Publisher’s Foreword

In the late ‘fifties, there was a concept that challenged the minds of the world’s leading astrophysicists — “escape velocity.” Once the world’s first projected spaceship would be in orbit, its fuelling could be coped with. The problem was, how could one feasibly generate sufficient momentum to enable this earthbound creature in the first place to break free of the shackles of gravitation? There had to be a critical point at which it would cease circling the earth like some compulsive moth around a candle, and finally fling itself out on its own sky-rending odyssey. That problematic and critical degree of momentum was known as escape velocity.

It was in those days that the Rebbe Shlita used this concept to illustrate the challenge confronting every earnest Jew. It might be all very well to live a daily routine that included all kinds of worthy activities — but if one were to break free some day of the habitual, complacent and uninspired mindset that stunts dynamic growth, one would need to generate, at a given moment, a prodigious degree of momentum. One would have to break out of one’s own homemade mental straitjacket, attain escape velocity, and flee from one’s own Mitzrayim.

In the following unconventional sichah, delivered on the eve of 28 Nissan, 5751 [April 11, 1991],1 the Rebbe Shlita appealed directly to his listeners: “What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Mashiach?... All that I can possibly do is to give the matter over to you. Now, do everything you can to bring Mashiach, here and now, immediately....”

For thousands of chassidim around the world, the Rebbe’s challenge was the critical moment which empowered them to undertake personal challenges and outreach endeavors which they had previously only dreamed of. This was the fuel which fired them, at long last, with the dynamism of escape velocity.

A Day of Distinctive Import

Today is a day of distinctive import2 which shares a special connection with the true and ultimate Redemption. This bond is reflected in the present year; in the present month, and the day of the month; and in the present week, and the day of the week. In particular, this bond is reflected in this day as it figures within the context of the Counting of the Omer. In the latter context, our Sages taught,3 “It is a mitzvah to count the days and it is a mitzvah to count the weeks.”4

On this occasion, it is important to emphasize how essential it is that we complete our service of G‑d which is directed to bringing about the true and ultimate Redemption.

The Connection with the Present Year

As mentioned frequently throughout the year, the Hebrew letters numerically equivalent to the date of the present year 5751 (תשנ"א) form an acronym for the words הי' תהא שנת אראנו נפלאות — “This will surely be a year when I will show you wonders.”

In particular, in the order in which these letters are usually written (which is significant in Torah law, because legal documents are composed using this order, placing the tens before the units5 ), the nun appears before the alef, נפלאות אראנו rather than אראנו נפלאות. In contrast, the order אראנו נפלאות is the order in which these words appear in the verse, “As in the days of your exodus from the land of Egypt, I will show you wonders.”6

Both of these orders can provide us with insights regarding the nature of the year. The first order, נפלאות אראנו, implies that the “wonders” may exist without being openly revealed. This is reflected in our Sages’ statement7 that a person to whom a miracle occurs may not recognize the miracle that has occurred to him. Although “wonders” are greater than “miracles,” it is possible that these wonders will be so transcendent in nature that only G‑d will be able to appreciate them. In this context, the verse “He works wonders alone,”8 is interpreted to mean that some wonders are so great that G‑d alone can appreciate them.9

The added word אראנו, “I will show you,” implies that G‑d Himself will reveal these miracles, making it possible for us to appreciate them with our mortal eyes.10 We will be able to appreciate these wonders not because they are not great, but rather because G‑d Himself will become involved with revealing miracles that are so transcendent that ordinarily He alone would be able to appreciate them. Otherwise, as the world exists within its own natural context, these miracles could not be perceived.

Nevertheless, the order in which the words appear in the verse אראנו נפלאות is also significant. It implies that, at the outset, there is already a revelation of wonders which transcend our worldly frame of reference.

Thus, the two orders complement each other: The order אראנו נפלאות implies that a transcendent level of G‑dliness will be revealed, but that the revelation will be initiated from above, without being completely related to the framework of our world. In contrast, the order נפלאות אראנו emphasizes that the revelation will permeate our frame of reference. It does not, however, reflect a revelation that is utterly transcendent in nature.

