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I Will Write It In Their Hearts - Volume 1
Letters from the Lubavitcher Rebbe

The difference of opinion between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua as to whether the Jews will be redeemed in Nissan or in Tishrei

Translated by: Rabbi Eli Touger

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No. 69

The printed copy of this letter does not state to whom it was addressed.
[6 Nissan, 5703]

...To conclude with a subject relevant to the present month: Our Sages state (Rosh HaShanah 10b, [11a]): "We have learned: Rabbi Eliezer says:... 'In Tishrei, they will ultimately be redeemed.' Rabbi Yehoshua says:... 'In Nissan, they will ultimately be redeemed.'" (See also ibid., 27a, Tosafos, entry Kimaan). The Sages' motivating rationales are explained as follows: Rabbi Eliezer derives the concept from the shofar sounded on Rosh HaShanah, as it says: "And you shall sound the shofar on the new [month]."[1] Rabbi Yehoshua derives the concept from the reference to the night of the exodus from Egypt (Shmos 12:42): "A guarded night," a night which was guarded and prepared for [the Redemption] from the Six Days of Creation onward.

It is possible to explain[2] that the difference of opinion between these two Sages with regard to the time of the Jewish people's Redemption is reflected in a second difference of opinion they share with regard to the spiritual situation of the Jewish people at the time of the Redemption. As Sanhedrin 97b states: Rabbi Eliezer maintains that the Jewish people will be redeemed when they take the initiative and turn to G-d in teshuvah. This is also alluded to by the shofar of Rosh HaShanah which [refers to the Jews' arousal to Divine service] as the Rambam states in Hilchos Teshuvah 3:4. Indeed, this reflects the general scheme of the month of Tishrei, as our Sages commented (Vayikra Rabbah, ch. 29): "Sound the shofar (rpa) on the new [month]": "If you have improved (urpa) your deeds ... the scales will rise. The name Tishrei also has the meaning 'release.' [G-d] will release, acquit, and atone for the obligations of [His] people."

Rabbi Yehoshua, in contrast, maintains that even if the Jews do not turn to G-d in teshuvah on their own initiative, they will be redeemed. For G-d will raise up against them a new king whose decrees are as harsh as Haman's, and this will motivate them to correct their conduct. A similar pattern was seen in the redemption from Egypt, at which time the Jews were redeemed because of the merit of their acceptance of the Torah (Shmos Rabbah, ch. 2). [And this did not come about through their own initiative. On the contrary,] as our Sages (Shabbos 88a) relate: "The Holy One, blessed be He, hung the mountain over their heads.... This represents a great source of contention with regard to the Torah."

This is also reflected in the expression: "guarded and prepared for [the Redemption] from the Six Days of Creation onward." On the surface, the mention of the Six Days of Creation is entirely unnecessary. The purpose it serves, however, is to indicate that [the Redemption] is not at all dependent on the Divine service of man on his own initiative.[3]

In this context, it is significant to note the interpretation of the passage:[4] "This is the posterity of the heavens and the earth when they were created... and there was no man to work...." Our Sages commented (Bereishis Rabbah, ch. 13): "There was no man to subjugate the created beings to the Holy One, blessed be He."

There is, however, a great difference between the time [of the exodus] and the present age. Until the giving of the Torah, the Jews were not commanded [to observe the mitzvos]. This therefore left room for the possibility that they be compelled to receive it and for there to be "a great source of contention." In the present era, since the Jews are commanded to observe [the mitzvos], even when they are motivated to teshuvah by a harsh king, since the harsh king was raised up by the Holy One, blessed be He,[5] the Jews' observance is certainly with a full heart. As the Rambam explains the rationale (Hilchos Gerushin 2:20): "When a person is overcome by his yetzer hara to nullify a mitzvah ... and then is beaten until he performs it ... he is considered [to have performed it willingly, and] not as one who was compelled [to perform it].... For he wishes to be part of the Jewish people and he wishes to observe all the mitzvos."

With blessings for a kosher and happy holiday; "Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to Redemption,"

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson
Chairman of the Executive Committee



  1. (Back to text) [Rosh HaShanah 11b explains that this is an allusion to the prophecy (Yeshayahu 27:13): "On that day, the great shofar will be sounded."]

  2. (Back to text) [See Or HaTorah, Shmos, p. 259ff., 271ff.]

  3. (Back to text) [For if the Redemption was instituted as part of the scheme of creation, it was designed before man came into being.]

  4. (Back to text) [Bereishis 2:4-5.]

  5. (Back to text) [The intent appears to be that in the passage from Hilchos Gerushin which the Rebbe cites, the person must be compelled to ask for a divorce by a Jewish court, not a gentile one. If he is compelled by a Jewish court, his action is considered as voluntary for the reason explained by the Rambam. Similarly, the "harsh king" is raised up against the Jews by the Holy One, blessed be He; the king does not take this initiative himself. Therefore the same explanation can be applied to the teshuvah of the Jewish people.]

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