In the FC discussions, I assumed the role of defense attorney. It is time to say that the defense rests and to send the case to the jury. Josh Waxman put up some interesting arguments to my last post (check them out!). They appear to make sense, so the objective jurist (if there is one) can put it on the "against" pan on the way into the deliberation room. I could respond to some of them but then this debate can just go on forever and not really get anywhere. Personally, I don't really care what the final verdict is - after all, I am working pro bono!
The point I am trying to make is that every person should make his own judgment and we ought to move on to other things.
That said, there is one thing that Josh brought up in his comments which I feel is false and out of line that I do need to object to. He wrote:
"The Gedolim who granted haskamos wrote that one should consult with one's rav before taking action, because rabbis are our leaders, not autistics, and meanwhile these autistics degrade rabbis who disagree with them. They have greatly overstepped their original mandate, and the hamon am is following them in this."
This is a gross distortion of the truth. I do recall (I am not going to hunt for excerpts) that there are a few occasions where they were asked why the Gedolim are silent on some of the issues that they speak out about in terms of impressing tznius (shaitels and makup) or perhaps on the aliya issue and their response went along the lines of that the gedolim of today in general are weak in their influence and/or are afraid to. I have no doubt that this is what Josh is referring to.
Nevertheless, they have at the same time said repeatedly that they are not here to pasken Halacha, that they are not rabbanim, that we should ask all our shailos to rabbonim, etc. They have never locked horns with any specific Gadol and they have never, ever said anything that remotely sounds like: "Listen to us, not to them!"
In fact, the latest entry of their web site is a recommendation to review the last FC from Galia which is chapter 49. I looked it over and right there in the middle she writes (though this may be from an editor as it is in parentheses):
(הערה חשובה: בקשר לכנסים ושעורי תורה, ולכל שאלה, יש לשאול רב
הרבנים הם שליחי ה'!).
(Important note - with regard to assemblies and Torah lectures, and for all [Halachic] queries, one must consult a Rabbi. The Rabbis are the messengers of HKBH!)
I maintain that the autistics have never wavered from this position. Our job is to listen to (the proper) Rabbis. Their job is to let us know that the words of the neviim about acharis hayamim are authentic, that the time of fulfillment is very close, and that we should be prepared for it. This is something the Gedolim are not doing. I am sorry but I do not see them overstepping their mandate (assuming they have one!). Incidentally, I also do not see the "hamon am" following them at all!
While we are conducting closing arguments, I do want to add something about their "predictions". My take is that unless they state a precise prediction as a sign of authenticity as the Torah tells us in Parshas Re'eh, short term predictions are not to be used not to authenticate and not to invalidate. You may notice that I didn't put any "fulfilled" predictions on the "for" side of the scale, nor would I put "unfulfilled" predictions on the "against" side. I totally discount them.
This is because anyone who is brash enough to make predictions always has his alibis in his pocket. Most of the time they are vague and not time-defined. The most common excuse is that the time hasn't come or it was delayed. Sometimes it may be, "it was fulfilled but not the way you understood it". Most of the prophecies in Tanach have not come true yet and we believers still maintain that they are neviei emmes. One of the most common questions that these guys get is - "why haven't most of the things that you have said for years will happen very, very, soon and 'there is no time left' come to pass?" And they continually say that G-d has his timetable and has not revealed it to anybody. While, at the same time, we all dance around gleefully singing, "Yeshuas Hashem k'heref ayin..."
Now, in a previous discussion, I did allude to someone who was identified as a "tzadik nistar" being promoted by another messianic blog. I have no idea who this fellow is supposed to be, what his credentials are, and if he is truly a tzadik (though it is clear he is a nistar). He caused a whole hullaballoo by having the temerity to predict that Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 2009 was the absolute latest deadline for North American Jews to make aliya. I never bought his "deadline" and neither did the autistics who refused to corroborate his prediction. Like many others, I did stand on watch to see if anything substantial did happen on R"Ch Sivan and there was nothing of note. This did not surprise me so I just shrugged it off. Josh maintains that he has established himself to be a lunatic (nistar). I commented that it's a bit too early to reach that conclusion.
What did I mean?
First, let me say this: I have no truck with this fellow so I don't need to stand up for him. Yet, the reason I threw him on to the list of "credible" doomsayers is because we relate in one department - his game is aliya and so is mine. And though it looks like his prediction was baloney because his deadline didn't come through, I think that the detractors are missing the forest on account of the trees.
What I mean is that I personally feel (and thus agree) that the "window of opportunity" for making aliya is not open as wide as it used to be and could be slammed shut at any given moment. I sure hope it doesn't happen but I feel certain about one thing: the prospects for making aliya are becoming more and more difficult as time goes by.
Rosh Chodesh Sivan 2009 may not have been any watershed event but I see clearly that to make aliya today is much more difficult than it was, say, 3 years ago and markedly more than it was 10 years ago when I did it. There are many who two or four or six years ago could have made a comfortable aliya and now it would come with the utmost hardship. People used to laugh at the quaint joke about, "Q. How do you make a small fortune in Israel? - A. Bring a big one". Now, lots of those big fortunes are gone. In the past, this "joke" was (unfortunately) the formula for a North American to make aliya. Not too long ago people told themselves, "If I feel like making Aliya, I will sell my 700k house and buy a nice apartment in Jerusalem or a villa in Beit Shemesh (or half of Efrat) for 3-400k and have a nice cash bundle to supplement my meager Israeli income."
Now the 700k house is worthless because there are no buyers for it. Cash investments are not bringing livable returns. And the job and housing market in Israel is shrinking by the day.
I think that the late 1990s were the most favorable time ever to make aliya. (I came in 1997). Both the American and Israeli economies were flying high. A dollar only bought 3.5 shekels but 3.5 shekels bought you a liter of milk or gasoline or a loaf of bread. Now, a dollar may buy you 3.9 shekels but milk is up to 5 shekels, gasoline to 6 and bread to 7. And do not fool yourself that the food supply is anywhere near where it was. I don't know if anybody noticed that there are no avocados in Eretz Yisroel this year. Why should they, who needs avocados? After all, the great rice crisis is behind us - isn't it? Of course, there was an announcement last week that the next shipment of Kosher meat from South America will come at a 40% increase.
Every day, the situation get's more difficult, but everyone's hitting their snooze buttons because they didn't see anything happen on R"Ch Sivan.
So let's talk about R"Ch Sivan.
Like I said, people who are foolish enough to make predictions usually carry around their alibis in their pockets. Aliya is a process that takes a number of months at best. One needs to apply and be approved and then make the necessary arrangements. The people who are making aliya today are those who began the process a few months back.So conceivably, if - Chas V'Shalom - some major political crisis were to occur over the next month or so that may impede on the ability to travel and make aliya, it could still transpire that the ones that arrive over the summer are the ones who applied for aliya before R"Ch Sivan and those who applied after R"Ch Sivan don't complete the process (R"L).
So you can laugh at the lunatic who said that Rosh Chodesh Sivan is the last possible date to make aliya and convince yourself that nothing changed and the window of opportunity will never close. But, as for me, even though I will not stand in the corner of this anonymous "tzadik nistar", I am not 100% ready to brand him as a lunatic. Because the way I see things, whether Rosh Chodesh Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Ellul, etc. - they are all deadlines. And anybody who thinks that next month it will be any easier -or even just as easy -to make aliya as the preceding month may be the biggest lunatic of all.
Because the times, they are a changing!