As billboards and bumper stickers tell us "Mashiach is on the way," America and the world at large have responded with interest. The amount of news copy devoted to the issue is staggering -- at one point, as many as 700 articles in a single week.
In this instance, the media is reflecting rather than directing people's interest. The subjects of Mashiach and the Era of the Redemption have attracted the public's attention. Lectures and symposia on these issues have begun to feature frequently in Jewish -- and secular -- communities around the world.
It has becomes obvious that the world is undergoing a transition of awesome scope. Revolutions in the geopolitical sphere are paralleled by radical changes in economics, communication, education, health, and community relations. Existing frameworks on the local, national, and international levels are giving way to new definitions.
Few noticed the start of the process, but now everyone is wondering where it will end. More and more people have come to the conclusion that the "birth pangs" we are experiencing preface the ultimate redefinition of society that will be brought into focus by Mashiach's coming. It is not surprising that in the past year and a half, more books and articles have been published about Mashiach and the Era of the Redemption than in the previous decade.
This material has reflected the entire spectrum of human belief -- from sarcastic news copy questioning the very notion that a Mashiach could exist, to texts which accept as a given the premise that his coming is one of Judaism's principles of faith.
This book is not confined to a single approach or point of view. To explain: When the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita initiated his campaign to spread observance of Judaism's basic precepts, one of the mentors of his chassidim, Reb Mendel Futerfas, told the following story:
A salvage company once discovered a ship with an extremely valuable cargo sunk off the Baltic coast. It tried to lift the vessel with a crane, but the portion to which divers attached the cable broke off before the wreck could be raised. Finally, it was decided that instead of attaching a cable to only one place, balloons would be tied all over the ship's surface. As those balloons were inflated, they pulled the ship as a whole from its mire.
The purpose of this book is to attach thought balloons, as it were, to various parts of the public's consciousness, so that everyone -- even those who do not accept these concepts on faith -- will find points at which they can "tie in" to Mashiach and Redemption. As the "inflation" of these balloons generates awareness, speculation, interest and, finally, action, we can lift the ship -- the entire world on which we are traveling -- to a higher plane.
An attempt to reach out to all people is fundamentally related to Mashiach's coming. For the Redemption he will initiate is destined to affect everything. It will involve Creation as a whole, enabling each person -- and indeed, every entity -- to reach a level of fulfillment beyond its individual self.
The composition of this text reflects a combined effort by many people. The full list is too long to be recorded, but at the very least I would like to mention Uri Kaploun, whose expertise and counsel enhanced the elegance and style of the text; Gershom Gale, who edited the material; Yosef Yitzchok Turner, who is responsible for the graceful layout and typography; and Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, director of Sichos In English, whose assistance and encouragement at every stage helped transform a dream into reality.
We do not want the ideas presented to be accepted blindly. What we hope is that they encourage creative thinking about three points: a) the waves of change sweeping through our society; b) the imminence of the Redemption; and c) the idea that these two movements are interrelated.
When people start thinking about these concepts -- hopefully before they have time for extended contemplation -- Mashiach will arrive.
28 Sivan, 5753
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