By Shabi Soffer
[It is beyond comprehension that when ten (and many times ten) Jews gather together at a time that is appropriate for the Redemption to come, they do not raise a clamor great enough to cause Moshiach to come immediately.]
They are, heaven forbid, able to accept the possibility that Moshiach will not arrive tonight, and even that he will not arrive tomorrow, or on the day after tomorrow, heaven forbid.
Even when people cry out Ad masai? (“Until when will we remain in exile?”), they do so only because they were told to. If they had sincere intent and earnest desire, and cried out in truth, Moshiach would surely have come already.
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 has been done until now has been to no avail. For we are still in exile; moreover, we are in an inner exile in regard to our own service of G‑d.”
(28 Nissan 5751)
We are all familiar with the Sicha said on the eve of 28 Nissan 5751. The way I usually hear it described is “the sicha where the Rebbe said he did all he can to bring Moshiach.”
This always bothered me as sort of an oversimplification and misunderstanding of the genuine frustration the Rebbe was expressing on that night. In the above included part of the sicha it is quite clear that the Rebbe isn’t only asking what more he can do to bring Moshiach, but moreover, what more can I do to make you care? What more can I do to make you say ad mosai because you mean it.
When the Rebbe expressed painfully that all of his effort was to no avail, it wasn’t only about our futile effort in the bringing of Moshiach itself, but of the time and energy he put into his Chassidim. teaching, guiding and empowering us with tools for daily living that we simply haven’t been internalizing wholeheartedly.
What was so frustrating to the Rebbe?
The Rebbe’s focus on the importance of Moshiach was by no means a new campaign or objective that started in later years as opposed to earlier on, in fact far from it, it is the epitome of what chassidus is and always was.
It was the purpose of creation, it was the reason Hashem broke the divide between spiritual and physical realities by giving us the Torah and his Mitzvos, and in terms of our generation, it was the foundation of the Rebbe’s leadership of the Jewish people as stated clearly in the very first maamar, Basi Legani, where we were charged with the mission to actually make this ultimate eventual goal, in to a tangible reality and a way of life.
What are we trying to accomplish?
Let’s dive a little deeper. The summarization of Chassidus in one idea is אין עוד מלבדו. That there is nothing but Hashem. All of Chassidus, whether it may be a maamer that seems focused on understanding Hashem intellectually or maybe a Sicha that seems like a deep dive into proper character development and self work, all boils down to the same idea: Reality is G-dly. We exist within Him to express Him and connect with Him.
When chassidus speaks of human character, it is the study of how one can tap into this reality and find themselves within it by aligning themselves with their Neshama and its purpose on earth. As is explained, Chasidus isn’t trying to make you a better person, it’s trying to redefine what it means to be one.
What makes us people? Are we our pleasures? Are we our jobs? These things don’t define us, they are fickle, controlled and chosen by us. We often use these things to define ourselves when we lack any meaningful definition.
In reality, we have souls. We were given bodies to act as instruments for our souls to be expressed through physical experience. Just as our eyes are instruments to fulfill our ability for sight, our ears to hear etc. Our bodies are here to serve our souls.
Living like this is the ideal, but it’s obviously not our natural way of functioning, as explained at length in Tanya, we are double sided, and have natural animalistic drives and tendencies that dominate our way of life.
The goal is that through learning Torah and doing Mitzvos, while working with our minds and hearts to align our thoughts, feelings and behavior with what the Torah and Mitzvos represent, we can rise above being mere human, to live as yidden, a soul focused life within a physical world.
A person is called an עולם קטן, the small world, and vice versa, the world at large is called the big world. Because just as our purpose of existence is to use our physical bodies as instruments for a divine relationship, so too our collective purpose as yidden following the path of Torah and Mitzvos is to act as “the soul” for the world at large, the ultimate “body” for divine experience.
Through yidden revealing what they are, they reveal what the world is and its true purpose. This journey within ourselves and its global impact is called Dirah Bitachtonim.
So, What is Moshiach?
When we speak of how there’s truly nothing else but Hashem, that isn’t something that will happen when Moshiach comes, but that is the reality, as it is right now.
The only change once Moshiach comes is seeing what Chasidus explains in text, in actuality. It will become our natural automatic perception, and no longer be concealed to us.
Moshiach is the same world as we already see it, the same trees, the same grass, the same air and the same sky, but with the truth of its purpose and source known, felt, and seen to us in a natural way.
What holds us back from seeing purpose in the mundane now, is our personal Galus Pnimi, which is the internal struggle between the way we see the world on the physical superficial level, and what we are actually meant to be seeing. When we begin seeing the physical world as important in itself, instead of as an instrument for something higher than it.
