In his memoirs, Elie Wiesel vividly recounts his first encounter with the Rebbe in the early 1960s. “That simple dialogue,” according to Wiesel, “lasted almost an entire night,” and “was a turning point in my writing.”1

In 1964, Wiesel published his novel, The Gates of the Forest, whose fourth chapter, Winter, is a dramatized account of his first visit with the Rebbe.2

The account is grueling, heartbreaking, and painfully vulnerable. Auschwitz, of course, is the pivotal question of the conversation. “How can you believe in G‑d after Auschwitz?” But as the conversation shifts from emotion to emotion, from argument to counter-argument, the Rebbe keeps pushing his visitor to reveal why he is really there, his deepest motivation for the visit. “What do you expect of me?” asks the Rebbe. To which Wiesel responds: “Nothing, absolutely nothing.”

But the Rebbe is patient.

After hours of going back and forth, in a moment of epiphany, Wiesel came to realize why he had come to see the Rebbe. He confessed, “…You asked me what I expect of you, and I said I expect nothing. I was wrong. I want you to make me cry.”

In the original, much longer, Yiddish version of the book that came to be called Night, Wiesel describes the death of his father in Buchenwald, admitting that this event was so traumatizing it had, in that moment and ever since, robbed him of his tears. “I did not cry, and this is what causes me the most grief: this inability to cry. The heart had petrified, the fountainhead of tears had dried up.”

And what was the Rebbe’s response? What could one possibly say to such an urgent, human request?

“That’s not enough,” he said lovingly. “I shall teach you to sing.”

In this singular exchange, we see the Rebbe’s Positivity Bias on full display in all of its redemptive sensitivity and complexity. Wiesel’s tears are not denied, Heaven forbid. Facing one’s pain, no matter how enormous, and feeling it deeply is essential to releasing its deadening grip on the soul. However, the Rebbe’s response makes it clear that this catharsis is not the ultimate goal. It’s what comes after the tears that the Rebbe remains focused on, and what he wanted to communicate to the aspiring author.

The Rebbe understood that for Wiesel to truly heal he needed to learn not only how to cry, but how to regain his desire and ability to sing again.

And this assessment of the Rebbe, that sorrow must never swallow joy, and that tears must never drown out the song in our hearts, was not reserved for Mr. Wiesel. It was a deeper diagnosis of the Jewish soul following the wreckage of World War II. In general, as many expended their energy on memorializing the horrifying loss of Jewish life, the Rebbe consistently directed his focus and that of others to the miraculous continuation of Jewish life, in its many forms. Truly, for the Rebbe, it was never enough to just survive, we must constantly strive to thrive.

By attempting to shift the central point of national focus and self-identification away from the colossal tragedy of the Holocaust and direct it instead toward a redemptive future and a joyful present, the Rebbe chose not to devalue or trivialize such historic loss, Heaven forbid. He only worked to ensure that it not come to exclusively define and confine the way the Jewish People view their past, present, and future.

In the words of R. Jonathan Sacks: “I have read many works of post-Holocaust Jewish theology. And they all ask the same question. They ask what unites us—the Jewish people—today, with all our divisiveness and arguments. And in them I read the same answer: What unites us as Jewish people today is memories of the Holocaust, fears of anti-Semitism. What unites us as a people is that other people hate us.

“The Rebbe taught the opposite message. What unites us, he taught, is not that other people don’t like us, but that G‑d loves us; that every one of us is a fragment of the Divine presence and together we are the physical presence of G‑d on earth. Surely that message—spiritual, mystical as it is—is so much more powerful, [and] so much more noble than the alternative.”

How Good It Is to Be a Jew

The story is told about a distraught Jew who once visited the Rebbe and complained that his children were assimilating. “What have I done wrong? Why have they strayed from the path I taught them?” The man sighed, “Ay, vi shver es iz tzu zein a Yid,” quoting an old Yiddish saying, meaning, “How difficult it is to be a Jew.”

The Rebbe asked him, “Do you often express yourself this way?”

“In stressful times—and there are many—yes I do,” said the man.

The Rebbe gently told him, “Then that is the message your children hear, and that is the impression of Judaism they have.” With a twinkle in his eye, the Rebbe continued, “There is another Yiddish saying: S’iz gut tzu zein a Yid, How good it is to be a Jew! Try switching your refrain, and you will notice a difference in your children’s appreciation for their heritage.”

