Last week, we presented three astonishing fulfillments of Biblical prophecies that demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the Torah constitutes the word of Hashem. In this essay, we present more prophecies many of which we witness their fulfillment in recent decades.
Hein Am LeVadad Yishkon
The Torah (BeMidbar 23:9 and Devarim 33:28) describes the Jewish people as “dwelling alone”. This phrase accurately portrays our destiny as being always being at least somewhat isolated from the rest of humanity. Indeed, secular Zionists, as brilliant and talented as they were in laying the foundations for a Jewish State, mistakenly thought that the Jewish people would cease dwelling alone once the Jewish State was established. They thought a Jewish State would bring an end to anti-Semitism, which they thought stemmed from our being a nation like no other, which possesses no land of its own.
In fact, Israeli ambassador Yehuda Avner (The Prime Ministers p. 396) reports that Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir remarked how lonely she invariably felt when she attended a session at the United Nations. “We have no family there,” she said. “Israel is entirely alone there. But why should that be?” Golda Meir, who was thoroughly secular, did not bother answering her momentous question.
However, an Israeli leader of a much more traditional bent, Menachem Begin, understood fully that this phenomenon is due to the Torah’s prediction. Prime Minister Begin stated (ibid.):
“One does not have to be a mystic for the imagination to be stirred by such an improbable vision of a nation forever dwelling alone. Is it not a startlingly accurate prophecy of our Jewish people’s experience in all of history?”
In contrast with secular Zionists, religious Zionist Yaakov Herzog writes in his work A People that Dwells Alone (p. 52):
“The theory of classic Zionism was national normalization. What was wrong with the theory? It was the belief that the idea of a ‘people that dwells alone’ is an abnormal concept, when actually a ‘people that dwells alone’ is the natural concept of the Jewish people. That is why this one phrase still describes the totality of the extraordinary phenomenon of Israel’s revival. If one asks how the ingathering of the exiles, which no one could have imagined in his wildest dreams, came about, or how the State of Israel could endure such severe security challenges, or how it has built up such a flourishing economy, or how the unity of the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora has been preserved, one must come back to the primary idea that this is ‘a people that dwells alone’. More than that, one must invoke this phrase not only to understand how the Jews have existed for so long; one must invoke it as a testimony to the Jewish right to exist at all in the land of their rebirth.”
A Tiny Nation that brings a Blessing to the World
Hashem’s promise to Avraham Avinu (BeReishit 12:3) that his descendants will bring blessing to the world has been fulfilled by the Jewish people as a whole and individuals. Yet the Torah (Devarim 4:27) predicts that Jewish people will remain small in number during their exile. Nonetheless, the basic noble values of western society such as kindness to the weakest members of society, honoring parents and a day of rest all emanate from the teachings of the Torah. The Jewish people have produced Nobel Prize winners far beyond their proportion (between 1901 and 2008, more than 750 individuals have been named Nobel Prize laureates; of these, at least 163 are Jews). The State of Israel contributes breakthroughs in technology, medicine and science far beyond what would be expected from a country with a relatively small population.
Paul Johnson (a Christian historian, author of A History of the Jews and A History of Christianity) expressed this point as follows:
“Certainly, the world without the Jews would have been a radically different place. Humanity might have eventually stumbled upon all the Jewish insights. But we cannot be sure. All the great conceptual discoveries of the human intellect seem obvious and inescapable once they had been revealed, but it requires a special genius to formulate them for the first time. The Jews had this gift. To them we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of human person; of the individual conscience and so a personal redemption; of collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice, and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind. Without Jews it might have been a much emptier place.”
Devarim warns that if we are exiled as a result of sin, “You will be a source of astonishment, a parable and a conversation piece, among all the peoples where Hashem will lead us” (Devarim 28:37). From one country to another, from one culture to another, from one religion to another, although their lifestyles, philosophies, and so forth are extremely different, there is one thing all of the peoples of the world which encountered Jews had in common: They all, at one point or another, included individuals, and even large segments of their populations, who did not like Jews. The universality and persistence of anti-Semitism has puzzled many thinking individuals. Former British Prime Minister Lloyd George stated in 1923:
“Of all the extreme fanaticism which plays havoc in man’s nature, there is not one as irrational as anti-Semitism. … If the Jews are rich [these fanatics claim they] are victims of theft. If they are poor, they are victims of ridicule. If they take sides in a war, it is because they wish to take advantage from the spilling of non-Jewish blood. If they espouse peace, it is because they are scared by their natures or traitors. If the Jew dwells in a foreign land he is persecuted and expelled. If he wishes to return to his own land, he is prevented from doing so.”