The Rebbe said many times that all geulah is, is galus with an Aleph. The Aleph represents אלופו של עולם, Hashem. Just by revealing the Aleph in galus itself, it becomes geluah.
Don’t think of splitting seas and money on trees, Moshiach is a regular Tuesday morning, but a Tuesday morning that is soul focused, not man serving the world but the world serving man, every action done for a reason, a consciousness of our purpose, zero passivity. Not merely existing for the sake of sleeping at the end of a busy day, only to repeat the next, continuing the never ending cycle of nothingness on a ticking clock, but living a true life.
So what did the Rebbe expect of us, if this reality isn’t seen to us?
It is known that Tzadikim in general, and especially our Rebbeim, are not affected by an internal struggle, because while they physically find themselves surrounded by people in an environment of galus, they internally do not experience it, because they live their lives in sync with their divine purpose, and therefore perceive the world around them in that way, in sync with it’s divine purpose.
Think of Chassidus as a little window to Moshiach, built by the Rebbe, and every nosi before him all the way back to Moshe, to show us reality as they experience it and expose us to what is really going on. Not only giving us an understanding of Hashem, as an existence, but an understanding of Hashem as existence itself, in ourselves and in all of our surroundings.
The Rebbe himself is a human being who one can look at and see a living example of someone who actually lives life like this, someone who experiences creation as it was intended. His entire reality is divine expression, all he does is to fulfill his purpose, all he has and all he uses are simply there for him to function physically for that purpose, he is the microcosm of Dira Betachtonim and the ultimate Jew. A Jew who encounters this reality through seeing the Rebbe or studying his teachings, stands face to face with the truth of what they were created for, and what they are meant to be.
Once that curtain is pulled and you see yourself through the Rebbe’s mirror, nothing can take that away from you, you have been exposed to truth and the purpose of your existence in its purest form. Yes, you can numb yourself by ignoring it but it will forever be the true you, that you are choosing to live against.
That is what a Rebbe does, reminds you of your creator by revealing him in your consciousness, and introduces you to your true identity as a Yid.
In light of the above, It is therefore clear that the Rebbe’s entire mission, and the foundation of Chassidus in general is the idea of going out of one’s galus pnimi. Waking us up from our spiritual slumber and giving us a taste of true reality, realizing that we aren’t merely bodies with souls, rather souls with bodies. We have purpose.
In other words, living Moshiach was the purpose of Chassidus from day one.
With this in mind, the idea expressed by the Rebbe on 28 Nissan was unique, but far from rare. The same idea was said with much emotion many, many times by farbrengens over the years, albeit in different styles, tones and with use of different expressions, but sharing the exact same feeling.
Every time the Rebbe makes “light fun” of our lack of focus with the examples of wall to wall carpeting, nice cars, the “need” for a Hollywood Kitchen, and all the other trends that came and went, the same question was being asked. What are your priorities? Where is your head?
What makes 28 Nissan unique is simply the degree of pain and frustration the Rebbe revealed to us.
What This All Means
27 Adar and 28 Nissan are painful dates, but not only because we are still in golus, but because we are okay with it.
We are ok with our daily routine. The Rebbe wants us to take life seriously and realize that Moshiach is reality, that Chasidus is reality. The Rebbe is bothered by the fact that after 40 years of his teaching, guiding and giving us the tools to see beyond the facade of “reality” as we know it, not only are we not taking it seriously, it may not even bother us that that’s the status quo.
We’ve been taught from day one about the fundamental importance of Kabalas Ol, the action is what’s important, following orders like a soldier etc, yet in the sicha said on 28 Nissan, that is suddenly seen as a negative thing. The Rebbe expressed frustration in us that we are saying ad mosai because we were told to, not because we mean it.
Indeed, Kabalas Ol is the foundation and there are things that must be done even when we lack motivation, however, we often get carried away with mistranslating its importance to become simple mindless following of orders, and thinking that’s all it entails, but in such a lifestyle us and our behavior remain two separate entities, who I am, and what I do to follow orders.
True Kabalas Ol develops and matures, if one is actually accepting the truth as truth, it must become personal at some point. The reality the Rebbe shares with us must become our reality, and we must behave in a fashion that expresses that from the inside out, by doing what we are meant to, with passion and investment.
