From Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh
Executive Vice President
Commemorative remarks upon the
occasion of the 10th Yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l
This Tuesday, June 22nd, the 3rd day of Tamuz, is
the 10th Yahrzeit of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel
Schneerson, zaicher tzadik l’vracha. The Lubavitcher Rebbe left a
continuing imprint upon the contemporary Jewish scene and this occasion
merits our respect and reflection.
The Rebbe assumed the mantle of leadership of Chabad Chassidim after the
demise of his saintly father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok. He soon
developed a following and a circle of influence which surpassed that of
his predecessors, and he became a major figure upon the post Holocaust
Jewish scene. Indeed it can be conjectured that the Rebbe saw as his
mission rebuilding Yiddishkeit after the horrible war years to achieve
never imagined heights.
In appreciating the Rebbe’s life and contribution, many accomplishments
can be listed.
First and foremost was his leadership of his Chassidim and his concern for
the continuity and expansion of the teachings and lessons of his holy
ancestors. The spiritual leaders of Chabad Chassidus going back to the
Baal HaTanya, two hundred years ago, left a remarkable spiritual legacy
for all of us. This legacy stood in danger of being forgotten were it not
for the Rebbe’s commitment to perpetuate this legacy. Today the Sefer
HaTanya, which is truly the basic “scripture” of the Chassidic movement,
has been published in numerous languages with commentaries of all sorts
and is available for all to study and to grow from. This is true too of
all of the works of his forbearers. He expounded upon them, and saw to it
that these sacred teachings were taught to thousands. A spiritual heritage
that we can enjoy today is to his ultimate credit.
The Rebbe went beyond the teachings of his ancestors and broadened their
concepts theoretically. But above all his teachings have a practical
relevance unprecedented in the history of the Chassidic movement. His
sichos, intricate talks, are now available in the form of dozens of
volumes, in the original Yiddish, in translations, with full text or in an
abridged or modified form. His teachings range from the truly esoteric, to
the political and to works of profound spiritual guidance for every Jew,
indeed for every man.
I particularly am fond of the Rebbe’s commentary, Biurim L’Pirush Rashi Al
Hatorah. The Rebbe characteristically began his profound lectures with
observations, analysis and comments upon the words of Rashi on the Chumash.
He would resolve the questions that he raised on many levels beginning
with simple p’shat. His followers have taken these sections of his
lectures and published them in a five volume work which provides an
extremely helpful resource to all who wish to study Rashi on the Parshas
Hashavua. We know of many commentaries on Rashi’s commentary, and they are
known technically as supercommentaries. Some of the famous ones include
the Perush of the Mizrachi, of the Maharal, of the Lvush, and the Sifsei
Chachamim. The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Biurim stand among the most recent of
these supercommentaries and are a continuation of the chain of the
tradition of cherishing and explicating every nuance of Rashi’s holy
The Rebbe’s greatest accomplishment was in the area of outreach, in what
today is known as kiruv. Many decades before this approach became popular
in other Orthodox circles, the Rebbe had pioneered this tactic. His
emissaries are to be found across the world, particularly in the former
Soviet Union and on college campuses across the United States. Very few
Jewish travelers have not had the opportunity to encounter a Chabad
shaliach in far flung corners of the world, and most people who travel
have had the benefit of the assistance of a Chabad shaliach in finding a
minyan, kosher food, and other important services. I personally was
privileged to attend one of the yearly gatherings of the shlichim and was
inspired by the procession of shlichim from A to Z, Atlanta to Zimbabwe,
marching in front of the gathering. This world wide network of kiruv has
grown rather than diminished since the Rebbe’s passing.
The Rebbe’s priority of outreach was premised upon his commitment to
Ahavas Yisroel, love and true concern for every Jew. Ahavas Yisroel was
his signature mitzvah. He alerted us to the requirement of personally
caring for every Jew, everywhere. He taught us to pridefully assert our
Jewishness in the face of the challenges of the Holocaust-Trauma and of
political freedom and modernity.
The Rebbe’s impact upon Jewish education is very noteworthy. He saw to it
early on in his term of leadership that educational materials were
developed to reach out both to adults and to children and he made sure
that textual materials were available in many languages to those people
who were in need of a more intense Jewish education. Production of these
materials continue to flourish to this very day and are a resource to the
world of education beyond the boundaries of Chabad.
While the Rebbe left no successor, it can be said that his teachings, his
works, and the men and women who follow in his path are indeed his
successors. They continue to spread Yiddishkeit throughout the world and
continue to perpetuate the teachings of Chabad, and the teachings of our
Holy Torah. May his memory be a blessing.
Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb