(There is no way that a treatment of the Chassidic conception of joy could be complete without referring to this classic sichah delivered by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1988. In its original form, the sichah discusses concepts related to the date on which it was delivered, the fourteenth of the month of Elul: the dates of the weddings of the Previous Rebbe and the Rebbe Rashab to which it shares proximity; the significance of the years 5748 and 5749 (1988 and 1989); and others. We have omitted those portions, focusing on the dimensions of the sichah which are general in nature.)

The concept of simchah shares a connection to the Future Redemption. For it is in the Era of the Redemption that we will experience the consummate level of simchah. At that time, all undesirable influences will be negated as reflected in the verse,1 “And G‑d will wipe away tears from every face.” Indeed, all the negative influences will be transformed into good.2

This will greatly increase the simchah we will experience, enabling it to reach consummate perfection. Therefore the returnees to Eretz Yisrael are described3 as being “crowned with eternal joy.” The relation between the concepts of simchah and Redemption is alluded to by the fact that the roots of the words simchah (שמחה) and Mashiach (משיח)4 share the same three letters שמח.

To explain the connection between the two: Simchah breaks through (poretzes in Hebrew) all barriers.5 This is also the nature of Mashiach, who is a descendant of Peretz,6 and is referred to as haporetz, “ the one who breaks through,” as it is written,7 “The one who breaks through will ascend before them.” For Mashiach will break through all barriers and limitations.

On the verse,8 “Zion — there are none who seek her out,” our Sages9 comment, “This indicates that one should seek her out,” implying that we must demand the Redemption. Similarly, we must seek out joy, including the ultimate joy, the joy of the Redemption. We must demand that G‑d grant us the consummate joy of the Era of the Redemption.

I, therefore, offer the following suggestion and request: that we increase our rejoicing with the intent of actually bringing Mashiach and the true and ultimate Redemption.

Throughout the years of exile, the Jewish people have longed for the Redemption and prayed for it earnestly every day. Surely this applies to the tzaddikim, and the nesi’im of the Jewish people who had an overwhelmingly powerful desire for Mashiach. Indeed, as related in the annals of our national history, some10 actually sacrificed their lives to force Mashiach to come earlier (although there is a specific warning against doing so).11

Nevertheless, these earlier activities cannot be compared to the storm for the coming of the Redemption aroused by the Previous Rebbe with his cry (printed12 more than forty years ago): L’alter leteshuvah, l’alter legeulah , “Immediately to teshuvah ; immediately to Redemption.”13 And his intent with the word “immediately” was simple: at once, straight-away.

Moreover, this is not considered as forcing the Redemption to come before its time. For the time of the Redemption has arrived. As the Previous Rebbe stated many times: all the service necessary has been completed; all that is necessary is to polish the buttons,14 and to await Mashiach’s coming.

To explain in a more specific manner: For several generations prior to the Previous Rebbe, special efforts were made to bring about Mashiach’s coming, including — and with a special emphasis on — the revelation of the teachings of Chassidus by the Baal Shem Tov. For in reply to the Baal Shem Tov’s question, “When are you coming?” Mashiach answered, “When the wellsprings of your teachings spread outward.”15

Afterwards, these teachings were expanded and developed through the teachings of Chabad which enabled them to be understood and grasped within the context of our intellectual powers.16 To cite the analogy offered by the Alter Rebbe:17 the precious stone in the king’s crown has been crushed and mixed with water so that it can be poured into the mouth of the king’s son to save his life.

From generation to generation, the Rebbeim have continued and expanded the efforts to spread the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. These efforts reached their zenith in the time of the Previous Rebbe18 who spread these teachings outward in an incomparable manner, reaching out to each and every locale throughout the world, extending the wellsprings of Chassidus to the furthest possible peripheries. Similarly, his efforts included the translation of Chassidic texts (including deeper concepts in Chassidus) into foreign languages.19 He did not remain content with a translation into Yiddish, the language spoken by most of the Jews of his age (and the language in which the Baal Shem Tov and the Rebbeim which followed him would deliver Chassidic teachings), and spread these teachings into the seventy secular languages as well.20

Nevertheless, in these earlier generations (and even in the beginning of the Previous Rebbe’s time) the fundamental emphasis was on spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward and not (as intensely) on the goal of this process — bringing Mashiach. It was known that the object of these endeavors was to bring Mashiach , and from time to time (e.g., during the farbrengens of Yud Tes [the 19th of] Kislev and the like) this was spoken about, but this purpose was not the focus of attention.

After the Previous Rebbe issued the call, “Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to Redemption” and continuing to the present day, by contrast, the emphasis has been placed on actually bringing Mashiach to the extent that every phase of our efforts in our Divine service (including the endeavors to spread the wellsprings of Chassidus) must be permeated with the intent to bring Mashiach. For this is the mission of our generation: to actually bring the Redemption.

