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Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Shneersohn (1880-1950), the 6th Rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch - A Brief Biography

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Challenge - an encounter with Chabad-Lubavitch

  

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The Early Years 

Rabbi Sholom Dovber, the fifth leader of the growing Chabad movement, was constantly kept busy by the growing number of public meetings, conferences and important Rabbinical convocations which he had to attend.

The endless stream of Chassidic delegations, people seeking his advice and guidance, the need to supervise and instruct his followers in addition to his personal need for Biblical and Chassidic study, made increasing inroads into working days which already stretched from early morning until late at night.

He decided to appoint a personal secretary to relieve him of part of this enormous burden. His choice was his fifteen-year-old son, Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn. Born on Tammuz 12, 5640 (1880) in Lubavitch, Russia, the young man had proved his ability in the field of study and was already acknowledged as a brilliant scholar. He was soon to prove himself to be a no less brilliant administrator with an outstanding talent for communal and civic activities.

In 5655 (1895) the young Rabbi participated in the great conference of religious and lay leaders in Kovno, and again in the following year in Vilna.

On Elul 13, 5657 (1897), at the age of seventeen, Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn married Nehamah Dinah, the daughter of Rabbi Abraham Schneersohn, a prominent man of great scholarship and piety (and the grand-daughter of the Tzemach Tzedek).

During the week’s celebrations that followed the wedding ceremony, Rabbi Sholom Dovber announced the founding of the famous Lubavitch Talmudic seminary Yeshivah Tomchei Tmimim, and the following year appointed his son to be its executive director. Under the able direction of Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn and guided by his ever-watchful father, the Lubavitch Yeshivah flourished and developed and many branch seminaries were formed throughout Russia.

Born on Tammuz 12, 5640 (1880) in Lubavitch, Russia, the young man had proved his ability in the field of study and was already acknowledged as a brilliant scholar
The first two decades of the twentieth century were to test the young Rabbi’s unbounded energy, zeal and ability to the full. Only the briefest mention can be made here of even the most important of the events contained in those twenty years.

As part of the strenuous efforts being made to improve the economic status of the Jews in Russia, Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn was delegated by his father to conduct an intensive campaign for the establishment of a textile factory in Dubrovna.

This campaign, in the year 5661 (1901), took Rabbi Schneersohn to Vilna, Lodz and Koenigsberg. He obtained the co-operation of leading Rabbis and of the famous philanthropists, the brothers Jacob and Eliezer Poliakoff, and the textile factory was duly established with some 2,000 Jewish employees.

Intercession on Behalf of Russian Jewry

We already know of the difficult position of the Jews under the Czarist regime and how the Lubavitcher Rebbes continually interceded on behalf of their brethren, both with the Government and with the Court. Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn undertook many such missions and often traveled to the capital of St Petersburg and to Moscow.

When the Russo-Japanese war flared up in the Far East in 5664 (1904), Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn became active in the campaign inaugurated by his father to provide the Jewish soldiers on the Far East front with matzahs for Pesach.

In the widespread unrest that followed in the wake of that war, a new wave of pogroms swept the Pale of Settlement. Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn was sent by his father to Germany and Holland, and was successful in obtaining the intercession of prominent statesmen on behalf of Russian Jewry.

In the year 5668 (1908), he again participated in the Rabbinical convocation in Vilna. In the following year, he went to Germany to confer with Jewish leaders there. Upon his return, he took part in the preparation for the next Rabbinical convocation in the year 5670 (1910).

His energetic and far-reaching public activities, his watchful defense of the rights of Russian Jewry and his constant fight against the local and central authorities aroused the displeasure of the Czarist regime at that time.

Between the years 5662 and 5671 (1902-1911), Rabbi Schneersohn was arrested in Moscow and St Petersburg on four occasions. Since Government enquiries elicited nothing incriminating in his activities, he was released each time with a stern warning.

These incidents did not deter Rabbi Schneersohn from continuing his work, but spurred him to even greater efforts. In the years 5677 (1917) and 5678 (1918) he again took a leading part in the assembly of Rabbis and laymen in Moscow and Kharkov.


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Chassidism » Rebbe » Chassidic Masters

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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).
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G-d
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