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America: The Final Frontier

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Chassidism » Chassidic Holidays | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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The 12th and 13th of Tamuz, are festively observed by Chabad Chassidim worldwide. On the 12th of Tamuz 5687 (1927), the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950), was given permission to leave Kastroma, the distant city of exile where he was dispatched by the Soviets for the “crime” of creating an underground network of Yeshivahs, Mikvahs, and other banned Jewish institutions.

On that year, the 12th of Tamuz – which also is the Rebbe’s birthday – coincided with a Soviet national holiday, so the actual release papers weren’t issued until the next day, the 13th of Tamuz.

Miraculously, the Rebbe survived his harrowing ordeal which also included a lengthy stay in a Leningrad prison, and a commuted death sentence. (Click here for the Rebbe’s personal diary, detailing his incarceration and redemption.) But the battle was far from over. In the ensuing six decades, the Communist regime forcibly attempted to destroy all remnants of religious life. Shortly after his liberation the Rebbe was expelled from the USSR, but thousands of his followers continued his holy struggle, valiantly resisting the government’s efforts to destroy Soviet Judaism.

The chassidim were undeterred by the personal risk which went hand-in-hand with their holy work. The soul thrives on adversity—nothing revs its engines like an attack on its beliefs and principles
The consequences were viciously cruel. Thousands of Chabad chassidim spent years in the Soviet gulags for their illegal activities. And they were the “lucky” ones. Countless others were tortured and condemned to death by KGB kangaroo courts, and were summarily executed in a prison courtyard or cellar. The poor widows and orphans were not notified about their loved one’s fate, leaving them to languish for years on the threshold between hope and despair.

The chassidim were undeterred by the personal risk which went hand-in-hand with their holy work. The soul thrives on adversity—nothing revs its engines like an attack on its beliefs and principles. Indeed this is an age-old phenomenon; our history is replete with men and women who demonstrated incredible courage when confronted with decrees restricting the observance of Torah and mitzvahs. More often than not, these heroes were “run-of-the-mill” simple folk who led otherwise non-heroic lives.

But every Jew has a Divine soul, a soul which possesses staggering powers.  In many a Jew this soul is in hibernation. A little opposition and friction is needed in order to awaken and startle it into action. There is a well-known Chassidic adage: “An olive must be crushed to release its oils.”


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Philosophy » Messiah
Israel » Messiah
Holidays » Chassidic Holidays

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.
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).
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."
Galut
Traditionally translated to mean exile. It refers to the state of the Jewish people until the coming of the Messiah.
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.