Three times a day, facing in the direction of the ruins of the Bais Hamikdosh, Jews throughout the generations have prayed for Moshiach’s (Messiah’s) coming. Today, in the twentieth century, Jewish children have not forsaken the ancient path of their fathers. Despite the mistaken opposition from some quarters, they continue to affirm their hope through singing the song “We want Moshiach now.” At addresses on the first day of Chanukah (to children), Shabbos Chanukah, and Zos Chanukah, 5741, the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita explained why their song is indeed the authentic expression of Jewish faith.

A central tenet of the Jewish tradition, from the time of the Temple’s destruction and throughout the subsequent exile of the Jewish people to the furthermost reaches of the earth, has been the ultimate redemption through the coming of the Moshiach (Messiah). The books of the Prophets are replete with the promises and assurances given by G‑d to His people that the gloomy night of the exile will end and the dawn of the redemption will arrive. Recently, this tradition has been perpetuated by children singing a song containing the words “We want Moshiach now, we don’t want to wait.”

Astonishing though it may seem, this innocuous song, composed and sung by children innocent of any guile, has evoked a storm of protest and condemnation from some quarters. The reasons are manifold and varied, but all have one common theme: the resentment is not directed so much at the song per se, but at its underlying assumption — the need for active effort to bring the Moshiach.

The resistance, if not outright hostility to this idea, stems from many reasons, ranging from the blatantly venal to the innocently mistaken. One of the most common comes in the guise of zealousness and selfless determination to safeguard the traditions of our people It has never been the Jewish approach, runs this argument, to actively exert ourselves to induce G‑d to speed up the coming of Moshiach. Our specific duty is to learn Torah and fulfill Mitzvos, and we should leave it up to G‑d, in His infinite goodness, to send Moshiach in the proper time. Indeed, efforts to hasten the coming of Moshiach can have a detrimental effect, they can confuse and distract a person from his Torah study.

A somewhat similar, though less piously zealous claim, is the one which looks on in amazement at all the excitement and tumult regarding Moshiach. What’s so terrible about being in exile? Jews have been in exile for thousands of years. We are quite satisfied and content with learning Torah and fulfilling Mitzvos. What are we missing? What more do we need?

Then there are those, who while admitting the centrality of Moshiach in Jewish belief, regard with disdain, or at best indifference, actually doing anything concerning Moshiach Such efforts are best left to children and those of a lesser calibre of intellect. They however, will loftily ponder and muse on the various spiritual concepts associated with Moshiach. Such an intellectual approach is certainly more fitting, is it not? What need then for singing or action?

A more honest, if less noble reason for the opposition to Moshiach, is the unspoken thought of many a Jew who has found a snug niche among the fleshpots of the exile. With a feeling akin to horror they contemplate the thought of the coming redemption. These are the individuals who measure their own self-worth and importance in terms of their relationship to others. The honor and deference accorded by others, and the amount of wealth possessed, are the criteria of value. Imagine then the disaster the coming of Moshiach would be. In exile, people are not equal; factors such as social status, erudition, wealth, etc., place people in differing positions. But in the time of redemption, all will be equal; all will learn Torah equally from Moshiach — “No more shall each man teach his neighbor . . . for they shall all know Me.” Wealth will be meaningless, gold and silver as dust. With what then will such people measure their importance? What will become of the wealth so painstakingly amassed during the exile?

Needless to say, the above claims and arguments are all equally spurious. Far from being antithetical to the Jewish tradition, it has always been the desire of Jews throughout the generations for Moshiach to come as quickly as possible. The singing of “We want Moshiach now” is in perfect consonance with the practice of our fathers.

A simple look in the prayer book will show this clearly and unambiguously, providing of course that one is conscious of the meaning of the words of the prayers and says them with sincerity. Parenthetically, perhaps such people who oppose the above have no time to do so, busying themselves with lofty thoughts, and deep study of the Torah. A strange thing indeed, for the Shulchan Aruch, the Jewish code of law, clearly states that when praying one must both understand and mean the prayers. Do such people dare claim to know better than the author of the Shulchan Aruch, who was most certainly a greater scholar than they? He too was continually engrossed in Torah study — and yet rendered the above decision. Further proof needed? Moshe Rabbeinu, the greatest sage of all, when receiving the Torah, spent forty days and nights . . . in prayer.

