Preparing for the Teacher and the King
Every Man Woman, and Child has an individual responsibility to work to bring about Mashiach‘s coming. No one can shoulder this burden for another; each individual‘s own efforts and energy are needed. “Action, not words, is what matters.”1 We must prepare for the coming of Mashiach by increasing our study of Torah and enhancing our performance of its commandments.
Why are these the activities which will
hasten Mashiach‘s coming? Because the manner in which G-d rewards the Jewish people
follows the principle of “measure for measure.”2 Thus our efforts to
bring about a particular revelation must reflect the nature of that revelation
itself. Mashiach will be both a king3 and a teacher4. Our
activities, therefore, should anticipate each of these two functions.
In contrast to a relationship between a teacher and student, between two friends, or other types of associations, a king relates to his subjects by issuing commands. Ideally, a king should be utterly superior to his subjects. (Thus chassidic thought explains5 that King Saul‘s great height - “He stood among the people, and he was taller than the entire nation from his shoulders up”6 - reflected also spiritual qualities that far surpassed those of the people at large.) Because of this gap, a king cannot communicate his thoughts and his feelings to his people. How does he relate to them? - By issuing commands and thus specifying activities for them to perform on his behalf.
To prepare ourselves for the development of such a relationship with Mashiach, the ultimate king, we must enhance our observance of the mitzvos, the commandments we have been given by G-d. Of particular importance is the mitzvah of tzedakah, because “tzedakah brings the Redemption near.”7
Although obeying a king‘s commands establishes a relationship between himself and his subjects, this bond is incomplete, for the inner dimensions of his personality remain beyond the reach of his subjects‘ appreciation. To communicate these inner dimensions of his being, Mashiach will simultaneously serve as a teacher and, in this manner, establish such an inner bond.
Our Sages state that “Whoever teaches another person Torah is considered as if he had brought him into the world.”8 When a father brings a child into the world, he invests within him the very essence of his being. Similarly, a teacher has the capacity to share his essence with his students. When he invests himself in the subject matter he is conveying, and a student concentrates on grasping it, the nature of that student‘s being is transformed. As he studies, the inner bond established with his teacher shapes his thinking processes, causing them to resemble those of his teacher.
teaching the entire Jewish people, Mashiach will establish such an inner bond
with them all. This will uncover the essential spark of Mashiach that every Jew
possesses within his soul.9
To relate to this aspect of Mashiach and hasten its revelation, we must increase our Torah study, in particular its mystical dimensions, and especially as revealed in the teachings of Chassidus. The Baal Shem Tov related that he once had a vision of Mashiach and asked him, “When are you coming?” Mashiach replied, “When the wellsprings of your teachings shall spread outward.”10 Spreading these teachings, both within our selves and to others, brings the coming of Mashiach closer.
More specifically, our study should center on the subject of Mashiach himself and on the future Redemption, especially as these topics are developed in the published teachings of the Rebbes of Chabad [many of which are now available in English], in addition to the classic sources.
This study should be communal in nature, preferably in groups of at least ten, for “over every group of ten, the Divine Presence rests.”11 Furthermore, communal study generates an element of happiness. Even a person who prefers and needs individual study should complement his private hours by participating in these communal sessions.
These two activities, increased Torah study and enhanced mitzvah performance, will speed the moment when will be able to joyfully greet Mashiach, our king and teacher.
1. Cf. Pirkei Avot
Adapted from an excerpt of a talk by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Sound of the Shofar, pp 39-42.
For a lengthier more complex treatment of this topic, taken from the original chasidic discourse upon which the above article is based, see "The Teacher and the King."