Rav Shmueli on Yishmael and Geula
From Rav Shmueli's newsletter on Parshat Toledot, p. מד with my translation:
The key to understanding this foundational idea is found in the words of the Baal Haturim (Bereishit 25:18) which refer back to the last verse of Parshat Hayei Sarah, and these are his words:וְאֵלֶּה תֹּלְדֹת יִשְׁמָעֵאל, בֶּן-אַבְרָהָם: אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה הָגָר הַמִּצְרִית...עַל-פְּנֵי כָל-אֶחָיו, נָפָלNow these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian...over against all his brethren he did (settle) [fall].
"against all his brethren he did fall" and juxtaposed to it is "And these are the generations of Isaac" to tell you that when Yishmael falls in the End of Days, then [Mashiah] Ben David, who comes from Yitzhak, will sprout.The name "Yitzhak" hints at the era where we are promised אז ימלא שחוק פינו - the Torah reveals to us in Parshat Hayei Sarah that the link that will transfer us from the era of subjugation to Yishmael to the era that is hoped for which is in the aspect of Yitzhak - is called "Yishmael: over against all his brethern he did fall." One cannot go from era to era as long as this verse is not being fulfilled.
Holy Haza"l revealed to us the root of Yishmael.
Bil'am said: HKB"H created 70 languages in his world and He only placed His name on one of them - Israel. Once, however, HKB"H equated the name of Yishmael with the name of Yisrael, woe to whoever lives in his days, as it says, (Bemidbar 24:23) "אוֹי, מִי יִחְיֶה מִשֻּׂמוֹ אֵל" (Pirkei DeRibbi Eliezer, end of chapter 30)
Why was his name called Yishmael? This is because in the future, HKB"H will hear the sound of the cries of the [Jewish] people from what the children of Yishmael are destined to do in the End of Days. Therefore, his name is called "Yishmael", as it says ישמע א-ל ויענם (Pirkei DeRibbi Eliezer, chapter 32; compare also to Rabbeinu Bahye, Devarim 37)We see that Haza"l have revealed to us that the fact that HKB"H's name is woven in the name Yishmael points to the fact that in the future, the children of Yishmael will bring great troubles upon Israel, and those troubles, Lo Aleinu, will bring Israel to cries and wails of אוי.
We will bring down the words of Rav Hayim Vital, who wrote impassioned words about the final exile - the exile of Yishmael - how difficult it is and how much we need to do Teshuva.
[It says:] שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת, לְדָוִד: לוּלֵי יְהוָה, שֶׁהָיָה לָנוּ, etc. You already know that there are only 4 exiles, but at the End of Days, Israel will still be in the Exile of Yishmael. And the Zohar at the end of Parshat Lech Lecha says that Yishmael, being Avraham's son and circumcised, is called "a wild-beast of a man" and not a complete man because he did circumcision without Peri'ah. However, there is a 5th exile which is the final one that is harsher than all of them, which is the Exile of Yishmael who is called "a wild-beast of a man" as we mentioned. And he is not compared to the wild animals [in Daniel]. And then, the Jews will say,'If it had not been the LORD who was for us, when men rose up against us,' as he is a man, being that he is the son of Avraham, so he has Zechut Avot. And he also has the merit of circumcision, and this is another reason he is called a man. Therefore, his exile will be more powerful than the other 4 kingdoms, as Raza"l said that he is called Yishmael since Israel is destined to call out great cries during his exile and then, Hashem will hear them and answer them. And because the other  nations always had rulership over other nations, which is not the case by Yishmael, as the Arabs were always tent-dwellers in the deserts, who did not deal with others, but rather, they were compared to thieves who go out and take from people and return to their tents. And afterwards, they are destined to rule over the world and Israel. [The verse continues:] "Rose up against us" as the Zohar explains [the verse] "Now there arose a new king" - he was the lowliest of nations and now rose up as king. [The verse continues:] "Then they had swallowed us up alive" - in other words: then, at this time, this fifth exile is different than everything in the past, as they [Yishmael] wants to swallow us alive for Has Veshalom "when their wrath was kindled against us", they want to wipe away the name of Israel from under the heavens similar to something that is swallowed, whose existence is not known at all, as if it never existed. (Etz Hada'at Tov)
And in Mesechet Bechorot (8b) is related the story of the dispute between Ribbi Yehoshua Ben Hananya and the sages of Athens, where Ribbi Yehoshua told Caesar that a snake's gestation period is 7 years, and the Caesar told him that the sages of Athens say that a snake's gestation period is 3 years, etc. In this dispute, there is a hint to what will happen during the time of Mashiah Tzidkenu.
The Gr"a explains that the snake is a hint to Mashiah, who is a descendant of Yishai (King David's father), who is called a "snake" (see Shemuel Bet 17 and Shabbat 55b). Similarly, as is known, נחש is the same gematria as משיח (both are 358 - see Adir Bamarom by the Ramha"l, p. 339). The gestation period of a snake symbolizes the period of numerous and terrible troubles which are said to come before Mashiah, and which are named by Haza"l "The birthpangs of Mashiah", since the verse allegorizes it to birth pangs that precede the birth of a child (Yeshaya 26:18, Yirmiya 30:6; see Sanhedrin 95b and Ketubot 111a).
