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What is Chabad?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

  

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A. Chabad is a movement founded by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (a city in Belarus) about 200 years ago. He was a student of the successor of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement. It is founded on a philosophy that ascribes great importance to understanding the mystical; understanding the nature of G-d, His relationship with Creation, the Torah, the Mitzvahs, and last but not least -- the Jewish soul. Rigorous study and intense meditation is required in order to attain this knowledge and internalize these concepts. Hence the name Chabad:

B. The word Chabad is a Hebrew acronym for Chachmah, Binah and Da’at, which means wisdom, understanding and knowledge, respectively. In plain English, these words translate to three core mental functions in the process of what is commonly known as thought: that first flash of insight (Chachmah), the cogitation and rumination that follows (Binah), and thirdly, the ability to internalize and unite with an idea; thus emotionally processing it so that it is not just an abstract theory but something that becomes part of your heart and soul (Da’at). 

Every new Lubavitch branch opening anywhere has called itself Chabad of... the first Lubavitch presence on the Red Planet will be called Chabad of Mars
C. The movement is also (and until recently, better) known as Lubavitch, the name of the Belarus city that housed the movement until the early 1900's. The name Chabad became popular thanks to the movement's international network of outreach centers, the world’s largest Jewish outreach and social-services organization. The 200 year old Lubavitch movement innovated Jewish outreach at the beginning of its American saga in 1940. In 1971, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn, instructed that all existing and future Lubavitch synagogues and Jewish community centers be entitled Chabad Houses. Since then, every new Lubavitch branch opening anywhere has called itself Chabad of Name-of-City-or-Area-Here: the first Lubavitch presence on the Red Planet will be called Chabad of Mars.

What does Chabad want from me?

Chabad is a movement of Chassidic Jews, adherents of the Chabad philosophy, who just want to share Judaism with its rightful owners: their fellow Jews. That’s why they’ve got this website--and more than 4000 full-time rabbis reaching out to people just like you in more than 3000 locations worldwide, from America and Africa to Asia and Australia. And more added, almost daily. No other grassroots organization has successfully reached and inspired as many Jews as has Chabad. Stop by your nearest Chabad center, and you’ll likely find a fellow Jew who looks just like you.


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Jewish Identity » Jewish "Labels" » Chabad

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
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.
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of 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).
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Lubavitcher
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
Baal Shem Tov
Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), Polish mystic and founder of the Chassidic movement.
Lubavitch
Also known as “Chabad,” Lubavitch is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. “Lubavitch” is the name of the Belarusian city where four of the Chabad Rebbes (leaders) were based. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York, with branches worldwide. 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.
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.