I recall Yud Shevat 5753, during the height of the "balcony period". I was then a young boy in Cheder, and the messianic fervor had seized the Lubavitcher cult in its death grip. Walking to Oholei Torah that morning, I knew – WE knew – that today was going to be the day when the Rebbe finally reveals himself as Moshiach. I overheard Chaim Shaul Bruk (sp? Brook? Brooke? Burekeh? Burka? I don’t really give a damn, he was a kugel-thrower), the fat one, mention that people were waiting at the airport in Israel with a white donkey.
It wasn’t a hope, it wasn’t a desire. It was a well-known fact to us children, the תנוקות של בית רבן. That was all I could think about, as we listened to Rabbi Zeligson drone on out of the Ma’amor Bosi Legani during the Pre-Shachris Chasidus Shiur that was part of the holiday program. That’s what Itche Zalmanov and I spoke about during recess, instead of playing our usual 6th grade fantasyland games of "witchie" or "stupid robbers". When school let out early for the day, I ran the block and a half to 770 and squeezed my way through the masses of black Kapotes and blazers, hoping to get a good spot from which to view the long-awaited Hisgalus.
"Mincha now! Mincha now!" All over the neighborhood, Moshiach beepers go off; People run up Kingston towards Eastern Parkway. I pray with deep concentration, hoping that the Rebbe is watching me. Teka Beshoifar Godol Lecheiruseinu – it’s not just words, I can feel it; it’s about to happen. Perhaps if he notices how hard I’m trying to bring the redemption, he’ll help me out when he’s the king; I hope I get a candy-tree in my front yard.
The final Kaddish is said, the last "Amen" drowned out by the ocean of faithful admiration. Thousands of voices rise in song to praise their king and wish him eternal life. He makes a barely perceptible gesture with his left hand, the throngs react as if by instinct, and the singing becomes even more fervent. Faster and faster the mantra is repeated, the words grating against each other as thousands of Chasidim jump up and down on their toes, caught up in the spiritual ecstasy of the moment.
It is so close, so imminent. Today is the fifty-second anniversary of his becoming our leader. The Rebbe himself, the head of the children of Israel, had promised that we were the generation of redemption. He has told us that Moshiach is already here, that we just have to open our eyes.
My eyes are opened. I can see it, can envision it. Any moment now, the Rebbe will stand up. He will swing his arms in his signature gesture. Not the left-handed tremor, not a fist banging on his lectern, not even a one-armed swing; but a full-fledged two-armed swing that will bring the walls of Golus crashing down. He will regain his voice, and the first words out of his mouth will be a resounding הגיע זמן גאולתכם – the time for your redemption has arrived!
The Rebbe makes a gesture to his lackeys, and they swing the curtains shut on the farcical ceremony. Today was not the long-awaited redemption; it was merely another instance of mindless adoration by the sheeple. Tomorrow will be the same – the curtains will open, the curtains will shut, and the masses will have gotten another fix of opiates.