Our Generation: What Makes Us Different

Why is there such a tumult in our generation about the Geula and the revelation of Moshiach? What is the difference between the besuras ha’Geula of the Rebbe Rayatz and the prophecy of Geula of the Rebbe MH"M? How is our shlichus expressed nowadays in preparing the world to greet Moshiach, and what are the implications of that? * Mashpiim and shluchim in an exciting conversation. * Part 2 (Click here for Part 1)

(in alphabetical order):

Rabbi Shmuel Chaim Bluming
Rosh Mesivta in Oholei Torah

Rabbi Sholom Charitonov
Mashpia in Oholei Torah

Rabbi Shneur Zalman Liberov
Head of Beis Chabad of Flatbush

Rabbi Shloma Majeski
Principal of Machon Chana

Rabbi Nachman Schapiro
Mashpia and member of Vaad L’hafatzos Sichos

The Rebbe communicated to the shluchim, at the Kinus HaShluchim in 5752, that the only shlichus that remains – and the gateway to all other avoda – is to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu. How is this avoda expressed and what are the implications?

Rabbi Nachman Schapiro: The main point derived from this is that now our avoda revolves around the necessity of greeting Moshiach. The Geula is not something far out of reach, but is an idea we sense can happen at any time. This knowledge, especially when it affects our feeling, arouses in us the powerful desire to strengthen our performance of and add in all areas of avodas Hashem, Torah and mitzvos.

Feeling this can be compared to a chasuna. We begin the preparations many days before, buying new clothes and other necessary items. When the big day arrives, a person becomes more and more involved until he is totally involved in the preparations for the chasuna – cleaning, organizing, etc. But all this is not equal to the moment he actually greets the chasan. By then, everything in every detail is completely ready for him to go to the kabbalas panim, because he did everything he could to be prepared.

Another example that happens more frequently is in the preparations for Shabbos, which have to be completed every week. There are preparations you do near the beginning of the week, like making sure the clothes are washed. There are preparations you do closer to Shabbos, like preparing food for the seudos, which could be started even as late as Friday morning. As you get closer to Shabbos, there’s more that has to get done. You get busier and busier as Shabbos approaches. But right before Shabbos you’re completely ready for the onset of Shabbos. At that point, there is nothing that isn’t connected in some way to the preparations for the start of Shabbos. This example illustrates how preparing for something that is yet far away in time is not the same as preparing for something that will be coming up shortly. The closer in time the event is, the more effort you put into preparing for it.

The same applies to preparing for the Geula. We were instructed to greet Moshiach. We were told that we completed the avoda in Galus and that Moshiach is about to come, and we were informed that we are on the verge of the Redemption. Nowadays, any additional idea in thought, speech, or action receives more power and extra strength flowing from this knowledge and feeling. Awareness that the Geula is imminent, and its accompanying feeling, arouses in us the desire to both increase our activities in order to hasten the Geula even one minute earlier, and so that we will be properly prepared for the momentous event.

It’s said that at the time the Rebbe Rayatz came out with "L’alter l’t’shuva, l’alter l’Geula," there was a tremendous awakening all over the world. For instance, that awakening caused one particular Jewish man in California to begin keeping Shabbos. He considered the fact that Moshiach was about to come any moment and he was concerned how he would appear when the great day came. There was a "gadol" who said to him, "If you begin keeping Shabbos for the sake of shmiras Shabbos – good. But if you do it because the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that Moshiach is coming, it’s worthless, because I guarantee you Moshiach won’t come!" (Rachmana litzlan!) Despite the negative comment, that Jew was aroused specifically because of that particular announcement. The inyan of Shabbos in itself was not enough to arouse him to start keeping it, but when he heard that Moshiach is coming any minute, he was inspired!

The same here: The instruction to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu is a goal that instills in us the feeling that Moshiach is coming any minute. Through that we are inspired to prepare ourselves properly, like the Rebbe said in a sicha of Shabbos Parshas VaEira 5752. The knowledge that the Nasi of our generation will come immediately and investigate the spiritual level of each one of us arouses in us a very strong and urgent desire to increase in all areas of Torah and mitzvos.

If someone is not on the level of preparing to greet Moshiach, is that a sign that he is lacking in his hiskashrus to the Rebbe? Doesn’t his lack of involvement in this area spoil his entire hiskashrus to the Rebbe?

Rabbi Schapiro: According to the saying, "Asking a wise person is half the answer," we have to rephrase the question and point out the source of this type of question. That way we will be able to appreciate the answer.

Each of the Rebbeim had his own inyan that he originated which was different from his predecessors. Many Chassidim, especially elder Chassidim, didn’t initially accept some of these inyanim that were completely new – and these were men of stature, who lived and breathed Chassidus with every bone in their body, but there was no way they would ever change their path of serving Hashem.