Many decades have past since the time of the Previous Rebbe’s announcement, “Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to Redemption,” and the storm of activities initiated to bring Mashiach. Nevertheless, Mashiach has not yet come.

There is no explanation for this. Our Sages stated,21 “All the appointed times for Mashiach’s coming have already passed.” Although they continued, “and the matter is dependent on teshuvah alone,” surely we have already turned to G‑d in teshuvah. Indeed, through a single thought of teshuvah, a person becomes transformed into a perfect tzaddik.22 And unquestionably, there is not a single Jew who has not had several thoughts of teshuvah.

What is there left to do? Tehillim, the Psalms of David, the [first] anointed king, we have said in abundance. Farbrengens have been held on numerous occasions. In spreading the wellsprings outward — for seven generations since the Baal Shem Tov — endeavors have been made, and they have enjoyed prodigious success. One might say that even greater efforts could be undertaken, so that these activities will be performed — to borrow a phrase from the liturgy23 — “in accord with the commandments of Your will.” But that is possible only as stated in that same prayer “there,” in the Beis HaMikdash.

G‑d only makes demands on an individual according to the potential he possesses.24 And if indeed, G‑d wants us to fulfill this service in a perfect way, let Him create the environment that will enable us to do so by bringing the Redemption. Afterwards, the Divine service of the Jews will surely be “in accord with the commandments of Your will,” in consummate perfection.

And so, it is natural to ask: what can we do to bring Mashiach that has not already been done?

In reply, it is possible to suggest, as above, that the Divine service necessary is the expression of joy for the sake of bringing Mashiach.

Simchah breaks through barriers, including the barriers of exile. Moreover, simchah has a unique potential to bring about the Redemption. As explained in the series of discourses entitled Samach Tisamach ,25 although the phrase26 “the day of the rejoicing of His heart” is interpreted as a reference to the building of the Beis HaMikdash ,27 during the First and Second Batei HaMikdash, G‑d’s happiness was not complete. It is only in the Beis HaMikdash to be built in the Era of the Redemption that there will be perfect happiness. “Then the happiness will reflect the essence of the Ein Sof.”

The maamar continues to explain that this essential joy can be aroused by the simchah experienced in connection with a mitzvah. Indeed, the simchah reaches higher than the mitzvah itself, precipitating the expression of the essential joy of the Era of the Redemption.

In the previous generations, people surely experienced simchah in connection with their observance of mitzvos. For the experience of this simchah is a fundamental element of Divine service as it is written,28 “Serve G‑d with happiness.” Nevertheless, in previous generations, the emphasis was on the service of G‑d, and that service was infused with happiness. The suggestion to use simchah as a catalyst to bring Mashiach, by contrast, puts the emphasis on the simchah itself, simchah in its pure and consummate state.

(Needless to say, for a Jew, even this pure expression of happiness must be connected with his Divine service in the Torah and its mitzvos, as it is written,29 “The precepts of G‑d are just, bringing joy to the heart.” Nevertheless, the emphasis is on the simchah itself, not on the factors which bring it about. And this service of simchah should have as its goal — bringing Mashiach.)

One might ask: Why in the previous generations — especially after the Previous Rebbe’s declaration “Immediately to Redemption” — was there not an emphasis on bringing Mashiach through simchah ? Everything possible to bring Mashiach was done. To refer to the analogy cited previously, the precious jewel in the king’s crown was pulverized so that it could be poured into the mouth of the king’s son — indeed, the precious stone was spread into seventy languages so that even a gentile could grasp it — and yet, there was no effort to bring Mashiach through simchah.

The resolution to this question is obvious. When the entire Jewish people — and the Shechinah — are found in the darkness of exile, the pain of exile prevents a pure and consummate expression of simchah.

Nevertheless, this should not hold us back from efforts in this direction, for ultimately, we must bring about the Redemption. And therefore the service of pure and consummate simchah is necessary. Moreover, the hardships of the exile should not create an impediment, for since this service is necessary to bring the Redemption, the potential is granted to experience such pure and consummate simchah.

This is within the grasp of every individual. By meditating on the imminence of Mashiach’s coming and the knowledge that at that time, perfect simchah will spread throughout the entire world, it is possible to experience a microcosm of this simchah at present.

Indeed, the lengthy explanation of this concept is not in place, deed is what is most important. Announcements must be made about the importance of increasing simchah with the intent of bringing Mashiach. And if anyone questions the effectiveness of this proposal, let him put it to the test and he will see its effectiveness.

And this simchah will surely lead to the ultimate simchah , the rejoicing of the Redemption, when “then our mouths will be filled with joy.”30