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I saw in a response to an article on Israelnn.com the following: "the Erev Rav, that conned us with their sincerity in converting and dragged along with us @ Y'ziat Mitzraim, and we have been suffering because of them since then. Our great sages have foretold that they will be in control of the land after we regain it (1948). But just before Moshiach's arrival, they will be in total control; it's all part of the redemption process. They are called the enemy within and will be our worst enemies. Not my words, but this is from our Torah and holy sages."

I remember reading something similar to this concept before as well.

Can anybody here provide a legitimate source for this idea (if one exists) and what that source actually says?

Does the term "Erev Rav" apply to any group of trouble-makers within the Jewish people during a particular generation? (i.e. those that were involved in the Golden Calf 3500 years ago, and those that work to expel fellow Jews from their homes today, etc.)?

Either way, we are still required to love these Jews just the same as all others, so what is the point of identifying who is part of the Erev Rav and who is not? Will knowing this information somehow help us hasten the Redemption?

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The Zohar uses the term "erev rav" quite extensively, and yes, usually meaning the people opposed to the Torah scholars of their period. (It parallels the usage of "am haaretz" in Pesachim 49a-b, where it also means people who are hostile to Torah (rather than just ignorant of it, as is the usual usage of "am haaretz") - like R' Akiva, quoted there as saying that in his ignorant youth "he would have bitten a Torah scholar like a donkey."

Specifically, in Raya Mehemna 124a ff the Zohar associates the erev rav with the difficulties before Moshiach's arrival (chevlei Moshiach). I haven't yet found anything that speaks about them being "in control of the land," though.

With that said, even an insincere convert (like the original erev rav) is of course a Jew and must be treated as such. So yes, the mitzvah of "love your fellow Jew" applies across the board. That doesn't mean condoning their improper actions, but as R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi writes in Tanya (ch. 32), one can love the person and hate the sin - or actually, pity their Jewish soul which has fallen so low, and bring them close as much as possible.

(Technically there are exceptions to this, such as heretics, of whom the halachah is that "moridin ve'ein maalin." But do such really exist nowadays? Virtually everyone who is anti-religious is so because of their upbringing, putting them in the category of "tinok shenishba.")

So what's the point of identifying the erev rav? I suppose a practical benefit is that it helps make sense of the galus experience we are going through. When we realize that all that is happening is part of Hashem's master plan as foretold by our Sages, then yes, that strengthens our faith in Hashem, and our confidence that the promises of redemption and Moshiach will also come true (like R' Akiva when he saw the ruins of the Beis Hamikdash - end of Tractate Makkos).

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  • 2
    Great answer! Informative, level-headed, and even optimistic.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jul 30 '10 at 18:40
  • I agree, great answer. Thank you. I am going to leave this "unanswered" for a couple days to try to get other responses, but thank you for yours.
    – chaimp
    Jul 30 '10 at 22:05
  • 1
    @chaimp Seven years, and counting... :-)
    – Adám
    Jan 18 '17 at 0:08
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Here is a 56 page pdf with different references to the Eruv Rav in the last generations.

The sources are mostly Kabbalistic. It starts with a mention of what the Eruv Rav were originally, and then explains how the spiritual Eruv Rav comes into existence.

Here are some references that might be what the information you saw was referring to.

This is what the Holy Zohar (I, 25a) says about the types of Erev Rav: There are five types among the Erev Rav "mixed multitude", Nefilim, Gibborim, Anakim, Refaim, and Amalekites [the main type, as explained further on]. The Amalekites are those who are left from the time of the Flood, from those of whom it is written [Gen. 7:23], "and he blotted out all living substance"; those who have been left from this class in this fourth exile of Israel make themselves leaders by force, and are scourges [חמס] to Israel; of them it is written [Gen. 6:13], "for the earth [הארץ the Land] was full of violence [חמס] because of them". These are the Amalekites. [Brackets and boldface added]

Another is an idea mentioned that the Leaders of the Jewish People in the final generations will be from the Eruv Rav, but the way I read it, it is referring to religious leaders, not secular leaders (Although I guess it could be interpreted as two separate types of leaders).

As to why tell us this, In order to fight evil, you have to know what that evil is. These sources identify the evil so that we may fight it.

