Everyone should remind themselves of ten minutes in which he stood before my father [the Rebbe Rashab], and [consider] the way he is now, and that he will have to appear before my father [when Moshiach comes].We can surely apply this statement to our current situation, after Gimmel Tammuz. To state the obvious, one of the main problems that we as chassidim face in our time is that we do not see the Rebbe physically. Yes, we are able to visit the Rebbe at his holy Ohel and bask in his physical presence. Yes, we can view pictures and videos, and with an ease and availability completely not possible even a decade ago, and we surely need to appreciate and make the most of this. Likewise, audio of the Rebbe speaking is more available than ever before. And despite it all, at the end of the day, we don’t see the Rebbe himself with our eyes of flesh.
Obviously, part of the interim solution to this problem is to remind ourselves constantly of the truth that the Rebbe taught us again and again when discussing the Previous Rebbe (and especially over the course of the year after the Previous Rebbe’s Histalkus—see, for example, here) that a Rebbe never abandons his chassidim, and so we, too, know (see here) that the Rebbe davvens for us, blesses us, guides us, and leads us even now no less than before. In fact, in a sense he leads us even more than before, albeit in a hidden way.
Yet of course, all this is not enough. When the Rebbe is hidden from the chossid (due to our many sins), the chossid should not be satisfied with relating to the Rebbe in a hidden way, because this is not the way that the relationship of Rebbe and chossid ought to be. Rather, he should be filled with an intense desire to be physically reunited with the Rebbe.
The Rebbe himself has set this example for us, for he famously wished at the conclusion of his very first ma’amar (see here): “May we merit to see the [Previous] Rebbe, down here in a physical body and within our immediate reach, and he will redeem us.” Moreover, a chossid should regard it as his personal responsibility to bring this reunion about, as the Rebbe wrote to Reb Avrohom Parizh: “Reb Avrohom, we have to bring the Rebbe back” (Igros Kodesh, Vol. 4, p. 156).
But imagining, yearning, and praying to see the Rebbe again, as important as they are, are not enough. Chassidim are bound to the Rebbe through an intense love (see here), and part of love is a desire to make one’s beloved happy, and to avoid causing him or her pain. Thus, the desire to be reunited with the Rebbe should also bring us to Teshuvah, to change our behavior such that it conforms with the Rebbe’s instructions totally, for we realize that not only is the Rebbe pained now when we behave inappropriately (for he surely sees the way we are acting even now), but when we will at long last be reunited with the Rebbe (and it is only a matter of time, im yirtzeh Hashem), he will look at us and look through us and be reminded of exactly how we acted when he was hidden. And we will look back at him.
So let’s imagine it, and ask ourselves fearlessly exactly what type of response we will deserve, as painful as that question may be.
We cannot escape the fact that whether the Rebbe’s response will be one of joyful pride or painful disappointment depends upon the way we choose to act now, in the moments before we are reunited. So let’s act wisely and make sure we don’t, as they say, have “egg on our faces” when Moshiach comes.