Chabad of North and South Brunswick
Wednesday, August 10, 2022 - 13 Av 5782
About us | Donate | Contact us
The Rebbe
News & Events
Torah Study
Ask The Rabbi
Jewish Calendar
Upcoming Events
Find a Chabad Center
Photo Gallery
Chabad in the News
Contact Us
About Us
Join our e-mail list
& get all the latest news & updates
6:41 PM in South Brunswick, NJ
Shabbat Ends 7:43 PM
Friday, 12 August 2022
»   Get Shabbat Times for your area
Help support by making a donation. Donate today!


















Share |
Moshiach Time is of the Essence
by Rabbi Zvi Homnick
A number of years ago, I was asked by a bochur not learning in a Lubavitch yeshiva who was nevertheless very involved with the Rebbe and in learning Chassidus, why some people who immerse themselves in the study of Chassidus don't feel the need to “go all the way?”  They enjoy the learning, they might even get involved in promulgating the teachings, they consider the Rebbe as the leader of the Jewish people, but still choose to remain “on the outside.”  Clearly, there are some people who “get it” and some perhaps even more learned who don't. 
One of the answers that I gave him at the time was that as long as a person learns and understands Chassidus as something that is in addition to what he already knows, he won't feel the need to change who he is and how he sees himself.  Before, he was a good person and now he is an even better person.  It is only when a person is open to completely rethinking everything that he thought he knew in the past, in the light of Chassidus, that it is possible for him to one day “get it,” and when he does he will have no choice about changing because for him there can be nothing else.  At that point, he will look back at his earlier way of thinking and it will feel like he is looking into the mind of a stranger, so much so that he will ask himself incredulously, how is it possible that I used to think like that?
The bochur was very excited by the answer and went to share it with his close friend from the same yeshiva, with whom he learned Chassidus and did mivtzoim.  Later, he came back to me looking crestfallen, because when he repeated it to his friend, his friend could not understand how Chassidus could be anything more than an additional set of Torah teachings and insights that are part of the truth of Torah, and so, one must try to incorporate them into his religious life to whatever degree possible.  But why would that make a person rethink everything that he knew to be true up till that point?  Since he was truly concerned that his friend didn't “get it” and he hoped that I could help explain it, he asked if I would make time to learn with the two of them on a regular basis. 
I tried to explain to him that whether one did or did not “get it” seemed to have more to do with his own mindset, and all the explanations in the world would not help.  At best, he would just see it as another new idea or insight to accept or reject.  Despite that, we did learn together for some time, and the two of them continued to be heavily involved in mivtzoim and running to 770 to see the Rebbe at every opportunity.  Eventually, the first one left his yeshiva to learn in Lubavitch and is today a shliach of the Rebbe.  His friend is still a fine Jew, now raising a beautiful family, who is very involved in studying and teaching Torah, and even learns Chassidus.
When I look back in disbelief at the way I used to think about G-d, Torah, Jews and Judaism, what is particularly painful, even more than having been misinformed or uninformed, is when I realize the contradictions in my own thinking.  One of the glaring areas of contradiction was how to relate to a Jew who is “lost.”  Even as a young teen I was aware of the Chassidic teaching based on kabbalistic tradition and alluded to in the Talmud, that every Jew would ultimately have a tikkun (rectification), or in the popular vernacular, “no Jew will be left behind.”  In fact, in the yeshiva that my family was connected to and where I grew up, one of the songs sung at hakafos was to the words in the verse in the book of Shmuel 2, 14:14, which is cited as a scriptural source for this concept. 
On the other hand, I was also aware of the difference in approach between the Baal Shem Tov and the Vilna Gaon regarding the issue of “rectification of souls.”  There are many stories in Chassidic lore about how the Baal Shem Tov spent much time and effort in order to elevate souls that had long been in torment since leaving this world.  Conversely, Reb Chaim of Volozhin recounts that when he asked the Vilna Gaon why he avoided visiting the cemetery, his teacher told him that on his last visit many souls from the next world came to him pleading for a tikkun, and he couldn't spare the time from his learning.  In the world I grew up in, it was understood that the conduct of the Gaon was more worthy of admiration and emulation. 
