1. Among the unique aspects of the month of Nissan is the recitation of the passages that describe the offerings brought by the Nesi’im (princes) of each tribe at the dedication of the Sanctuary in the desert. Each day, we read of the offering brought by the Nasi of a different tribe and on the thirteenth of Nissan, we read the portion connected with the kindling of the Menorah which relates to the tribe of Levi.1

This also relates to Nissan’s distinction as “the month of redemption” and our Sages’ association of Nissan with “miracles of a truly miraculous nature.”2 “In Nissan, we were redeemed and, in Nissan, we will be redeemed in the future,” the Messianic redemption, when “As in the days of our exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.” Thus, the narrative of the dedication of the Sanctuary is appropriate for the present month when we will witness, with G‑d’s help, the dedication of the Third Bais HaMikdash.

The dedication of the Sanctuary also relates to the individual service of each Jew. Our Sages note that in the command to build the Sanctuary, “And you shall build Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell within,” the Torah uses the plural form of the word “within,” and interpret that to mean, “within each and every individual.” Within each Jew’s heart, and in an expanded sense within his house and surrounding, a “Sanctuary for G‑d” must be established.3

Thus, today, the twelfth of Nissan, the conclusion of the dedication of the Sanctuary, shares a unique connection to the present age, the last moments before the Messianic redemption when we are involved in the completion of the task of making this world a dwelling for G‑d.

Today’s service, the conclusion of the dedication of the Sanctuary, is connected with the expression, “Last in deed, first in thought.” This implies that when a deed is actually completed, one’s original thoughts are revealed. This refers, not only to the thoughts necessary to plan the performance of the deed, but rather, to the person’s fundamental intent, a thought that stands above any plans, an idea that the person himself may not be consciously aware of.

We see this concept reflected in our behavior. Deed comes after thought; i.e., first, a person desires a particular thing and then his will influences his intellect and emotions, until it reaches the aspect of conscious thought, speech, and then, deed. When, however, the deed is carried out, a level of pleasure that was not expressed previously in thought is revealed.

Similarly, in regard to G‑d: The “last in deed,” the actual service of the Jews in the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvos, reveals a level of thought that transcends all the levels revealed in the order of spiritual worlds, relating to G‑d’s essence itself.

Our service on this earthly plane in refining the lowest aspects of this material world, transforming it into holiness, has an advantage over the revelation in the spiritual realms. The transformation of the lowest aspects of the world, “last in deed,” comes about from G‑d’s essence which is above all levels that are revealed, even on the first and highest levels of thought. This concept is emphasized on the final day of the dedication of the Sanctuary, “last in deed,” when the ultimate intention, “first in thought,” was revealed.

This concept is related to the tribe whose Nasi offered his sacrifices on this day, the tribe of Naftali. Rashi explains that the name Naftali is associated with the concept of connection, which is related to the service of prayer. Prayer reflects the service of ascent from the lower realms upward. A person prays to G‑d in concern over his material needs. This, in turn, brings about a new revelation from above. This service of elevation from below reflects the concept of “last in deed” described above.

This concept is also related to the service of the tribe whose Nasi offered sacrifices on the previous day, the eleventh of Nissan, the tribe of Asher. The service of Asher relates to the attribute of pleasure as implied by the blessing given to him, “he will provide the delicacies of the king.” The attribute of pleasure relates to the dimension of yechidah, the essence of the soul.

The Midrash explains that Asher relates to the “happiness of Israel,” which comes because, “they chose the Holy One, blessed be He, as their G‑d.” This attribute is reflected in the date on which the sacrifices were brought, the eleventh of Nissan. Eleven is associated with a quality which transcends the ten sefiros, the level of “You are one, but not in a numerical sense,” which is reflected in the level of yechidah.

This service leads to the twelfth of Nissan, the day on which the essential connection between G‑d and the Jews is revealed through the service of “last in deed” described above. This service reveals the level of “first in thought,” the source of the Jewish souls, the quality of Asher, expressing it in a manifest manner on the worldly plane.4

This leads to the service of the thirteenth of Nissan. 13 is numerically equivalent to the Hebrew word אחד meaning one. As mentioned, on the thirteenth of Nissan, we read the passage describing the Menorah whose light revealed G‑d’s oneness throughout the world.