One example of this happened to the Rebbe Rashab. When the Rebbe Rashab established Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim, he prepared for it for many years. At that time he visited the gravesites of his holy fathers, Raboseinu Nesienu, until he actually opened the yeshiva. For this he gathered a group of Chassidim who were of the highest rank of all of the Chassidim, and told them his reasons for opening the yeshiva. He invited them to participate with him in fundraising, etc., to help support the tremendous effort that it was. However, that group of Chassidim, who were men of stature, prominent, the cream of the crop, were not able to absorb the idea that it is possible and necessary to teach Chassidus to young bachurim, and it was very difficult for them to accept what the Rebbe Rashab was trying to do. In those days the study of Chassidus was only for mature married men who had strong minds and strong ahavas and yiras Hashem. Chassidus was just not studied by young bachurim. This is how strange the idea was to them – they just could not understand it, until the mashpia, R’ Grunem, exclaimed that now he understands the explanation of "spreading the wellsprings outward" – that also young people, who have no connection to ahava and yira, should study Chassidus…

But the Rebbe Rashab made it very clear that concerning the decision itself – how the yeshiva would be run and what and how they would teach there – he did not intend to ask their advice. This he left up to himself, and he had already decided. He had only gathered them to involve them to join him in carrying out those decisions.

This same process occurred with each changeover from one Rebbe to another. Each Rebbe and his new behavior was along a different path and it wasn’t easy for the Chassidim at first to accept it. This is what happened with every Rebbe throughout the years of his nesius.

For example, when the Rebbe shlita established the idea of shlichus, some elder Chassidim couldn’t understand it. You can see letters of the Rebbe from those days in which he is explaining to one Chassid or another how it could be that young Chassidim could leave their Chassidic surroundings to go to a spiritual desert where no other Chassidim lived. The Chassidim simply could not understand this. There were some who argued: Why did we go out of the oppression in Russia where it was hard for us to keep the Torah and mitzvos to go into a new, oppressed environment [i.e., devoid of Yiddishkeit] in America?

This also happened with mivtzaim. In the beginning, there were shluchim of the Rebbe who could not understand the whole idea. They were used to building institutions, enrolling children in schools, etc., but suddenly to go out of their surroundings and "sell" mitzvos – where did that come from?

After a few years, Mivtza Tzivos Hashem began. The same script repeated itself. In the sichos, the Rebbe described an old man who could not put up with the strange behavior of his grandchild, who clapped and sang "We Want Moshiach Now," and nebach, the grandfather couldn’t stop the boy from singing out of fear of the one who encouraged it…

Why is it difficult for these people, Chassidim, to grasp a new mivtza? It is difficult because they have to develop a new way of thinking. It’s clear to them that something is an instruction of the Rebbe, something they have to do, but it calls for a change in their whole mode of thought, speech, and action.

There’s a story about R’ Itche der Masmid, who was participating in a farbrengen of the Rebbe Rayatz. At that farbrengen, the Rebbe Rayatz spoke about a koch in mesiras nefesh for chinuch of small children. This was a new concept for the Chassidim of that time, which paved the way for what we call mivtzaim nowadays. The Chassidim were used to p’nimiyusdik avoda which each person had to do with himself, severing himself from all worldly matters. A true Chassid was one who was separate from the world completely, wasn’t influenced by the world, and certainly was not designed to mingle and involve himself with the masses of people. Suddenly the Rebbe Rayatz came and changed this whole path. He demanded from great Chassidim, incredible baalei avoda who sanctified every moment to the p’nimiyusdik service of Hashem, that they should begin to go out to the masses and gather Jewish children to give them a Jewish education, to teach them Alef-Beis.

While he was speaking about this, the Rebbe Rayatz turned toward R’ Itche and said something along these lines: "If you involve yourself with the tinokos shel Beis Rabban, you are mine. If not, you are still R’ Itche, but you don’t belong to me."

Even R’ Itche – a Chassid, a tremendous baal madreiga – even he had to go out of himself, from his previous ways. Even he had to get used to the new path that was thrust upon him at that time.

The very idea that there could be "hiskashrus without the inyan of Moshiach" is a result of change. It’s hard to accept a new mivtza that the Rebbe taught and instituted, and people try their hardest to remain in their old path.

Coming back to the topic of the last few years of being involved in preparing for Moshiach, the Rebbe stated many times that we are in a different period, a new era – we are not merely changing behavior.

Progression from one era to another is a far cry from merely changing from one specific inyan to another, and therefore, it requires a special strength to get used to the new era.

