From Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
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 words.

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