Monday, November 1, 2010

The Rope of Moshiach

Rav Refael Dovid Auerbach (the brother of Rav Shlomo Zalman) related that over 90 years ago his father, Rav Chaim Leib Auerbach, once approached one of the caretakers who used to light the stove in a shul in the Old City of Yerushalayim. Although the caretaker was over 95 years old, he awoke early each day to light the stove and heat the shul before davening. The caretaker mentioned that his father used to travel to see Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk. Rav Chaim Leib asked the caretaker if he could relate anything his father had told him about the Tzaddik. The elderly man told him ten stories about the author of Noam Elimelech. Later Rav Chaim Leib told all of them over, but Rav Rafael could remember only three of them.

It was Rebbe Elimelech's custom, the caretaker related, to teach two types of Torah at shalosh seudos, the third Shabbos meal: one on the weekly parshah and the other about the days of Moshiach. Rav Rafael recalled the concepts that Rebbe Elimelech taught about the days of Moshiach, as told to his father by the old caretaker of the shul in the Old City.

In the times of Moshiach, the chareidim will be trampled and so badly mistreated that had this been so in the times of the Baal Shem Tov, no-one could have withstood it due to their fragile souls. However, in the times of Moshiach the hearts of the people will be so tough that they will be able to endure the trampling and degradation that will be common in those days.

In the times of Moshiach, there will be great foolishness, and the line between good and evil will blur. Rebbe Elimelech brought the analogy of sifting flour with a sieve. At first all the grains of the flour - the fine and the coarse - are shaken together, battered against the sides of the sieve. In the midst of the shaking, the fine flour passes through the sieve's holes and falls to the bottom, again receiving a blow when it lands.

When the course leftovers see the fine clean flour, they become arrogant and say "See how lowly you are? You have fallen to the bottom and received an additional beating while I, the coarse waste, have been left above and not received any beating."

The coarse grains do not realize how short-lived is their triumph, because in just a short while the sieve will be overturned and the coarse grains will end up in the trash for good.

In the generation of Moshiach, Hashem will, so to speak, stretch a long rope from one end of the world to the other, and all of Klal Yisrael will take hold and grasp the rope. Hashem will take one end of the rope, and violently shake it until they will all be in the air. Not everyone will be able to withstand this shaking and many will fall to the ground. The foolish ones will say "If Hashem is shaking us so hard, surely He wants us to loosen our grasp" and they will fall to the ground. Only the wise ones will hold on tight with all their strength and might. This is "chevlo shel Moshiach" - literally "the rope of Moshiach" - usually translated as "the labor pains of Moshiach".

Source: "Mipeninei Noam Elimelech" translated by Tal Moshe Zwecker

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