The Seifer Torah Of Moshiach
Interview by Shneur Zalman Berger

Moshiach’s coming was always in the forefront in the world of Chabad. However, a few times it became a burning issue. * One of those times was Yud Shvat 5730, which marked twenty years of the Rebbe’s nesius. * This was also the day of the Hachnasas Seifer Torah to Greet Moshiach. * Beis Moshiach interviewed three talmidim of the kvutza of that year, who describe their thoughts and feelings on that momentous occasion.

Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Berger
Rabbi Chaim Meir Chazan
Rabbi Eliyahu Dahan


The Seifer Torah Shel Moshiach was completed on Friday, after midday, Erev Shabbos Yud Shvat, twenty years into the Rebbe’s leadership. Today, thirty-one years later, many people still remember that momentous occasion. As though they just saw it yesterday, they remember how the Rebbe removed the crown from its box. People were certain that he would place it on his head, wave his hand, and call out, "Yidden, the time for your Redemption has arrived! Let us go to Yerushalayim..."

Rabbi Berger: "It wasn’t a wish and it wasn’t a feeling. It was absolute knowledge. We all knew that was the day that Moshiach would be revealed."

The writing of this seifer Torah began years before, at the height of World War II, when Jewish blood ran like water and millions of Jews were killed al kiddush Hashem. In Iyar of 5702 (1942), the Rebbe Rayatz instructed that a Torah be written, with which the Jewish people would go out to greet Moshiach. The writing began in secret, on special parchment made from kosher animals that had been shechted. At first, the Rebbe Rayatz wanted to obtain parchment from Eretz Yisroel, but the expense was prohibitive. So he agreed that it should be made in the United States. This, however, was no simple matter, for all skins were taken by the government for military use.

Rabbi Eliyahu Nachum Sklar was appointed to obtain skins and have them prepared for parchment. The sofer was the Chassid R’ Shmaryahu Factor. The Rebbe Rayatz paid for the parchment and the sofer. Afterwards, the Rebbe decided to allow everyone to participate in the mitzva, and he publicly announced that all were urged to buy letters in the seifer Torah. He appointed a committee for this purpose, which consisted of Rabbi Eliyahu Yachel Simpson, Rabbi Dovid Shifrin, and Rabbi Shmuel Levitin. A similar committee was formed in Eretz Yisroel, headed by Rabbi Shlomo Yehuda Leib Eliezerov.

At that time, an announcement was made: "All the technical preparations for the writing of the seifer Torah have been completed, thank G-d, and the Rebbe shlita invites our fellow Anash and all Jews in Eretz Yisroel to hurry and join in this great z’chus."

Less than a year after the writing began, the Rebbe Rayatz announced that the writing would soon be completed. But then, for reasons never discovered, nothing happened. As time passed, it was almost completely forgotten.

Eight years went by, and the Rebbe Rayatz was nistalek. Even after the Rebbe MH"M became Rebbe, the topic hardly ever came up, except at the farbrengen of Acharon shel Pesach 5711 and the farbrengen of Yud-Gimmel Tammuz 5715, though the Rebbe did not say when the siyum would take place.

A change took place in the month of Teives 5730. 770 buzzed with rumors of great things to be expected on the upcoming Yud Shvat. Three talmidei ha’Tmimim of the kvutza of that time described their sense of what went on:

Rabbi Berger: There was a great hisorerus (inspiration) at the time, since we knew that "twenty years later" was very special. The bachurim were the ones who were primarily involved.

After the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz, some people asked the Rebbe to explain a statement the Rebbe Rayatz had said: "It will take place in my time," referring to the Geula. The Rebbe explained that one source says that Shimshon judged the nation for twenty years and another source says he judged for forty years. The Yerushalmi explains that the Plishtim feared him for twenty years following Shimshon’s death. From this we understood that the revelation of Moshiach would take place twenty years after the Rebbe Rayatz’s histalkus.

In addition, a few months earlier, there had been a yechidus for one of the Tmimim of the kvutza. He told us that from the Rebbe’s words, he gathered that Moshiach would be revealed by Yud Shvat. This was another reason for the tension and anticipation we all felt.

Rabbi Dahan: The fact that the Rebbe would be finished explaining all the osiyos (sections) of the maamer "Basi L’Gani" that year, also made us think that this would be the siyum, and gave us the feeling that something was going to happen.

Rabbi Chazan: It wasn’t something that we debated. We were all 100% certain that after Yud Shvat would be the Geula. No questions were asked, and nobody tried to find allusions in works of halacha, Chassidus, or Kabbala.

