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The youngest son of Jesse, from the tribe of Judah, David was handsome, sensitive, intelligent, and courageous.
Like so many of our greatest Jewish leaders, David, was a shepherd.
And so it was that David was tending his father's flocks when the prophet Samuel came to visit Jesse in Hebron.
Heeding G-d's command, Samuel was to anoint one of Jesse's sons with holy oil to be the next king of the Jewish people. For King Saul had forfeited the monarchy for himself and his descendents by not listening scrupulously to G-d's commands.
One by one, Jesse's sons stood before the prophet. When Samuel saw the eldest, he said, "Surely this is G-d's anointed."
But G-d said, "A person looks on the outward appearance, but the L-rd looks on the heart."
Samuel beheld another and yet another of Jesse's sons, each time awaiting G-d's command to anoint him. But the command never came.
Was there, perhaps, another son.
"David is tending the flocks," Samuel was told. Samuel asked for someone to bring David home.
As soon as David stood before Samuel, the horn overflowed and droplets of oil spilled onto David's forehead, forming what looked like glistening jewels.
David had been chosen by G-d and anointed by Samuel as King of the Jewish people.
David played the lyre for King Saul when the king was overcome by sadness, knowing that he had lost the monarchy. And David killed the giant Goliath when no one brave enough among Saul's army could be found. David became a general in Saul's army and was beloved by all the people, including Saul's servants. And David became the King's son-in-law.
Years passed. King Saul died in battle. His commander, Avner, set up Saul's son as the successor.
David, at G-d's command, went to Hebron.
There, he was accepted by the tribe of Judah and anointed as king, over them. Seven years passed thus, with the Jewish nation divided.
Eventually, Avner decided to make peace with David. He encouraged the tribes of Israel and the elders of the Jewish people to accept David as their king.
Then all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and asked him to be their king.
Finally, the elders came to David and anointed David king over the entire Jewish people.
David was chosen by G-d and anointed by Samuel.
But, as our Sages have taught, "There is no King without a people."
Sovereignty cannot be thrust upon the people from Above.
The Jewish people had to accept David as their king willingly.
The Rebbe has told us that we are on the threshold of the Redemption; Moshiach is about to bring about the redemption for the Jewish people and the entire world.
Moshiach, too, is a king who has been chosen by G-d.
A descendent of King David, Moshiach will reestablish David's monarchy, rebuild the Holy Temple, and gather in the dispersed of Israel -- ushering in the Messianic Era.
But Moshiach's leadership cannot be thrust upon the people from above. We need to accept him.
As we celebrate the 92nd birthday of the Rebbe, shlita, let us, in the Rebbe's words, "prepare to accept Moshiach by adding to our mitzvot and Torah study, in accordance with the ruling of Maimonides, that `through a single mitzva, one shifts himself and the entire world to the side of merit, and brings redemption and salvation to himself and the world.'"
On the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Nissan the Jews in Egypt were commanded to take a lamb into their homes and to guard it until the fourteenth of the month, when it was to be slaughtered as the Passover offering.
When their Egyptian neighbors became curious, the Jews explained that the sacrifice was preparatory to the tenth and final plague G-d would visit on the Egyptians -- the slaying of the firstborn.
Hearing this, the firstborn sons panicked.
They stormed Pharaoh's palace, demanding that he free the Jews.
When he refused, civil war broke out in Egypt. Sons fought against fathers and many died, as it states in Psalms, "To Him Who smote Egypt through their firstborn" -- the Egyptian firstborn sons themselves were the instrument of Egypt's destruction.
This miracle is commemorated each year on "Shabbat Hagadol," the Shabbat immediately preceding Passover, as the miracle itself took place on Shabbat that year.
Yet ever since then, Shabbat Hagadol does not necessarily fall on the 10th of Nissan; the deciding factor in commemorating the miracle is that it be on Shabbat.
This commemoration differs from all other celebrations on the Jewish calendar, which are generally determined according to the day of the month. What is so special about Shabbat Hagadol that it follows a different pattern?
An essential difference exists between the days of the week and of the month.
The seven days of the week are determined by the sun, according to the natural order G-d put into motion during the seven days of Creation.
