Rabbi Kessin: Trump’s Repentance for Esau is Part of Redemption
US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall (Image credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv (DSC_3714OSD) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
The dramatic events of recent weeks, occurring in rapid succession — namely Trump’s bold stance on behalf of Jerusalem and the U.N.’s consequential reaction to it, the commutation of Sholom Rubashkin’s imprisonment, the passing of the tax reform bill, and the reforms in Saudi Arabia — are all the more exciting when regarded as steps of a messianic process.
Trump’s action of declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was immediately denounced as “counterproductive.” Strident voices warned of risks to the peace process, while cries of uprising resounded in the Muslim world. Trump’s action was reckoned as a possible cause for a crusade to wrest Jerusalem from the Jews, not unlike medieval Christendom’s crusades to wrest Jerusalem from the Muslims. Almost immediately, the U.N. demanded that Trump rescind his declaration. In response, Trump warned he would defund those who enjoy America’s largesse while spurning its values.
Trump’s release of Rubashkin came suddenly on the eighth day of Hanukkah. The ensuing raucous global celebration was not unlike Yosef finding himself just hours after his release standing before the imperial man-god of Egypt. Auspiciously, on the same day as Rubashkin’s release, the long-awaited tax reform bill was approved, heralding for its proponents a prosperous future. Lastly, Saudi Arabia’s radical shift toward liberalism and modernity, its abandonment of Wahhabi extremism suggests that this, too, is messianic.
A leading expert on the Ramhal, Rabbi Mendel Kessin, spoke on the inner meaning of these events at a recent shiur. According to Rabbi Kessin, who received smicha—ordination—from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, we know from the Ramban that events of the Patriarchs are the template for their descendants. The hidden story of Ya’akov and Esau reveals the prophetic features of recent events (Gen 25: 22-24). The epic struggle begun in Rivkah’s womb is, in actuality, the future unfolding of the messianic era.
Whereas the patriarchal task of Ya’akov was to bring down kedusha (holiness), dwelling in tents of Torah, Esau, who was no less a patriarch, had a different task. His was to subdue and destroy evil in the bloody, debauched fields of the world. Esau’s neshama as a “shoresh” - root soul - was meant to destroy the root of evil, the Satan, ending evil’s existence.
Unfortunately, Esau succumbed to the Satan’s wiles and, instead of fighting him, fed him. Having failed, the task of rectifying creation - which is referred to as the “tikun” process - continued instead with Ya’akov and his descendents’ observance of mitzvot, doing t’shuva (repentance), or enduring suffering. All three of these terms are tikun devices. But even Esau’s failure to be part of the tikun process and resultant loss of the blessing is destined for a reclamation and reversal.
This state of affairs of Esau’s possible failure of his task was preceded by a prophecy given to our matriarch Rivkah, that the elder of the twin brothers (i.e. Esau) agitating within her would “serve” the younger. But the wording of “serve” in the Torah text can be read either as “ya’avod” - he shall serve - or “va’aved” - he shall oppress - due to the absence of pronunciation markings (nekudot) in the Torah text.
Therefore two potential meanings emerge. Thus Esau must be involved in the tikun - or rectification - process by either assisting Ya’akov directly in his observance of the mitzvot, or by being the cause of his suffering, which is also a tikun method. What emerges from this is that Esau will serve Ya’akov if he serves G-d’s Will, or Esau will persecute and oppress him if he sins.
Such has been the relationship between B’nei Yisrael (the nation of Ya’akov) and Edom (the nation of Esau) since the inception of the Roman subjugation, which ultimately morphed into Christianity and its subsequent inquisitions and expulsions. It again morphed into Western Civilization and its subsequent pogroms, blood libels, crusades, and exterminations, i.e. the Holocaust.
Esau has indeed fostered judgment and suffering upon the Jews for their myriad transgressions. However, this hostile and antagonistic relationship is destined for a reversal of his original task of serving Ya’akov. The elder will indeed eventually serve the younger, and will rejoin Yisrael in the final phase of the Jewish national task - tikun - and thereby receive merit and reward.
“A man fought with Ya’akov all night,” scripture says (Gen. 32:25). The man is Esau’s guardian angel, Satan. Why all night? Four thousand years of crushing exile is indeed a long night. When morning dawns, and the messianic era commences, the angel demands to be released. Ya’akov refuses unless and until the angel blesses him. The angel’s blessing admits that Ya’akov has prevailed over him.
As victor, Ya’akov is now the legitimate appointee of G-d. He has earned the name “Yisrael.” Esau also concurs by saying, “Let that which is yours, be yours” (Gen 33:9). It is of critical importance to note that Esau’s complaint against Ya’akov for stealing the blessings and the birthright is withdrawn.
So who are these fractured manifestations of Esau today? Edom’s three-fold nature, like that of its progenitor who is Esau, is arrogance, fraudulence, and hedonism. Who are Edom’s practitioners of recent times?
They are: The Soviet Union, the arrogant Communist state descended from the ruthless Czars and Russian aristocrats. Europe is the magnificent fraud which gave the world the Enlightenment even as it was brutalizing the Jews, ornamenting its treachery with gold-leafed splendor. Hedonistic America has been comparatively benign, a purveyor and consumer of pleasure and exponent of liberty and justice. America is the “tov she’b’Esau” (the good that is in Esau) to be purified by his t’shuva.
Who will do this? Donald J. Trump is that man, though he is unaware of his Divine mission and certainly wouldn’t believe it if he were told so. What, basically, is a messianic figure but someone who creates a paradigm shift or, in Trump’s phraseology, “drains the swamp”?
