SHABTAI TEICHER a"h came to Jerusalem from the United States in the late 1970's. His biography may be found at http://mysticalpaths.blogspot.com/2009/11/rabbi-shabtai-teicher-ah.html,and several of his essays may be found on www.chabad.org. he left this world for the Heavenly Academy on 5 Kislev 5770 (November 22, 2009). Below you will find "The Master of Prayer and the War of Gog," a commentary on the then looming Iraq war in the light of the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, preceded by a memoir written for the sheloshim, the thirty-day commemoration.
REMEMBERING RABBI SHABTAI TEICHER Z”L
It’s always hard to speak of a friend who from now on will be absent. So let me begin by letting you hear Rabbi Teicher’s voice in two poems that he sent me during the 1990’s:
MEDITATION ON THE SHEMA
A pellet of light
Was going to come out
From superb anonymity.
Kicking from within
It refracted through
The Supreme Mother’s Matrix.
As if through a prism
Into seventy lights.
These seventy lights
Becoming the seventy branches
Of the Tree of Life.
This tree gives up a scent.
Then all the trees of the Garden of Eden
The Garden of Delights
Send up smells
That themselves praise their Master,
Their very existence
A song in His Honor.
In the midst of the Garden –
Then the girl gets dressed to go to the chuppah.
All the seventy supernal lights
Join together with one desire,
In unison will
To be one
Without any separation.
And Her husband gets ready
To go to the chuppa
With the same unification –
To be together with the Queen.
Believe it or not
At this point She seems to falter,
Loses Her cool, is afraid to move
That we have to move Her
To arouse Her from dread
So we say Shema Yisrael
And this is what we mean:
“Hear O Israel,
Get yourself ready
Who was destined to be your husband
Is coming to you
Dressed in all his finery
Carrying many good qualities.”
“The Name our G-d, the Tetragrammaton is One.”
One unification, one will.
All these lights joining together
Into One, going into one…
When Israel says “Hashem is One”
There are six words
The three dimensions of space
They become one
They go into the center point
The bride dressed, adorned in Her jewelry
The grooms come to her
To take her
To her husband
In great secrecy
And we whisper,
“Blessed is the glory of His Kingdom
(That is Her)
forever and ever.”
Jerusalem, Tevet 5762
[Based on a commentary (Sulam 125, “Terumah”) on the Zohar, one of the fundamental works of Kabbala.]
WENT TO DEMONSTRATE
…went to demonstrate
totally useless exercise
completely wasted time
a propellor blowing in the wind
a delusion on a pedestal
amid a swamp of hate
At least I won’t feel so lonely,
I’ll know that there are other
Official maniacs, like me.
Suddenly, he asked me there,
“Are you the father of Brian Neebeucher?”
I said, “No.
I am the father of other people,
But not he.”
It was only later
After he was stomped by the police
Along with others I learned
I should not be surprised
In another lifetime
The above two poems were published in The Neovictorian/Cochlea, which I edited (it is now called The Deronda Review). Together they speak of Rabbi Teicher’s deep and staunch devotion to HaShem and Klal Yisrael. In them you can also hear his laughter, which was in no way related to leitsanut. It was more like the laughter of Rabbi Akiba when he saw the fox on the Temple Mount, the laughter of someone who knows what is reality and what is illusion. It was a great honor and privilege to know him. Rabbi Teicher was one of a “troika” of scholar-poets who thought together, lived near each other, and often ate together, the other two being Rabbi Zvi Faier (may he have a refuah shlemah) and Fred Leibowitz.
It is hard for me to describe in words the impression that I had whenever I visited him and his family. Rabbi Teicher’s forcefulness was balanced by the sweetness and unflappable tranquility of his righteous wife Helen. I used to love to look at their children. It was clear that they were being cared for as holy souls entrusted to that worthy couple. The atmosphere in the home was very informal yet I always felt a kind of awe there.
Rabbi Teicher and I had a poetic dialogue that went back to the 1980's. He didn’t write a great deal of poetry, as far as I know – I kept urging him to write more – but his spirit speaks, I believe, in at least two poems of mine. The first was written just after the birth of his seventh child. I was not able to come to the bris, which was held on Shabbat, but that morning I composed in my head the following lines:
From Sabbath to Sabbath
you have waited
nameless in the shadow
of the knife. Only the number
of the day of covenant
inscribed amid your stars.