The Rebbe went on to explain further in a Shabbos sicha shortly after 28 Nissan, on how we can actually come to develop a wanting for Moshiach, and redefine our perception of reality, emphasizing learning in to the topic in Torah, and especially in the sichos and Mamorim of the Rebbe, to familiarize ourselves with the concept of it being practical, believable and as relevant as ever.
I’ve seen so many things written and said on the topic of yearning for Moshiach, and specifically the sicha said on 28 Nissan. I’m writing this only because I feel no one touches on this point. Many times people mention how much we are doing, naming all the incredible moisdos, events and campaigns going on in and through Lubavitch worldwide and end off asking what more can be done…
While I am not G-d forbid, providing an excuse for the delay in Moshiach’s arrival, I think it’s important to point out what I displayed here, that in the Sicha said that night the Rebbe says nothing about any sort of global initiative or campaigns. Rather, the Rebbe says clearly that he is speaking of our personal avoida and lack thereof.
When one sees Avoida today and translates it as campaigns, mivtzom, shlichus, etc ALONE and completely forgets about the importance and emphasis the Rebbe put on living chassidus, to daven, to be able to sit down and learn a maamer, to be by the Rebbe’s farbrengen and completely uplift your mind and heart from daily distractions, then what have we really accomplished with all the noise?
That is obviously not to say we shouldn’t be focused on big outreach initiatives, on the contrary, the Rebbe saw Mivtzom as directly connected to the highest forms of Avoidas Hashem. In fact the source for the Shlichus model in Basi Legani is stories of our Rebbeim’s own personal work (!) some of which were purposely never shared publicly due to their non-exemplary nature to the average person, but now were suddenly being used as the foundational source for our new mission to go out into the world and be like them.
But I think it’s important to recognize that the Rebbe’s Shlichus revolution wasn’t the end of Chasidus and Avoida, it was actually the culmination of everything that it represents. After generations of sharing and revealing Chasidus to the masses, the time came that we are expected to be so invested in the reality that it presents us that we are trusted with the potentially risky task to be able to go out directly into the center of a busy Manhattan street or move full time to a small town in middle of nowhere with no kosher food, no chinuch, and no minyan, and not only remain unfazed by the surrounding atmosphere, but to be able to stop a passing Jew and provide them with a moment strong and effective enough to completely wake them up from their spiritual slumber and possibly change their lives forever. What will you tell that Jew? What do you have in life that they don’t?
Mesiras Nefesh in old times meant being ready to die if you had too. Mesiras Nefesh today is to live, and you must. A chosid of the Rebbe is expected to live the paradox of complete immersion in chassidus, wanting nothing to do with the superficiality of the world around them, and at the same time be the first one to dive directly into the heart of it all to reveal its core purpose. That is living Moshiach.
Tonight will mark 31 painful years from 27 Adar Rishon 5752 and 28 years since Gimmel Tammuz.
Let it bother you.
Let’s take a few moments to let it bother us to our core, that we are all perfectly comfortable exactly where we are, and let’s think of practical ways to go out of our comfort zones, even just a little bit to make the Rebbe and everything he represents a more essential part of our daily lives.
How often do we have a set time for learning, (aside from Chitas and Rambam which are obviously essential on its own), when is the last time we davened properly? For those not on Shlichus, when’s the last time you asked someone if they are Jewish?
אשרינו מה טוב חלקנו
We are truly fortunate to have a Rebbe like we do, who devoted so much of his precious time and attention to us, and gifted us with a never ending amount of sichos and Mamorim, personal directives, letters, thousands of hours handing out dollars and Kuntreisim, all of which are on audio and video, that we can immerse ourselves in, to experience the wonderfully sweet, beautiful world that the Rebbe lovingly shared with us, all that’s needed is for us to be receptive by contemplating deeply on what is really important in life, and focusing our attention on trying to live up to it.
Yes, it’s been much too long since we have last seen and heard the Rebbe, we must remember that every single word he shared with us stands as massive guiding flames in a dark and foggy night, every line is burning with life and is waiting to be read and lived by. Every recording, every Sefer contains his essence, he put his entire being into everything he gave us.
By visiting the Ohel often, living with the sichos and maamarim, and listening to the thousands of recorded hours of his holy voice singing, davening and speaking Torah Min Hashamayim, we can remind ourselves of the important things in life, the beautiful world he shared with us. As the Rebbe declared many times in those last sichos we merited to hear, everything is ready, all we must do is open our eyes, and see that Moshiach is here. Let us open up our eyes once and for all.
May we merit the coming of Moshiach even before we all leave our personal galus, and be together with our Rebbe experiencing life as it was intended, as a home for Hashem in this physical world, may it be תיכף ומיד ממש!