There is a well-known story about the Rebbe Maharash and the Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek concerning what the Alter Rebbe said: that the year 5608 was a keitz (a predetermined date for the coming of Moshiach).
The Rebbe Maharash approached his father the Tzemach Tzedek and he asked him, “What happened to the keitz ?!” The Tzemach Tzedek responded: “What do you want; wasn’t the Likkutei Torah published this year?”
To this the Maharash replied, “The Jewish people want to have Moshiach in the literal sense – plain and simple!”
A number of obvious questions need to be clarified in this exchange between the Maharash and the Tzemach Tzedek : The Tzemach Tzedek certainly knew that “the Jews need Moshiach plain and simple in the literal sense,” why was it necessary for his son, the Maharash to tell him this? And didn’t the Rebbe Maharash know about the publication and significance of Likkutei Torah ?
What transpired here was that while the Tzemach Tzedek was the Rebbe ( Rosh Bnei Yisroel ), and the Maharash would later indeed succeed him as Rebbe, the Maharash was however a “memutzah” [intermediary] (during the leadership of his father) between the Nassi and all of the chassidim and all the people of the generation.
As a representative of all the people of the generation, he had to proclaim the demand that the Jewish people need and want Moshiach simply and literally. The Tzemach Tzedek , as Nassi of the generation, definitely knew that the Jewish people “need and want Moshiach plain and simple” – he nevertheless wanted to hear this verbalized from the mouth of his son, who expressed it in the name of the Jewish people.
There certainly were many other discussions and dialogues between the Tzemach Tzedek and his son the Rebbe Maharash , most of which we are not privy to. The fact that this particular stor y has reached us is surely by hashgacha prítis (Divine providence) so that everyone should learn and take guidance from it: To many people, the faith in Moshiach, the need for Moshiach is somewhere within them deep down, but sometimes there is a certain hesitancy, a sort of reluctance, or sometimes there is simply neglect to verbalize it, to bring it out in the open and let it permeate our daily lives.
The lesson we learn from the above story is: It is a matter of course and well expected that the Rebbe demands and wants Moshiach. But a Rebbe wants to evoke the outcry and dema nd of the Jewish people – that they should demand, request and take the initiative to beseech Hashem for the coming of Moshiach.
It has to be heard from us! Our Sages say: “Tzaddikim domim leBoiram” (tzaddikim are compared to their Creator) . We find a similar idea also in regard to Hashem. The whole concept of tefillah (prayer) is based on the expression of our needs to Hashem.
The question is asked: Doesn’t Hashem know what our needs are even more than we ourselves know what we need? Nevertheless Hashem awaits and anticipates our prayers that they be verbalized in a way of taking the initiative and expressing what we need. It is similar with a Nassi b’Yisroel , a Rebbe.
He knows what our needs are, but he wants to evoke them from us, that we express and verbalize them, and in that way we will hasten the revelation of Moshiach immediately.
(Shabbos Parshas Pinchos, Vaeschanan, 5745. Tishrei 5746)
For the weekly Sichas Kodesh in LaHak click here