In 5741 (1981) an army of children was established, called Tzivos Hashem. The army, complete with ranks, missions and campaigns; has one enemy (the Yetzer Harah), one goal – to bring Moshiach and many kinds of weapons (in the form of Torah and Mitzvot).
At the beginning of its inception, an old Chassidic tune was paired with the army’s motto (also inscribed on its logo) – “We Want Moshiach Now.”
This famous song became commonplace in all of the Jewish world today, but in the beginning, the song—and mainly its message—faced much criticism.
- “We have to take care of our business and Hashem will take care of his business…”
- “Why should we get involved in something beyond our control…?”
- “Let us just worry about Torah and Mitzvos and leave this whole Moshiach situation up to Hashem…”
If we’d have a candid conversation about this important subject, it would go something like this:
(Many of these points were made by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in response to critics soon after he founded Tzivos Hashem and in the following years.)
1. The logical answer:
Suppose you knew someone who was chas v’sholom very ill? Imagine if a good friend of yours was having difficulty with parnasah? Would you still say that this is Hashem’s business and not yours?
How do you explain the entire concept of davening? Do we not believe that we have the power to change a heavenly decree?
How do you translate the words yehi ratzon? Don’t they mean that Hashem empowered us with the ability to alter or even create His will?
This misconception about not asking Hashem for Moshiach, stems first and foremost from a lack of knowledge of the desperate need for mankind to experience the final redemption. (See the previous article in this series, The “Jewishness” Gauge) It is more desperate a need than the healing of a sick friend, and more desperate a need than fertility for one who is struggling – things that we so readily and naturally pray for.
It is a mitzvah d’oraisa to ask Hashem for one’s needs, someone who needs Moshiach cannot but urge Hashem to bring him immediately.
“Well,” you can still ask, “that applies to private and personal requests; Moshiach is something greater than that, it’s a communal thing and perhaps things like this must be left up to Hashem and it will happen when it will happen?”
2. Historical precedents:
Throughout Chumash and Tanach, we constantly read of Hashem listening to the requests and tefilos of his people. In fact, the first geulah (from Mitzrayim) only occurred after “Hashem heard their cries…” Why should the final redemption be any different?
“But who says it will help? I’m sure Hashem has it all worked out and surely knows what he’s doing?” you can continue to ask.
3. We need to show that we want:
True, Hashem has everything worked out with a detailed plan. He knows the best time for you to get money to pay your bills, when your sister will find her shidduch and even exactly when your friend will recover from his illness. Does that mean we don’t need to ask for these things to happen sooner?
“Come to think of it, why indeed do we daven if Hashem knows what’s good for us and when?” you may ask.
To answer that let’s look at another historical precedent:
Noach did not enter the teiva until he was directly told to do so by Hashem. Similarly, he did not leave the teiva until receiving an explicit command. So why did he bother sending all the ravens and doves? What a hassle! In fact, even when the dove failed to return that last time, he still did not leave the teiva until told to do so! Did Hashem need constant reminders that Noach was ready to leave the teiva?
Meforshim explain that he wanted to show Hashem his eagerness to leave the dreary ark. His sending the birds displayed his readiness to enter the newly purified world. Noach believed that this act alone would prompt Hashem to expedite his redemption from the teiva.
Wouldn’t the same be true for us? Perhaps Hashem is waiting for us to “prove” to Him that we are ready to leave our dark Golus and enter the era of Moshiach?
“Okay. You have a point. Hashem wants to hear our tefilos and is ready to act upon them. But that only makes sense for our physical needs! Moshiach is a totally different story! — Geulah is mainly a spiritual event; it will allow us the opportunity to build a Beis HaMikdash, fulfill more Mitzvos, and see revelations of G-dliness. This is definitely something out of our league. When Hashem wants us to have the chance to do these Mitzvos, he’ll grant us the opportunity. Consequently, until then, we are to sit idle…”
Let’s look at yet another historic precedent:
4. The Pesach Sheini Episode:
The Halachah was quite clear. A korban Pesach cannot be brought by someone who was ritually impure. Period.
And yet, a protest soon began. Throngs of impure people ran to Moshe, begging him for a chance to bring the korban. Their logic? Their platform speech? “Lama nigara! – Why should we miss out.”
How did Moshe respond? Did he rebuke them for their chutzpah? No. He submitted their request to Hashem. Their application was accepted and the Yom Tov of Pesach Sheni was born.
Apparently, we are allowed and even encouraged to ask Hashem for the opportunity to do a Mitzva.
But the story gets even better! For the next 39 years, there was no korban Pesach offered by any of the Jews. In fact, Halachah actually dictates that the korban Pesach was not to be offered in the desert, but rather was to resume when the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisroel. It was only that first Pesach in the desert, the one recorded in Parshas Beha’aloscha, that was the exception to the rule.
Rashi explains the reason why this story of Pesach Sheini is recorded in Beha’aloscha and not at the beginning of the Sefer where it chronologically belongs, because it is quite embarrassing that this is the only Pesach the Jews observed in 40 years! Therefore, so as not to start a book of the Torah with an embarrassing episode it was “pushed down” to a later Parshah.
But doesn’t that seem bizarre? What’s the embarrassment? It should not come as a surprise that there was no korban Pesach for the next 39 years! That was the Halachah!
Indeed, according to Halachah there was not to be a Pesach for the next 39 years. But it is embarrassing that the Jews accepted this fate and didn’t “revolt” against it!
