The Talmud (Shabbat 138b-139a) states, "In the future the Torah will be forgotten by Israel." The prophet Amos proclaims, "They will run to seek the word of the L-rd but won't find it" (Amos 8:12). How do we reconcile these statements with the verse in our parsha that declares the Torah "will NOT be forgotten by their descendants" (Deuteronomy 31:21)?
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in the Talmud (op. cit.) explains: The meaning of Amos's dire prophecy is that "a clear halacha and a clear teaching will not be found in the same place." The Torah itself, however, will never, G-d forbid, be forgotten by Israel.
The era preceding the redemption will be a tragic one. G-d will "send a famine upon the land...a famine for hearing the word of G-d" (Amos 8:11). People will seek the truth, they will want to know what to do- but no one will be able to tell them. Truth will have no address.
The Talmud (Sotah 49a) states that before the Messiah's arrival, matters will deteriorate to such a degree that people will despair and proclaim, "Upon whom, then, can we rely?" And they will answer, "Upon our Father in Heaven." On these words, the Chofetz Chaim comments: This is a terrible curse. Since there will be no great men to lead us, everyone will be forced to rely solely on G-d. In other words, fate.
Of course there will be great men of Torah in the era preceding the redemption- men proficient in Talmud and pilpul. But, "a clear halacha and a clear teaching will not be found in the same place." No "clear halacha"- no practical plan of action- will emerge from these great men who know the Torah's "clear teachings." In other words, no one will take the Torah concepts of faith and trust and apply them to real life. No one will demand, for example, that we rely on G-d and not pay attention to what the non-Jewish nations have to say about our future in Eretz Yisrael. "Teachings" and "halacha" will operate in separate spheres. Faith and trust in G-d will remain theoretical concepts while security and sovereignty over the Land of Israel will be considered "politics."
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