Can you see to the end of creation?
The name will come, and the pain.
May the pain be swift and slight,
the name true,
the fire unveiled in you
as a pillar of light
in this darkness
or as a pillar of heaven
in the light
of the seventh day.
I didn’t know the name of the child – Moshe – until Shabbat was over, but it was as though I had been reaching for it in those lines. Or maybe the atmosphere of that bris reached out to me.
In 1998, eight years after I unfortunately had to return to the United States, Rabbi Teicher mailed me a copy of the issue put out for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the state by the magazine Nequdah. The issue was called “Fifty Writers Writing about Poems.” The writers were all religious, but many of the poems they chose to comment on were by secular poets. Together, the poems and the commentaries presented a fascinating and complex picture of the state of thinking and feeling in Israel. Among the texts discussed was Yakov Rotblit’s famous or infamous “Shir lashalom.” Rabbi Yuval Sherlo commented that we need an alternate song of peace, one that would not compromise with our enemies’ aggression, but that would look beyond the anxiety of the situation toward the creation of a just society. That started the wheels turning, and a poem took shape, incorporating the thoughts that had struck me most in the collection.:
(A song of peace we will sing to you, our country, / A song of peace that is honest and faithful,/ Land of Israel, inseparable/ From the One enthroned beyond time.//A song of Sabbath we will sing to you, our country,/ A song of a Sabbath that is open and strong,/ In which the voices that call for justice will be heard./ By the heart of united in the heart of time.// A song of Sabbath we will sing to you, our country/ In which the voice of each one shall be included,/ A mighty and delicate song sensitive to the tremor/ Of the soul of every creature made by one artist.// A song of Sabbath we will sing to you, our country/ A song of Sabbath we will sing to you, our world,/ A song of ascent that also descends/ To uplift the hearts of all that mourn.///A song of peace we will sing to you, our country,/A song of peace that is honest and faithful./ Land of Israel, inseparable/ From the One enthroned beyond time.)
This poem was then set to a tune that is a slight variation on the tune of “Dos Partizanen Lid.” Sometimes it takes more than one person to write a poem; in this case 52 – the writers of “Chamishim Kotvim ‘al Shirim,” the present writer., and Rabbi Teicher z”l, who formed the critical link.
We were all praying for Rabbi Teicher’s complete recovery to the very last minute. In the last week of his life, the following lines came to me:
My friend Rab Shabtai
ben Devorah Perel
once said to me
over the phone
"I'ts not sh'ibud Mitsrayim
and it's not bilbul ha-safot
and it's not dor ha-mabul
it's baruch ha-Shem
He wrote about the matsav
in the light of Torah
on good days he had a style
like a blowtorch
We need miracles Rav Shabtai
we are davening for you
hoping to hear more
of your angry
And after reading the tribute by his son-in-law Yakov Cohen, the following:
And after nightfall
I saw into the recesses of a life
the faces of his children by candlelight
the words of pilpul
all this he was privileged to create
baruch Dayan haEmet
and may G-d's mercy
sustain his memory and continuation
Rabbi Shabtai Teicher is no longer visible to us. But may we still hear his laughter echoing from the World of Truth, and may our mouths soon be filled with laughter in the complete redemption.
Rosh Hodesh Tevet 5770
THE MASTER OF PRAYER
THE WAR OF GOG
The main purpose of this interpretation to the story of The Prayer Master (Ba’al Hatefillah) is to explain somewhat the events taking place in our time (5762), and to know how to pray about them, using Rebbe Nachman’s story of The Prayer Master as a takeoff. The essay is based upon the Hebrew text of the story and R’Aryeh Kaplan’s English translation. It appears in my compilation, Tales From Before The World, and it also comprises a chapter called The War of Gog in a compilation of mine about the Jewish State (Medinah Yehudit) entitled In The Gates of Jerusalem (Besha’arei Yerushalayim).
