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Wisdom From Our Mashpiim
Interview by Shmuel Alexander

Mashpiim in Lubavitch yeshivos around the world discuss inyanei Moshiach and Geula with a focus on questions such as: What is the source of our absolute bitachon in the immediate revelation of the Rebbe MH"M? Why is the constant involvement in the besuras ha’Geula so important? How can we fortify ourselves during this difficult time?

 Part 1


Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Butman
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, Lud

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, Kfar Chabad

Rabbi Yitzchok Meir Gurary
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, Montreal

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Kesselman
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, South Africa

Rabbi Pinchas Korf
mashpia Oholei Torah, Crown Heights

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Landau
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, Bnei Brak

Rabbi Dovid Offen
mashpia Toras Emes, Yerushalayim

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Offen
mashpia Tomchei Tmimim, Tzfas and Yerushalayim

Rabbi Nachman Shapiro
mashpia Oholei Torah, Crown Heights

Rabbi Gurary: Before we begin our discussion of the besuras ha’Geula, we should preface it with an important introduction.

About nine years have passed since the Rebbe said, "I have done my part, and from now on, you do all you can to bring Moshiach Tzidkeinu." This unequivocal announcement placed a heavy responsibility upon all of us to be the ones who actually bring the Redemption.

Even briefly considering this should make us tremble, for all the avoda of the Jewish people throughout all the generations in general, and the unique avoda of our Rebbeim in particular, is all dependent on us. We can realize the goal of all this wonderful avoda one day earlier or another day later, ch’v.

Look at the world situation these past years, the unprecedented low caliber of Israeli leadership, the deterioration of values, the denial of everything sacred and precious to us, and above all else, the greatest concealment ever. The generation does not merit to see its Nasi. We are charged with removing this darkness and transforming it into the light of Redemption. Can we simply look away from this obligation and continue our ordinary everyday lives?

The answer, it would seem, is obvious. But there is one hitch, for the Satan of controversy, who is adept at his work, has been working overtime to deter us from the issue at hand. Instead of focusing on positive activity, with the general atmosphere among us being one of positive activity and dedication in a manner of "do all that you can" to realize this lofty goal, each of us has begun to "examine his neighbor’s tzitzis," and worry about the future of the entire Lubavitch movement.

Unfortunately, in each community, this approach has begun to give the whole topic of Moshiach and Redemption an atmosphere of mutual one-upmanship, which sets the stage for quarreling and hatred.

It isn’t pleasant to speak about these things, certainly not by way of introduction, but we know what the Rebbe Rayatz said about similar matters: "When it hurts, you scream." There’s no choice but to say the truth openly, in order to break our complacency.

Each one of us should make an honest personal accounting, for we all know with certainty that we will immediately see the Rebbe again, and then each of us will have to give a reckoning for our actions. Our excuses and evasions will be of no help then, for the truth will be readily apparent. Can we stand before the Rebbe? Will we be able to stand before the Rebbe and tell him that all our deeds were solely for the sake of Heaven, in order to fulfill the Divine purpose? Will we be able to declare that we had no part in division and quarreling among the family of Chassidim? That kind of behavior certainly doesn’t hasten Moshiach’s coming – on the contrary.

The first axiom in ahavas Hashem is that it is forbidden to hate another Jew, even in one’s heart. So how did disputes and hatred penetrate our ranks?

The call of the hour for us all is for each of us to proclaim to ourselves: No more! Let us abandon the quarrels and fights that have affected just about all of us. Let us begin our personal, inner and true avoda, using all ten soul-powers and the three garments of the soul, to constantly fulfill the Rebbe’s directives, which have shown us clearly how to live with Moshiach and to bring about his revelation now!

Then, when the Rebbe MH"M appears, we will be able to stand before him, confident that we did indeed cause him nachas in this difficult time of concealment.

* * *

We are currently in the seventh year since Gimmel Tammuz 5754, and we are still in Exile. What is the effect of this drawn-out period with respect to faith in the Rebbe’s words "Behold he comes, and immediately – he has already come."

Rabbi Korf: When our premise is that "Moshe is true and his Torah is true," that the Rebbe’s words are true and eternal, obviously nothing can deter us from this truth. We must pay attention to the fact that the Rebbe pointed at a number of developments that indicate that the Redemption has already begun. From day to day we see that these developments are progressing.

Our surprise is not about any delay of the Redemption, for it has already begun, but over the slow pace of the process leading to its complete fulfillment. This process doesn’t affect our emuna at all.

Rabbi Kesselman: It’s not a question of quantifying the amount of time the process is taking – "it’s been six years." If you look at it that way, the first day after Gimmel Tammuz was a shocking delay. The concern is, rather, about quality. It is a period in which we still haven’t done all we could to actually bring the complete Redemption.

