Beis Moshiach Magazine/Moshiach Friedman
How is it that the years that have passed have not weakened in the least bit the forcefulness and trust in the prophecy and in publicizing it? How are publicity about the prophet and his prophecy viewed by different groups? * How does knowledge about a prophet and his prophecies affect people in their daily lives? Do we really have the ability to carry out the instruction to publicize it to all people of the generation, without exception? * The shluchim and activists tell about their work and share their insights and conclusions. They urge continuing to publicize the Besuras Ha’Geula until the imminent hisgalus.
A panel discussion with shluchim and activists who are involved in publicizing the prophecy about Geula since the 90s.
Shabbos Parshas Shoftim, 7 Elul 5751. The reporter for the diary MiBeis Chayeinu reported: At exactly 1:30, the Rebbe shlita came down to farbreng. They sang, “Zol shoin zayn di Geula.” The Rebbe ate some mezonos and then began encouraging the singing, first with his right hand and then with his left, with powerful back and forth movements, and after a while with both hands. The crowd sang joyously.
The first sicha took about an hour and the Rebbe spoke at length about “shoftim v’shotrim” and spoke about the difference between them. The Rebbe connected this to the topic of “and I will return your judges as at first, and your advisers as in the beginning,” and the lesson for our time, that we merited that we have the judge, adviser and prophet in our generation (who is the Nasi, with the agreement of the previous Nasi, back to Moshe Rabbeinu and till atzmus u’mehus), that we need to listen to him and obey him, and that he is now saying a prophecy of Geula which should be publicized.
He repeated this line several times: “And this is the lesson which we take from this farbrengen, that we publicize everywhere that Nasi Doreinu is the Navi (prophet) of our generation.”
Clear and astonishing words also appear in the edited version of this farbrengen (se’if 11): There is the lesson, as mentioned, that we need to publicize to all people of the generation, that we merited that Hashem chose and appointed someone with free choice, who, on his part, is incomparably greater than the people of the generation, to be “your judges” and “your advisers” and the prophet of the generation, who should give instructions and advice regarding the service of all Jews and all people of the generation, in all matters of Torah and mitzvos, and regarding general, daily behavior, also “in all your ways (know Him)” and “all your deeds (should be for the sake of Heaven)” until the main prophecy, the prophecy of “l’alter l’Geula” and immediately “hinei zeh (Moshiach) ba.”
Following this sicha, issue #7 of Ha’Geula HaAmitis VeHashleima (which started being published after the 28 Nissan sicha of that year, was submitted to the Rebbe at “dollars” and was taken by the Rebbe to the Ohel) was published. On the front page appeared a heading which said, “There is a Navi in Israel.” Rabbi Zimroni Tzik, director of “HaAgudah Lemaan Ha’Geula,” and shliach to Bat-Yam, relates:
“After the sicha on Parshas Shoftim, in which the Rebbe explicitly said he is a prophet, judge and adviser of the generation, we published another edition of Ha’Geula which concentrated on the Rebbe’s prophecy and the Besuras Ha’Geula. The feedback we got about it was not that positive. Some maintained that it was improper to publicize it like that, and some asked halachic questions about prophecy nowadays, etc. But the paper had already gone out.
“At that time I had sent the Rebbe some letters and questions on important subjects, shidduchim etc. After some time, when I called the secretary, Rabbi Groner, and he said there was an answer for me, I immediately thought it had to do with the various things I had asked about. To my great surprise, he said I had gotten an answer only about the publication. I was astounded, because it was three weeks after we had sent in the publication.
“If we were to try to understand, from the perspective of our limited thinking, why the Rebbe chose to respond about this publication, it is reasonable to assume that it was because there were negative reactions to it from Anash. So that we should not be discouraged, and in order to understand that we did have to publicize it (even if others may have gotten other responses), the Rebbe responded clearly: ‘consent and blessing.’”
ANNOUNCE THAT MOSHIACH IS COMING
We spoke with some shluchim and activists who are involved in publicizing the prophecy about Geula from the early 90s till today, to hear their perspective and how they think people are responding to the message. Let us learn from their experiences in order to continue publicizing the prophecy, until we are successful and reach all the people of the generation.