The days of the (Jewish) month, however, are determined by the phases of the moon, whose movements are not subject to nature in the same way.
These two ways of determining the passage of time, solar and lunar, reflect the two ways G-d oversees the world -- within and outside of nature -- the seemingly natural occurrence and the miracle.
In fact, the Hebrew word for "month" -- "chodesh" -- expresses this concept, for it is related to the word "chadash" ("new"), signifying that the lunar phases are subject to change.
For this reason, Jewish holidays are celebrated according to the day of the month, as they commemorate G-d's supernatural intervention with the laws of nature.
The miracle of Shabbat Hagadol, however, was not supernatural, but of an entirely different sort, one in which evil itself fought to eradicate its own existence. Fearing for their own lives, Egyptian fought against Egyptian, waging war in order to free the Jewish slaves.
A miracle such as this, occurring within nature, is therefore connected to the day of the week and not the day of the month.
This concept will be better understood when Moshiach comes, speedily in our day, for the G-dliness that exists within nature will then be openly revealed and not seen as a separate entity.
Adapted from Likutei Sichot of the Rebbe, Vol. 27
My first contact with Lubavitch was in 1961, when a birth announcement for my third daughter in the "Jewish Chronicle," led to a visit from Rabbi Faivish Vogel, a shaliach (emissary) of the Rebbe in London. Gradually, as we became friends, he brought me into the family of Chabad Chasidim.
The central role of the Rebbe in the life of his Chasidim very soon became apparent.
I listened, with growing respect, to the stories of the Rebbe's admirable qualities, but did not, at first, feel that he might have any particular relevance for my life. The relationship between a Rebbe and his Chasidim was not part of Anglo-Jewish education.
When Rabbi Vogel suggested I should go with him to meet the Rebbe, I responded that whilst it could be interesting to meet such a charismatic personality, I had no "pressing" problems, no reason and no justification to "impose" myself on him, and take up his valuable time.
Fortunately Rabbi Vogel insisted that, even as a favor to him, I should go, and so began a challenging, inspiring and totally unexpected relationship, where "not imposing" just had no place.
Although writing and speaking for over 40 years at the highest level of Jewish spirituality, the Rebbe seemingly gives equal place to creating a personal bond with thousands of very different ordinary individuals.
It is one of the fascinating aspects of the Rebbe's personality that he is able to immediately comprehend the "world view" of his visitor and then, often in an unusual way, find a new dimension to lift him to a higher level than before.
It was my good fortune to have met the Rebbe in the 1960's when he was able to give more time to individual relationships.
Occasionally, he even directed the "yechidut" [personal audience] into a kind of relaxed conversation as between trusted colleagues with common interests.
At every stage, even in the later years when thousands competed for his attention, he never showed the slightest hint of impatience. Indeed, his whole attitude was always total identification with the interest of the visitor with time of no significance.
Yechidut would begin about 8 p.m. three times a week and often continue throughout the night. The atmosphere at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn was a combination of apprehension and excitement which increased in intensity the nearer one came to the Rebbe's room on the ground floor.
A list was compiled by the Rebbe's personal secretary, Rabbi Hodakov, of blessed memory, assisted by Rabbi Groner or Rabbi Klein in a certain order. But since it was never possible to be sure how long -- seconds, minutes or hours, the visitors would stay, they were divided into two groups: The more immediate in the corridor outside the Rebbe's room and the rest in the main hallway or other study rooms, where the yeshiva students were learning at all times, day or night.
There were men and women of every type and from every country, poor and prosperous, soldiers, politicians, intellectuals, businessmen and workmen, all waiting in silent tension for their call.
For my yechidut, I always took with me a small note pad and would scribble key words and phrases during the conversation.
The door was always left slightly open and, as the minutes passed, a buzzer would sound on the Rebbe's desk.
From time to time, Rabbi Groner would put his head round the door silently reminding the visitor of the lateness of the hour and indicating that the visitor should have some consideration for the Rebbe's well-being -- but the Rebbe, and usually the visitor, would appear not to notice.
On leaving the Rebbe's room, I would go immediately to a quiet corner of the building and for several hours, and still on a "high," would write down my recollection of the complete dialogue using the Rebbe's own words.
