In the year 5751 the fast of 17th Tammuz fell out on Shabbos parshas Balak. In this sicha the Rebbe addresses the special quality of a fast that falls out on Shabbos, which causes the fast itself to be pushed off until the next day.
First, we must understand that although the fast itself is a matter of “discomfort which is the opposite of desire and pleasure, but its inner dimension (b’pnimiyus) it is a good thing, as stated in the verse ‘a day of Will to Hashem’.” More specifically, the fast of the 17th of Tammuz is on the day of the month which has the numeric value (gematria) of “good” (טוב = 17). The Rebbe finds this completely natural, “since the intent and ultimate purpose of the churban and the golus is only in order to come to the elevation and perfection of the (true and complete) Geuloh, meaning that the golus is an external matter, and it’s inner dimension is the Geuloh.” From this, we understand that since the time of the churban itself, everything is for the purpose of the Geuloh.
Interesting to note that the Rebbe mentions four times in this sicha that there is an aspect of Geuloh which is to rectify the churban and golus, but additionally there is a higher level: “the level and perfection of the Geuloh in and of itself, pure Geuloh גאולה לטהרתה (even if prior to [the Geuloh] there is not a situation of churban and golus).” (And the Rebbe adds that the chiddush here is that even in a state of churban and golus we can feel this aspect of “pure Geuloh”.) This is mainly relevant to a fast which falls out on Shabbos (when the negative aspects are not felt), but also is relevant to our generation in particular: “the more we come closer to the true and complete Geuloh, the feeling of churban and golus in these days is diminished, and the feeling of preparation for Geuloh grows and increases, the “tov” that is in the 17th of Tammuz and the 3 weeks.”
The sicha now turns to the main point: the importance of learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh, which enable us to “live with the times”. Which times? “The times of Yemos Hamoshiach, through this that the intellect becomes full and permeated with understanding and comprehension of the subject of Moshiach and Geuloh that is in Torah. And from the intellect it spreads and imbues the feeling in the heart, until it reaches one’s thought, speech, and action in a way that suits this special time, when we are standing on the threshold of the Geuloh, and we point with our finger that ‘behold, this (the Melech Moshiach) comes.” (And if someone will protest that our sages say that Moshiach only comes when we are distracted from the subject (בהסח הדעת), the Rebbe clarifies that the meaning of this expression is “above da’as, meaning that after this subject permeates his da’as (through thought and contemplation, etc.), it goes beyond (higher than) his da’as.” We can explain this to mean that no matter how much we learn about Moshiach and Geuloh, even filling and permeating our understanding with these subjects, the Moshiach reality will always be far beyond our understanding, until it actually materializes.
The Rebbe specifically addresses those for whom it is difficult to internalize the idea that we are really on the threshold of the Geuloh, and that the way to deal with this is by learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh — this enables a person to internalize the reality that the Rebbe is speaking about. We see this in actuality, that those who learn the subject of Moshiach and Geuloh — regardless of where they were holding before — are much more sensitive to and aware of the unfolding Geuloh.
The importance of learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh cannot be over-emphasized, and we will end with the words of the Rebbe’s secretary, R’ Leibel Groner, z”l:
The Rebbe told me to send a fax to R’ Chaim Gutnick in Australia who wrote a letter to the Rebbe (the Rebbe showed me the letter) saying, “Rebbe, have pity on us and tell us clearly what to do.” The Rebbe said to send him the last sicha that he said that Shabbos (Tazria-Metzora) in which he mentioned the steps that need to be taken.
“I am surprised,” said the Rebbe, “why he is asking what to do when I said it clearly.” [In the sicha which the Rebbe instructed to be sent to R’ Gutnik, the Rebbe explains that the “direct way” to bring about the revelation and coming of Moshiach is by learning the subjects of Moshiach and Geuloh in Torah, especially by learning the maamorim and Likkutei Sichos of the leader of the generation.]
Since we still haven’t merited the hisgalus of Moshiach, each of us needs to make a spiritual accounting: have I made enough set times for learning Torah? Am I mehader in mitzvos? How can I add in my Ahavas Yisroel and tz’daka? Do I learn inyonei Moshiach and Geula?
We are not being asked to climb ladders to shomayim — the Geuloh is in fact “korov aleicha” (close to us); if we will only push ourselves to fulfill the instructions that Moshiach has given us, then “suddenly the Master will come”!