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Tuesday
Apr252017

IS THERE NO ONE WHO SINCERELY ASKS FOR MOSHIACH?

Don’t bereaved parents or orphans truly look forward to Moshiach’s coming and T’chiyas HaMeisim? Aren’t people suffering from serious illnesses looking expectantly to the Geula to heal them from their illnesses? * And yet, the Rebbe meant what he said and there is no doubt that if someone truly wanted it, we would already have the Geula. * We spoke with Rabbi Zushe Silberstein, shliach in Montreal, to try and come up with a plan, and understand what we are missing so that we can truly ask for Moshiach.

Photos by Refael Ochiyon

R’  Zushe Silberstein, a veteran shliach in Montreal, is one of the most active shluchim in inyanei Moshiach and Geula. Along with his intensive activities in his Chabad of Chabanel and in prisons across Canada, he has come up with various ways of spreading the Rebbe’s Besuras Ha’Geula. He publicizes the imminent Geula through ads and announcements in the newspapers, on billboards, bus stations, and various media. Every week, thousands of shluchim and Anash around the world are inspired by his weekly newsletter Leben mit Moshiach that quotes the Rebbe’s sichos on inyanei Moshiach. R’ Silberstein is also known as a gifted speaker and he is often invited to attend events and Shabbatons on inyanei Moshiach and Geula.

For Chaf-Ches Nissan, we spoke with him about the sicha that shook up Chabad Chassidim around the world, and which, till this day, is the impetus for most Moshiach activities.

The Rebbe said the sicha on Chaf-Ches Nissan 5751. He cried out about how people are still not sincerely crying out for Moshiach and even said, “Everything that was done until now was ineffective and the proof is that we are still in galus, primarily an inner galus in matters of avodas Hashem.” What did you think when you heard this sicha?

I did not hear the sicha live but within a few minutes of it finishing I was told there had been a shocking sicha. I quickly called to hear a recording of it. On the one hand, what we heard broke our hearts. On the other hand, it spurred us on to urgent action. All the shluchim in Montreal set aside all their regular activities and we got together for an emergency meeting with askanei Anash, in order to immediately carry out the Rebbe’s instruction to come up with a plan of what to do to bring the Geula.

During the meeting we tried to think of what could be done after everything the Rebbe already did. If what the Rebbe did was ineffective, how would we be effective?

After a long discussion into the night, in the course of which many ideas were raised, the conclusion was that the main point to focus on is learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula. At the end of the meeting we wrote a report to the Rebbe with this idea. A week and a half later, on Shabbos Parshas Tazria-Metzora, the Rebbe spoke at length about the need to learn inyanei Moshiach and Geula, thus affirming that we were on the right track.

Afterward, when we found out that shluchim and rabbanim from around the world had gotten positive answers from the Rebbe about activities encouraging kabbalas ha’malchus, we got involved with that too. I also worked on getting signatures from rabbanim on the p’sak din that the Rebbe is b’chezkas Moshiach (see sidebar).

THE REBBE BRINGS THE GEULA TO THE WORLD. WE NEED TO BRING THE GEULA TO OURSELVES.

How did you come to the conclusion that what is lacking is learning? And why does this have to come from the Chassidim and not from the Rebbe?

Our thinking went as follows. When speaking about preparing the world for Geula, the Rebbe does whatever is possible to do, and what the Rebbe has not done yet, we – with our meager abilities – certainly cannot do. Indeed, during the months that followed, the Rebbe spoke several times about Moshiach’s activities in the world and Moshiach’s influence on the world. Those are matters that pertain to the Rebbe who, as Melech HaMoshiach, carries out his global activities and prepares the world for Geula.

But when speaking about our being ready for Geula, about our being fit to receive the G-dly light of the Geula, in accordance with the principle of “everything is in the hands of heaven except for fear of heaven,” our input is needed. Over the years, the Rebbe tried pushing us in the right direction, but apparently we didn’t get there yet, and unfortunately, we still didn’t get there. The fact is, we are still in galus.

In that sicha, the Rebbe decided to lay things out on the table in the clearest possible way. It’s like the Rebbe said: I did all that I can. Now, there is no choice and you must change!

As soon as we realized this was the direction, we started thinking about what is the best way to inspire ourselves, so that we get out of our inner galus, the spiritual galus, as the Rebbe described it in the sicha. It was obvious that in order to effect an inner change, we need the strength of Torah, specifically, learning inyanei Geula. Only Torah study can arouse a person to bring about the necessary changes.

