An Unanticipated Spiral | A Foretaste Of The Future | The Midrash And The Gulf War | Acknowledging Miracles
Do Everything You Can to Bring Moshiach! | The Call Of The Hour | No Longer a Distant Dream | Wonders In All Things
A Prelude to Moshiach | A Rose Among The Thorns | It Once Happened | Moshiach Matters
A visitor confronting an array of dazzling pictures instinctively takes a step back so that he can better appreciate their total effect. In much the same way, so many momentous issues have been addressed by the Rebbe, shlita, over the past few years, all of them pointing to the uniqueness of the period in which we live, that we feel there is a need to stand back for a moment and look at "the greater picture." In honor of the Tenth of the Shevat, the beginning of the 43rd year of the Rebbe's leadership of world Jewry, we bring you an overview and adaptation of some of his major addresses on the subject of Moshiach and the ultimate Redemption.
There are times when a person feels that history is in the making, that the experiences he is living through will resound and reverberate long after the ephemeral flutter of a flamboyant headline. Time moves fast, and when looking back, one cannot imagine that so many significant events have taken place in such a short time. These feelings are surely shared by anyone who has been in contact with the Lubavitcher Rebbe in recent years.
At a public gathering on the 29th of Iyar, 5749 [June 3, 1989], the Rebbe noted that the Hebrew letters that give the numerical equivalent of the coming year formed an acronym for the Hebrew words, "This will be a year of miracles."
As the Rebbe continued to express this theme in the coming months, people in all walks of life began to look forward to what the new year held in store. Soon it became clear that the Rebbe's statements were no mere play on words. Within a very short time, cataclysmic upheavals overwhelmed one despotic regime after another, the Soviet bloc collapsed, and the potential for world peace blossomed. This unanticipated spiral had a dramatic impact on the Jewish people. Jews who for seventy years had been denied even a glimpse of a Torah scroll, now danced in the streets of Moscow on Simchat Torah. Throughout the Soviet Union, on campus and kolkhoz alike, tefillin and mezuzot were no longer incriminating contraband. And the first waves of Jewish emigration, dammed back for decades, surged eagerly southward to kiss the soil of the Holy Land.
In public addresses throughout the year, the Rebbe emphasized that this change was not a coincidence, but rather resulted from a unique positive change in the spiritual climate of the world. He explained that this change reflected how:
"Regimes... which employed force and fear to transmit their values have given way to... an environment conducive to the natural motivation for development possessed by all.... Through the establishment of an environment of warmth, love, joy, and disciplined freedom,... all will develop their G-d-given potential... and dedicate themselves to a life of positive activity, spreading good throughout the world."
Looking further ahead, the Rebbe saw these events as symptomatic of the ultimate good, the coming of the Redemption:
"Soon this approach will lead to the refinement of the world, and will hasten the coming of the era when the world will reach its ultimate state of perfection, a state in which 'Nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor will they learn war any more.' This unity will spread beyond humans, encompassing all existence, as it is written, 'A wolf will dwell with a lamb and a leopard with a kid.'"
After reaching such a peak, one might have expected the level of expectation to subside. Instead, the Rebbe promised even more. Months before the following Jewish year began, at a gathering on the 17th of Iyar, 5750 [May 12, 1990], the Rebbe associated the Hebrew letters of the coming year with the Hebrew words for, "This will be a year when 'I [G-d] will show you wonders.' " He foretold that the miracles of the coming year would exceed those of the current one.
While the Rebbe was delivering this message, preparing the Jewish people and the world at large for these developments, urgent preparations of a different kind were being made in a distant corner of the world. In August, 1990, Saddam Hussein marched the armies of Iraq into Kuwait, plunging the entire world into panic. As people throughout the world--whether they were heads of government, opinion-makers in the media, or men in the street--reacted in fear, the Rebbe spread a message of quiet optimism. He urged confidence and trust, citing a now-renowned Midrashic passage in the Yalkut Shimoni, and giving it the widest possible publicity:
In the year in which the King Moshiach is revealed, all the kings of the nations of the world will be at strife with each other.
The King of Persia will provoke an Arabian king.... Consternation and confusion will strike all the nations of the world.... The Jewish people too, will be seized by consternation and confusion, as they ask: 'Where shall we come and go?'
"And the Alm-ghty will answer them: 'My children, do not fear. Whatever I have done, I have done only for your sakes. The time for your Redemption has arrived!'"
