• Swords into Plowshares—Phase II

    Remember Mikhail Gorbachev? He was the last leader of the Soviet Union, president until 1991. He’s still around, moving in political circles. In 2017, there was a lot of international tension, especially due to China’s posturing and military buildup in the South China Sea, claiming that certain islands belonged to them and threatening other Southeast Asian countries. It looked like there was going to be a major war. Wriiten by Professor Shimon Silman Full Story

    Written by Professor Shimon Silman.

    Remember Mikhail Gorbachev? He was the last leader of the Soviet Union, president until 1991. He’s still around, moving in political circles. In 2017, there was a lot of international tension, especially due to China’s posturing and military buildup in the South China Sea, claiming that certain islands belonged to them and threatening other Southeast Asian countries. It looked like there was going to be a major war.

    At the time Gorbachev published an article in time magazine warning that the world is preparing for war, citing all the military buildup etc. I spoke to a Defense Department scientist at the time and asked his opinion. In response he said, “If there is a war, it will probably just be a game of chess,” a lot of threatening moves to exert pressure but no military conflict.

    There was no war.

    We are not surprised, of course, because we know that the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach said in early 1992, that Isaiah’s prophecy of “Swords into Plowshares” had begun to be fulfilled. But what about all this military posturing—playing chess—and some small wars that have taken place, such as between Russia and Georgia? (A “small war” is one that only lasts several days and in which relatively few people are killed.)

    Now, in monitoring the nations of the world to see how Swords into Plowshares (SIP) is progressing, I believe our focus should be on the nations who are members of the UN Security Council since it was the Security Council who made this declaration in 1992. Furthermore, of the 15 member states on the Security Council, only 5 are permanent members; the others 10 are rotating positions. So our main focus should be on the five permanent members: U.S., France, England, Russia and China. France and England have not ben involved in wars. The U.S. has been involved in wars, but not wars between nations. Rather, they are wars against terror groups—antiterrorist activities. Russia, has been involved in some warfare and China is frequently posturing for war.

    To understand where we are holding, I believe a careful analysis of the words of Isaiah’s prophecy is necessary.

    In the prophecy of Isaiah regarding Swords into Plowshares, he says:

    And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks;

    nation shall not raise a sword against nation 

    nor shall they learn any more war

    At first glance, something may seem out of place. It seems that first it should say:

    nation shall not raise a sword against nation 

    nor shall they learn any more war

    Then, since there is no more war, they don’t need their weapons any more, so then comes:

    They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.

    But it’s in the opposite order. My understanding is that the prophet is saying that this will happen in stages. First (SIP – Phase I), they shall beat their swords into plowshares—even before all wars have ceased—because there is a new moral awareness that there should be no more war, that war should no longer be used as a “tool of diplomacy.” This is what the Rebbe MHM calls ביטול מצב של מלחמות in the sicha on Swords into Plowshares. They must settle their differences peacefully and work together for their mutual benefit. This is what was declared in 1992. The nations feel much less threatened by each other, so they don’t need vast military resources and decide to transform them to peaceful uses—swords into plowshares.

    But there still may be wars in the world, especially wars involving nations that have not yet signed on to this new program. They are not yet so morally advanced. Some may even be terrorist states (like Iran) or non-state terrorist organizations. Meanwhile, the more advanced ones, who may develop rivalries with each other, realize that that they can’t express their rivalry militarily anymore.

    Then comes a second phase (SIP – Phase II) where all wars cease—”nation shall not raise a sword against nation”—but they look for alternate methods of rivalry: cyberwarfare, trade wars, information wars etc. They learn other methods of warfare. (If I may push the metaphor, I think “learning war” alludes (also) to warfare that involves learning and intellectual activity such as devising computer software to hack into your rival’s computer systems.) I call them rivals and not enemies because they may still be competing for power and domination, but they are no longer fighting with each other.

    Finally (SIP – Phase III), in the last phase, there is no more rivalry so they cease all cyberwarfare, trade wars etc.—“nor shall they learn any more war.” This happens when Melech HaMoshiach is completely revealed and gives instruction to the nations on how to act, and they come to him to resolve all their issues. As Isaiah says in that prophecy, 

    And many nations shall go [to confer with each other]

    and they shall say one to another,

    “Let’s go up to the mountain of G-d

    to the house of the G-d of Yakov

    and [Melech HaMoshiach] will teach us of G-d’s ways

    and we will follow His paths…

    And he will judge between the nations

    and admonish many peoples,

    Rambam describes this era in the very last Halacha of his Mishneh Torah:

    “At that time there will be no famine or war, no jealousy or rivalry since there will be abundant good and all the delicacies will be as plentiful as the dust of the earth. The only occupation of the entire world will be to know G-d…”

    This is what our Moshiach and Science conference will focus on this year.

    We have a special lineup of speakers. First, Rabbi Levi Silman of Cape Town, South Africa will give a short shiur on the daily Rambam.

    The Swords into Plowshares theme will be discussed by Rabbi Avishay Ifargon and myself. Rabbi Ifargon is a former military intelligence officer with the IDF. He is an expert on Middle Eastern affairs and demilitarization. His thesis is that we can see from world events that the world in moving closer to the complete Geulah.

    Ariel Gomez, an engineer with SpaceIL, the Israeli space exploration company will speak about space exploration in general and what we learn from it, and the planned Mars Mission in particular.

    Yakov Guggenheim, an Israeli engineer, will speak on “The Time Has Come to Incorporate the Infinite into Science,” meaning that it’s time to include a discussion of G-d in scientific deliberations.

    Along the same lines, Dr. Yonatan Bentwich will speak on “G-d’s Physics—Paradigm of 21st Century Physics”

    Our Keynote Speaker, new to our conferences, is Professor Yehuda Schnaps who will speak on “The Foundations of Quantum Mechanics in Sha’ar HaYichud V’HaEmuna (Tanya).”



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