In the Rebbe’s first maamer he stated that our generation is the one that will bring the Divine presence down to earth, meaning the revelation of G-dliness in the true and complete Redemption. This mission is a direct continuation of the work and mission of earlier generations, in which we, as the seventh generation from the Alter Rebbe, are the ones designated for this task.

The Rebbe made it clear that our merit in being the ones to bring the Redemption is not our choice and is not dependent upon us. Rather, it is part of the Divine plan in designating each generation its own unique role.

We have not yet heard of a generation that has not fulfilled its mission. Each Rebbe of every generation fulfilled the mission of his generation. If not, the next generation would not have begun. So too, with our generation, whose mission is to bring the Redemption. We will certainly finish the job.

There can be no change from the process of Redemption that has already begun. The complete Redemption will unfold imminently. Our responsibility is with regard to how fast it will happen.

The question is whether we have dozed off a bit in the massive undertaking to bring Moshiach? We just have to fulfill the Rebbe’s directives – first and foremost, the straight path, as the Rebbe put it, to bring the Redemption, by learning about Moshiach and Redemption. In this way, we will bring the Redemption one moment sooner.

Rabbi Y.Y. Offen: I was once asked the same question with a somewhat different perspective. The first generation, redeemed in the exodus from Egypt, was supposed to enter Eretz Yisroel. They actually began the process and even made significant progress. At a certain point, their sins caused them to become stuck in the middle and the redemption was delayed to the next generation. If so, I was asked, perhaps our generation – despite the miraculous beginning of the process – has blundered on account of our many sins, and we have lost out?

I answered the question as follows: When the Jewish people left Egypt, Hashem said to them, "I will raise you out of the afflictions of Egypt to a good and spacious land." What actually happened? There were Jews who did not merit to enter the land on account of their free choice alone. Their children, however, entered the land in their place. This was because Hashem allowed them the free choice concerning whether they would enter.

In contrast, regarding that same generation Hashem made a decision that was not dependent on their free will, namely, that they would merit to bring the Divine presence down to earth through the Giving of the Torah and building the Mishkan. The difference is obvious. In talking about the generation’s mission, it is impossible for Hashem’s plans to be thwarted. Therefore, since Hashem decided that the seventh generation from Avrohom Avinu would bring the Divine presence down to earth, they were compelled to receive the Torah and erect the Mishkan. As it says, "He placed the mountain over them like a barrel."

So too regarding our generation. In the Rebbe’s first maamer he makes an incredible parallel between our generation, the seventh generation from the Alter Rebbe, to Moshe’s generation, the seventh generation from Avrohom Avinu. The Divine presence descended to earth in Moshe Rabbeinu’s generation. The Rebbe established that our generation is the seventh generation. "Despite the fact that this is not our choice...and in a number of ways it is not consistent with our desires," this is the reality and this is our mission. We must bring the Divine presence down to earth and bring about the Rebbe’s revelation!

Rabbi Ginsberg: Aside from the fact that the Rebbe told us that the job of our generation is to bring the Redemption, and so it will be, the foundation of it all is that the Rebbe also told us that we have already finished this mission. (The Rebbe made many statements to that effect: "Nistayma avodas ha’birurim," "the generation is worthy in the most literal sense," "according to all signs, our generation is the generation of Redemption," etc.) We have already merited the coming of Moshiach. It isn’t possible that we won’t receive what we have already merited.

Furthermore, the Rebbe’s words were anchored to halacha as a prophecy (as the Rebbe put it, "the main prophecy of ‘behold Moshiach comes’"). In fact, this was even verified to be a prophecy, with all its halachic ramifications as set forth in halachic works, in the Rebbe’s response to Rabbi Mendel Wechter. A prophecy for the good cannot be rescinded. Therefore, we will certainly merit the Redemption.

It’s important to remember that the question concerning what happened to the Redemption that the Rebbe promised was already asked by the Rebbe himself, and he answered it: "This is a matter that is not understood at all." Of course, not having an answer did not weaken the continued unequivocal statements that "behold he, Moshiach, comes" in the slightest. This teaches us that the question, although it remains inexplicable, does not change the facts!

Rabbi Gurary: One can approach this problem from a different perspective. We’re not discussing a weakening of emuna in general about the arrival of the Redeemers, for we all believe that whatever the Rebbe says is true. The problem is primarily in the feeling of bitachon in this. In Chassidus, the difference between emuna and bitachon is explained at length. Everybody has emuna. Every Jew is a believer the son of a believer that Hashem is the ultimate true good and His compassion is upon all His works, etc. However, are we all certain about this? Are we so confident that we are free of worry? Not necessarily, for emuna and bitachon are two separate things and two different levels.