A wide range of topics was discussed in the early years:
Lubavitch London affairs, Israel, Soviet Jewry, family matters, my business affairs, and later on, mainly the progress on the Solmecs projects, which seemed to myself and my family to be a kind of mission.
In 1977, after the Rebbe's illness, there was a temporary suspension of the individual yechidut in the Rebbe's room.
In the early 80's came the custom of group yechidut, and "dollars," when the Rebbe would stand for hours at a table outside his room, while a line of visitors would pass before him to receive a blessing and a dollar to give for charity.
It was at this time that the Rebbe began the tradition of greeting me with a warm smile on every occasion when we would meet. Friday night and Shabbat morning, I would stand in the same place next to the bima, and on entering and leaving the shul, the whole area around would be lit up by the friendliness and kindness of the welcome from the Rebbe. Indeed, friends would come to stand next to me to share in the experience.
At farbrengens on Shabbat afternoons two to three thousand Chasidim and visitors would crowd the big synagogue/study hall and stand, packed tightly on piled up wooden benches to await the Rebbe.
At 1:30 p.m. the noise would cease abruptly, and in total silence the Rebbe would walk to his chair on the platform along a path which opened up the seemingly solid mass of black hats. The whole assembly would erupt with the singing of a Chasidic nigun [melody] until, as if by a hidden switch, there would again be silence, and the Rebbe would begin the first of several talks explaining aspects of Torah and Chasidut.
After each talk the singing would begin again, with the Rebbe encouraging even greater intensity with a wave of his arm. I would sit on the platform, amongst the visitors from abroad, being about 10 feet away from the Rebbe. Each of us would stand up, catch the Rebbe's eye, and offer a "Lechayim," holding a tiny cup of vodka. With a nod of his head, the Rebbe would respond so directly to each individual that however tightly squeezed together, no one had any doubt that the response was for him and not to his neighbor.
On some occasions the Rebbe would turn round in my direction, and with a gesture, indicate that I should change to a full tumbler - and wait smiling, for a few seconds whilst it was found, filled and gulped down.
Like many others, I was torn between the desire for more detailed communication with the Rebbe on many different activities and a realization of how precious and limited his time was.
Sometimes, my reports were a "headline" summary and at other times they covered many pages. In the case of letters, written responses by the Rebbe were made in the margin of the original letter opposite the question, and passed on by his secretary by telephone or mail. Sometimes I was able to see the actual notes, but the Rebbe always retained the original letter.
From the early 1980's, when the demands on the Rebbe's time had increased many times over, I came to feel that an unbreakable link had been established, and that issues could mostly be resolved with the Rebbe's existing guidelines, often with the help of trusted friends.
The exchange of smiles was now our yechidut, and although the time spent with the Rebbe has become much less, yet the intensity and warmth (now recorded on video) remains just as before.
We have been extraordinarily blessed by the spiritual and practical guidance of the Rebbe, shlita, which has given our family a sense of purpose and enriched our lives in many ways far beyond what we would have considered possible.
May the Rebbe himself be blessed with a speedy return to full health, and lead all of the Jewish people to the promised redemption.
From Mr. Kalms' book, Guidance from the Rebbe
Translated from a letter of the Rebbe
11 Nissan, 5723 (1963)
SEIZE THE MOMENT
Passover is the first day of Jewish independence, and the first festival in the history of our Jewish people.
It is first in rank and significance, for it brought the liberation of our people from enslavement and made it possible for them to live a free and independent life as a nation, governed only by the Torah and its commandments dictated by G-d alone.
As such, Passover is especially meaningful for our Jewish people, and for every Jew individually, at all times and in all places.
For this reason also, every aspect of the festival and every detail attending the historical Exodus from Egypt, has a special significance in the way of a timeless message and practical instruction for the individual, the community and our people as a whole.
One of the important details of the Exodus is the haste with which the Exodus took place.
When the hour of liberation struck, the Jewish people left Egypt at once, losing not a moment, or, as our Sages express it -- not even a "heref ayin," "the batting of an eye-lid."
