-in-law, the tricky Lavan, so that neither would trouble the other.  The word “gal” doesn’t mean a permanent wall, but rather a temporary divider that will be removed at some point. This also represents a divider between the revealed Torah and Pnimiyus Hatorah, the inner dimension of Torah.  Since Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai) was the first to dismantle the spiritual barrier between the inner dimension and the revealed dimension of Torah, his passing and elevation took place on Lag B’Omer (“Lag“) which is hinted at in the verse (“Gal“).  This, in a tiny nutshell, is the Alter Rebbe’s explanation relevant to our subject.

If we return to the tragedy of Lag B’Omer, 5781, we find that a significant factor in the tragedy was a corrugated metal wall (a temporary divider) that had been erected along one of the exits***.  If this barrier was not in place, it is likely that the tragedy could have been avoided.  As we understand from the Alter Rebbe, the celebration of Lag B’Omer is in fact the celebration of the life’s-work of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai to remove a barrier, and this tragedy was aided by the construction of a barrier.  Again: the barrier is called in the Torah “gal” (wave), which recalls the slaughtering of the Shor haBor with the jagged fins of the Leviyoson.  And we see the concept repeated in the “waves” of Corona, and, in 5782, a “wave” of terrorist attacks in Israel against innocent civilians, may Hashem protect us.

As explained previously (see the previous article for the relevant Torah sources) this battle between the Levyoson and the Shor haBor is itself the war of Gog and Magog.  The previous article showed how Corona, Omicron, and Ukraine can be seen as connected with the horns of the Shor haBor with which it tears apart the Levyoson.  Here we see how the shechting of the Shor haBor is connected with the “waves” of Corona, the wave of terrorism, and the Gal/Lag of L’ag B’Omer and the incomprehensible tragedy which occurred.

Let us be clear: it is not enough that we recognize that what is happening is part of the process of Geuloh.  We need to take a lesson from it, as we learn from the Ba’al Shem Tov: that everything a Jew sees or hears is an instruction in serving Hashem.  What is the instruction to us here?!

We can suggest the following: the instruction is to greatly increase the learning of Pnimiyus HaTorah, which in our days is found in the teachings of Chassidus which are relevant to everyone.  Learning Chassidus properly — understanding that the spiritual dimension is the living soul of Torah and the world which animates the body and it’s garments — tears down the barrier between the inner dimension and the outer, which prevents tragedies.  And more, the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains (see here for details) that it is through learning Pnimiyus HaTorah that we can draw down the unfathomable level of Kesser (the Crown, above intellect) into our own human intellect and through this transform the Gola (exile) to Geuloh (redemption) — which is exactly the reason for the war of Gog and Magog!

It is not a time to cry, nor a time to gape at the wonders.  It is a time to draw down the Divine light of Pnimiyus HaTorah into our minds, and to experience the wonders instead of suffering or tests of faith.  Enough is enough, and it’s up to us.

* Second Mishna of tractate Chulin.

** Those curious to know how the slaughter of the Shor haBor via the fins of the Levyoson will be rendered kosher are invited to read the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s amazing explanation.

*** Read the testimony of Yitzchak Deri, who recognized the danger shortly before the tragedy occurred.

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This entry was posted on May 15, 2022 by and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .


Gog and Magog

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