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Seventy years strong!

Friday, 31 January, 2020 - 2:17 pm

This coming Wednesday, the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Shvat (Yud Shvat) marks the 70th anniversary of the ascension of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson to the leadership of Chabad Lubavitch.

It is impossible to describe in one article the true significance of this day. An entire series of articles and essays would probably be needed to truly capture the essence of Yud Shvat and what it represents. It is hard to imagine what the Jewish landscape would look like if not for the leadership of the Rebbe. Through his outreach revolution, the Rebbe transformed Jewry as it was known. The Rebbe revived the Jewish people after the holocaust, when our hearts, spirits and souls were completely shattered and saved Jewry worldwide. Through his teachings, campaigns and his Shluchim (emissaries), he oversaw a Jewish renaissance of epic proportions, one that no one could have expected or imagined. But not only that; The Rebbe changed the way Jews thought of themselves, the world around them and their sense of mission. With total dedication and unbounding love, he took a broken Jewish nation and breathed into them new life, purpose and perspective. The Rebbe inspired Jewish leaders, Jewish movers and shakers, Chassidic Rebbe’s, political personalities and so many more to move away from a survivor mentality and to begin to recognize the new opportunity that presented itself to the Jewish people for the first time in millennia; an opportunity to finally become the light unto the nations that we were always meant to be, but was beyond our reach, because of harsh circumstances we found ourselves in. In Poland and Russia, we had to dodge pogroms and other anti-Semitic acts constantly perpetrated against Jews. Here in America and especially after the war, all that changed. We finally had the opportunity to reach out and become the global ambassadors of G-d we were always meant to be. The Rebbe did not just talk; He acted. He changed minds, Inspired hearts and unleashed a flood of goodness in the world. Today Lubavitch is a source for everything Jewish all over the globe. From Alaska to Bangkok, Helsinki to the Congo and from Weston to Brisbane, the Rebbe’s love and dedication are present for all to enjoy.
When he officially assumed leadership, he held a Farbrengen and addressed the chassidim in a small room which accommodated at most 200 people. They were all survivors of the camps, the gulags and everywhere in between. Many of them had just arrived from Europe’s D.P. camps and were happy to be able to begin living again. During that first gathering the Rebbe laid out a plan for the Jewish people, which was so broad in scope and grandiose in vision that the people in the room were just stunned and flabbergasted. He said that our generation would be the one who would finally transform the world and usher in the final redemption through Moshiach.
He drew upon the Midrash, which teaches that when G-d created the universe His presence was felt and completely revealed everywhere, even in our physical world. But then Adam ate from the forbidden fruit and caused G-d’s presence to be removed from earth up to heaven, causing the world to be plunged into spiritual darkness. A series of six additional cosmic sins ‘pushed’ the divine presence even further away from earth, all the way up to the seventh spiritual heaven. Then came Abraham, he began to reverse that process and draw the divine presence back down to earth. It took seven great Tzaddikim, over seven generations, to ‘bring’ G-d back down to earth. Moses, the seventh from Abraham, finally accomplished that feat at Sinai; as we are told “G-d descended onto Mount Sinai”. His presence was once again here in full revelation as it was before the original sin. But sadly, that did not last long. The sin of the golden calf and subsequent sins caused a repeat of the same process and again, G-d’s revealed presence was ‘chased away’ from our physical world. The Rebbe then said something truly remarkable. He said that the Chassidic renaissance which was initiated seven generations ago, began to once again draw G-d’s presence back down to earth. The Rebbe explained that we are the seventh generation and it is therefore our mission to complete the job and bring G-d down to earth once and for all. His message was clear; we are the ones who must bring Moshiach, end the exile, and bring the world to its fullest potential.
Imagine the people in the room hearing those words. Here you have a leader who has his eyes on the ultimate prize, Moshiach. Anything less than that spells failure from his point of view. This was his message to a nation who, just a few years earlier, lost 6,000,000 to Hitler, and millions more were trapped behind Stalin’s iron curtain, cut off from Jewry and Judaism. You can well imagine that the Rebbe’s global outlook and grandiose vision probably fell on deaf ears. But he believed what he was saying. He said it again and again and slowly his message penetrated the hearts and minds of hundreds, then thousands and the rest is history. The Rebbe uplifted the shattered remnants of a downtrodden and broken people into a nation who saw themselves once again or perhaps for the first time in millennia, as a light unto the nations. He infused our people with hope and enthusiasm and asked that they join him in the greatest mission of all; to end this exile and bring G-d once again down to earth.
In Jewish literature and thought the number seventy represents perfection and fulfillment. I have no doubt that in this seventieth year of the Rebbe’s leadership his call to bring Heaven down to earth and indeed bring Moshiach will be fulfilled and be completed. May it happen now! Amen.
Shabbat Shalom 

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