They add, moreover, that if the Jewish people had tarried and missed that auspicious moment, the opportunity of the liberation would have been lost forever.
This seems incomprehensible.
For it was already after the Ten Plagues, which prompted the Egyptians to virtually expel the Jews from their land.
The situation was thus "well in hand."
Why, then, the teaching of our Sages that if that moment had been missed, the whole liberation would have been in jeopardy?
Above all, what practical lesson is contained in this detail, so that the Torah makes a point of revealing it to us with particular emphasis?
The explanation is as follows:
When the end of the road of exile is reached, and the moment arrives for the liberation from the "abomination of Egypt," the opportunity must be seized at once; there must be no tarrying even for an instant, not even to the extent of "batting an eye- lid."
The danger of forfeiting the opportunity lay not in the possibility of the Egyptians changing their mind, but in the possibility that some Jews might change their mind, being loathe to leave their habituated way of life in Egypt, to go out into the desert to receive the Torah.
The practical lesson for every Jew, man or woman, young or old, is:
The Exodus from Egypt as it is to be experienced in day-to-day life, is the personal release from subservience to the dictates of the body and the animal in man; the release from passions and habits within, as well as from the materialistic environment without.
This release can only be achieved by responding to the call of G-d, Who seeks out the oppressed and enslaved and promises, "I shall redeem you from bondage... that I may be your G-d." As at the time of the first liberation, true freedom is conditional upon the acceptance of the Torah and mitzvot.
This call of freedom never ceases.
The Exodus must be achieved every day; each day the opportunity beckons anew.
Unfortunately, there are individuals who tarry and consign the opportunity to the "three solemn days" of the year, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur; others, at best, postpone it for Shabbat and Yom Tov, still others, who recall and experience the Exodus in daily prayer, fail to extend it to every aspect of daily life.
What is true of the individual, is true also on the community and national levels, except that on these levels the missing of the opportunities is, of course, even more far-reaching and catastrophic.
As in the days of our ancestors in Egypt whose exodus was not delayed even for a moment, whereby they attained full liberation of the body and full liberation of the spirit with the acceptance of the Torah at Sinai, which was the purpose and goal of the Exodus.
May G-d grant that every Jew seize the extraordinary opportunity of the present moment, to achieve self-liberation and to help others in the same direction; liberation from all manner of bondage, internal and external, and above all, liberation from the most dismal bondage -- the idea of "let's be like the rest."
And when we return to the ways of Torah and mitzvot in the fullest measure, we will merit the fulfillment of the promise: When the Jewish people return, they are redeemed at once, with the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.
It is a Jewish custom to say daily the chapter of Psalms associated with the number of one's years.
Chasidim and followers of the Rebbe also recite daily the Rebbe's chapter.
The 11th of Nissan marks the Rebbe's 92nd birthday, and so, we begin reciting chapter 93.
According to Rashi, Psalm 93 is dedicated to the Messianic Era, when G-dliness will be readily recognizable.
The Psalm is in the past tense, for according to many opinions these are the pronouncements that will be made in the Messianic Era.
The first verse reads, "G-d reigned, G-d donned grandeur; G-d donned might and girded Himself; even firmed the world that it should not falter..."
The last part of this verse has been extensively encountered recently, for these words are interpreted to mean that at present, the fate of the land itself is uncertain.
We are continuously beset by threats and dangers caused by the variability of nature. Floods, earthquakes, ice-storms, brush and forest fires occur because the world is not "firm."
But when Moshiach reigns, Rashi explains, stability will return to the land. "Return" because the world will be retored to its state as experienced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
This short Psalm, only five verses in all, concludes with the words: "Your testimonies are exceedingly trustworthy, about Your House, the Sacred Dwelling -- O, G-d, may it be for lengthy days."
Once again, Rashi connects this verse to the Messianic Era.
He explains that G-d's trustworthy prophets have attested to the truth of G-d's promise to rebuild the Holy Temple.
In a talk two and a half years ago, the Rebbe quoted Maimonides, who states "that before the Messianic Era, prophets and prophecy will return to the Jewish people."
The Rebbe explained that the declaration that Moshiach is coming and the Redemption is imminent is a prophecy.