The concept of “Last in deed, first in thought” is intrinsically related to the Messianic redemption. The time of the revelation, the end of times, is hidden and sealed and will not be revealed until the redemption actually comes. Since the nature of the redemption itself transcends the concept of revelation as the Rambam writes, “In that age, the Jews will... know hidden matters,” therefore, the time for the revelation is also hidden.

The nature of the redemption is concealed not only from humans, but from G‑d, Himself, as it were. The Midrash describes the nature of the redemption as follows, “to My heart, I have revealed it, but to My limbs, I have not revealed it;” i.e., the concept of redemption is above revelation even for G‑d, Himself. Thus, the coming of Mashiach represents the level of “first in thought,” an essential level which is above revelation. This level will be revealed in a manifest manner by the service of “last in deed,” our service of refining the world in the period of the exile.

The fact that, in the Messianic era, the matters which are, by nature hidden, will be revealed, indicates that the dimension of G‑dliness which is expressed transcends, not only the revealed levels, but those which are hidden. A level which is hidden, by nature, will never come into revelation. Thus, the revelation of hiddenness in the Messianic age reflects the influence of G‑d’s essence which stands above all concept of concealment and revelation.

This concept is also relevant to the time of the Messianic redemption. On one hand, there is a time, hidden and concealed, for the redemption. Nevertheless, the Torah commands us to wait for Mashiach at every moment. At any time, Mashiach can be expected to come.

The resolution to this apparent contradiction is related to the concepts described above. Just as G‑d’s essence transcends both concealment and revelation and fuses them both together, similarly, it transcends the entire concept of time and can fuse past, present, and future together.

To explain the above in simple terms that can be applied in our behavior: There is a difference in the way a person relates to an event which he knows will take place at a certain specific time in the future and the way he relates to a future event whose time is unknown. When the event has a specific time, the person does not begin to prepare for it until its time approaches. In contrast, if there is no specific time set for the future event, there is a possibility that it will occur any moment. Therefore, a person lives in constant awareness of it and thus, the future has a powerful effect on his present behavior.

This concept can be applied in regard to the time for the Messianic redemption. If the time for the Messianic redemption was revealed, then, the concept would not be relevant at present. In contrast, since the time for Mashiach’s coming is not revealed and yet, it is known that at any moment he may come, every moment of our lives is lived in anticipation of his coming.

The anticipation of Mashiach’s coming fuses together the exile and the redemption. Considering Mashiach’s coming as an imminent reality, grants one an awareness of the redemption in the midst of exile.5

This concept is particularly relevant in the present age, the last generation of exile. Now is the time of “last in deed” in regard to our service in exile. We have completed the service of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. To refer to the Previous Rebbe’s expression, “we have already polished the buttons and are standing prepared to greet Mashiach.”

The above is enhanced by the influence of the present year, the fortieth year after the Previous Rebbe’s passing. This grants each of us the potential to “attain [full grasp] of our teacher’s knowledge.”6 Added potential is granted by the fact that this is “a year of miracles,” and that Nissan, the present month, is asso­ciated by our Sages with, “miracles of a truly miraculous nature.”

Each one of us has been charged with the mission of hastening Mashiach’s coming by anxiously awaiting him and by preparing the world for his coming. Having reached the “last in deed,” the completion of the service of the Nesi’im, we are awaiting the “first in thought,” i.e., the revelation of G‑d’s true and ultimate intent for the world, the Messianic redemption.

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2. The above can also be connected with the chapter in Psalms, Psalm 89, whose recitation — based on the custom revealed by the Baal Shem Tov of reciting the Psalm associated with the number of years of one’s life — was begun on Yud-Alef Nissan.

The final verses of the chapter refer to “those who scorn the footsteps of Your Mashiach.” This reflects the service of “last in deed,” the refinement of the lowest of all possible of levels. Nev­ertheless, it is through this service of refinement that we proceed to the Psalm’s concluding verse, “May G‑d be blessed forever. Amen and Amen.” On this verse, the Ibn Ezra comments, “Through Divine inspiration, the Psalmist saw the coming of the Mashiach and, therefore, expressed thanks to G‑d.”

