THE GENERATION OF MASHI'ACH
Rav Nachman: Do you know when Bar Nafli will come?
R. Yitzchak: Who is Bar Nafli?
Rav Nachman: It is Mashi'ach - "Akim Es Sukas David ha'Nofeles."
R. Yitzchak: R. Yochanan said that (Mashi'ach) Ben David will come in a generation in which Chachamim are decreasing, everyone else is despairing, and great afflictions and harsh decrees come without respite.
(Beraisa): In the Shemitah cycle before Mashi'ach:
In the first year "v'Himtarti Al Ir Echas v'Al Ir Achas Lo Amtir" (some places will be satiated, others will not). In the second year, no place will be satiated;
In the third year there will be great famine. Men, women, children and great Tzadikim will die, and Chachamim will forget Torah;
In the fourth year, some places will be satiated. In the fifth year there will be great satiation, people will eat and drink, and Chachamim will recover their Torah;
In the sixth year, there will be voices (that Ben David is coming; alternatively, Shofar blasts). In the seventh year there will be wars. The following year, Ben David will come.
Rav Yosef: Several Shemitos like this have passed, but Ben David did not come!
Abaye: We did not have voices in the sixth year and wars in the seventh. Also, the events did not come in this order!
(Beraisa - R. Yehudah): Ben David will come in a generation in which Batei Medrash are used for Zenus, Galil will be destroyed, the Gavlan (a place) will be desolate, people of the Gevul (border of Eretz Yisrael; alternatively, the Sanhedrin) will wander from city to city without rest, Chachamim's Chachmah will spoil, people will despise those who fear sin, people's faces will resemble that of dogs (without shame; Maharsha - outwardly (and insincerely) showing love for people), "veha'Emes Ne'ederes."
Question: What does it mean "veha'Emes Ne'ederes"?
Answer (d'Vei Rav): Truth will go away like Adarim (flocks; Maharsha - people of truth will have to hide).
Question: What does it mean "v'Sar me'Ra Mishtolel"?
Answer (d'Vei R. Shila): Anyone who avoids evil will be considered foolish.
Rava: I used to say that there is not truth in the world. Rav Tavos told me that he would not lie for all the money on the world.
(Rav Tavos): I went to a place called Kushta (truth). People did not lie, and they did not die. I married a woman there and had two children. A neighbor asked for my wife. I thought that it was improper to say that she was washing her hair at the time, so I said 'she is not here.' My two children died.
People of the city inquired. I told them what happened. They asked me to leave, lest I incite (more) death on the city.
WHEN MASHI'ACH WILL COME
(Beraisa - R. Nehurai): Ben David will come in a generation in which youths shame elders, and elders stand in front of youths. A daughter reviles and shames her mother, a daughter-in-law shames her mother-in-law, people's faces resemble that of dogs, and a son feels no shame in front of his father.
(Beraisa - R. Nechemyah): Ben David will come in a generation of great brazenness. People will not honor each other (alternatively - even the most honorable people are crooked), even though many grapes grow, wine is expensive (because grapes do not yield much wine; alternatively, because everyone drinks a lot), the entire kingdom will be Minim, and there is no rebuke.
This supports R. Yitzchak, who says that Ben David will not come until the entire kingdom will be Minim.
(Rava): He learns from "Kulo Hofach Lavan Tahor Hu."
(Beraisa): "Ki Azlas Yad v'Efes Atzur v'Azuv" - Ben David will not come until there are many informers. Alternatively, he will not come until Talmidim diminish, or until people lack money, or until they despair of redemption.
When R. Zeira would see people speculating when Mashi'ach will come, he would say 'please do not delay him';
(Beraisa): Three things only come when people are not thinking about them - Mashi'ach, a Metzi'ah (found object), and a scorpion (bite).
(Rav Ketina): The world will be 6000 years, then it will be desolate for 1000 years - "v'Nisgav Hash-m Levado ba'Yom ha'Hu."
(Abaye): It will be desolate for 2000 years - "Yechayenu mi'Yomayim ba'Yom ha'Shelishi Yekimenu v'Nichyeh."
Support (for Rav Ketina - Beraisa): Just like one year out of seven the land is left fallow (Shemitah), also the world is empty for 1000 out of 7000 years. It says "v'Nisgav Hash-m Levado ba'Yom ha'Hu", and "Yom she'Kulo Shabbos" and "Elef Shanim b'Einecha k'Yom."
(Tana d'Vei Eliyahu): Six thousand years were decreed upon the world: 2000 years of emptiness (without Torah), 2000 years of Torah, and 2000 years for Mashi'ach;
Ours sins have caused that many of these years elapsed, and Mashi'ach still has not come.
Eliyahu: The world will be at least 85 Yovel cycles. Mashi'ach will come in the last one.
Rav Yehudah brother of Rav Sala: Will he come at the beginning or at the end?
Eliyahu: I do not know. (Ramah's text - he will come at the end.)
Rav Yehudah: Will Yovel finish before he comes? (Maharsha - will he surely come then, or may he be delayed further?)
