Are we ready for the good?

Friday, 5 December, 2014 - 3:57 am


Dear Friends,


This week we received from the Basel authorities tablets that serve as antidotes to the effects of radioactivity – enough for the whole family. When I tried to find out why this was being done, the answer was: “They are being given in case there will be an attack using unconventional weapons, or some other kind of radioactive leak; in such a case sirens will sound, and you will know that you are to take these pills.” “But is there anything happening right now?” I asked. “Is there a war? Perhaps Germany is planning an invasion of Switzerland?” “No, nothing has been happening,” came the answer. “We just want to be ready for any eventuality.”


I liked that approach. It’s always good to be prepared. But then I immediately thought: Are we ready for the good to the same extent that we try to be ready for the bad?


When Yaakov Avinu prepared himself for his meeting with Esav, he prepared himself for every eventuality. He was ready for a peaceful meeting, but at the same time he was ready for war. He sent messengers with many gifts to his brother, in order to pacify him, and, on the other hand, he prepared his camp for a war with Esav.


The Rebbe brings a Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 75:6) that teaches us that Yaakov arrived at the meeting prepared for another big event; Yaakov arrived ready for the coming of the Mashiach. Every person in the world has a task. The task is to elevate the things he comes in contact with, and make them holy: for instance, by eating properly, making the Beracha (blessing) beforehand and eating with a holy goal in mind, or by doing a good deed or speaking positive words. When each and every one of us will finish elevating his part and making it holy, the entire world will be ready for the coming of the Mashiach. And Yaakov, on his level, had reached that stage: he had already purified his part in the world, and had prepared himself for the Redemption.


The Midrash sees this hinted in Yaakov’s words to Esav: “and I had an ox [meaning oxen] and a donkey [meaning donkeys].” The donkey refers to the Mashiach, as it says about Mashiach in Zechariah (9:9) “Poor and riding on a donkey.” In other words, Yaakov is saying to Esav: I am already with the Mashiach’s donkey; I am ready for the Redemption.


And if you ask why, then, did we go through thousands of years of the darkest exile, and still, the Redemption hasn’t come? The point is that there was a slight problem: Esav was not ready for the Redemption. And that is what the messengers said when they returned to Yaakov: “We came to your brother, to Esav.” We came to him with the idea that he was your brother, ready, just like you, for the coming of the Mashiach, but we very quickly found out that he is “Esav”, and that he has a long way to go.


The Rebbe learns from this episode a lesson for life. The individual is not to look around and say, “Why should I work hard? The people around me are not exerting themselves, and are not moving forward like I am.” Rather, just like Yaakov, a person should prepare himself and everything connected with him for the Redemption: to purify and elevate himself, to make everything around him clean and holy, and to be ready for the coming of the Mashiach, even if the world around him is busy with completely different issues.


So, yes – one must prepare oneself for every eventuality. It is important to be prepared. But if we learn from Yaakov Avinu, it is important to be ready for the good and the positive, because He will come – for sure he will come – speedily in our days, Amen.



Shabbat Shalom,


Zalmen Wishedski


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