The first decade of the 21st century was dominated by terror and terrorists. No one man was responsible although the pre-eminent face was that of Osama bin Laden. The global jihad of terror struck from New York to New Delhi. The centre of the storm was South Asia, and the epicenter of the storm Pakistan. India was often ground zero.
Terrorism is on the rise, with an almost fivefold increase in fatalities since 9/11, in spite of US-led efforts to combat it in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world, according to a report published on Tuesday.
So we must ask ourselves, “why is there so much evil in the world now?”.
"In the (Jewish) year of 5760, the depths will rise up and flood the world, and there will remain the Land of Israel, which will be like the Ark of Noah." (Yalkut Shimoni)
"And the secret of the matter is that at the end of the year 5760 of creation, the verse from the Prophet Zecharya 13:2, 'I shall remove the impure spirit from the world,' will come to pass, and the verse in Leviticus 26:6: 'And I will abolish the evil animal from the world,' will be fulfilled. This refers to the removal of the forces of impurity, as mentioned in the Zohar." (Chesed l’Avraham)
Rabbi Yechiel Weitzman explains in his book The Ishmaelite Exile;
In short, at the time of “the footsteps of Moshiach”, evil will increase in the world and be readily apparent. This is good news for the approaching redemption, for many will learn to identify it for what it is. Then they will abandon it and improve themselves in the direction of absolute good. Others, who also search for perfection in their way, will become more evil and will distance themselves completely from Judaism.
The conclusion to be arrived at from this idea is very clear. In the introduction to this book, we dealt at length with the matter of Adam’s eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. We explained that when he did this, he joined good with evil, which had until then been separate, thus bringing the evil inclinations inside man. As a result of this, G-d decreed that man must die, and He set a period of six thousand years for rectification of the sin. Only at the end of this period will good and evil again be separate.
However, to arrive at this point, good and evil must be separated in Creation itself. As we have explained, this will come about through an intensification of evil so that it can be discernible in the world. Then those who wish to can recognize it and distance themselves from it.
This is also linked to the coming of Moshiach, for when people’s choices are not clear, good and evil remain a mixture in the world, and the time is not yet ripe for Moshiach’s arrival. But when good and evil are clearly distinct and separate from each other, redemption will arrive.
“The Son of Dovid (i.e., Moshiach) will not come until the generation is either completely worthy or completely unworthy. (Sanhedrin 97b)”
One opinion is that this means, not that the whole generation will be completely worthy or unworthy, but that the generation will be divided into two groups one, completely worthy and the other, completely unworthy.
Rabbi Weitzman continues;
In addition to this objective, there is another point in making good and evil clearly distinct from each other. Hashem created the force of evil in the world so that man can realize his potential. Just as physical activity leads to physical development only after difficult training that entails overcoming obstacles, so it is with spiritual development. When man contends with various challenges that stand in his way, he becomes stronger. It turns out , then, that the evil that exists in Creation actually serves as a means to attain goodness, for it is the cause of man’s putting forth effort to overcome it. As a result of this effort man realizes his potential and rises to higher levels of goodness.
May Am Yisrael be worthy to greet the Mashiach.