At the very outset of the current Gulf episode, the Lubavitcher Rebbe pointed out the contemporary relevance of a Midrashic passage1 that describes an international crisis which erupts in the Gulf zone in the year in which Mashiach will be revealed — a crisis that strikes panic among the great powers, and provokes the Jewish people to ask, “Where shall we go?”

The same passage goes on to say that the Almighty will answer them: “My children, have no fear. Whatever I have done, I have done only for your sake. Why are you afraid? Have no fear: the time for your redemption has arrived!”

Throughout these past months, moreover, the Rebbe has repeatedly reminded his listeners that the Hebrew acronym for this year’s date (5751) means, “This will surely be a year in which ‘I shall show you wonders.’ ”2

And on the Tenth of Teves, a fast day commemorating the onset of the siege of Jerusalem by an ancient king of Babylon, the Rebbe explained that even this painful event was ultimately intended to support the Jewish people.

The present essay assembles points made by the Rebbe on several occasions — in his public addresses on Shabbos Parshas Vayechi and on Shabbos Parshas Shmos; in earlier talks that were published in the Likkutei Sichos distributed for Shabbos Parshas Shmos; and in the course of distributing dollars to be contributed to tzedakah on Sunday, the 20th of Teves.

At a time when the eyes of the world are anxiously focused on the exploits of “the king of Babylon,” the message that these talks consistently radiate is — quiet optimism. This message does not defy reality: it does not for a moment advocate that natural responses to the current situation should be abandoned. At the same time, however, we ought to take to heart the advice of the Tzemach Tzedek: “Think good, and the outcome will be good.” For, as the above-mentioned passage from Yalkut Shimoni reassures us, when “the entire world will panic and will be stricken with consternation,” our people can remain at ease, confident in the Creator’s promise that “Whatever I have done, I have done only for your sake. Why are you afraid? Have no fear: the time for your redemption has arrived!”

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In a time of personal crisis, the Tzemach Tzedek once advised one of his followers, “Think good and the outcome will be good.”3 The optimism this directive encourages is not euphoric. Instead, it is based on the firm belief that everything which transpires in the world is guided by G‑d’s Providence and “Everything the Merciful One4 does is intended for the good.”5 When a person internalizes this belief, his life is suffused with bitachon (confident trust) and he is able to carry out productive and fruitful activities without being inhibited by worry or fear.

Bitachon is the very opposite of escapism. It does not mean that a person should believe that because G‑d’s mercies are infinite, He will save him without any effort on his part, or that whether his conduct is worthy or unworthy,6 he will prosper. Instead, it requires a person to act maturely within the world and employ all the natural means at his disposal. Nevertheless, he should realize that these efforts can never, in and of themselves, promise success. Therefore, one must “cast your burden on G‑d,” confident that “He will sustain you.”7

When a person has total dependence on G‑d, he has the confidence to face trials and challenges. He does not shirk his responsibilities or try to avoid difficulties. When confronting them, however, he does not place his trust in his own efforts, but in G‑d. He relies on Him alone, fully confident that G‑d will bring him open and revealed good.

This approach of total and complete reliance is sufficient in itself to evoke positive Divine influence. In response to a person’s efforts to arouse his trust and confidence in G‑d, G‑d creates situations which allow him to use his energies in positive and beneficial ways.8

If the above applies in the individual sphere, it is surely relevant when a major portion of the Jewish nation, millions of Jewish men, women, and children, are involved. How much more so does it apply in regard to Eretz Yisrael, G‑d’s chosen land, of which it is written, “the eyes of G‑d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to its end.”9

There is no safer place in the world today than Eretz Yisrael. Heaven forbid that anyone living in Eretz Yisrael should think of leaving at this time. On the contrary, whoever is planning to visit Eretz Yisrael, should go without fear and should let others know of his trip as well, for this will raise the confidence of the Jewish people throughout the world.

The above is particularly true because of the great merit of the Jewish people today. Despite all the trials to which our people have been subjected in the present exile, “even the least worthy member of our people possesses as many mitzvos as a pomegranate possesses seeds.”10 Indeed, “Your people are all righteous..., They are the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, in which I take pride.”11 G‑d takes great pride in every Jew. There is no way our mortal wisdom can comprehend the immense merit every Jew possesses.12

This is what is required of us at present — to emphasize the virtues of every Jew, to spread love and unity among the Jewish people, and to encourage the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos in our everyday lives. As the Rambam writes,13 “with one mitzvah, one can tip his personal balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and bring deliverance and salvation.”

These activities will no doubt call down G‑d’s benevolence. We say in our prayers, “Bless us, our Father, all of us as one.” The Alter Rebbe explains14 that when we are “as one,” united by bonds of unity, we are worthy of blessing — including the ultimate blessing, the coming of Mashiach.