Graduation And Moshiach

Every transition from one level to another, by definition, consists of both the level from which one is graduating, as well as the level to which one is ascending. This is true for the transition in all three areas which make up all of existence: olam/world/space, shana/year/time and nefesh/soul/life, the acronym for which is עש”ן . When a Jew travels from outside of Eretz Yisrael to Eretz Yisrael, s/he is simultaneously leaving a place which is tamei and entering a place which is holy. When the Shabbos begins, we simultaneously take leave of the weekday and enter into the Shabbos. And similarly when a person graduates from one level of learning or spiritual advancement to another, they are simultaneously leaving – and hence relating to – the lower level, and rising to – and hence being connected to – the higher level.

Because of the dual character  of transition, it  can be one of the most traumatic and confusing experiences. When the Jews left Egypt and entered into transition, they were confronted by doubts:אם אין היש ה’ בקרבנו   . As a result, they were attacked by Amalek who sensed their vulnerability. In spite of all the nisim the Jews witnessed at Yetzias Mitzraim and in the desert, there were frequent expressions of doubt.

The time period linking the weekday and Shabbos is also known for the anxiety it generates in many a Jewish home. Our sages therefore admonish us to make sure that we give instructions about lighting the Shabbos candles in a soft-mannered way so as not to provoke a conflict. At that time of transition, we are very vulnerable.

Conversely, because it unites two opposite places/times/levels it must possess a singular power which transcends both sides. As Chassidus explains that the power to unite two opposites must derive from an even more transcendent force, compared to which the two opposites cease to represent obstacles to one another. Once more let us refer to the transitional period in the desert. Notwithstanding all of its shortcomings, G-d chose to give the Torah to Bnei Yisroel in the Midbar, not in Eretz Yisroel. It was the period of transition which brought the world its greatest revelation.

We are now living in a transitional period. The Rebbe has told us that “we are standing on the threshold of Geulah.” A threshold is the transitional state between the outside and the inside. In Halacha there are questions as to whether the threshold is considered as the inside of the house or the outside, because, as a bridge between two locations, it shares the characteristics of both.

We are now thus living in a very confusing time, because it comprises the features of Galus and Geulah simultaneously! On one hand we witnessed the greatest miracles associated with Geulah in the Gulf War, in the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the Rebbe pointing out how each of these and other changes were signs of Geulah. Yet, on the other hand, we went through the two chof-zayin Adar’s and a Gimmel Tammuz. The situation in Eretz Yisrael, where its very survival is threatened, appears to be a sign of the darkness of Galus we are still in. There are so many different ways people are looking at the situation. There are many doubts and tragically, conflicts.

Yet, we must bear in mind that a transitional period is also one that combines the two points that it links. To meet the challenge now is our way of accessing the incredible Divine energy a transitional period can generate. By looking ahead, by living a Geulah lifestyle now, even as we are shrouded in the darkness of Galus, we successfully reveal the mystery and the mystical power of transition. By remaining steadfast in our emunah that הגיע זמן גאולתכם  , and that all the Rebbe told us prophetically will transpire imminently, and living our lives accordingly, permeated with Ahavas Yisroel, we will have met the extraordinary and perhaps unprecedented challenge, this threshold period has for us.

The Rebbe has frequently told us that every individual’s experiences and positive changes are a catalyst for universal and cosmic changes for the good. At a time of our own personal graduation, we must be aware of the fact that we as individuals are going through our own personal transition, from one level of Torah knowledge and life to another. It can be traumatic, especially when this transition represents taking leave of one continent, crossing the International Date Line, to another continent. We should be mindful, however, that by realizing the unique opportunity this transition provides for, and when we meet the challenge, by looking forward in our own personal lives, this will be the catalyst for the collective “graduation” of all Jews and  the entire world from the state of Galus to the state of Geulah.

And conversely, by connecting our graduation with the graduation of the entire world, we will see how our private experience  is actually a reflection of a much greater  phenomenon – the phenomenon of Geulah. This realization, that what we are doing both reflects a greater cosmic state of Geulah as well as the catalyst for it, can only enhance the feelings of simcha and dispel the anxieites and doubts we have at this very momentous time. And, it is the Simcha which we experience, that will break through the final barrier which separate us from the complete Geulah and our ability to see the Rebbe with eyes of flesh. May we see its realization immediately with the Rebbe at our head.

Rabbi Heschel Greenberg

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