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In these days, as we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple, we remember the Rebbe's resounding message: these sad days must be used for intensifying all our good deeds, to prepare ourselves for Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Third Temple. The Rebbe's life and work have touched millions. The Rebbe's loving concern for every single Jew, and belief in the ability of the world to become better, have inspired people on every continent. Jewish teachings tell us that the righteous, after their passing from this world, are alive even more than during their lifetime. As each of us reflect on the impact of the Rebbe on our lives, we search for an appropriate response for this challenging moment.
"What will we gain from our tears?" the Rebbe wrote to a chasid after the passing of the Previous Rebbe. The Rebbe's emphasis has always been on action. By studying the Rebbe's teachings, by responding positively to his calls to action, and by rei nforcing our trust in his clear statements that the world is about to reach its perfection with the coming of Moshiach, we maintain the Rebbe's vision and we strengthen our own ties to the giant of our generation.
Now, more than ever before, the Rebbe's words call out to us:
- That the time is now. We stand at the threshold of a new beginning of heightened awareness of G-d: the time of Moshiach. The world is now ready for this revolutionary change. History i s a process. The universe--and the human condition--have been constantly evolving to greater perfection. We have now reached a place where an unprecedented unity abounds on all levels: technological, economic and political.
- The time of Redemption is now. We can herald it. The onus is upon us. Let us all respond to the Rebbe's call, and we will all have the ultimate different tomorrow.
The following are practical suggestions:
- Study the Rebbe's writings, especially those about Moshiach and the Redemption.
Nowhere can we find the Rebbe more clearly than in his written legacy, published in over 200 volumes in many languages. Attend a class in your nearby Chabad House, or invite the Rabbi or Rebbetzin to teach a group in your home. The Rebbe emphasize d that studying about Moshiach and Redemption would not only help prepare us for the Messianic Era but would help hasten it. If you must study alone, call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center for suitable materials.
Begin observing a new mitzva or do a mitzva that you've always done, but in an enhanced manner.
- Reach out to others with acts of goodness and kindness.
When the Rebbe was asked by C.N.N. for his message to the world about Moshiach, the Rebbe re sponded, "Moshiach is ready to come, now. It is on our part to do additional acts of goodness and kindness.
Know that the Rebbe's prophecy of the imminent Redemption will be fulfilled.
The focus of the Rebbe's life work has been to see fulfilled the promise of the biblical prophets of a perfect world without war, hunger or jealousy. The Rebbe told us to prepare for the coming of Moshiach. Now, more than ever, when the void left by the Rebbe's physical absence is so pronounced, we should live by these words.
"On this side of the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain the Torah," we read in this week's Torah portion, Devarim, which begins the book of Deuteronomy. Rashi, the great Torah commentator, explains that, just prior to the Jewish peop le's entry into the land of Israel, Moses "translated the entire Torah into the seventy languages of mankind, so that each and every nation would be able to understand it."
Our generation has been likened to the generation of Jews that left Egypt and entered the Promised Land. Like them, we too will merit entering the land of Israel, but unlike that generation, our return will be permanent and enduring, for it will c ome about as a result of the Final Redemption.
Furthermore, our generation has an additional merit in the sphere of translation and elucidation of the Torah. Whereas Moses translated only the revealed part of the Torah for the nations of the world, nowadays, a vast body of Chasidut, the esoter ic, inner meaning of Torah, exists in numerous of languages other than Hebrew. These translations make even the deepest Torah concepts accessible to people all over the world, even those who have never had an opportunity to study lashon kodesh, the h oly tongue.
This stage in the Divine plan for diffusion of Torah knowledge is two-fold, advantageous for both Jew and non-Jew alike. For the non-Jewish world, such study serves as a necessary preparation for the Messianic Era, in which all nations will recogn ize the unique status of the Jewish people and will believe in the One true Creator of the universe. Chasidic philosophy, which explains the principles of that true faith in G-d, readies the world at large for the revelation of G-dliness that will oc cur with the coming of Moshiach.
The accessibility of authentic Torah sources in numerous languages also greatly benefits the Jewish people, who, of course, are also obligated to prepare for the Messianic Era. We do not have enough time to wait until every single Jew becomes flue nt in Hebrew; the Messianic Age is almost upon us. It is therefore incumbent upon each and every Jew to study the inner meaning of Torah, in whichever language he is most comfortable, as a necessary preparation for the coming of Moshiach.
