The Current Exile of “Erev Rav”
In Al HaNissim, the Greeks are described as “zeidim”, rebellious ones, who came to uproot the Torah.
Our Rabbis teach that we will go through seven exiles: Egypt, Bavel, Persia, Greece, Edom, Yishmael, and the Erev Rav. Each of the exiles had a specific time that they lasted for. But the last exile, the exile of the Erev Rav (these are reincarnations of the “Erev Rav” [Mixed Multitude] souls who left Egypt together with the Jewish people, and influenced them to do evil) has no specific time, because it includes all of the exiles together.
Therefore, the current and final exile – the exile of the Erev Rav – is not just “the exile of the Erev Rav” alone. It includes all of the influences of the nations, together, at once. The exiles of Egypt, Bavel, Persia, Greece, Edom and Yishmael each have their specific natures. But the exile of the Erev Rav includes ingredients of all of them at once. This is the depth of our final exile, and this is why it is so hard.
Now we can understand why the final exile is the most difficult. No one knows when the current and final exile will end; it hasn’t been revealed to anyone. But we are definitely in it, as our Rabbis wrote about.
The more subtle definition of explaining it is that we are in the exile of Edom, and within that, the exile of Yishmael, and within that – the exile of the Erev Rav. The main part of the exile is the “Erev Rav” aspect. It is an exile which includes all exiles; clearly, then, it is the most difficult of all the exiles. It pits us against the nations as never before. From all sides, we are surrounded with the evil influences that seek to ensnare us.
That describes the place and time we are in.
The Unique Nature of The Greek Exile
In a certain sense, the Greek exile was also different than the other exiles. The Egyptian, Babylonian and Persian exiles all took place outside of Eretz Yisrael, but the Greek exile took place in Eretz Yisrael, and not only that, but with the Beis HaMikdash still standing.
The Greeks came to defile the Beis HaMikdash. It added a new dimension to exile: that even when we have Eretz Yisrael and a Beis HaMikdash, we are still susceptible to danger.
Normally, exile is defined by the fact that we are exiled from Eretz Yisrael and forced to live outside the land. But the Greek exile was a new kind of exile: that even when we are in Eretz Yisrael, and even when we have a Beis HaMikdash, we can still be in exile. It wasn’t just a side thing. It defined the whole Greek exile.
What was the concept of the Greek exile? It is defined by the fact that they came and defiled the Beis HaMikdash, contaminating all the oils for the Menorah. Their entire purpose was to come and contaminate our holiness. They went straight to the Heichal in the Beis HaMikdash, so that they could contaminate the oil for the Menorah. They came to the holiest site, with specific intentions to ruin the holiness.
It didn’t begin with that. It really began with the decrees against certain mitzvos such as Shabbos, Bris Milah, and Rosh Chodesh, as our Chazal tell us. But it still didn’t look so bad, because everyone thought that they weren’t really in exile, because after all, the Beis HaMikdash was still around. So although decrees were being made against us, decree after decree, still, people thought it wasn’t so bad – because we still had the Beis HaMikdash.
What indeed is the difference between the Greek exile with the other exiles? The difference was astounding. During the other exiles, when we were exiled from Eretz Yisrael and we had no Beis HaMikdash, we knew we were in exile. But during the Greek exile, it did not seem to us that we were in exile, because we were in Eretz Yisrael, and we had a Beis HaMikdash.
The Greeks came to contaminate the oil – this did not just mean that we had a technical problem in that the Greeks had all the oil. It was all a result of what came before that. Olive oil (shemen) is seen by our Sages as a symbol of wisdom (chochmah); the Greeks had control over all the oil, both on a physical level as well as on a spiritual level. They succeeded in confusing the wisdom and minds of our nation, with all their secular thinking. When the Greeks affected how we thought – that was how they were able to physically control our oil as well.
The Beis HaMikdash was the holiest site, but it was also the place that can contaminate everything [when it becomes contaminated]. If a person thinks that this was just another random detail in the Chanukah story, he is missing the whole point. When the Greeks came to contaminate the oil, their real intentions were that they wanted to destroy the holy power of thought which the Jewish people possess.