Then on Erev Rosh Chodesh Shvat, the Rebbe announced that he wanted to complete the seifer Torah to Greet Moshiach. That was all we needed to hear!

Rabbi Berger: Nobody knew why the Rebbe suddenly agreed to finish it. Rumor had it that a number of requests had come from Eretz Yisroel to complete it, but the Rebbe had not agreed. But on Erev Rosh Chodesh Shvat, which occurred on a Thursday that year, the Rebbe returned from the Ohel and called some of the ziknei ha’Chassidim, among them Rabbi Simpson, who was a member of the original committee, and the Rebbe told them that the Rebbe Rayatz wanted the seifer Torah to be completed.

Rabbi Chazan: Yes, that was a Thursday, and the next day they began selling letters. Each letter cost a dollar (a lira in Eretz Yisroel). There was great excitement and people rushed to buy letters. Nobody knew when the siyum would take place, but people realized it would be soon.

That Shabbos, Gimmel Shvat, the Rebbe said some unusual things. The Rebbe asked why the hisorerus came from Eretz Yisroel and not from here. The Rebbe quoted the pasuk, "They turned their back to me and not their face," and explained that it is possible to stand near a great treasure, in the middle of the day when the sun shines brightly, and with open eyes, and yet not see anything because the person is looking off to the side.

"Where is there a greater treasure than this, which all generations have been waiting for: the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu?" the Rebbe continued. "The treasure is out in the open, and it’s in the middle of the day. The sun is shining and there’s light, yet people don’t see it because as they say here, people are busy with other things!... There will be a siyum soon and you can participate in the siyum of the writing. Even though each individual cannot know which letter is his, and there are only a few lines left, everybody can participate by having his name written down, and the angels will arrange the distribution of the letters..."

At the end of the sicha, the Rebbe told Rabbi Eliyahu Simpson to announce the buying of letters in 770, which has a gematria of "(u)faratzta," and that people should sing a joyous niggun.

Letter-buying took a week. The hisorerus was enormous. In Eretz Yisroel, a committee was appointed which included Rabbi Itche Gansburg and Rabbi Shmuel Chefer. Within a few days, over 10,000 people had bought letters in Eretz Yisroel. The forms were sent to the Rebbe and people even received responses.

Did everybody realize that Moshiach would be revealed?

Rabbi Dahan: When the Rebbe announced the completion of the seifer Torah, and remember, the Rebbe Rayatz had said this seifer Torah was designated to greet Moshiach, everybody realized what was going to take place – Geula. All indications pointed towards one conclusion: Moshiach was coming!

Rabbi Berger: I remember another sign we discussed then. On Rosh HaShana of that year, the Rebbe said a sicha in which he said that the letters in the verses recited before blowing the shofar had a gematria of 5730. Many people found this amazing. As Yud Shvat approached, they associated this sign with the upcoming event. With all the allusions, we were convinced that Moshiach was coming.

Rabbi Chazan: Many guests began showing up in 770 from around the world. It was financially difficult to come from Eretz Yisroel at that time, yet hundreds came. The mashpia R’ Shlomo Chaim Kesselman came. He had never come for Yud Shvat. The mashpiim R’ Nissan Nemenov and R’ Ben-Tziyon Shemtov came, too. 770 was just as crowded as on Simchas Torah – or maybe even more than that.

Rabbi Berger: People said that the Rebbe had been sent letters of coronation as Moshiach from Eretz Yisroel, but they didn’t know if the Rebbe responded to them.

Rabbi Chazan: It was only Thursday night that the secretaries announced that the siyum would take place the next day, Erev Yud Shvat, at 1:30 p.m., with the Rebbe attending. The excitement was incredible. Chassidim danced all night. We all thought it was the last night of Galus. The joy was tremendous. 770 was full of Anash who had come from around the world. They didn’t talk a lot. The mashpiim didn’t say much either. Everybody knew that the next afternoon, it would happen.


Di Yiddishe Heim at that time described the scenen as follows:

"Erev Shabbos. The beis midrash of 770 was completely full. People finished work early that day. Women finished preparing the Shabbos meals and came en masse. Residents and guests took their places, and the crowd was enormous, looking like the ocean with waves rising and falling. People still kept running in, getting swallowed up in the giant mass of humanity.

"Suddenly everybody quieted down. The sea split and amazingly, a path was cleared within the wall of people. Rabbi Eliyahu Simpson held the Seifer Torah of Moshiach, and he was followed by the Rebbe, who held a closed box.