To return to the main point, we see that one must understand the meaning of his prayers. Three times a day, a Jew utters the prayer “Speedily cause the scion of David Your servant to flourish.” The scion of David is the Moshiach. We beseech G‑d Himself, as a child asks his father, to cause Moshiach to come speedily. Clear and unambiguous, is it not? For thousands of years, Jews have been asking G‑d to hasten Moshiach’s coming. And yet when children sing the exact thing — “We want Moshiach now,” absurd protests flood forth. It is the proponents of such protests who in reality oppose the path of the Shulchan Aruch, of Moshe Rabbeinu, and of all our holy ancestors.

But we have not yet realized all the implications of this prayer. Continuing in the very same prayer, we say “for we hope for Your salvation the entire day.” No minute goes by without our fervent hope and desire for Moshiach’s coming. And yet more: After uttering this prayer in the morning, if Moshiach has G‑d forbid not yet come by the time of the afternoon prayer, we say it again. And likewise, if need be, we say it once more in the evening prayer. Our yearning for Moshiach is constant, and our plea to G‑d unremitting.

And yet, despite such clear proofs, despite the words of the Rambam (Maimonides) in one of his thirteen Principles of Faith, which states “I wait for his (Moshiach’s) coming everyday,” there are those who still remain removed and aloof. All of the above may be true, runs the claim, but it need not have any actual effect. Waiting for Moshiach’s coming is one thing, doing something about it is another Pathetic though it may be, such an attitude is unfortunately not uncommon. Or yet an even loftier argument: Exile is a time of struggle against darkness, of bringing light to the gloom enshrouded earth. This battle, with its successful moments of triumph, contains an element of exhilaration and pleasure that will be missing in the time of redemption. For the redemption heralds a time when evil shall be non-existent — “the spirit of impurity I shall cause to pass from the land.” And it is difficult to pass such pleasures up.

These attitudes stem from a basic misconception of Moshiach and his relevance to our everyday lives This can be best understood by analyzing the words of the song “We want Moshiach now.” And do not scornfully or contemptuously dismiss it as the mere utterances of children, unworthy of analysis and having lessons drawn from it The Baal Shem Tov has taught that everything and anything, no matter how small and insignificant, has a lesson for the Jew who encounters it. More need not be said then concerning a song adopted by many Jews, and originated by Jewish children whose “breath contains no sin.

The phrase “We want Moshiach now” expresses simply the desire for Moshiach to quickly arrive. But there are many different ways of expressing this besides the word “want” —for example• wish, desire, hope for, long for, await etc. While all express the same general theme — that Moshiach should come now — subtle differences exist between them. For there are varying degrees in, and reasons for, a desire Consider the multimillionaire, with his overwhelming excess of wealth. Such a person still desires more, still works tirelessly to increase his fortune. Or look at the person who has all his needs, but still wants more, yearning for an excess of riches. And then there is the person who wishes for things simply because they are pleasurable, or because another has them and he as yet does not. And finally, there is the desire for things because they are necessities, which one is lacking.

By Divine Providence, children have chosen the word “want” to express their desire for Moshiach, and there is a profound lesson to be derived therein. To understand the differences in nuance, and the precise connotations of the word “want,” let us examine the same word (or a derivative of it) in a completely different context. The word is “wanting,” meaning lacking or missing, as in “some details are wanting.” Indeed, the dictionary definition of “want,” besides to desire or to wish, is “to feel a desire for, as for something absent, needed .. to feel the need of.” [Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Second Edition.] Thus a main difference in nuance between want and any other word expressing desire, is a connotation of deficiency.

This then is the cause of the apathy and complacency so prevalent regarding Moshiach. It stems from a basic misconception of their relationship to Moshiach and his coming. He and the redemption are viewed, at best, with the same desire that one would have for any pleasurable thing. Nice to have, adding the final touch to life, certainly worth waiting for — but something we can get along without. No wonder such a person feels no need to do anything to hasten his coming, and remains aloof and unconcerned at his delay.

To such a person we present the clarion cry of “We want Moshiach now.” Moshiach is not a mere additional luxury, a future state of bliss to be smugly awaited in complacent serenity. Moshiach is an urgent want, a necessity, as basic as food and drink — without which we are wanting. Can we sit passively by and not do our utmost to fulfill this most basic of wants?

Think not that we are quibbling over mere semantics, and it can have no effect upon the actual outcome of Moshiach’s coming. Our cries of “We want Moshiach now,” our feeling that his non-appearance is a distinct lack, reaches our Father in Heaven. Then He knows that our pleas for Moshiach are no mere mouthing of time worn prayers, but a live, urgent request — and in His infinite goodness He responds and hastens the coming. We shall then all of us, “With our youth and our elders, our sons and our daughters” go to our Holy Land, led by our righteous Moshiach. And the redemption will have come.