The last day of Pesach, called Acharon Shel Pesach, is connected to the coming of Moshiach and is marked by a special meal featuring matzah and four cups of wine. This meal is called seudas Moshiach. The purpose of having a meal is to translate our intellectual knowledge of the Rambam’s ikar of “Ani ma’amin…b’vias haMoshaich” (I believe…in the coming of Moshiach) into a physical action to bring a spiritual concept into the physical world.
This custom of celebrating Moshiach’s seudah, was instituted by the Ba’al Shem Tov, founder of Chassidus. However, the connection between Acharon Shel Pesach and Moshiach is enumerated by the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek. He explains: “The last day of Pesach is the conclusion of that which began on the first night of Pesach. The first night of Pesach is our festival commemorating our redemption from Egypt by Hashem. It was the first redemption, carried out through Moshe Rabbeinu, who was the first redeemer; it was the beginning. The last day of Pesach is our festival commemorating the final redemption, when Hashem will redeem us from the last exile through our righteous Moshiach, who will be the final redeemer. The first day of Pesach is Moshe Rabbeinu’s festival; the last day of Pesach is Moshiach’s festival.”
This explanation by the Tzemach Tzedek is not the only reason that Moshiach’s seudah is celebrated on the last day of Pesach. According to Chassidus, the last in a sequence is not only significant because of its numerical order. The last has its own special function. The camp of Dan, described in the Torah as “ma’asaf l’chol hamachanos” (gatherer of all the camps), was the last group in the procession of Jews that left Egypt. Rashi explains this as meaning that “The tribe of Dan…would journey last, and whomever would lose anything, they would restore it to him.”
Our service of Hashem is comprised of many journeys, and the conclusion of the service ensures that nothing is missing from the service, just like Dan, the “gatherer of all the camps”. As the Tzemach Tzedek explained, Pesach is a Yom Tov of redemption and our service to Hashem is focused on bringing the final redemption, the Geulah Shleimah. In case our service to Hashem was lacking during the first seven days of Pesach, the final day, Acharon Shel Pesach, serves as the “gatherer of all the camps” to rectify our service and regain anything we may have lost, spiritually, over the course of the Yom Tov. Therefore, Moshiach’s Seudah, a celebration of the imminent Geulah Shleimah, is the culmination of the service of Pesach, the holiday of redemption.
The concept of “gatherer of all the camps” does not only apply to our individual Divine service. It also applies to Klal Yisroel as a group. When the Jews were wandering in the desert, after leaving Egypt and before reaching Eretz Yisroel, they took forty-two journeys. Each of the forty-two journeys enabled them to leave behind one of forty-two levels of bondage they experienced in Egypt. This entire period alludes to our current Golus. Just as the Jews who left Egypt journeyed in exile until they reached Eretz Yisroel, we are journeying in exile until Moshiach comes. Our generation, the generation of the footsteps of Moshiach, the last generation before the Geulah Shleimah, is the “gatherer of all the camps” for all of Klal Yisroel. We have the power to rectify any missing portions of our collective Divine service and accomplish any last mitzvos necessary to bring Moshiach.