"The Rebbe shlita sat in his place after the seifer Torah was placed on the table near him. Thousands of hearts stormed silently, while glances from all sides were fixed on one point, the penetrating eyes which beheld the entire giant congregation with the caressing soul-look of a shepherd of Israel.

"The Rebbe shlita began a sicha. Erev Shabbos after midday, the Rebbe’s voice was suddenly borne aloft with a restrained sublimity, like a boiling spring bursting forth, and he invited all Israel to participate in the siyum. The leader of Israel’s words resounded like a Heavenly voice, which pierced all walls and fences, ‘to all Bnei Yisroel wherever they are...those in the Holy Land, those in the Diaspora, and certainly those in captivity in distress’ ...and Jewish souls listened!

"The Rebbe continued, ‘The time is not the usual, and therefore, the invitation is through publicly saying chapter 20 of Tehillim.’ The Rebbe asked the eldest on the seifer Torah committee to say the chapter, verse by verse, and that everybody recite it after him. Rabbi Shmuel Levitin rose. He is an unusual, elevated figure of the type of Chassidim, mashpiim, rabbanim, and chachomim of generations past.

"The Rebbe shlita got up. The crowd moved for a moment and then immediately stood in expectant silence. R’ Shmuel’s voice, trembling with emotion, grew stronger. Verse by verse, his voice grew louder, as did the responsive recitation of the crowd.

"Tears burst forth. Foreheads dripping with sweat were wiped, while eyes remained damp. It felt like an inner earthquake or the rushing of a mighty stream within the depths of the neshama.

"The Rebbe shlita sat back down in his place, and all the niggunim of the nesiei Chabad were sung. The human eye doesn’t see and the human ear doesn’t hear what goes on in the world of souls, but somewhere deep down, the Chassidic sense feels how the Fathers of Chassidus come in soul-contact with us here.

"The Rebbe rose again. The splendid figure of the Rebbe was surrounded by the elder Chassidim, who bore expressions of dveikus. The seifer Torah was open before them. In the silence one could hear the sound of the rolling of parchment and the scratch of the feather quill, writing letter after letter. The old sofer wrote slowly as the Rebbe fixed his gaze upon the holy letters. Everybody, from old to young, great and small, held their breath with the tension of yiras ha’kavod.

"Ata Horeisa" was said, verse by verse, by distinguished members of Chabad from around the world, representatives of various countries. Then the Torah was rolled up and wrapped in the mantle, and the contents of the box the Rebbe had brought in was revealed. It contained a golden kesser Torah (Torah crown), with which the Rebbe crowned the atzei chayim. The Rebbe took the Torah in his arms. A chuppa was spread over the Rebbe, and with the accompaniment of various notables holding candles, the Rebbe slowly walked towards the large aron kodesh.

Then the Rebbe walked back to his place, said the SheHechiyanu blessing over a new fruit and delivered the maamer "L’Havin Inyan K’sivas Seifer Torah." Then the Rebbe said a brief sicha, emphasizing that there remained only pachim k’tanim (small jars) before the Geula, reminding us that the yahrtzeit wasn’t the proper time for a banquet, but for divrei Torah and a hisorerus to arouse fear of Heaven.

The Rebbe sang "Tzama Lecha Nafshi" himself, and then requested "Anim Z’miros" to be sung, thus ending the siyum which had taken nearly two hours.

Somebody present noticed that before the sofer finished writing, he gave the quill to the Rebbe so that the Rebbe could write the final word himself, but the Rebbe handed him back the quill. This was the same sofer who had begun the writing of the Torah in the time of the Rebbe Rayatz."

* * *

You were there at the siyum. What can you tell us about how you felt and about special details that you noticed?

Rabbi Dahan: I was sure that Moshiach would be revealed momentarily, and I had no doubt who that would be. Because of our tremendous excitement, I didn’t notice some details which were related afterwards. I remember that there had been a tense silence. I cannot forget the yearning and longing we felt: "Nu, when will it happen already?"

After the Rebbe walked in with a box, the Torah and the box (we didn’t know what the box contained) were on the table. We knew that the Rebbe Rayatz had said that this Torah would be the one to greet Moshiach, and we knew the yiras ha’kavod with which the Rebbe treated this Torah. It was clear that any minute now we would be going to greet Moshiach.

