Vayechi: Date of Moshiach’s Arrival




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    Vayechi: Date of Moshiach’s Arrival

    The Talmud tells us that Jacob wanted to reveal the end of days to his sons but G-d’s presence (the Shechina) left him and he wasn’t able to.” Does this make sense? First of all, what is so important about the date when Moshiach will arrive? Second, why couldn’t he tell? It’s only a date, certainly he didn’t forget it! And what does it mean that the Shechina departed from him? …Read the full Dvar Torah by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton • Full Article

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    This week’s Torah reading contains a strange incident: The Patriarch Jacob on his deathbed gathers his twelve sons for a final important message …. but he didn’t succeed in giving it.

    The Talmud tells us (Pesachim 56a) that Jacob wanted to reveal the end of days to his sons (i.e. the date of the arrival of Moshiach) but G-d’s presence (the Shechina) left him and he wasn’t able to.”

    Does this make sense? First of all, what is so important about the date when Moshiach will arrive? Second, why couldn’t he tell? It’s only a date, certainly he didn’t forget it! And what does it mean that the Shechina departed from him? There is no place that G-d is not found!

    Perhaps we can understand this better from the following story. (Otzer Sipuri Chabad vol.15 pg. 62)

    The first Chabad Rebbe; Shneur Zalman of Liadi, just as Moses some three thousand years earlier (Rambam, Y’sodi HaTorah 8:1); did many miracles to help others (especially Jews), and to better the world. In fact, this was the way of all those Tzadikim who followed the ‘Chassidic’ way of the Baal Shem Tov.’

    But in general, the Chassidim did not request miracles. They came only for spiritual advice and tried not to request help from the Rebbe with mundane problems, unless they had no other choice. Here is an example.

    Once there was no rain in the area of Liozne (town in Russia where Chabad centered). The farmers had spent all their resources; money, time and energy, plowing and planting but without rain the fields lay barrenly parched and drying in the sun with only the farmers’ tears to irrigate them. Prayer, fasting, charity, good deeds, the farmers tried everything but the skies remained deathly clear. Their only recourse was the Rebbe.

    Five of the older Jewish farmers, Chassidim of the Rebbe, were selected to travel to him and the next day they were in his office pleading for their lives and those of all the children, women, orphans and widows and thousands of gentiles that were suffering.

    But the Rebbe did not react at all. He just sat silently looking to the side. It was a clear message that there was nothing he could do.

    The farmers stood almost paralyzed looking at the Rebbe with eyes begging for mercy, hoping against all hope that he would say something or even glance at them. But it didn’t happen.

    After several minutes one of them quietly began to back up toward the exit and they all followed suit. Once outside the room they closed the Rebbe’s door and all burst out crying. They were helpless … even G-d didn’t seem to want to help.

    But it just so happened that the Rebbe’s grandson, Menachem Mendel, (later nicknamed the Tzemach Tzedek) who was a young man at the time and would become the third Rebbe of Chabad, and two other well-known great Chassidim, one of whom was Rabbi Issac of Homel, were sitting nearby learning Talmud with great vigor but stopped when they heard the wailing in the hall.

    They stood and approached the farmers and asked for an explanation.

    “Who cries after leaving the Rebbe!? Every Chassid that comes out of Yechidut (private meeting with the Rebbe) is happy and dancing!! Why are you different? How can it be that you are sad? ”

    But when they heard that the Rebbe had ignored their pleas, they fell silent in deep thought. The Rebbe’s grandson broke the silence.

    “Don’t worry!” He said with certainty, “I just thought of a solution that will surely work.”

    He called to the Chassid standing at the Rebbe’s door that had been chosen to be the Rebbe’s assistant that night; a simple but devoted fellow who had been given charge of letting people into Yechidut, and said, “We three Rabbis constitute a judicial court and you must …. we are commanding you to ….. follow our orders.”

    The simple fellow had never been in close proximity to such great and legendary Chassidim and was awestruck. He shook his head in amazed agreement. The Rebbe’s grandson wrote something on a paper, handed it to him and said, “Remember, one who disobeys a judicial court is punishable by ostracism and a curse from the community (Shamta). Therefore, we command you to read to the Rebbe what is written here.

    The Chassid read what they had written on the page and began trembling from head to toe and almost fainted. He held out the paper for them to take it back. He couldn’t do it! He wanted to refuse and tell them to go away. But on the other hand, these were serious holy people and they were a Judicial court! He had no choice! He had to do as they ordered.