Sing a New Song

In addition to his more wide-ranging attempts to refocus Jews on the triumphs of their heritage rather than the trauma of their history, the Rebbe also transformed the internal culture and approach to worship within his own community. Historically, Chabad Chasidut had promulgated a more austere, inwardly-focused, and cerebral form of prayer and contemplation. The boisterous singing and dancing, characteristic of numerous other Chasidic groups, particularly in the early days of the movement, was largely absent from the synagogues of Chabad.

Nevertheless, under the Rebbe’s leadership, singing, clapping, dancing, and, on special occasions, even loud whistling, were introduced into the Chabad way of life. In place of private, somber, inner devotion, the Rebbe emphasized collective visceral joy and emotional exaltation as defining features of his gatherings, which often included much spiritual singing and ecstatic rejoicing.

Interestingly, this remarkable shift in Chabad culture and spiritual practice may have come about in part, not only through the vision of the Rebbe, but also through the “holy chutzpah” of a certain Chasid.

Chabad 2.0

Mr. Zalmon Jaffe, a Chabad Chasid from England, would spend the festival of Shavuot with the Rebbe in Brooklyn.3 At the first evening’s meal in 1970, Mr. Jaffe asked the Rebbe why they did not sing a nice tune for a particular prayer in the service. The Rebbe responded that he had not heard this song being sung at his father-in-law’s shul, and therefore according to tradition they also did not sing it.

Mr. Jaffe gathered his courage and countered, “That was the Lubavitch of yesteryear, but today we live in a modern world where we need happy niggunim [melodies]. I have been here now for two weeks and have not heard [the Chasidim] singing...”

“That is your fault,” the Rebbe said point-blank.

“I am only a soldier,” he protested.

“If so, I am ‘commanding’ you to sing,” said the Rebbe. “Tomorrow, we should sing [during services], and those who are here now, if they will be there tomorrow, should help you.”

Mr. Jaffe later related:

“I felt like Nachshon ben Aminadav, who was the first to jump into the Sea of Reeds before it split. The congregation hesitated before they joined in. Later, one fellow severely reprimanded me for singing in shul without the Rebbe giving the signal. I explained that the Rebbe had already given me permission previously, and he apologized profusely.

“During the meal of the first day, I thanked the Rebbe for helping me with the niggunim, but it was difficult. The Rebbe said that it would be much easier on the following day, and indeed it was.”

The Rebbe had an uncanny ability to weigh the dictates of the past against the needs of the present, and further, to sensitively respond in an empowering way with an eye on the future. If the Rebbe’s Chasidim wanted to express their spiritual yearnings and passions through song during prayer, and the Jewish world in general desperately needed to be resuscitated from the ruins of history, then sing we must! The time for quiet contemplation was past; it was now time for outright exultation.

Water from the Rock

Indeed, this outward and exuberant approach to Jewish life and practice, so different from Chabad of yesteryear, quickly came to define the general energy of Chabad gatherings, from farbrengens with the Rebbe in Crown Heights to Shabbat meals at Chabad Houses around the world. The impact of such a continental shift of consciousness did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Accounts abound of people’s lives being transformed while they were swept up in the swirling midst of spirited song, dance, or prayer at the Rebbe’s Chasidic gatherings or synagogue services. Here is a particularly moving account4 by author Harvey Swados, describing one of his first experiences with the Rebbe in Brooklyn.

“Looking out at the congregants, I saw what the Rebbe must have seen: A most remarkable assemblage, and one that for my part I shall never forget.

“Since I could not follow the complex line of his discourse (in Yiddish), with its parables taken from traditional Hasidic tales and homely incidents, interwoven with abstruse philosophical theory, I was free to stare at all those around me—rabbis, merchants, scholars, small businessmen, students, workmen—who were listening with an intensity I had never encountered, whether in a classroom, at the public lectern, or at a religious or political rally…. It was then that the singing began.

“At first spontaneous, [but] soon encouraged and ‘conducted’ by the Rebbe, who swung his forearms gaily, rhythmically to the beat of the music from his seated position, the simple song rose to a pitch of unrestrained enthusiasm, with the chorus repeated ten, fifteen times, each time wilder and faster. A man would have had to be made of stone not to respond to this great release of joyous energy.”

Literally and figuratively, the Rebbe sought to bring the Chasidic view of joy into mainstream Jewish life; to change the soundtrack of Jewish life and history from a poignant and haunting minor melody into an exuberant and joyous major victory march. No longer should they focus on the countless persecutions and seemingly endless exiles of history. Instead, energy and attention must be invested in paving the way for the rapidly approaching light of redemption.