Thus, the ultimate state results from a fusion of the two orders. In this ultimate state, the most transcendent levels of revelation permeate every aspect of this material world. First and foremost, this refers to the wonders described in the prophecy, “As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders” — the revelation of the wonders of the true and ultimate Redemption to be led by Mashiach.11

The Connection with the Present Month

Nissan is a month of redemption,12 the month in which the exodus from Egypt took place, and the month in which the future Redemption will take place. As our Sages declared, “In Nissan they were redeemed, and in Nissan they will ultimately be redeemed.”13

The Connection with the Present Day

This is the night between the 27th and 28th of Nissan. Each of those dates is significant. The number 27 is equivalent to the word זך, meaning “pure”, as in the phrase “pure olive oil.”14 Such oil produces a bright light. Thus the 27th of Nissan reflects how Nissan (signifying the Redemption) will be brightly revealed.

The number 27 is also significant in that it is three times nine. Three is associated with the concept of chazakah, a threefold sequence associated with strength and permanence,15 as in the continuum of three holy days (Rosh HaShanah and Shabbos) with which this year began. Nine is three times three, i.e., a chazakah in regard to this chazakah (as reflected in the three times this sequence was repeated in Tishrei), and 27 is a further multiple of three.

The number 28 is equivalent to the word כח, which reflects the strength and power of Nissan (i.e., the Redemption). Moreover, it indicates that the Jewish people have been granted the potential to actually bring about the Redemption.

The Connection with the Present Week

This week is associated with Parshas Shemini.16 Shemini means “the eighth,” and thus relates to the Redemption, which is identified with the number eight.17 There is a particular emphasis on this on the present day, the day preceding the Shabbos18 when the entire parshah is read.19 Furthermore, this is the third week (a chazakah) associated with Parshas Shemini, the first portion of which is read eight times (when including the readings of Shabbos afternoon and of Mondays and Thursdays). Thus, within the current framework of redemption, this pattern of readings indicates a heightened degree of redemption.

The significance of the present time is also reflected in the coming days.20 The 29th of Nissan is the day before Rosh Chodesh (Iyar21 ), a day often described as Yom Kippur Katan (“Yom Kippur in microcosm”).22 Our Sages describe Yom Kippur as the day of the marriage between G‑d and the Jewish people (for on Yom Kippur, the Second Tablets were given23 ). The consummation of this marital bond will take place in the Era of the Redemption.24

In particular, this year is distinctive in that the day preceding Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos.25 In months such as this, the penitential prayers of Yom Kippur Katan are recited before the advent of Shabbos.26 On Shabbos, all that remains is to serve G‑d happily, as is appropriate for Shabbos. As our Sages commented, “ ‘On your days of rejoicing’ — These are the Shabbosos.”27 Also, Shabbos itself reflects the Era of the Redemption, which is described as “the day which is entirely Shabbos and rest for eternity.”28

We then proceed to Rosh Chodesh. This represents a renewal of the moon, which is intrinsically related to the Jewish people who “resemble the moon, fix their calendar according to the moon,29 and ultimately [in the Era of the Redemption] will be renewed as the moon is renewed.”30 This month, there are two days of Rosh Chodesh, the first day of which leads us to the second day (which is the first day of the new month31 ). Thus the dimension of Rosh Chodesh which is associated with the Redemption is repeated and reinforced.32

We then proceed to the second of Iyar, the birthday of the Rebbe Maharash, the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe. Chassidim emphasize the connection of that day to the Sefirah Tiferes ShebeTiferes (“Beauty within beauty”).33 This day is associated with his characteristic pattern of conduct, known as Lechat’chilah ariber. As the Rebbe Maharash would say,34 “Generally, people say, ‘If you can’t crawl under, try to climb over,’ and I say, Lechat’chilah ariber: ‘Right from the outset, you should climb over.’ ” This level of conduct can also have a retroactive effect, elevating all the preceding days (beginning with the 27th of Nissan), and causing them to reflect the qualities of Tiferes ShebeTiferes and Lechat’chilah ariber.

