Tonight and tomorrrow we celebrate the auspicious day of the 19th of Kislev, the Festival of Redemption of the first Rebbe of Chabad, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. the 19th of Kislev is known amongst Chabad Chasidim as the “Rosh Hashana” of Chasidius
Imprisoned by the Russian government on false charges of anti-governmental activities, Rabbi Shneur Zalman spent 52 days in the Petersburg Prison. The number of days providentially corresponds to the number of chapters in Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s holy book upon which all Chabad Chasidic philosophy is based, Tanya.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman saw his release from prison and vindication not simply as a personal liberation, but as vindication and redemption for the entire Chasidic movement and its teachings, of which he was one of the main proponents. For the fledgling Chasidic movement, established only a few decades earlier by the Baal Shem Tov, was heavily denounced and attacked by many Jewish scholars and leaders of those times.
In a letter sent by Rabbi Shneur Zalman to his colleague Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, he writes: “G-d wrought wonders and performed great miracles within the world…sanctifying His name in public, in particular before the officers of the Czar. They were also amazed by the circumstances and recognized that, “This is from G-d; it is wondrous in our eyes.”
In a private audience with Chasidim who had come to celebrate the 19th of Kislev together with him, the Lubavitcher Rebbe stated, “In the spiritual realms, the Holy Temple is already in its place. And in the very near future, it will descend to the material world in the ultimate Redemption, led by Moshiach….All the appointed times for Moshiach’s coming have already passed, and all the service necessary has been completed. All that is necessary to do is open our eyes and we can see that the Redemption is already here.”
May we join the redemption of the 19th of Kislev with the redemption of the upcoming Chanuka holiday together with the ultimate Redemption and greet Moshiach NOW!