We spoke to:
R’ Yaron Bar-Zohar of Haifa who, for over 20 years, is involved in publicizing the prophecy on a massive scale, working day to day in the field – hanging signs, flags, posters and stickers, in public areas in many cities and highways, publicity that we have all encountered every day. One that stands out is the huge billboard that has been standing in recent years on the Ayalon Highway.
This, along with distributing tens of thousands of brochures among train passengers throughout the country, and many additional activities (like setting up and running a radio station in the Haifa area in the early years and a publicity campaign on the buses around 11 Nissan). R’ Bar-Zohar does this himself and almost completely on his own. He raises funds and gets financing, finds places for the signs and puts them up with the help of some bachurim.
R’ Pinchas Mamon, shliach in western Rishon L’Tziyon who, along with his publicizing activities, focuses more on education and explanation about the prophet and his prophecies to various audiences. He uses books that he published over the years, starting with Toraso shel Moshiach (which received the Rebbe’s blessing in 5753), and then the seifer Yom Yom Moshiach V’Geula.
The crown jewel of his work is publishing the stunning magazine, Ezrachim B’Medinat HaMoshiach, which was a breakthrough in spreading the Besuras Ha’Geula to the Israeli public, in its language and style. The choicest entries in the magazine were published recently in a colorful and eye-catching book. R’ Mamon also publicizes the Besuras Ha’Geula on the internet and on social media.
R’ Menachem Mendel Friedman, shliach in Ohr Yehuda, who received a personal instruction from the Rebbe about this when he went for a siddur before his wedding (in continuation of the Rebbe’s usual blessing on these occasions, “to effectively request all good things in a good and successful time”). The Rebbe said, and this was most unusual, “and to announce that Moshiach is coming,” an instruction that R’ Friedman is particular to carry out till this day.
During the 90s, R’ Friedman produced dozens of original products and explanatory material to publicize the Besuras Ha’Geula, such as recordings of the Rebbe’s talks on the topics of Moshiach and Geula with simultaneous translation to Hebrew, tambourines of Miriam to celebrate the Geula, clocks with faces that say “today at this time… we are going to greet Moshiach,” and various and sundry Geula-related items and publications.
R’ Refoel Cheruti authored the most comprehensive work to date on the prophecies of the Rebbe, Yesh Navi B’Yisroel. His work in publicizing the prophecy began in 1993, when he began to publish a weekly newsletter that he would put out in the shuls in Ashkelon, under the heading “Melech HaMoshiach is a Great Prophet.” Each week, he would tell another of the Rebbe’s prophecies. These pamphlets eventually became the basis for the book, Nevuas HaGeula, which was then revised and expanded into Yesh Navi B’Yisroel.
“THERE IS NO EXPLANATION FOR THE DELAY OF THE GEULA”
This week will be 26 years since the Rebbe’s instruction to “publicize to all of the people of the generation” about the prophet of our generation and his main prophecy that “hinei zeh (Moshiach) ba.” How is that the years that have passed since that time have not weakened the forcefulness and trust in the prophecy and in publicizing it?
R’ Friedman: First of all, it is clear that the passage of years is not at all a criterion by which to measure the validity of the Rebbe’s prophecy, just as the many years that passed from the time of the prophecy of Miriam, the sister of Moshe, “My mother will birth a son in the future who will save the Jewish people,” until the actual exodus from Egypt, did not undermine the truth of her prophecy which, of course, came to complete fruition. Aside from that, we are witness to events happening in the world in recent years, such as the political upheavals in the Arab countries and the like, which are all signs of impending Geula.
R’ Maman: In our Chabad House (West Rishon L’Tziyon), there is a sign hanging with a picture of the Rebbe and the legend alongside it reads, “There is no explanation for the delay of the Geula.” So yes, we have no explanation for this, but the truth remains the truth and there is no doubt that the Rebbe’s words will not go unfulfilled. And when we repeat those words with the requisite forcefulness and faith, they get through.
R’ Bar-Zohar: Obviously, we don’t run the world, and it is only Hashem who will determine when the complete Geula will take place. On our part, we believe, and must believe, that this is happening any moment, and do what we were ordered to do, publicize the prophet and his prophecy. This is what is incumbent upon us, and this what we need to engage in, without any theorizing or questioning, but to carry out our mission.