About two months later, in the sicha of Shabbos Parshas Balak, the Rebbe said explicitly that the main point of the learning is so that our conduct, in thought, speech, and action, would be appropriate for this special time, as we “stand on the threshold of Geula and point – hinei zeh Moshiach ba.” And therefore, we need to “live with Moshiach” with the knowledge and awareness that “hinei zeh ba.”

This too, happens through learning inyanei Moshiach and Geula, through the intellect becoming permeated with understanding of inyanei Moshiach and Geula in the Torah, which then spreads to the emotions of the heart, and down to action. The power of Torah transcends the world and has the power to change man’s nature, so that even if we are still, G-d forbid, in galus, we can still rise up to a level of Geula and start living in a more Geula-oriented reality.

In that sicha, the Rebbe took it a step further, namely, that the learning enables us to start living and experiencing the Geula itself. However, in our meeting, we were still addressing an earlier stage in the process with the idea that the learning would cause us to internalize the fact that we are standing on the threshold of Geula and that we should truly want it. That is something that the Rebbe does not do for us. So it was as if the Rebbe was telling us: When it comes to truly wanting the Geula, that is something that you have to awaken within yourselves!

DO WE WANT MOSHIACH OR JUST TO BE FREE FROM SUFFERING?

What is so difficult about wanting Geula? Especially in this difficult time of concealment post Gimmel Tammuz, when there is not a single Lubavitcher who is not already yearning for the Geula? Are we not all pining, gazing longingly, and eagerly awaiting the moment of Redemption when we will see the Rebbe once again?

As is the Jewish way, I will answer your question with a question. If we really all truly want the Geula, why are we still in galus? In that same sicha, the Rebbe stated explicitly, “If they would mean it and ask and cry out in truth, certainly and certainly Moshiach would have already come!” The Rebbe’s words are exact and are not literary allusions, G-d forbid; each word is holy of holies. Therefore, without any doubt whatsoever, if we would want it in truth, we would already be deep into the Geula. Since we are still in Galus, we have no choice but to reach the painful conclusion that we still do not want it in truth. Truth being the key word here.

If you look into the edited sicha, you will see that the Rebbe highlighted this word in bold text. Undoubtedly, we want Moshiach. Do bereaved parents or orphans not really yearn for Moshiach and T’chiyas HaMeisim? Do people suffering from terrible illnesses not look forward to the Geula which will heal them from their illness? And as you mentioned in your question: Are tens of thousands of Chabad Chassidim, who wish with all their hearts and souls for the moment when they will merit to see the Rebbe once again, not hoping for the Geula?

We are all hoping, but our desire is not truthful. That is what the Rebbe is screaming about.

In Montreal, there was a Chassidishe Yid, a mashpia by the name of R’ Zalman Morosov. At one of the farbrengens, he screamed, “Do we really want Moshiach? Or is it that we have problems, and we are looking for solutions to our problems? We scream ‘we want Moshiach now,’ but the truth is that we are screaming: ‘Hashem please save me!’”

There are children who want Moshiach for the sweets that will grow on trees, there are those of us who want Moshiach so that they will be reunited with their deceased loved ones, and there are those of us who want Moshiach in order to be freed from terrible illness or livelihood struggles. Then there are those who are more spiritual, who want the Geula in order to see the Rebbe again, to hear the sichos again, and to receive kos shel bracha and dollars and the like. What they all have in common is that they all want what is to their personal benefit. We don’t want Moshiach “in truth.”

Obviously, when Moshiach comes, all of the things we were hoping for will come to pass. But that is not what Moshiach is truly about, and that is what the Rebbe is screaming and pleading for, i.e., ask for Moshiach “in truth.” The Rebbe wants us to beg for “the truth” of Moshiach, “the truth” of Geula, which is the revelation of G-dliness that will be revealed in the time of Geula, along with the completeness of Torah and Mitzvos.

The Rebbe explains this idea at length in the amazing hadran on the Rambam in 5746, that the obligation to await and eagerly anticipate the coming of Moshiach is only for the purpose of achieving the completeness of Torah and mitzvos, as it says there in footnote 35, “what a Jew has to ‘lust for’ is the completeness of Torah and Mitzvos.” As far as the state of the world in the time of Geula, including all of the amazing prophetic forecasts which trigger our imaginations and cause us to “want Moshiach now,” the Rebbe explains there that all of those things are “included (primarily) in the obligation of belief in the coming of Moshiach and not in the obligation to eagerly await his coming.” (It is worthwhile to study that hadran inside, where the Rebbe explains at length what is the “essential” aspect of Melech HaMoshiach.)

