Billboards and bumperstickers tell us, "Moshiach is on the way." But instead of dismissing this as splinter-group fanaticism, headline articles in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, and other mainstream publications are taking the subject seriously. And, in public discussions and symposiums, two topics are gaining an increasing amount of attention; people throughout the world have begun talking about Moshiach and the Era of the Redemption.
As we contemplate the changing face of the world around us, the collapse of the Communist bloc, the unification of Europe, the drive to disarmament, the Gulf War and its aftermath, it becomes obvious that we are in a transitional process of awesome scope. And this message hits home even harder as we see these fluctuations in the geo-political sphere being paralleled by radical changes in the areas of economics, education, and community relations. The existing frameworks for human relations on the local, national, and international sphere are giving way to new definitions. In this flux of values and goals, people throughout the world have directed their attention to the ultimate redefinition of society that will be inspired by Mashiach's coming.
And when people are interested in a subject, they want to know about it. It is not surprising that in the last year and a half, more books and articles have been published about Moshiach and the Era of the Redemption than in the entire previous decade. Most of these publications have, however, accepted as a given that their readers are willing to accept the basic premise that Mashiach's coming is one of Judaism's fundamental principles of faith. The publication to follow operates on a different premise.
To explain: When the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita initiated his mitzvah campaign, one of the spiritual mentors of his Chassidim, Reb Mendel, told the following story to shed light on the Rebbe's purpose:
Reb Mendel had been imprisoned in Russia for directing the Chassidic underground. One of his fellow prisoners was a gentile who had worked for a salvage company. Once that salvage company discovered a ship with an extremely valuable, but heavy cargo sunk off the Baltic coast. They tried to lift the ship with a crane, attaching a cable to a portion of the ship and hoisting it upward. But the portion of the ship to which they attached the cable would always break off before the ship could be raised. Finally, they decided that instead of attaching a cable to only one place on the ship, they would send down divers to tie balloons all over the ship's surface. As all those balloons would rise upward, they would pull the ship as a whole from its mire.
I don't know if the story actually happened - from time to time, Reb Mendel will weave his original ideas into accepted settings so that his listeners will relate to them more easily. But the motivation is clear - and this is the intent of publishing this article and those that will follow: To send out trial balloons in all directions so that anyone - even someone who does not share a basis of faith - will find points where he can tie in to the concepts of Moshiach and Redemption. And then we can lift the ship - the entire world on which we are traveling - to a higher level of awareness.
This and the articles that follow will eventually be pub1ished in book form, albeit after editing and not necessarily in the order they appear as pamphlets. To improve the publication and make it more appealing, we would like your comments. Write or call us at the addresses or phone numbers on thc front of this publication. Hopefully, even before your letters are received- indeed, even before this text is published - Moshiach will have already come and then we have far greater clarity about the entire subject.
S.I.E./Emet, Chof MarCheshvan, 5753