This new path toward outward and physical expressions of exuberance was predicated on a deep understanding of the power of joy as a motivational tool. Moreover, when coupled with his radical diagnosis of the spiritual condition and needs of the generation, it becomes clear why the Rebbe was willing to transform the former protocol of Chabad synagogues around the world. As we will see from the next story, this was all for a larger and more profound purpose.

Whistle While You Work

Whistling was originally not a common practice during the Rebbe’s life. In fact, it was considered by most to be unacceptable and even disrespectful to the serious aims and staid approach to Jewish worship that was current for most of world Jewry.

Nevertheless, at a large Chasidic gathering on Purim, 5730 (1971), the Rebbe caused quite a stir when he encouraged thousands of confused Chasidim to whistle together as a form of prayer and celebration. This norm-defying yet soul-intoxicating scene was captured beautifully by R. Dr. Meir Michel Abehsera,5 who was present that evening:

“On the feast of Purim, I attended a Chasidic gathering with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. We were several thousand strong, all singing and clapping.

“...[Suddenly] without warning, the Rebbe turned my way and looked me straight in the eyes; he placed two fingers against his mouth and nodded in my direction, several times. I could not understand what he meant... The thought crossed my mind that he might have commanded me to whistle, but I dismissed it. Never would a man of his nobility ask for something so ludicrous!

“I looked over my shoulders to be sure that there was not someone else he was addressing, only to find that the people behind me were all looking at me. I placed two fingers over my mouth and waited.

“The Rebbe’s face lit up.

“This was it! I entered an unknown dimension as I blew my first whistle. Others soon joined until we were hundreds whistling. The air caught fire with the resonance of the piercing sounds. My lower lip ached from blisters. But the Rebbe would not let me pause. He was taking the matter quite seriously.

“He called for still more energy as I, in my abruptly unbound imagination, envisioned thick threatening black clouds shattering into dust. We discomfited darkness with our collective breath. Minds were swept clean of all indoctrination…. Every sweet seduction murmured from the other side was blown away by the stiff wind we had summoned. Fallacious arguments flew away like frightened bats as we toned the walls of our hearts to prepare for an all-out war—fairly fought, wind against wind—challenging those irrational emotions that pose as thought, but whose essence is only wind. We alienated every gaseous enemy and incurred no casualties; not even the singers hurt their throats as they sang background to our breath.

“Our final blast took off like the plaintive calls of a ram’s horn...a rehearsal for redemption.”

It is clear from Abehsera’s description that this moment was tangibly transformative and that the experience of such ecstatic expression opened the hearts and minds of the multitudes in attendance. However, not everyone was moved in the same way.

A few years later, on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan 5736 (1975), a photographer snapped a picture of the Rebbe encouraging whistling at a farbrengen, which was then published in a widely-circulated Jewish newspaper.6

Notwithstanding the fact that the story in the paper was written in a favorable manner, letters began pouring in from numerous people who were aghast at such a frivolous display, and by a Rebbe no less! In response, other letters came in defending the Rebbe’s decision, but the detractors remained vocal and vigilant.

A few months later, on Purim of that year, the Rebbe directly addressed the controversy at a farbrengen:7

“Some months have gone by, and in the meantime I thought that someone would find a source for our whistling, but in actual fact, it hasn’t happened.”

The Rebbe then went on to cite numerous examples of whistling in both written and oral Torah, making a point to highlight a number of common themes present within all the different stories. For instance, whistling is a sign of uninhibited and unreserved joy. When such ecstatic expression accompanies a mitzvah, it implies the person’s complete identification with the act itself, as well as with G‑d, Who commanded it.

Chasidut teaches that just as when someone is overcome with joy, they cannot help but dance and sing, so too, the opportunity to connect with the Divine should evoke genuine expressions of unrestrained elation.

In the Book of Samuel,8 King David is described as dancing and prancing in front of the nation as he returned the Ark to Jerusalem after it had been captured and then returned by the Philistines. King David was also chastised for such exuberant behavior, but he defended his actions on the basis of inspiring the masses to increased holiness. In the words of the Rebbe, “King David behaved this way specifically when it was a situation having to do with a mitzvah that elicited great joy.”

The Rebbe also quoted a passage from Maimonides,9 who states that dancing and prancing, as demonstrated in Scripture itself, when done for the sake of a mitzvah or for spiritual ends, is not only allowed, but is an expression of spiritual greatness.