This colored our view of kiruv, Jewish outreach, so that we looked upon the work of Lubavitch with a more than jaundiced eye.  Looking back, I can't help but be amazed by how someone (me) could accept the idea that G-d cares so much about every Jew that He will not allow any Jew to be completely “lost,” but believe that expending time and effort to “save” a Jew was a waste of time that could be used for Torah study (that is without getting into the commandments of “rebuke,” “making G-d beloved,” “saving a life” etc).  As the earlier Chassidim would say regarding the Misnagdim or even those non-Chassidim not oppositional towards them, that they lack any true feeling for what a Jew is.
In the early years of the Rebbe's leadership, he didn't seem to make much of the yahrtzeit of his brother, Reb Yisroel Ayreh Leib on the 13th of Iyar, besides for saying kaddish as he had left no male progeny.  Over the years, and more obviously in the later years, the Rebbe spoke more openly about the significance of this date.  Looking back even to the earlier years, when it was not referred to expressly, one can see certain themes emerging in the sichos and maamorim said on or close to that day.  One of the issues the Rebbe addressed and developed in those talks, revealing tremendous chiddushim (novel Torah insights), was regarding the matter of free will.
Generally, the philosophical paradox that most people of a philosophical bent struggle with is free will versus divine knowledge.  The Rambam even addresses this conundrum in his legal code, to which the Raavad suggests he would have been better served if he had left the matter untouched.  Many great thinkers offered their solutions to resolve this question, with Kabbala and Chassidus presenting its own unique take on the issue.  Whatever form the answer takes, the key point is that G-d's foreknowledge is total and unequivocal, but is not determinative. 
The question that the Rebbe raised and addressed was free will versus Divine will.  All of existence is only a result of G-d's will and can only continue to exist as long as G-d wills it, and as such it is the only determining factor for existence.  Since G-d has already revealed His Will insofar as the outcome of creation as a whole, namely Redemption, Resurrection and the Seventh Millennium, and for each Jew as an individual, namely that every Jew will ultimately have his rectification and share in the World to Come, how can one be said to have free will?  Since by definition it is impossible for G-d's Will not to be realized and since there can be no existence without G-d actively willing it, or in plain terms “G-d always gets what He wants,” as He has made clear throughout Torah that the outcome is predetermined, how can the decisions resulting from the will of the individual Jew or all Jews be described as free?  (From the standpoint of much of Chassidic teachings, this question becomes even more complex and compelling, but due to restrictions of time and space this will have to do).
The Rebbe resolves all the questions and seeming contradictions by concluding that there actually is no true free will as regards outcomes, it is only a matter of time.  G-d will have His way no matter what, you only get to decide if it will be a day sooner or a day later, and since reward and punishment are directly linked to the concept of free will, your decisions only affect whether the process and time leading up to the final outcome will be a pleasant or painful experience for your soul.  Similarly, the nation as a whole can only affect how long or short the process is and how painful or painless it is, but as the Rambam writes in his Laws of Repentance, “The Torah has already promised that in the end Yisrael will do teshuva (repentance) and immediately they will be redeemed.”  The outcome is immutable and guaranteed.  G-d has sworn it to be so and the Torah already promised. 
In fact, since at his core essence, the Jew is “an actual part of G-d above,” his will is the same as G-d's will and as such the only truly “free” expression of his will is when it is consistent with G-d's will.  Any deviation from that is by definition only temporary.  That is why nobody can ever be truly “lost,” since one can only “lose” the more external aspects of his being.  Any concealment of the true essence of the Jew may require a long painful process to clean away in this world or the next, but the eventual outcome is assured.
This idea would seem to be very much consistent with the teaching of the Rebbe Rayatz regarding Pesach Sheini on the 14th of Iyar cited in the HaYom Yom for that day:
“The idea of Pesach Sheini is that there is no such thing as 'unrecoverable.'  One can always make corrections.  Even if one was tamei (ritually impure) or one was on a faraway road, and even if it was 'lachem,' that it (the impurity or straying) was deliberate, nonetheless he can rectify it.”
A simple reading of the story of Pesach Sheini would actually cause one to reach the opposite conclusion.  The fact that they were given an opportunity to make up for missing out on the first Pesach offering due to ritual impurity that came about through no fault of their own, would seem to indicate that this chance to offer a “makeup” sacrifice is very much specific to that commandment and that situation.  In fact, if one does not bring the Pesach offering on the makeup date, he is liable for the punishment of kareis (premature death), and can never make it up. 