Furthermore, our Sages taught: "At the time when the King Moshiach comes, he will stand on the roof of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and proclaim to the Jewish people: 'Humble ones: The time for your Redemption has arrived.' "
There is no need to recount the entire saga of that episode. Suffice it to recall that in the face of the fear and uncertainty that gripped the world at large, Rabbinic, lay leaders and private citizens from all continents turned to the Rebbe for direction, and for the optimism that he radiated.
In the wake of that conflict, the Rebbe drew attention to the miracles and wonders that had occurred. While others basked in euphoria or struggled to propose natural explanations for the victory (when several months earlier they would have considered them utterly untenable), the Rebbe pointed to the workings of the Hand of G-d. Thus, he explained, if a child asks, "Why do we not see miracles like our ancestors did?," he should be told that:
"Indeed we do.... It is not only in the distant past that G-d worked miracles for the Jewish people. Ancient events like the exodus from Egypt or the Purim miracles of Shushan are not the only examples of our unique relationship with G-d. As we have seen, miracles are happening today."
The Rebbe issued a call for an appreciation of the miracles that had transpired, "an appreciation so vibrant that we will not be embarrassed to dance in celebration." He assured that such celebration would escalate the miraculous process that we are witnessing, culminating in the ultimate wonders of the Redemption.
Thursday evening, the eve of 28 Nissan, 5751, began with an ordinary weekday evening service. After the service, the Rebbe began to deliver what appeared to be a regular talk. After a short time, however, everything changed. In tones of intense clarity the Rebbe addressed everyone directly, and most unusually, in the second person. This was a cry from the heart.
The Rebbe's words were highly charged: "What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Moshiach?.... All that I can possibly do is to give the matter over to you. Now, do everything you can to bring Moshiach, here and now, immediately.... I have done whatever I can: from now on, you must do whatever you can...."
Stunned, people around the world began to mobilize. On the following Shabbat the Rebbe clarified his intent, and emphasized that he was advocating concrete activity within the reach of everyone:
"Every man, woman and child has an individual responsibility to work to bring about Moshiach's coming. No one else can shoulder this burden for him; his own efforts and energy are needed. Each of us must prepare for the coming of Moshiach by increasing his study of the Torah and enhancing his performance of its commandments, in a beautiful and conscientious manner....
"In particular, we should devote our energies to the study of the mystical dimensions of the Torah as they are revealed in the teachings of Chasidut. Disseminating these teachings--internalizing them within our own personalities and teaching them to others--brings the coming of Moshiach closer.
"More specifically, our study should center on the subject of Moshiach himself and on the future Redemption, particularly, as these topics are developed in the discourses and published talks of the Nasi--leader--of our generation."
The Rebbe's words roused the interest of "professors, commentators on Judaism, journalists, and others," to quote Shaul Schiff of the Israeli daily HaTzofeh. In one of the many articles written in response to the Rebbe's words, that columnist saw the Rebbe as wishing to "shake up" his followers as well as their fellow Jews throughout the entire world: "The Rebbe is demanding that the Jewish people do its part in shouldering the burden of this great hour, instead of relying on the Rebbe to act while they themselves carry on as usual."
Without wasting time, the Rebbe's followers began publishing talks of the Rebbe on the subject of Moshiach and the Redemption and establishing classes where these works were studied. Millions of people began to think seriously about the subject. Moshiach and the Era of the Redemption were no longer regarded as esoteric, but rather as subjects which men, women and children studied and understood.
With the advent of the three weeks associated with the destruction of the Holy Temple, a marked change became apparent in the Rebbe's approach. The Rebbe now announced that "We are at the threshold of the Future Redemption. Moshiach's coming is no longer a dream of a distant future, but an imminent reality which will very shortly become fully manifest."
Print and electronic media, both Jewish and non-Jewish, began to discuss the Redemption and Moshiach. Billboards were posted on highways. Jewish communal leaders and public figures around the world began to take note of the issue. Symposiums began to be held throughout the worldwide Jewish community.
With the approach of the new year, 5752, the Rebbe promised that the miraculous momentum of the previous years would be continued, that this would be "a year replete with wonders" and "a year of wonders in all things."
And as the year began, we saw the Rebbe's words come to fruition. In anticipation of the great ingathering, Jews from Russia continued to flock to the Holy Land. Moreover, the Communist Party there dissolved out of existence; the mighty Soviet Union disintegrated; the pride of the long-dreaded Kremlin was deflated.