This verse also indicates the service necessary to bring the redemption. The Hebrew word l’olam translated as “forever,” can also be rendered “to the world.”7 The word boruch translated as “blessed” also has the meaning “extended.” Thus, the verse implies that the revelation of G‑dliness will be extended until it is revealed within the context of our world, within even the deepest darkness of exile.

The potential to carry out this service is generated from the fact that this Psalm is “A composition of Eitan HaEzrachi.” Chassidic thought explains that Eitan refers to the essence of the soul as it clings to G‑d’s essence, the dimension of the soul which is a “part of G‑d from Above.”

This dimension of soul is described as HaEzrachi, “the native born,” i.e., the innate G‑dly potential present in every individual which reflects the level of “first in thought” described above. In our service, the level of Eitan refers to the power of the soul as expressed in mesirus nefesh, self-sacrifice.8

Maskil, the Hebrew word translated as “composition,” also refers to our essential potential for intellect which influences all our potentials.

Thus, we can understand the relation between the conclusion and the beginning of this Psalm. The potential to carry out the service of refinement in the darkness of exile, confronting “those who scorn the footsteps of Your Mashiach,” comes from the essential connection alluded to in the words, Eitan HaEzrachi. This quality generates the potential for mesirus nefesh which is necessary to carry out the service of “last in deed” in these final days of exile. Ultimately, this service will lead to the coming of the Mashiach.9

3. The above is also reflected in this week’s Torah portion, parshas Tzav. Our Sages associate Tzav with the concept of eager­ness and zealousness. Based on the principle that G‑d also fulfills Torah and mitzvos — indeed, “He tells His words to Yaakov,” i.e., what He does, He commands us to do — He will surely be eager and zealous in bringing the Messianic redemption. Then, we will be able to carry out the sacrificial services described in this Torah portion in the third Bais HaMikdash.

[Throughout all the years of exile, our people have carried out the sacrificial services within “the altar in their hearts.” Surely, after so many years, G‑d will grant them the potential to actually carry out these services in the Bais HaMikdash.]

The connection between this portion and the Messianic age is brought out by the Or HaChayim who explains the verse in the opening passage of the portion, “the entire night until the morning” as follows:

Until when will Israel be in [exile]?... “The entire night” is a reference to the time of exile.... “Until morning” refers to the time when He will reveal His glory to us and then dawn will come.... This will be after 500 years of the sixth millennium have passed, the shining of the light of the sixth day, Mashiach will come. G‑d’s day is 1000 years long. The first five hundred years represent the night and the next five hundred years, the day.

The Or HaChayim’s statements surely apply at present when 250 years have passed since that time, i.e., it is already passed midday.10 Surely, Mashiach’s coming is very imminent.

From Parshas Tzav, we proceed to parshas Shemini11 which describes the revelation of the Divine Presence in the Sanctuary. May we merit the complete and all-encompassing revelation of the Divine Presence which will be in the Third Bais HaMikdash.

“Deed is most essential.” Since, as explained above, Mashiach’s coming is imminent, we must increase our efforts in the activities which demonstrate how our anticipation of Mashiach’s coming effects our behavior and shows how we are prepared for the redemption.

In particular, this involves: a) an increase in the study of Pnimiyus HaTorah, spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, for this will bring Mashiach. Added emphasis on this comes through the influence of the Tzemach Tzedek’s yahrzeit tomorrow. The Tzemach Tzedek’s teachings reveal the fusion of nigleh (the teachings of Torah law) and Pnimiyus HaTorah (Chassidus) which will bring about Mashiach’s coming. Surely, this day will be used for the study of the Tzemach Tzedek’s12 teachings, preferably at least three times throughout the day. b) An increase in tzedakah, particularly the tzedakah necessary to provide people with their Pesach needs.

May these efforts bring about that, on the Seder night, we are “all reclining,” together with all four sons, the entire Jewish people, in Eretz Yisrael, in Jerusalem, and in the Bais HaMikdash, where “we will partake of the sacrifices and the Paschal offerings, and acknowledge You with a new song for our redemption and for the liberation of our souls.”