1. As mentioned previously, the blessing Shehecheyanu is not recited on the final days of the Pesach holiday because the Messianic redemption with which they are associated is not an actual reality on which a blessing can be recited. Nevertheless, we participate in “the feast of Mashiach on these days in order to connect Mashiach’s coming with actual deed. In this manner, Mashiach’s coming becomes associated with a meal on the material plane. This, in turn, hastens his actual coming.

A feast, even when held during the week, is not merely a meal but a celebration where people rejoice and indulge without constraint. Thus, “Mashiach’s feast” is associated, as the name implies, not only with the mere existence of Mashiach, but a celebration of our connection with Mashiach in an unconstrained manner. Therefore, it is appropriate that wine be drunken at this feast — thus, the custom of drinking four cups of wine — which, in turn, contributes to the unrestrained festive atmosphere of the occasion.

This is particularly true when “the feast of Mashiach” is held amidst a Chassidic farbrengen, when words of Torah are spoken, people wish each other LeChaim,” and Chassidic songs and melodies are sung. These add to the unrestrained, festive atmosphere and bring about the coming of the Messianic redemption in an unrestrained manner.

At present, the obligation to participate in “the feast of Mashiach” can even be explained according to Nigleh (the revealed, legal dimension of Torah study). In Likkutei Torah, the Alter Rebbe comments on the verse, “Eat matzos for six days. On the seventh day, there shall be an assembly unto the L‑rd, your G‑d,” explaining that the “assembly unto the L‑rd” refers to the Messianic age, which will be above physical eating. Therefore, the verse states, “you shall do no work,” without mentioning the leniency permitting the labors connected with the preparation of food. Since the celebration of the seventh day of Pesach will transcend physical food, the permission to perform the labors connected with its preparation is not mentioned.

There is a parallel to this concept in the Talmud. The Sages question whether the festivals must be totally dedicated to G‑d, totally given over to material pleasures, or half and half. The source for the supposition that the festivals should be totally dedicated to G‑d comes from the above verse. Similarly, the peace offerings of festive rejoicing were not sacrificed on the seventh day of Pesach because the celebration associated with this day is too great to be internalized through eating.

Nevertheless, after the custom of eating “the feast of Mashiach” on the eighth day of Pesach — and in Eretz Yisrael, on the seventh day of Pesach — has spread throughout the Jewish people, there is no room for the approach of not eating on this day. Instead, it is necessary to follow the custom — for “a Jewish custom is Torah” — and participate in “the feast of Mashiach.”

Indeed, failure to participate in this feast runs contrary to our Sages’ teaching, “Do not separate yourself from the community” and runs contrary to ahavas Yisrael and achdus Yisrael. We see that on the festivals the obligation to rejoice does not only include one’s family and household, but also the strangers, orphans, widows, and the poor. It is natural for a person to desire to include others in his celebration. Therefore, particularly in regard to a festive meal, it is proper that the celebration be held together with an entire community.1

A person may still complain that he would like to celebrate the last days of Pesach in a manner where they are dedicated entirely “unto G‑d,” above eating and drinking. How can he carry out this desire together with the obligation to participate in “the feast of Mashiach”?

Firstly, it is hard to find an individual whose behavior is totally dedicated “unto G‑d” for the entire 24 hours of the day. Furthermore, participation in “the feast of Mashiach” out of feelings of ahavas Yisrael and achdus Yisrael is itself an act dedicated entirely “unto G‑d.” In addition, in its own right, “the feast of Mashiach” is dedicated entirely “unto G‑d.”

The custom of eating “the feast of Mashiach” was established by the Baal Shem Tov and spread by his students. Therefore, it will, like all other Chassidic customs, have a continuing effect on all aspects of our Torah behavior. Since Chassidism has spread throughout the Jewish people, the custom is now relevant to the entire Jewish people, even those who did not follow this practice previously.