The story opens telling us that once there was a prayer master who lived outside of civilization, but he would go to visit inhabited areas and talk to the people "about the goal. He would explain that the only true goal was to serve G-d…."
As soon as a person agreed with him he would take that person far away from civilization. "The Master of Prayer kept this up until he began to make a major impression on the world. He also became quite famous. People tried to capture him, but it was not possible."
Meanwhile there was a city that was called "the land of wealth." In this city only money was considered important. This city was not only a place where the inhabitants were wealthy. More importantly for our purposes, it was a place where only money was considered important, where the amassing of wealth was thought the only worthwhile goal in life.
This city was the exact opposite of the true faith that is represented by the Prayer Master who teaches that the only true goal in life is to serve G-d always, praying and singing praises, studying Torah and doing good deeds. In the city of wealth where only money is considered important serving oneself by amassing more and wealth is the only worthwhile goal. Since the amassing of wealth was the only important thing, these people, obviously enough, were very selfish. Their selfishness was exactly the opposite of the ideology of the Prayer Master who claimed that the only worthwhile goal in life is to serve G-d.
In the land of wealth, moreover, where only money was considered important and amassing wealth the only worthwhile thing, the social rank of the inhabitants was fixed solely on the basis of how much wealth each one possessed. Someone who had less than a specified amount of wealth was considered to be less than human – an animal or a beast. This ranking system also developed upward. If someone had a lot of money, then he was considered a "star", and beyond that were the ranks of "constellation" and "angel". Finally, the richest among them were called "gods" and the foolish people of the city worshipped them, made sacrifices to them, and sometimes these were human sacrifices as well.
R’Nachman is very careful to tell us that his Prayer Master is very concerned especially about this last development. The desire and lust for money that festers at the root of the city is more than an emotional aberration; it is an entire belief system, and one that finally concludes with idolatry, murder and human sacrifice.
Reminiscent of this city where only money is considered important, unfortunately, is the world civilization that all of us live in today. In the capitalist system the motivation to earn money is of paramount importance. If people would stop desiring money, for any reason, then the entire system would necessarily fall apart. This does not mean that people who need to earn money in order to support themselves and their families with basic necessities are guilty of lusting after money. Nevertheless, they are participants in the system, even if only reluctant ones. Indeed, any person who would expurgate from himself all the desire for money would actually be putting himself outside of civilization (like the Prayer Master’s people). He would be a legitimate candidate for a mental institution, and he would be a threat to the stability of society.
Furthermore, the capitalist system has been extending its dominance throughout the world in a process that is called "one world globalization." Thus, the whole world is on the verge of becoming the "city of wealth" where only money is considered important and the amassing of wealth the only worthwhile pursuit in life.
In Likutei Moharan (1:13:1-2) R’Nachman makes it clear that the lust for money is idolatry; and even more explicitly, it is the idolatry of the "end of days," the idolatry that is arranged against mashiach, and it is the spirit of the messiah that must eventually subjugate it.
Idolatry is obviously a usurpation of the Divine. Murder is also an act against G-d like idolatry because it wantonly destroys the image of the Divine, which is a human being. Therefore, the erroneous belief system of the city equivalent to idolatry ends in murder and human sacrifice. Consequently, we should not be surprised if we were to learn that the idolatry of the land of wealth not only ends in murder and human sacrifice, but it also paves the way for world war and the mass murder of millions.
There are other "cities" in this story that also have strange beliefs contrary to the true faith represented by the Prayer Master. However, R’Nachman makes the point that these strange value systems can be rectified relatively easily, whereas the belief of the city that considers money the only important thing is almost impossible of rectification. In Likutei Moharan (1:23:2) he explains that it is almost impossible for a person to be saved from the ruin at the end of the lust for money if he has also fallen victim to the lust for illicit sexual encounters. In the story here he says repeatedly that it is almost impossible to rectify the lust for money.
"The Mighty Warrior told the Master of Prayer that he had heard from the King that when a person becomes entrapped by any desire, it is possible to pull him out. However, if somebody becomes trapped by the lust for wealth, it is totally impossible to get him out of it. Therefore, nothing can be done for these people. It is totally impossible to get them away from their error.
"However, he had also heard from the King that the one remedy is the path to the sword…."
