According to the kabbalists, every year in which the coming of the Messiah is reckoned as possible is a difficult one.
Events of great importance are anticipated, sweeping changes are awaited, and yet the substance and value of these changes, their significance, is dependent on man’s freedom to choose how he will act.
Thus, if redemption does not come as forecast, the year in which it was anticipated, will, on the contrary, be a year of tribulation.
One the one hand, we have the assumption that there is a definite order of events and phenomena, a predetermined and fixed destiny.
On the other hand, the measure and meaning of this destiny is seen as being open to significant changes in accordance with the degree of freedom granted to mankind.
Consequently, even if everything is indeed foreseen, the degree of freedom granted within the proscribed framework is very great indeed—as great, in fact, as the concomitant human responsibility and obligation.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz