You are anticipating some exciting event. Maybe you are awaiting a promised raise or promotion at work. The closer you get to the event, the greater is your excitement -- you may even feel butterflies in your stomach.
Now, when the anticipated good is something you definitely know is coming, but you are not sure exactly when, there are two stages. Initially, when you are told about the promised raise or promotion, you may be excited about the possibilities in front of you. But as time passes and the promised event does not take place, your hopes may wane, and eventually fade altogether, except, perhaps, for a faint memory of the promised good.
The Jewish people is awaiting Moshiach. Generations upon generations have anticipated the great moment of the final Redemption. How exactly can we describe this anticipation? Do we literally feel butterflies in our stomachs?
We don't know the exact moment when Moshiach will come. And this is enough of a reason for our inner skeptic to convince us that perhaps he is not coming at all, G-d forbid. After all, the evil inclination has no desire for Moshiach, when evil will be eradicated completely. It will do anything to cool off our ardor and faith, to weaken our ties to this ancient belief. It is not easy to maintain the same eagerness day after day, year after year, without any seeming progress.
Over 20 years ago, in 1991, we had a breakthrough when the Rebbe made his startling announcement: “I have done everything I can; from now on it is up to you – do all you can to bring the Redemption.” After that talk, the Rebbe spent the next 11 months spelling out the precise steps we needed to take to make the Redemption a reality. Study the concept of Redemption from Torah sources; teach it to others; begin to live with Redemption by practicing goodness and kindness on an unprecedented scale.
This was the cue we were waiting for. The butterflies came out in full force. Finally, after thousands of years of waiting, we could taste the Redemption, feel it, smell it.
How, then, do we explain the events of the 3rd of Tammuz, 5754 (1994), when the Rebbe’s physical presence seemed to have left us? After the buildup and the excitement, the disappointment was crushing. But one thing that the Rebbe instilled in us is that no setback is capable of stopping us. The Rebbe set to the task of rebuilding the Jewish world following the Holocaust, and transforming it. To a large measure, he succeeded. He is counting on us to complete his mission. Yes, it may be difficult to keep the faith. But the Rebbe gave us the strength and showed us the way. We can complete the final push to Redemption, and make it a reality.