In a 1987 speech about the irrationality of anti-Semitism, Professor Michael Curtis of Rutgers University stated:
"The uniqueness of anti-Semitism lies in the fact that no other people in the world have ever been charged simultaneously with alienation from society and with cosmopolitanism, with being capitalistic exploiters and also revolutionary communist advocators. The Jews were accused of having an imperious mentality, at the same time they're a people of the book. They're accused of being militant aggressors, at the same time as being cowardly pacifists. With being a Chosen people, and also having an inferior human nature. With both arrogance and timidity. With both extreme individualism and community adherence. With being guilty of the crucifixion of Jesus and at the same time held to account for the invention of Christianity."
There is no explanation, independent of Biblical prophecy, which fully explains the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. One may begin to outline a rational explanation based on an understanding that it is the fulfillment of the aforementioned punishment outlined in Devarim 28:37 that specifically states that we will be scorned in all of the nations in which we reside. The Gemara (Shabbat 89b) that states that hatred for the Jews stems from the giving of the Torah at Sinai also contributes to understanding anti-Semitism. However, absent Torah prophecy and insight, one cannot even begin to offer a proper explanation for anti-Semitism.
Other Examples of Fulfilled Prophecies – Mass Revelation, Exile and Return
The Torah (Devarim 4:32-33) prods later generations to consider whether there has ever been a nation that makes a claim of revelation before an entire nation and an entire nation removed from the midst of another nation with great miracles. Indeed, no other nation makes this claim, as we discussed in an earlier essay.
Devarim 4:27-30 records that we will be dispersed among the nations and that subsequently we will return to Hashem. This is an astonishing prediction and runs counter to any rational expectation. There is no other nation in the world that has been without a land for so many years, whose members are divided linguistically and culturally (e.g. the everyday culture and food of Moroccan Jews are quite distinct from the everyday culture of German Jews), yet retain essentially the same religious lifestyle (the core of Sephardic, Ashkenazic and Yemenite Torah observance is identical).
Promises in Rabbinic Literature
The promise of Chazal (Shemot Rabbah 2:2) that Hashem’s presence will not leave the Western Wall has been fulfilled despite the many wars in Jerusalem throughout the centuries. Sadly, the Hagaddah’s statement that in every generation they try to destroy us (and Hashem prevents our total destruction) has been fulfilled as well. The Gemara (Ta’anit 29a) states that Hashem sets aside Tisha BeAv as a day for punishment. Rashi (ad. loc. s.v. VeChovah Al Yedei Yom Chayav) explains that “it is frequent for bad events to occur on that day”. Even Rambam, who is inclined to offering rational explanations for Torah, writes (Hilchot Ta’aniot 5:3) “Tisha B’av is a day set aside for sorrows”.
We find, sadly, the Gemara’s assertion to be historically accurate: The First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II on July 20, 1095 (in the Jewish Calendar Av 9, 4855), killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland. Jews were expelled from England on July 25, 1290 (Av 9, 5050 in the Jewish Calendar). Jews were expelled from Spain on August 11, 1492 (Av 9, 5252). On Tisha B'Av 5674 (August 1, 1914), World War I broke out, causing unprecedented devastation across Europe and setting the stage for World War II and the Holocaust.
Only a divinely authored text could accurately predict the future destiny of the Jewish People – that we would live forever, there will always remain Jews who faithfully adhere to the Torah, the Land of Israel will remain faithful to the Jewish people, that the Jews will always be a nation apart from the rest of the family of nations and the other predictions we have discussed.
Moreover, none of the Torah’s prophecies have been contradicted. Some remain unfulfilled, and we wait their fulfillment, but none have been contradicted. Our great-great-grandparents would have been shocked if told in 5671 (1911) that within a century nearly a majority of the Jewish people will be living in a Jewish State in Eretz Yisrael, that Israel would have one of the world’s mightiest armies, it would be a great center of Torah study and it would be called a “Start-Up Nation” due to its incredible development of innovative ideas and products. The believer of 5671 has been proven correct. The believers in 5772 in the Final Redemption will be proven correct as well.