Story Time: Is Moshiach Real?




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    Story Time: Is Moshiach Real?

    Rabbi Mendy stood in the middle of his kitchen with the phone to his ear. He was smiling widely. A few weeks ago, he passed his semicha test and officially became a Rabbi. That was why it was so exciting to get this call! They needed a rabbi to run an event that was coming up soon; and Rabbi Mendy was happy to accept • Story Time with Shani Eichler • By Beis Moshiach magazine • Full Article

    Shani Eichler, Beis Moshiach

    Rabbi Mendy stood in the middle of his kitchen with the phone to his ear. He was smiling widely. A few weeks ago, he passed his semicha test and officially became a Rabbi. That was why it was so exciting to get this call! They needed a rabbi to run an event that was coming up soon; and Rabbi Mendy was happy to accept.

    “We’d love it if you’d lead the seder,” Rabbi Cohen said. Rabbi Cohen was a Chabad shliach who was now living in Russia. Not long ago, no one was allowed to be a Rabbi in Russia at all. No one could be religious in any way. Anyone caught keeping Torah could go to jail!

    Rabbi Cohen had worked with Rabbi Mendy in the past. “It’s the first public seder in almost 50 years,” Rabbi Cohen explained. “For some people, this might be the first seder of their lives!” Since no one was allowed to be religious for so long, events like Sedarim and Shabbos meals were banned, too. Celebrating Pesach out in the open was still really new to many Russian Jews.

    Rabbi Mendy was excited. He felt lucky for this chance. There was no better way to celebrate Pesach; he’d get to share this special event with Yidden who’d never seen a proper Pesach seder in their lives. Rabbi Mendy knew it wouldn’t be easy, but he could see no greater zechus than bringing these Jews back to Hashem. He thanked Rabbi Cohen for this amazing honor and happily said yes.

    “I’d love to run the seder!” Rabbi Mendy said. “I already have so many ideas! Plus, I’ll finally get to put my Russian language skills to good use.”

    Rabbi Mendy wanted this seder to be perfect, and he was willing to put in the hard work to make it that way. He wanted to show the Yidden in Russia how beautiful Yiddishkeit could be! These people had never been able to experience a Shabbos or a Purim, so this Pesach had to be one for the books. Rabbi Mendy and his wife booked plane tickets for the next week – four weeks before Yom Tov. They wanted to get to Russia as soon as possible to get everything ready.

    When Rabbi Mendy landed, Rabbi Cohen was waiting for him at the airport. “We need to talk to the mayor,” Rabbi Cohen said. “We’re going to ask him about a hall that’s big enough for hundreds of people. That way, no matter how many Jews sign up, we’ll have room for everyone! Our small shul definitely isn’t big enough for that.”

    Luckily, the mayor was friendly and he knew just the place. “What about the old Communist meeting hall?” he suggested. “Back when Russia was a more dangerous place that would punish anyone who believed in God, the government would meet there. But it hasn’t been like that in years! Now, the Communist meeting hall is just a big, empty building the government owns. No one ever uses it, and it should have plenty of space.”

    Rabbi Mendy and Rabbi Cohen knew all about Russia’s dark past. During the Communist period, the government made religion illegal. Jews were forced to pretend that they didn’t believe in Hashem to protect themselves and their families. Somehow, holding this important event in a place that used to stand for so much hatred and fear felt right – they could take that building and turn it into a safe, happy place for Jews to experience everything that had been taken away from them for so long.

    The hall was huge.  There was room for anyone and everyone that might decide to join the seder. They thanked the mayor and quickly started getting ready for the first seder this Russian city had seen in many many years.

    Big signs telling everyone about the seder were hung up around the city. Rabbi Mendy and Rabbi Cohen found every Jew they could and invited them to the seder. Within days, people were talking and calling and asking for a seat.

    Rabbi Mendy and Rabbi Cohen were shocked. They were worried no one would be interested in a dinner hosted by rabbis, but they were wrong. These people – who had never been frum – really wanted to come celebrate Pesach. They needed no convincing; they all knew they were Jewish, and they wanted to be part of it.

    The two rabbis worked to make sure everything was ready in time. They kashered the kitchen, bought plates and bechers, and prepared lots of divrei Torah. By the time the night before Yom Tov came, three hundred people were expected to come and celebrate Pesach at their seder.


    On the night of the Seder, Rabbi Mendy and Rabbi Cohen had their kapotah and hats looking their best. The two walked to the hall where their seder was about to start.

    Hundreds of people sat around the beautifully decorated tables. White tablecloths and silver bechers glittered in the light.

    “Dobryy vechereh,” Rabbi Mendy called, which means good evening in Russian.  Hundreds of voices said hello back to him. He could feel his heart speed up. Rabbi Mendy was getting excited. Rabbi Cohen walked around the tables, handing out Hagadas. Most were translated into Russian. People started whispering to each other while flipping through the pages. Many had never seen anything like it before.

    Rabbi Mendy stood at the head of the room. He lifted his Haggadah. He showed the crowd how to pour their first glass of wine. Together they said the bracha, drank the wine, washed their hands, ate the Karpas, split the Matza, and, finally, reached the stories of Maggid. Everyone listened while Rabbi Mendy told them all about Yetzias Mitzrayim.