From a talk of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Parshat Tavo, 5746
by Esther Altmann
Our Sages have told us that Tisha B'Av, the darkest day of the Jewish calendar--the day which saw the destruction of both Holy Temples--will become a day of great joy. For, Tisha B'Av is the birthday of Mosh-iach. G-d never abandons his people, and so, it is only fitting that the moment of greatest darkness contains the promise of the greatest revelation; the destruction of the Temple carries the seeds of Redemption.
Many days have elapsed since the 3rd of Tamuz when the Rebbe passed from the confines of this physical world, to unbounded existence. We feel his vibrant presence in spite of his apparent absence. Although separated from us by the Unknowable, our connection to him is unbroken. His message is as vital as when it came from his holy lips: The Redemption is not only near, but in progress. Our work--performing deeds of goodness and kindness and teaching ourselves and the world about Moshiach--sti ll lies before us until the cry of the Great Shofar awakens the entire world to the complete and final Redemption.
As I meditate on the events of that Sunday, I reflect on the elusive and insubstantial nature of time in our lives. An hour to a five year old awaiting his birthday present is different from the hour between 5 and 6 when the mother rushes to get dinner on the table.
Sometimes there are moments when time falls out of sync, when the normal course of events is suspended and life seems disconnected. For those of us who were awakened by three sirens on Saturday evening, 3 Tamuz, the normal continuity of life fell out of focus.
I awakened quickly, my mind processing the questions in the blink of a second. My first thought was simply: Why? But, I assumed that the first two screams were mistaken--it had happened before. It was the third, long wail--so loud at 2:45 a.m. tha t it pierced my heart. Could it be the long-awaited shofar, signalling us that the Redemption had really come? My thoughts, which had covered so much ground in 10 seconds, were stopped by the ringing phone. My friend called with the message that the Rebbe was being brought home, back to 770. But still, my mind was in a fog. Why was he coming back, I wondered in a daze.
In short minutes I was dressed and was standing at the open front door. One or two people were walking as I headed down the deserted street toward Kingston Avenue. It was only as I reached the corner that I was confronted by the unreality of the s ituation, for the street was blocked off. As I walked the crowds increased, until I reached the corner of Kingston and Eastern Parkway, where a surreal scene met my eyes. People milled about quietly in small groups, some were singing, so sure that th e Redemption was but short minutes or seconds away. How many times had we stood in that very spot at 3 a.m. waiting in the electrically charged night to sing the Rebbe home after the all- night chasidic gatherings.
It was close to 3:30 a.m. when an ambulance pulled up in front of 770, and although I could see nothing, I knew that the Rebbe had come home.
The morning was endless. Calls poured in from friends in California, Montreal, Atlanta, all converging on the center, which had just been hit by an earthquake unmeasurable by the Richter Scale.
Time had no meaning that day. As we passed by the Rebbe's room to say an impossible goodbye, I again felt life to be out of sync, for how many times I had followed the exact same steps which led me past the Rebbe as he handed me a dollar. Now, as then, I tried in vain to grasp his presence; and now, as then I was hurried along the line, the Rebbe still eluding me.
Later we silently followed the already far distant car bearing the Rebbe to the Beis HaChaim--House of the Living (as a cemetery is called in Jewish tradition), before we turned towards home. Force of will brought us to what until that day had been known as the Previous Rebbe's resting place. The shock still muffled the reality of loss; in fact, the unreality of it all pursued us through the day into the wee hours of the next morning, when we finally gave in to sheer exhaustion.
Many of us had seen the hullabaloo surrounding the tragic riots bring to the attention of the world the Rebbe and his message to prepare ourselves for the imminent advent of the Messianic Age. Indeed, the Rebbe's words received more press coverage than ever before, and reached an even more disparate audience. Moshiach had become a household word, and no longer engendered surprise.
Speculations were rampant as to the future psychological condition of the Lubavitchers if the worst were to happen. Some feared we would abandon our faith, shattered; others predicted disillusionment and despair. I have seen neither. For, while th ose outside of Lubavitch looked on with a wide variety of reactions, I have seen people rise, often as a result of great inner struggle, to an exalted level of deep faith and trust that should serve as a beacon to all. There is a deep sadness: Our Mo she is not standing in front of us, energizing the multitude with a sweep of his arm. But we have the storehouse of energy he imparted to us with his over forty years of unfaltering leadership. Belief in G-d and Moshe--belief in the Torah and the tru th of the words of the Moshe of our generation; these basic tenets of our tradition provide us with an impenetrable fortress of faith. The Redemption hovers on the horizon, and we must hurry to prepare for the coming of Moshiach. Without doubt G-dlin ess will be revealed to a joyous world, a world made ready by the Rebbe's words.
