If we are steadily coming closer to the Era of Moshiach, why are events happening that seem to move us away from Redemption?
We can ask another, related question: Our sages say that one should tell oneself, “I was created only to serve my Creator” (Mishnah and Braita, end of Tractate Kiddushin). From this statement it appears that we were created only to serve G-d, every moment of the day, without interruption. How, then, do we understand the fact that we were created with the need for sleep? We “waste” so many hours a day in bed. It’s a spiritual descent, since we cannot study Torah or observe mitzvot!
The answer to this question also can explain why we seemingly take a step backward for every two steps forward on the way to Redemption. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains: If a person’s divine service were to continue uninterrupted, without even the natural “break” of sleep, then his progress would not be as noticeable, since it is constant, without interruption.
Therefore, G-d created us with the need for sleep. Each morning, we awaken as a “new being.” We can sense how our divine service of today is on a higher level than the day before. If there were no interruptions, there would be no renewal. The interruption of sleep is actually part of his divine service.
The same is true of our progress towards Redemption. As we move towards Redemption, we occasionally experience events that seem to be a step back, towards exile. However, these events actually serve as “interruptions” that help us realize how much progress we have made. They also urge us on to invest even greater efforts to bring the Redemption in actuality.
(Toras Menachem 5750, vol. 4, p. 92)