As the prophecies of the prophets of old concerning the Holy Temple and the Messianic Era are trustworthy, so, too, is this prophecy of the Rebbe.
As we celebrate the Rebbe's birthday and the upcoming holiday of Passover, which both take place in Nissan, the month of Redemption, we should pray and beseech G-d to make good on His promise to redeem the Jewish people, may it happen immediately.
Now we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel. Now we are slaves; next year may we be free men. (from the Passover Hagada)
These are two separate requests: First, may we be in the Land of Israel by this time next year, and second, may we be free men at that time. For it is indeed possible to live in the Holy Land and remain enslaved.
The seder plate: the roasted egg
In addition to being a reminder of the Passover offering, the roasted egg is a symbol of the Jewish people.
The longer other foods are cooked, the softer and more tender they become, but the longer an egg is boiled, the harder it gets.
Similarly, the more painful and severe the hardships of the exile, the stronger and more resilient the Jewish people emerges.
G-d, our L-rd brought us out from there. (Hagada)
The redemption from Egypt came as an act of Divine beneficence, and not as a result of the Divine service of the Jewish people.
To compensate for this lack of service, there were subsequent exiles in which the redemption depended on the Jews' efforts.
(Lubavitcher Rebbe, shlita)
"All the days of your life" as including the Era of Moshiach. (Hagada)
Le'havi translated as "including" literally means "to bring."
Thus, this Talmudic passage, quoted in the Hagada, can be interpreted as a directive: All the days of your life should be permeated by a single intention: to bring about the coming of the Era of Moshiach.
(Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe)
The custom of a goblet for Elijah is first mentioned by our rabbis of the 16th century. Why is this so?
This custom is an expression of the Jews' belief in the coming of Moshiach and Elijah, who will herald the imminent Redemption.
The closer we are to the time of the Redemption, the more keenly is this faithful anticipation felt in the heart of every Jew.
Rabbi J.J. Hecht, of blessed memory, was legendary for his unremitting, selfless activity on behalf of Jews both near his Brooklyn headquarters and across the globe.
He related a story which occurred in 1987 when his son, Rabbi Sholom Ber Hecht of Forest Hills, New York was contacted by a congregant with a startling request.
This man had received a message from his nephew, who, together with three hundred other Jews had just escaped from Iran and was staying clandestinely in Karachi, Pakistan, a country known for its intolerance towards Jews. The man asked his uncle to please send them food for Passover, at least matzot for the Seder nights.
Rabbi J.J. Hecht had been deeply involved with the rescue of thousands of Iranian Jewish youth who fled after the Shah was deposed. But this was an entirely different matter, requiring the possibility of life-threatening personal risk to the one who would bring in the provisions.
Rabbi Hecht lost no time in communicating this request to the Rebbe, asking his advice and blessing.
The Rebbe replied that Rabbi Hecht should locate a person familiar with the customs of the Iranian community who would be willing to make the dangerous trip.
The Rebbe added that he, himself, would pay all the expenses associated with the trip, including the airfare for the emissary and the cost of the matzot.
The Rebbe's support gave the courage necessary to pursue the goal steadfastly.
Rabbi Hecht found an Iranian yeshiva student and arrangements began to solidify.
But at the last minute it was decided that it would be too dangerous for him to go, and so, an American student named Zalman Gerber agreed to undertake the mission.
With the help of Senator Alphonse D'Amato of New York, the Pakistani Consular officials were contacted.
They, however, refused to issue a visa, stating that it could be done only for those with business to conduct in Pakistan. That proved easy to circumvent, as friends within the Iranian Jewish community helped establish contacts with rug dealers who provided necessary documentation.
The visa was issued, but the student's safety was explicitly not guaranteed.
Once on the plane, Zalman nervously tried to think of how he would get together the necessary foods for the seder.
Since there were, of course, no kosher meals on the flight, he asked the stewardess for some fresh fruit. When she brought him an apple, he eyed in hungrily, but then stashed it away, thinking, "This will be for the charoset!"
Zalman arrived in Karachi with 20 pounds of hand-made shmura matzo and enough grape juice for the group (wine is prohibited in Pakistan, since it is a Moslem country). The first hurdle was getting past customs with such a quantity of strange "crackers."