People all over the world are reflecting on the great inspiration the Rebbe has given everyone of us. It is important that these feelings be translated into action. The Rebbe's slogan is "The main thing is the deed." In this column we present suggest ions from the Rebbe's Mitzvot Campaigns we can do to complete the Rebbe's work of bringing about the coming of Moshiach. Summer Camp: The Rebbe has always emphasized the impact that a summer in a Jewish day camp can have on a child, specifically a camp where time is set aside for Torah study. Call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center now to find out about enrolling your child. If you do not have camp-age children, help provide a scholarship for a child who would not otherwise be able to attend camp.
Translated by "The Week in Review" from letters of the Rebbe written soon after the passing of the Previous Rebbe Rosh Chodesh Adar, 5710 (1950)
It is difficult, in our present state of mind, to write and answer letters at all, and particularly on the subject of the passing. For who can console us? And with what might we be consoled?
But who among us can presume to fathom the mysteries of the Divine? We know what has been revealed to us--that every Jew is a "day laborer." As the Tzemach Tzedek interprets this Talmudic saying, "Our mission is to create light."
The Rebbe has taught us that salvation lies not in moaning, and that despair (G-d forbid), sorrow and weakness are not the path that leads from stricture and tragedy to expansiveness and light. Our path and goal is action--action in thought, word and deed...
Beginning of Adar, 5710 (1950)
The [Previous] Rebbe explicitly states in a letter "that the tremendous yearning for hitkashrut [being connected to the Rebbe] can only be satisfied by studying the discourses of chasidism that the Rebbe says and writes. Simply seeing [the Rebbe] is not sufficient."
In another letter, the Rebbe writes: "You ask with what you are bound to me since I do not know you by face... The true bond is through Torah study: when you study my talks, join the chasidim and yeshiva students in their learning and farbrenging and fulfill my requests... this is hitkashrut..."
When we will study the Torah teachings and the talks, and will walk in this "straight path which he has shown us," then "as in water, face answers to face; so is the heart of man to man," and "spirit rouses spirit and brings forth spirit." For his spirit remains truly in our midst...; that is, even in this world of action... and just as here he stood and dutifully served, there too he stands and dutifully serves...
Nissan 10, 5710 (1950)
...You worry that now one cannot ask the Rebbe, when one is in doubt, how one should conduct himself. If you stand strong in your hitkashrut to him... and send your question to the Rebbe's gravesite--the Rebbe will find a way to answer.
Nissan 12, 5710 (1950)
The Rebbe dedicated his life to the sake of the community and the sake of each individual--particularly for those who bound themselves to him--he certainly continues his input into their lives now.
Now, however, his contribution is different, in a certain sense. For now his soul is free of the limitations and constraints of the body, and continues to ascend, ascent after ascent. So his input into our lives--both materially and spiritually--i s also of a higher and loftier nature.
This demands of us to better ourselves--to make ourselves capable of receiving the loftier gifts that the Rebbe is bestowing upon us.
Iyar 29, 5710 (1950)
I just now received your letter of Iyar 5. I very, very much enjoyed your writing "May he be healthy and well" in mentioning the Rebbe, my father-in-law. This is obvious in light of what is written in Igeret HaKodesh that a tzadik's life is spirit ual-- faith and love and awe of G-d. And, as is known, a tzadik constantly progresses from strength to strength.
As for what you write concerning myself [the writer's petition of the Rebbe to assume the leadership]--of what use is your writing when, after all, I do not have it? Concerning myself, I do not need to search for allusions and interpretations. For me, it is enough to briefly contemplate my own [spiritual] station and condition to know what I am capable of. So how can another person change anything with logic and proofs.
[You ask,] what will be. What do I know of what the Rebbe intends. This is his responsibility, so he will certainly take care of it. How? I do not know. There are other things that I don't know...
