“How is it that the Redemption has not yet been attained? That despite all that has transpired and all that has been done, Moshiach has still not come?
"What more can I do? I have done all I can to bring the world to truly demand and clamor for the Redemption…. The only thing that remains for me to do is to give over the matter to you. Do all that is in your power to achieve this thing—a most sublime and transcendent light that needs to be brought down into our world with pragmatic tools….
“I have done all I can. I give it over to you. Do all that you can to bring the righteous redeemer, immediately!
“I have done my part. From this point on, all is in your hands.”
The Rebbe spoke these words at the close of an address he delivered on Thursday evening, April 11, 1991. Spoken in an anguished voice and couched in uncharacteristically personal terms, the words deeply shocked the Chassidim present in the Rebbe’s synagogue and reverberated throughout the global Chabad-Lubavitch community.
No abatement was seen in the Rebbe’s activities following this talk. On the contrary: although approaching his 90th birthday, he accelerated. Every Shabbat there was another public gathering, and sometimes several more during the week. Every Sunday, the Rebbe stood for hours, greeting visitors with blessings and advice--and a dollar to give to charity. His campaign to bring the world to an awareness of the imminence of the Age of Moshiach continued and intensified.
But a suspenseful expectation hung in the air. The Rebbe had implied that the torch that had been passed from leader to leader, from prophet to sage since Abraham--that torch had now been passed by the Rebbe to each and every one of us.
The 25th of Adar I, 5752 (February 29, 1992) was a Shabbat like many others for the Rebbe’s Chassidim residing in Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York.
Because it was Shabbat Mevarchim (the Shabbat preceding the start of a new month in the Jewish Calendar) they joined the Rebbe in his synagogue at 8:30 am to recite the book of Psalms, as is the Lubavitch custom. This was followed by the usual Shabbat morning service. Following the service, some rushed home for a quickly-eaten Shabbat meal. Within the hour they were back, joining those who had remained in the synagogue. By 1:30 p.m., the time that the Rebbe's weekly Shabbat farbrengen (gathering) was scheduled to begin, several thousand Chassidim crowded the large room at 770 Eastern Parkway.
Shortly thereafter, the Rebbe entered. For the next three hours he spoke, expounding on a variety of Torah subjects. In brief intermissions between his talks, the Chassidim sang and raised small plastic cups of wine to say lechaim to the Rebbe.
In one of his talks, the Rebbe spoke about the Torah reading of the day, Vayakhel (Exodus 35-38), and that of the following week, Pikudei (Exodus 38-40). But why, asked the Rebbe, does Vayakhel, which means “community”, come before Pikudei, which expresses the concept of “individuality”? Don't we first need to develop and perfect the individual, before hoping to making healthy communities out of them?
But this, said the Rebbe, is the Torah's very point: Make communities, even before you have perfect individuals. People are not Lego pieces or machine parts, which must be fully formed individually before they can be assembled together in a constructive way. People are souls, with the potential for perfection already implicit within them. And nothing brings out a soul's potential as much as interacting and uniting with other souls. Imperfect individuals, brought together in love and fellowship, make perfect communities.
The farbrengen having ended, those who had not yet done so went home for the Shabbat meal; they, too, had to hurry, as the short winter day was already drawing to a close. As soon as Shabbat was over, a group of scholars (called chozrim, or "repeaters") gathered to recall and write down the Rebbe's words (it being Shabbat, no electronic recording devices were employed at the farbrengen). Within 24 hours, the Rebbe's words were transcribed, translated into half a dozen languages, and faxed to hundreds of Chabad-Lubavitch centers around the world. The Rebbe's Chassidim now had "material" to study, disseminate and implement until next Shabbat's farbrengen, if the Rebbe did not deliver a weekday address before then (as he often would).
But on Monday afternoon (March 2, 1992), while praying at the gravesite of his father-in-law and predecessor, the Rebbe suffered a stroke that paralyzed his right side and, most devastatingly, robbed him of the ability to speak. There was no farbrengen on the following Shabbat, nor on the Shabbat after that.
Two years and three months later, the Rebbe passed away in the early morning hours of the 3rd of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, in the year 5754 from creation (June, 12 1994), orphaning a generation.
The Rebbe's disciples are still waiting for the next farbrengen. In the meantime, they're making communities.