US VP Mike Pence at the Knesset (Image credit: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
If we examine recent events from within the parameters of what Rabbi Mendel Kessin calls the “theoretic structure of Tu B’Shvat (the 15th of Shvat),” we see that the messianic process is accelerating. Soon after Rosh Chodesh Shvat this year (January 16th), two events stand out: US Vice President Mike Pence made a speech before the Knesset, and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited India.
Rabbi Kessin explains that both events left an indelible signature identifying them as steps in the messianic process. These events are particularly resonant and dramatic as they happened during Shvat. In addition, an astronomical event occurred that should not escape our notice.
Previous speeches given by representatives of the American government cannot rise to “even one iota” of the level that Pence’s Knesset speech did, according to the rabbi (Pence's full speech can be viewed here). In many ways, his speech is an “addendum” to ideas the rabbi has promulgated for several years about the developments in a messianic process (see here and here). Indeed, Pence’s speech has incredibly significant spiritual implications.
Pence made clear that his words come “from my heart,” meaning that they should not be misconstrued as being spoken simply for political consideration - their force comes from what he felt and what is true. He uttered two blessings saying, “May G-d bless the State of Israel. May G-d bless the Jewish people.”
Given that he was addressing the Knesset, it is normal that he would give a blessing solely upon the State of Israel. That Pence also offered a blessing upon the Jewish people suggests a significant and important distinction - that the Jewish people are a distinct entity, Klal Yisrael.
The Final Step of Repentance
But there’s a deeper, concealed purpose to this blessing of the Jewish people. Pence’s blessing is the final step of three in the long-awaited process of Esav’s teshuva (Esau’s repentance). Esav’s destiny to return to his role as patriarch and colossal practitioner of tikkun (repair) rather than an Edomic persecutor of the Jews is being fulfilled via Donald Trump’s presidency according to Rabbi Kessin. Trump, who is a kind of parallel to a Roman Emperor, represents the good part of Esav and thus the better part of Edom, that part to whom a tahara (purification) is bound to occur. Esav attempted to repent when meeting Ya’akov en route to Cana’an, but tragically for Esav and Klal Yisrael, the gesture was not acknowledged and our suffering was amplified.
The first two steps of Esav’s repentance were enacted by Trump last year. Trump’s presidential visit to the Kotel testified to the restoration of a reconstituted Esav doing vidui (confession) acknowledging the G-d of the Jews as the One G-d, and doing so before a global audience. Trump also expressed regret of a wrong perpetuated by the world, a lie perpetuated for decades - that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel. Though the world did not accept this expression of regret, as per the U.N.’s subsequent clamor for a retraction, the pronouncement is vital and valid.
Only the final step of teshuva, to desist from further abuse and to make amends, had not yet come. Until Pence’s speech.
Pence’s blessing of the Jews is that apology, akin to the blessing Ya’akov received from the “ish” with whom he struggled in an all-night battle (Gen 32: 25-32) to resist both his own and Esav’s ga’ava (arrogance). Although Ya’akov succeeded in remaining humble despite the wealth he’d amassed and subdued Esav’s rebellious nature too, Ya’akov would not relinquish his stranglehold on Esav’s angel - the satanic “Yetzer Ha’ra” (evil impulse) - without extracting a blessing, the best blessing of all. He receives the appellation “Yisrael,” a name conferring a special status on Ya’akov as a rectifier of Creation - and a third-generation one! As such, he and the Jewish people became the permanent bearers of this privilege and obligation to complete the tikkun, to bring the Mashiach (messiah) to fulfill the promise G-d made to his grandfather Avraham that through him all mankind will be blessed.
Analyzing Pence’s Words
The homage paid to Israel by Pence was obvious. His speech was compensatory in tone, as he spoke of the “privilege” of addressing the Knesset. He referred to his own “humility” in standing before the governing body of the country. He referred to Israel as a “great country,” suggesting it is a nation on par with America, not because it is technologically advanced or has a strong military, but because its governmental body represents a people “upon whose back the entire creation stands,” as Rabbi Kessin forcefully put it. Pence prophesied without knowing it.
