The essay that follows differs from the others in this series in that it does not adapt one of the talks of the Rebbe Shlita. For obvious reasons, the Rebbe himself has not highlighted the aspect of Yud Shvat which is the focus of this essay. We, however, could not omit this essay from the series, because for many chassidim today, it describes the most significant aspect of Yud Shvat. We have therefore woven together several of the talks of the Rebbe Shlita from different occasions to create an original composition with the intention of communicating feelings which many share.
In one of his public talks regarding Beis Nissan,
the yahrzeit of the Rebbe Rashab, the Rebbe Shlita pointed out that there are two aspects to the passing of the Rebbe Rashab. The first is that "all his effort... for which he toiled throughout his life... becomes revealed and radiates downward... at the time of his passing."
The second is that this date marks the beginning of the nesius of the Rebbe Rayatz, the date on which he assumed the responsibilities of leadership as Rebbe.
On the verse, "The sun rises and the sun sets," our Sages comment that a righteous man will not pass away until another righteous man of equal stature arises to take his place. Our Sages also point out that G-d did not delay the death of King David, because the time had come for his son Shlomo to reign, and the reign of one king should not impinge upon the reign of another.
The Rebbe Shlita has explained that while both aspects of Beis Nissan are significant, it is the assumption of the nesius by the Rebbe Rayatz that is of paramount relevance to us. The same surely applies to Yud Shvat, the date which marks both the yahrzeit of the Rebbe Rayatz, and the ascent of the Rebbe Shlita to the nesius. Without minimizing the weight of the former aspect of Yud Shvat, for many chassidim today the assumption of the nesius by the Rebbe Shlita is the primary focus of the day.
In the first maamar the Rebbe Shlita delivered,
he outlined his goals for our generation:
We are in the midst of the period called ikvesa diMeshicha (i.e., the time when the approaching footsteps of Mashiach can be heard). Indeed, we are at the conclusion of this period. Our task is to complete the process of drawing down the Divine Presence... so that it should rest within our lowly world.
In the talks he delivered on the same occasion, the Rebbe Shlita explained that though Moshe could have constructed the entire Sanctuary himself, he refrained from doing so, in order to enable the entire Jewish people to participate in this endeavor. Similarly, the Rebbe Shlita continued, the Rebbeim of past generations did not want the campaign to bring Mashiach to be their private undertaking, but rather an effort shared by the Jewish people as a whole, and by each individual Jew.
This goal has been at the heart of the efforts of the Rebbe Shlita throughout his leadership of the Chabad chassidic movement for more than four decades. During this period, he has transformed Chabad-Lubavitch into a vast international movement with far-flung influence and a veritable kaleidoscope of activities - all of which, directly or indirectly, share a single purpose, to hasten the coming of the Era of the Redemption.
A person who has always conceived of the coming of Mashiach as an abstract idea may not appreciate what this means in actual fact. The focus of the Rebbe Shlita has constantly been on the concrete reality - that Mashiach actually come and inaugurate a new era for the world.
This has been the center of Lubavitch attention, especially since the eve of the 28th of Nissan, 5751. On that evening, in the midst of what had begun as a scholarly discussion of the distinct spiritual potentials of the current year, month, and date, the Rebbe turned to his followers with a cry from the heart:
What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Mashiach?... All that I can possibly do is give the matter over to you. Now, do everything you can do to bring Mashiach, here and now, immediately.... I have done whatever I can; from now on you must do whatever you can.
As the Rebbe Shlita pointed out in the following months, these efforts reflected the unique spiritual climate of our times:
We are standing on the threshold of the future Redemption. Mashiach's coming is no longer a dream of the distant future, but an imminent reality which will very shortly become fully manifest.
With increasing energy, the Rebbe Shlita continued to develop this theme in the months that followed:
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 Mashiach. All we need to do is open our eyes....
Our Sages describe Mashiach as waiting anxiously to come. In previous generations, however, his coming was delayed by the fact that the Jewish people had not completed the tasks expected of them. Now, however, those tasks have been accomplished; there is nothing lacking. All we have to do is accept Mashiach.
On Yud Shvat, when a chassid contemplates his relationship with the Rebbe Shlita, and the course of action this relationship should inspire, it is clear that his energies should be directed to one goal - making the world conscious of Mashiach and creating an environment in which his mission can be fulfilled. May this take place in the immediate future.
- (Back to text) Sefer HaSichos 5748, Vol. I, p. 347.
- (Back to text) Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 28; see also the above essay entitled "A Legacy of Self-Sacrifice."
- (Back to text) Koheles 1:5.
- (Back to text) Yoma 38b; Koheles Rabbah on the above verse.
- (Back to text) Shabbos 30a.
- (Back to text) In this context, we can apply the Baal Shem Tov's interpretation of the expression of the Mishnah (Avos 3:16), "The collectors... exact payment from man with or without his knowledge." The Baal Shem Tov explains (Likkutei Maharan, sec. 113) that since every Jew's soul is "an actual part of G-d from above" (Tanya, ch. 2), it is impossible for any being, even the angels of the Heavenly Court, to judge him.
How then is "payment exacted"? Divine Providence gives the person the opportunity, in his casual discussions with a friend or the like, to judge a colleague who has performed a similar deed. Afterwards, the judgment made "with his knowledge" about a colleague is then "without his knowledge" applied to him himself by the Heavenly Court (Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, p. 1207). Similarly, in the case at hand, the statements made by the Rebbe Shlita about Beis Nissan may be regarded as applicable to Yud Shvat.
- (Back to text) Basi LeGani 5711, sec. 3.
- (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 501.
- (Back to text) Sound the Great Shofar (Kehot, N.Y., 5752), pp. 35-36.
- (Back to text) Ibid. p. 47.
- (Back to text) Ibid. pp. 112-113.
- (Back to text) Pesachim 119b.
- (Back to text) As is obvious from the comments of the Ramban (Shaar HaGemul) and Raavad on the statements of the Rambam in Hilchos Teshuvah 8:4, the intent is that this will be an actual feast. Nevertheless, as is evident from the discussion of the subject in Rabbinic sources, every detail of this feast also has profound allegorical significance.
- (Back to text) Sanhedrin 98a.