Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson 


Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the leader-"the Rebbe" -of the Lubavitch movement of Chassidic Judaism for forty-four years, was a paradoxical man. While he barely set foot outside his neighborhood during his entire leadership, his influence was felt world wide. His passing on June 12, 1994 , was met with great sadness- not onlyby the hundreds of thousands of members of the Lubavitch movement of Chassidus, which he had led since 1950, but by heads of state, religious leaders, editorial writers, and the additional millions who recognized his selfless leadership and deep spirituality, his dedication to education and to the betterment of the society.

While the Rebbe's teachings carry a universal message, it must be remembered that he was primarily a Jewish leader. As such, he launched an unprecedented effort to encourage every Jew to embrace and deepen his or her connection to Judaism; his talks specifically addressed the means by which Jews should perform the mitzvoh that the Torah commands them.

While utterly faithful to Jewish tradition and law, the Rebbe presented theTorah's universal truths in an accessible and relevant manner, instruction to people of all races and all beliefs. The Rebbe put special emphasis on the obligation to adhere to the Seven noahide laws, the universal code of morality and ethics that was given to all mankind at Sinai.

The Rebbe's message, and the way he taught it, is the culmination of more than ninety generations of Torah scholarship, begnning with Moses. It is also the culmination of nine generations of the Chassidic tradition, going back to the founding of the movement in 1734 by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, who was followed by rabbi Dovber of Mezeritch and Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. It was Rabbi Schneur Zalman who established the branch of Chabad Chassidus later known as Lubavitch.

"The Rebbe" was considered on of the world's foremost religious shcholars, he was also recognized as a brilliant scholar in mathematics and science. Menachem Mendel Schneerson was born in April 18, 1902 (the eleventh day of Nissan,5662) , in Nikolayev , a town in the southern Ukraine. His father , Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, was a renowned scholar; his mother , rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, was an aristocratic woman from a prestigious rabbinic family . He had two younger brothers, Dovber and Yisroel Aryeh Leib. When Menachem Mendel was five years old, the family moved to Yekaterinoslav, now Dnepropetrovsk, where his father was appointed chief rabbi.

By the time he reached his bar mitzvah, he was considered a Torah prodigy. In 1923 , he met Rabbi Yousef yitzchak Schneersohn then the Lubavitcher Rebbe- who drew him into his inner circle giving him various responsibilities; five years later, in Warsaw , he married the Rebbe's second-eldest daughter, Chaya Mushka (1901- 1988). The couple moved to Berlin where he began studying mathmematics and sciences at the university of Berlin . Because of the Nazi rise, the young rabbi and his wife left Berlin in 1933 for Paris . When the Nazis occupied Paris , the couple was forced to escape the city. On June 23, 1941 they arrived by boat in New York, where Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn appointed his son-in-law head of Lubavitch's educational arm, as well as the movement's social-service organization and its publishing house. In 1951 he assumed the title of Rebbe, explaining to members of the movement that while he would be devoted to his work as leader, each man and woman was ultimately responsible for his or her own actions, and for his or her own pursuit of G-dliness. The ensuing forty-four years of the Rebbe's leadership saw Lubavitch grow from a small movement nearly devastated by the holocaust to a worldwide community of more than 200,000 members. Today there are more than fourteen hundred Chabad-Lubavitch institutions in thirty-five countries on six continents.


Some of the Rebbe's words of wisdom:-

 G-d's concealing his presence is not an absence of light; rather it is like a "container" that hides from our eyes that which is within the container. And what is inside the container is G-d's pure light and energy. On our own , thought, we do not exist, for "there is none else besides Him". But with Him , "exist". What is not real is our perception that our existence is all there is .

Since G-d does want us to unite with Him, He created an elaborate and elegant process by which we can do so. We begin by probing and asking questions, then emotionally grappling with our existential pain through our search for meaning.

When you see yourself as a self-contained individual with no clear purpose in life, you may be controlled by conflicting thoughts and desires.

Freeing yourself from pain begins through movement- moving away and distracting yourself from the painful situation , moving away from the cause that produced such painful symptoms so that you can begin to heal.

A parent is not truly loving his or her child when, out of so-called love, he does not want to discipline, the child for doing something wrong or harmful.

The sage Hillel says, "Love your fellow creatures"; why "creatures", and not "human beings"? Because even if they are nothing but "creatures" they were created by G-d , which in itself is reason to love them . And each of G-d's creatures has the potential to reach great heights.

On Sunday afternoons, the Rebbe would stand outside the door of his office to greet and bestow a blessing upon anyone who came to see him. He would often stand for hours, as thousands of people filed by, many of them seeking blessing or advice about a personal matter or a spiritual dilemma. The Rebbe was once asked how he had the strength to stand all day. "When I see all these people , it is like counting diamonds," he replied with a smile . "One doesn't grow weary or weak when counting something as beautiful as diamonds."

Life is the recognition of G-d and the mission that he has charged us with - refining ourselves and sanctifying our world.

It is perhaps preferable to make an incorrect decision and learn from the experience than to be frozen by the fear of indecision.

At a gathering of a family and friends celebrating a child's birth the Rebbe explained three reasons to rejoice at such an occasion : the joy of the entire world for the birth of a new member , the joy of the parents for being blessed with a child, and the joy of the child for having been brought into the world. "But how can we celebrate when we don't yet know how a child will turn out?" one man asked. "Birth marks the moment when the soul enters the body. " said the Rebbe . "And because the soul is connected directly to G-d , that is reason enough to rejoice;"