In order to come to the understanding and appreciation of what Moshiach is really all about “in truth,” we must learn the topic of Moshiach and Geula in depth, as the Rebbe put it:

The study of Torah in matters of Melech HaMoshiach and matters of geula, which are explained in many places, in the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, in Gemara and Midrashim. Also, and especially, in the inner dimension of Torah, starting from the Zohar and especially in Toras HaChassidus, in the Torah teachings of our Rebbeim and N’siim, and particularly in the Torah [maamarim and Likkutei Sichos] of the Nasi of our generation.

Only someone who studies all of the above is likely to understand what is the true essence of Moshiach, and is therefore more likely to reach a state wherein he wants Moshiach “in truth.”

WHAT DO WE WANT AND FOR WHOM?

What you say, sounds right. But at the same time, it sounds discouraging. If, after so many years, we haven’t achieved it, how will we ever do so?

First of all, knowing the diagnosis is half the cure. We need to internalize the fact that if we are still in galus and talking about the significance of Chaf-Ches Nissan, over 25 years after the sicha was said, that tells us that we haven’t yet managed to truly want it, and we need to work on this.

In the Rebbe’s chapter of T’hillim that we said this past year, there is a powerful and empowering message regarding how to achieve true yearning and how to go about asking for and wanting Moshiach. This is already emphasized in the introduction to the chapter, which states that it is “a prayer about the lengthiness of galus.” I do not know who authored these introductory comments, but if it appears in the version chosen by the Rebbe Rayatz, it is certain that each word has special significance.

The chapter begins with the words, “Not for us, Hashem, not for us, but for Your name give honor.” The original intent of the verse is meant as a statement by the Jewish collective to Hashem, but we can and must direct these words to ourselves. Not for us – we need to stop wanting Moshiach just for us, for ourselves, because of the things we are lacking; but for Your name – rather to want Moshiach for its true purpose, the revelation of G-dliness that will be in the world with the completeness of Torah and Mitzvos.

After Gimmel Tammuz, a non-Lubavitch friend said a line to me that was perhaps phrased somewhat crudely but definitely worth thinking about. He said, “Listen, you don’t really want Moshiach. You just want to see the Rebbe back, and Moshiach and the Geula are merely the means to see him.”

Afterward, I thought about what he said. What are we waiting for? We really miss the Rebbe and want to see him again, to hear sichos and maamarim, to experience the spiritual atmosphere of a farbrengen with the Rebbe, kos shel bracha and dollars.

There is no question that this is all a positive spiritual desire, and we need to strengthen it, but is this Geula? Is this what Moshiach is all about?

Is this what we are waiting for – to get back to what we once had? When we had it, the Rebbe screamed that this is galus, and not just an ordinary galus but a spiritual and internal galus, and we want to go back to that?!

So we need to recognize that even these spiritual desires are for our sake and not for Hashem’s sake, so when we experience these spiritual yearnings we need to be cognizant of the fact that this is not the end-goal. Of course, we want the Rebbe and when the Rebbe will appear it will be the revelation of Moshiach, because “Rebbe” and “Moshiach” are synonymous. But when we think about it and yearn for it, what exactly are we yearning for? Are we looking forward to the Rebbe being revealed within our galus, or do we understand that the hisgalus will be in the time of Geula, whose primary objective is perfection in Torah and mitzvos and this is what we ought to be yearning for?

INNER WORK
AND LOTS OF LEARNING

You are talking about inner work that touches upon the most intangible and deepest aspects of the soul. How can we achieve this?

Actually, it is not an easy job, and in order to succeed one needs to be a truly Chassidic Jew.

At a Kinus HaShluchim a number of years ago, I found myself sitting next to R’ Chaim Serebryanski a”h. Although I had heard much about him, I never really had a chance to have a serious conversation with him. So I took the unique opportunity that came my way to discuss with him the most pressing topic in the work of shlichus, preparing the world to be mekabel p’nei Moshiach.

I asked him: The Rebbe says that Moshiach is already here, the table is set and everything is ready, and the only thing that we need to do is open our eyes. What does this mean? How do we open our eyes?