    The crowd listened while Rabbi Mendy went through the horrible things the Mitzriim did to the Jewish people. They beat them and tore their families apart. Many Russians could relate to these hard times. They’d been beaten by the evil government that used to run their country.

    They spoke about the makos, holding their breath as each one became harsher. They gasped when Rabbi Mendy explained the millions of frogs covering Mitzrayim; they were shocked into silence when they heard about the thick, black darkness of choshech. By the time Rabbi Mendy told them about the splitting of the sea, they were cheering and singing – clapping for the Jews’ miraculous escape and all the Miracles Hashem did to free the Yidden.

    The night felt like it was going by too fast. Every time Rabbi Mendy looked at his watch, it was an hour later. Pretty soon, they’d washed again, eaten matza, tried some marror, made a sandwich, and eaten a delicious meal! Rabbi Mendy walked around during the meal, getting to know so many special Jews who wanted to learn more about what being a Yid meant.

    After bentching, Rabbi Mendy got up to welcome Eliyahu HaNavi.

    “It’s time for the fifth cup!” Rabbi Mendy announced.

    People started talking. They were confused. Rabbi Mendy had just taught them that the mitzva was four cups. What did he mean it was time for the fifth?

    “This cup isn’t for us,” he explained. “This one is for Eliyahu HaNavi. A great Tzaddik and Navi that visits every seder Pesach night.”

    Rabbi Mendy walked over to his table and pulled out a beautiful becher. The silver was shining under the light. Carefully, Rabbi Mendy poured some red wine into the becher.

    “We pour this cup of wine to welcome Eliyahu HaNavi, and to remind us that, just like how he’s coming, so is Moshiach!”

    “Moshiach?” a voice asked from the back of the room.

    Rabbi Mendy smiled. “Moshiach is like our superhero,” he explained. “We daven for him every day – many times a day – because we know he is coming to save us. When Moshiach gets here, he will rebuild the Beis HaMikdash and take all the Jews out of galus!” Rabbi Mendy spoke about Moshiach for the next few minutes, explaining the future Tzaddik to people who had never even heard the word Moshiach before.

    Suddenly, an elderly man stood up, dressed in a simple shirt and old pants.

    “This has been a great night,” the man said. “We’ve heard amazing stories about Mitzrayim and eaten delicious food. We’ve even met new people! Jews who live right in our town we’d never met before.”

    People around the old man nodded.

    “But no more of this make-believe stuff,” the man continued. “We’re adults. We know that superheroes aren’t real. Moshiach is a nice topic for kids and story books. Nobody is coming to save us. You lived your entire life in a religious wolrd, going to Jewish schools and Yeshiva, but maybe it’s time you stepped outside of it and saw life for what it really is.”

    The hall went silent. No one dared to speak. Many heads were nodding and people were watching Rabbi Mendy. They were enjoying their night, but couldn’t help but agree with the old man. Superheroes were for comic books – not real life. This “Moshiach” sounded too good to be real.

    All eyes were on Rabbi Mendy to see if the Rabbi could answer him.

    But Rabbi Mendy laughed. “My friends,” he said. “You say you don’t believe Moshiach and his rescue is possible – but look where we’re sitting.

    “Twenty years ago, this hall was filled with members of a government that would kill anyone who so much as believed in Hashem. They ran the KGB, ordering them to hunt down Jews who kept Yiddishkeit. But today we’re celebrating Yom Tov – the miracles of Hashem – in this very same room. You say being rescued and having safety is impossible – but it’s already happened!

    “The Jews in Mitzrayim felt the same way you do,” Rabbi Mendy explained. “They didn’t understand what Moshe was talking about when he promised to free them from their slavery. They told him he must be dreaming. But Moshe knew what he had to do, and in the end, the Jews in Mitzrayim saw the most powerful army in the world fall because of Hashem’s miracles.

    “And I’m sure many of you older Jews felt the same way after the Holocaust. It seemed scary and impossible, but Hashem saved us. And today, instead of being beaten and killed and punished for being Jews, we’re sitting and celebrating Judaisim in the same hall where those awful soldiers used to meet and plan their attacks. Twenty years ago, you would have told me this was crazy – so why is Moshiach so crazy?”

    The old man blinked.

    He stood there, thinking for a few moments, and the hall stayed quiet. Rabbi Mendy was nervous. This man had never connected to Yiddishkeit; he’d never gone to shul or learned to put on tefillin. He’d never even kept Shabbos. Rabbi Mendy was scared he would tell him he was crazy.

    But then, the old man began to clap. A wide smile spread across his face, and he started to laugh. The people around him gave him confused looks.

    “Mazel Tov!,” the man said. “You’ve done one more thing I thought would be impossible. You’ve convinced me that Moshiach really could be real!”


    Just like in this story, the Three Weeks is a time when we should spend extra time thinking about the Geula and the coming of Moshiach. We have to realize that everything we see and hear is a lesson from Hashem. The world is changing so much, all the time – so why couldn’t it change for the better, too? It is possible. Yes, Moshiach is real. VERY, VERY real. And it is in our power, with our Emunah, to demand and bring him Now!

    As heard from Rabbi Tuvia Bolton

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