It is the eve of January 17, 1951 (11th of Shevat 5711), in the great room at 770 Eastern Parkway in New York. The central Chassidic gathering is about to begin. The Rebbe will address his followers. This time the air is electrified. Something special is about to happen. The entire hall and even the balcony are bursting with people, and you can feel the great tension and anticipation of something extraordinary that is about to happen here. All are eager with suspense: Will the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel publicly recite an original Chassidic discourse? By doing so, he will officially accept the mantle of leadership of the Chassidic movement – and the whole generation as well.
The discourse recited by the Rebbe that evening is known today by its opening quote, “I have entered my garden” (“Bati Legani”). These words are from a verse in the fifth chapter of the Song of Songs, written by King Solomon. The poetic language of the Song of Songs does not leave the reader indifferent. Some see this song as being addressed to the bride, representing the Jewish people, while others interpret it as a love song for a different bride, the land of Israel.
The commentators read between the lines and find in the Song of Songs the deepest allusions to the future course of history. These concepts are so deep that they could not be discussed openly and therefore, King Solomon chose to convey them in the form of an allegory in which G-d is the bridegroom and the Jewish people are the bride. The beautiful garden that King Solomon describes is a parable for the perfected world in the sixth millennium and the Al-mighty’s entrance to dwell in it in his full glory.
And then the Rebbe added that we are now at the very turning point that King Solomon described in his Song of songs. We are now standing the closest we ever were to the goal and purpose of creation — making the world into “His garden”, into G-d’s garden:
“This is what is demanded of each and every one of us in the seventh generation, for “All the sevenths are endeared.” For the fact that we are in the seventh generation [from the beginning of the dissemination of the Torah’s inner teachings] is not the result of our own choice, nor of our toil. Indeed, in certain ways, perhaps it is contrary to our will. Nevertheless, “All the sevenths are endeared” and we are now speedily approaching the footsteps of the Mashiach. Indeed, we are at the conclusion of this period, and our spiritual task is to complete the process of drawing down the Divine Presence and not only the Divine Presence but its very essence, its essence as it descends into the lower worlds”. (From the Rebbe’s maamar, “Bati LeGani”, 5710)
In his first discourse the Rebbe drew a parallel between our generation and the generation of the Exodus from Egypt. Moses was the seventh leader in the chain of Jewish leaders running back to Abraham. It was Moses’ generation that received the Torah at Mount Sinai. Similarly, our generation is the seventh generation of spreading the Torah’s inner dimension, leading to a dissemination of the Torah in an unprecedented fashion. Like Moses’ generation which awaited the redemption and Exodus from the first exile in Egypt, we too stand today in the last moments of the final exile and on the threshold of the ultimate redemption – an everlasting redemption that will not be followed by another exile. (Sources: Midrash Shir HaShirim, Seder Hadorot.)
As soon as the discourse was finished, the Rebbe began working and started applying what he had taught into practice. And so, amazingly, step by step, he revived Judaism (which was utterly shattered and destroyed after World War II), by strengthening the foundations of the Torah and the observance of commandments through world-wide operations, education, and training in a comprehensive and elaborate manner.
To this end, the Rebbe made countless public addresses and discourses at gatherings and sent even more letters with advice, blessings, and Torah lessons. He encouraged emissaries to settle all over the world on his behalf and created a worldwide network of followers who spread the wellsprings of Chassidut — the Torah’s inner dimension — far and wide while encouraging acts of goodness and kindness the world over.
And so, step by step, virtually all of the tasks and missions that Maimonides described as being the task of the Mashiach before the redemption have been completed.
“If a king will rise from the House of David,
• one who will diligently contemplate the Torah and observe its commandments as prescribed by the Written Law and the Oral Law, as his ancestor King David,
• will compel all of Israel to follow the path of Torah, and to rectify the breaches in its observance,
• and will fight the battles of G-d, we may then, with assurance, consider him Mashiach”.
(Maimonides, Laws of Kings 11:4)