2. My wife gets the credit for pointing out an amazing Sefas Emes (5642 d"h b'Shir haShirim) that explains that just as our ancestors were 100% convinced that the galus in Mitzrayim would go on for 400 years and never imagined that Hashem would hasten redemption by counting the qualitative intensity of servitude as a substitute for the quantity of years required, so too, we are all convinced based on our mesorah and seforim that the tzaros of chevlei moshiach will be painful and tragic, but it could be that the length of our galus, the quantity of time we have spent in exile, will serve as a substitute for the intense quality of pain predicted. The galus may be long, but this may be b'chasdei Hashem a means of ultimately lessening our overall pain.
Sefas Emes goes on to say (based on Midrashim) that the whole machlokes (Shabbos 55a) whether the merit of zechus Avos still can be invoked is irrelevant to our achieving geulah, as even if we have exhausted our zechus Avos, there is a far deeper well of rachmanus we can draw on in the form of zechus Imahos. It is in their merit that the future redemption will come.
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