In the weeks before Chanuka, the Rebbe made the most explicit statements hitherto about the Redemption:
"There exists in every generation--and surely in our generation--'a person from among the descendants of Judah who is worthy of being the Moshiach of Israel...' When the Divine service of the Jewish people over the centuries is considered as a whole, everything that is necessary to bring about the Redemption has been accomplished. There is no valid explanation for the continuation of the exile."
On another occasion the Rebbe said:
"Our Sages have described the Redemption as a feast. To speak in terms of this analogy, the table has already been set, everything has been served, we are sitting at the table together with Moshiach. All we need to do is open our eyes.
"Our Sages describe Moshiach as waiting anxiously to come. In previous generations, however, his coming was prevented by the fact that the Jews had not completed the tasks expected of them. At present, however, those tasks have been accomplished; there is nothing lacking. All we have to do is accept Moshiach.
"Furthermore, the climate in the world at large is obviously moving toward the idyll of the Redemption. Nations are openly speaking of a new world order of justice and peace. In a metamorphosis that is unfolding before our very eyes, disarmament talks are beginning to turn into reality a long-awaited prophetic vision,--'they shall beat their swords into plowshares.'"
The core of the Rebbe's message is that Moshiach's coming should not be regarded as a dream of the future, but as a cogent factor that influences the way we live our lives today; living one's life in this manner will actually bring about the fulfillment of these promises.
There is a potential Moshiach in every generation, "a person from among the descendants of
Judah who is worthy of being the Moshiach of Israel." As the Chasam Sofer writes, "From the time of the destruction of the Holy Temple, there was born one who in his righteousness is worthy of being [Israel's] redeemer." Moreover, the concept of a potential Moshiach is a logical imperative, for Moshiach's coming can materialize on any given day.
It is natural for people to associate talk of the imminence of the Redemption with a particular individual who will prove to be the Redeemer. And there is a positive dimension to this, for it reflects how one's belief in Moshiach is concrete--that one is not idly contemplating an old dream, nor debating an arguable hypothesis, but expecting something that is actually going to happen.
The Rambam defines the criteria by which to recognize Moshiach. He will be a Torah sage of the House of David, faithful in his observance of the mitzvot, who will motivate the entire Jewish people to strengthen Torah practice. He will "fight the wars of G-d and be victorious," rebuild the Holy Temple, and gather the dispersed exiles of Israel.
This is more than one day's work, even for Moshiach. Thus we must assume that in every generation there is a potential Moshiach, who is in the midst of the preliminary stages of the above service. Should the setting be appropriate, as the responsum of the Chasam Sofer cited above states, "the spirit of Moshiach will rest upon him," and he will redeem our people.
The Rebbe has been reminding us that we must now "live with the Redemption," experience a foretaste of it and anticipate it in our daily conduct. This means living our lives in a way that parallels the way we will live in the time of the Redemption.
Simply stated, what the Rebbe wants is that Moshiach's coming should not take us by surprise--that our lives and our homes be ready for him as of now. This implies conducting our lives and our homes in harmony with Moshiach's message to the world. Furthermore, this mood of anticipation should be shared with others, with the calm confidence that comes from looking at reality.
Living in harmony with the Redemption will make the reality actually manifest. Describing the Redemption, the Rambam does not speak of an apocalypse, but rather of a gradual process of preparation within Moshiach, the Jewish people, and the world at large. History is indeed in the making. By "living with the Redemption," we will make it happen. By radiating peace, harmony and a knowledge of G-d, we will bring about the age when "there will be neither famine nor war, neither envy nor competition,... [and] 'The world will be filled with knowledge of G-d as waters cover the ocean bed.' "
Exerpted From Sound the Great Shofar by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger/Sichos in English.
Adapted from a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe four days before the yartzeit--on the 10th of Shevat--of the Previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, zt"l, and the day after the untimely passing of Mrs. Raisel ("Rose") Gutnick, obm.
The phrase, "as a rose among the thorns," refers to the soul as it descends into this world, and on a larger scale, to the existence of the Jewish people in exile. For both the soul and the Jewish people, this involves a formidable descent, a descent fraught with danger. At times, the path of life appears to be obstructed by brambles: events sometimes occur which our limited human intellect cannot comprehend. However, it is through this very process of descent that both the soul and the Jews ultimately climb to their most complete level of perfection.