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The same citation Zohar I:25a as in the other answer, in a more thorough and analytical translation:

And there are five varieties in the Erev Rav, namely (mnemonic NG"A R"A "bad plague"): [second kind] Nefilim, [third kind] Giborim, [fourth] Anakim, [fifth] Refa'im, [first and chief] Amalekim. And because of them the small H' (of AvraHam) was fallen from its place.

[First kind Amalekites: leaders, heads of the world, men of great power, who became a means of violence toward Yisrael] Bil'am and Balaq were from the side of Amalek. Remove AM (nation) from BLAM and LQ (strike) from BLQ, and what's left is BBL (Bavel, Gen. 11:9), "because that's where Hashem BLL (confused) all the earth's language." And these [Erev Rav] are those who have remained of them [surviving the Flood], as it says of them (ibid. 7:23), "Wayyimach kol-hayyaqum/ and He wiped out [not] all the beings [that rose against Him]." And from these that remain of them in the fourth exile, they are leaders (heads of the world), men of great power. They became a means of violence toward Yisrael, and of them it says (ibid. 6:13), "Ki-mal'ah-ha'aretz chamas mipeneihem/ The earth was all filled with violence due to them." These are the Amalekim.

חמש מינין אינון בערב רב, ואינון (סימן: נג"ע ר"ע) נפילים, גבורים, ענקים, רפאים, עמלקים, ובגינייהו נפלה ה' זעירא מאתרהא, בלעם ובלק מסטרא דעמלק הוו, טול ע"ם מן בלעם, ל"ק מן בלק, אשתאר בב"ל, (בראשית יא ט) כי שם בלל יהו"ה שפת כל הארץ, ואלין אינון דאשתארו מאלין דאתמר בהון (שם ז כג) וימח את כל היקום, ומאלין דאשתארו מנהון בגלותא רביעאה, אינון רישין בקיומא סגי, ואינון קיימין על ישראל כלי חמס, ועלייהו אתמר (שם ו יג) כי מלאה הארץ חמס מפניהם, אלין אינון עמלקים.

[2] Nefilim ("fallen" , of them it says (ibid. 6:2), "Wayyir'u bnei-ha'elohim et-bnot ha'adam ki tovot hennah/ And the sons of ha'Elohim saw the daughters of the (lower) men that they were good (looking)." These are the second kind. From them are the nefilim mille'eilah (fallen from above), for when KB"H wanted to make man, as he said "Na`aseh adam b'tzalmenu/ Let us make man in our image" etc., he wanted to make him head over the supernal beings, that he be appointed over all of them, and they be appointed by him, similar to Yosef as it says of him (ibid. 41:34), "And he appointed officers over the land." These wanted to bring prosecution on him, and said (Ps. 8:5), "What is man, that you mention him" etc., for he will in the future err before You. KB"H told them, "If you were down below like him you'd be bigger sinners than him." Immediately "then the sons of ha'Elohim saw the children of (lower) man" etc., craving them, and KB"H cast them out down below in chains, and they

נפילים עלייהו אתמר (שם ו ב) ויראו בני האלהי"ם את בנות האדם כי טובות הנה, ואלין אינון מינא תניינא, מאלין נפילים מלעילא, דכד בעא קב"ה למעבד אדם, דאמר נעשה אדם בצלמנו וגו', בעא למעבד ליה רישא על עלאין, למהוי איהו פקיד על כלהו, ולמהוי אינון פקידין על ידוי, כגוונא דיוסף דאתמר ביה (שם מא לד) ויפקד פקידים על הארץ, אינון בעו לקטרגא ליה, ואמרו (תהלים ח ה) מה אנוש כי תזכרנו וגו', דעתיד למחטי קמך, אמר לון קב"ה אי אתון הויתון לתתא כותיה, יתיר הויתון חבין מניה, מיד ויראו בני האלהי"ם את בנות האדם וגו', חשקו בהון וקב"ה אפיל לון לתתא בשלשלאן, ואינון

[daf 25b] are 'AZ"A and 'AZzE"L, from whom are the souls the Erev Rav, as they are Nefilim, as they are cast down because of them, to go promiscuously after women that are good (looking), and because of this KB"H cast them down from the Coming World, to have no portion there, and give them their reward in this world, as Thou hast said (Deut. 7:10), "And repays His haters before His face, to destroy him" etc.

עז"א ועזא"ל דמנייהו נשמתהון דערב רב, דאינון נפילים דאפילו גרמייהו לזנות בתר נשיא דאינון טבאן, ובגין דא אפיל לון קב"ה מעלמא דאתי, דלא יהא לון חולקא תמן, ויהיב לון אגרייהו בהאי עלמא, כמה דאת אמר (דברים ז י) ומשלם לשונאיו אל פניו להאבידו וגו'.

