“It Seemed So Powerful, So Unshakable” by Dr. Joel Berman


וראה הכהן והנה...טהור הוא, “And the Kohen shall look, and behold, the צרעת has covered him entirely, and he shall declare the affliction pure; having turned completely white, it is pure” (13:13).

In Gemara Sanhedrin (97), Rav Yitzchak says, “Mashiach will not come until all of the kingdoms have become heretical (based solely on שקר, falsehood).”  As a support, Rava quotes our Pasuk, “[The Tzaraat], having turned completely white, it is pure.”  Rav Shimon Schwab, zt”l, asks, “What do the Halachot of נגעים have to do with Geulah?”

It is well known that any successful lie must contain some element of truth or it will not be believed.  Rashi cites the Meraglim as an example.  Their report began with milk and honey and ended describing a land that “eats its inhabitants.”  So too, Chazal teach us that Tumah cannot exist independently.  It needs at least a small source of purity for nourishment or it will disappear, i.e. “having turned completely white, it is pure.”

I remember having a discussion with one of my Rabbeim about the fall of the Soviet Union.  “It seemed so powerful, so unshakable,” he said.  He told me how he stood transfixed watching the Berlin wall being broken apart by an angry mob with sledgehammers, until the Mashgiach said to him, “Nu?  What did you expect?”  It is laughable that the most sought-after degree in the Soviet university system used to be Doctor of Communism.  Now, a former professor of Communism is utterly unemployable.  Anything based on lies ultimately fails.

It has been my experience that the truth is often like a bubble trapped under water.  It might take a long time for it to surface, but eventually it does.  Rav Yitzchak is telling us that the time for Mashiach will be when, after experimenting with just about everything else and seeing those systems collapse, we finally put our faith exclusively in Hashem, the Torah, and Mitzvot.

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