Avraham ben Yaakov
KNOW YOUR BIBLE
DANIEL CHAPTER 12
Our present chapter, which concludes the book of Daniel, completes the prophecy that he received from "the man dressed in linen" about the future history of the world until the end of days. This prophecy was granted to Daniel in the merit of his mourning and self-affliction over the desolation of Jerusalem . The prophecy began in the previous chapter with the foretelling of the tangled history of the period of the Second Temple up until its destruction (Daniel 11:2-31), after which it continues with its highly allusive foretelling of the end of days (Daniel 11:32-45; 12:1-13).
"And at that time Michael shall stand" (v 1). Rashi (ad loc.) says that Israel 's guardian angel will "stand" in the sense of being stopped in his tracks and silent like one struck dumb when he will see how the Holy One blessed be He will ponder how He can destroy the great armies of Gog and Magog for the sake of small Israel . It will be "a time of trouble such as there never was." (v 1). The rabbis said there will be trouble for the Torah scholars because of their enemies and accusers, and trouble for the whole people because of decree after decree and waves of robbers one after the other (Kesubos 112b).
The good news is that "your people shall be delivered" (v 1) - "the kingdom of Gog will be destroyed and Israel shall be saved" (Rashi ibid.). [Instead of worrying of present-day Persia will harm Israel , we should repent with all our hearts and trust in God.]
"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." (v 2). This refers to the resurrection of the dead (Rashi ad loc.) - as well, of course, to the tremendous spiritual awakening and the widespread return to the Torah that we witness in our time among Israelite souls that in some cases have been buried in exile and cultural alienation for centuries. This itself is the revival of the dead!
"And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness (ZOHAR) of the firmament." (v 3). This verse is darshened at length in the Zohar, which takes its name from here. The rabbis of the Talmud state that the category of "the wise" includes every DAYAN ("judge") who judges truthfully as well as those who go around collecting charity, while "they who turn many to righteousness" are those who teach Torah to little children (Bava Basra 8b).
Just like the angels whom Daniel heard asking the "man dressed in linen" - "How long shall it be to the wondrous end?" (v 6) - we too are more than curious to know the answer. The "man dressed in linen" replied most cryptically, "It shall be for a time, times and a half" (v 7). Daniel himself did not understand this answer (v 8), so we should not be surprised that we cannot either. As Rashi says on verse 10, "Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white" - many will try to give a clear explanation of these calculations; "and they will be tried" - it will be a trial to many to understand them; "and the wicked shall do wickedly" - the wicked will miscalculate, and having stumbled they will say there will be no further redemption, "and they will not understand". However, "the wise shall understand" - at the time when the end arrives. (Rashi on v 10). For "in the end they will be granted the wisdom to understand the allusions" (Metzudas David on v 9).
In the words of R. Saadia Gaon (on v 7): "When the generations have descended very low, then all these troubles will come to an end, but we do not know until when they will go on since the angel himself told Daniel that the matters are sealed and closed up, and we certainly do not have the power to understand the secret of these calculations of days and years."
"Happy is the man who waits." (v 12).
BACK TO KNOW YOUR BIBLE HOMEPAGE
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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