Redemption – bring it on!
In the month of Nissan, in which the redemption from Egypt took place, there is a Talmudic discussion about the time of the future redemption. Rabbi Eliezer says the final redemption of Moshiach will take place in the month of Tishrei, the month in which we celebrate the solemn days of awe and repentance. Rabbi Yehoshua says that Moshiach will redeem us in Nissan, the month of Pesach, in which G-d redeemed us with great miracles and wonders.
A question arises. We are told that redemption can take place at any time. In fact, it can happen while you are reading this article, right now, so how can we say that redemption will take place in a particular month?
An explanation, offered by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, is that Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua aren’t arguing about the specific time of redemption, but rather the manner of redemption.
Rabbi Eliezer, who says redemption will happen in Tishrei, opines that it will take place through the effort of man, from below. Through man’s reaching out to G-d, repenting, returning, and penetrating the gates of heaven, G-d will bring about redemption. This is the nature of the month of Tishrei, a time of teshuvah (repentance), in which man’s service brings about a response from above.
Rabbi Yehoshua says final redemption will come from above, with G-d bringing about redemption even if man hasn’t repented sufficiently. This kind of redemption is like the month of Nissan and Pesach, in which G-d wrought miracles and wonders and redeemed the Jewish people in spite of them not necessarily being worthy.
Moshiach can certainly come at any time. The sages are discussing where the main thrust of the redemption will come – from below or above.
Even Rabbi Eliezer asks to what extent man’s effort is required to bring about redemption. The Jew has a g-dly soul that is always stirred and is therefore always involved in doing good, as our sages say, “Every Jew is filled with mitzvot like a pomegranate is filled with seeds,” but he is impeded by his animal instinct.
Perhaps he is saying there needs to be a much greater effort from man, and he needs to subdue his animal instinct in a much greater way to achieve perfect service. That will be the catalyst for redemption.
Rabbi Yehoshua similarly says that the Jew is always G-d conscious. He has a g-dly soul that is always somewhat in the service of his divine mission. But he has an animal instinct which disrupts and obstructs him from being perfect in his service. This is the nature of man, and the world that You, G-d, created! The service of the Jew is good. Let it be enough! It’s you, G-d, that needs to initiate mercy and not wait for perfect service. Bring on redemption!