Version #1 - Eliyahu: I do not know.
Version #2 (Rav Ashi): Eliyahu told him, do not wait for him until this time. Afterwards, wait for him.
(R. Chanin bar Tachlifa): I found a man with a scroll written in Ashuris, in Lashon ha'Kodesh. He said that he worked for a soldier of Romi, and found it in their treasure house. It said that 4291 [Gra - 4231] years after creation, the world will be orphaned:
Some will die from wars of fish (Maharsha - Nochrim), others from the war of Gog and Magog.
Version #1: The rest of the years (until 6000) will be Yemos Mashi'ach. Hash-m will not make the world afresh until 7000 years. (This is like Rav Ketina above.)
Version #2 (Rav Acha brei d'Rava): The rest of the years will be Yemos Mashi'ach; Hash-m will not make the world afresh until 5000 years.
(Beraisa - R. Noson): "Ki Od Chazon la'Mo'ed... Im Yismahme'ah Chake Lo" - we cannot know for sure when Mashi'ach will come.
Do not rely on Chachamim who expound "Ad Idan v'Idanin u'Flag Idan" (Daniel said that Mashi'ach will come after (1400 years,) three and a half times the duration of Galus Mitzrayim;
Do not rely on R. Simlai, who expounds "va'Tashkemo bi'Dma'os Shalish" (that the combined durations of Galus Mitzrayim (400 years) and Galus Bavel (70) are a third of Galus Edom (which will be 1410 years);
Do not rely on R. Akiva who expounds "Od Achas Me'at Hi" (Maharsha - that there will be another (Churban and) Galus, but it will be short (i.e. Bar Koziva was Mashi'ach);
Rather, it refers to kingships within Yisrael during the second Mikdash. They will last 70 years (Chashmona'im), 52 years (Hurdus) and two and a half years (Bar Koziva).
Question: What does it mean "v'Yafe'ach la'Ketz v'Lo Yechazev"?
Answer (R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): Tifach (inflate, i.e. afflictions should come upon) people who calculate the time of Mashi'ach, for they say 'if he does not come by such and such date, he will never come';
Rather, "Chake Lo" (wait for him).
Suggestion: Perhaps we are waiting, and Hash-m is not!
Rejection: "Yechakeh Hash-m Lachananchem."
Question: If Hash-m and us are both waiting, what is delaying Mashi'ach?
Answer: Midas ha'Din is delaying him.
Question: If Midas ha'Din is delaying, why bother waiting?
Answer: We wait in order to receive reward - "Ashrei Kol Chochei Lo."
THE TZADIKIM OF EACH GENERATION
(Abaye): Every generation has at least 36 Tzadikim that receive the Shechinah, like the Gematri'a of "Ashrei Kol Chochei Lo."
Objection: Rava taught that 18,000 Tzadikim are in front of Hash-m - "Saviv Shmonah Asar Alef"!
Answer: Many get a clouded, 'side view' of Hash-m's radiance. Only 36 see (more) directly.
Question: Are we sure that there are so many (at least 36)?!
R. Shimon said, there are few Bnei Aliyah (people at the highest level). If there are 1000, I and my son are among them. If there are 100, I and my son are among them. If there are two, I and my son are them.
Answer: At least 36 can behold Hash-m after asking permission. R. Shimon was unsure how many do not need to ask permission.
CAN YISRAEL BE REDEEMED WITHOUT TESHUVAH?
(Rav): All the Ketzim have passed. Now, Mashi'ach depends on Teshuvah and Mitzvos.
(Shmuel): The mourner need not mourn longer than the proscribed period. (Hash-m will not wait forever, even if Yisrael are not worthy. Alternatively, Yisrael has suffered enough in Galus, so they will be redeemed even without Teshuvah.)
Tana'im argue like Rav and Shmuel.
(Beraisa #1 - R. Eliezer): Yisrael will only be redeemed through Teshuvah;
R. Yehoshua: No. If they do not do Teshuvah on their own, Hash-m will give power to a king who will make decrees like Haman, inducing them to repent.
(Beraisa #2 - R. Eliezer): Yisrael will only be redeemed if through Teshuvah - "Shuvu Banim Shovavim Erpa Meshuvoseichem";
R. Yehoshua says "Chinam Nimkartem" - you were exiled for idolatry, "v'Lo b'Chesef Tiga'elu" - you will be redeemed without Teshuvah and Mitzvos.
R. Eliezer: It says "Shuvu Elai v'Ashuvah Aleichem"!
R. Yehoshua: It says "Bo'alti Bachem v'Lokachti Eschem Echad me'Ir... v'Heveisi Eschem Tziyon." (even if all do not do Teshuvah, the Tzadikim will be redeemed)!
R. Eliezer: It says "b'Shuvah va'Nachas Tivashe'un"!
R. Yehoshua: It says "li'Vzo Nefesh... Melachim Yir'u va'Kamu..." (even though they did not do Teshuvah, they will be redeemed)!