[3] GiBoRim ("great, mighty:" making themselves a big name by building religious institutions but not in the name of H', and stealing from the lowly) are the third kind. Of them it says (Gen. 6:4), "hemmah ha-gibborim [asher me`olam] anshei-shem/ they were the mighty men .. men of renown (ShM)." And they are from the side of those of whom it says (Gen. 11:4), "Let's build us a city and make us a name (ShM)," as they build synagogues and study halls, and put in them a sefer torah and a crown on its head, but not in the name of Hashem but to make themselves a name (ShM). This is that which is written, "Let's make us a name." And (the children) of the Other Side attack Yisrael who are (blessed to be) like the "dust of the earth," and steal from them (shattering their work, and of this is says) (ibid. 7:19), "And the waters prevailed (GaBRu) very, very much on the earth."

גבורים מינא תליתאה, עלייהו אתמר המה הגבורים וגו' אנשי השם, ואינון מסטרא דאלין דאתמר בהון (בראשית יא ד) הבה נבנה לנו עיר ונעשה לנו שם, דבנין בתי כנסיות ומדרשות, ושויין בהון ס"ת ועטרה על רישוי, ולא לשמא דיהו"ה אלא למעבד לון שם, הה"ד ונעשה לנו שם, ומסטרא אחרא מתגברין על ישראל דאינון כעפרא דארעא, וגזלין לון, (ואתברת עבידתא, ועלייהו אתמר (שם ז יט) והמים גברו מאד מאד על הארץ.

[4] ReFA'im ("weak"; "wusses" who have the power but don't help religious Yisrael in distress but instead they benefit idolaters) are the fourth kind. If they see Yisrael in distress they wuss away from them; and they have authority to save them but they don't want to. So they wuss away from the Torah and from those that try to study her, benefiting idolaters. Of them it says (Isa. 26:14), "ReFA'im bal-yakumu/ the ghosts will not rise." When deliverance will come to Yisrael of them will be said (ibid.), "wa'te'abed kol-zeikher lamo/ and you have made perish all their memory."

רפאים מינא רביעאה, אם יחזון לישראל בדוחקא מתרפין מנייהו, ואית לון רשו לשזבא לון ולא בעאן, ומתרפין מאורייתא ומאלין דמשתדלין בה, למעבד טב עם עכו"ם, עלייהו אתמר (ישעיה כו יד) רפאים בל יקומו, בזמנא דייתי פקידה לישראל אתמר בהון (שם) ותאבד כל זכר למו.

[5] 'ANaQim ("giant"; "elite"; arrogant secularists) are the fifth kind, as they belittle those of whom it says (Prov. 1:9), "[let the Torah be] chains ('ANaQim) around your neck." And of them it says (Deut. 2:11), "refaim yechashvu af-hem ka'anaqim/ these also are counted refaim, as the ANaQim;" they are counted equal. These are they who brought the world back to Tohu wa'Bohu. The hint of the thing is: The Beit Mikdash is destroyed - "and the earth was Tohu wa'Bohu" (Gen. 1), as it is the main spot and habitation of the world. As soon as Light comes, which is KB"H, they are wiped off the world and destroyed. But the Redemption depends on none other than 'AMLQ, [namely] until he who was referred to in the oath is destroyed (Ex. 17:16), which we've already explained.

ענקים מינא חמישאה, דאינון מזלזלין לאלין דאתמר בהון (משלי א ט) וענקים לגרגרותיך, ועלייהו אתמר (דברים ב יא) רפאים יחשבו אף הם כענקים, שקילין דא לדא, אלין אינון דאהדרו עלמא לתהו ובהו, ורזא דמלה חרב בי מקדשא והארץ היתה תהו ובהו, דאיהי עקרא וישובא דעלמא, מיד דייתי אור דאיהו קב"ה, יתמחון מן עלמא ויתאבדון, אבל פורקנא לאו איהי תליא אלא בעמלק עד דיתמחי, דביה אומאה, והא אוקמוה.


"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Beware and be on guard. Have humility, devotion to H', and courage.
"There but for the grace of God go I."
Without the fear of Heaven, these elitist arrogances and abuses of power could happen to anybody, God forbid.

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