R’ Chaim looked at me with his penetrating gaze and said in amazement: I don’t understand your question. What do you think will be when Moshiach comes? The fact that the material situation will be improved, certainly that is not the ultimate purpose of the era of Moshiach. So what will be? There will be the revelation of G-dliness, so that we will be able to sit and study Chassidus without any distraction. Who is preventing you today from learning Chassidus and being immersed in G-dliness? The communists? Who is holding you back? The only thing that is holding you back is you yourself. Your animal soul and Evil Inclination. That is what the Rebbe is talking about; open your eyes, learn Chassidus and feel G-dliness!

We need to drill this into ourselves: Nobody is holding us back from sitting and learning the topics of Geula and Melech HaMoshiach, especially in the sichos of the Rebbe, which explain in great detail what is the true essence of Moshiach, what exactly it is that we have to anxiously await. And when we will learn, it will certainly have the desired effect.

If we learn and still do not eagerly anticipate Moshiach “in truth,” then we need to know that we did not learn enough. Like the well-known aphorism of R’ Mendel Futerfas, that there are three things that certainly have an effect: liquor causes intoxication, wealth leads to arrogance, and Chassidus changes a person’s essential character. If one drinks and does not become drunk, certainly he did not drink enough; if there is a wealthy person that is not arrogant, certainly he did not yet acquire enough wealth; and if one learns Chassidus and does not change, it is a clear sign that he did not learn enough Chassidus!

WHEN THE DESIRE IS REAL, THEN WE OPERATE FROM UNITY!

How does the unity of the Jewish people relate to the topic we are discussing?

The topic of Ahavas Yisroel and its connection to 28 Nissan is definitely worth expanding upon. When we learned in 770 by R’ Mordechai Mentlick a”h, we saw how he would use every opportunity to learn the entry of the day in the HaYom Yom and connect it to whatever topic was being discussed. Along those lines, it is worthwhile to look into the daily entry for 28 Nissan and draw a lesson from there also as it pertains to the new avoda that the Rebbe imposed upon us on 28 Nissan 5751:

“The Chassidim asked the Alter Rebbe: Which is the loftier avoda, love of Hashem (Ahavas Hashem) or love of Jews (Ahavas Yisroel)? He replied: Both love of Hashem and love of Jews are equally engraved in the neshama, ruach, and nefesh, of each and every Jew. The verse states explicitly, ‘I have loved you, says Hashem,’ thus, the love of Jews is greater, since he loves whom the beloved loves.”

With the Rebbe, everything is most exact, and certainly there is an inner significance to the fact that this aphorism is associated specifically with the day that the Rebbe charged us with the job of bringing Moshiach. Perhaps the Rebbe is hinting to us that in order to bring Moshiach, it is absolutely essential that there be Ahavas Yisroel. It is impossible to live with the Rebbe, to live Geula and Moshiach, if we are lacking in Ahavas Yisroel. How can we even imagine that we are mekushar to the Rebbe, when we are lacking something so fundamental and primary to the Rebbe, to the point that it is loftier than Ahavas Hashem?

In the context of what we said earlier, about the need to want Moshiach “not for us,” “but only for Your name:”

As long as we still want Moshiach for our own personal agendas, we are actually thinking about ourselves and our place in the Geula process; where we will be when the Rebbe is revealed and whether or not we will be in the front row. This line of thinking makes it very difficult to have true Ahavas Yisroel. However, when we stop thinking about ourselves and we start thinking about the truth of Moshiach and Geula, then everything takes on a whole new perspective.

When we hear about a successful activity of a shliach, not someone on the other end of the world but someone who is actually nearby, how do we react? Are we happy with his success, because this brings the world one step closer to Redemption, or do we think that it is a shame that we didn’t pull off that success? When one is truly permeated with “for Your name give honor,” then what does it matter who did it? The main thing is “for Your name give honor!”

Many years ago, in the early days of the United Jewish Appeal, the organizers approached the Rebbe and asked that Chabad also join and support the effort. When the Rebbe asked them what benefit there was to making a united appeal, they explained that the average American Jew decides at the beginning of the year how much to set aside for charity for that year. When he is approached by different organizations at the beginning of the year, he still has no idea how many organizations will ask him for donations throughout the rest of the year, so he gives each one a small amount of the total. When the year ends and he realizes that he has not disbursed even half of the amount that he had mentally pledged at the start of the year, he doesn’t bother to donate it and the organizations lose out. On the other hand, if we approach him in the name of all the different organizations, and we commit to distributing the funds to all of them, then he will donate the full amount.

