According to the Gra, the Vilna Gaon, one of the ways he taught (or rather wrote down, it wasn’t really to be shared) to calculate the ketz on it being “before it’s time in it’s time” gives an “early” date of the 17th of Iyar, 5771 and a “late” date of Rosh Chodesh Av, 5771.So, we still have another date for the mashiach's arrival, Rosh Chodesh Av, 5771, which is August 1, 2011. So they have a little wiggle room until then; at which point, they will simply point to some random event which will occur on that day (as it surely will, since events occur every day) and declare it a stepping stone towards mashiach's eventual arrival.
Talk of a Gra / mashiach date that was not to be shared sounds rather similar to the following Gra ketz. To cite Thoughts on the Daf, on the gemara in Sanhedrin about predicting the ketz:
|Rav Moshe Aharon Stern, zatzal|
To clarify the above a bit, Rav Naftali Amsterdam accidentally revealed the date. Someone who heard said this bit about children in soldiers in the army of mashiach, referring to children who were actually children at the time. When Rav Moshe Aharon Stern repeated this, it was much, much later, when the children were 40 years old. Thoughts on the Daf says that this happened approximately 15 years ago, which would make the children 55 years old. When did Thoughts on the Daf write this? At the top of the page, it states:
|SANHEDRIN 96-100 - Two weeks of study material have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham Fawer to honor the third Yahrzeit of her father, Reb Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner), who passed away 18 Teves 5760. May the merit of supporting and advancing Talmud study serve as an Iluy for his Neshamah|
A third yartzheit means that this was in 5763. Now it is 5771. Thus, eight years ago. 55 + 8 = 63. Will mashiach's army be populated by the elderly? Perhaps. The average retirement age in the Israeli military is 46. Or perhaps (and indeed, I would guess so), that particular revealed ketz of the Gra was for much earlier, when the children were at age 20.
What does all this mean? I would say that it means that we should not put too much stock in messianic predictions coming from the talmidim of the Gra. We have this dubious one; we have the one about the rebuilding of the Hurvah synagogue which did not come to fruition. Indeed, way back in 1840, the talmidim of the Gra thought mashiach was going to come. When he did not arrive, a good many converted to Christianity, because of Christian missionaries who figured it would not come about and set themselves up to pick off souls. Indeed, the head of the Jewish community, a pious rav, became a Christian missionary himself.
Mashiach did not arrive on the day before Lag BaOmer. And my guess is that he will not arrive specifically on Rosh Chodesh Av of this year. I mean, I hope for mashiach tomorrow. But just because there is a purported oral tradition from the talmidei haGra, and from the Gra, does not mean much. There are just so many miscalculations of the ketz, even direct from the Gra, already.