It is a Torah axiom, first brought down in the Tanakh (Bible) and elaborated upon by the Talmud, that the final redemption will climax with the enormous battle between the Jewish people and Gog and the nations of the world who come up with him against the land of Israel.
But this entire concept is understood only superficially by the average yeshiva student and certainly the place of the State of Israel and the return of the exiles in the context of Gog is, at best, vague. And in this connection is the question that is asked by numerous Jews again including yeshiva students:
What guarantees us that the state of Israel will survive and is it not possible that, G‑d forbid, it will be destroyed?
Since the yeshiva world, unfortunately, studies little Tanakh and less Midrash (Jewish commentaries on the Tanakh), so much of Jewish concepts and attributes are closed books with all the subsequent loss of understanding of the totality of the Jewish Idea. In any event, the question is asked and the answer follows.
The Prophet Zechariah (13.8) states: "And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the L‑rd, two parts therein shall be cut off and die, but the third shall be left therein." And our Rabbis declare (Tanchuma, Shoftim 9): "They [Israel] shall not be settled in their land until the third redemption. The first redemption is the redemption from Egypt. The second is redemption of Ezra [from Babylon]. The third will never end."
And the Rabbis say, again (Psikta Zutrata): "To give [the land] unto them and their seed after them ...' Rebbe says: 'Unto them' -- those are the ones who came into the land from the desert [from Egypt]; 'and their seed' -- those are the ones who came up from Babylon; 'after them' -- those are the times of the Messiah."
From both of these one can see that the third coming up to the land, coming back to the land from the Exile, is the one that is of the times of the Messiah and which "will never end."
And concerning the verse in Hosea, "After two days He shall revive us, in the third day He will raise us up and we shall live in His sight" (6.2) the classical Biblical commentator, the Radak, writes:
"This speaks of the future. And 'after two days', refers to the two exiles, the Egyptian exile and the Babylonian exile. 'On the third day,' refers to this, the third exile, from which He will raise us up 'and we shall live in His sight,' and we shall never again be exiled."
And concerning the same verse, the commentator Metzudat David writes: "In the third period, the future redemption, He will raise us up from our fall and we will live before Him forever for we will not go into exile again."
One brings down the clear words of our Rabbis and gedolim of past and greater times because one is appalled at some of the statements that come out of the mouths of various students and circles in the yeshiva world. Rather than worry and fear the clear warnings of the Torah and Rabbis of the Talmud concerning the ultimate and inescapable horrors that G‑d will afflict the Jew in the exile (and of which He has written again and again in a vain attempt to get Jews to understand the tragedy that hovers over the heads of the Jews of that exile), they utter all manner of incredible arguments that both humiliate Eretz Yisrael and the Almighty, may we be forgiven.
The incredible rise of the State of Israel and all the miraculous events that surround it become things of little consequence for the overwhelming numbers of Orthodox denizens of the exile. Not only does Eretz Yisrael become galus (a diaspora) in the perverted concepts that have caused them to twist Torah truth, but Israel becomes a possibly temporary thing that could be destroyed, G‑d forbid. Do these people not realize what they do? They do nothing less than mock the Almighty!
The State of Israel as a temporary thing that could be destroyed? Do we then mock the Almighty and make from Him and His events a joke? Do we take the stupendous miracles that we have seen in our days and make of them meaningless things? Does the Almighty then bring back a huge part of the Jewish people to its land from the four corners of the earth after 2,000 years and give them an independent state, and give us breath-taking wars of liberation and survival, only to then plunge us back into destruction after 40 or 50 years? Does the prophecy of Zechariah mean nothing when he says: "Old men and women will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem ... and the streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there?" (8.4-5). Does all that we have seen and realized in our times become a game, a meaningless thing that can disappear tomorrow because the denizens of the glatt kosher fleshpots of exile must find yet another rationalization for not coming back and fulfilling their religious obligation to live in the land?
The State of Israel is [in] G‑d's hand and the fact that its leaders and governments are the worst of the scoffers and deniers and corrupters of Judaism has no relevance vis-à-vis the meaning of the State in the prophetic vision of the era of the redemption.
[This commentary, written by Rabbi Meir Kahane, originally appeared in "The Magazine of the Authentic Jewish Idea," September-October 1990/Elul 5750-Tishrei 5751. Emphasis added. Barbara Ginsberg maintains a weekly mailing list of the writings of Rabbi Kahane. If you would like to receive these weekly mailings, you can join the list by contacting her .—ed]