And even though he could absolve himself of the death sentence through proper repentance, as the Alter Rebbe says in Tanya (Igeres HaTeshuva ch. 1) regarding the lack of fulfillment of any positive commandment, “Even though they pardon his punishment for rebelling against His Kingship, may He be blessed, and not fulfilling the command of the King, still and all the light is per the statement of the Sages upon the verse, 'a transgression that cannot be rectified,' 'this is someone who missed out on the reading of the Shema in the morning or etc.'”
However, with a deeper understanding of Chassidus regarding the nature of free will, as well as the role of the Jew and the Torah and Mitzvos in actualizing G-d's Will, it becomes clear that there is a much deeper message to the story.  The fact that Mishael and Elitzofon and/or the unnamed bearers of Yosef's coffin were able to “cause” G-d to issue a “new” commandment (the two Pesachs are counted as separate commandments in the total of 613) as a result of their burning desire to fulfill G-d's commandments even when legally absolved of doing so, expresses the Kabbalistic and  Chassidic precept that the Jew is rooted in the Divine Essence, “the One who wills,” and as such is infinitely higher than the will that is expressed in Torah and Mitzvos.  That is why, as Chassidus explains, if a Jew carries out what the Zohar refers to as “higher repentance” where he totally reconnects with “He who commanded the commandments,” he even has the ability to “bring down” any light that might be lacking due to not fulfilling a positive commandment.  “There is no such thing as 'unrecoverable.'”  It is only a matter of time.
In one of the sichos said on Parashas Pinchas 5745, the Rebbe explained the saying of the Rebbe Rayatz, l'alter l'teshuva, l'alter l'Geula (immediately to repentance, immediately to Redemption), in response to those “who seek to find fault” and argue that how can one say “Moshiach now” or “immediately to Redemption” without quoting the first part of the saying, especially since repentance is a lengthy and protracted process.  The explanation given was that since the Zohar writes that repentance is something that can transpire “in one moment or one instant,” it is not only possible that we have both things immediately but even one individual can be the one who tips the scale (see full sicha Hisvaaduyos 5745 vol. 5 p. 2622). 
When looking back over the years of the Rebbe's talks and writings on the topic of Moshiach and Geula, one thing becomes abundantly clear.  Everything the Rebbe said and did was to convey to us a sense of urgency and individual responsibility for bringing ourselves and the world to our/its preordained outcome.  As the Rebbe himself said on one occasion, he was motivated purely by the desire to see to it that the process be a lot less drawn out and painful than depicted in the prophetic and rabbinic literature.  In fact, that is the only effect that our individual choices can have. 
All the prophecies of record and all the predictions in the Talmud, Medrash, Zohar and countless other authoritative works are being fulfilled before our very eyes.  Moshiach is coming, or better yet, Moshiach is here, but the question that the Rebbe Rayatz wrote in a letter in 1942 and the Rebbe published as a prologue to the HaYom Yom in 1943 is still as relevant as ever, “What have I done and what am I doing to ease the birth pangs of Moshiach and to merit the Complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach?”  When the Rebbe asked, “What more can I do?” he was clearly referring to the issue of conveying the urgency, the sense that there is no more time to waste. 
We all have regrets about decisions and choices that we made in the past.  I assume that most if not all of us feel cheated because we didn't realize the opportunities afforded to us in the past, especially when we still had the Rebbe leading the charge in an open and revealed way.  Nineteen years after the original 28 Nissan sicha, more than fifteen years after 3 Tammuz, and surrounded on all sides by fellow Jews who may not be observant at all, or are observant but oppose our beliefs and efforts, we sometimes tell ourselves that we are entitled to feel a little hopeless.  The lesson of these days is the exact opposite.  The outcome is assured and there is no such thing as “unrecoverable,” and we have the power to “cause” G-d to issue a “new” commandment to bring the True and Complete Redemption, immediately, NOW!


About us | Donate | Contact us | The Rebbe | News | Parsha | Magazine | Holidays | Questions & Answers | Audio | Video


A Project of Chabad of North and South Brunswick
4100 Route 27, South Brunswick, NJ 08540
Email: • Tel: (732) 522-5505

Powered by © 2007 All rights reserved.