Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Sword of The Mashiach

Among Reb Nachman's best-known disciples was Reb Shmuel Isaac.  Like Reb Nachman, he had great prophetic powers.  Not only could he see into the future, but he also had visions in which he ascended into Paradise.  Several of these visions were recorded in a small notebook that was lost after his death.  Only one of Reb Shmuel's visions was preserved.

In this vision Reb Shmuel found himself walking at night through a snow-covered forest.  There he saw a light glowing far off, as distant as a star, and with nothing else to guide him, he followed it.  He made his way through the dark forest, ignoring the icy wind and the howling of wolves.  He kept his eyes fixed on the distant light, certain that it held his salvation.

At last, deep in the forest, Reb Shmuel came to a clearing in the shape of a circle.  That clearing was filled with light, and when Reb Shmuel came closer, he saw that a ladder of light rose up there.  Reb Shmuel looked at it in amazement, certain that it was none other than that seen by Ya'akov in his dream.  But while Ya'akov had seen angels ascending and descending that ladder, Reb Shmuel saw none.

He stood at the base of it and peered up into the sky.  He saw how the ladder ascended as far as he could see, into the very heavens.  And at the top of the ladder he saw the light that had guided him to this place, the heavenly star that drew him ever closer.  And he knew that he would have to ascend that ladder, wherever it would take him.

When Reb Shmuel stepped on the first rung, he found that it somehow held him, though it consisted only of light.  Indeed, the ladder felt very secure, as if it were anchored in the most solid of foundations.  Then Reb Shmuel lost his fear and climbed from rung to rung, determined to reach that distant light.

Reb Shmuel climbed until he finally reached the top of the ladder.  There he saw that the source of that light was a magnificent palace.  Outside that palace grew a tree with branches that seemed to reach into every corner of heaven, and in the branches he saw a golden nest, with a golden dove in it.  The song of that dove filled the air, and it was so beautiful that he felt like weeping.  Then Reb Shmuel realized that he had ascended to the very place of the Mashiach, and that the bird he saw was none other than the golden dove of the Mashiach, whose heavenly song is immortal.

When Reb Shmuel realized that it was the light of the Mashiach's palace that had guided him there, he was overwhelmed.  And he was drawn to that incredible palace like a moth to a flame.  he came to its door and saw that it consisted of black flames burning on white, and he drew in his breath and walked through that door, knowing full well that it might be impossible to turn back.  Inside he found a chamber of awesome beauty, and while he marveled at its uniqueness, he suddenly saw that a gateway had opened leading to another chamber, and from there to yet another, and so from room to room and from story to story.  Thus he found that every entrance led to the next, and everything was connected to everything else with the profoundest wisdom and beauty.

Reb Shmuel moved from room to room in that fiery palace until he came to a door with a flame that burned much brighter than any other.  And somehow he knew that he had come to the end of his quest, that behind that door he would find the Mashiach, who had guided him to that place.

Gathering all his courage, Reb Shmuel stepped through that fiery door into the inner chamber.  There he was blinded by a brilliant light that filled every corner of the room.  Shielding his eyes, reb Shmuel could make out an old man with a white beard seated on a throne before him.  He was holding a sword, and Reb Shmuel saw that his face was the source of the light that filled the room.  Then he knew with certainty that the old man must be the Mashiach, who has waited all these years for his time to come.

"Do you see this sword?" the Mashiach asked.  Reb Shmuel nodded that he did, for he was speechless.  "With this sword I shall conquer the world!"

Bewildered, Reb Shmuel could not comprehend what the old man meant.  Then the Mashaich said: "Go to your rebbe.  He will explain everything to you."

At that moment Reb Shmuel's vision ended, and he found himself standing before the House of Study in Bratslav.  In great confusion he entered, knowing that his only hope was to ask Reb Nachman to explain his vision.  As he stepped inside, he saw that Reb Nachman was teaching a lesson.  And the first words Reb Shmuel heard Reb Nachman say were:  "And the sword of the Mashiach is prayer!"

-Eastern Europe: Nineteenth Century

"Some with chariots, and some with horses, but we, in the name of Hashem, our G-d, will call out (Tehillim 20:8)"

We all should learn how to skillfully use the Sword of Mashiach.

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