The Rebbe also pointed out that the idea of whistling is actually found in the Talmud,10 which, in citing the verse,11 I will whistle for them and gather them, teaches that whistling is a sign that Moshiach is about to arrive, when G‑d will whistle and gather in the exiles, as the commentators on Scripture explain the verse.

Based on this, the Rebbe concluded:

..When it is a matter of increasing Jews’ desire and joy in performing a mitzvah, even if there is only a [slight] chance that one person present will have a geulah, a “redemption” from his yetzer hara, then it is a mitzvah to whistle [to arouse their soul to Divine service], even if it’s only a remote possibility.

…Even more so when we actually see that in certain instances, there are Jews who, through such whistling, experienced a fundamental change [in their spiritual expression] from one extreme to another!

In our situation, when the whistling was going on, there were Jews present who resolved that from this very moment they would have increased enthusiasm in the fulfillment of practical mitzvot. In such a case, Maimonides rules that you need to behave exactly as King David did, “dancing and prancing” with all one’s might!

Especially when the whistling was (not a mistake, but) a deliberate plan that actually worked to arouse and reveal the good hidden in a number of Jews.

..Through this [whistling] we shall soon have the fulfillment of the promise,12 On that day G‑d will whistle and gather [the Jewish People] from the ends of the earth. [As it says13] And you will be gathered one by one, in a way that no Jew will remain in exile… May this happen with kindness and mercy, and soon.

When the Rebbe left the farbrengen, he met the publisher of the newspaper that ran the initial story. The Rebbe slowed down and said with a big smile, “You caused me to give this teaching.”

Renew Us as in Days of Old

It is important to point out that this spiritual paradigm shift was not just a strategic decision based on a profound psychological understanding of human motivation and a change in the times. Indeed, much disengagement from Jewish life was fueled by the morose victim narrative and cloud of persecution that framed Jewish identity and engagement for so many. However, the Rebbe’s emphasis on joy was primarily rooted in the radical teachings of early Chasidut, starting with the Baal Shem Tov.

Historically, Chasidim were always known for their practice of cultivated joy, long before it would have been popular or practical.

Consider the fact that before they were called Chasidim, they were referred to as the freiliche—the “happy ones.”14

Prior to the 18th century, the motivational norm was largely defined by reward-or-punishment, social pressure, ostracism, or even excommunication. This system “worked” by and large, and was considered appropriate in the general historical and cultural climate of the times. For centuries, religion was serious. G‑d required constant penitence and purification from sin. And the joy of the people was simply not a spiritual priority for much of medieval Judaism. Therefore, early Chasidic emphasis on unbounded exuberance was a shock to the system.

Indeed, in 1801, when the founder of Chabad, R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi, was incarcerated due to libelous information supplied to the Czarist government by opponents of the Chasidic movement, the first complaint included in the documents presented to the government was that the Chasidim were creating a new religion, as evidenced by the fact that “in the books of the founders of Chasidism, it is stated that a person has to always be happy, not only while praying—but at all times. This idea goes against the Jewish religion….”15

Joy goes against Judaism? How could this be? To properly understand this controversy, as well as the novelty of Chasidic teaching, we must dig a bit deeper.

Certainly, the concept of simchah shel mitzvah, the “joy of a mitzvah,” was always part and parcel of Jewish teachings. Moses states clearly in the Torah:16 Because you did not serve the L‑rd, your G‑d, with happiness and with gladness of heart, therefore you shall serve your enemies…. Similarly, hundreds of years later, King David exclaimed, Serve the L‑rd with joy!17

Furthermore, R. Yitzchak Luria, the famed Kabbalist known as the Arizal, once said18 that all that he achieved spiritually was a reward for his observance of mitzvot with limitless joy.

But the joy referred to in these earlier sources was traditionally understood as being limited to the study of Torah and fulfillment of mitzvot. However, when it came to activities or aspects of life not overtly linked to Divine service, joy was considered indulgent or even hedonistic.

Into this landscape entered the Baal Shem Tov and proclaimed:19 “A Jew must strive to experience joy at all times!” At all times, meaning not just when performing a mitzvah. To support this seemingly radical claim, the Baal Shem Tov drew on the teaching of the Ethics of Our Fathers:20 “All your actions should be for the sake of Heaven.”

