A Sefer Torah with which to Greet Mashiach

Before Hakkafos on the eve of Simchas Torah in the year 5702 (1941), the Rebbe Rayatz announced that a Sefer Torah was going to be written especially “to greet our righteous Mashiach.” The writing was intended to begin on Chaf MarCheshvan (the birthday of the Rebbe Rashab), and at that stage was intended to begin publicly. In fact it was postponed to Beis Iyar (the birthday of the Rebbe Maharash), when the writing began, according to the Rebbe’s instructions, discreetly.

Excerpts from Letters of the Rebbe Rayatz

On Simchas Torah I announced that I am about to begin writing1 a Sefer Torah and with it to greet Mashiach. Please announce that whoever so desires may participate in the writing of letters.2

Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. VI, p. 47

I have telegraphed my friend [i.e., Rabbi Shlomo Yehudah Leib Eliezrov of Jerusalem] about acquiring lengths of parch­ment six handsbreadths high, explicitly prepared from kosher animals that have undergone shechitah, on which to write (with G‑d’s help) a Sefer Torah with which to greet our righteous Mashiach very soon.

Ibid., p. 28

I hereby authorize...to arrange for...a particular person who should engage in this — to print copies of the public letter which announces the writing of the Sefer Torah, and of the open letter which invites those interested to notify that they wish to participate in its writing.

Ibid., p. 104

By virtue of our saintly forebears, the Rebbeim, the Prime Cause has so engineered circumstances that it has fallen to my fortunate lot to become the agent for the performance of a sublime mission — to become aroused and to arouse others in immediate repentance, so that we may prepare ourselves for immediate redemption, and write a Sefer Torah with which to greet our righteous Mashiach.

My unspoken intention was that this should be done privately. At the table on Simchas Torah, however, as I extolled the virtue of ahavas Yisrael, the love of a fellow Jew, ...a doubt arose in my mind as to whether it would be right on my part to keep this truth concealed, and thereby to prevent many men of merit from sharing in this holy privilege. Accordingly, regardless of the forces of evil which the Zohar3 likens to “insolent dogs...which cannot tolerate a pure spirit, and which abuse scholars and scorn their works,” I decided to announce that with G‑d’s help I am about to begin writing a Sefer Torah with which to greet our righteous Mashiach, speedily and in our own days, Amen.

I pray that G‑d in His mercy will be compassionate and ease the birthpangs of the coming of Mashiach, for us and for all our Jewish brethren, wherever they may be. Protected by His lovingkindness and mercy, both materially and spiritually, may we be found worthy of welcoming our righteous Mashiach in the very near future. Amen, Amen!

Ibid., p. 278

The Sefer Torah is Completed

Though the Sefer Torah with which to greet Mashiach was written in 5702 (1941-42), its final letters were not completed until the ninth of Shvat, 5730 (1970),4 on the afternoon of erev Shabbos. Sensing the historic nature of the occasion, thousands of chassidim from near and far converged on the beis midrash of Lubavitch in Brooklyn for this solemn and moving ceremony.

The Rebbe Shlita opened the proceedings with a brief sichah, and asked that Psalm 205 be read “as an invitation to all our Jewish brethren, wherever they are.” The venerable Rabbi Shmuel Levitin read it aloud, while all those present repeated it, one verse at a time. Then, in preparation for the writing of the final letters of the Sefer Torah, the entire congregation sang together the “Niggun of Four Themes” of the Alter Rebbe, followed by a representative niggun associated with (in turn) the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash, the Rebbe Rashab and the Rebbe Rayatz, and finally the niggun sung to the words of the verse that begins,. Tehillim 28:9. הושיעה את עמך — “Grant salvation to Your people and bless Your heritage; tend them and exalt them forever.”

The final letters of the Sefer Torah were now written. Various elder chassidim were then honored in turn with the responsive reading of individual verses from the passage beginning Atah hareisa,6 [as on Simchas Torah]. The first verse and the last were read by the Rebbe Shlita.

The congregation now sang the melody set to the words of the verse,7 פרזות תשב ירושלים — “Jerusalem shall be settled as an unfortified town.”

The Sefer Torah was now bound, and garbed in a royal blue silk-velvet mantle. The Rebbe Shlita placed an ornate golden crown upon it, and, surrounded by chassidim holding lighted candles and supporting a canopy aloft, carried it to the Holy Ark. At this point the Rebbe recited aloud the full blessing of Shehecheyanu,8 and ate a fruit of the new season.9

Returning to his place, the Rebbe Shlita delivered a maamar that began with the words, להבין ענין כתיבת ספר תורה — “To understand the meaning of writing a Sefer Torah....”

In the course of the brief talk with which this occasion then closed, the Rebbe Shlita said: “A certain deed was lacking, a deed that would enable [us] to draw on the strength which the leader of our generation, the Previous Rebbe, is granting. The completion of this Sefer Torah has removed that lack. All that now remains is for every individual to attend to the particular details in his divine service that are still outstanding. And thereby we will nullify the exile, and will be found worthy of going out with joyous and gladsome hearts to greet our righteous Mashiach.