Indeed, it is the rectification of the city that considers only money an important thing that is the main theme of the story. This rectification can only be accomplished in one way: through the path to the sword. Even the Master of Prayer who has succeeded in influencing people all over the world can have no effect whatsoever in the city where only money is considered important. His attempt to exert influence in that city meets with utter failure until that place is gripped in fear because of the approach of the Mighty Warrior who is conquering all the lands with his terrible Sword.
The sword, or the "way of the sword," which plays a starring role in this story, can undoubtedly be thought of as the mitzvah of charity because it is charity that breaks the lust for money. In Likutei Mohran (the beginning of #13) R’Nachman writes, "It is impossible to draw down Perfect Providence until the lust for mammon (i.e. money) is broken; and that is broken by charity…." We will come back to the mitzvah of charity before the end of this essay, G-d willing, but to start with, at least, we want to take the meaning of the Mighty Warrior’s "sword" at its simplest. The Mighty Warrior’s sword is, simply, a sword, one of the tools of trade of a warrior. It is a weapon, an instrument of war; or symbolically, it can be construed as war itself, or even world war.
The Mighty Warrior’s sword had three powers. The first caused panic among the leaders of the opposing army. The second caused mass destruction, and the third caused them "to become emaciated with their flesh falling away." According to R’Kaplan these three powers correspond to the three times that the word "sword" is mentioned in Isaiah 31:8, and R’Nachman himself said that Isaiah 31 is the basis of the entire story. Nevertheless, this last power of the sword, to consume the flesh, certainly calls to mind what appears in the prophecy of Zechariah (14:12) concerning the War of Gog. "And this shall be the plague wherewith G-d will smite all the nations that have come up to war against Jerusalem. Their flesh will melt away while they stand upon their feet, their eyes will melt away in their sockets, and their tongues will melt away in their mouths." It even recalls some horrific description of biological warfare, may G-d save us.
However, the Mighty Warrior never actually raises his sword against the city that considers only money an important thing, nor does he ever actually close combat with the people of that land. It is enough that they are thrust into a state of panic by his approach. Their fear is enough to somewhat dislodge them from the attachment to their idolatrous lust for money so that the Master of Prayer can begin to influence them. Throughout the story it is never said that the rectification for the city that considers only money an important thing is the sword itself, or war, or destruction. It is always said in the story that the rectification is "the way of the sword," implying that not the destruction of the sword itself but the fear of it is what makes the rectification. In Aramaic the word for "god" is also the word for "fear". It is fitting that one dechila (fear) should come to neutralize the other dechila (god).
Furthermore, the possibility that not war but the fear of war is the main cause of the rectification corresponds to a tradition widely accepted among Chassidim that the Ba’al Shem Tov "sweetened" and mitigated the destruction that was prophesied to happen in the final War of Gog. Accordingly, it seems that the horrific prophecies concerning the War of Gog have been reduced somehow. Not the destruction but the fear of destruction that will be aroused during the War of Gog will be sufficient to accomplish that which Gog (the kelipah-shell surrounding mashiach) has been designated to rectify.
The approach of the Mighty Warrior going from land to land conquering city after city throws the city where only money is considered important into a state of panic. Although the Mighty Warrior is not demanding from the places he is conquering anything except subjugation, (which is, by the way, the literal translation of the Arabic word "Islam") the people in the city where only money is considered important find themselves unable to surrender to him. Since the Mighty Warrior does not want to take their wealth from them, they are at first quite willing to succumb.
"Initially they wanted to subjugate themselves to him. However, they then heard that he despised wealth, and did not want any wealth at all. This was diametrically opposed to their faith, and it was therefore impossible for them to subjugate themselves to him. To do so would be apostasy, since he did not at all believe in their faith, which was wealth."
Thus, we see that the real problem of the people in the city where only money is considered important is a religious one. Only money is important to them. Money is the only thing they value, and it is the only thing they believe in. It is their dechila (god-fear). Indeed, the story makes clear that they cannot conceive of any solution to their plight unless it entails money. They want to send for help to a city that is reputed to have even more money than they themselves possess, although they already know that money is not the problem and not the solution whatsoever. They might be willing to surrender their money to the Mighty Warrior, or to spend it all to find some way to overcome him. But they cannot subjugate themselves to a system where money is meaningless. For them the Mighty Warrior represents a religious conflict. It is a war between him and their own god, the god of money.
