One hot summer day, an old man went down to a cool cellar, in order to give himself some relief. When he walked into the dark room, he couldn’t see anything at first. “Don’t be afraid,” said his friend who was in the cellar. “That’s normal. When you pass from light to darkness, you can’t see. But soon your eyes will get used to the darkness, and you’ll barely notice that it’s dark here.”
“My dear friend,” said the old man, as he turned to leave, “that’s just what I’m afraid of. Darkness is darkness. The danger is that you will convince yourself that it is light.” (from the wonderful book, “Toward a Meaningful Life”).
This coming Sunday we will be celebrating the last day of Pesach. The Baal Shem Tov instituted that on that day we should make a “Se’udat Mashiach” (a special meal for the Messiah), since on that day the light of the Mashiach shines in the world. (In Israel it happens on the seventh day of Pesach – on Shabbat.)
Se’udat Mashiach – yes, a real festive meal. The same way we celebrate the past redemption – the redemption from Egypt – not only by telling stories and explaining things, but also by eating meaningful foods such as matzah and marror – and all this so that our materialistic body will also take part in the experience of redemption from Egypt – so too we mark the future Redemption. The light of Mashiach shines in the world on the last day of Pesach; we just have to connect it to our material selves, and that we do by way of a Se’udat Mashiach, which includes four cups of wine – cups of redemption and blessing.
One more thing: when we make the Se’udat Mashiach, we are actually making a statement that we do not recognize the present situation as being good, but rather as one that has to improve and get better. We do not recognize our situation as being that of light, but rather of darkness, even though we have become accustomed to it and it seems to us that we have light.
Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski