וידבר אל קרח ואל כל עדתו לאמר, בוקרוידע ה' את אשר לו ואת הקדוש והקריב אליו.
“And he spoke to Korech and his entire congregation saying,‘[wait till] morning and Hashem will let us know who is for Him and who is holyto sacrifice for Him.’” (Bamidbar 16:5)
Rashi comments: “At this time we are as if intoxicated and wecannot show ourselves to Hashem.”
The disciples of the Rebbe R’ Shmelke of Nikolsburg onceasked him: “We are constantly reminded to prepare ourselves for Moshiach and toimprove ourselves to enable him to come. On the other hand, the Rebbe keeps ontelling us that each generation is spiritually weaker than the generationbefore. If so, how can the weaker generation be expected to accomplish thatwhich their predecessors were unable to achieve? How can we keep our hopes upthat we will bring Moshiach, when our far-greater ancestors were unable tobring him?”
The tzaddik Rebbe Shmelke replied with a parable: “Apowerful king constructed a magnificent city some distance from his capital. Hebuilt a strong protective wall around the city and designed beautiful gardensaround palatial homes within the city. The king settled his children andrelatives there and requested of them to maintain the city’s beauty and keep upthe splendor of its gardens and orchards. He promised to visit periodically tocheck on his beloved city.
“Unfortunately, after the king left, a group of rebelsentered and took control of the city. They intoxicated all of the king’srelatives with wine, which made it impossible for them to keep the city in goodshape. Within a short time, the gardens were overgrown with weeds, the streetswere full of refuse and the mansions showed signs of neglect. The orchards producedthorn bushes instead of fruits, the decorations on the gates fell apart, andthe entire city lost its beauty.
“One day, the king arrived at the city gates for anunexpected visit. The rebels quickly locked the gates; the strong walls thatwere built for protection were now used to the city’s detriment. To ensure thatthe king’s relatives do not come to his aid, the rebels gave the residents evenmore wine to drink, so they were unable to act decisively. The king and hisministers stood outside the city, looking for a way to enter. Since they knewall the secrets of the wall, they were able to think of ways to overcome it.They tried various methods until they finally succeeded to break the wall andenter the city.
“Upon seeing the terrible destruction of the city and itsextremely filthy state, the ministers told the king, ‘Your Highness cannot walkthrough such unclean streets! It is not befitting for the king’s honor; we mustfirst clear the city as much as possible and then the king will enter.’
“So the king waited outside the city, while his ministerswalked through the streets proclaiming, ‘The king is waiting to enter the city!We must do a thorough cleaning to enable him to come in. don’t worry about theorchards and the gardens; we will replant them later. But at least you shouldall pitch in and pick up the garbage!’
“The news about the king’s visit penetrated the intoxicatedminds of the city residents. Even though they were not fully coherent, theywere able to see to the immediate task of cleaning up the streets, and they allgot to work. The king had an excellent view from outside the city and was ableto see who was helping and who was getting in the way. The people workedfrantically, despite their mental limitations, trying their best to prepare thecity for the king.
“When the king finally entered the city he was able to pointhis finger at each person and say whether or not he helped clean up the mess.”
Reb Shmelke concluded the parable and explained its deeper meaning:“Our great ancestors, the tzaddikim of previous generations, used theirwisdom and Torah greatness to break the walls that prevented the King fromentering the city. Now, in our times, the gates are open! The King is standingoutside and waiting for us to clear the garbage so that He should be able toenter. True, we are like drunks, with limited mental and spiritual abilities,but we are still able to help clean up the mess! If we were able to mess up theplace, we should be able to clean it up. We don’t need to be spiritual giantsto do the cleaning; even people of our spiritual stature can do this.”
This parable and its explanation are just as true in ourtimes. This message can be seen in the above-mentioned verse, and in Rashi’scomment: “At this time we are as if intoxicated.” In truth, Moshiach shouldhave been here already; the work was already done by previous tzaddikim.However, we are all drunk and “cannot show ourselves before Hashem.” The Kingcannot come between us in the state we are in! So we must clean up our heartsand souls – a task that even simple people like us can do, even while drunk.
The verse concludes with a poignant reminder: “[Wait till]morning and Hashem will let us know who is for Him.” When the long-awaitedredemption will finally dawn and Moshiach will come, Hashem will announce thenames of those who helped prepare themselves for Him - those who helped cleanup the mess so that He should be able to reveal His glory.
The Satmar Rebbe used to say, “Moshiach will point hisfingers showing which people helped him come and which people delayed hiscoming!” May he come speedily, in our days, Amen.