The Baal Shem Tov writes in a letter to his brother-in-law that on Rosh HaShanah of the year 5507/1746, his soul ascended to the heavenly realms where he was granted the privilege of entering the palace of the soul of Moshiach. He asked Moshiach, "Master, when are you coming?" Moshiach responded, "When your wellsprings [teachings] will be disseminated outward."
To this end, the Rebbe has always stressed the importance of studying chasidic philosophy and teaching it to others to hasten Moshiach's coming and to prepare ourselves for the messianic era.
What follows are excerpts of letters from the Rebbe about the importance of disseminating Chasidus.
The destiny of the teachings and the message of the Baal Shem Tov--that they should be disseminated to the furthest reaches of the world--must be fulfilled. Accordingly, no corner of the globe inhabited by Jews should remain untouched by this message.
And since we are now in the era in which we hear the approaching footsteps of Moshiach, who "is standing behind our wall," waiting only for the finishing touches to our refinement of this physical world, it is thus imperative that Chasidus be studied in Australia, too. This applies not only to the Russian-born chasidim who were sent there as emissaries; it should likewise permeate the local Jewish population. And since this is something that must happen, all the necessary resources will no doubt be forthcoming.
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I was pleased to read of your decision to engage in the diffusion of the light of Chasidus, and so on. It is a pity, though, that you are deferring this for some time, when "behold, [Moshiach] is standing behind our wall," and is being delayed only because the wellsprings are not yet sufficiently widespread. Can anyone measure [the Jewish people's] anguish with every additional moment of exile, or [their] bliss in every additional moment of the Era of the Redemption?
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It is my obligation (and my privilege) to make you aware of the great necessity of studying the inner dimensions of the Torah, which in these latter generations have been revealed within the teachings of Chasidus. And if this study is a necessity for every Jew, how much more is this true of a person who is in a position to influence others, and who is thus (in the words of the Mishnah) "himself meritorious and causes many others to attain merit." Moreover, from this affirmative statement one can infer [that the reverse is true when one does not take steps to be meritorious].
Especially in this period of the approaching footsteps of Moshiach, when "behold, he is standing behind our wall" and everyone should be prepared every day for his coming, every single individual must do his duty. For, as the King Moshiach himself stated, he will come "when the wellsprings will be widespread." Heaven forfend that the exile be prolonged, even for the shortest time, by reason of any inactivity in this task of dissemination, or even by incomplete activity. For this is an exile both of G-d and of the House of Israel, since "when they were exiled to Edom the Divine Presence accompanied them."
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From the perspective of this world, today's world needs a more intense light and a greater diffusion of light, because of its lower standards (as the Sages write, "If the early generation were like angels, we are like mortals; if they are like mortals, we are like donkeys"), and because of the seriously depleted numbers of our Jewish brethren (as a result of the events of recent years).
From the heavenly perspective, year by year, in every era, a new and lofty spiritual light that has never yet radiated is drawn down to this world each year from a higher realm. This obliges us to provide additional "vessels" for this light. In this era in particular, we are coming ever closer to the time of which we have been promised, "In its time I will expedite it." This verse refers to the time of the coming and revelation of Moshiach. The "vessel" for this revelation is the light of Chasidus; the condition for this revelation is the dissemination of the wellsprings of Chasidus. It follows that this light must radiate even to places that until now were "outside" and that everywhere, vessels to contain the light of Moshiach should be expanded.
The question of decades ago, "It's ten p.m. Do you know where your children are?" might bring more looks of exasperation today than in the past. Yet, if someone directed a similar question to you--"Do you know where you are?" we would think that the questioner is a bit daft.
Aside from visits to malls, zoos or amusement parks, when we often have to refer to the map at the information center to find out "you are here," we always seem to know where we are.
But do we really know where we are?
The first Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, was imprisoned on trumped up charges of anti-government activities. During his imprisonment, one of the czar's officers--having heard of Rabbi Shneur Zalman's keen intellect and outstanding genius in all areas of life--engaged him in a conversation.
The officer had an unsolved question. "It says that Adam 'hid' after he sinned by eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. When G-d wanted to speak with Adam, He asked him, 'Where are you?' Didn't G-d know where Adam was?" asked the officer.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman replied, "The Bible is eternal and its message is for all times. G-d was inquiring of Adam, and of all his descendants for all time, 'Where are you? Where do you stand in the fulfillment of your life's mission? How much have you accomplished today and what do you intend to accomplish tomorrow that will help you fulfill the special task with which you have been entrusted?'"
The question "Where are you?" is asked every day of each one of us. Like the question, "Who are you?" the answer has to come from a place that goes beyond names and titles and positions and affiliations and job descriptions. To be able to properly respond, our answer has to come from our very essence. For G-d does not direct the question to Adam or Eve, to Michael or Jennifer. He directs it to you: "Where are you?"
An important start in being able to answer the question is to understand who "you" are. The chassidic teachings of Rabbi Shneur Zalman--the dissemination of which was the true cause for his imprisonment--explain that "you" are comprised of a G-dly soul and a body chosen by G-d at Mount Sinai. Torah, primarily as elucidated by chassidic teachings, can help us fully understand these two components of ourselves. Together with that understanding comes the ability to begin to answer the age-old and ageless question, "Where are you."
The New Year of Chassidus commences on the 19th of Kislev. Make a New Year's resolution that "you" will never regret. Join a Torah class that includes chassidic teachings. Find out where you really are.
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