After enduring decades of brutal enslavement at the hands of Pharaoh and his henchmen, the Israelite camp was abuzz. Someone had arrived from faraway Midian claiming to be G‑d’s messenger and proclaiming their imminent redemption from Egypt. The messenger, Moses, didn’t expect to be trusted based on his word alone; he was armed with miraculous signs to prove his authenticity. In front of a stunned crowd he transformed his staff into a serpent, infected his hand with leprosy and healed it a moment later, and turned water into blood. Moses then informed the Israelites that he would visit Pharaoh and secure their liberty. The nation believed. The long-awaited redemption promised by Jacob and Joseph was finally at hand. The feelings of excitement and relief were indescribable.

The long-awaited redemption was finally at hand . . . Then things started heading south in a hurry

Then things started heading south in a hurry. Moses’ visit to the royal palace did not bring about the desired result. Instead of freeing the Israelites, Pharaoh accused them of being “lax,” and issued a decree requiring them to find their own raw supplies for the bricks they were baking. Unable to meet their daily quotas because of this preposterous new demand, the Israelites were whipped mercilessly.

This frightful situation dragged on for many months, until Moses could bear it no longer. G‑d’s beloved servant cried out in frustration:

“My L‑rd! Why have You done evil to this people? Why have You sent me?!”

Apparently, G‑d was waiting to hear exactly these words. He responded: “Now you will see what I shall do to Pharaoh . . . Come, speak to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and he will let the children of Israel out of his land.” This time, Moses’ visit to Pharaoh would be followed by the most absolute devastation of a nation the world has ever seen, and the subsequent triumphant exodus of the Israelites.

Before the onset of the Hebrew year 5750 (1989–1990) the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn, publicly stated that the upcoming year would feature great miracles. In advance of the following year, 5751, the Rebbe repeated this statement, declaring that this year’s wonders would be even greater than the previous year’s.

The world was not disappointed. Miracles which make water turning to blood and sticks becoming serpents pale in comparison began raining down at a dizzying speed. During those fateful years, it was perhaps difficult “to see the forest for the trees.” In hindsight, however, it is impossible not to be dumbfounded by the series of amazing events which occurred.

During those two years the Eastern Bloc crumbled, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, and the Cold War effectively ended. Germany was reunited and the Berlin Wall demolished. One by one, the various republics controlled by the USSR seceded, declaring their intent to democratize. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed a treaty to end chemical weapon production and to begin destroying their respective stocks. This all culminated in the last months of 5751, when the USSR collapsed in less than 72 hours. Historically, such radical upheavals were accompanied by incredible bloodshed and untold misery for millions. But not this time. The “evil empire” which embodied the “ideals” of atheism and oppression fell with barely a shot fired.

Miracles which make water turning to blood pale in comparison began raining down at a dizzying speed

In the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, more than one million Jews immigrated to the land of their fathers, free to worship G‑d.

Events in the Middle East were no less miraculous. The allied forces entered Iraq and secured victory in less than 100 hours, humbling one of Israel’s greatest enemies. Scuds rained down on Israel daily, but caused minimal damage and virtually no casualties. (To dispel the notion that Scuds aren’t lethal, remember that part of a Scud landed on a military barrack in Saudi Arabia and killed 29 GIs.)

All along, the Rebbe insisted that these miracles pointed to the imminence of the Redemption and the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.” Chassidim stood in awe of the momentousness of the occasion.

And then, things started heading south in a hurry. The Rebbe’s voice was stilled. The relief and joy which accompanied the conclusion of the Cold War gave way to fear of a new scourge—global terrorism. We learned that evil deranged terrorists cannot be defeated through conventional warfare, and certainly there’s no point in negotiations, unless we all are willing to don burkas. We suffered through 9/11, and experts predict that it is only a matter of time before they strike again. And heaven help us if these despicable creatures get their hands on weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking of WMD, we now have a madman in Iran who states his intention to wipe Israel off the map, and an equally unhinged dictator in North Korea who threatens global security. Both of them possess, or are on the verge of possessing, nuclear arms…

As for Israel . . . rockets rain daily on Israeli cities after a “disengagement” intended to placate our sworn enemies.

Suddenly, turning the clock back to the Cold War era, and the relatively levelheaded tyrants whom we so loathed then, seems like a wonderful alternative.

The Israelites didn’t deserve to be redeemed from Egypt. Bereft of merits and good deeds, G‑d redeemed them despite themselves, in order to fulfill the promise He made to Abraham. Then, it took Moses’ protest to get the ball rolling. Now it is our turnThe messianic redemption will be very different. Yes, it has taken nearly 2000 years of exile, but during this time we have proved our mettle and loyalty to G‑d and His Torah. The redemption will be wholly earned.

Thus, 3300 years ago, it took Moses’ protest to get the ball rolling. Now it is our turn. We must make it happen.

“Our L‑rd! Why have You done evil to this people?!”