Once a chasid went to his Rebbe and cried, "My son is about to be drafted to serve in the Czar's army! I have been informed that the draft board this time will be comprised of people from a different town. If a father brings a note from a doctor that his son is ill, the boy receives a three-month reprieve. I will bring a note saying my son is ill. In three months, when he has to appear before the board again, it will be comprised of local people with whom I am close and they will easily exempt him."
The Rebbe listened and then said, "I understand your plan, but I think your son should appear at this hearing."
The chasid left the Rebbe's room bewildered, for his plan was completely logical. He went home and decided to continue as planned. He procured a doctor's note and appeared at the scheduled hearing. Upon entering the room he nearly fainted: it was the local board! He had no choice but to hand them the note and receive the three-month grace period. But he knew that when he appeared in three months time before the board of strangers, his son would surely be taken.
The distraught father came to the Rebbe again and pleaded with the Rebbe for help. "Have pity on a poor fool. Should my innocent son suffer because he has a father such as me?" he wailed. The Rebbe thought for some time and then said, "Get your son a false passport and send him far away."
The father nodded. "But that leaves me with another big problem," he related. "When a draftee runs away, the father is fined three hundred rubles, which I don't have! They will take my small children as hostages, until I pay."
The Rebbe fell deep into thought again, then answered: "Don't worry. There is a project in the works."
The chasid was relieved. He bought a passport on the black market and sent his son off to safety. But what of the fine? He wondered. He tried to put his questions and doubts out of his mind.
Three months passed. A soldier came to his store, and handed him many official-looking papers, announcing: "Sign these and appear at the bureau in twenty-four hours."
The chasid was shaking as he entered the lawyer's office. He could not read Russian, and so he was unable to read the documents. The lawyer, a local Jew, studied the pages closely. Then he looked up with a smile. "Do you know that they have given you their entire file on your son? Were you to throw it into the fire, nothing would be left; it would be over." With that, he tossed the papers into the fire, and the chasid suddenly understood his Rebbe's words, which had been so unintelligible at the time: "There is a project in the works."
* * *
The Rebbe has told the world that "There is a project in the works"--the time of the Redemption has arrived. And though, at times, it might appear that things are going in a different direction, there really is "a project in the works."
We needn't accept on blind faith that there is a "project." The Rebbe has shown us how the world is changing and moving toward the Redemption. He has pointed out examples of the fulfillment of ancient prophecies. Nor should we be discouraged by temporary setbacks, for these, too, have their precedents: Even after we had gone out of Egypt amidst great wonders, some wanted to turn back when faced with adversity. Later, though the journey to the Holy Land had already commenced, Moses was hidden from us as he studied the most sublime aspects of G-d's Wisdom, in order to ultimately share it with the Jewish nation.
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