The Connection with the Counting of the Omer

The days of the Counting of the Omer connect Pesach (the season of our freedom) with Shavuos (the season of the giving of our Torah). Thus the Counting of the Omer emphasizes how the exodus from Egypt was intended to lead to our receiving the Torah, and reflects likewise how the imminent exodus from the present exile35 is intended to lead to the consummation of the giving of the Torah36 — the revelation of “the new [dimension of the] Torah which will emerge from Me.”37

There is an added emphasis on the Counting of the Omer this year, since the first day of Pesach falls on Shabbos. On the verse, “they [i.e., the weeks of the Omer] shall be seven perfect weeks,”38 the Midrash comments,39 “When are they perfect? When Pesach falls on Shabbos, and our counting begins on Saturday night. Thus the weeks are perfect,” “because they begin on the first day of the week and conclude on Shabbos.”40 Thus, since the Counting of the Omer is always associated with “perfection”, this year this appears in a higher dimension,41 “perfection within perfection.” This also adds greater perfection to the concept of redemption in these days.

In particular, the numbers counted on the current days42 provide us with unique lessons. The 27th of Nissan is the twelfth day of the Omer. The number twelve is associated with the Twelve Tribes, the complete Jewish nation, which will be reunited in the era of Redemption. The 28th of Nissan is the thirteenth day of the Omer. Thirteen is the numerical equivalent of the word echad,43 meaning “one”, and thus points to the fulfillment of the prophecy that “On that day, G‑d will be One and His Name will be One.”44

This brings us to the fourteenth day of the Omer. Fourteen is numerically equivalent to the word yad, meaning “hand”. In the narrative of the exodus, the word “hand” is mentioned three times:45 G‑d’s “strong hand,”46 the Jews’ “upraised hand,”47 and G‑d’s “great hand.”48

This in turn brings us to the fifteenth day of the Omer, a number associated with a full moon,49 which reflects a state of completeness for the Jewish people, as explained above.

An Astonishing Question

Because of the unique stress on the Redemption in this time, an astonishing question arises: How is it possible that despite all these factors, Mashiach has not yet come? This is beyond all possible comprehension.

It is also beyond comprehension that when ten (and many times ten) Jews gather together at a time that is appropriate for the Redemption to come, they do not raise a clamor great enough to cause Mashiach to come immediately. They are, heaven forbid, able to accept the possibility that Mashiach will not arrive tonight, and even that he will not arrive tomorrow, or on the day after tomorrow, heaven forbid.

Even when people cry out Ad masai? (“Until when will we remain in exile?”), they do so only because they were told to. If they had sincere intent and earnest desire, and cried out in truth, Mashiach would surely have come already.

What more can I to do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Mashiach? All that has been done until now has been to no avail. For we are still in exile; moreover, we are in an inner exile in regard to our own service of G‑d.

All that I can possibly do is to give the matter over to you. Now, do everything you can to bring Mashiach, here and now, immediately. Act with all the energy and power of the lights of Tohu, but have your deeds balanced with the stability of the keilim of Tikkun.50

May it be G‑d’s will that ultimately ten Jews will be found who are stubborn enough to resolve to secure G‑d’s consent to actually bring about the true and ultimate Redemption, here and now immediately.51 Their stubborn resolve will surely evoke G‑d’s favor, as reflected by the interpretation52 of the verse,53 “for [i.e., because] they are a stiff-necked people, You will pardon our sins and wrongdoings and make us Your possession.”

As a further effort on my part to encourage and hasten the coming of the Redemption, I will distribute money to each one of you with the intent that you give it to tzedakah, for Tzedakah is great since it brings the Redemption near.”54

I have done whatever I can; from now on, you must do whatever you can. May it be G‑d’s will that there will be one, two, or three among you who will appreciate what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and may you actually be successful and bring about the true and complete Redemption. May this take place immediately, in a spirit of happiness and with gladness of heart.

An Adaptation of an Address of
the Lubavitcher Rebbe שליט"א
on the Eve of the 28th of Nissan, 5751