WHAT WILL THE WORLD BE LIKE
The highly acclaimed book for children about what the world will be like when Moshiach comes was recently printed in Portugese, Swedish, Italian and Russian. Though this is a first- time venture for HaChai in Portugese, Swedish and Italian, they al ready have four other titles printed in Russian. For more information about their foreign language books contact HaChai Publishing at (718) 633-0100 or write to them at 156 Chester Avenue, Bklyn, NY 11218.
A set of 5 tapes is available from the Moshiach Day that took place in Crown Heights on June 19. The speakers and topics included Rabbi Shmuel Bluming on "The Structure of the Rebbe's Words"; Rabbi Isser Zalman Weissberg on portions of the Midrash im and Kabbala discussing the time immediately preceding the Redemption"; Rabbi Moshe Lazar, "Focusing on the Future"; and Rabbi Nissen Mangel on "The Revival of the Dead." A question and answer session is also included on the tapes. For the complete set send $25 to Moshiach Day, 383 Kingston Ave, #323, Bklyn, NY 11213. Make checks payable to Congregation Yeshiva.
This Shabbat, the Sabbath before Tisha B'Av, is called Shabbat Chazon. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev used to note that the name comes from the word machaze, meaning "vision," for
"on that day everyone is shown the future Holy Temple."
The purpose of this vision is to inspire and encourage a Jew: having caught a glimpse of the Third Holy Temple in its heavenly perfection, all that is left for him to do is to bring it down to this world.
Although not everyone actually sees the Third Holy Temple, everyone is intrinsically affected by it. This is similar to the following episode from the Book of Daniel: "And I Daniel alone saw the vision; the men who were with me did not see the vis ion, but a great trembling fell upon them..."
Our Sages ask why a dread fell upon the men with Daniel if they had not actually witnessed the vision.
They answer: "Though they did not see it, their heavenly soul saw it."
In the same way, on Shabbat Chazon, the soul sees the future Sanctuary; moreover, this percerption leaves an impression on the individual, even on his body.
Sunday, Tisha B'Av, is a fast day. On that day we mourn the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples and other devastating events that took place on that date.
Four years ago, the Rebbe spoke about the comment of our Sages that Tisha B'Av is the birthday of Moshiach. The Rebbe explained that this is true because the moment the destruction began, the potential for the Redemption also began. And, since Mos hiach was "born" on Tisha B'Av, his mazal is stronger and shines brighter on that day.
May we celebrate in actuality the birthday of Moshiach this Tisha B'Av at which time we will be reunited with the Rebbe who will lead us all together to the Complete and Final Redemption.
Behold, I have set the land before you...to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give it to them (Deut. 1:8)
This verse does not say that the land will be given "to you," but "to them"--Abraham, Issac and Jacob--an allusion to the resurrection of the dead. (Sanhedrin)
You shall not show favor (lit. "recognize") in judgment (Deut. 1:17)
This admonition cautions a judge to be fair and impartial, even if he is personally acquainted with one of the parties brought before him for judgment; he must not allow himself to be swayed by his prior association. Rather, both sides in the disp ute must be treated as if he had never seen them before. (Ibn Ezra)
For unto Esau have I given Mount Seir as a possession (Deut. 2:5)
Although the Children of Israel fulfilled an express command of G-d when they took over the land Canaan, G-d warned them that their desire to conquer territory should not extend beyond those lands He had explicitly promised to them. (Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch)
May the L-rd G-d of your fathers make you a thousand times as many as you are (Deut. 1:11)
When will this blessing be fulfilled? In the World to Come, when, as the Prophet Isaiah states, "The least one shall become a thousand, and the smallest a great nation." The Jewish people, the "least" and "smallest," will multiply one thousand tim es in number, in fulfillment of Moses' blessing.
Jerusalem. It was hours before daybreak in the year 1660 and Rabbi Klonimus Hechasid was making his way in the dark to the Kotel, the Western Wall, to pray to the King of the Universe. It was his unvarying custom to pray every morning at that early hour, when the world was completely still and he could meditate on the greatness of G-d and His wondrous creation.
The day seemed like every other day. But as he walked in the darkness, he became aware of some almost undiscernible movement in the surrounding blackness. It was with terror that he saw a street filled with Arabs brandishing knives and swords. They were crying out, "Death to the Jewish murderers!"
Rabbi Klonimus approached them, and their leader told him that an Arab youth had been discovered murdered near the Jewish quarter, and they were going to punish every Jew they could find. He somehow found the right words and convinced them to wait before commencing their bloodthirsty plan.
