Bo – Yud Shvat 5776
This coming week on the 10th of Shevat, Chassidim the world over, together with the entire Jewish Community, will commemorate the Hilula/Yahrtzeit of the previous Rebbe and the 66th anniversary of the 7th beloved Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s (May His Merit Shield Us) ascension to the leadership of Chabad/Lubavitch and world Jewry.
One of the formal acts that designates a Rebbe’s accepting the awesome responsibility that accompanies that sacred office is the reciting of a Maamor – a Torah treatise consisting of the most profound concepts of Kabalah/Chassidut that is attributed as revealed directly from Sinai.
On the 10th of Shevat 5711 -1951, the Rebbe initiated his leadership by transmitting his first Maamor. Based on the final Maamor of the previous Rebbe explaining the verse “I have come into my garden, my sister bride, (Song of Songs), this Maamor expounds the most pristine, transcendent aspects of G-dliness, infinity, creation, purpose and the soul.
Scholars of great erudition study diligently to comprehend the depths of the content of this beyond intellectually brilliant thesis. Towards the end of this Maamor, the Rebbe relates a series of stories that are generally not included in this type of intellectually challenging analysis of esoteric concepts. These events are an illustrative response to the question – What does a Rebbe demand of us?
The answer is “to love our fellow Jew” as represented by 1) the Alter Rebbe (Founder of Chabad/Lubavitch and author of the famed Tanya and Code of Jewish Law) who interrupted his holy prayer on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, to personally prepare a fire and cook warm broth for a birth-mother living in a hovel with no one to care for her; 2) The Miteller Rebbe (Second Chabad Leader) whose health was negatively affected by his skin contracting and bristling with pain when a young person lamented about his youthful transgressions; 3) The Tzemach Tzedek (Third Rebbe) who early in the morning before prayers, sought out a needy person to give him some money enabling him to purchase his livelihood in the market place; 4) The Rebbe Maharash (fourth Rebbe) who traveled to Paris to encounter a young Jew who had strayed from Jewishness and influence him to repent and return. He succeeded in his vital mission; 5) The Rebbe Rashab (fifth Rebbe) who personally endangered himself to travel to Petersburg to plead to the government on behalf of the Jewish Community; and 6) the previous Rebbe who devoted so much of his time and effort to help fellow Jews.
The Rebbe’s personal commitment to every single Jew, young, old, male, female, sick, poor, learned or ignorant is legendary.
This is what is demanded of us. To love each other selflessly and completely and that will bring our final redemption with Moshiach.
Have a great Shabbos, a good week,
Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar