Rabbi Yaakov Said: "This World Is Like An Ante-Room Before The World To Come; Prepare Yourself In The Ante-Room So That You May Enter The Banquet Hall."
The World to Come - the Era of the Redemption - reflects the ultimate purpose of creation, when it will be revealed that this world is G-d's dwelling.
To explain the analogy: A person reveals the fundamental nature of his character more easily in his own home. We express ourselves outside our homes as well, but there are always social conventions, personal reservations, and the like. When we're at home, these constrictions do not apply, and our true nature is revealed. In the analogue, our world is G-d's home, the place where His essence and the truth of His Being is manifest.
G-d nevertheless desired that mortals should fashion His dwelling, for man has a natural tendency to appreciate the fruit of his own labors. If, instead, this dwelling were to be granted as an unearned gift from above, the bliss we would enjoy would be tarnished. To borrow the metaphor of our Sages, we would be eating "the bread of shame."
And so, in the present era, man's efforts are directed towards transforming the world into a dwelling for G-d. For this reason, the present era is referred to as an ante-room, a preparatory phase through which we must pass.
(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 243ff; Vol. XV, p. 95ff)
These preparations have already been completed. To borrow an expression from the Previous Rebbe:
We have already "polished the buttons" - everything necessary to bring about the Redemption has already been accomplished.
(Sefer HaSichos 5752, Vol. I, p. 151ff)
- (Back to text) Cf. Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Bechukosai, sec. 3; Tanya, chs. 33 and 36.
- (Back to text) Rashi, Bava Metzia, 38a, s.v. kav shelo.
- (Back to text) There is also a deeper rationale. G-d's underlying motive in implanting this tendency in man is a desire that man be not only a passive recipient (mekabeil), but also a contributing partner (mashpia) in the work of creation.
- (Back to text) Cf. Jerusalem Talmud, Orlah 1:3; Likkutei Torah, Parshas Tzav 7d.
- (Back to text) Sichas Simchas Torah, 5689.