Friday, January 11, 2008

"We wish the Rebbe The best in Everything"

"From his office at 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, he organized "Peace Corps" to educate Jews in various parts of the world and to reawaken what he calls an "innate awareness" of Judaism..."

-David Miller

In connection with Yud Shvat, I would like to present a beautiful article that was written on the Rebbe in the Jewish Forum titled "Heir to a Noble Tradition" written By Charles Haddock-May, 1951, also included is an interesting picture of the Rebbe (part 90 in the series).

"The Chasidic Coronation of young Schneerson, seventh in line of the Chabad dynasty, marks the first event of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

Three months ago, on the anniversary of the demise of the Saint of Lubavitch and for the first time in the "heathen" history of American Jewry, a bona fide Chasidic divine donned the "tzadik" purple in dramatic coronation rites which seemed possible only in the Polish-Ukraine, where Chasidism was born...

This was no ordinary event, to be sure, for the movement of which Rabbi Schneerson has become the titular head almost escapes sociological classification. You will find no analogy to it in our modern social ferment, religious or secular. Most of his followers are poor, pious and unpretentious folk, and the "kingdom" over which he "reigns" is as absolute as a temporal realm can be. It stretches from China to Brooklyn. Even Pittsburgh, Johannesburg and Tel Aviv are not without their "Chabad" dominions.

From all over the world his followers come--to consult the new "Rabbi of Lubavitch" on matters of faith, health, family, and finance. They seek him out on social issues and psychological problems--on everything which might affect their spiritual, physical and material well-being, and make no vital move without him...

As a newspaper man [the writer was the managing editor of the leading anti-communist labor newspaper and Vice President of World Wide Press Syndicate]--and as an amateur Chasid, so to say--I was naturally curious about his [the Rebbe's] state of mind after his assumption of world leadership in " Chabad." I wanted to ask him, above all, whether he thought that Chasidism--as taught by his great-great grandfather, the "Rav"--could function fruitfully here, on this "heathen" soil of mine--America. And, of course, what answers did "Chabad" hold for our own lost, "atomic" generation?

My audience with that profound and humble Chasidic rabbi made my queries wholly superfluous. "America is not lost," he assured me "You are not different. You Americans sincerely crave to know, to learn. You are inquisitive. It is the Chabad point of view," he went on, "that the American mind is sincere, honest, direct--good, tillable soil for Chasidism, or just plain Judaism, if you will." This was his late father-in-law's viewpoint, he added, and that accounted for the unprecedented success of the "Chabad" system of junior and senior academics all over the country.

Our soul-searching talk left me with the impression that the newly-crowned "Lubavitcher Rebbe" had aged perceptibly in these past several months, since he succeeded his father-in-law to the "throne." For his gentle, sensitive and pallid face already seemed to bear signs of the inner conflict always raging in the hearts of our leading spirits--on whom supreme responsibility is suddenly thrust! As he politely took me to the door,

the "Rebbe," as Lubavitcher Chasidim fondly call him, inadvertently taught me that Judaism minus Chasidism is but a body with a big head and no heart. And, need we add, that we wish the Rebbe a long and luminous "reign"--for uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, especially a tzadik's crown in unchasidic America...

Good Shabbos.


Copyright © Menachem Kirschenbaum 2007