The new Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Published on 15 February 2023 at 15:42

In his first talk at the Farbrengen, the Ramash spoke of the need to strenghen the connection to the previous Rebbe, he himself was carrying out a sacred mission entrusted to him by his father in- law. As for the second talk, it seemed like a change, the tone was different, " It is customary he said in Yiddish, that in America, when you start something new with a statement, and many thought at this point that he was accepting leadership, but then he explained, " There are three loves intertwined, the love of G-d, the love of the Torah, and the love of your fellow Jews, if you only have love of G-d and not love of your fellow Jew, that is a sign that the service of G-d is deficient, the love of your fellow will bring you the love of G-d and the love of the Torah "  the Ramash asked this statement to be publicized. Everyone ramaind restless, the statement were not Maamarim.

The Chassidim waited, and singing in between breaks, it was about an hour into the Farbrengen, that Rabbi Sender Nemtzov, past eighty years old stood up, which surprised everyone, he faced the Ramash and spoke in Yiddish when he said " The crowd wants the Rebbe to say Chassidus - Maamar, the talks are wonderful but we are asking the Rebbe to say a Maamar, a Chassidic discourse. There was a absolute silence in the room, everyone held his breath, the hearts of the Chassidim pounding, waiting how the Ramash would respond. It was over and done with the silence, when the new Rebbe began his first discourse, starting with a quote from the verse Song of Songs, " Basi Legoni Achosi Kallah - I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride. This verse refers to the time of the construction of the Mishkan by Moshe, the Mishkan is a sanctuary built by the Jewish people during their 40 years of wandering in the desert.

When the Shechinah which is a divine presence, comes into the garden, it was then that the divine presence, distant in time, was again revealed to the world.

When the crowd realized what just happend, they stood up and came closer, as the Chassidim they also wanted to be closer to the new Rebbe. When the Rebbe finised the first part of the Maamar, the asked the crowd to say " L' Chaim "

Nemtzov, surprised the crowd for a second time, despite is old age he jumped on the table and announced " Chassidim, we have a Rebbe !"  Loudly he said Shehecheyanu and everyone answered " Amen "

With the Maamar and the statement, the Rebbe was sweeping a whole new vision for Jewish life. The Rebbe called upon each to recognize his responsibility to uncover the holiness from within,to reveal this to the world, and to take responsibility to inspire others. Doing this, the Rebbe explained, would not only help a person realize his or her own spiritual potential, but also it would play a major role in achieving the long waited and yearned for ultimate global revelation  of  G-dliness to achieve a perfect world, with the coming of the Moshiach.

The Rebbe was challenging the emerging strategy of the the small post WW2 Orthodox community in the US, refering to themselves as the She'airis Haplaitah, the surviving remnant. The religious Jewry at that time was a combination of second- generation immigrants clinging to observance and refugees of the Holocaust. They hoped to preserve Judaism by turning inward. A small group of Scholars had found refuge in the US  and they established Lithuanian- style yeshivas in Lakewood, New Jersey, Baltimore, Cleveland and in New York.

There were other Chassidic Rebbe's who found refuge in the US in attempting to rebuilt there communities, there were Chassidim in Williamsburg ( Satmar) and later in Boro Park, which was a reflection of spiritual grandeur of a world destroyed in Europe. The Rebbe viewed scholarship without responsibilty for Jewish destiny imperfect, Jewish observance without compassion and caring for others outside the Orthodox communities, as inconsistent with the Torah.

The Rebbe advocated in principle, an engagement with society where observant Jews could make a controbution to modern life. In theory it would have been easier to withdraw from the engagement with the rest of the world, but instead he encouraged his followers to strike this balance of Jewish values to a broader society, controbuting to its welfare, and rejecting those elements that were harmful to Jewish ideals.

The Rebbe broad vision would in time not only transform Chassidic communities, but the whole Jewish world.