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 holy to sacrifice for Him.’” (Bamidbar 16:5)
Rashi comments: “At this time we are as if intoxicated and we cannot show ourselves to Hashem.”
The disciples of the Rebbe R’ Shmelke of Nikolsburg once asked him: “We are constantly reminded to prepare ourselves for Moshiach and to improve ourselves to enable him to come. On the other hand, the Rebbe keeps on telling us that each generation is spiritually weaker than the generation before. If so, how can the weaker generation be expected to accomplish that which their predecessors were unable to achieve? How can we keep our hopes up that we will bring Moshiach, when our far-greater ancestors were unable to bring him?”
The tzaddik Rebbe Shmelke replied with a parable: “A powerful king constructed a magnificent city some distance from his capital. He built a strong protective wall around the city and designed beautiful gardens around palatial homes within the city. The king settled his children and relatives there and requested of them to maintain the city’s beauty and keep up the splendor of its gardens and orchards. He promised to visit periodically to check on his beloved city.
“Unfortunately, after the king left, a group of rebels entered and took control of the city. They intoxicated all of the king’s relatives with wine, which made it impossible for them to keep the city in good shape. Within a short time, the gardens were overgrown with weeds, the streets were full of refuse and the mansions showed signs of neglect. The orchards produced thorn bushes instead of fruits, the decorations on the gates fell apart, and the entire city lost its beauty.
“One day, the king arrived at the city gates for an unexpected visit. The rebels quickly locked the gates; the strong walls that were built for protection were now used to the city’s detriment. To ensure that the king’s relatives do not come to his aid, the rebels gave the residents even more wine to drink, so they were unable to act decisively. The king and his ministers stood outside the city, looking for a way to enter. Since they knew all 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 and enter the city.
“Upon seeing the terrible destruction of the city and its extremely filthy state, the ministers told the king, ‘Your Highness cannot walk through such unclean streets! It is not befitting for the king’s honor; we must first clear the city as much as possible and then the king will enter.’
“So the king waited outside the city, while his ministers walked 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 the orchards and the gardens; we will replant them later. But at least you should all pitch in and pick up the garbage!’
“The news about the king’s visit penetrated the intoxicated minds of the city residents. Even though they were not fully coherent, they were able to see to the immediate task of cleaning up the streets, and they all got to work. The king had an excellent view from outside the city and was able to see who was helping and who was getting in the way. The people worked frantically, despite their mental limitations, trying their best to prepare the city for the king.
“When the king finally entered the city he was able to point his 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 their wisdom and Torah greatness to break the walls that prevented the King from entering the city. Now, in our times, the gates are open! The King is standing outside and waiting for us to clear the garbage so that He should be able to enter. 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 the place, we should be able to clean it up. We don’t need to be spiritual giants to do the cleaning; even people of our spiritual stature can do this.”
This parable and its explanation are just as true in our times. This message can be seen in the above-mentioned verse, and in Rashi’s comment: “At this time we are as if intoxicated.” In truth, Moshiach should have been here already; the work was already done by previous tzaddikim. However, we are all drunk and “cannot show ourselves before Hashem.” The King cannot come between us in the state we are in! So we must clean up our hearts and 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-awaited redemption will finally dawn and Moshiach will come, Hashem will announce the names 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 his fingers showing which people helped him come and which people delayed his coming!” May he come speedily, in our days, Amen.