The god of money was called "King Mammon" by the ancients. In our times King Mammon was on the verge of spreading his rule over the entire earth. Through the process of globalization, despite severe damage that was being caused to all traditional cultures and values, the peoples of the world were being subsumed into one global market. Then, suddenly, King Mammon finds himself beset by war. Just like the story of "The Tower of Babel" (the first world war against G-d described in Genesis 11), when the work was about to be accomplished, unexpected catastrophe suddenly descended.
It seems that even now the war against King Mammon is being enacted, as in R’Nachman’s story of the Prayer Master. In our times the adversary is the Angel Islamael.
The Angel Ishlamael is embodied in Ishmael the son of Avram. He invented Islam, and became Islamael.
In the story of the Prayer Master he is embodied in the sword, or the way of the sword. It is he who strikes fear into the hearts of the people of King Mammon.
"Foreign Affairs" is one of the most prestigious journals in the U.S. published once every other month. The most important academicians, intellectuals, diplomats and politicians including cabinet officials and presidents write in it. In its pages for about a year and a half during 1991-92 there was a running debate among the experts writing in it. Some claimed that the people of the Islamic faith and civilization were not like their western (or eastern) counterparts. They could never be completely assimilated into the rapidly expanding global money economy. However, the majority of experts writing in "Foreign Affairs" claimed that the Islamic peoples could be assimilated and westernized. If they had a stake in the global economy they would defend it and seek its stabilization in order to assure its continuity. They would be transformed into middle-class, bourgeois consumers and money-earners, just like suburban Clevelandites, and they would surrender their unique, particularistic values, beliefs and desires to take their place in the great global pluralism-uniformism of King Mammon. This was, in effect, the messianic vision of King Mammon’s priests concerning salvation and peace for the whole world. Among other consequences based on this evaluation the Israeli-Arab "peace process" was pushed forward, the false prophet Shimon Peres formulated his vision of the "new middle east," and the capitalists began to prepare for the expansion of their markets into Arabia and the world of Islam. This conclusion of the majority was, in effect, a statement that "my god is greater than your god or any other god that might be arranged against us."
Indeed, the so-called "almighty dollar" is the god of the one world globalization. On the dollar it is written "In God We Trust." It is an ambiguous statement. On the one hand, it could be an expression of perfect faith subjugating money to the true, One G-d. On the other hand, it could be the ultimate statement of idolatry: that this money upon which the phrase is printed is the god that we trust in.
The word "dollar" is spelled in Hebrew dalet(4) – vav(6) – lamed(30) – resh(200). Its numerical value is thus 240, equivalent to the name Amalek. Amalek is the firstborn bastard of Esau’s firstborn son, the biggest anti-God anti-semite throughout history; and his descendants, the nation of Amalek, continue to be the same today. When they fought against Israel at Refidim they desecrated the bodies of the killed Hebrew soldiers. They cut off the brit milah, the place of circumcision, the sign of the covenant between G-d and Israel – they threw it up into the sky, and they defied G-d, saying, "If this is what you want, then take it." Theirs is a war against G-d, as Moses said when he dedicated Israel to resist Amalek throughout history, "…Because it is a hand on the throne of G-d, a war waged against G-d by Amalek from generation to generation."
Until the reign of King David, Amalek was a united nation. Now they are, thank G-d, dispersed among the peoples, even masquerading among Jews, and thus, unfortunately, they sometimes also enjoy the protection of the halachah. Nevertheless, even now in a state of dispersion, although they are weakened, they still retain their role leading the war against G-d and Israel.
Just like a coin has two sides, on one side of the dollar is printed the image of Amalek, the perfect idolatry, announcing that the god we trust in is the Dollar, King Mammon. But the alternative is the side of perfect faith, subjugating King Mammon to the perfect, true G-d. You know that the great Lubavitch Rebbe VII did this when he gave away dollars. R’Nachman says that the cure for the idolatry of lusting for money is tzedakah – charity, charity and more charity, not only with your money, but with all your heart and soul.
