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Our Personal Responsibility
By Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg


A group of people once came to the Alter Rebbe and told him about several miracles other tzaddikim had performed. The Alter Rebbe is said to have replied, “There are two different types of tzaddikim. Some tzaddikim are a handbreadth higher than the world, while others are two thousand handbreadths higher. The ones who are elevated a handbreadth work within the world, but it is inappropriate for those who are elevated two thousand handbreadths to do so.”

Reb Shmuel Grunim Esterman, the first mashpia of Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim of Zhembin, offered his explanation:

“Handbreadth” refers to the s’fira of malchus, the source of all the created worlds and everything in them. A tzaddik who is “one handbreadth higher than the world” is rooted in the very source of creation, and thus has the power to change the natural order at will. “Two thousand handbreadths,” however, refers to mochin, Chabad; as it is written, “A’alefcha chochma, a’alefcha bina” (I shall teach you wisdom, I shall teach you understanding). “A’alefcha” is related to the word “alpayim” (two thousand), and the “tzaddikim who are two thousand handbreadths higher than the world” are the Nesiim of Chabad. Because mochin completely transcends creation, “it is inappropriate” for these tzaddikim to alter G-d’s will and interfere with the natural order.

This concept helps to explain why mofsim (miracles) are not central to Chabad Chassidus. On the contrary, the emphasis has always been on working within the natural order. The Chabad Rebbeim have traditionally refrained from open miracles. They have preferred, rather, to enclothe miracles in nature as a means of demonstrating how nature itself is ultimately Divine.

For example: There was once a Chassid of the Rebbe Rayatz who was blessed with many daughters, but no sons. Time after time, he would beg the Rebbe for a bracha for male offspring, but the Rebbe would always tell him, “Chassidistes are just as necessary as Chassidim.”

One time at a farbrengen, the Chassid approached Reb Itche the Masmid (may G-d avenge his blood) and asked him for a bracha for a son. Reb Itche, who had by that time consumed vast quantities of mashkeh, complied. A few months later, when Reb Itche learned that the Chassid’s wife was expecting, he went to the Rebbe Rayatz for a bracha that the pregnancy should have a positive outcome. The Rebbe Rayatz told him cryptically, “Whenever there is a possibility of working through brachos [to help someone] it is necessary to protect him,” and he did not elaborate. The woman gave birth to a boy, but a few weeks later he passed away, may G-d protect us.

It is beyond our ability to understand why this had to occur. There are obviously some people who know how to effect miracles, but they don’t always know all the calculations Above or what will be the outcome in the end.

Another example: A story is told about the famous Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk, who was known in Poland as the Rebbes’ Rebbe, because almost all of the Poilishe rebbeim considered themselves his Chassidim.

One time a Chassid came to a certain rebbe and asked if he should go on a business trip by boat. The rebbe thought for a minute and told him not to go. Then, as an afterthought, he suggested that he consult with Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk.

The Chassid went to Rabbi Elimelech and asked the same question. The tzaddik was silent for a long time before giving him a positive response. The Chassid was vaguely worried, but embarked on the journey.

Indeed, his worst fears came true when disaster struck and the ship capsized. Many of the passengers drowned, and the ones who didn’t, lost everything. The Chassid, who survived the catastrophe, wandered about and suffered for many years. In the end, however, it was the accident itself that ultimately led to his success, because he became far wealthier than before the tragedy.

Later, when he asked Rabbi Elimelech for an explanation, the tzaddik just smiled. “Do you know the difference between your rebbe and myself?” he asked. “Both of us saw what would happen, but I could see a lot further than he did. Your rebbe saw that the boat would capsize and told you not to go. I saw that the boat would capsize, but also saw what would happen afterward…”

* * *

Since the Chabad Rebbeim are “higher than the world,” when the Rebbe MH”M told us on the 28th of Nissan 5751 that he had done all in his power and was giving the matter of bringing Moshiach over to us, it did not mean that he couldn’t do it, G-d forbid, but that it is G-d’s will that Moshiach come through our own efforts.

The Rebbe told us explicitly (on Shabbos Parshas Pinchas 5744) that the nasi ha’dor is certainly capable of bringing about the final Redemption by himself. The fact that he doesn’t is only because of his mesiras nefesh, for it is G-d’s desire that the Jewish people remain in exile a little while longer and do it themselves.

The Rebbe is begging each and every one of us to feel a personal obligation to bring the Redemption. We cannot run from this responsibility or relegate it to others. It’s “our business” and our business alone. The potential benefit is ours as well as the potential loss, G-d forbid.

We must act, in the words of the Alter Rebbe, like “marei d’chushbana,” and conduct our personal cheshbon ha’nefesh as if the business is ours. A hired accountant is indifferent to the figures he tallies. If the business is unsuccessful, it’s not his money that is lost. The owner, by contrast, has a vested interest in the firm’s success, and will do everything and anything to make sure that it turns a profit.

Of course, even if we think that we’re personally doing all we can, until the true and complete Redemption is a reality, whatever we’re doing is obviously not enough.

* * *

With this in mind, it should be superfluous to mention that “doing all we can” implies acting only in accordance with the Torah, “whose ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” True unity and love for our fellow Jews are fundamental.

At the same time, we mustn’t limit ourselves to obeying explicit directives, for once the Rebbe has set us on the right path he expects us to act autonomously, under our own power.

The Rebbe said that “it is simply not possible that at a gathering of ten Jews, they should neglect to make a commotion about the Redemption, without thought that Moshiach may arrive today or tomorrow or the next day.” It should be unnecessary to point out that every public gathering should be utilized as a forum for raising Moshiach awareness. Or in the Rebbe’s words, on Shabbos Parshas Tzav 5745, when a Jew recites Kriyas Sh’ma he should say “Hashem Echad”; the rest of the time he should say “Moshiach now!”

“The service of shlichus has been completed,” the Rebbe announced on Shabbos Parshas Chayei Sara 5752. “The only shlichus that remains is to actually greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu.”

On Yud Sh’vat 5753, there were certain people who tried to prevent the Rebbe from coming down to the main shul of 770, as they worried about what the Chassidim might do in front of the cameras. (As Divine providence would have it, there were many representatives of the media present that day.) With millions of eyes upon him, the Rebbe appeared before the crowd and encouraged the singing of “Yechi Adoneinu.” Since then, several baalei teshuva have mentioned that seeing the Rebbe on television that day was the turning point that led them to become observant.

When we recognize the positive effects of publicizing the identity of Moshiach, we realize the tremendous importance of sharing this information with others.



The Rebbe is begging each and every one of us to feel a personal obligation to bring the Redemption. We cannot run from this responsibility...






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