Rabbi Eli Touger*
[O]n the verse, “The sun rises and the sun sets,” our Sages comment that a righteous man will not pass away until another righteous man of equal stature arises to take his place. Our Sages also point out that Gd did not delay the death of King David, because the time had come for his son Shlomo to reign, and the reign of one king should not impinge upon the reign of another.
This principle surely applies to Yud Shvat, the date which marks both the yahrzeit of the Rebbe Rayatz of Lubavitch, and the ascent of the Rebbe to the leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch. One spiritual leader taking over his predecessor also signals a new phase in the manner of serving G-d – the life-mission of Jewish spiritual leaders, since every generation has its own unique mission which also shapes its own set of challenges.
The Rebbe’s mission statement
In the first maamar (Chassidic discourse) the Rebbe delivered, he outlined his goals for our generation:
“We are in the midst of the period called ikvesa diMeshicha (i.e., the time when the approaching footsteps of Moshiach can be heard). Indeed, we are at the conclusion of this period. Our task is to complete the process of drawing down the Shechina, so that it should rest within our lowly world.”
In the talks he delivered on the same occasion, the Rebbe explained that though Moshe could have constructed the entire Mishkan himself, he refrained from doing so, in order to enable the entire Jewish people to participate in this endeavor. Similarly, the Rebbe continued, the Rebbeim of past generations did not want the campaign to bring Moshiach to be their private undertaking, but rather an effort shared by the Jewish people as a whole, and by each individual Jew.
This goal has been at the heart of the efforts of the Rebbe throughout his leadership of the Chabad chassidic movement for more than four decades. During this period, he has transformed Chabad-Lubavitch into a vast international movement with far-flung influence and a veritable kaleidoscope of activities — all of which, directly or indirectly, share a single purpose, to hasten the coming of the Era of the Redemption.
To Accept Moshiach
A person who has always conceived of the coming of Moshiach as an abstract idea may not appreciate what this means in actual fact. The focus of the Rebbe has constantly been on the concrete reality — that Moshiach actually come and inaugurate a new era for the world.
This has been the center of Lubavitch attention, especially since the eve of the 28th of Nissan, 5751. On that evening, in the midst of what had begun as a scholarly discussion of the distinct spiritual potentials of the current year, month, and date, the Rebbe turned to his followers with a cry from the heart:
“What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Moshiach?… All that I can possibly do is give the matter over to you. Now, do everything you can do to bring Moshiach, here and now, immediately…. I have done whatever I can; from now on you must do whatever you can.”
As the Rebbe pointed out in the following months, these efforts reflected the unique spiritual climate of our times:
We are standing on the threshold of the future Redemption. Moshiach’s coming is no longer a dream of the distant future, but an imminent reality which will very shortly become fully manifest.
With increasing energy, the Rebbe continued to develop this theme in the months that followed:
Our Sages have described the Redemption as a feast. To speak in terms of this analogy, the table has already been set, everything has been served, and we are sitting at the table together with Moshiach. All we need to do is open our eyes….
Our Sages describe Moshiach as waiting anxiously to come. In previous generations, however, his coming was delayed by the fact that the Jewish people had not completed the tasks expected of them. Now, however, those tasks have been accomplished; there is nothing lacking. All we have to do is accept Moshiach.
A dream comes true
In a letter addressed to the second president of Israel, Yitzchak Ben-Zvi, the Rebbe writes: “From the time that I was a child attending cheder, and even earlier than that, a vision of the future redemption began to take form in my mind — the redemption of Israel from its last exile, redemption such as would explain the suffering, the decrees and the massacres of exile.”
As the Rebbe’s dream is entering the realm of reality, the Rebbe is requesting of you to make it happen even sooner.
*Adapted from “Timeless patterns in time,” SIE publications