The Rebbe responded to them: It could be that you are correct from an economic standpoint. However, since we are talking about Jews for whom one of the only means of connection they have, between them and Hashem, are the donations they make to the organizations, I prefer that they be approached many times throughout the year to arouse their G-dly souls. Perhaps that will mean less money, but certainly the connection between the Jew and Hashem will be much stronger!

Following this line of thinking expressed in the Rebbe’s words, we need to make a personal reckoning. What is more important to me, that another activity was done to bring the world closer to Geula, or that I (and definitely not that other guy) be the one to do it?

When we will want Moshiach “in truth,” not for own stuff, but for the “truth” of Moshiach, then automatically we will work in cooperation and true Ahavas Yisroel!

Would that it be that the very knowledge of the “diagnosis” and the decision to internalize the matter and to correct that which needs rectifying from here on in, will suffice to accomplish the revelation of the Rebbe with the Complete Redemption, “as per the mitzvos of Your will” with the completeness of Torah and mitzvos. And that it be immediately, even if we don’t all manage to reach the “truth.”

BEHIND THE SCENES

WHEN DID RABBI PINCHAS HIRSCHPRUNG Z”L SIGN ON THE P’SAK DIN THAT THE REBBE IS B’CHEZKAS MOSHIACH?

In the recorded diaries of the T’mimim of 11 Nissan 5752, a moving moment is described that took place near the door to the Rebbe’s office, after Rabbi Shneur Zalman Gurary proffered the blessings of Anash on behalf of the community.

“With the conclusion of the blessing, the entire assemblage said ‘amen,’ and everyone present in Beis Chayeinu, as well as the thousands of listeners all over the world, proclaimed “Yechi” three times. Immediately after that, Rabbi Yitzchok Hendel of Montreal read a p’sak din on behalf of the rabbanim which said that according to halacha, the Rebbe meets all the conditions enumerated in the Rambam in the Laws of Kings, to be categorized as ‘b’chezkas she’hu Moshiach.’ The p’sak din established that also according to halacha, the Rebbe must immediately be healthy. R’ Hendel announced that leading the signing of the p’sak din was the famous gaon, Rabbi Pinchas Hirschprung. R’ Hendel concluded by blessing the Rebbe with the priestly blessing and he was joined by all the Kohanim, and the crowd said ‘amen.’”

As for what went on behind the scenes with Rabbi Hirschprung’s signing on the historic p’sak din, R’ Zushe Silberstein filled us in:

“The first time I spoke to Rabbi Hirschprung about it, was in Elul 5751. I brought him Rabbi Wolpo’s book which received the Rebbe’s approval and bracha. After he read it and gave the book his approbation, I asked him to sign on the p’sak din that the Rebbe is b’chezkas Moshiach. He thought it over and finally said, ‘I need to think about it some more. Come back to me later.’ During the winter of 5752 I went to him several times and each time he said he still needed to consider the matter and asked me to come back.

“That year, 11 Nissan fell on a Tuesday. The Thursday before, I approached Rabbi Hirschprung and informed him that on the following Monday night, the eve of 11 Nissan, they would read the p’sak din in front of the Rebbe. I offered him once again to take advantage of the special opportunity and join his signature to the p’sak din. This time he did not push me off entirely, but he said, ‘Come on Sunday morning to the Sephardic synagogue, where there will be a bris mila, and then I will sign on the p’sak din.’

“I didn’t understand why he could not sign immediately or what was so special about Sunday morning. However, I did what he said, and on Sunday morning immediately after the bris, I handed him a copy of the p’sak din. After reading it again with much deliberation, he signed with tremendous seriousness and his hand literally shook from emotion.

“After he signed, I asked him to explain to me why he kept pushing me off, and even now when he decided to sign he wished to do it so early in the morning.

“To my surprise, he told me that on a number of occasions the Rebbe said to him the following: Pinchas and Eliyahu are one and the same. You should be the one who heralds the Redemption! On three occasions, the Rebbe told him the same point, and it was many years that he was trying to discern the meaning of the Rebbe’s words. ‘By the Rebbe, every word is holy of holies, there are no turns of phrase,’ he said. ‘That is why I kept thinking about the possible meaning of these words.’

“Rabbi Hirschprung concluded with the following, ‘I came to the conclusion that the only explanation for these words of the Rebbe is that I should sign on this p’sak din. Therefore, I wanted to sign at this holy event of a bris mila, when Eliyahu HaNavi, the Herald of the Redemption, is present with us!’”

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