"Please, allow me to go the Kotel to pray. When I am finished, I will tell you the identity of the killer of the boy."
Rabbi Klonimus took a quill, a small bottle of ink and a piece of paper. He then proceeded to the Kotel followed by the Arab mob bearing the body of the dead youth in tow. Draping himself in tallit and tefillin, he prayed for a short while and then wrote something on the paper. Then he took the paper and placed it on the forehead of the dead Arab.
To the astonishment of all present, the dead youth opened his eyes, stood up and scanned the crowd. Then he pointed to one of the Arabs in the mob and announced, "That is the one! He is the one who murdered me!"
A loud murmur went up from the mob as the accused man was dragged forward. Trembling with terror, the man admitted his guilt before his resurrected victim. As soon as he had confessed the youth sank to the ground, as dead as before.
The parents of the dead boy ran to Rabbi Klonimus, begging him to bring their child to life again, but he just shook his head. "I am not G-d, that I should be able to either grant or take away life. The miracle that just took place was granted in the merit of the holy Kotel so that you could see that 'the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.' He is waiting just behind the Wall to rescue His children."
The crowd dispersed, bearing the murdered youth to his grave.
After the destruction of the First Holy Temple, many of the Jewish people lived in exile in Babylonia, where they built great Torah academies and established flourishing Jewish communities. Rabbi Zeira was amongst those who lived in exile, learning Torah from the greatest scholars. Though he had a satisfying life, he wanted one thing more--to live in the land of Israel and to study Torah from the great Sages there.
Even though Rabbi Zeira longed to live in the Holy Land, he was torn in making his decision, since his teacher, Rabbi Yehuda ben Yechezkel was opposed to returning to Israel. It was his belief that the Jews were obligated to remain in exile in Babylonia, since they did not yet merit to return. Not only did Rabbi Zeira not want to oppose his teacher, he had doubts as to whether his own personal merits were sufficient to allow him to live in the Holy Land.
One morning Rabbi Zeira woke up feeling assured that he could live in the Holy Land; he had had a dream in which he received Divine assurance of his worthiness. But he still had to solve the problem of his teacher's opposition. He was afraid that if he went to bid good-bye to Rabbi Yehuda, the Sage would forbid him to leave, so he avoided meeting him. Then, one day, he happened to hear Rabbi Yehuda speaking and he caught a few wise words which made him feel ready to depart for the Land of Israel.
Journeying by foot, Rabbi Zeira came to a river with no bridge. Usually crossed by ferryboat, the boat was nowhere in sight. Rabbi Zeira spied a foot-bridge consisting of a narrow plank secured by ropes. Now, Rabbi Zeira was not a young man, and t his shaky bridge was used only by nimble workers who had no time to wait for the ferry. Rabbi Zeira felt a great urgency to proceed on his way and he grabbed onto the rope and mounted the slippery bridge. He slipped and slid his way across the plank, occasionally falling into the cold river until he finally reached the other side.
When he mounted the other bank, Rabbi Zeira was greeted by a smirking gentile who said, "You are a rash and thoughtless race! Right from the beginning you acted without consideration. You said, 'We will do and we will understand.' That's not the normal way of approaching a situation. First you find out about something, and only then you make a commitment to it. Why didn't you have the patience to wait for the ferry? No, you had to cross like a young boy, in spite of the danger."
Rabbi Zeira explained to the man, "I'm on my way to Israel. To live in Israel was the greatest wish of Moses and Aaron, but they were not permitted to realize their dream. I am no longer a young man and I don't know if I will live long enough to r each the Land of Israel. Every minute that I will live in Israel is precious to me, and I cannot lose even one minute. How could I lose time waiting for the ferry?"
Rabbi Zeira reached Israel where he settled in Tiberius and learned in the famous yeshiva of Rabbi Yochanan.
"And I shall turn their mourning into joy," (Jeremiah 31:8). It is obvious that when the Temple is rebuilt, there will be no more mourning on Tisha B'Av. But why should it become joyful? On Tisha B'Av the Temple was destroyed because of Israel's sins which aroused Divine anger. Nevertheless, though the visible aspect of this anger was outright punishment, its ultimate motivation was G-d's intense love of His people. It was precisely this love that caused Him such distress when His children sinne d. If there were no such love, their conduct would be of no consequence to Him.
(Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi)