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Beginning of Redemption

The Hebrew date of Gimmel, the 3rd of, Tamuz, which we will mark on the upcoming Sunday, was referred to by the Lubavitcher Rebbe as the "beginning of the Redemption." He was referring to the redemption of his father-in-law, Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson, from communist imprisonment. Eighty-one years ago, in 1927, the previous Rebbe was imprisoned in the infamous Spalerno prison in Leningrad, and a death sentence placed on his head, for his "counterrevolutionary" activities to maintain Jewish education in the Soviet Union. After worldwide pressure, his sentence was commuted, on the 3rd of Tamuz, from death to imprisonment and then to exile.

The Chassidim, who did not know that the Rebbe had originally been sentenced to death, were confused and depressed on the 3rd of Tamuz. They knew only that their Rebbe was being sent into exile to a remote location. Only after the fact did it become clear that on that day he had been saved from death.

To understand the significance of the day of Gimmel Tamuz, let us look at a peculiarity of the Jewish calendar. Every year, the 9th of Av, on which we commemorate the destruction of the Temple and the beginning of our exile, falls on the same day as the first day of Passover, Sunday this year. Apparently, these two days are opposite in theme: The holiday of Passover marks our redemption for Egypt, and the 9th of Av is a day of mourning over exile. Why, then, did G-d arrange matters that the two always fall on the same day of the week?

The answer is that the 9th of Av, in a deeper sense, is also a day of Redemption. The whole purpose of the exile is to bring us to an even higher spiritual state, which will culminate with the final Redemption. On its face, the 9th of Av is a crushing day of national despair. In truth, though, it is only a stage in the process that leads directly to Redemption.

The same can be said of the 3rd of Tamuz. It, too, always falls on the same day of the week as the first day of Passover and the 9th of Av. On its face, it seems to mark an unhappy event--the previous Rebbe was sent into exile. But it was later revealed that the day was good; the Rebbe was saved from death.

Sixty-seven years after the Previous Rebbe's liberation, in 1994, another event happened on Gimmel Tamuz. On the day that the Rebbe called "the beginning of the Redemption" appeared to mark his departure from this world.

On its face, on that day we suffered a shocking loss. However, our sages say that before the Redemption, we will undergo a process similar to what the Jews went through when Moses ascended Mount Sinai to bring down the Torah. Like Moses, Moshiach will ascend on high, appear to be hidden from us, and then reappear to redeem us. That stage began on the day of Gimmel Tamuz, which has already been revealed as a day of life and Redemption.



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