R’ Cheruti: Not only do the passing years not weaken the absolute trust in the prophecy, but on the contrary, when we contemplate what is going on in the world, we can see in a tangible way what the Rebbe spoke about on Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim 5752 regarding the impact of Melech HaMoshiach on the nations of the world, in the matter of beating swords into plowshares. R’ Avishai Ifergan recently published an extensive study of the political upheavals in the Arab world, showing how these revolutions began from the standpoint of the people going out into the streets to protest their leaders investing more in weapons development than in the economic welfare of the people.
Interestingly, a spokeswoman for the United States government released a statement back in 2012 that they had finished implementing the resolutions that were agreed upon in the meeting between the superpowers in Shevat 5752, which the Rebbe spoke about in that sicha. So actually, over the passage of time, we are seeing more and more, the impact of Moshiach on the nations.
The fact that what our eyes see appears to be concealment and obscurity, is also a part of the progression of stages towards the Geula. As it is known that “Moshiach will be revealed, concealed, and revealed again,” such that this period in which we do not see the Rebbe is no recession, but rather further progress towards the Geula.
I once heard from R’ Yisroel Halperin, the shliach in Hertzliya, who recounted how during his army training they were given a task to cross a river barefoot and in complete darkness. After they completed the exercise, the soldiers were asked how much time they thought it had taken them to cross the river. The lowest assessments were in the range of an hour and a half, with some speaking in terms of two or three hours, when it actually had only taken them a relatively small number of minutes. We can learn from this story that despite the fact that in extreme darkness everything seems more drawn out and difficult, there is no reason to let that affect you.
BOTH “MAKIF” AND “PENIMI”
From your experience, can you tell us how the message about the prophet and his prophecy is received in different communities?
R’ Maman: Earlier today, I met with someone in city hall about a certain issue. At the end of our meeting, she asked, “What else can I do for you?” I answered, “Bring Moshiach.” She said, “I should bring Moshiach? If only he would come!” To which I responded, “Yes, you can bring Moshiach,” and she said, “Nu, so what do I need to do for that to happen?” This is only one example among many of how people are happy to hear about and accept the tidings of the Geula.
R’ Cheruti: Boruch Hashem, I had the privilege of publishing the book Nevuat HaGeula in the 90s, and I saw how it was received and grabbed up by the broader public. It was published in a number of editions, and most recently in an updated and expanded edition under the title, Yesh Navi B’Yisroel. The popularity of these books is testimony to how with proper explanation, and laying out the prophecies and their fulfillment in simple terms, the message gets through.
As a side note, before I published the seifer for the first time, I was concerned that the consistent use of the appropriate title for the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, would harm sales. I considered the thought that perhaps it was worthwhile to forgo the titles, and maybe try to introduce them toward the end of the book through a “back door.”
I consulted with the mashpia, R’ Levi Yitzchok Ginsberg, and he told me that in his opinion I should leave the titles in, “but I am not a Rebbe,” so he suggested that I write to the Rebbe via the Igros Kodesh. I sat down and wrote to the Rebbe about all of my doubts, adding that to me it seemed simple that it is important to emphasize that the Rebbe is Moshiach, in accordance with the Rebbe shaking his head with a positive response to the question of R’ Zalman Gurary, whether it was necessary to fight to the point of mesirus nefesh to publicize that the Rebbe is Melech HaMoshiach. On the other hand, there is the concern that it would cause a diminution of the promotion of the prophecies of the Rebbe, which was the very topic of the book.
The Rebbe’s clear answer came when I opened to page 240 in volume 7, in a letter negating the idea of compromises, in which the Rebbe writes, “There should no matter of compromises there, as in general every matter of compromise is suspect in that it is based on concessions and lack of belief in the matter in which they are compromising.” Obviously, the book was published with all of the fitting titles for the Rebbe, and was very successful and broadly publicized.
R’ Bar-Zohar: The truth needs to be said: when the people who are exposed to the publicity do not yet live with the subject, and don’t quite understand the entire topic of Rebbe and Moshiach, it is harder for them to understand and accept what is being said. Therefore, along with the publicity in a way of “makif,” it is necessary to invest time and energy into explaining and conveying the subject matter in an internalized fashion.