The same change in behavior that has been required of us in the past is called for again in our present circumstances. Since the time the Rebbe came out with Mivtza T’fillin, it has developed to the extent that no Chabad House exists without it. Could any shliach speak about "hiskashrus without Mivtza T’fillin?" When the Rebbe established Tzivos Hashem, it wasn’t possible anymore for a Chassid to educate his children to be a Chassid of the Rebbe without being a soldier in the army of Hashem and without the exclamation ‘Moshiach Now!’ When the Rebbe came out with the clear instruction for everyone to get involved in preparing to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu, especially when he emphasized that this is the gateway through which all other inyanim pass and this is our special avoda and shlichus, it’s plain and simple: we have to attach ourselves to this directive with all our strength. This is today’s definition of hiskashrus; anything else misses the mark.

Rabbi Shloma Majeski: The Rebbe once spoke about a certain topic very strongly, in the midst of which he said that no one may say that someone else is separate from the Rebbe. Let’s make it clear that the intention of our present discussion is not to evaluate anyone’s status [i.e., mekushar or not], but is only about the concept of Moshiach itself. When we focus on that, we can draw the correct conclusions from the words of the Rebbe, which is a request that he is expecting us to fulfill.

Throughout all the generations there were things that changed, and a significant amount of Chassidim, among whom were baalei madreiga and p’nimiim, found it difficult to accept the new views. This idea is explained in p’shat: In Parshas VaYeilech it says that before the passing of Moshe Rabbeinu, he asked Yehoshua to bring the elders to him to consult with them concerning the conduct of the Jewish people. But [when Yehoshua became the leader], Hashem told him that he will do things differently – everything will be determined by him alone, and if the elders would not accept this and complain that it wasn’t like that with Moshe, he should "take a stick and hit them on their head!"

If that hadn’t been written in black and white in Rashi, which is p’shat, you would think it was a cute vort, someone said at a farbrengen

But this is the way things are: From time to time things change, and the whole Jewish people and the elders, who are close to Moshe, have to accept the new mode of conduct as it is.

The truth is that sometimes we hear the question presented a different way: "Nu: I’m comfortable that I’m not a Chassid of the Rebbe from the years 5751 and on, but I do follow the teachings of the Alter Rebbe, so I’m his Chassid, and also the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek and the Rebbe Maharash, the Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz. I’m a Chassid of the Rebbe from all of the years except a few, maybe the last one or two years, so what’s wrong with that? I’m satisfied being a Chassid this way."

We have to realize that when the Rebbe gives a directive, it’s not that the Alter Rebbe explains it one way, the Mitteler Rebbe explains it another way, etc., and the Rebbe in this year or that year explains it differently. It’s foolish to think like that. There are no differences between the directives of the Rebbeim. They all say one thing. In one time period there is this inyan, in another period there’s another inyan, and today there’s the inyan of Moshiach!

It is self-evident that if at a certain time the Rebbe accepted the nesius and began the inyan of u’farazta, if a person would say, "It’s enough for me to remain a Chassid of the Rebbe Rayatz, and I don’t want all these new things," it would disqualify him totally. The Rebbe Rayatz was the one who told him that it was now the time to go out and do u’farazta.

The moment the Rebbe said that the only shlichus left is to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu, it’s understood that all the Rebbeim, from the Alter Rebbe back to Moshe Rabbeinu, the first Rebbe, were clearly supportive of this avoda and shlichus.

To what can we compare this? A man once went to his rav on Pesach and asked him what are the mitzvos that pertain to the day. The rav told him about eating matza, etc. In a half a year the man went to the rav again and asked the same question and was told about blowing the shofar, fasting, building a sukka, etc. He wondered: half a year ago the rabbi said to do something else. Maybe there’s a controversy!

Of course, this is silly. On Pesach everyone teaches what to do for Pesach, and in Tishrei everyone teaches about the mitzvos pertaining to that month. At one time all of the Rebbeim said one thing and today all of the Rebbeim say: Kabalas p’nei Moshiach Tzidkeinu!

In one sicha the Rebbe dwelled on a certain phrase the Rebbe Rayatz used in a letter about the Geula: "Spread Torah and Judaism." The Rebbe made a point: "Usually we go from the general to the specific. According to this, it seems more appropriate to begin with the general concept – Judaism, and after that mention the specific – Torah. But the Rebbe Rayatz was giving a basic, fundamental message: Judaism must be established on the foundation of Torah; there is no other ‘Judaism.’"

This idea applies to the subject at hand. We have to know that hiskashrus is established on the foundation of what the Rebbe intends and how he instructs – this and only this. And as the Rebbe demands: "Greeting Moshiach Tzidkeinu – this shlichus is the call of the hour!"

(Click here to continue.)


Rabbi Nachman Schapiro
The knowledge that the Nasi of our generation will come immediately and investigate the spiritual level of each one of us arouses in us a very strong and urgent desire to increase in all areas of Torah and mitzvos.

Rabbi Shloma Majeski
There are no differences between the directives of the Rebbeim. They all say one thing. In one time period there is this inyan, in another period there’s another inyan, and today there’s the inyan of Moshiach!


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