Based on this and similar verses, the Baal Shem Tov taught that whatever a person does—eating, sleeping, business, and even leisure—can all be part of the Divine service, provided that they are done with the proper intentions. As such, if a person is serving G‑d in all his actions, then King David’s injunction to serve G‑d with joy applies at all times and in all situations.

This was the revolution of Chasidism that the Baal Shem Tov introduced and the Rebbe reinforced: Joy is essential, not just in religious matters, but in all areas of life.

Joy Annuls Harsh Decrees

R. DovBer, the Second Lubavitcher Rebbe, had a group of Chasidim who formed a kapelye (choir), and another group that performed on horseback on joyous occasions, such as at weddings, and so on. Among those who performed to enliven weddings and entertain the bride and groom, was R. DovBer’s own son, R. Nochum. R. DovBer would observe the singing and performance from his window

It once happened that R. DovBer gave instructions for the choir and the horsemen to perform on a regular weekday. Suddenly, R. Nochum fell off of his horse. Informed that his son was in grave danger, R. DovBer nonetheless motioned with his hand to continue the festivities. After a while, R. DovBer asked them to stop and stepped away from the window into his private office. A doctor was summoned, and after examining R. Nochum, he reported that the situation proved far less severe than previously thought. He had broken a leg, which the doctor placed in a cast, but no more.

Later on, R. DovBer was asked why he had instructed the choir and the horsemen to continue with their performance while his beloved son lay injured.

He responded:

Why don’t you ask me why I asked the choir and the horsemen to perform on a simple weekday?

Today was meant to be a harsh day for my son. I saw a grave accusation against him in the heavenly court. The prosecution was very powerful, and I could see only one way out. As joy sweetens the attribute of severity, I therefore called upon the choir to sing, and I asked the riders to gladden everyone’s hearts with their antics.

The joy they created tempered the strict decree against my son, but a small portion of the decree still remained. That is why he fell off his horse and hurt his leg. However, the continued revelry lessened even this residual decree. G‑d willing, Nochum will recover in the very near future.21

The idea that joy is the most effective way to influence the upper worlds is in many ways counter-intuitive. We often think of heartfelt prayer as being filled with tears and desperation. On the surface, this makes sense, as it is in prayer that we ask for what we, our loved ones, or the world, desperately need. This story provides us with a different paradigm to consider. But how does it work?

Break on Through

Once during a private audience with a Chasid who expressed negativity and pessimism about his future, the Rebbe stood up and took out a volume of the Zohar from the shelf and placed it before the Chasid. It was opened to the following passage:

“Ta Chazi, Come and Observe! Our world is always ready to receive the spiritual flow that emanates from above…. The upper world provides in accordance with the state below. If the state below is joyous, then, correspondingly, abundance flows from above. However, if the state below is one of sadness, then, correspondingly, the flow of blessings is constricted.”22

“Therefore,” said the Rebbe, “serve G‑d with joy, because human joy and optimism draws a corresponding joy above!”23

Heaven and earth are in constant communication. In fact, according to this teaching of the Zohar, what happens down here on earth sets the tone for the heavenly response to our circumstances. In other words, we can intervene and impact reality in partnership with G‑d. That is the basis of prayer. But even deeper than the words that we recite in prayer is the way in which we recite those words. Are we filled with grief or overflowing with praise? Are we crying or singing, or are we just mindlessly muttering the words? The moods or emotions that we cultivate, both during prayer and throughout the day, become the carrier waves for our visions and dreams to manifest in our lives.

In fact, joy is seen by our Sages as the most efficacious inner state to activate when it comes to connecting our will with G‑d’s will. This is reflected in a popular Chasidic saying: Simchah poretz geder—joy breaks through all boundaries and constrictions.24

Nowhere is this idea more evident than in the Baal Shem Tov’s approach to teshuvah, the process of spiritual return and realignment. Consider the following classic story, attributed to the Baal Shem Tov:

One year, the Baal Shem Tov asked R. Zev Kitzes, one of his senior disciples, to blow the shofar for the congregation on Rosh Hashanah. The Baal Shem Tov instructed R. Zev: “I want you to study all the kavanot [Kabbalistic meditations] that pertain to the shofar so that you should meditate upon them when you blow the ram’s horn.”

R. Zev applied himself to the task with joy and trepidation; joy over the great privilege that had been accorded him, and trepidation over the immensity of the responsibility. He diligently studied the mystical writings that discuss the multifaceted significance of the shofar and what its sounds can achieve on that holy day. Accordingly, he carefully prepared a sheet of paper on which he laid out the main points of each meditation so that he could refer to them while he blew the shofar.