What is definite, and I see this absolutely in my activities to publicize the prophecy over the years, is that the publicity itself brings joy and optimism to people. Today, everybody is stressed, busy, worried, in a crazy high-speed world. There is nothing more refreshing than encountering an advertisement that sparks hope in the heart and promises a brighter future. The flags, street signs, and posters of Melech HaMoshiach, which are spread all around Israeli highways and cities, cheer up everybody.
R’ Friedman: Ever since I received a personal instruction from the Rebbe directed to me, “and to announce that Moshiach is coming,” I try to use every opportunity and encounter to disseminate this message of the Rebbe. Every ride in a car, when I find myself stopped for a brief moment alongside another car, I will simply tell that person that “Moshiach is coming,” and the responses are always good and positive, “if only,” “let him come already,” “we are also waiting for him,” and so on. Many times I will show up somewhere and people will initiate and call out to me, “Nu, what’s with Moshiach?”
Throughout the years of my work as a shliach of the Rebbe in Ohr Yehuda, we try to use every opportunity to bring up the topic of “Hinei zeh Moshiach ba,” to connect every talk and every Torah class to this topic. Thankfully, we have seen how this is accepted by the public happily and excitedly.
THE FIRST THING – TO OBEY THE REBBE’S INSTRUCTIONS
In what way does knowledge of the existence of the prophet and awareness of his prophecy affect the everyday conduct of the people who are exposed to these ideas?
R’ Cheruti: Today, we have the amazing and wondrous means of communication through the Igros Kodesh, and we see how thousands and even tens of thousands of people conduct their lives according to the directives and blessings of the Rebbe at every step. Obviously, the basis of all that is the belief in the Rebbe as the prophet of the generation, and as “your judges and your advisers,” who illuminates the path for us in every area of our lives.
R’ Bar-Zohar: The moment that people see the publicity about Moshiach all around them, they realize that this is serious business, and I believe that this influences them to behave more decently and to put in greater effort in their observance of Torah and mitzvos. It is impossible to remain apathetic to the publicity about Melech HaMoshiach.
R’ Maman: Regarding this issue, it is important to mention the Rebbe’s own words in the continuation of that sicha:
“Every person of our generation has the responsibility to accept upon himself the ‘your judges’ and ‘your advisers,’ and to obey his instructions and good advice, and in the plural (judges and advisers), implying a multiplicity of judgments and a multiplicity of pieces of advice. This is in addition to the fact that it comes (and is founded upon the instructions and advice) of the ‘your judges’ and ‘your advisers,’ ‘who are the kings, the sages,’ and our Rebbeim and our N’siim of the preceding generations, and as such it has the force of good advice (and not only as a command) understandable to every person. Since even if he holds of himself (and even if he has reason according to Torah and Shulchan Aruch to hold of himself), the rule is that an individual versus a plurality – the halacha follows the plurality, according to the view of the ‘your judges’ and ‘your advisers’ – a plurality.”
Here the Rebbe makes clear that “every person of our generation” must listen to the Rebbe and conduct himself according to his guidance and instructions. It does not matter what community he belongs to or from where his forbears originated. When mekuravim come to me and suggest learning schedules in various Torah works for themselves, aside from the Rebbe’s enactments of Chitas and Rambam, I always tell them that the first thing is to begin with observing the Rebbe’s enactments. In addition to those, feel free to learn whatever you wish, but the first thing is to fulfill what the Rebbe asks of us.
ALL PEOPLE OF THE GENERATION – LITERALLY
In the horaa of the sicha, the Rebbe says some astonishing words, “to publicize to all people of the generation.” How do you understand that?
R’ Bar-Zohar: Literally! To publicize until everyone knows. The horaa is simple and clear. The problem is that we are not doing it … [I stopped him in disbelief and asked: You’ve been doing it every day for over twenty years, and you say we’re not publicizing?! But he said firmly, that’s not called publicity …] I remember when Arik Sharon was elected to lead the Likud, how the very next day, the country was full of signs to publicize it. A week later, most billboards in the country publicized him. That’s called serious publicizing!
