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Friday
Mar222019

ALONE AT THE GATES OF GEULA

Who even thinks of Ester’s ongoing suffering? Ester is a tragic figure of private suffering, so unique in her role and destiny that no one even cries for her… * Like Mordechai HaTzaddik, the Rebbe sits at the Gates of Geula, clothed in sackcloth, his face streaming tears. He protests the endless exile and screams “ad masai?!”

By Rabbi Boruch Merkur

We don’t think about it. We celebrate and revel and riot, as they did in Shushan and around the world after they defeated their enemies. But where did Ester celebrate? In the palace with Achashverosh? Or was she allowed to celebrate with her people, at least for that night? Who even thinks of her ongoing suffering? Ester is a tragic figure of private suffering, so unique in her role and destiny that no one even cries for her.

When the annihilation was first decreed, Ester loses contact with Mordechai. He sits at the palace gate mourning, wearing sackcloth, and thus forbidden entry. He couldn’t openly mourn when Ester was taken away. She had to remain a secret.

Later, Mordechai asks her to do the most perilous thing of all: to approach the king – of her own volition, “lo cha’dahs,” entering the king’s private den uninvited, forfeiting her right to live, as well as her own purity. It’s no wonder Ester hesitates to accept the mission.

Once Ester comes to terms with her fate, her focus narrows and she speaks with command: “Go, assemble all the Jews who live in Shushan,” instructing Mordechai to form a pact of solidarity with her and her fate, desperate for their sympathies, their fasting and prayers, their t’shuva.

Now body and soul hunger for Hashem. Lowering her eyes in his presence, Ester realizes she stands before none other than the King of Kings. Only He has the power to save her and her people…

***

How does the Rebbe celebrate Purim, the happiest day of the year? Surely, the Rebbe celebrates our salvation, together with all the Jewish people, and with the ultimate joy. But at the same time, the Rebbe acutely feels how “we are still subjects of Achashverosh,” and he approaches the King in protest.

The following discussion sheds light on this concept. 

We call the Rebbe Rashab “the Rebbe, nishmaso Eden (whose soul resides in Heaven).” Why is the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe noted with this appellation? Because he said of himself, before his passing: “Ich gei in Himmel un di k’savim loz ich aich – I am going to Heaven but I leave my writings with you.”

So we know the Rebbe Rashab’s posthumous address. But this is how our Rebbe responded to such talk when applied to his father in-law, when one of the Chassidim referred to the Rebbe Rayatz as “der Rebbe, nishmaso Eden”: “Why are you ‘casting away’ my father-in-law, the Rebbe, to ‘Siberia,’ to ‘Solovki’ – to Gan Eden?! We need him here!” (Toras Menachem 5712, pg. 183)

The Rebbe relates a very revealing account – originally told by the Rebbe Rayatz – of the passing of the Berditchever Rebbe:

There were tzaddikim who, prior to their histalkus, promised they would not enter Gan Eden until they succeeded in bringing Moshiach. But in the end they failed, succumbing to spiritual “bribes” from On High. I, however – the Berditchever Rebbe continues – will not allow that to happen to me.

The fact is, though – the Rebbe Rayatz concludes – that they got the Berditchever too in the end. They said K’dusha in Gan Eden and immediately the Berditchever Rebbe jumped in!

Since the Rebbe Rayatz knew this and related it – the Rebbe MH”M says – he was proclaiming about himself that he would not succumb to the same temptation when it came to his histalkus, and certainly he would bring Moshiach.

(Toras Menachem pg. 11-12, 18 Shvat 5710)

Close to forty years later, the Rebbe tells a different story, this time omitting names:

There was once a righteous Jew who had said that when he passes on (after a hundred and twenty years) and goes to heaven, he would demand of G-d to bring the redemption (being a Jew of such stature that he was worthy to do so, to make such a demand of G-d Alm-ghty). But the fact is that he passed away and the redemption did not come. Later on, another great Jew said that [the failure to bring the redemption in this manner] indicates that this tzaddik was given such a powerful revelation from Above that it caused him to forget his promise, as it were.

(The Rebbe shlita said with a smile) Since Moshiach still has not come, it is clear that in Heaven they came up with a strategy as to how to have the tzaddik delay his appeal until later…

Apparently, the correct approach is to take an oath according to the knowledge and consent of the public, in which case the law is that “there is no disavowal of the oath without public consent.” Even if one can convince one or even a few of the group to annul it, it doesn’t help; G-d’s Torah rules that an oath taken by public approbation is sustained!

(Shabbos Parshas Korach, 5 Tammuz 5749; Seifer HaSichos 5749 Pg. 561-562)

***

Like Mordechai HaTzaddik, the Rebbe sits at the Gates of Geula, clothed in sackcloth, his face streaming tears. He protests the endless exile and screams “ad masai?!

The Rebbe charges us with a mission, as Mordechai did with Ester. One way or another it will happen: “If you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from somewhere else … And who knows, perhaps you have attained your royal position for just such a crisis.” But if we hesitate, someone else will have the triumphant merit of saving the entire Jewish people. Each of us must take the responsibility upon ourselves. We must unite and stand together before Hashem, King of Kings.

On Purim, the Rebbe depends on our joy to break through the gates of the final moments of exile, to usher in a world where the Jewish people will no longer be subjected to the reign of Achashverosh. May we merit to finally celebrate with all our Rebbeim and our Rebbe at the lead. Then all the tzaddikim in Gan Eden will march with us to the gates of the Third Beis HaMikdash in the true and complete redemption teikef u’miyad mamash!

Rabbi Merkur welcomes opportunities to speak further about Moshiach and a variety of topics. Please email editor@beismoshiach.org for details.

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