It is humiliating that the Jews came to terms with their situation.
It is humiliating that the Jews remained passive and not active.
It is humiliating that the Jews did not beg Moshe for a chance to do the Mitzvah, like the group of tamei people the year before!
Apparently, it is considered embarrassing to sit idly and accept the fact that we are unable to offer a korban. How much more so does this apply to our situation in golus, where we are unable to do the majority of the 248 positive Mitzvos! (See Principle #4 in Beis Moshiach issue 1157.)
5. It’s All About Linguistics:
“Okay. I agree. Hashem wants to hear us ask for both our physical and spiritual needs. But if asking for Moshiach is so important, why did the slogans start only recently? Why did it take until the 1980’s to hear the phrase ‘We Want Moshiach Now?’”
You’re partially right about that. The slogan “We Want Moshiach Now” is relatively new. But that’s only because the Jews in Eretz Yisrael, Bavel, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Morocco, and Russia didn’t speak English.
Let’s pay better attention to what we daven every day and we’ll discover that there is no shortage of requests for Moshiach in our liturgy! (See box)
It’s not just OK to ask for Moshiach, it’s very important that we do so. Chazal say that, “the thousands of soldiers fell in battle in the times of Dovid Hamelech only because they did not demand the building of the Beis HaMikdash!”
How much more so, now, once we’ve experienced the splendor of the Beis Hamikdash as a nation and then it’s consequent horrific destruction, must we demand its rebuilding. It is for that reason that our sages and prophets “planted” into the mouths of the Jewish people, thrice daily supplications and prayers asking G-d to “Return Your Shechinah, Your Beis HaMikdash, and Your kingdom to Zion and Your Divine service to Jerusalem speedily in our times.”
So, as you see, “We Want Moshiach Now” is indeed nothing new at all.
6. It’s An Overdue Payment:
“Wow! You’re absolutely right, I didn’t realize this and I will have more kavanah when I daven now that you’ve brought this to my attention. But now I ask you a new question: Why do we need to add more requests, and yet in English! Aren’t those that Chazal instituted, enough?”
Firstly, it’s good to talk to Hashem in your own words sometimes. Secondly, saying it in English, so that everyone can understand is a big Kiddush Hashem! It shows the world that we believe in Hashem’s promises of Redemption, that we even demand it from Him! Thirdly, if it really means a lot to you it naturally overflows into thought, speech and action…
But the real honest truth is that your observation is correct. We have lately revved up our demands and request for the Geulah and have even taken it “outside of the Siddur”, and rightfully so.
Here is why:
The Chofetz Chaim writes, that all the signs of Chazal that show that the time of Moshiach is here have proven that we are in the era of Moshiach.
Within this era, our prayers and Teshuvah have even greater significance in hastening the arrival of the actual moment of Geulah. The reason Hashem orchestrated the fulfillment of these signs, is to show us that He wants to hear our prayers for the Geulah now!
We, therefore, mustn’t suffice with the “regular” prayers for Moshiach, we must actually gather together and add more special prayers for the Geulah until Hashem sends it to us!
In his commentary on the Siddur, the Chofetz Chaim continues with this line of thought and reminds us that the Geulah is actually a payment from Hashem to the Jewish people for our Divine service during the many years of Galus. The Halachah is that the Mitzvah obligating an employer to pay his employee immediately at the end of his work shift is binding only if the employee demands it!
Says the Chofetz Chaim that, “While we do indeed ask for the Geulah several times a day [in the prayers], that isn’t enough. We must demand the Geulah like a hired laborer demands his wages!”
In the past, we were during the workday and we didn’t yet deserve the pay; the signs of Chazal, however, signify to us that now we are at its end and we, therefore, can, and must, demand the Geulah now!
So, with everything ready for Moshiach, perhaps all Hashem is waiting for is for us to give one more plea and one more outcry of “Ad Mosai?!” – Enough is enough, we really need and want Moshiach NOW, and we truly deserve it!
7) What About “Dechikas HaKetz”? – 4 Answers
“You make a pretty good case for the matter, but wait! Now I remember from where the notion that you shouldn’t push too much for Moshiach comes from: It says it clearly in the Gemara,24 Hashem made us swear ‘not to “force” (יִדְחֲקוּ) the ketz!’”
– True, it does say that. But some important background:
1. Firstly, that is the second version of the Gemara; the first version reads as יְרַחֲקוּ, to delay the time of Moshiach; this means not to act in a sinful way that will delay the arrival of Moshiach.
2. The second version, “to force”, Rashi explains, means “not to offer excessive pleas for it, more than appropriate.”
What does “excessive,” or “more than appropriate” mean? How can that be measured? Indeed, most authorities26 understand this not to be the Halacha if it is to be understood literally.
3. But either way, many Meforshim define “excessive” as prayers that exceed the regular format of prayer, like using names of Malachim and the like, prayers which so-called “force” the hand of Hashem into doing something, but traditional prayer, in the sense of begging and asking Hashem for something, is allowed and highly encouraged as the many sources above indicate.
4. Another point to take in mind is that even if we say that excessive “regular” tefillos are not allowed, that is only before it’s time, but when the signs of Moshiach have come to be that no longer applies as we explained inside. ■
Portions of this essay were taken from “Ad Mosai?!” published in Moshiach Weekly issue 33.