Certainly, Trump is not the messiah of the Jews; but he is the catalyst to “m’taher” - purify - the good part of Esau, which is America. Trump is Esau’s representative in the field, tamping down America’s evil, helping Israel, and, at long last, returning to the original task for which he was born to accomplish, namely, tikkun - rectification.
The declaration that Jerusalem, the holy city of G-d, is Israel’s capital is Edom’s admission that Israel is, undeniably, G-d’s appointee, and Judaism is its spiritual root. And if Jerusalem is the Jewish capital, then what else is Israel but the Jewish homeland? “Let that which is yours, be yours,” declares Esau.
Consider too that shortly after his inauguration, Trump visited the Kotel, becoming the only U.S. president to do so. Recall that popular image of him in meditation, testifying to the supremacy of the G-d of Abraham in view of the entire world, an act of t’shuva on behalf of Esau.
As an addendum to this, there are two more acts of t’shuva: First, Trump gave a Hanukkah party at the White House. What is Esau/Edom doing praising Jews for their Hanukkah? It is a form of vidui - confession - that the spiritual nexus of the Jews is the Beit Ha’Mikdash, for what else is the essential event of Hanukkah but the rededication of the Beit Ha’Mikdash?
Next, Edom/Trump, by commuting Rubashkin’s sentence, symbolically expresses regret and remorse for the continuing treachery toward the Jews who, though not unstained by sin, were, like Rubashkin, certainly ravaged and brutalized beyond their due. And the accompanying ecstasy, the dancing in the streets of the world by throngs of Jews, implies that Rubashkin’s liberation was intuitively felt like the liberation of Klal Yisroel. Furthermore, we should regard his liberation to be a subtle harbinger of the way Mashiach ben Yosef will appear, suddenly and with tumultuous fanfare.
With Trump’s ongoing fortification of America and its might enlisted on behalf of Israel, that prosecutorial angel, namely the Satan, already weakened from millennia of our mitzvot, t’shuva, and suffering, is nearly vanquished. His desperation is demonstrated by the opposition to Trump, which is unprecedented and extraordinary.
It is critical to understand that the U.N. is the present-day Gog u’Magog that is prophesied by Ezekiel, chapter 38. The numerical value of Gog u’Magog is “70,” which is the total number of roots of the nations of the world.
It is Edom’s/America’s repentance and its mission to defend the Jewish nation against its enemies. We see now that the continual attacks on Israel are being blocked by Trump. We now have a formidable advocate powerful enough to temper their vicious and outrageous claims.
T’hara - Purification - of Ishmael
In the last days, Ishmael, like Esau, has a t’hara. Yalkut Shemoni 499 of Yeshayahu prophesizes that shortly before Mashiach ben David appears, Poras (Persia, present-day Iran) wars with Arav (Arabia, present-day Saudi Arabia) and Arav seeks counsel with Edom (America).
The Saudis/Sunnis and their allies (Ishmaelites) have woken up to the fact that unless they ally themselves with America and Israel, they’re defenseless against Iran and its allies. Furthermore, with the advent of electric and hydrogen-powered cars, they anticipate the price of oil declining.
So, having dismissed the radical Wahhabi clerics, replacing them with religious advisors amenable to Christianity and Judaism, and collaborating with Trump and Israel, Saudi King Salman has aligned himself anew. The Palestinian Authority is becoming “neutered” and rendered irrelevant. Deals disadvantageous to Israel are fading, and there is a chance for Israel’s stunted growth to regenerate.
The Downfall of the “Erev Rav”
This term refers to those forces that seek to destroy the authority of the Torah, which is the unique bond between G-d and the Jews. It would seem that the current manifestation of the Erev Rav is the media, the Supreme Court, the Knesset, the military establishment, and those prominent Jews who seek to sever or weaken the bond between the Jews and the Torah.
They will fall as suddenly as Haman, and as surprisingly as Trump’s popular movement took hold. This is the classic “v’nahafoch hu,” a term that refers to the sudden overthrow of Haman, that which seems to come out of nowhere. Another indication of the Erev Rav’s waning influence was the absence of Reform Movement representatives at Trump’s Hanukkah party.
Preparation for Mashiach
The Jews require preparation for Mashiach’s arrival. As happened at Sinai, the exposure to the Messianic light is overwhelming and potentially lethal. After the Erev Rav are deposed, an interim and transitional leader can, with “siyata dishmaya” - heavenly assistance - form the government and raise Klal Yisrael’s spirituality and Torah scholarship. This can be brought about by restoring a true Torah curriculum in the elementary and high schools in Israel and by funding kiruv (outreach) organizations. It must not be supposed that anyone will be forced or coerced toward this goal. However, a Jew’s neshama is always susceptible to Torah because of the Divine spark that exists within him.
Rabbi Kessin will be in Jerusalem speaking on “Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem - Its Significance and Messianic Implications” January 14, 8pm, Yael Street 4.
Anyone seeking further clarification and explanation of current events and the messianic process are invited to visit Rabbi Kessin’s website, torahthinking.com, for the complete “21st Century” series of video lectures along with 300 shiurim which deal extensively with the hashkofa of the Ramchal. His videos can also be found at https://www.torahanytime.com and on YouTube.
Rabbi Kessin received smicha from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the greatest posek ha’dor of the previous generation. He went on to receive several more from important Israeli rabbis. Rabbi Kessin also received his doctoral degree in psychology from Fordham University, NY. In 1987, Rabbi Kessin helped found the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. Rabbi Kessin is considered an expert in the writings of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, the Ramchal; he lectures extensively and internationally on the Torah of the Ramchal.