As the 2014-2015 Shemitah year draws to a close, the world is once again falling into financial turmoil. The US stock market moved into correction territory last week and, in early trading this week, the Dow crashed more than 1,000 points before recovering to a mere 588 point loss. The current volatility in the market is not the only bad news of the current Shemitah, however. The Shemitah, which began last September, was ushered in with several ”shakings,” in the words of Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, who discovered the Shemitah pattern and wrote the book, “The Mystery of the Shemitah.”
“America is racing toward judgment,” says Rabbi Jonathan Cahn in a video posted on You Tube. “Not one but multiple factors are converging.”
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The Shemitah began on September 24, 2014 with another stock market correction. CNN Money noted that the “September slump” did not last for the entire month of September. Instead, “starting on Monday, September 22, investors hit the pause button and kept hitting it for much of the rest of the month.” This coincided almost perfectly with the onset of the Shemitah.
Following on the heels of the stock market crash was a shaking of a different sort. On September 30, 2014, the CDC confirmed the first case of Ebola in the United States. Over the next few weeks, several other cases were identified around the country, prompting a state of near panic in many urban areas. The panic lasted throughout the month of October as more cases were diagnosed and the first patient, a Liberian immigrant, died. Spurring more fears, a number of medical professionals who had treated patients in the original outbreak in Africa flouted quarantines and traveled around New York and the country.
The stock market experienced a rough October as well. Both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced sharp downturns in mid-October. Although both indexes regained their losses over the next few weeks, Shemitahs have historically been marked by volatility in the markets and the current Shemitah is no exception.
In early July, the Chinese stock market crashed after reaching a record high on June 12. On July 4, the Chinese government suspended the sale of stocks in an attempt to stave off losses. In spite of the Chinese government’s attempts to manipulate the market, the International Business Times reports that Chinese stocks lost more than eight percent of their value on what has come to be known as “China’s Black Monday.” Quartz notes that stock markets around Asia closed with sharp declines. Further, Zero Hedge listed 23 countries around the world where stock markets are currently crashing. Thomas DeMark, founder and CEO of DeMark Analytics, told CNBC that the Chinese stock market crash closely resembles the US crash of 1929 in which the stock market lost 50 percent of its value and the contagion spread around the world.
Other factors that may be contributing to the world’s economic woes are the collapse in oil prices, the Greek debt crisis and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy. Holman Jenkins wrote in the Wall St. Journal that the Greek crisis has largely been resolved without Greece having to address its core problem of deficit spending. Reform of Europe’s welfare state has been kicked down the road and Europe’s debts will continue to mount.
Martin Feldstein, President Reagan’s chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, wrote in the Wall St. Journal that some of the US market’s difficulty can be attributed to the Fed’s policy of low interest rates that dates back two seven-year Shemitah cycles to the September 11 attacks and the resulting stock market crash in 2001 on the last day of the Shemitah. The Fed kept interest rates low throughout the remainder of the Bush Administration which fed the real estate bubble that burst in 2008 on the last day of that Shemitah year. Feldstein notes that after the failure of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke promised to hold rates near zero for the long term. Low interest rates have also pushed investors into the stock market due to low yields on other investments. Recent articles have pointed out that with interest rates hovering near zero, the Fed has little room left to combat a new economic crisis and may even take rates into negative territory.
The confluence of bad economic news into a perfect storm scenario is compounded by the rejection of Judeo-Christian values and morals. The 2015 Shemitah has been hallmarked by a turning away from God. The most notable example of this is the Supreme Court decision to overturn the will of the people and thousands of years of tradition to redefine marriage. By the time the Supreme Court ruled on the Obergefell case, same sex marriage had become the law in a majority of the United States. In almost every state, the redefinition of marriage was imposed by a small clique of judges and not the voters of the state.
Also in the summer of 2015, a series of undercover Planned Parenthood videos unveiled the dark world of the abortion provider. The videos revealed the callous disregard for life among Planned Parenthood employees and the stark truth that the sale of body parts from aborted babies is a vital part of the organization’s business model. In one video, a former employee of a stem cell harvesting company accused Planned Parenthood, which receives federal government funding, of harvesting the brain of a baby whose heart was still beating. Contrary to the public face of abortion in which proponents deny the humanity of unborn babies by using the euphemism “fetus,” Planned Parenthood’s employees freely refer to “babies” on the videos as they joke about the killings. Even during the murder trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell the horror of abortion has never been so clearly exhibited.
Symbolic of America’s rejection of God, a statue of Baphomet, a satanic deity, was unveiled in Detroit in July. The nine-foot tall statue was unveiled at what is purported to the “largest public satanic ceremony in history” according to Time.
A landmark event of the Shemitah that touches on both morality and policy is President Obama’s tentative nuclear deal with Iran. The deal marks not only a danger for the United States, since it fails to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but is a historic break between Israel and the United States. Since its birth in 1948, Israel and the United States have maintained close relations. The US was among the first countries to recognize the nation of Israel and the US provided valuable support to Israel during many of its wars for survival. Most notably, in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, it was resupply by the United States that helped Israel to survive a coordinated attack by its Arab neighbors.
The Iran deal changes the relationship between the two countries. Barack Obama has been more hostile to Israel than any other president. From the beginning of his administration, Obama pushed for a return to Israel’s almost indefensible pre-1967 borders. The deal with Iran will place the United States at odds with Israel as it provides financial support to the Iranians. The removal of sanctions and lack of inspections will make it easier for Iran to build nuclear weapons with which to threaten both Israel and the United States.
The 2015 Shemitah has been a momentous period. With three weeks left in the current Shemitah, which ends on September 13, there is the possibility of even more volatility and chaos. Secular analysts are predicting that the current financial unrest will continue for several months until markets find an equilibrium.
Rabbi Cahn believes that it is not too late to avert judgement. “I am led to call for a period of prayer, repentance and intercession for America, to end on Sept. 23, Yom Kippur,” he says. “It is crucial the people of God come before Him now on the foundation of 2 Chronicles 7:14: ‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.”