As other peoples define their nations by boundaries of space, we Jews define ourselves by a story within time. Every nuance of Jewish wisdom comes in the form of that story, everything we do is tied to that narrative. Nothing—not our mitzvahs, not our customs, not our outrage nor our passion—can be understood outside of the context of that story.

And what is that story? It is the one we tell our children on the night of Passover, "Once we were slaves, then G‑d gave us freedom." "Now we are slaves, next year we will be free." It is the tale of redemption. A tale yet to come complete. A tale in which at every moment we totter on the brink of fulfillment.

What happens when the Jew loses his story? He is still a Jew. But he is homeless. And if the Jewish People as a whole would, G‑d forbid, lose their story—even if we would be sitting in our own land with our own government—we would be a homeless nation. That is why we have survived the exile, because we never truly entered into it. We always knew where we were coming from and where we were returning to, and so, in a certain way, we were always already there. For we always had the story.

But there is more to the story than survival. The story is what makes life real.

Nothing is more real than the story. Before the world was created, G‑d had the story in mind. He cherished the story so much, He built a world in which it would unfold. That is why, as long as you hold on to the story, you have truth, but when you abandon the story for the mere facts, you grasp an empty shell, a world that never was. For the world and all its facts, it is all nothingness—countless worlds could have told the same story. The story is everything. The story is the meaning behind all things.

Think of the stories we create every day: Just as countries are formed by borders invisible to the eye, so our reality is formed not by the events we see, but by the stories we tell about them. They are our favorite pastime, the obsession of every human being. We stand about the water cooler creating stories for one another out of the scattered fragments of our day. Whatever we see, whatever we hear, our mind immediately sets itself to the task, conforming all phenomena to the story we have already thus far created. Without the story, there is only one meaningless event followed by another. That is the point to the stories we tell: They provide meaning. Without meaning, we are hardly human. Without meaning, there is nothing.

That is how it is with our human fabrications. How much more so with the story of the Creator of all things. There is really nothing else but His story.

There is yet more: The story is power.

The story tells us that the iron walls are made to be shattered, the chains to be broken, the darkness to dissipate and the oppressor to be deposed. If we seem smaller than the big monster of a world that crushes us beneath its feet, it is only to make the story that much more exciting and novel. If we seem to be the victim, it is only so that the tables will be turned. If we are slaves, it is so that we may become the masters.

In the story, evil is an illness for us to heal, oppression is a temporary disorder for us to rectify, every mitzvah we do is another transformation, another step from darkness towards the light.

Without the story we are small, we are victims, we are slaves. Evil is evil, oppression is the status quo, mitzvahs are quaint rituals, darkness will always return. "We were slaves in Egypt…" and that is where it ends. We look back and see they killed us, we look at the present and see they hate us, we look to the future and we do not see ourselves at all. If there is no story, we may all be very good and nice—but we are impotent, for we cannot heal a thing. The world is big and we are small. Even if we have our own land, we must bow to them. Without the story, we are still slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt.

Can a sabertooth tiger be a sabertooth without a tooth? Of course it can. What would it do with its life? It could live as someone's pet in their backyard. They would tell everyone, "This is a sabertooth tiger. Just that it's lost its teeth." They would throw it scraps of pre-chewed meat every day. And it would do its job of continuing to live, so that people can say, "See. The sabertooth tiger really once existed."

So too, you can be a good Jew and preserve our heritage and customs. You can be that relic of the past, continuing to exist today because you existed yesterday. A benign, harmless, tamed and victimized, impotent old tiger.

Or you can choose to live the story and take your bite out of the monster, as David took on Goliath, as Moses took on Pharaoh, as Abraham took on the entire world. And the monster will come crashing to the ground and you will be the hero, as the story tells.

Now you understand why, in our time, we must begin to celebrate the fulfillment of the story, even before it has fully come. Now, as we turn the final pages of the book. The only thing that could stop us now is if we forget there is a story.

The Baal Shem Tov used to eat three festival meals on the last day of Passover. He called the third meal of this day "Moshiach's Feast." The last day of Passover is the day for Moshiach's Feast because on this day the radiance of the light of Moshiach shines openly.

In 5666 (1906) a new procedure was adopted for Passover in the yeshiva in Lubavitch: The students ate the Passover meals all together, in the study hall. There were 310 students present seated at eighteen tables. The Rebbe ate the festive meal with the yeshiva students. He ordered that four cups of wine be given each student, and then declared, "this is Moshiach's Feast." —Hayom Yom