According to 2012 doomsdayers, the end of the world which will also mark the beginning a new era may be highlighted by a collision between a large planetary object and the planet Earth, dubbed the Nibiru collision. As I have said before, the arrival of the Messianic era may be a phenomenon that other cultures have alluded to as well, insofar as awareness of the universe which Hashem put into place inevitably holds clues to its ultimate purpose. In this way, staying abreast of global shifts taking place in natural, economic and political orders, as well as cosmological orders, can both keep our eyes open for Mashiach, and help to bring the concept of Mashiach into the world in a revealed way.
In December 2010, the amateur Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin discovered a comet now called Comet Elenin, which some have identified as Nibiru. Shirat Devorah raises the question whether there may be a connection between this week's Torah portion's mention of Kokhav Yaakov and Elenin. The last words of Balaam in this week's reading hold a prophecy interpreted as an allusion to Mashiach (Numbers 24:17):
I see it, but not now;See Kokhav Yaakov: A deeper look for further interpretations on this verse. In the Laws of Kings, the Rambam's discussion of the Messianic era, the star of Jacob refers to King David:
I behold it, but not in the near future.
A star shall go forth from Jacob,
And a staff [shevet] shall arise from Israel
The King Mashiach will rise forth and return the Kingdom of David to its former state. The Torah testifies [in several places] concerning him [the King Mashiach] [amongst them,] in the portion of Bila'am whose prophecies concern two messianic figures: the first Mashiach is King David who saved Israel from its oppressors; the final Mashiach will rise forth from his [King David's] descendants and save Israel in the end of days. Bila'am prophesizes: 'I see it, but not now'-- this refers to King David; 'I behold it, but not in the near future'-- this refers to the King Mashiach; 'A star shall go forth from Jacob'-- this refers to King David; 'and a staff shall arise in Israel'-- this refers to the King Mashiach.Kokhav Yaakov is further elaborated in Terumah 172b (hat tip again to Shirat Devorah):
Then the 7th window will open in the entire world, and its star is Kochav Yaakov, and this is the one about which Bilaam said “a star shoots forth from Yaakov,” and this star will be luminous for 40 days and 40 nights. When Melech Hamoshiach will be revealed, and all the people’s of the world will be gathered to him, then the verse will be fulfilled which states [Yeshaya 11:10]: “the root of Yishai, which stands as a banner for peoples, to him shall the nations inquire, and his peace shall be [with] honor.”We have yet to see whether Elenin will exhibit a 40-day luminosity, or astrologically speaking, whether it will be visible during that time span from Earth. According to calculations, Elenin will come closest to earth in mid-October, when it will be slightly closer to Earth than the planet Venus. According to the Minor Planet Center, Elenin is a relative bright comet, and it is uncertain just how bright it will become.
What does the relative relationship between a comet, the sun and Earth mean for us? The best lessons may be learned in hindsight. On March 14, 2011, the comet came into opposition with the sun, and will do so again on November 22 of this year. March 14th, mind you, was several days after the massive tsunami hit Japan, wreaking massive environmental and human disaster, and setting off an international nuclear crisis that is unsolved to this day. That's an opposition; a near-alignment between the sun, Elenin and Earth will occur on September 26th.
Yet perhaps the most interesting date is that on which the comet will be closest to earth, October 16, 2011. And if there had to be one tzaddik who could ensure the effect of such a movement would be beneficial rather than destructive, who better than Rebbe Nachman, the everlasting stream of wisdom, whose 201st Yartzheit is Tishrei 18 5772, which falls on October 16th in 2011, as it did on the day he left this world in 1810.
Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman / Elenin ?