The Jewish people were first conceived in Hashem’s thoughts, and the Greeks wanted to destroy that too. When the Greeks affected our holy power of thought, they were really damaging the entire holiness of Jewish souls. That was the depth of the matter of how they contaminated all the oils.
The Greek Exile Reappearing In The Current Exile
If we reflect a little, the “exile of the Erev Rav” that we are in includes all of the other exiles with it, and that is the depth of the current exile.
When a person reads about the words of our Rabbis concerning the exile, he can know at least on an intellectual level about what kind of problem we find ourselves in, how our minds are being threatened. But even more so, the depth of the exile is that evil can enter even into the holiest places. That was the uniqueness of the Greek exile, and since our current exile includes the Greek exile, our current exile also contains that disturbing kind of evil: our very holiness is being threatened. The evil influences of the nations can spread into even the holy places and contaminate holiness.
In our times as well, it can be said, rachmana litzlan, that the nations are coming and contaminating our holy places. Only one jug of oil was found, and it was hidden in the ground. So too, in our times, the Greek exile is here with it. The real evil is that Jewish minds are being contaminated by the secular influences.
Depth of The Current Exile
When these words are absorbed, we can begin to realize what kind of situation we are in. First of all, we are in an all-inclusive kind of exile, which includes aspects of all the exiles, with all of the secular influences. But even more specifically, we are in an exile that resembles the Greek exile, for we live in Eretz Yisrael; and the exile that we are in is not only taking places in the streets, and in the buildings of secular people who make decrees against the Torah. Our very holy places are being contaminated by the modern influences, which are disturbingly reminiscent of the nature of the Greek exile.
It is not only the “Heichal” of the Beis HaMikdash hundreds of years ago which is being contaminated. Every shul and beis midrash in this generation is being contaminated by the secular influences! When a Jew walks into a shul or beis midrash nowadays, his mind is becoming contaminated from all of the secular ideas he hears about!
In this exile, “Erev Rav”, which includes in it the Greek exile, we find ourselves facing Greek influences all over again. But worse still is that the current exile includes all of the exiles – it includes all of the secular influences of every nation. Those influences are coming into every beis midrash and shul!
A person is learning Torah in a beis midrash or davening in shul, and thinks that he’s being protected by the fact that shuls are called a “mikdash me’at” (abode of holiness) he is in, and that all the impurity is the street, while he’s safe and sheltered from it. After all, he is in middle of learning or davening, immersed in spirituality…
But the Greeks were able to contaminate the Heichal! If they can contaminate the Heichal, surely they can come into every shul and beis midrash. What this causes is the following: the initial way of thinking of the average Jew who lives in our times is a contaminated kind of thinking. It is because the whole air around us is impure.
It’s clear to all that there’s impurity outside in the streets. But it’s not clear that the impurity of the streets has entered the shuls and batei midrashim. The secular de’os (ways of thinking) have entered our circles and are ruining the mind of a Jew. The daas of the Torah has become exiled to the impure daas of the other nations.
We must know that all people, except for a few rare individuals – their minds have been contaminated by secular influences; even if they are found in the shuls and batei midrashim. One who doesn’t try to find the “jug of oil” in our times – meaning, if he doesn’t search for truth – he will not see the truth.
But the real difficulty is that people don’t even realize that there’s a problem. If we would know that there was an exile, everyone would cry to Hashem and beg Him that we attain a pure mind and have real daas. But people think that exile is only in the streets, not in the shuls and batei midrashim; a person is confident that his de’os are truthful. This is the depth of the exile; our de’os are being mixed up by the gentile nations, and we don’t even realize.
If we would list all of the untruthful de’os that are affecting us nowadays, there would not be enough time. But we must know one thing: In the depth of exile we are in, in the last couple of years (it’s hard to say when exactly it started), the secular nations have succeeded in uprooting the entire proper Torah perspective which frum people used to have. Not only are they making financial decrees against those who learn Torah; that is just the external part of the decree. They are uprooting all de’os of even those who learn Torah, and they are doing so to groups of people here and there; it all adds up.