    He entered the office of the Rebbe and when the Rebbe looked up said meekly, “Rebbe, I have been adjured by a bait din (Torah court): your grandson, Rab Isaac and another to read this to you, and if I don’t do it, I could be punished.” He looked intensely at the paper so as not to see the Rebbe’s face, cleared his throat and read:

    “If you are able to help the farmers that just left your room and you don’t, then you are a thief. Why not give them what is due to them? And if the reason you didn’t help them is because you can’t, then how can you accept on yourself to be the leader of thousands of Jews?! You are a fraud!”

    The Rebbe folded his arms on the table before him and lowered his forehead on them for what seemed to an eternity. The simple Chassid wanted to silently back out of the room. but he was afraid.

    Suddenly a cold wind rattled the window and the room became a bit darker. The skies outside were becoming overcast with clouds! The Rebbe sat up for a few seconds, seemed to be in another world and again lowered his head. But this time small drops of rain began pattering on the window pane.

    The Rebbe did the same thing a third time and a minute after he again put his head down rain began pouring in torrents.

    Outside the Rebbe’s room the farmers saw the rain and ran into the street arms raised and faces to heaven, weeping and hugging each other, drenched to the bone, dancing and falling in the mud.

    Rab Issak of Homel looked to the Tzemach Tzedek, turned his palms up questioningly, shrugged his shoulders in amazement and asked for an explanation; where had he learned that trick to write that scathing letter?! And how could he have been so certain that it would work!?

    “It was simple” the Tzemach Tzedek answered, “It is written explicitly in the Talmud in Tractate Taanit, page 24b.

    There it relates that once there was a drought and the farmers went to the great elder Amora (holy wise men after the time of the Temple) Rav Pappa to ask him to pray for rain. Rav Pappa declared a day of fasting and prayer. Everyone prayed and fasted but Rav Pappa, being frail and delicate, became so weak from the fast that had to eat some porridge to keep conscious and continue praying. Nevertheless, after all this, the rain still didn’t come.

    At this point another Amora, Rav Nachman bar Ushpazti approached Rav Pappa and said sarcastically, “Rabbi, if you eat yet another bowl of porridge, do you think that rain will fall then?!” The Talmud tells us that Rav Pappa was ashamed and rain began pouring.

    “I always wondered” The Tzemach Tzedek continued, “What the Talmud was teaching us with this story, certainly it can’t be encouraging us to ridicule others, G-d forbid.

    “But just now, I understood what it means. Rav Pappa was the leader and holiest man in his generation but sometimes such a Tzadik gets so pure and removed that he has no connection to this world and has to be brought down to give blessings. That is what Rabbi Nachman did. He brought Rav Pappa down from his greatness. And that is what I did to my grandfather, the Rebbe.

    This answers our question; why didn’t Yaakov reveal the date of Moshiach.

    Yaakov wanted to tell his sons that the time for the redemption was NOW. He wanted to draw down to them the power, blessing and ability to change themselves and the world: to reveal the Oneness of the Creator in the entire creation and bring Moshiach immediately.

    But he became so spiritual and removed at this intensely holy moment on his deathbed, that the ‘Shechina’; namely the ability to make this extra measure of Gdliness dwell (Shochain) into his sons, departed from him.

    But, unlike our story, there was no one to ‘bring him down to earth’.

    This is the job of the Baal Shem Tov and his teachings of Chassidut (if you have never learned Chassidut please visit your nearest Chabad House): to bring G-dliness down to earth; into our minds, hearts, daily lives and even our most mundane matters.

    Namely, to return the world to real consciousness (Tshuva); so that even the most distant Jews, the most distant recesses of our Jewish souls and eventually the entire world, will awaken to a true desire for Moshiach and the awareness of the Creator that he will bring.

    This is what the Lubavitcher Rebbe announced time and time again: The time for redemption is here!! The goal of the Baal Shem Tov and all the Tzadikim after him has been completed.

    We are standing on the merits of thousands of years of Jewish suffering, faith, service and prayers. Now it could be that just one more good deed, word or even thought is all that is lacking to tilt the scales and bring…

    Moshiach NOW!

    Rabbi Tuvia Bolton
    Yeshiva Ohr Tmimm
    Kfar Chabad, Israel


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