He was, after all, a rug salesman, not a baker!
Miraculously, after tense minutes watching the customs officer inspect the Hebrew writing on the boxes, Zalman was waved through customs.
His contact had failed to meet him at the airport, and so, at 3 am, Zalman hailed a taxi and asked to be taken to a major hotel.
He checked in, but to his consternation, the room was on the eighth floor.
Using the stairwell was not permitted by the hotel and using the elevator on Shabbat and Yom Tov is not permitted by the Torah!
Fortunately, the hotel management agreed to give him a room on the first floor.
Zalman immediately phoned the Jewish doctor who was to serve as the liaison between him and the Iranian refugees. By Divine Providence, Zalman's hotel was right across from the doctor's hotel.
Zalman quickly met him and they went together to the dilapidated outskirts of the city where the Jews were hiding.
It was with great emotion that the refugees greeted the young yeshiva student who had traveled so far to bring them not only Passover food, but hope, when theirs was all but gone.
The first night of Passover, Zalman participated in a joyous, secret Seder for thirty of the refugees, all that could "safely" gather in one group.
The rest of the refugees gathered in smaller groups and also had sedarim.
As they read from their Hagada's, the refugees couldn't help but associate their own miraculous rescue with that of their Persian ancestors on Purim in Shushan so long ago, and they poured out their gratitude to G-d for the mercy He had shown them in this strange and hostile country.
The second Seder was celebrated in the same joyous spirit, and during the intermediate days of the festival, having succeeded so well in his mission, Zalman returned to the United States carrying the thanks of the refugees to the Rebbe and all the others who had made their Passover celebration a reality under such impossible conditions.
The moral courage and support of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the willingness of a courageous young Chasid to put himself at risk for another Jew -- that is the epitome of the teachings of Chabad in action, and that, in itself, is the miracle.
Rabbi Zalman Gerber, and his wife, Miriam, are now emissaries for the Rebbe in Overbrook Park, Philadelphia.
"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 has been done until now has been to no avail. For we are still in exile... 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.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 28 Nissan, 5751-1991
THE GEULA (Redemption)
From a letter of the Rebbe
"From the day I went to cheder and even beforehand, my imagination began to picture the future Redemption -- the redemption of the Jewish people from its final exile:
It would be a Redemption... in such-and-such a manner, which would explain the suffering of exile, the decrees, and the annihilation... and everything would unfold in such a way that, wholeheartedly and with complete understanding, we would be able to say the words of Isaiah, `O L-rd, I will praise you though You were angry with me'" (Isaiah 12:1).
The Lubavitcher Rebbe
As one can see from the excerpt of the above letter from the Rebbe from 1956, expectations of Moshiach have filled his life.
So powerful are these expectations that they have captivated thousands and thousands of Jews and, to a degree, the entire world.
The day the Rebbe became head of Lubavitch -- 10 Shevat, 5711 -- he spoke about the theme that has characterized his leadership throughout the years.
The Rebbe stated that we did not choose to be in this generation, and had we been asked, perhaps we would not even have wanted to be here, but it is a fact -- we are living through the conclusion of the time known as "the footsteps of Moshiach," and we must bring the Redemption.
All the Rebbe's actions in the last forty-three years have served this purpose.
He sends his representatives to the farthest-flung places in order to reach all Jews and render them meritorious through mitzvot.
Over the years, the Rebbe's proclamations have become more explicit, slowly raising expectations and awareness of Moshiach and the Redemption. In the last few years, the Rebbe has left no room for doubt. He has spoken about Redemption as a concrete reality that has already begun.
What follows are a few excerpts about Moshiach and the Redemption culled from talks and letters of the Rebbe throughout the years.
The thoughts presented here are far from comprehensive, as the Rebbe's published works number well over 200 volumes.
Ultimately, the main intent of exile is not to punish, but to refine and purify the Jewish people so as to make them worthy recipients of the revelations of G-dliness which Moshiach will bring about.
As is explained in Chasidut, "The ultimate intent of the descent and exile is to prepare for a great ascent, when, in the Days of Moshiach, the light of G-d will radiate manifestly."
