This post was also written before the latest, horrible double murder in the old city on Shabbat.
Until around a year ago, I spent a decade in fervent ‘waiting for Moshiach mode’. I quit my soul-destroying job, I chucked out the internet, and before I did all that, I also made aliya to Israel. We moved the day after the expulsion from Gush Katif, and less than two months after the terrorist attacks on the London Underground, and I was sure Moshiach was imminent.
But he didn’t show up.
Then, in the Summer of 2007, Lebanon II happened – and I was sure that now, Moshiach had to be on the way.
And in the meantime, my life started taking a number of twists and turns which only intensified my wish that Moshiach would get his act together, and arrive already.
Where's Moshiach, already?
By last summer, I’d been through two forced house sales, 5 forced house moves, 1 failed business, 3 additional military operations, or ‘mini wars’, one car crash, times when I literally didn’t have money to put food on the table, plus a whole bunch of additional heartache for other reasons.
By last Succot, I was spiritually and materially finished. I just couldn’t any more. I couldn’t hope. I couldn’t be optimistic. I couldn’t believe that anything was ever going to turn around for the better in my life specifically, or for Am Yisrael generally.
Moshiach didn’t show up. And by that point last Succot, something finally snapped inside and I decided that waiting for Moshiach to show up and solve all my problems simply wasn’t working as a strategy. It’s not that I stopped believing that he was going to appear at some point, but I certainly couldn’t afford to believe any more that it was going to be now.
I’d put my life on hold for years waiting for Moshiach, and now God was clearly expecting some other response. That’s when I started writing my books again; when I decided to start blogging properly, when I came out of the internet deep freeze (much to my regret…) and started doing things like Linked In again.
Part of me enjoyed being able to ‘do’ again, but a bigger part of me was so sad that I’d given ‘waiting for Moshiach’ my best shot, and had failed miserably. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t stay in that rarefied spiritual world where God was all there was (and continue to pay my bills.)
Rumoured to arrive on Succot 2015
Fast-forward to the week before Succot, when I read a few classes from Rav Eliezer Berland, where he was talking about Moshiach showing up on Tuesday, the first day of Israeli Chol Hamoed. Rav Berland said that we would hear the shofar hagadol then, and merit to greet Moshiach.
Dear reader, I so wanted to believe, but my new-found cynical ‘realism’ slammed the brakes on hard.
In the meantime, the 10 days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur were really intense and difficult for me. I felt mega-stressed, headache-y and ill most of the time, like I was under some huge spiritual pressure. I staggered into Yom Kippur and spent most of the day in bed, having a serious heart-to-heart with God about what He was really expecting from me this year, and whether I could actually give it to Him.
Then, Succot arrived, and with it a 10% hope that maybe Moshiach was coming…
The sound of the shofar
Tuesday morning at 4.50am, my husband (who’d been sleeping in the sukka outside) rushed into to wake me up and open the window. “It’s the shofar hagadol!” he told me excitedly. Indeed, there was a noise that sounded extremely like a shofar playing a long tekiah note, that continued for 2 minutes. Other neighbours heard it too, and called out ‘techiat hameitim!’ (the revival of the dead.)
But then, that was that. No announcement in shul. No advert in the paper announcing Moshiach’s arrival. No big poster pasted up on the walls of Meah Shearim. Could it be that Moshiach would come, so quietly, and that no-one would even notice, at least initially?
By the end of Tuesday, I felt that familiar sense of cynical resignment settle over me again. It’s good I didn’t get my hopes up, I thought to myself. It’s good I didn’t get excited this time.
Wednesday morning, I woke up with the strangest feeling that Moshiach did come. I have no proof, absolutely no evidence, not a shred of anything real to back that up. But somehow, I feel that Moshiach maybe did come in the back door, while we were all busy obsessing over the latest terrorist attacks, stonings, bombings and shootings that have unfortunately started up again in Israel.
I could be completely wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time. But as the pace of events seems to be glowing white-hot around the world – terror in Israel, Syrian refugees in Europe, Russia in Syria, and Obama in the US – it could be that as Elijah the Prophet found out, God isn’t found in the wars, earthquakes, terrorist attacks and natural disasters after all, but in the still, small voice that sounds terribly like a shofar blast.