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Friday, June 22, 2018 9 Tamuz 5778



The Rebbe Finds a Way
It’s been 24 years. What more is there to say?
How can it be that a generation has come and gone since the 3rd of Tammuz, 5754 (1994), when the Rebbe’s presence was hidden from us?
An entire generation born and raised since Gimmel Tammuz.
After Gimmel Tammuz, media from around the world crowded into 770 Eastern Parkway to get the views of chassidim. How would we carry on? People offered different perspectives but on one point everyone agreed. Nothing has changed. The Rebbe is with us, the Rebbe continues to lead us, the Rebbe will lead us to Moshiach.
The Rebbe will find a way.
Indeed, the Rebbe finds a way. In innumerable ways, great and small, the Rebbe has found a way to answer each person who reaches out to him for strength, solace or spiritual direction. The Rebbe’s teachings continue to reverberate in our minds and guide our steps each and every day.
But the world has changed so much in the past 24 years! Geopolitics. Technology. Communication. From the mid-90’s to this day the world has seen a revolution, perhaps on par with the industrial revolution in the 1800’s. We never imagined a world that would be this connected, this accessible, this at-our-fingertips.
But the Rebbe did.
From the moment the Rebbe ascended to leadership of the Chabad movement after the passing of his father-in-law in 1950, he promised us a revolution. He promised us a time when the world would be united like never before, when all people would share a common belief and purpose. He taught us not only to hope and pray for that day, but to systematically put it into motion.
He sent his emissaries to every corner of the world to establish a network of Chabad centers—not to raise money but to raise souls. He invigorated world Jewry that had been decimated by the Holocaust. He taught us how to use every technological innovation, every breakthrough in communication, to share his message of love, truth, holiness. He was the first Rebbe to appear on radio, on cable television and on international satellite TV. Long before Skype and Facetime the Rebbe knew how to beam his message into every home and every heart.
If you asked us then and if you ask us now, our answer is the same. The Rebbe is alive, the Rebbe continues to lead us and the Rebbe will lead us to Moshiach.
Crazy talk? Crazy words?
Well, look around the world today. Crazier things are happening right now, things we could never have imagined 24 years ago. To be crazy for Moshiach is a different type of crazy altogether. We believe in the Rebbe not because we’ve taken leave of our senses but because the Rebbe raised our senses to a higher level. He teaches us to go all out, to give ourselves over to our ideals and pursue them passionately, relentlessly, despite the taunts of the naysayers. He teaches us to reach out to every Jew, to share and inspire them with the message of Redemption. No matter how far, how diverse, how dispersed—every Jew remains part of one indivisible whole. Every Jew holds the power, through just one action, one word or even one thought, to tip the scales and bring salvation to the entire world.
On Gimmel Tammuz, we have a choice. We can wallow in our misery that the Rebbe has been gone. Or we can hold on to the truths the Rebbe teaches us—our sole source of realness and stability in a world gone mad. We can carry his message of kindness, unity and dedication to all our brothers and sisters throughout the world. We can unite with them and join in acts of goodness and kindness to hasten the Redemption, when the Rebbe will finally be reunited with us so that our fleshy eyes will see it.
(For more about this, see the lead article of the June/July issue of Reaching Out). 

* * *

12 Tammuz - Day of Liberation
The life of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, Sixth Rebbe and father-in-law of the present Rebbe, spanned a period of unprecedented upheaval and transition for the Jewish people. Born in the summer of 1880, he grew up in the small village of Lubavitch, the historic center of Chabad, 300 miles west of Moscow. Under the patronage of his father, it was there that he established the Tomchei Temimim Yeshiva, equipping a new cadre of students with the knowledge, vision and conviction to perpetuate traditional Jewish life irrespective of the political and social unrest that would soon sweep across Russia and the world.
He assumed the leadership of Chabad in the chaotic aftermath of Russia's revolution and civil war, rallying and reorganizing his scattered and disorientated chassidim in the face of famine, disease and heightening religious persecution at the hands of the communist regime.
On the third of Tammuz, 5687 – 1927, having just been released from incarceration [and capital sentence], but sentenced to exile at a city called Kastroma in the interior of Russia, the Previous Rebbe stood on the step of the train that was to take him to Kostroma, and spoke to the many chassidim who accompanied him to the station, and said: "We ask G‑d, blessed be He: “May the L‑rd our G‑d be with us” — and He will indeed be with us — “as He was with our fathers; may He not forsake us, nor abandon us.”  We cannot be compared to our fathers, for they were characterized by mesirus nefesh — literal self-sacrifice — for the Torah and its mitzvos. This is reflected in the well-known statement of one of our holy forebears when the former regime tried to force the rabbis to institute reforms in Jewish education and in the status of rabbis and the rabbinate.  Nevertheless, all the nations on the face of the earth must know: Our bodies alone were banished into exile to be ruled by the nations of the world. Our souls were never exiled, nor were they subjected to the rule of the nations.
We must openly declare for all to hear, that with regard to everything involving our religion — the Torah of the people of Israel, with its commandments and customs — no one is going to impose his views on us, and no force has the right to subjugate us.
With all the power of Jewish stubbornness and with our thousand-year heritage of mesirus nefesh, we must say, “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do not harm My prophets.”
This is the way the Previous Rebbe, permeated by mesirus nefesh spoke to the world. The Rebbe added that everyone knows that the laws [of the Russian government] permit us to study the Torah and observe its mitzvos (albeit with certain limitations). It is betrayal and libel [on the part of some Jewish youth youth] that is leading us to prisons and hard-labor camps.
This is our request to G‑d: “May He not forsake us, nor abandon us.” May G‑d give us the necessary fortitude not to be affected by physical suffering and, on the contrary, to accept it with joy. The punishment which we must suffer (G‑d forbid) for maintaining a cheder, for studying the Torah, or for observing its mitzvos, should reinforce us in the sacred task of strengthening Jewish life.
We must always bear in mind that prisons and hard-labor camps are transient, whereas the Torah, its mitzvos, and the Jewish people, are eternal.
May you all be strong and healthy, both materially and spiritually. I hope to G‑d that the punishment which I must temporarily suffer will, with G‑d’s help, inject fresh vigor in [our] eternal [mission of] strengthening Jewish life, and that we will merit the fulfillment [of the promise] that “the L‑rd our G‑d [will] be with us as He was with our fathers,” and that all of the Children of Israel will have light in their dwellings,8 in both a spiritual and material sense.
Twenty-seven days after the Rebbe was first arrested, on Tammuz 12-13, which was also the Previous Rebbe’s birthday, he was released imprisonment and exile in Soviet Russia (1927). Tammuz 12-13 is celebrated as a "festival of liberation" by the Chabad-Lubavitch community and for all Jews who have been touched by the work of Chabad/Lubavitch.
In 1940 the Previous Rebbe settled in the US and established 770 Eastern Parkway as the headquarters for the worldwide Chabad/Lubavitch activities.  

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