They are taking away the proper de’os which we received as tradition from our forefathers. They have even succeeded in causing us to doubt the most basic fundamentals.
Anyone born into this generation is a “tinok shenishboh” (captured child) among the nations, even if he is born into a Torah family, because there are very few de’os today which are truthful. In the Chanukah episode, only one jug of oil was found; the message of this is that nowadays, it is rare to find the truth, even in the Torah world.
The actual words of Torah, of course, are never contaminated, as the Nefesh HaChaim writes. But in our souls, the words of Torah can definitely become hidden from the person, when his real mind is ruined by secular thinking.
If one would research all his de’os in his mind, he would discover how much he has become influenced by secular thinking.
A Spiritual Holocaust Taking Place In Our Midst
The words here are harsh – but it is the reality which we find ourselves in.
In previous generations, they were in a physical Holocaust. In this generation, we are in middle of a spiritual Holocaust. The spiritual Holocaust is not only affecting those who have gone off the derech and taken to the streets; it is affecting even us who are in the beis hamidrash! The true de’os are being uprooted, and the holiness of the Jew’s soul is being extinguished.
It is all because of what the influence of the Erev Rav is doing; because people are connected with “the heads of the Erev Rav”. And there is no end to how much damage they can cause when they enter our circles.
When the Torah world becomes connected with the outside world – via the influences of the Erev Rav – the “heads of the Erev Rav” can mix together Chareidim with those who aren’t Chareidim. How do they have the power to do this?? The answer is: Because there is no more Chareidi society! The Chareidi society is already gone! There are only a few G-d fearing individuals left. It’s all gone, it’s all destroyed.
We must understand that their influence upon is a holocaust to us! Someone born into this generation is being born into a spiritual holocaust, no less than someone born into the generation of the Holocaust that was 50 years ago. The Jewish people are being burned; everything is burning! Maybe in our physical situation, there are some who are surviving. But in our spiritual situation, the souls of the Jewish people are being burned! Each individual must realize how much the ways of our fathers are being given up in favor of the secular influences.
The words here are just a brief description of the problems of today’s exile. The depth of the exile is that each day, Jewish souls are being burned. There is no safe place anymore. Even the “Heichal” itself is being contaminated. It is not an external kind of impurity going on; it is the kind that enters the Jew’s mind and ruins it.
The Only Hope
Every opinion that enters our minds needs to be carefully researched to see if it’s truthful or not.
The truth must burn in our hearts. We need to daven and cry out to Hashem, from the depths of our hearts: “Save me from this generation that I am in, from all the impurity that is everywhere! Help me get through this lifetime properly!”
One must know the depth of the exile we are in – that there is no more Chareidi society anymore, except for a few rare individuals who fear Hashem. The only thing that we can do in this generation is to connect ourselves truthfully to Hashem, and one who is connected to Hashem, and he makes sure to have mesirus nefesh, he resembles the heroic Chashmonaim of history.
Although we each have our various ups and downs in our spiritual level, we can still remain all the time connected with Hashem and pray to Him all the time that we remain connected with Him. We must be very afraid of the situation that we are in right now, because of the spiritual danger that surrounds us; that fear is what can protect us.
May Hashem end this exile and bring Moshiach, speedily in our days, Amen V’Amen.
 Although we refer generally to the “four” exiles (Bavel\Babylonia, Yavan\Greece, Persia, and Edom\Rome) the four really subdivide for a total of seven, when we add on Egypt, the root of all exiles; and the last exile, Edom, which breaks up into two additional exiles: the exile of Yishmael\Arabs and the innermost layer of the exile, the exile of the “Erev Rav.” For the source on “exile of the Erev Rav”, refer to Gra (the Vilna Gaon) in sefer Even Shelaimah available at the bilvavi website.
 Refer also to Tefillah #085- Erev Rav Today and Derashos #0103 – Surviving Spiritually. See also Tefillah #093- Media Influence and Tefillah #094- Seeking Advice . Refer also to the Rav’s series of Getting To Know Your Hisboddedus Practice and the clip of Eretz Yisrael Today.