Is it okay to say that Moshiach is already here and the Geulah is already here? The Rebbe said it and printed it and even said that a Yid needs to agree that it’s here. But a lot of people are telling me that it’s wrong.
Your question reminds me of the story where the rabbi presiding over a Din Torah has determined that both parties are in the right. His wife in the kitchen overhearing the discussions turned to him and asked “how can they both be right?”, upon which the rabbi responded “you too are right.”
A fundamental aspect of studying texts, in general, is that everything depends on the context. A benign statement in an article when isolated from its original context can appear extremely shocking, quite controversial or even outright heretical.
The Rebbe often spoke about learning the Klolei HaLimmud (governing principles) for every discipline of Torah and he decried the lack of awareness of these fundamental principles among many Yeshiva graduates. There are even two complete books culled from his teachings, dedicated purely to this matter: Klolei Rashi and Klolei Rambam. Without knowing the basic principles upon which the sichos are predicated, it is hard to find common ground when having a discussion about the meaning of particular Sichos.
As the famous adage used often when discussing topics of Chassidus: it depends on what we are talking about.
The story is related about a particular Mashpia who often used to use this proverb “it depends what we are talking about“. At one occasion, he administered a written exam to his students. One student wrote the same answer to all questions, “it depends what we are talking about“. Upon failing the examination, the student turned to the Mashpia and asked: “don’t you say this all the time“? The Mashpia responded and said: “it depends what we are talking about“.
The Rebbe once gave an example to illustrate this point from the way different people understand existence (or reality). For a simple person, “reality“ refers only to something that is tangible and can be sensed through the five senses. For a sophisticated person, a block of wood is not a true reality. The reality for him is defined on a much higher level. The block of wood is nonexistent in his world.
When we say that something is “here” or “not here”, it really depends what we mean when we say “it’s here“.
Take for example a woman who says two weeks before Pesach, “it’s Erev Pesach already.” The context is clear. She means it’s so close to Pesach and she’s behind in her cleaning preparations. She certainly does not mean that tonight we’re going to be sitting at the Seder table.
When the midwife assisting in delivering a baby says towards the end of the delivery to the mother “the baby is here“, we all know what she means. She already sees the baby’s head almost emerging. Clearly, the baby has not yet been born in the technical, legal or Halachic sense.
When flying on an overseas trip and finally landing after a very long and exhausting flight, and the pilot announces “we made it” or “we are here”, he means that we already touched the ground. He doesn’t mean you can disembark. You must still remain with your seatbelts fastened and in fact, this is for some people the most annoying part of the flight, especially for the kvetchy kids, or the parents that must deal with them for the next few minutes while taxying.
All these examples are not only metaphors; they very much relate to the issue at hand. Exile is compared to pregnancy or to a long and arduous flight.
What does the Rebbe mean when he says that “the Redemption is here”? Clearly, the difficulties of exile are still upon us (although the challenges have diminished greatly in recent years).
At many talks following the particular pronouncement that Geulah is here (I’m assuming you’re referring specifically to the sicha on the 28th of Sivan 5751, although there are similar expressions in other talks of the Rebbe), the Rebbe has spoken with bitterness about the difficulties of our harsh exile. There are countless examples of this. Among other things, the Rebbe also dedicated Sichos to the fast days and explained the inner meaning of these fast days while we are still in the last final stages of exile.
Instead of going through an analysis of Sicha by Sicha, let me just choose the most recent talks, in the month of Adar Rishon 5752, right before the Rebbe’s stroke.
In Mishpatim 5752, The Rebbe talks about the great pain and shock that we are still in exile and the Rebbe cried with anguish the cry of “Ad Mosei.” The Rebbe then said that the pain is so great that we can’t talk about this at length on Shabbos. The fact that we have all the signs for Geulah yet we are still in Galus addes to our pain immensely. “How can it be that we are still in Chutz La’aretz instead of being in Eretz Yisroel, Yerushalayim, in the Beis Hamikdosh, sitting at a set table with the Shor Habor, Livyasan and Yayin Hameshumar?”, the Rebbe asked, the pain visible on his face. (This is despite the fact that the Rebbe has stated on more than one occasion earlier that we are already “sitting at the set table”!). The Rebbe then goes on to tell us various things we need to do to hasten the Redemption.
In Terumah 5752, the Rebbe talks about the sad occurrence of women who passed away Al Kiddush Hashem and that henceforth we must break all boundaries of Galus.
The Rebbe elaborated on this point in Tezaveh 5752 and insisted that we scream to Hashem about the Arichus HaGalus, Ad Mosei, and demand the Geulah immediately. The Rebbe tells us there that we have been over 1900 years in exile and we tried everything possible, yet the Redemption has still not arrived B’Poel Mamosh.
In Vayakhel 5752, the Rebbe tells us how giving Tzedaka in a way that incorporates all our faculties will make the Geulah happen now.
These are all selections from the edited sichos. There are many more examples, particularly when reading the transcripts of the unedited talks.
So is the Geulah here or not? It all depends on what we mean when we say that it is here. Clearly, we have landed and as explained in many Sichos – the revelations of Geulah from upon high have touched the ground, and are affecting us considerably. Yet, at the same time, we have not dismbarked yet.
If something is here but yet we cannot access it, we don’t see it, or to use the Rebbe’s terminology “we haven’t opened our eyes yet,” then is it really here? It’s here in the sense that all we need to do is just internalize the concept. It’s not here in the sense that we are still suffering from the darkness of exile in the full sense of the word.
In fact, going back to the example mentioned earlier about the flight that has landed, those moments after landing are in some ways more difficult to endure than the rest of the trip. If everything is here in front of us yet we’re having difficulty seeing it, it really begs for us to heighten our demands of Ad Mosei.
At the same time, the fact that we know that it’s within our reach makes it so much practical and easier to access immediately. The Rebbe also says (Bo & Beshalach 5752) that along with the bitter feeling due to the terrible exile we find out self-serving, we also must have primarily a feeling of happiness because the redemption is coming in next reality is at this very second.
After clarifying that, let’s address your specific question: “Is it okay to say that that Moshiach is already here, the Geulah is already here?”
Being that you are asking this on a halachic platform, it must be first addressed as such: halachically the Geulah is defined by the ingathering of all Jews to Eretz Yisroel by Moshiach and the building of the third and everlasting Beis HaMikdosh. Anything up until that point, as close it is to the Geulah and as exciting it may be, is not Geulah halachically, and not even Aschalta D’Geulah. Saying otherwise is wrong and moreover, damaging. The Rebbe used very harsh words regarding the negative effects caused by the belief that the establishment of the state of Israel was the Aschalta D’Geulah.
(In your question you mentioned both, Moshiach and Geulah, which have two different definitions halachically; here we addressed the Geulah. It is beyond the scope of this answer to go into that.)
Does this mean that it’s not okay to quote these Sichos? Definitely not, as long as it’s in context and well explained. On the contrary, if the statements you make spark up a conversation, you should most definitely continue saying these things, and get into the above explanation along with further helpful discussions (and even Chavrusos and Shiurim) about the process of Geulah. Any other Geulah study is most definitely a positive thing.
Printed information, obviously need much more caution, but here too, using appropriate caution, you should most definitely continue and share your passion and excitement with others.