One of the most enigmatic parts of our Parsha deals with the statement that Yaakov makes prior to his giving of the “blessings” to his children:
וַיִּקְרָ֥א יַעֲקֹ֖ב אֶל־בָּנָ֑יו וַיֹּ֗אמֶר הֵאָֽסְפוּ֙ וְאַגִּ֣ידָה לָכֶ֔ם אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־יִקְרָ֥א אֶתְכֶ֖ם בְּאַחֲרִ֥ית הַיָּמִֽים׃
“And Jacob called his sons and said, “Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come.” – Various translations render “בְּאַחֲרִ֥ית הַיָּמִֽים” as “in the end of days” which is a reference to the Messianic age, based on various commentaries:
ואגידה לכם. בִּקֵּשׁ לְגַלּוֹת אֶת הַקֵּץ וְנִסְתַּלְּקָה מִמֶּנּוּ שְׁכִינָה וְהִתְחִיל אוֹמֵר דְּבָרִים אַחֵרִים:
“That I may tell you” — He wished to reveal to them the end of Israel’s exile but the Shechinah departed from him and he began to speak of other things”.
The Ramban writes:
באחרית הימים הם ימות המשיח כי יעקב ירמוז אליו בדבריו כמו שאמר עד כי יבא שילה ולו יקהת עמים ורבותינו אמרו (פסחים נו() שבקש לגלות את הקץ ונסתלקה ממנו שכינה כי לדברי הכל אחרית הימים ימות המשיח הם)
“In the end of days. These are the days of the Messiah, for Yaakov alludes to him in his words, even as he said, Until Shiloh come, and his be the obedience of peoples...
Now our Rabbis have said: that Jacob wished to reveal the end of Israel’s exile, but the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) departed from him.
Thus, in the opinion of all scholars, the end of days is a reference to the days of the Messiah.”
Arguably a repeating motif of our people is the generation of various sects that overly focus on various Messianic personalities and become obsessive with various “prophesies” or verses that echo and resound with cherrypicked teachings of their preferred teacher, saint, or Rebbe.
Some of these groups have developed into entirely different religions, whilst others have become extremist sects still considered part of the people until such a time that they are revealed as either obsolete or differing fundamentally from normative Jewish theology.
The Rambam sheds lights on this subject in his Mishneh Torah, in which he discusses the nature of the Messianic Kingship and its role within the political and legal system of our people and its requirement to be established within the Land of Israel. He also in the later chapters (10-12) points out the futility in attempting to calculate these times and the impossibility of deducing information from the various Midrashim as they contradict each other and use unclear metaphorical descriptions.
A brief reading in the history of the above groups will show that in a first instance these groups are very successful, inspiring many Jews to return to Torah study and observance but that later these groups often become ideologically and even at times violently opposed to Judaism. Perhaps the clearest example of this was Shabtai Tzvi, a false messiah who originally inspired thousands of followers, in the beginnings of his career as a false prophet and Messianic figure many influential Rabbis and Jewish leaders went blindly along with the greatly embellished accounts about him, until he publicly defected and converted to Islam in 1666. Aside from the great embarrassment felt by the end of the charade, many Jews were left disheartened and other communities banned the study of mysticism entirely and created a schism that is still detected in Judaism today.
We should take heed from the lessons of both history and from the Rambam that the future, and in particular the Messianic future remains hidden from our perception and understanding:
וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בְּאֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים בְּעִנְיַן הַמָּשִׁיחַ הֵם מְשָׁלִים. וּבִימוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ יִוָּדַע לַכּל לְאֵי זֶה דָּבָר הָיָה מָשָׁל. וּמָה… עִנְיָן רָמְזוּ בָּהֶן:
“…Similarly, other Messianic prophecies of this nature are metaphors. In the Messianic era, everyone will realize which matters were implied by these metaphors and which allusions they contained.”
We should draw a lesson from our Parsha – Yaakov, one of our founding Patriarchs and sublime prophets was also unable to express the details and particulars of the Messianic age in an open way and certainly we have no one near the level of the Patriarchs in our generation.
What is perhaps the most serious symptom of this issue, the repeating mantra that all the worlds problems (in particular the ones we are creating ourselves) will be immediately solved once the Messianic King arises – however the Rambam comes to teach us the exact opposite of this much misunderstood idea:
אַל יַעֲלֶה עַל הַלֵּב שֶׁבִּימוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ יִבָּטֵל דּבָר מִמִּנְהָגוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם. אוֹ יִהְיֶה שָׁם חִדּוּשׁ בְּמַעֲשֵׂה בְּרֵאשִׁית. אֶלָּא עוֹלָם כְּמִנְהָגוֹ נוֹהֵג.
“Do not presume that in the Messianic age any facet of the world’s nature will change or there will be innovations in the work of creation. Rather, the world will continue according to its pattern.”
The problems that we are creating as a species in terms of our environment and political situation are not going to magically fix themselves because of the arrival of a new world leader – rather it will be up to us to change our lifestyles and our current trends regardless of what the future brings us. Currently we are doing untold damage to future generations who will desire clean drinking water, the chance to flourish or even just the ability to see the stars through the smog.
Beyond leaving the confusion of obsession over this idea, we must move into the present – into the reality we are creating in our own lives and the understanding of how our lives are entangled, each of us affecting one another – we find that instead of a precise prediction of coming events, Yaakov our father gives rather insight into the character and role of each tribe:
Ultimately this will define our future and our Messianic Age; understanding our own unique characters and the role we have to play collectively and individually to make the best future possible for ourselves and all of mankind.
Rabbi Jonathan Goldschmidt 2023 ©
 Bereshit/Genesis: 49:1
 Shlomo Yitzchaki (Hebrew: רבי שלמה יצחקי); (French: Salomon de Troyes) 1040 – 1105, today he is generally known by the acronym Rashi:, he was a medieval French rabbi and author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud and commentary on the Tanach.
 Genesis Rabbah 98:2
 Moses ben Nachman (Hebrew: מֹשֶׁה בֶּן־נָחְמָן) 1194–1270, commonly known as Nachmanides, and also referred to by the acronym Ramban (רמב״ן), he was a leading medieval Jewish scholar, Sephardic rabbi, philosopher, physician, kabbalist, and biblical commentator.
 Bereshit/Genesis: 49:10
 Talmud Pesachim 56a
 Moses ben Maimon[a] (1138–1204), commonly known as Maimonides, and also referred to by the acronym Rambam ( רמב״ם), he was a Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. In his time, he was also a preeminent astronomer and physician, serving as the personal physician of Saladin (Yusuf ibn Ayyub ibn Shadi) who was Sultan of both Egypt and Syria.
 Mishneh Torah: Laws of Kings and Wars
 also known as Sefer Yad ha-Hazaka (ספר יד החזקה, ‘book of the strong hand’), is a code of Rabbinic Jewish religious law (halakha) – The Mishneh Torah was compiled between 1170 and 1180 CE while Maimonides was living in Egypt, and is widly regarded as Maimonides’ magnum opus.
 Meaning: “exposition” or, “investigation” these teachings are a mode of biblical interpretation prominent in the Talmudic literature that are often considered non-literal and use metaphor and narrative as a teaching mechanism.
 Shabbatai Zevi ( שַׁבְּתַי צְבִי) 1626 – 1676) was a mystic and rabbi from Smyrna (now İzmir, Turkey).
 Mishneh Torah: Laws of Kings and Wars: 12:1
 Some Mystical sources suggest that the blessings given to the sons, do contain profound insight into the Messianic Age – however in a coded mechanism.
 Mishneh Torah: Laws of Kings and Wars: 12:1