Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Inspiring NY Times Article and Unique Photo of The Rebbe

"The Lubavitch Rabbi Marks His 70th Year with Call for Kindness by Israel"

The Avner Institute is pleased to present a wonderful article that appeared in The New York Times, March 27, 1972, by Israel Shenker. Also included is a unique photo of the Rebbe – special thanks to The Rebbe Archive.

Good Shabbos

"Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, reached the Biblical age of 70 yesterday, but he has been living in the age of the Bible every one of those years. The Rebbe decided to use his birthday as a pretext for demanding of his followers what he called "an additional portion of study and devotion to the cause of spreading goodness and kindness..."

At a recent audience, just before the rays of dawn eased over Eastern Parkway, the Lubavitcher Rebbe gazed intently at his visitor, and from time to time a warm, remarkably gentle smile lit his face. Stroking his gray beard, he explained his role as "awakening in everyone the potential that he has."
On fundamentals, the Rebbe has no doubts,

"If you can accept that G-d Almighty created billions and billions of atoms, why can't you accept that G-d Almighty created a human being?"

"If you are enthusiastic to substitute for the term 'G-d' the word 'mystery,' then I'll ask you the same thing about 'mystery.' It is much easier to accept one human being, two human beings, than to accept billions of disordered atoms whirling around without any concept, any pattem, and then with a big bang or a small bang the universe is created."

To the suggestion that his orthodoxy marks him as a conservative he objected, saying:

"I don't believe that Reform Judaism is liberal and Orthodox is conservative. My explanation of conservative is someone who is so petrified he cannot accept something new. For me, Judaism or halacha [Jewish religious law], or Torah encompasses all the universe and it encompasses every new invention, every new theory, every new piece of knowledge or thought or action.

"Everything that happens in 1972 has a place in the Torah and it must be interpreted, it must be explained, it must be evaluated from the point of view of Torah even if it happened for the first time in March of 1972. "
Who is to be the eighth Lubavitcher Rabbi?

"The Messiah will come and he will take all these troubles and doubts," replied the seventh, and added smilingly: "He could come while I am here. Why postpone His coming?

"My intention is to live many years more, and the Messiah can come tomorrow or the day after tomorrow," he said. "There's a very great deal to achieve, enough not only for my life but even for more than 120 years."

He added: "The Messiah will be a real human being. Don't translate him as something abstract. He is tangible. He has two eyes, two ears, two legs, two hands. And one heart. The heart has four compartments. One compartment is for impure blood, which the heart makes into pure blood. And that is the function of the Messiah."