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Tuesday
Feb282017

WE MUST STOP BEING APOLOGETIC ABOUT MOSHIACH

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh, 

This Shabbos (Parshas Truma) falls out right before Zayin Adar, the birthday and Yahrtzait of Moshe Rabbeinu. It is a very special day as in its merit the Jewish nation was saved during the time of the miracle of Purim. The Midrash relates that the entire Purim story was predicated on a misunderstanding about the meaning of 7 Adar. When the evil villain Haman threw his infamous pur (lottery) to determine an appropriate date for his planned massacre, the lot fell on the month of Adar.

Knowing that Moshe had passed away on 7 Adar, Haman rejoiced, because he considered this a propitious month for his destructive plot. Little did Haman know, however, that Moshe’s birthday was the exact same day, and, rather than proving an unlucky month for the Jews, the birth of our leader presaged a time of good fortune for our people. Our holy Rebbeim - who are the Moshe Rabbeinu of each generation - would not say Tachanun on 7 Adar (Seifer HaMinhagim Chabad).

Moshe Rabbeinu epitomizes the value of Emes-Truth. We all know the saying “Moshe Emes v’Toroso Emes - Moshe is true and his Torah is true.” In this spirit, let us examine what the HaYom Yom teaches us about striving for truth and how it affects our Avoda to bring Moshiach.

The HaYom Yom (27 Adar 1) tells us: My father said: “Truth is the middle path. An inclination to the right, to be overly stringent with oneself and find faults or sins not in accord with the truth, or an inclination to the left, to be overly indulgent, covering one’s faults or being lenient in demands of avoda out of self-love - both these ways are false.”

The Rebbe adds (2 Adar 1): Rabbeinu HaGadol the Alter Rebbe, set forth a program for Chassidim of striving (avoda) with the mind and seeking truth, to critically examine one’s every move to be certain it conforms strictly with truth and comes through avoda, effort.

This avoda does not imply - as some think, altogether erroneously - that one must pulverize mountains and shatter boulders, turn the world upside down. The absolute truth is that any avoda, any act, whatever it may be, is perfectly satisfactory when performed with true kavana, intent: A bracha pronounced with kavana; a word of davening as it should be, with a prepared heart and an awareness of “before Whom you stand”; a passage in Chumash said with an awareness that it is the word of G‑d; a verse of T’hillim; a beneficent trait of character expressed in befriending another with affection and love.

The truth of the matter is, that to achieve this calls for great and intense effort, meaning simply to study a great deal of Torah and to comprehend it - each according to his ability - and then G‑d will help him be what truth demands.

And finally, the Rebbe records (HaYom Yom 20 Adar 1) from a private conversation that he had with the Frierdike Rebbe: Avoda (translated as “service” and “striving”) is not the striving that avoda (service) itself be true; rather, truth itself is an avoda, that the “fingernails” (i.e., the “fingernails” are part of man but virtually lifeless. Truth is necessary not only in the “vital” elements of man, his thoughts, emotions, relations with others, etc. but even in the all-but-redundant, the furthest extremities) be true. Why does that surprise you? “He saw the attribute of Truth,” the Talmud declares, “and he prostrated himself.”

The Rebbeim sacrificed a lot for truth. As is recorded in the HaYom Yom (10 Av): … Had the Rebbe not inserted the three words b’midas emes l’Yaakov (“according to the attribute of Truth unto Yaakov”), he would have attracted fifty thousand more chassidim. But the Rebbe demands the trait of truth.”

[And that demand has been perpetuated by the Rebbe of every succeeding generation. In fact, after the passing of the Rebbe Maharash in the year 5643 (1882), it was precisely that demand that determined the succession — as eye-witnesses told R’ Saadia Liberow some years later when he was a student in Tomchei T’mimim in Lubavitch.

For more than a decade, delegations of respected Chassidim entreated the two elder sons of the Rebbe Maharash in turn to assume the mantle of the Lubavitch leadership. At the time of their father’s passing at the young age of 48, R’ Zalman Aharon was 23 years old; his younger brother, R’ Shalom Dovber, later to be known as the Rebbe Rashab, was 21. Time after time, each of them insisted that the other was more suited to the task, and begged to be released from the repeated pleas — but in vain.

Finally, after years without progress, an august delegation called on the elder brother, R’ Zalman Aharon, and declared, respectfully but unequivocally: “This state of affairs cannot continue; you absolutely must consent to be Rebbe.” R. Zalman Aharon’s reply was brief: “I hate falsehood; he loves truth. He has to be Rebbe.” And so it was.]

One may ask: What was so controversial and threatening about those three words that pushed away 50,000 people from becoming chassidim?

Here is the answer: This letter was written after the Alter Rebbe was released from prison. He was imprisoned and suffered greatly based on trumped up lies told by the opponents of Chassidus. As one can imagine, the Chassidim were terribly upset and the feelings of anger and revenge were high. The Alter Rebbe demanded that everyone be calm and to not only behave in a way that shows that you feel that the opponent is greater than you, but to actually and truly feel that the opponent of chassidus is greater than you. Such a level of truth was very difficult for many to live by.

All the above teaches us a tremendous lesson in our general Avodas Hashem and especially the Avoda “to receive our righteous Moshiach in the true and complete Redemption. Indeed, the preparation for the coming of our righteous Moshiach is the most all-encompassing aspect of Judaism and includes all the other points and details of the work of shlichus.”

We must remain true to our special Shlichus and be very open and unapologetic with the amazing and clear words of our Rebbe. The Rebbe has made it crystal clear that we are the generation of Moshiach and that we should share that message as a special prophecy (Shoftim 5751) and encourage everyone to get ready for Moshiach by learning about Geula and adding in acts of goodness and kindness.

The Rebbe has publicly accepted the acceptance of Klal Yisroel of the Rebbe as Melech HaMoshiach, and has even edited and allowed the following statement to be printed all across the world: “And specifically to our generation, that the acronym of “MiYaD” alludes to the three periods connected to my sainted father-in-law, the leader of our generation: in the order closest to us, Moshiach (Menachem is his name), Yosef Yitzchak, Dovber (the second name of the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe).”

It is very easy for the Yetzer Hara to come to a Chassid and tell him that it would be wise to conceal these words of the Rebbe from others. As these are very strong words, it may be best, and we would be more effective in bringing more people to the Rebbe and Chassidus, if we toned down the talk about Moshiach.

We must remember all that we learned above about the Avoda of truth and especially, “Had the Rebbe not inserted the three words b’midas emes l’Yaakov (“according to the attribute of Truth unto Yaakov”), he would have attracted fifty thousand more chassidim. But the Rebbe demands the trait of truth.” When we go with the truth, then we will truly be successful.

I want to add: Recently I saw a letter of the Rebbe (dated 23 Kislev 5733) where the Rebbe responds to a group of Chassidim from Manchester that was printing the Tanya in English. They wanted to omit that “controversial” statement of the Alter Rebbe at the end of chapter 1 (that Goyim only do good things for their own benefit). The Rebbe responds that, in addition to the fact that he would never take out something that the Alter Rebbe wanted in the Tanya, it is too late! At this point, the Tanya has already been translated and printed many times and in many languages. At this point it would be useless to omit anything, rather the focus should be on explaining.

The same is true about Moshiach. The belief of Chassidim about Moshiach and the identity of Moshiach is no secret! Now it is up to us to explain it to others. And always remember: Things that are said from the heart, with truth, enter the heart!

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com

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