It is fair to ask why the present generation should be able to merit the Messianic redemption when this was withheld from our predecessors. It would seem rather presumptuous on our part when those before us were ever so much greater and more pious than we are: “If the earlier generations were like angels, we are but like plain humans; if they were like humans, we are like donkeys…!”1

In fact, however, this is not really a problem. For one thing, there is an obvious progression of time which of itself brings us closer to Mashiach and continuously enhances the inherent potential for redemption, in spite of our inferiority.2

Secondly, the very deterioration of our times and conditions, making it so much more difficult to achieve spiritual perfection, lends that much more value and merit to even our slightest virtues, for “one thing in distress is better than a hundred in ease.”3 Greatness does not depend simply on the quantitative achievements of man, but is relative to the time and conditions of the generation: “a very small act in this generation is equal to many great mitzvot in others; for in these generations evil is extremely overpowering, to no end, unlike aforetimes!”4

Moreover, evil in itself has no reality. It is merely a state of concealment and hiding of the good.5 Goodness and virtue, on the other hand, are realities with the quality of permanence. They do not fade away.6 All the mitzvot and good deeds of the past, our own and those of our predecessors, therefore, remain intact. Thus there is an ever-growing accumulative merit accruing to our credit. Our present generation compounds not only its own goodness and merits but also those of all earlier generations.7 In the words of an ancient proverb,8 we are “like a little person standing on the shoulders of a giant”: though the little person is much smaller than the giant, by virtue of standing on his shoulders, he can see much further. That is why it is specifically now more than ever before that we shall merit the coming of Mashiach.

“Therefore we put our hope to You, G‑d, our G‑d, that we may speedily see the splendor of Your might… to perfect the world through the sovereignty of the Almighty. Then all mankind will invoke Your Name… and accept upon themselves the yoke of Your Kingship… On that day G‑d shall be One and His Name One.”9