- Question: [Sunday, 15th Teves, 5783]
The Rebbe and other Gedolei Yisrael have stated that we are found in the times of Ikvasa Demishicha and by the threshold of Yemos Hamoshiach. How is it possible to believe such a thing when so much suffering and tragedies still occur? Doesn’t this prove that we are still very far away? Ever since the Holocaust we have been told that we are in the birth pangs of Moshiach and unfortunately suffering and tragedies has yet to end. Doesn’t this prove that the times of Moshiach has yet to arrive and that our aspirations have not come true, similar to many other Gedolei Yisrael in previous generations who yearned and foresaw Mashiach, but he did not arrive?
While of course within Yemos Hamoshiach and the times of the Geula we will ultimately reach a stage where suffering ends, and Hashem will wipe “tears away from all faces,” nonetheless there is an earlier stage within Yemos Hamoshiach, and certainly within Ikvasa Demoshiacha, when suffering unfortunately still exists. Thus, the fact that we still see suffering in the world does not necessarily prove one way or another that Yemos Hamoshiach has yet to arrive, or is yet to imminently come. Yemos Hamoshiach is a set of stages of exile and redemption, suffering and happiness. May Hashem bring to the ultimate good days of Yemos Hamoshiach speedily in our times with the coming of Moshiach and the final redemption.
Explanation: We famously all await Moshiach to come in order to end all suffering from the world. However, many are unaware that the effect of Moshiach on the world, and the benefits that we are promised in the times of Moshiach, will occur in stages, and the same applies regarding the end of suffering. The Alter Rebbe writes that the coming of Moshiach is similar to the birth of a child, and just like by birth, there is much pain which precedes the birth until the child is born, so too prior to Moshiach’ s arrival there is much pain which precedes his revelation. This is known as Chevlei Moshiach, the “contractions” of Moshiach, similar to Chevlei Lieda, contractions before birth. Now, furthermore states the Alter Rebbe, that just like after birth a woman feels pain [i.e. has further contractions to expel the placenta, and body is weak and in pain and needs to recover] so too even after Moshiach we still have “Chevlei Leida” the pains of afterbirth. [This, however, will only last for a short period of time.] Furthermore, regarding the period known as Yemos Hamoshiach, this is not perfectly synonymous with the period known as Geula, as although the Geula will occur within Yemos Hamoshiach, it will be preceded by the end of Galus within Yemos Hamoshiach. Hence, just like in Galus we have suffering, so too in the first stage of Yemos Hamoshiach there can be suffering. The Rebbe in fact stated that we are in Yemos Hamoshiach, and at the same time stated both before and after that we are still in Galus, and that the Galus will not end until we have Moshiach Bevadaiy when the Beis Hamikdash is built and we have Kibutz Nidcheiy Yisrael, and until then we are still in Galus. In the Rebbe’s words: “Certainly, when we have yet to influence all the Jewish people to go in the path of the Torah, and strengthen it, it is obvious that we are still found in the bitterness of the Galus, and it is only that we are being shown tastes of the redemption within the Galus” Hence, the Rebbe was very much opposed to the confusion of our times with Itchalta Degeula, although this does not contradict that we are in the final stages of Galus within the beginning of Yemos Hamoshiach.
Sources: See regarding that even after Moshiach and Geula there will still be a short period of suffering-Chevlei Leida: Torah Or Hosafos Shemos p. 212 last line of first column; Derushei Chasuna 2 Admur Haemtzai p. 684; See regarding that our times are defined as Yemos Hamoshiach: Sichas Yud Tes Kisleiv 5752 Yichidus Kelalis 7 See regarding the various stages of Yemos Hamoshiach: Torah Or Vayechi “Osri Lagefen”; Sichas Lech Lecha 5751; Sichas Chayeh Sarah 5752 Os 13; Shaar Hageula; Likkutei Sichos See regarding that our times are still defined as Galus: Toras Menachem 58:416; Sichas 27th Shevat 5752 9 [p. 277]; Sichas Teruma 5752 14 [p. 297]; Sichas Titzaveh 5752 12 [p. 312]