Chassidus explains the advantage of bitachon. When a man is certain that whatever he hopes for will happen, and is confident in G-d’s blessings, then the bitachon is what actually makes it happen. And this is not limited just to tzaddikim. On the contrary, bitachon applies more to those who are not tzaddikim.

Apparently, the past six years have moderated our bitachon in the prophecies. At first, all our plans were short-term, and we certainly had no plans for a year or two ahead, for it was always clear to us: by then, Moshiach will definitely have come! Now, certain other thoughts have begun to creep in. Maybe, after all, it will take more time, etc., and all sorts of Exile thoughts.

The call of the hour is to strengthen our bitachon, to be certain of everything the Rebbe said, to strengthen our faith that it is all as relevant today as the day it was said. The Rebbe told us to behave in a way of "behold Moshiach comes" at this very moment. We must behave that way now too, just as before. It is this very bitachon that will break the concealment and bring about the complete revelation of Moshiach.

Rabbi Shapiro: The Rebbe did not leave any room for doubts. When the Rebbe spoke about the besura he didn’t say "maybe," "possibly," or "very likely." Rather, he said it as a certainty and even connected it to the prophecy, "Behold Moshiach comes."

At the same time, we know that the Rebbe said it depends on us, and if we would truly cry "ad masai," and not say it merely because we were told to, Moshiach would have come already. Now, with the increased darkness, the cry of "ad masai" is even more truthful and from the depths of our heart.

This is the point of the maamer of "V’Ata Tetzaveh," the last maamer to date we received from the Rebbe, in which we find clear directives for our times. The Rebbe explains that Redemption is dependent on our knowing that a Jew is in a state of being in gantzen tzutraiselt (completely shaken up) about being in Exile, despite his having ample gashmiyus and ruchniyus. So too in our situation: the cry of "ad masai" is more meaningful today than ever before, coming from a state of being crushed and broken.

Rabbi Butman: In general, a Chassid is raised on what the Rebbe says. Everything the Rebbe says, he believes wholeheartedly under all circumstances. In connection with this I’d like to relate a story that was publicized lately.

When the Rebbe Rayatz announced "l’alter l’t’shuva, l’alter l’Geula" in 5703 (1943), the Chabad shul in Tel Aviv was in a tumult. The great Chassidim who frequented the shul didn’t stop talking about the fact that Moshiach would be coming any minute. Their faith was absolute. There was no question about the year passing and Moshiach not coming.

At a farbrengen, the Chassid R’ Pinchas Altheus asked R’ Yona Cohen (an oveid and maskil who had learned in Lubavitch), "What will you say if time passes and he doesn’t come?" R’ Yona answered, "I will continue to believe!"

That’s a Chassid: he relies on the Rebbe’s words being utter truth and that they will be fulfilled in actuality.

It’s still not clear. On the one hand, you talk about the Rebbe clearly announcing Moshiach’s coming and its unconditional quality. On the other hand, you all stress that it depends on us. Is it possible for us not to do what we are supposed to do, and he won’t come?

Rabbi Gurary: First of all, using the future tense, "we will merit..." is inaccurate. We have already merited Redemption. The process of Redemption has begun. It’s true that we are still in Exile and the present situation is not what we have been anticipating, but that doesn’t change the fact that the process of Moshiach’s coming has already been set in motion.

Melech HaMoshiach already stood on the roof of the Beis HaMikdash and announced, "Humble ones, the time for your Redemption has arrived." The Rebbe even pointed at certain prophecies concerning the Redemption that have begun to be realized, and declared that the avodas ha’birurim, upon which the Redemption is dependent, was completed. So on what basis can one say "what if we don’t merit it?" Our part is to speed up the process.

Is it possible that we won’t complete our avoda properly and won’t finish the process in our generation? The Rebbe, saw in his prophecy about the Redemption in our generation, that we would finish the job.

How can we be sure that the Rebbe’s besuras ha’Geula is not just another keitz, an auspicious opportunity, such as the Rebbe Rayatz’s pronouncement in his time about the Redemption, which didn’t actually occur then?

Rabbi Shapiro: There are essential differences between the Rebbe Rayatz’s pronouncement and the Rebbe’s. The Rebbe Rayatz said what he did because of a keitz in 1943, which is why he urged the world "to immediate teshuva, immediate Redemption." A keitz is a propitious time for Moshiach’s coming, though it is possible that Moshiach won’t actually come at that time. This also explains why after a while the Rebbe Rayatz stopped talking about it, since that auspicious time had passed.