Through partaking of “the feast of Mashiach,” we draw down the coming of Mashiach into actual deed. The further this custom is spread, the more Mashiach’s coming will be hastened. May we actually see how this feast becomes transformed into the feast of the Leviathan which we will celebrate together with Mashiach in Eretz Yisrael, in Jerusalem, and in the third Temple.

2. The Rebbe Rashab instituted the practice of drinking four cups of wine at “the feast of Mashiach.” Though this custom was originally instituted for the students of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, it has spread beyond the limits of the Yeshivah. The students of the Yeshivah continued observing the custom after they married and left the Yeshivah. Their parents and family members who never attended the Yeshivah also adopted this practice. Thus, at present, it has become a universally accepted custom among Anash (Chabad Chassidim). Furthermore, since Anash have a growing influence in the Jewish world at large, many individuals who as of yet do not identify themselves with Anash have adopted this practice. The obligation to drink wine exists on each of the days of the Pesach holiday as the Alter Rebbe writes in his Shulchan Aruch:

During the seven days of the holiday,... a person is obligated to be happy and of good spirits... Being happy in this fashion fulfills a positive commandment of the Torah as it is said: “And you shall rejoice in your festivals....”

When the Temple was standing, they would eat the meat of the peace offerings to celebrate. At present, when the Temple is no longer standing, we do not fulfill our obligation to celebrate except [by drinking] wine.

Nevertheless, drinking wine to fulfill the obligation to celebrate can be done in the context of a Chassidic farbrengen — as was done throughout the Pesach holiday — without necessarily associating it with a meal. Thus, the question arises: What is the reason for the custom of drinking four cups of wine during “the feast of Mashiach”?

The connection between drinking of four cups of wine and “the feast of Mashiach” can be explained as follows: Just as we drink four cups of wine at the Seder in connection with the four promises of redemption in the Torah, we drink four cups of wine at “the feast of Mashiach” in connection with the four promises of redemption given in connection with the Messianic redemption.

The number four shares a particular connection with the Messianic redemption. The Talmud states: “Our world resembles a porch enclosed on three sides with the north side left open.” This is represented by the letter beis [a letter with three sides (c)] with which the narrative of creation begins.2 The fourth side was left open so that it will be enclosed by the Jewish people through their service. In this manner, the Jews become a partner with G‑d in the work of creation. When the world is enclosed on all four sides — its shape thus, resembling that of an enclosed mem — it will reach its ultimate state. This state will be reached in the Messianic era.

Also, the four cups of wine represent the four corners of the earth from which G‑d will gather the Jews in the Messianic redemption as related in today’s Haftorah. The intent is not only that G‑d will gather the Jews from all four corners of the world, but that the revelation of G‑dliness will spread throughout the four corners of the world as the Haftorah states, “For the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover the ocean bed.”

In preparation for this revelation, we must spread the custom of drinking four cups of wine to as many Jews as possible. Also, those who have not drank the four cups of wine should do so at present. Furthermore, if someone has drunk the four cups, but lacked the intention to associate this practice with the Messianic redemption, he should drink the four cups again. May these efforts complete our work of “enclosing the fourth side” of creation and hasten the time when the Messianic redemption will encompass all four corners of the world.

3. The exodus from Egypt is associated with the giving of the Torah as G‑d promised Moshe, “When you take the people out of Egypt, you will serve G‑d on this mountain (Mt. Sinai).” Thus, the exodus from Egypt was for the giving of the Torah. This concept is felt more powerful in the final days of Pesach. Hence, these days are appropriate for making resolutions to add — both quantitatively and qualitatively — to one’s study of Torah.

In this context, it is appropriate to mention the practice of holding a Kinus Torah (a gathering of Torah study) after Pesach. This year, since tomorrow is a Friday, the Kinus Torah should be begun on that day, but be continued on Sunday so that people from outlying areas can also attend. Furthermore, the practice of holding a Kinus Torah should be spread to other places. May these activities hasten the fulfillment of prophecy, “And the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d,” with the coming of Mashiach.