Publisher’s Foreword

Well before the beginning of last year,1 people of all walks of life looked forward with anticipation to see what the new year held in store. The Rebbe Shlita had said that the letters ה'תש"נ (5750) stood for the words, הי' תהא שנת נסים — “This will surely be a year of miracles.” And soon one thing became clear in everyone’s mind — that this was no mere play on words. Within a very short time, cataclysmic upheavals overwhelmed one regime after another, with unprecedented results for humanity at large and for the Jewish people in particular.

Well before this year began, people of all walks of life have again been looking forward with impatient anticipation to see what this new year holds in store. For the Rebbe Shlita has repeatedly said2 that the letters ה'תשנ"א (5751) stand for the words, הי' תהא שנת אראנו נפלאות — “This will surely be a year when ‘[G‑d] will show you wonders.’ ” Here again it is clear in everyone’s mind — that this is no mere play on words. As the present essay records, the Rebbe Shlita sees a direct connection between the international events which are engaging the earnest concern of the world at large, and the teachings of the Sages in the Midrashic work entitled Yalkut Shimoni.

Together with the entire House of Israel, then, we look forward to a year whose message will bring unprecedented results for humanity at large — and for the Jewish people in particular.

A Year of Miracles; A Year of Wonders

The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything which a Jew sees or hears should serve as a lesson in his service of G‑d. Thus, the letters whose numerical equivalent totals the date of any particular year can provide us with insights that lead to an advance in our study of the Torah and performance of its mitzvos.

The letters whose the numerical equivalent signifies the present year, תשנ"א (5751) can be interpreted as an acronym for the phrase, הי' תהא שנת אראנו נפלאות, “This will surely be a year when ‘I will show you wonders,’ ” referring to the prophecy of the future redemption,3 “As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.”

The significance of this acronym can be further understood when compared to the acronym of last year’s date, תש"נ (5750), הי' תהא שנת נסים, “This will surely be a year of miracles.” Both “miracles” and “wonders” reflect a step above the natural order, a transcendence of the limits of ordinary experience. In particular, however, there are differences between these two expressions.

Miracles Can Pass Unseen; Wonders Strike the Eye

“Miracles” are associated with the exodus from Egypt. In contrast, as evident from the verse quoted above, “wonders” are associated with the future redemption and the coming of Mashiach. The wonders that will be revealed at that time will dwarf and obscure the miracles of the exodus. Thus, the wondrous nature of the present year will surpass the miracles of the previous year.

Furthermore, the expression, “I will show you wonders,” implies that these wonders will be openly revealed. In regard to miracles, it is possible that, as our Sages teach,4 “the person to whom a miracle occurs does not recognize the miracle that has happened to him.” A person may benefit from a miracle, and yet may never realize that a miracle has transpired. In contrast, G‑d will show us the wonders of the present year; the transcendent nature of the forthcoming events will be evident to all.

On the Global Level

The “year of miracles” was highlighted by the collapse of regimes that for more than half a century had stifled Jewish expression. During that year, these nations began to allow freedom of religious practice within their borders. Furthermore, they not only allowed, but even assisted, Jews to emigrate, and a major portion of those who left have settled in Eretz Yisrael.

On the Cosmic Level

In the present year, we have already begun to see the first stages of — and surely, the climate is set for — even greater wonders. The entire world is gripped with pregnant anticipation of the future. Our Sages spoke clearly of such an era. To quote Yalkut Shimoni:5

In the year that Mashiach will be revealed, nations will challenge one another. The King of Paras will challenge an Arab king... and the entire world will panic and will be stricken with consternation.... Israel will also panic and will be confounded.

This ominous situation, however, contains the potential for good, indeed, the ultimate good, as the Midrash continues:

[G‑d] will tell them: “My children, have no fear. Whatever I have done, I have done only for your sake. Why are you afraid? Have no fear; the time for your redemption has arrived!” Mashiach will stand on the roof of the Beis HaMikdash and proclaim, “Humble ones: The time for your redemption has arrived!”

On the Personal and Interpersonal Level

Chassidic thought explains that the spiritual influences G‑d manifests within the world and the conduct of the Jewish people are interrelated. In response to these spiritual influences and to further their manifestation, we should strive towards a level of conduct that parallels miracles and wonders.

Miracles and wonders reveal a higher order of existence, elevating the world beyond its natural limitations. Similarly, at present, G‑d is granting every Jew the potential to serve Him in a “wondrous and miraculous” manner, to step beyond his or her limits entirely. It is not enough that a person merely improve and increase his divine service through Torah and mitzvos; rather, he should change radically, adopting a totally new and more elevated pattern of behavior. It is now demanded of every Jew — man, woman, and child — to work with himself and to elevate himself to a new plane of conduct which is truly miraculous when compared to his conduct in the previous years.

Similarly, since this is a year when “I will show you wonders,” when there is an emphasis on revelation, we must also communicate the above with others, inspiring Jews (and gentiles6 ) to make similar leaps forward. Our scope of activity cannot be confined within the realm of prayer and study, but rather should extend into the world at large. Within the context of the world itself, we must show how the totality of existence is a dwelling for G‑d, a place where His Presence can be revealed.

“I Will Show You Wonders”

The revelation of this “wondrous” pattern of behavior will further enhance the wonders which G‑d reveals this year, and will draw down unlimited Divine blessings on every individual, on the Jewish people as a whole, and on the world at large. May it also include the most vital miracle, the coming of the true and complete redemption, and the fulfillment, in the most literal sense, of the prophecy, “As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.” May this take place in the immediate future.