This sicha begins with the story of the Rebbe Rashab as a young boy. On his 4th or 5th birthday he was brought to his grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, to receive a blessing. When he entered his grandfather’s room he burst out in tears and said “In cheder, we learned that G-d revealed Himself to Avraham. Why does He not reveal Himself to me?” The Tzemach Tzedek responded:
“When a Jew [alternatively, ‘When a tzaddik’] who is ninety-nine years old recognizes that he must undergo [the spiritual service of] circumcision, he is worthy of having G-d reveal Himself to him.”
Both the question and the answer contain clues to the process of redemption.
The mitzvah of circumcision is a unique covenant with the Creator which is brought about by removing the foreskin, the “orlah“, an impure manifestation that obscures. Although none of us is on the level of Avraham Avinu’s Divine service, we learn from him that even if a person has reached the 99th level of perfecting himself (corresponding to his 99 years at the time), he must take the next step to realize that there is a greater level of Divine revelation which can only be revealed by circumcising himself — removing the orlah which obscures that revelation (even if it may be very subtle and barely noticeable to him). The goal is not “self-perfection” but rather G-dly revelation. The orlah blocks this G-dly revelation from being complete, and must be removed even at the age of 99 years (and how much more so before then).
In order to accomplish this, we must tap into the same yearning, the same sense that something critical is lacking, which caused the young Rebbe Rashab to burst into tears that G-d had not revealed Himself to him. The goal of all of our effort and service of Hashem is to bring about this Divine revelation. No matter what we have accomplished, no matter how far we have come (whether as individuals or the Jewish people as a whole), until we bring about this revelation of G-dliness we have not accomplished the goal. Even if we have finished the Divine service of golus, we still need to bring about the revelation of G-dliness in the world, to bring into actuality the true and complete Geuloh. To do this we need to feel a yearning for Hashem’s Divine revelation.
This is particularly evident in the mitzvah of milah (circumcision) which is “sealed in our flesh”, connecting the Divine command with the material body of each Jew. Similarly, the Divine revelation of which we speak cannot remain spiritual, it must come down to the world, to the soul as it is enclothed in a material body.
The Rebbe explains that all of this is connected with the revelation of the spark of Moshiach which is contained in every Jew — that each one of us must reveal this spark of Moshiach which is within us. Revealing it means bringing it out in our consciousness, in our actions, and in our influence on the world. A person revealing his spark of Moshiach is a “personal redemption” and all of the “personal redemptions” come together to become the true and complete Geuloh. How do we speed this up? By acting as a shliach, meaning an “agent”, utilizing all 10 powers of soul (3 of intellect, 3 of emotion, 4 of action) to bring about G-d’s revelation in the world, primarily by learning and spreading the teachings of Chassidus in way where they are understood and internalized. This is a preparation for the inner bond with Hashem that will be revealed.
Furthermore, we are at a stage where there are no more obstacles to this revelation. The Rebbe Rashab, when he founded the Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim, spoke about the two stages before the redemption which are hinted at in Psalm 89: those who are the “enemies of Hashem”, enemies of G-d and His Torah (the maskilim and reformers of his generation); and those who “scorn the footsteps of Your anointed one (Moshiach)”, meaning Torah-observant Jews who have little faith in Moshiach (complete sicha of the Rebbe Rashab). The Rebbe Rashab noted then that the students of Tomchei Temimim are the “soldiers of the House of David” who fight these wars. In our sicha of Parshas Vayera, the Rebbe says that even this has been completed, indicating that there are no longer any real “enemies of Hashem” among the Jewish people (only those who are like a “captured child” (תינוק שנשבה) raised by gentiles, not responsible for how he was raised), and similarly (and a greater chiddush) — there is no longer any real opposition to Moshiach. Rather, we have entered the stage of Psalm 90 (the Rebbe’s kapital for the year 5751-52) which concludes with the verse “May the pleasantness of G-d our L-rd be upon us, establish for us the work of our hands,” referring to the Holy Temple.
Since we have reached the completion of our Divine service, all that remains is to awaken a yearning for Divine revelation like the young Rebbe Rashab and to act like Avraham Avinu and “circumcise ourselves” — meaning to remove from ourselves anything which obscures the Divine revelation, no matter how subtle it might be. This, together with learning and teaching Chassidus and fulfilling our shlichus with all powers of our soul, speeds up and brings about the true and complete redemption which can take place immediately!