However, the Sword that is featured in the story is not merely the mitzvah of tzedakah-charity. The Sword definitely has a horrific edge to it, as in the description of its powers reminiscent of biological war, etc. As was said beforehand, the concept of the Sword can be taken in a more kellali (general) sense, and in accordance with the simple, basic meaning of the word. In that case, the Sword is simply an instrument of war, even indicating war, or world war itself. It seems that if the amount of charity and its pervasiveness is not great enough to turn the religion of Mammon into true, unselfish worship of G-d, then rectification will take place anyway. However, if it does not happen voluntarily, then it must come about in some other way because the revelation of the Kingdom of G-d cannot be held back indefinitely. Then, it seems that there is no other alternative but that it comes through the way of the sword, through the way of war and panic.
There are a few facts concerning the War of Gog that appear to be indisputable.
Many nations gather into the fight. It is world war.
The war somehow revolves around Jerusalem and/or it is war against G-d or the memory of G-d in the world. That is why it will be about Jerusalem or the destruction of Israel, G-d forbid, who are the people and the place that carry the memory of G-d with them.
There are many other aspects of the War of Gog that vary greatly from commentator to commentator. One of them is the question whether the war is characterized by two world Powers fighting with their coalitions against each other (Gog and Magog), or whether it is one Power coming up against Israel (Gog from the land of Magog). Rabbi Yoram Shafir of Emanuel has suggested that there are two phases. In the first phase Islamael and Esau are united against Israel, as Ishmael and Esau united to kill Isaac and Jacob. They made this pact when Esau engaged to marry the daughter of Ishmael. Ishmael does not fulfill his part of the bargain, to kill Isaac. Then the second phase is war between the two. According to Malbim the War of Gog is definitely battle between the descendants of Esau on the one hand, and the descendants of Ishmael on the other. This is a condition that has often been repeated in history – war between the Christians and the Muslims. Indeed, war between a western and eastern power has often been fought right here in the heart of the Middle East (which is why it is called "middle") – Egypt vs. Syria/Babylon, Greece vs. Persia, the Seleucids of Syria vs. the Ptolemaic empire in Egypt, Rome vs. Persia. Also, the Christians and Moslems have waged many wars for possession of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
Perhaps, not all these wars fulfill the two criteria that define the War of Gog laid out above, but some of them do. It should not be thought that the War of Gog is necessarily a one-time only event, or that the only teachings concerning it are the prophecies of Ezekiel and Zachariah. There are many events that can be construed as "mini-Gogs," so to speak, preceding the great war at the "end of days" that ushers in the messianic revelation. Similarly, there are a number of places throughout the Tanach that teach us about various aspects of this period called the War of Gog.
For example, the gathering of a coalition of nations to make war against King Yehoshofat in Jerusalem, with Amalek hidden among them, is part of the paradigm of Gog. The prophecy of the Book of Yoel was said about this event; therefore, it also teaches about Gog. The valley where this war was waged seems to be the Valley of Yehoshofat wherein the nations will come "in the future time" to judge Israel and there be judged by G-d. The same place is definitely the valley where the first World War, the War of the Five Kings and the Four, was fought. (Amalek is also mentioned there.) In that war not only were there two coalitions involving all the major nations of the known world, but the underlying reason for the war, according to Chazal, was the capture and destruction of Avraham Avinu. Thus, the War of the Five Kings and the Four is definitely part of the Gog paradigm. Furthermore, that war is a consequence and sequel to the world-shaking event described in the history of the Tower of Babel.
Although there may have been many ziggurats projecting upward into the skyline of Babylon, like the skyscrapers of New York, it seems nevertheless that there was one giant among them, which was the Tower of Babel. In contrast, in our contemporary tale there were two towers, Twin Towers. In those towers were many important offices that served King Mammon and the towers were symbols of his expanding reign over the whole world. The fact that there were two towers and not one is not a significant difference. Because the twins were so nearly identical and so close to each other, they were like one. Moreover, just the opposite can be claimed: that it is quite fitting that there were twins rather than one because we are not dealing with Babylon but with the descendants of Esau. Descended from Esau, the city of Rome, which became the greatest of empires in history, was founded by twins. That is also why the symbol that the Roman armies carried on their banners was a two-headed eagle.
