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Maamar VeKibeil HaYehudim 5687 [1927]

Maamar Yehi Havayah Elokeinu Imanu 5687 [1927]

Maamar Havayah Li BeOzrai 5687 [1927]

Maamar Baruch HaGomel LaChayavim Tovos 5687 [1927]

Maamar Asarah SheYoshvim VeOskim BaTorah 5688 [1928]

Defiance And Devotion
Selected Chassidic Discourses
Dating From The Arrest And Liberation
Of The Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, In 1927

Maamar Yehi Havayah Elokeinu Imanu 5687 [1927]

Translated by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger Edited by Uri Kaploun

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  Maamar VeKibeil HaYehudim 5687 [1927]Maamar Havayah Li BeOzrai 5687 [1927]  

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"May The L-rd Our G-d Be With Us As He Was With Our Fathers..."

[On Sunday, the third of Tammuz, having just been released from incarceration and capital sentence in Leningrad, the Rebbe Rayatz stood on the step of the train that was to take him to Kostroma, the city to which he had been exiled. He turned to the many chassidim who accompanied him to the station and, in the course of his farewell blessings, said loudly and clearly:[1]]

We ask G-d, blessed be He:[2] "May the L-rd our G-d be with us" - and He will indeed be with us - "as He was with our fathers; may He not forsake us, nor abandon us."[3]

We cannot be compared to our fathers, for they were characterized by mesirus nefesh - literal self-sacrifice - for the Torah and its mitzvos. This is reflected in the well-known statement of one of our holy forebears[4] (when the former regime tried to force the rabbis to institute reforms in Jewish education and in the status of rabbis and the rabbinate):

Nevertheless, all the nations on the face of the earth must know: Our bodies alone were banished into exile to be ruled by the nations of the world. Our souls were never exiled, nor were they subjected to the rule of the nations.

We must openly declare for all to hear, that with regard to everything involving our religion - the Torah of the people of Israel, with its commandments and customs - no one is going to impose his views on us,[5] and no force has the right to subjugate us.

With all the power of Jewish stubbornness and with our thousand-year heritage of mesirus nefesh,[6] we must say, "Do not touch My anointed ones, and do not harm My prophets."[7]

This is the way a Jew permeated by mesirus nefesh spoke, whereas we do not have [even] the resolute strength to make a clear statement to the world and show what the wanton deeds of several hundred reckless Jewish youth are doing to Jews and to Jewish life. Everyone knows that the laws [of the Russian government] permit us to study the Torah and observe its mitzvos (albeit with certain limitations). It is betrayal and libel [on the part of these youths] that is leading us to prisons and hard-labor camps.

This is our request to G-d: "May He not forsake us, nor abandon us." May G-d give us the necessary fortitude not to be affected by physical suffering and, on the contrary, to accept it with joy.[8] The punishment which we must suffer (G-d forbid) for maintaining a cheder, for studying the Torah, or for observing its mitzvos, should reinforce us in the sacred task of strengthening Jewish life.

We must always bear in mind that prisons and hard-labor camps are transient, whereas the Torah, its mitzvos, and the Jewish people, are eternal.

May you all be strong and healthy, both materially and spiritually. I hope to G-d that the punishment which I must temporarily suffer will, with G-d's help, inject fresh vigor in [our] eternal [mission of] strengthening Jewish life, and that we will merit the fulfillment [of the promise] that "the L-rd our G-d [will] be with us as He was with our fathers," and that all of the Children of Israel will have light in their dwellings,[9] in both a spiritual and material sense.



  1. (Back to text) [There are two versions of this text. One was published in Sefer HaMaamarim 5687, p. 195 ff., based on the manuscript of the Rebbe Rayatz; the other appeared in Sefer HaMaamarim - Kuntreisim, Vol. I, pp. 350-351, after being edited by him.

    The latter source, in which this text was originally published, states that it was recorded by one of the listeners. In fact, however, the text was prepared by the Rebbe Rayatz himself, who desired that it appear as listener's notes, rather than as his own words. (See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIII, p. 158, footnote 13.)

    In the Table of Contents of Sefer HaMaamarim 5687, this text is listed under the heading of Maamarim, where it belongs thematically and chronologically. Strictly speaking, though, as the Rebbe points out in a footnote there, it is not a formal maamar, but an inspirational address. In the body of the text, moreover, the heading dates it six days late: "Shabbos Parshas Balak, 5687 [1927], in the city of my exile, Kostroma" - evidently out of deference to the convention according to which maamarim were traditionally delivered on a Shabbos or other festive date.]

  2. (Back to text) [This opening phrase is found in the version of the text that appears in Sefer HaMaamarim - Kuntreisim, but not in the more formally-presented version appearing in Sefer Maamarim 5687.]

  3. (Back to text) [I Melachim 8:57.]

  4. (Back to text) [The Rebbe Rashab. For partial paraphrases of the above statement, see: Igros HaKodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. I, p. 249, and Vol. IX, p. 428; Sefer HaSichos 5702, p. 111; Sefer HaSichos 5705, p. 29.

    Sefer HaSichos - Toras Shalom (p. 221, footnote 6) describes the stance taken by the Rebbe Rashab at the 1910 Petersburg Conference alluded to above. Stolypin, the Minister of the Interior, had threatened there that if his demands for reform were not met he would initiate pogroms throughout Russia. In response, the Rebbe Rashab addressed the above-quoted speech to the rabbinic leaders present, and concluded: "Our strength is the strength of the Torah: we have no other strength.... Fellow Jews: Do not desecrate the Name of Heaven! Sanctify the Name of Heaven!"

    There was an immediate uproar - but the assemblage voted to defy Stolypin.]

  5. (Back to text) [See also the maamar entitled Ki Li Bnei Yisrael 5687 (in Sefer HaMaamarim 5687, p. 182).]

  6. (Back to text) [The version published in Sefer HaMaamarim 5687 reads: "with the thousand-year heritage of Jewish fortitude...."]

  7. (Back to text) [Tehillim 105:15; I Divrei HaYamim 16:22. In Shabbos 119b, the Gemara understands this verse as a charge not to disrupt the Torah study of schoolchildren or of adult scholars.]

  8. (Back to text) [Cf. Berachos 60b; see also Tanya, ch. 26. In the version published in Sefer HaMaamarim 5687, this last phrase is omitted.]

  9. (Back to text) [Cf. Shmos 10:23.]

  Maamar VeKibeil HaYehudim 5687 [1927]Maamar Havayah Li BeOzrai 5687 [1927]  
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