Rabbi Berger: When the Rebbe entered the zal with the box, none of us knew what it contained. Until then, in Lubavitch it was not customary to place crowns on the sifrei Torah, so we didn’t consider that as a possibility. When the Rebbe opened the box and removed the crown, we were certain – I, as well as many others who related this – that the Rebbe would place the crown on his head and be revealed as Moshiach.

* * *

In Kfar Chabad magazine, issue #496, Rabbi Sholom Hecht testified as follows:

"A few days before Yud Shvat 5730, the secretary told me that the Rebbe shlita asked to see a Torah crown. I dealt with silver and gold items, so I secretly went to the Rebbe at a time when nobody would notice, and I brought a selection of 6-7 beautiful crowns.

"The Rebbe spent a long time examining each crown, displaying amazing expertise on the subject, and then finally chose one of them, a crown made of silver and gold. It was especially beautiful, and I think it came from Russia.

"The Rebbe held the crown and moved it to hear the sound of the bells, to see if there was any halachic problem with it on Shabbos. Since the bells did not have regular clappers (which are rounded on the bottom), but had a simple piece which did not make the real sound of a bell, the Rebbe chose it.

"The crown was engraved with the image of a deer, and I asked the Rebbe about it and the Rebbe said it was fine.

"I took the opportunity to tell the Rebbe a whole ‘Torah’ about Moshiach, along with acronyms and gematriyos I had thought of. The Rebbe listened and then commented, ‘Even though he didn’t see it, his mazal saw it,’ a quote from the Gemara. The Rebbe meant that there was something to what I had said. During the maamer at the siyum, I had the privilege of the Rebbe mentioning some of my ideas."

Afterwards, people were told that the money to buy the crown was taken from the extra money that had been donated for the Torah, and this was according to the Rebbe’s orders.

The siyum took place and your expectations were not realized. Were you disappointed?

Rabbi Dahan: In the sicha after the siyum, the Rebbe said that small jars still remained, and I was a bit disappointed. After everyone dispersed, we went to our rooms and lay down, in a sad silence. We weren’t depressed, because we were certain that Moshiach had to be revealed any minute anyway, but we were very disappointed. Our expectation was that Moshiach would be revealed at the siyum.

Rabbi Chazan: Some said that ben Dovid (Moshiach) wouldn’t come on Erev Shabbos or Shabbos. Of course, before the siyum they said Moshiach would be revealed and Moshiach would take care of this halachic problem. But after the fact, we waited until Motzaei Shabbos. We knew that the twenty years were not over yet since Yud Shvat was on Shabbos. We waited for the Motzaei Shabbos farbrengen.

Rabbi Berger: In the maamer at the siyum, the Rebbe had said that now the inyan of Moshiach is only a matter of time. We understood time to mean soon. I pinned my hopes on the Motzaei Shabbos farbrengen, especially since that farbrengen would be broadcast live to Eretz Yisroel for the first time.

Rabbi Chazan: On Shabbos, Yud Shvat, the Rebbe said the maamer "Basi L’Gani," with an explanation of the last os (section) of the Rebbe Rayatz’s maamer, thus concluding all the osos. In the maamer said at the Motzaei Shabbos farbrengen, the Rebbe began from the first os again. This solved the mystery of what the Rebbe would do after finishing all the osos.

What happened on Motzaei Shabbos?

Rabbi Chazan: We continued to wait expectantly for Motzaei Shabbos, and when nothing happened, I was very disappointed.

Rabbi Berger: On Motzaei Shabbos, the Rebbe said that the Rebbe Rayatz could have paid for and written the seifer Torah himself, but he wanted to include everybody. Then the Rebbe said that there’s still life for another twenty years, comparing the present situation with what happened after Shimshon passed away. The Plishtim continued to fear him even after his death, "and when speaking about a nasi Yisroel, who is irreplaceable and obviously maalin ba’kodesh (ascending in holiness), after 20 years he becomes even higher and greater."

I despaired after hearing this, because I realized that the Rebbe was saying that the time hadn’t come yet.

Rabbi Dahan: After the farbrengen that Motzaei Shabbos, there was a farbrengen of mashpiim who had come from afar. They encouraged Anash to believe even more strongly in the revelation of Moshiach. One of them said it was apparently a keitz of sorts, which unfortunately didn’t materialize.

Rabbi Berger: I remember another farbrengen with an argument between two mashpiim, R’ Shlomo Chaim Kesselman and R’ Ben-Tziyon Shemtov. R’ Shlomo Chaim said that compared to what they had in Lubavitch, there was a yeridas ha’doros (a descent of the generations), while R’ Ben-Tziyon maintained that dor l’dor y’shabach maasecha and there was an aliyas ha’doros (an ascent of the generations).