Now, during the exile, we need to prepare "vessels" -- receptors for these revelations.
The light within the teachings of Chasidut is the vessel which can receive the revelation of Moshiach -- and when the vessel is complete, the light will be revealed.
Behold, this is what is demanded of every one of us, the seventh generation... For although we are not the seventh generation by choice, and it has not resulted from our efforts -- and in certain aspects, it is perhaps even against our will -- nevertheless, all sevenths are beloved.
We find ourselves at the end of the period of "the footsteps of Moshiach," and we must finish drawing down the Divine Presence -- and not just the Divine Presence but the essence of the Divine presence -- into the lower worlds.
If, in any period, time has been a commodity that never returns, how much truer is this in the present, when we are anticipating "the footsteps of Moshiach."
At this time, every moment is precious.
Every moment can be filled and used for great and wonderful things that will yield fruit, which in turn will yield fruit, "until the end of time."
We are to await Moshiach regardless of our understanding of the personal benefit we will derive from his coming.
We must cast aside all thought of material or spiritual gain, focusing on only one thing: With the coming of Moshiach, the Divine intent of creation -- "that G-d will have an abode in the lower worlds" -- will be fulfilled.
In these times of ours -- soon after the recent horrors (heaven forfend), and living in the generation that is anticipating "the footsteps of Moshiach," who is waiting only for the completion of the tasks (easier than the tasks of our forbearers) that have been allotted our generation -- every man and woman should act in the spirit of the verse, "The weak will say, `I am strong.'
"A firm resolve in this direction makes one's hidden strengths surface. A person then finds that he can accomplish many times more than he could in ordinary times and under ordinary conditions.
The closer we come to the beginning of the true Redemption, every cherished moment becomes increasingly valuable, because we are to make haste and get ready for the coming of King Moshaich.
When all the existing souls find their way below, this will bring about the coming of Moshiach. It therefore follows that the birth of a Jewish baby is not only a private cause for celebration for his parents and family: it is a cause for rejoicing in all the worlds, and for the entire Jewish people of all the generations. For they are all thirsting and yearning to arrive at their ultimate fulfillment, which is the coming of Moshiach -- and every Jewish baby born brings the Redemption nearer.
Our Sages teach, "By virtue of faith, our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt."
Our future Redemption will likewise come about by virtue of the fact that our people, disregarding the thick darkness of our present exile, believe firmly in the coming of Moshiach.
Already from the year 5715 the "doors were open" and Moshiach has been able to come. But there is a dearth of "mikablim" -- those willing to accept.
Our Sages say, "Moses is the first redeemer, Moses is the last redeemer."
This doesn't mean that Moses himself will redeem us, for Moses is from the tribe of Levi and Moshiach is from the tribe of Judah through the House of David. Rather, Moshiach will come through the strength of the Torah, which is called the "Torah of Moses."
A certain deed was lacking.
The completion of this Torah scroll has removed that lack. All that now remains is for every individual to attend to the particular details in his divine service that are still outstanding. And thereby we will nullify the exile, and will be found worthy of going out with joyous and glad hearts to greet our righteous Moshiach.
When our ancestors were in the wilderness, on the eve of their entry into the Land of Israel, they were commanded to be vigilant with the kashrut of their vessels and with the purity and sanctity of their family life.
In our days, too, in these last days of exile, our generation should be particularly vigilant with these two mitzvot -- with kashrut and with the laws of family purity -- as a preparation for our entry into the Land of Israel with our Righteous Moshiach.
The advance of scientific understanding is increasingly revealing the inherent unity in the universe, as expressed in the forces of nature. Being aware of this can serve as a preparation and prologue to the Era of Moshiach, for at that time the Creator's simple, uncompounded Unity will become evident. That time will also reveal the way in which G-d's Unity finds expression in the unity that is inherent in all of Creation.
The obligation to write a Torah scroll is the culmination of all the 613 mitzvot.
It is thus clear that acquiring a letter in one of the universal Torah scrolls now being written hastens the culmination of the exile.
One's anticipation and yearning for Moshiach should be expressed in English, too, as well as in any language in which this can be expressed.