Finally, the great moment arrived. It was the morning of Rosh Hashanah, and R. Zev stood on the bimah—the reading platform—in the center of the Baal Shem Tov’s synagogue, surrounded by a sea of souls in prayer and contrition. In the southeast corner of the room stood the Baal Shem Tov, face and heart aflame. An awed silence filled the room in anticipation of the climax of the day—the piercing blasts and wailing sobs of the shofar.

R. Zev, quietly collecting himself, reached into his pocket for his notes. His heart froze. The paper was gone! He distinctly remembered placing it there that morning, but now it simply wasn’t there. Frantically, he searched his memory for what he had learned, but his brain froze under the pressure. His mind was a total blank. Tears of frustration and embarrassment filled his eyes and wet his cheeks. He had disappointed his Rebbe, who had entrusted him with this most sacred task. He had to blow the shofar like a simple horn, without any deeper intentions. With a broken heart, R. Zev blew the sounds required by halachah, and avoiding his Rebbe’s eyes, resumed his place.

At the conclusion of the day’s prayers, the Baal Shem Tov made his way to the corner where R. Zev sat sobbing under his tallit. “Gut Yom Tov, R. Zev!” he called, “That was a most extraordinary shofar-blowing we heard today!”

“But Rebbe...Wait...What?”

“In the King’s palace,” said the Baal Shem Tov, “there are many gates and doors that lead to many halls and chambers. The palace keepers have great rings holding many keys, each of which opens a different door. But there is a master key that opens all the doors. The meditations are keys—each unlocks a specific door and accesses another chamber in the supernal worlds. But there is one key that unlocks all doors and can open the innermost chambers of the Divine palace. That master key is the tears of a broken heart.”25

This classic story is one of the most oft-cited examples of the Baal Shem Tov’s privileging of the affective aspect of prayer over the intellective faculty emphasized by earlier Kabbalists. According to this view, your heart will take you deeper into the heavenly realms than your mind. Additionally, this characterization of heartfelt tears as spiritually purifying waters rather than dangerous depths to be repressed or avoided is courageous and compassionate, as we discussed at the beginning of this chapter in relation to Elie Wiesel.

However, as the Rebbe did not allow Elie Wiesel to stop at the embrace and healing release of his pain, neither did the Baal Shem Tov stop at the gate of tears. For he had another related teaching, which, when juxtaposed with the story above, can be seen as its continuation, and even completion: “If tears are the master key to open up the [heavenly] gates, joy absolutely demolishes them!”26

In this spirit, the Rebbe once shared a powerful teaching that spoke directly to his lifelong dream of the redemption. In it, he applied the idea that joy breaks down all barriers to overcoming the ultimate obstacle of thousands of years of Jewish exile, as well as removing all barriers still preventing Moshiach’s imminent arrival.

In the Rebbe’s own words:27

Throughout the years of exile, the Jewish People have longed for the redemption and prayed for it earnestly every day. Surely this applies to the tzaddikim and the leaders of the Jewish People, who had an overwhelmingly powerful desire for Moshiach.

Nevertheless, these earlier activities cannot be compared to the storm for the coming of the redemption aroused by my father-in-law, the Rebbe, with his call: “Immediate teshuvah, immediate Redemption.”28

A number of decades have passed since the time of that announcement, and the array of activities he initiated to bring Moshiach. Nevertheless, Moshiach has not yet come.

There is no explanation for this.

Therefore, it is natural to ask: What can we do to bring Moshiach that has not already been done?

In reply, it is possible to suggest, as above, that the Divine service necessary is the expression of joy for the sake of bringing Moshiach.

In the previous generations, people surely experienced joy in connection with their observance of mitzvot. Nevertheless, in previous generations, the emphasis was on the service of G‑d, and that service was infused with happiness. The suggestion to use simchah as a catalyst to bring Moshiach, by contrast, puts the emphasis on the simchah itself, simchah in its pure and consummate state.

By meditating on the imminence of Moshiach’s coming and the knowledge that at that time perfect simchah will spread throughout the entire world, it is possible to experience a microcosm of this simchah at present.

And this simchah will surely lead to the ultimate simchah, the rejoicing of the redemption, when then our mouths will be filled with joy!

Throughout his life and teachings, the Rebbe embodied and insisted that the conscious cultivation and ecstatic experience of pure, unadulterated, and unconditional joy for its own sake is the missing link that will reopen the gates of that primordial garden we left so long ago.