This is not to imply, heaven forbid, that the world is in itself evil. Quite the contrary, "I have come into my garden" is used as an analogy to describe the return of the Divine Presence to this world. This indicates that the world is G-d's own garden, a place which grants Him pleasure and satisfaction. Nevertheless, we are often unable to perceive this positive quality. And this reflects the task and mission with which the Jewish People have been charged. Holding aloft, "the lamp of a mitvza and the light of the Torah," they illuminate the world and reveal the good which is concealed within.
In particular, this quality is manifest in those mitzvot that are associated with producing actual light, for example, kindling the Shabbat candles. The visible light which they generate reflects how every mitzva, and in a wider sense, every positive activity a Jew performs, such as a friendly word or an act of kindness, increases the G-dly light within the world.
On a cosmic scale, the world has been described as G-d's dwelling--His home, as it were, and the Jewish people, as His bride. Developing these analogies: Just as the Shabbat candles are lit before the actual commencement of the Shabbat, our present performance of mitzvot in exile kindles the light that will illuminate the world in "the Day which is entirely Shabbat, and rest for life everlasting"--the Era of the Redemption. This connection also highlights the role of Jewish women, for the prophecies associated with that age point out the superior qualities which Jewish women possess.
The eternalness which will characterize the Era of the Redemption is likewise reflected in every Jewish soul. This applies not only in regard to the soul as it exists in the spiritual realms where it enjoys eternal life in the radiance of G-d's presence, but also to its expression in physical world.
In this spirit, our Sages state in regard to our Patriarch Jacob, "Jacob... did not die. Just as his descendants are alive, He is alive." The same concept applies in regard to each of Jacob's descendants, the Jewish men and women of all subsequent generations. When a person's children continue the positive activities which characterized his own life, then even after that person's passing, he or she is alive. For that life has activated a dynamic which continues. There is also a reciprocal effect: the positive activities performed by one's children can compensate for any time by which a person's life may have been cut short.
The eternalness of the Jewish soul within the context of our material world will be fully expressed in the Era of the Redemption, when the souls of all the Jews of all generations will be resurrected. Here, too, the analogy of a wedding can be used to describe the unification of the body and the soul.
The ultimate Redemption of our people and of the world at large is not a remote promise. On the contrary, the Jews of our generation have been granted complete atonement and are now at the highest pinnacle ever of our nation's history. All the Divine service necessary to bring about the Redemption has been completed. All that is necessary is that we open our eyes and perceive that the Redemption is indeed a reality.
Our Sages state that the tzadikim of all past generations will arise in the early stages of the Redemption, before the resurrection of our people as a whole. Surely, this applies to the Previous Rebbe, the leader of our generation. Since he never perceived himself to be a private individual, but dedicated himself totally to the welfare of his people, it is understood that he will share this privilege too, with the members of his generation, particularly with those who dedicated themselves to disseminating his teachings are expanding the outreach activity which he inspired.
"Send Your light and Your truth: let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain and to Your Sanctuary." These words are found in King David's Psalms, chapter 43. According to our commentators, "Your light" refers to Moshiach, and "Your truth" alludes to Elijah the Prophet, who will announce the arrival of Moshiach.
This Monday, February 1, is "Yud Shevat"--the 10th of the Hebrew month of Shevat. It is the 43rd anniversary of the leadership of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, may he live a long and healthy life and lead us all to the Holy Land.
Each of the previous six Rebbes of the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty had a clear mission that they wanted to accomplish during their leadership, and each one realized his goal. Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad, endeavored to spread the teachings of Chasidut beyond the boundaries of Russia and Poland. His son and successor, Rabbi Dov Ber, the Mittler Rebbe, undertook to have Chasidut so permeate the lives of his followers that even a chance meeting turned into a deep discussion of Chasidic philosophy.
And so it was with each successive Rebbe: A different approach toward the same goal and with the achievement of that goal, another step toward the ultimate goal of the Redemption through Moshiach.
It should, therefore, surprise no one what the goal of the Rebbe, shlita, has been for the past 43 years. From the beginning of his leadership, the Rebbe worked toward that end. With each new mitzva campaign he brought the reality of Moshiach more and more into our lives.
Especially over the past 20 months, with the tremendous geopolitical changes that have taken place, we see that this goal is surely unfolding as a reality before our very eyes. And we have the Rebbe to thank for this.
On this anniversary of the Rebbe's leadership we can each prepare for the realization of the goal for which each Rebbe has worked tirelessly. And we can best do this by preparing in the manner suggested by the Rebbe: learning more about Moshiach and the Messianic Era and increasing in our acts of kindness toward others.
