I have a hobby of collecting newspapers that contain memorable headlines. So, when major events occur, I buy the next day’s paper and add it to my collection. I have newspapers from when the last few presidents won elections, when President Clinton was impeached, the day after 9/11 (September 12, 2001), when President Trump was impeached (both times), and some papers after worthwhile teams I root for won a championship.
After Shabbos, I saw a screenshot of the day’s New York Times. I did a double take as I saw that there was a picture of Rav Chaim Kanievsky on the front page. There can’t be much more of a memorable newspaper than that, so I went on a search to find somewhere that still had a New York Times available for sale. I finally found one last copy in a gas station and quickly purchased it.
As can be imagined, the paper wasn’t lauding Rav Chaim as a great and holy Torah leader who has impacted and influenced countless lives. The quote under the photo read: “He is Israel’s Prince of Torah, but to some he is the King of COVID.” I had no doubt that The New York Times wasn’t about to say anything positive about our leaders or our communities. They and their cohorts – CNN, BBC, WSJ, etc. – never miss an opportunity to malign us and portray us as archaic and deficient.
Still, I excitedly showed my children the paper. I told them that it is likely a glimpse into the messianic era, which isn’t too far away. At that time, photos of Rav Chaim and other great Torah leaders will reverently adorn the front pages of these currently hostile news outlets. Unlike now, at that point when the truth will be revealed, they will view Torah personalities as bearers of the unadulterated truth and will strive to hear their messages.
Yeshaya HaNavi majestically describes the messianic era (Yeshaya 42:1-2): “Behold my servant... he will not shout, he will not lift up and make his voice heard outside...”
Rav Schwab explains that when Mashiach comes, he will be so compelling and convincing that he will not have to shout or advertise his mission in any way. The nations of the world will be eager to hear what he has to say. The world will recognize his teachings as the ultimate truth, and people will flock to him from the ends of the earth to ask him their questions. The work begun by Avraham Avinu millennia ago – “And he called out in the Name of Hashem” (B’reishis 12:8) – will be completed by the Mashiach.
Earlier (Yeshaya 41:21-24), the Navi mocks the false prophets of the nations, challenging them to predict the future, and see if any of their predictions come true. Yeshaya himself prophesied about what would occur with King Koresh (Cyrus) of Persia and the building of the Second Beis HaMikdash. When Yeshaya said it, the First Beis HaMikdash was still standing, Persia was hardly a dot on the map, and it was years before Koresh was born! Yet every word was fulfilled exactly as he said. That reminds us that everything Yeshaya said about the messianic era will be fulfilled, too, in its time.
My rebbe, Rabbi Berel Wein, relates that when he moved out of Chicago to become a rabbi in Miami, his mother would send him the previous month’s collection of TIME Magazine issues. He noted that when he read the magazines weeks after their time-sensitive publication, he invariably found that they had gotten everything wrong.
“Their predictions as to events that would occur were woefully inaccurate, and their analysis of situations proved to be shallow and of little real strategic value.
“But this experience of receiving these old magazines – which went on for many years – cured me of the belief in political and economic experts and pundits. Unforeseen events always arose to mock their oracular predictions and assessments. I always thought of the verse: “He Who sits in Heaven laughs and the Lord mocks them.”
“So, I developed the habit, nevertheless, of only reading old magazines, for in their now evident false understanding of reported events, I did find fiendish enjoyment and perverse pleasure. I imagine that since few people read old magazines except when sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, the magazines can keep on churning out their assessments, predictions, and analyses without fear of being exposed as being as constantly mistaken – as they truly are.”
Rabbi Wein also often quips that “One of the great mercies of the G-d of Israel is that he doesn’t read The New York Times. They haven’t got a clue, even though they have all the opinions.”
It’s a great challenge that newspapers today could more aptly be described as viewspapers, and their views are often inaccurate – at best. It’s therefore important that we remind ourselves that their opinions and portrayals are not necessarily a reflection of reality.
But the day will come when all that will change.