R’ Shlomo Chaim also remarked that Shlomo HaMelech did not have a Rebbe. If he had had a Rebbe, he would have written the parables of love in Shir HaShirim about a Rebbe and Chassid...

* * *

At the conclusion of this dialogue, the three rabbis emphasized that the expectation of Moshiach’s revelation in 5730 was based primarily on the natural feelings of a Chassid. This is in contrast to the situation today. We heard the Rebbe tell us, "Humble ones, the time for your redemption has arrived," and we were told to publicize the prophecy of "Behold, Moshiach comes." We are certain that long before Yud Shvat, we will merit to walk with the Rebbe MH"M, along with the seifer Torah of Moshiach, to our holy land.


Until this farbrengen, the Rebbe had never granted permission for a photographer to come to 770 to photograph a farbrengen. All the pictures we have from earlier farbrengens were taken unobtrusively. The farbrengen of Erev Yud Shvat 5730 was the first time that an official photographer was granted permission by the Rebbe to come. It was the Israeli Yitzchok Berez who took 120 pictures, which were later sold to the public. Rumor had it that the Rebbe said, with a smile, "I thought he would take two or three pictures, not 120."

During the farbrengen the Rebbe told the photographer many times to say l’chaim.

This farbrengen featured another innovation, as well: it was broadcast live to Kfar Chabad. It was early in the morning Israeli time, yet hundreds of Chassidim came to hear the farbrengen.

Rabbi Dahan: Because of these changes, we had the feeling that the Rebbe wanted to bring about some change in the world.

Rabbi Berger: I heard that they suggested that there be a satellite broadcast, but the Rebbe responded negatively to this suggestion.


The hisorerus for completing the seifer Torah to Greet Moshiach also came about through the "righteous women of the generation," the N’shei U’Bnos Yisroel and N’shei Chabad of Eretz Yisroel.

The following is an excerpt from the sicha Parshas VaEira 5730 (unedited): " ...there was a suggestion from Eretz Yisroel to complete the writing of the seifer Torah to Greet Moshiach. At first glance the suggestion should have come from here, where the Torah is, in the four cubits of 770. This is especially so because those who expound gematriyos say that 770 is the numerical equivalent of ‘(u)faratzta,’ yet the suggestion came from Eretz Yisroel. This is a question like every other question..."

This is the idea that the Rebbe was referring to when he said, "They turned their back to me, and not their face." It is explained in Chassidus that it’s possible for a person to stand next to a great treasure, in the middle of the day with the sun shining full force. He can stand there with his eyes open, and yet, not see the treasure, because he is looking off to the side.

Where has there ever been a greater treasure, what all the generations have yearned and waited for – to bring Moshiach Tzidkeinu? The treasure is revealed at high noon with the sun shining at full force, and they don’t notice it, because they are looking off to the side. They are busy with other matters [albeit lofty matters and matters of holiness, but they are still not looking] and therefore they don’t see...


Rabbi Dahan: In Adar, the Rebbe said that Moshe Rabbeinu finished the seifer Torah immediately before his passing on Erev Shabbos. The Rebbe said this in connection with the seifer Torah of Moshiach, which had engendered opposition from Bnei Brak. The Rebbe said, "What a pity on those who don’t recognize the greatness in participating in the seifer Torah, which the Nasi HaDor began to write and writes! Since the Nasi is also from the root "me’asin," which means to force, the Nasi has the power to include even those who say explicitly that they don’t want..." The Rebbe also explained that a king can grant property to someone against his will. the seifer torah of Moshiach.


"Where is there a greater treasure than this, which all generations have been waiting for: the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu?"

Rabbi Yosef Berger
When the Rebbe opened the box and removed the crown, we were certain – I, as well as many others who related this – that the Rebbe would place the crown on his head and be revealed as Moshiach.


Rabbi Chaim Meir Chazan
It wasn’t something that we debated. We were all 100% certain that after Yud Shvat would be the Geula. No questions were asked, and nobody tried to find allusions in works of halacha, Chassidus, or Kabbala.

Rabbi Eliyahu Dahan
When the Rebbe announced the completion of the seifer Torah, and remember, the Rebbe Rayatz had said this seifer Torah was designated to greet Moshiach, everybody realized what was going to take place – Geula. All indications pointed towards one conclusion: Moshiach was coming!



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