In this way, all the world will know that the Jewish people want Moshiach to come now.
There are Jews who for many and various reasons find the English language closer to them than the Holy Tongue. And since there is no time to wait until such a Jew learns his true language, because Moshiach is needed now, there is no alternative than that he should proclaim and cry out aloud in his language, "We want Moshiach now."
The future Redemption will apply not only to Israel, but to the whole world as well.
As we say in the prayer, "To perfect the world under the sovereignty of G-d."
In preparation for this Redemption, therefore, action needs to be taken so that the world at large will be ready for such a state.
This is to be achieved through the efforts of the Jewish people to influence the nations of the world to conduct themselves in the spirit of the verse that states that G-d "formed the world in order that it be settled" -- in a civilized manner, through the observance of their seven mitzvot -- the Seven Noahide Laws.
The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe declared, "All that remains is to 'polish the buttons' of our uniforms so that we will be ready to go out and greet our Righteous Moshiach."
On this, the Rebbe, shlita, commented: "At any time clothes are merely an external supplement; how much more so here, where we are speaking of a garment that is needed not for protection against the cold but only to glorify the appearance of official garb. Moreover, we are speaking only of a superficial detail -- buttons, which merely add tidiness to the appearance. And even these finishing touches, the "buttons," are also in place already. All that remains is to polish them, to give them the beauty of an added mitzva."
It would be advisable that everyone publicize the teachings of famous Torah scholars concerning the obligation to hope for and anticipate and demand the coming of Moshiach.
This can be done by sending a letter (including such quotations) to ten fellow Jews, with the suggestion and request that each of them send a copy of it to another ten Jews, etc..
It should be proclaimed and publicized that we are living in a special time, when only one solitary thing remains to be done -- "Stand ready, every one of you," for the forthcoming rebuilding of the Holy Temple with the coming of David, King Moshiach.
We are now in the last moments before the coming of Moshiach.
The fact that he has not yet arrived is not (G-d forbid) because the time is not yet ripe, but because we are still lacking one single deed that will tip the scales, and make the world worthy of being granted the Redemption.
The demand of the hour is therefore that every Jew, great and small, think about the ultimate Redemption to be brought about through Moshiach, and then do something to actualize it, both in his own life and in his encouragement of others.
We are now at the conclusion of the exile.
We have already been through the labors of "berurim" -- sifting and refining and elevating the exile -- with all their attendant trials.
Moreover, we have also been through the "birthpangs of Moshiach," those awesome events that took place in our generation. It is now clear and obvious that we are standing at the threshold of the redemption.
"Since you engage in rendering halachic [Jewish legal] decisions, render a halachic decision (a psak) that our Righteous Moshiach must come, and see to it that your decision is actually and immediately fulfilled.
May G-d find you worthy of being one of those who will render the halachic decision on the coming of Moshiach!"
(The Rebbe to Rabbi Yochanan Sofer)
...As it says in the Midrash, Yalkut Shimoni, "...when the King Moshiach comes, he will stand on the roof of the Holy Temple, and call out to the Jews: 'Humble ones, the time of your Redemption has come.' "May we see Moshiach standing on the roof of the Holy Temple and may he announce: "Moshiach is here."
As far back as in the times of the Talmud our Sages taught that "all the appointed times have passed."
How much more so must this be today, after all the Divine service of our people throughout this long and bitter exile, for over 1,900 years. Moshiach must most certainly come immediately...we have finished our labor of exile... the time of spreading the "wellsprings" -- the teachings of Chasidut -- outward is over... we have done teshuva... the appointment of Moshiach has already taken place... the reasons for the exile have already been rectified... studying about Moshiach and the Redemption is the most direct approach to bring about the revelation and arrival of Moshiach and the Redemption.
We are the last generation of the exile and the first generation of the Redemption.
We must feel that until the Redemption becomes manifest, our lives are lacking. This perception should lead to an increased desire and yearning for the Redemption and also an increase in the activities that will hasten the coming of the Redemption.
With appreciation to: Rabbi M. Brod/Days of Moshiach,
and Rabbis A.E. Friedman and U.Kaploun From Exile to Redemption