R’ Cheruti: We see how this has been accepted in the most amazing way by everyone. It’s not a matter of pilpulim and debates, but simply presenting the facts as they occurred before our eyes, over the years. When you tell and show people how the Rebbe prophesied the wars in Israel and their victory, and the thousands of stories in which he prophesied to individuals what would be in the future, everyone accepts it.
R’ Mamon: With these words, the Rebbe neutralizes our evasions and excuses, since we could possibly think that there are those who are not capable of understanding this, etc. The Rebbe said, “all people of the generation,” so no one is excluded. This message can and must reach everyone.
Another point which perhaps is hinted at in these words is that it is not proper for a Chassid and shliach to suffice with publicity to his family, his surroundings, his mekuravim, and other people in his limited sphere of influence. “All people of the generation” obligates you to get out of the bounds of your natural environment and area of shlichus and try to reach more and more people in other locales, and expose them to the prophet and his prophecy.
R’ Friedman: I heard from the Chassid, R’ Moshe Slonim a”h, that the Rebbe was once talking about providing Jewish chinuch for Jewish children and the Rebbe said to do this until there isn’t a single Jewish child in all of New York who is not in a Jewish school. That too seemed like an impossible task.
R’ Moshe said, “The Rebbe is the father of all the Jewish people. To the Rebbe, every Jewish child is literally like a son. And when it comes to a father and his children, he will never be satisfied with just some of them or most of them. He wants them all, and will never concede even one of his children!”
This is what we need to understand when we publicize the Rebbe’s prophecy; we must constantly remember that the Rebbe does not give up on any Jew. We too, should not give up on anyone. It is not possible for us to skip over anyone with whom we come in contact and not publicize to him about the prophet and his prophecy. Not one Jew should pass us by without being exposed to the Besuras Ha’Geula.
TEST OF HISKASHRUS
R’ Mamon: We can say that the Rebbe’s horaa to publicize the prophecy is a sort of test in which the Rebbe sees how connected we are to him. We cannot allow the passing years to weaken the message. We can take a lesson from Coca Cola which does not stop advertising and coming out with new campaigns every year, even when the entire world knows of its existence, tasted it, and heard that it isn’t healthy; Coca Cola keeps on advertising. We also must continue advertising the prophet and his prophecy.
R’ Bar-Zohar: This point, about publicizing the prophecy, is something that we need to constantly remind and refresh within our own crowd, namely those Chassidim who live matter-of-factly with the belief in Moshiach and the Besuras Ha’Geula. Even they constantly need this inspiration to publicize our belief to the world.
Publicizing is not something that you do once and you’re done. The next day or a week later or a month later, people forget … We need to constantly publicize it, again and again, never stopping. If not for us, nobody else is doing it. It won’t happen on its own.
R’ Cheruti: I will tell you a story. When I was publishing the weekly sheets in Ashkelon, around 5755, it once happened that someone in one of the shuls attacked me verbally and knocked the Rebbe’s prophecies. Someone else got up and said, come and hear about a prophecy of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and this is what he told:
My wife and I did not have children for eight years. I had heard about the Rebbe, but had no connection with him. One Friday night, I had a dream in which the Rebbe said to me, this year, you will have a child. I awoke in a fright and woke up my wife to tell her, but she was annoyed that I woke her up for such “nonsense.”
I went back to sleep and once again, I saw the Rebbe in a dream. The Rebbe gave me a sign by which I would know it would really happen, that when I would go to shul in the morning, they would ask me to be chazan (which had not happened previously).
I woke up and did not tell my wife. I went to shul and wonder of wonders, I was called to the amud as chazan. Needless to say, our child was born that year, as the Rebbe told me.
R’ Friedman: I remember that in the period after Gimmel Tammuz 5754, someone said, if only we could turn the clock backward to the time when we saw the Rebbe, heard his sichos, and got responses and dollars from him.
A Chassid immediately said to him: What’s with you? Rather than wishing to go backward, we need to yearn to move forward, to the next moment when surely we will merit the fulfillment of the prophecy with the complete hisgalus of the Rebbe M”HM shlita. Teikef u’miyad mamash.