The designated period, at whose end will come the future Final Redemption, will last 7 years. The first 4 years will be full of increasingly strong troubles, only in the fifth year will the situation start to improve, and in the eighth year, Mashiah will come (Sanhedrin 97a, see there specifically what happens in each year). The sages of Athens hold that the Redemption will not start until the fifth year, which is the year where things start to get better. It comes out that the gestation of Mashiah lasts only 3 years - 5th, 6th, and 7th. However, the Jewish sages know that even though the Redemption will start with troubles, it's still possible that Hashem will make the yoke of exile heavy so that we will reach the threshold of troubles that were decreed against us quicker, which would thereby allow us to reach the period of fortune quicker. Such is exactly what occurred in the Exodus from Egypt where the servitude was made harsher closer to the end. (See Shemot 5:6-17, the expression "קושי השעבוד השלים" is brought down in Aharonim quoting Midrashim, and see what the Tzela"h writes on Pesahim 116b.) Therefore, all 7 years - including the 4 of increasing troubles - are included in the gestation period of Mashiah.
When will Mashiah come?
When will Mashiah come? Why does he delay? This question keeps everyone busy, and the holy Alshi"ch ZT"L answers it in Parshat Hayei Sarah!
The holy Alshi"ch asks why all the previous exiles have a set period set from the beginning, [like] "and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years" in Egypt and 70 years for the Babylonian exile, whereas our exile, which is called "The exile of Edom" has no preset amount of time!
He answers that all the exiles are dependant on the ministering angel of that nation, and when a number of years pass, it loses its power to subjugate Israel, and they are redeemed from his hands. However, the ministering angel of Edom draws its power from a certain source, and it increasingly gets stronger as long as power is added to it. Who is this ministering angel and what is the source of its power?
The Midrash says that S"M is the ministering angel of Esav, and as it's known, S"M draws its power from sins and iniquities! If we want to bring an end to the exile, we need to cut off the power source of the ministering angel of Esav. This is done by adding Mitzvot and doing Teshuva for sins. Haza"l already said, "All end times have passed, and the matter is only dependant upon repentance"!
Do not say, "The nation is far away from Teshuva and is therefore far away from Redemption." Not at all! Everyone should look at himself or herself and improve his ways, perhaps with one Mitzva, he will merit to start a revolution. Haza"l said, "If one does one Mitzva, he can tip the scale for himself and the whole world toward the status of merit"! One should do Teshuva - maybe he will start a revolution, as Haza"l say, "An individual who repents causes forgiveness for himself and for the whole world"! All the more so, if a group improves its ways, whereby it is written that if one group will repent, in their merit, the Redemption will come!
Remember! Every Mitzva weakens the power of "the ministering angel of exile" and brings the Redemption closer!!!
The holy Torah
The main path to Redemption, writes the holy Or Hahayim, depends on Torah learning, because [the Redemption] is in the merit of Moshe Rabbeinu, and this is why the exile continues since Moshe Rabbeinu does not want to redeem those who waste time.
This is why it says "The voice is the voice of Jacob", who needs to strengthen the voice of Torah, upon which the Redemption is dependant, and then, the hands will not be the hands of Esav.
And on this, the Or Hahayim writes on the verse "he washeth his garments in wine" that wine is Torah learning (especially learning Zohar, as is known). Then, a person is purified and fit for Redemption, but if not, Has Veshalom, "and his vesture in the blood of grapes".
If so, everything is through Yaakov, which is Am Yisrael, whose voice is chirping in the synagogues. And with this is dependant the fulfilment of this blessing in this generation. And everything is dependant on the letter vav of the word קול because the letter vav makes the difference if the voice of Yaakov is קל (light) or קול (a real voice). And it's known that the letter vav is a hint to Yaakov and to Torah. And also, גאולה with a vav = 45, which explains the expression "גאולה שלמה של מ"ה" (since the שם מ"ה corresponds to the vav in Hashem's name, as is known).
And the Rav "Birkat Eliyahu" brings down in the name of the books of Rabbeinu Ephraim on "Vayehi" why this Torah portion is closed. And he writes that it is connected to the previous Perasha where it says that the children of Israel were in the land of Goshen "and they got them possessions therein, and were fruitful, and multiplied exceedingly (מאד). And Jacob lived..." The word מאד has a gematria of 45 because there are 45 days between MBY and MBD and after these 45 days (which equals מאד), MBY will be killed, and then, "And Jacob lived" - MBD will come and will revive him and all that were killed with him.
And this is what Habakkuk (2:3) writes, "אִם-יִתְמַהְמָהּ, חַכֵּה-לוֹ though it tarry, wait for it" - if it tarries, wait מ"ה - i.e. 45 - more days. And the following day, which is day 46, MBD and his people will come to assist him.