The Gulf War

In 1990, almost six months before the Hebrew year 5751 began, the Rebbe declared that the Hebrew letters indicating the numerical equivalent of the coming year also formed an acronym for the Hebrew phrase meaning, “This will be a year when I [Gd] will show them [the Jewish people] wonders.”Before the previous year, the Rebbe had foretold that it would be “a year of miracles,” and indeed that year was marked by the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the emigration of hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews to our Holy Land. And yet, the Rebbe assured his listeners, the wonders of 5751 would surpass those of 5750.While the Rebbe was delivering this message, preparing the Jewish people and the world at large for these developments, urgent preparations of a different kind were being made in a distant corner of the world. In August of 1990, Saddam Hussein marched the armies of Iraq into Kuwait, plunging the entire world into panic. As heads of government, opinion- makers in the media, and ordinary men and women in the street reacted in fear, the Rebbe spread a message of quiet optimism.In Israel, gas masks were handed out in fear of chemical warfare and thousands fled from the land in dread of Iraqi missiles. So complete was the fright that when Yasser Arafat stood together with Saddam Hussein and offered an Iraqi pullback in return for a Palestinian state, there were Israelis who urged acquiescence.The Rebbe, by contrast, reassured the world that chemical weapons would not be used in Israel. He publicly referred to Israel as “the safest place in the world,” and urged Americans to travel there. When Major J. Goldstein, a chaplain dispatched by the US army to the war zone, asked about the projected length of the hostilities, the Rebbe assured him that the war would be over by the festival of Purim (which, as is widely known, is exactly when hostilities ceased).There is no need to recount the entire saga of how the Rebbe’s vision was vindicated. It is sufficient to point to the repeated expressions of thanks given by Prime Minister Shamir for the strength and confidence which the Rebbe imparted to people throughout Israel.
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