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Who is "The Rebbe"?

by Mrs. Dinka Kumer

  

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The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (1902-1994), is lovingly known as "The Rebbe," the seventh leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic dynasty.1

Encapsulating the Rebbe in a few paragraphs of dates and descriptive terms, falls enormously short of what can be known about the Rebbe. The following is but a small glimpse.

A Brief Biography:

April 18, 1902 -- The Rebbe was born in Nikolaev, Ukraine, the eldest of three boys. The Rebbe's father was Rabbi Levi Yitzchak (1878-1944), a renowned Talmud and Kabbalah scholar who was later appointed Chief Rabbi of Yekatrinislav (today called Dnepropetrovsk), the second largest city in Ukraine. The Rebbe's father was a great-great-grandson of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (1789-1866), also known as the Tzemach Tzedek, the third Rebbe of Lubavitch. The Rebbe's mother, Rebbetzin Chanah (1880-1964), also descended from a long line of virtuous and noble Jewish families.

In his youth, the Rebbe was taught by a private tutor and then by his father after having quickly outgrown the standard curriculum taught to children his age. The Rebbe's contemporaries remember him as a serious and studious child whose maturity and compassion surpassed his youth.

1927 --The Rebbe left Russia and Soviet persecution together with his future father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn (1880-1950), the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe first relocated to Riga, Latvia, and then to Warsaw, Poland.

December, 1928 -- The Rebbe married a distant cousin, Chayah Mushka Schneersohn (1901-1988). Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka was the second daughter of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak. The Rebbe observed his personal anniversary as the day on which he became heir to the Rebbes of Chabad-Lubavitch.

1941 – At the encouragement of his father-in-law, the Rebbe spent several years studying in the University of Berlin and later at the Sorbonne in Paris. As the Nazis pursued their murderous conquest throughout Europe, the Rebbe and Rebbetzin fled to the United States and settled in Brooklyn, New York. The Rebbe's father-in-law appointed him to lead the physical and spiritual rehabilitation of post-Holocaust Jewry. He was appointed as director of Merkos L'Inyanei Chinuch (an organization established to promote and centralize Jewish education). The Rebbe also headed Kehot - the publishing branch of Merkos L'Inyanei Chinuch, which reprints Chassidic manuscripts, original children's books, and hundreds of the Rebbe's own works.  In 1943, the Rebbe published his first book, HaYom Yom, a daily guide to Jewish life and Chassidic thought. 

January 17, 1951 -- A year after the passing of his father-in-law, the Rebbe formally accepted the leadership mantle of Chabad-Lubavitch. As the new leader of Chabad and conscious of the needs of his generation, the Rebbe sought to bring Torah and mitzvahs to every Jew in the world by establishing a network of emissaries called Shluchim. These Shluchim, stand in his stead in hundreds of cities in dozens of countries teaching and leading others to adhere to Jewish tradition and observance. The Rebbe announced that we are the generation that stands at the threshold of the redemption. As such, we are obliged to intensify our efforts in hastening Moshiach's arrival, and ensure that our every action be directed towards transforming this goal into a reality.

1967 – The Rebbe initiated Mitzvah campaigns - beginning with the Mitzvah of Tefillin. Booths were erected in strategic locations to enable Jewish men to don pairs of Tefillin. The Rebbe expanded the Mitzvah campaign enlisting his Chassidim of all ages to actively help other Jews keep some of Judaism's most central Mitzvahs such as Kashrut, Mezuzah, Shabbat candles, Family Purity, and more. The Rebbe also established a force of Mitzvah Tanks - Chabad centers on wheels - to encourage Jewish experiences on street corners, in far-flung places and at public events. The Rebbe also formed a children’s club called Tzivot Hashem (the Army of G-d), geared at giving Jewish youth added enjoyment in Torah learning and the practice of Mitzvahs. Soon after, the Rebbe encouraged a campaign to teach the Seven Noahide Laws to non-Jews, disseminating an appreciation for a universal G-d and respect for all humanity.

Footnotes

  • 1. See "What is Chabad?" . (http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/172,2092691/Who-is-The-Rebbe.html)

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Chassidism » Rebbe » "The Rebbe"

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(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
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(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
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(fem. Tzidkanit; pl. Tzaddikim). A saint, or righteous person.
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Jewish Law. All halachah which is applicable today is found in the Code of Jewish Law.
Tefillin
Black leather boxes containing small scrolls with passages of the Bible written on them. Every day, aside for Sabbath and Jewish holidays, the adult Jewish male is required to wrap the Tefillin--by means of black leather straps--around the weaker arm and atop the forehead.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
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Laws of Kosher (Jewish dietary laws).
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Chassidim
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) Following the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
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A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
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Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn, spiritual leader of the worldwide Chabad movement.
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Plural form of Rebbe. A Rebbe is a Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
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G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.
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Rebbetzin
Rabbi's wife.