In our time however, the issue is not about a keitz, but about an announcement from the Rebbe that the avodas ha’birurim has been completed. Rabbi Simon Jacobson said that the first time the Rebbe spoke about the completion of avodas ha’birurim, the Vaad Hanachos HaTmimim was unsure as to whether this was a dramatic announcement of fact or merely a prayer. They submitted two versions to the Rebbe, one written as a prayer and the other one as an announcement, and the Rebbe chose the announcement. In other words, the Rebbe’s besuras ha’Geula comes to us as a result of our being actually in the time of Redemption.

You also see this in the fact that the Rebbe Rayatz made Moshiach’s coming conditional on teshuva. The Rebbe on the other hand, explicitly said that l’alter l’t’shuva was already fulfilled, leaving only "l’alter l’Geula!" As the Rebbe said in the sicha of Noach 5752: They all did teshuva already and now the matter is only dependent on Moshiach Tzidkeinu himself!

This led the Rebbe into taking halachic measures. He asked the former chief rabbis of Eretz Yisroel to put forth a psak din stating that Moshiach must come, on the basis that our Sages say that "now it is only dependent on teshuva," and they already did teshuva.

From all this we see that it just isn’t possible for the Rebbe to suddenly announce that the time for Redemption is over.

Rabbi Kesselman: On this issue we must emphasize an important point. Yes, the Rebbe Rayatz made a tumult in his time about Moshiach, but in the end he also stopped doing so. We can’t say that the Rebbe Rayatz announced something and then we realized that we did not merit it, for it was the Rebbe Rayatz himself who stopped the emphasis.

You can see this in the Rebbe MH"M’s letters of that time. The Rebbe, as a loyal Chassid of the Rebbe Rayatz and as his right-hand man, made a tumult about the amazing news about l’alter l’Geula. Nearly all of his letters ended with the sentence, "l’alter l’t’shuva, l’alter l’Geula." But after a certain period of time, the Rebbe stopped doing so. Why? Because it was finished.

This is unlike our times when the Rebbe did not stop. The Rebbe started it and did not indicate to stop. If the wonderful news was obsolete, the Rebbe would have found the right way of letting us know.

Rabbi Korf: It’s important to stress that even the Rebbe Rayatz’s proclamation did not end without any actual results. A number of matters concerning the Redemption began back then, as we know from the Rebbe’s Rosh HaShana maamer 5727 (Kuntres Rosh HaShana 5752). The Rebbe points out that the idea of sounding the great shofar began in the time of the Rebbe Rayatz. So too, with the Rebbe. The besuras ha’Geula has already been fulfilled in a number of areas.

There is a difference between the announcement of the Rebbe Rayatz and the announcement of the Rebbe MH"M. In the time of the Rebbe Rayatz, the besuras ha’Geula was expressed only in the revelation of spiritual matters connected to Redemption in general. They were not part of the Redemption itself. The Rebbe MH"M’s besura, however, included a revelation and actualization of a number of occurrences that are actually part of the Redemption, such as the idea of Moshiach’s existence being openly revealed to the world, b’chezkas Moshiach, the beginning of the fulfillment of "they will grind their swords into plowshares" through Melech HaMoshiach, etc.

For this reason, you cannot compare one to the other and say that just like at that time the Redemption didn’t happen, the same thing can happen now, because this time the Redemption has actually begun.

Rabbi Ginsberg: The truth is that the Rebbe himself referred to this at the farbrengen of Purim 5747. The Rebbe acknowledged that a long time had passed since the proclamation of the Rebbe Rayatz, yet Moshiach still hasn’t come. The Rebbe’s conclusion was that the matter had been transferred from the Rebbe to the Chassidim. So when the Rebbe informed us about his besura, it was after he took into account the besura of the Rebbe Rayatz, whose fulfillment was delayed.

Rabbi Dovid Offen: It is proper to note that the Rebbe always connected his besuras ha’Geula to the besura of the Rebbe Rayatz, which shows the essential connection between the two besuros. The Rebbe always stressed that back then there was a need for l’alter l’t’shuva, and that in our time that has been taken care of. Likewise, the buttons had to be polished back then and we had to be told to "Stand ready," whereas now the buttons are already polished and we are standing ready to greet Moshiach.

(Click here to continue.) 


Rabbi Y.Y. Butman
The Chassid R’ Pinchas Altheus asked R’ Yona Cohen, “What will you say if time passes and he doesn’t come?” R’ Y ona answered, “I will continue to believe!”

Rabbi N. Shapiro
If we would truly cry “ad masai,” Moshiach would have come already. Now, with the increased darkness, the cry of “ad masai” is even more truthful and from the depths of our heart.


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