Publisher’s Foreword

As a preface to this essay, we would like to quote a passage from our Publisher’s Foreword to a similar essay last year.

Well before the beginning of last year,1 people of all walks of life looked forward with anticipation to see what the new year held in store. The Rebbe Shlita had said that the letters ה'תש"נ (5750) stood for the words, הי' תהא שנת נסים — “This will surely be a year of miracles.” And soon one thing became clear in everyone’s mind — that this was no mere play on words. Within a very short time, cataclysmic upheavals overwhelmed one regime after another, with unprecedented results for humanity at large and for the Jewish people in particular.

Well before this year began, people of all walks of life have again been looking forward with impatient anticipation to see what this new year holds in store. For the Rebbe Shlita has repeatedly said2 that the letters ה'תשנ"א (5751) stand for the words, הי' תהא שנת אראנו נפלאות — “This will surely be a year when ‘[G‑d] will show you wonders.’ ” Here again it is clear in everyone’s mind — that this is no mere play on words. As the present essay records, the Rebbe Shlita sees a direct connection between the international events which are engaging the earnest concern of the world at large, and the teachings of the Sages in the Midrashic work entitled Yalkut Shimoni.

As we mentioned at the outset, we published the above two paragraphs a year ago.

In the present year as well, the international climate is pregnant with possibilities of radical change for Jews in all parts of the world. And together with the entire Jewish people — and with many other people throughout the world — we recognize that the Rebbe Shlita’s definition of the Hebrew letters associated with the present year, 5752 (ה'תשנ"ב) as hayoh tehei shnas niflaos bah (הי' תהא שנת נפלאות בה), which mean “This will be a year replete with wonders,” is no mere play on words.

With gratitude to G‑d for the wonders of the previous years, we look forward to a year whose message will bring unprecedented results for humanity at large and for the Jewish people in particular.

20 MarCheshvan, 5752 [October 28, 1991]
Birthday of the Rebbe Rashab [1860]

Patterns of Time

The Torah conceives of time as cyclical in nature. This is reflected in the Hebrew word for “year” — shanah (שנה), which also means “repeat”. Each year represents a full cycle of spiritual influences diffused from above, which are repeated the following year.3

Simultaneously, every individual year is also unique. (This too is alluded to in the word shanah, whose three letters are identical with the root of the verb ש'נ'ה', meaning “change.”4 ) Although the pattern of time is repeated, every year different spiritual qualities are revealed which determine the nature of the events to occur in that year.

A Year Replete with Wonders

In this light, the Hebrew letters which are identified with the date of the present year, 5752 (תשנ"ב), are significant. These letters form an acronym for the Hebrew words הי' תהא שנת נפלאות בה, which mean that “This will be a year replete with wonders.” The expression “replete with wonders” implies not only that the year will contain wonders, but that this wondrous dimension will characterize the very nature of this unique year, permeating every day and every event that will transpire in it.

As an expression of this concept, the letters תשנ"ב also serve as an acronym for the Hebrew words הי' תהא שנת נפלאות בכל which mean, “This will be a year of wonders in all things.” For every aspect of the year, both those facets of general import and those which are relevant to individuals, will be wondrous in nature.

Not only to Witness, but to Comprehend

The unique quality of the present year can be appreciated by a contrast to the previous year, a year identified by its Hebrew initials with the verse in which G‑d promises, “I will show you wonders.”5 As implied by that verse, the wonders of 5751 were openly revealed. Similarly, the wonders of the present year will be manifest and apparent.

There is, however, a difference between the two. The word arenu (אראנו)), the Hebrew for “I will show you,” is related to the potential of re’iyah (ראיה), which means “sight”. In chassidic thought, sight is associated with the quality of Chochmah, “wisdom”. In contrast, the letter ב that appears as one of the letters associated with the present year, relates to the quality of Binah, “understanding”.

Chochmah refers to the abstract conception of an idea, the mind’s glimpse of a concept which cannot be precisely defined or distilled into words. Binah, by contrast, refers to an individual’s efforts to incorporate such an idea in his own conceptual framework, to internalize it, and comprehend it in a systematic manner.

By definition, a “wonder” surpasses our ordinary framework of reference: it is not within the grasp of our day-to-day thought processes. This was surely true of the wonders of last year, which exceeded the scope of everyone’s imagination. The wonders of the present year will be as great — and, indeed, greater. They will, however, relate to the intellectual faculty known as Binah, and thus will lend themselves to being comprehended in their entirety. This, in turn, will make it easier for us to internalize the lessons they impart and to communicate them to others.

Spreading a Recognition of G‑d’s Hand

Sharing our awareness of these wonders is particularly important. It is human nature to rationalize, to attempt to explain any events that happen, even those which are extraordinary. As our distinctive spiritual task for this unique year, we should instead endeavor to draw the attention of those around us to the G‑dly nature of the wonders that transpire before our very eyes.

This grateful acknowledgement of G‑d’s kindness will in turn enhance and amplify the wondrous pattern that He reveals in the world. The appreciation we show for the wonders He works will call forth greater miracles of an even more encompassing nature.

A Preparatory Ingathering

Among the wonders which are already taking place is the ingathering of our dispersed brethren to Eretz Yisrael.6 Jews who for many years could not have dreamed of coming to our Holy Land are now making aliyah. For many years, they were granted neither the chance to express themselves Jewishly in the lands in which they lived, nor the opportunity to emigrate and live Jewishly in other surroundings. Today, both of these rights are being granted. The right to live as Jews and observe the Torah and its mitzvos is being affirmed by governments which had previously denied it. Hundreds of thousands of Jews have been given the opportunity — and indeed have been assisted — to leave these countries and settle in other lands, including Eretz Yisrael.

This mass exodus carries with it a responsibility and a privilege for every member of the Jewish people — to help our brethren establish themselves in their new surroundings, so that they can begin a new life amidst prosperity and comfort in both a material and spiritual sense.

A Glimpse of the Future

This mass aliyah should make us ever more conscious of the imminence of the ultimate Ingathering of the Exiles. It is evident that we are at the threshold of the Redemption and indeed, in the process of crossing that threshold.7 Even secular magazines, newspapers, and other media have begun speaking of Mashiach and the Redemption as subjects of contemporary interest and relevance.8

Because of the imminence of the Redemption, it is possible to experience a foretaste of that era in the present day. On the most basic level, this means that although the Redemption is not yet manifest, the awareness of its imminence should inspire joy. This in turn should motivate a person to greater efforts to precipitate the coming of this era. And thus, in the immediate future, we will see how the wonders of the present year will include the greatest and most necessary wonder — the coming of the Redemption.

An Adaptation of Addresses of the Lubavitcher Rebbe שליט"א
During the Early Weeks of the Year 5752