1. Bribed by Candy
The Rebbe [Rayatz] once related that the saintly R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev said before his passing: “There have been tzaddikim who before their passing promised [their contemporaries] that they would not enter the Garden of Eden until [by their insistent intercession] they had ensured the coming of Mashiach — except that ultimately they were duped, and allowed themselves to be bribed by bits of candy [i.e., instant spiritual bliss]. But I won’t let anyone fool me!"
The Rebbe [Rayatz] concluded: “Ultimately, however, they fooled him, too. They said Kedushah in Gan Eden, and R. Levi Yitzchak jumped right in!”
Since the Rebbe [Rayatz] knew all this and related it, he assuredly saw to it that this would not happen to himself. The Rebbe [Rayatz] will certainly bring Mashiach.
2. Two Levels of Self-Sacrifice
The difference between the other tzaddikim and the Rebbe [Rayatz] may be understood in the light of the distinction (as explained in Chassidus) between two kinds of self-sacrifice — the mesirus nefesh of R. Akiva and the mesirus nefesh of Avraham Avinu.
R. Akiva sought out and requested mesirus nefesh. As he himself said, “All my days I have been troubled [by the verse which commands that one love G-d ‘with all your soul,’ i.e., even if He takes your soul. I would say:] ‘When will I be granted the opportunity of fulfilling it?’ ” Avraham Avinu, by contrast, did not seek mesirus nefesh. His spiritual path was to disseminate a knowledge of G-dliness in the world, and he pursued it with such utter dedication that when mesirus nefesh was called for, he was prepared to undergo it.
In other words: R. Akiva sought what was good for himself — except that in his eyes the noblest good was mesirus nefesh. Accordingly, this is not self-sacrifice at its truest. Avraham Avinu, by contrast, sought nothing whatever for himself (not even mesirus nefesh); rather, he was devoted and dedicated with all his essence to disseminating the knowledge of G-dliness in the world. This is mesirus nefesh at its truest.
This distinction throws light on our subject. In the case of all the tzaddikim who promised that they would not enter Gan Eden until they had secured the coming of Mashiach, this promise was an act of mesirus nefesh: they were prepared to forego even the Garden of Eden for the sake of the people of Israel. In the case of the Rebbe [Rayatz], however, since he is no entity unto himself at all, but his entire being is devoted and dedicated to the whole House of Israel, his activity toward securing the bringing of Mashiach for the sake of all of Israel is not “self-sacrifice”: it is simply his very being.
For this reason, though other tzaddikim could be bribed with blandishments of spiritual revelations, the Rebbe [Rayatz] cannot be bribed with such promises. For this reason, it is certain that the Rebbe [Rayatz] will bring Mashiach.
3. More than During his Lifetime
After his passing, moreover, when he has ascended to sublime heights, it is as vital to him to see to the coming of Mashiach down here in this world, below, as it was vital to him before his passing. In fact, after his passing the world below matters to him even more — as the Alter Rebbe writes in Iggeres HaKodesh, in the course of his exposition of the teaching of the Zohar, that “when a tzaddik departs he is to be found in all the worlds more than during his lifetime…; even in this world of action… he is to be found more [than during his lifetime].”
It will be noted that the Alter Rebbe wrote of this concept — that in this world too a departed tzaddik is more to be found — in connection with the passing of R. Menachem Mendel of Horodok, who was not one of the Rebbeim of Chabad. How much more so, then, must it be true of the Rebbe [Rayatz], that even after his passing he is to be found more than during his lifetime, and that what goes on down here is of the greatest concern to him.
This being so, none of heaven’s lures will succeed in deflecting him from his purpose; he will most certainly bring our righteous Mashiach.