In the Torah portion of Vayechi, we read1 that Yaakov said to his sons: “Come together and I will tell you what will happen at the end of days.” Our Sages comment:2 “Yaakov desired to reveal to his sons the ‘end of time,’ [i.e., the time of Moshiach ’s arrival,] but the Shechinah [the Divine Presence] departed from him.”

Why do our Sages use the expression “but the Shechinah departed from him”? Their intent is to explain why Yaakov did not reveal the time of Moshiach ’s arrival, going on to speak of other things instead. This being so, they should have used the term “but the knowledge departed from him,”3 or some similar expression. Particularly so, since Yaakov then went on to relate many prophecies — a sure sign that the Shechinah had not at all left him!

Yaakov desired to reveal the time of Moshiach ’s arrival to his children because as Yaakov viewed them, they were — after their “coming together” — spiritually ready to receive this news. He therefore said to them, “come together,” i.e., make your final spiritual preparation by uniting with one another, at which time I will reveal the time of Moshiach ’s arrival.

However, that aspect of the Shechinah which could have caused this knowledge to descend to the spiritual level of his children suddenly left him. For the term Shechinah also means a level of holiness that descends, clothes itself and is revealed within a lower level.4

In other words, the Shechinah continued to reside within Yaakov himself, and he was therefore still able to prophesy. Even the time of Moshiach ’s arrival was never concealed from him. All that was kept from him was the ability to reveal his knowledge to his children.

But this raises another question. Since the Shechinah only departed because of the inability of his children to receive the information, why do our Sages say “the Shechinah departed from him ”? They should have said: “but his children were not worthy of receiving the information”5 or some such expression.

In truth, the very fact that Yaakov’s children were as yet unworthy of receiving this information also caused a descent in Yaakov’s own level — thus the expression “the Shechinah departed from him.” This is similar to G‑d’s telling Moshe after the sin of the Golden Calf “Go and descend (from your greatness) — Have I given you greatness for any purpose other than for the sake of Israel?”6

Nevertheless, since Yaakov’s wish to reveal the time of Moshiach ’s arrival is recorded in the eternal Torah, his desire had an everlasting effect; were this not so, the Torah would not have told us of it. Moreover, since no desire of a tzaddik goes unfulfilled, it is understandable that Yaakov’s wish had a salutary effect.

What effect? This, too, can be gleaned from an incident in the life of Moshe.

Prior to his demise, Moshe begged G‑d7 for permission to enter the land and see it. His desire stemmed from a wish to inculcate the Jewish people with the ability to actually see G‑dliness in an internal manner. Although his request was not granted, it nonetheless enabled the Jews to behold G‑dliness at least in an encompassing manner.8

So too with regard to Yaakov’s desire to reveal the time of Moshiach ’s arrival: His longing enabled his children and his children’s children to have revealed to them “the end of days” at least in an encompassing manner, thus allowing them to devote themselves to G‑d entirely free from the servitude of Nations and the evil inclination.

There is a vital lesson here. There are those who wonder how it is possible that our spiritually bereft generation will merit the revelation of the coming Redemption, a revelation not merited by previous, much loftier generations.

We are therefore informed that Yaakov’s desire to reveal the time of Moshiach ’s arrival empowered us at all times to instantaneously bring about the complete and true Redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. X, pp. 167-171.