Saturday, April 25, 2009

Evil Coming Into the Open: Preparation for Moshiach

There are other areas in which we see radical changes in the world today. Never have we seen such extremes – both in the positive and in the negative.

In interpersonal relationships, there are violent arguments taking place among people who seem to lack even the potential for controversy. Similarly on the good side: there are acts of charity and goodness being done in a way unparalleled in previous generations. People are giving huge amounts of charity, and showing absolute self-sacrifice for the welfare of others. Anyone who thinks about what is happening in his immediate environment will realize this.

In the world of Torah, there is also a unique development in this generation. The Rogatchover's way of learning is something the world has never seen. On this everyone agrees, even those who might not be deeply involved in his approach. There is not even room for discussion; it is obvious the moment you open one of his works.

On the world scene, we are also witnessing an extreme sort of negative development. Among the events described as characterizing the days immediately preceding Moshiach's coming is that "kingdoms will fight with one another." Recently – and especially in the last few days – there has been extreme violence to an extent that defies the imagination. However, since they are occurring in distant lands, people are not paying sufficient attention.

The Torah, which sheds "light" and clarity on every situation, also explains the meaning of these developments. Tractate Sotah, in giving the signs of the pre-Messianic period, clearly describes the present era. And regarding this period, the book of Daniel (12:10) says, "Many things will be clarified, refined, and purified...and the wise will understand." This refers to the present state of the world. Although previously the distinction between good and bad might not have been that pronounced, now it has become crystal clear. This is the significance of the phrase, "and the wise will understand." One need not be wise to see that these extremes exist; it is obvious to everyone in the world. But in order "to understand" – to recognize that this is part of the preparation for the Messianic Age – one must be "wise."

But G-d does everything for the good; what could be positive in this development of extremes, when there are also extremely negative results? The reason is that when evil remains concealed, it cannot be repaired. In fact, the person might even be unaware of its existence. Once this evil is revealed, however, it becomes possible to improve and elevate it.

But people still have free choice: therefore, once the evil is revealed, they can still leave it in a state of evil and even intensify it. Therefore we see extremes in bad in addition to those in good.

[...]

[As stated above] that according to the signs given in the Gemara, we are right before the revelation of Moshiach, and therefore the words of Daniel (12:10) apply: "Many things will be clarified, refined and purified." Included in this is that many negative traits which were previously concealed will come out into the open. In fact, even traits he was unaware existed within himself, or was unaware they were bad will be openly revealed.

The reason this is necessary is because everything must be purified before Moshiach's coming. And unless it is revealed, its purification is impossible. Therefore, shortly before his arrival, when the process must be completed, evil has become revealed in order to facilitate its purification. And since this evil has come out into the open, obviously G-d gives the individual extra strength to accomplish its transformation. It is therefore within his power to descend from his haughty stance and begin to purify those areas in need of improvement and correction. It would normally be possible for this process to be achieved gradually. But now Moshiach is about to arrive, and everything must be speedily completed.

But one might ask, the accelerated purification of evil would seem to constitute an unwarranted d'chikas haketz ("pushing the end"). We see in Jewish history that there were leaders who had the ability to do so and nevertheless refrained. Their reasoning seems obvious, since if the redemption comes too soon, not all holy sparks will be fully purified. This is reflected in the words of the Mitteler Rebbe that if the redemption comes b'itah (in the regular time), then all sparks will be purified; but if it comes achishenah (before the regular time, i.e. d'chikas haketz), then some sparks will be left behind.

In our times, however, this concern does not apply. According to the Gemara, "All the deadlines have past" (kalu kol ha'kitzin), including the regular time (b'itah) -- in fact the first b'itah, the second b'itah, the third b'itah, etc. Therefore, there is no worry about d'chikas haketz, and certainly no sparks will be left behind.

Sichos of the Rebbe, Purim and 12th Day of Tammuz, 5747

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