Further, Pence said he spoke from the “heart,” indicating that this emet (truth) emanated not only from him, or even from Trump, but from the American people. The tahara (purification) of America which Trump is actualizing not only affords blessings to its leaders, but to the entire nation. Pence proclaimed, unwittingly, that the entire country stands as a collective entity to assist the Jews in their tikkun mission, one that must be completed in order for Mashiach to come.
This unity of purpose was emphasized further when Pence said, “Our cause is your cause.” And what is the cause of the Jewish nation? To rectify Creation and bring G-d back to our proximity. Pence continued, “Your values are our values; your fight is our fight.” What does the Jew value? To do the Will of G-d. What is the Jew’s fight? To destroy the Satan. The meaning of Pence’s words is far deeper than he perhaps realized, but we must not fail to recognize it.
Meanwhile in India...
“Who” and “what” is India, and why did Netanyahu receive such a phenomenal reception there? His recent visit to India requires special scrutiny.
Coverage of the visit generally noted the warm personal relationship between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Netanyahu. Modi broke protocol by meeting Netanyahu’s flight at the airport, whereas all other national leaders with the exception of America and China - both world superpowers - were met by a designated minister. Also, Modi was at Netanyahu’s side throughout the entire week of the visit. The chemistry between the two was striking, according to reports.
The extraordinary tribute paid Netanyahu came from the people too. Reports attested to streets lined with hundreds of thousands of citizens dressed in their best, acclaiming Netanyahu’s visit all along the route taken by his car for five miles! Netanyahu received unprecedented positive treatment from the people of India during the week of his visit.
Rabbi Kessin emphasizes that this phenomenon in India was atypical and fantastic. Israel’s trading partnership with India does not explain this reaction of the common people. The adoration was palpable and inexplicable until you consider two things: Shvat and the actual root identity of the Indian people.
After Sarah’s death, Avraham fathered many children. He had concubines and ultimately married Hagar, also named Ketura, when she returned after Sarah’s death (Gen 25: 1-6). All Avraham’s progeny had sparks of kedusha (holiness) called nitzot. Avraham bequeathed gifts to his children. Rashi asks about one particular gift. What was it? It was a shem tumah - a divine name of impurity? No, the intent is that the divine name would protect them from defilement. As such, these were spiritual gifts to protect them from avoda zara (paganism), gifts that included meditative practices. According to the Torah, Avraham's offspring “went east, to the land of the east.”
The Zohar says that when Rabbi Ibu went east, he encountered these “Bnei Ketura” or “Bnei Hagar,” and they had retained their spiritual practices - the chochma (wisdom) of Avraham - but intermingled with avoda zara. According to Rabbi Kessin, the meditative spiritual practices that characterize Hinduism can be attributable to Avraham. The Indian people are B’nei Avraham; therefore they have an affinity with the Jewish people. B’nei Avraham are doing teshuva. The Indians are experiencing a joyous reunion with their Jewish half-brothers!
It’s All in the Timing
Why did all this happen in Shvat? Rabbi Kessin explains that the prosecutorial agents of the Jews throughout history - whether Edom, Amalek, or the Erev Rav - each has its time. Edom’s/Esav’s time is Tevet (January) - the time of Christmas. But Edom’s power to persecute the Jews ebbs with the entrance of Shvat (February) and the blossoming of fruits, the blossoming of life.
Shvat gives way to Adar (March), the time of Yosef whose job it is to subdue evil, the job that Esav didn’t qualify to do when he lost his patriarchy. After Adar and Yosef, who is the progenitor of Mashiach ben Yosef, comes Nissan (April), the time of Redemption.
Based on the remarkable events of the past year since Trump became president, and especially the events of the past few months, the messianic process appears to be accelerating, explains Rabbi Kessin. To this is added the tetrad of Blood Moons which occurred during 2014-15, each one on the successive holidays of Passover, Sukkot, Passover, and Sukkot again. Occurring in 1492, this rare event augured Columbus’s sail to America, an event which was a redemptive inauguration for Jews in exile. The next tetrad occurred in 1948, and then again in 1967, each set of four signaling a redemptive surge.
This last occurrence was shortly before Trump’s election. The moon, a symbol of the Jewish people, exhibits a rare and spectacular transaction between premonition and chronology signifying a process that is messianic.
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. The rabbi also received a 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.