In the Book of Ovadiah (1:3-4) it is written about the descendants of Esau: "You, who have made your dwelling place in the crannies of the Rock, your residence in the heights, the pride of your heart has deceived you; who has said in his heart ‘Who could bring me down?’ Though you rise up like an eagle, though you make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down…."
It is interesting to note that the redoubt of the Nazi Fuehrer, Berchtesgarten, high up in the Bavarian Mountains was also called "the eagles nest." At one point his armies ruled from North Africa to the North Pole, from the Atlantic to the Volga in Asia. Yet, from the heights he was brought down low.
Similarly, from the heights He will fell the glory of Esau. In a moment before the work is about to be completed, from the eagles nest at the top of the tallest, greatest, most monumental buildings in the world, from his dwelling place among the stars King Mammon will be humbled. And how is he brought down? With the most primitive weapons in the world, with knives, people who live in caves bring him low. And now these primitive cave dwellers are being attacked by the most sophisticated and expensive technology in history!
And where are they being attacked? In the highest mountains of the world, in the place called "the roof of the world." The word "roof" in Hebrew is gag; the king of Amalek is Agag; and both are reminiscent of Gog!
This place is also the crossroads of the world, the place where the four civilizations come together. The Christians pressing down from the north, bearing the symbols of Rome and Esau, their eastern (Russia) and western (U.S.) branches united. Islam in the west. India in the south. In the east is China with all the masses of the east alongside her.
However, there is another city in this epoch, Jerusalem. It is not at the crossroads of civilizations, but it is in the center of the world. It is not one of the highest places in the world, or one of the tallest buildings in the world, physically; but spiritually, according to Chazal in the Talmud, it is the highest place in the world. Consequently, all the eyes of the world look towards it, and all the nations of the world are attracted to it as by a magnet.
The last part of R’Nachman’s story that was mentioned above was the beginning of the end for the city that considers money the only important thing. They were somewhat dislodged from their lust for money by the fear of the Mighty Warrior’s sword. Consequently, they became susceptible to the influence of the Prayer Master. They sent a delegation to accompany him, ostensibly to seek that city that was even wealthier than they were. In the course of this quest all the king’s people miraculously come together, and finally the king himself is united with all his folk. He then instructs the Mighty Warrior how to lead the delegation from the city where only money is important onto the way of the sword, and how to find there a side path that leads to a place where they will be exposed to the odors of Paradise. Interestingly, it is this positive element, the odors of paradise and the taste of the food there, which actually rectify the people of the city where only money is important.
These people, as a result of the rectification, can no longer stand the smell of money. All their money becomes the most malodorous, disgusting and embarrassing thing possible. They bury themselves in the ground trying to escape from their shame. They fulfill the verse (Isaiah 2:20) about casting away the gods of gold and silver, and then the story ends.
The King ruled over the entire world. The whole world returned to G-d, and occupied itself only with Torah, prayer, repentance and good deeds.
Obviously, this ending concerns the messianic revelation of the Kingdom of G-d at the end of days. The War of Gog, the way of the sword, has been passed; and now the Redemption comes. The whole world occupying itself only with Torah, etc., reminds us of the words of Rambam that in the days of mashiach the whole world will be occupied with "the knowing of G-d" and nothing else.
Furthermore, the holes that the people from the city of wealth dig themselves into are reminiscent of the liturgical poem that is sung during the High Holy Day prayers:
"They will come, everyone, to serve You…
And they will abandon their gods
And with their idols they will dig (holes)
And they will turn as with one shoulder to serve You…
And they will recognize the strength of Your Kingdom
And they will teach understanding to those who have gone astray…
And they will receive upon themselves the yoke of Your Kingdom
And they will exalt You in the congregation
And those that are far away shall hear and come
And they will place upon You the Crown of Kingship.
When this last line is sung by the congregation, then R’Nachman’s chassidim applaud the coronation of the King.
Shabtai, Jerusalem, Kislev, 5762