This week is the anniversary of the 43rd year of the Rebbe's leadership and the beginning of the 44th year. Very soon, indeed, we will see the fulfillment of the last verse in chapter 44 of Psalms: "Arise for our help, and redeem us for Your mercy's sake"
On one of the Skuler Rebbe's visits to Reb Boruch of Medzibuzh, he told Reb Boruch the following story:
"Once I was sitting together with the Baal Shem Tov when two strangers entered the room. The more distinguished-looking of the two men approached the Besht and spoke: 'We have come to ask the advice of the tzadik,' he said. Then he continued with his story: 'I am the rabbi of a small town in this district and I have come to ask the Baal Shem Tov if I should make a match between my daughter and this man's son.'
"The Baal Shem Tov looked closely for a full minute at the speaker and then shifted his penetrating glance to the other man. Then he replied without hesitation, 'Why not?'
"The rabbi looked surprised at the response and began speaking rapidly and nervously, explaining his situation. 'You see, Rebbe, this man is a simple person, not at all learned--in fact, he had been water carrier when fortune smiled on him and he became a wealthy man. Then, he got it into his head that he wanted to make a match between his son and my daughter. Of course, he realized I would never entertain such a proposition so he approached my children's teacher with an offer: He would pay the teacher fifty rubles in advance if he would come to me every day and ask me to arrange the marriage between my daughter and the water carrier's son.'
"The Besht turned to the rich man and asked, 'Is all this true?'
"'Yes, Rabbi,' he replied. 'I knew that he wouldn't go for the idea right away, but I figured if he were asked every day for a few weeks, he would begin to think about it more seriously, and it might go through.'
"'Yes,' chimed in the rav, 'I can't get rid of this pest. Every day the teacher comes to me with the same story about the rich man's son, until I really can't stand it any more. Nothing will dissuade him, and so I finally agreed to come to you and accept whatever verdict that you give. If you say I should arrange the match, it's as good as done; if you say to forget it, he has agreed to leave me alone.'
"'All right, then,' replied the Besht, 'tell me, is this man a G-d-fearing person? Is the family known to be engaged in good deeds and charity? Are they honest, good people?'
"The rabbi could only answer in the affirmative to all the Besht's questions, for the rich man and his family were known to be fine, upstanding people and no one had ever had a bad word to say against them. 'If that's the case,' said the Besht, 'let's arrange the marriage now. There's no reason to delay.' They sealed the agreement, l'chaims were poured, and happy mazal-tovs were exchanged all around. The two men shook hands and seemed to be satisfied with the arrangement.
"When the men departed, the Besht turned to me, and said," 'That man would make a good matchmaker in the world of clowns.' He chuckled to himself and seemed to be amused at something I couldn't understand.
"I had no idea what he meant by that odd remark, but I intended to find out, so I left and followed the two men to the local inn where I knew they were staying. When I found the rabbi I related the Besht's statement to him in hopes of receiving some explanation which would illuminate the mysterious remark of the Besht.
"The rabbi listened incredulously and then with great excitement, cried out, 'Now I understand where I was in my dream! Let me explain. You see, not long ago I dreamed that I was traveling around in my district to receive payment from my congregants as I usually did, in the form of all sorts of farm produce. I arrived in one village and entered the study hall where I overheard a discussion which was taking place between the men seated around a long table. They were having a heated argument about some scholarly topic which, to me, seemed an easy question to resolve. I ventured to explain it in a simple fashion when suddenly I heard a loud voice from the back of the shul saying, "How dare this man offer an opinion in such matters? Why he's nothing but an ignoramus!"'
"'In the next part of my dream, I was in a different village where the same scene repeated itself. Then, I went to another village where it happened yet again. In each town I entered a study hall, overheard a learned dispute, and ventured my opinion, only to be derided and shamed.
"'In the last part of my dream, which was similar to all the others, an elderly rabbi approached me and said, "This ignoramus still doesn't want to marry his daughter to the son of the rich man?" I woke up completely upset and confused.
"'Now that you have told me the words of the Baal Shem Tov, I understand the meaning of these dreams. In the world of dreams I had been made sport of so that my pride would be broken and I would agree to the match between my daughter and the rich man's son. Now I understand that the marriage has been ordained in Heaven.'"
Within the soul of every Jew there is a spark of the soul of the King Moshiach. Perceived from the other side, it thus goes without saying that the soul of Moshiach is based and built on the souls of all the individual Jews, regardless of their tribe of origin and regardless of their actual spiritual state. The very existence of a Jew is connected with Moshiach.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe, shlita)