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A King Will Rise

For the past few weeks the news has been consumed with the story of Osama bin Laden’s capture and death at the hands of American security forces. On its face, this event was most unusual. It was ordered by President Obama, who is known for his extremely cautious approach in foreign affairs and his reluctance to use military force. Furthermore, the intelligence that lead to the raid wasn’t 100% certain. Obama took a huge risk in ordering this raid.

The raid comes only a few days after NATO forces killed the son of Libya’s dictator, Khadaffi, and several of his grandsons. All this in the midst of an unprecedented revolution in the Arab world, with cruel dictators being deposed one after the other.

What is behind these world events? We need look no further than the date of the Hebrew calendar on which the bin Laden raid took place, the 28th of Nissan. On this date, exactly 20 years ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe gave a revolutionary talk which transformed Chabad’s approach to this day. On that date, the 20th of Nissan 5751 (1991), the Rebbe said, “I have done all I could. From now on it is up to each and every one of you – do whatever you can to bring Moshiach, here, in actuality.”

Naturally, for the days, weeks and months following the talk, chassidim made every effort to understand what the Rebbe meant and to internalize his message in their daily lives. No longer could we stand around and wait passively for the Rebbe to lead us to Redemption. No. The Rebbe had asked each of us to take the initiative, to do our own part, to put our heads together and figure out how to bring Redemption to the world.

The Rebbe handed the reins over to us, but he did not refrain from giving us his support and encouragement. At the conclusion of that electric talk, the Rebbe said, “and to hasten the matter along further through my own action, I am going to give each person a dollar to give to charity, to make them an emissary for a mitzvah. As is known, tzedakah hastens the Redemption.”

The Rebbe had just spoken some harsh words, letting us know that we would no longer be coddled, that he expects us to step up to the plate and do our part to bring the Redemption. At the same time, the Rebbe was not stepping down. He was going to give us the strength and the tools we needed to succeed.

Today we see matters coming to a head, with the toppling of despots across the Middle East, with no obvious leaders rising up to replace them. The world is ripe for a new type of leadership – a leader based on truth, and faith, and trust. A leader deeply rooted in humanity, compassion and kindness. A perfect description, in fact, of the leadership envisioned by Torah – the leadership of Moshiach.


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