Adapted from Likkutei Sichos,
Vol. VIII, p. 329-330;
Vol. XVIII, Yud-Beis Tammuz; and other sources
In the renowned letter sent by the Previous Rebbe to his chassidim in connection with the celebration of the first anniversary of Yud-Beis Tammuz,
he emphasizes the collective nature of the event:
"It was not myself alone that the Holy One, blessed be He, redeemed on Yud-Beis Tammuz, but also those who love the Torah and observe its commandments, and so too Kol Asher Besheim Yisroel Yichuneh - all those who merely bear the name 'Jew'."
In Jewish law, the word Yechuneh, translated above as "bear the name," has a distinct technical meaning. A Kinui is a name other than one's given name, which is perhaps used by only a small number of people. In the context of the above letter of the Rebbe Rayatz, this usage alludes to people estranged from their Jewish identities to the point that "Israel" is a name they are called by others and not by themselves.
By using this term, the Previous Rebbe implied that the redemption of Yud-Beis Tammuz left its impact not only on the lives of Lubavitcher chassidim, nor only on those devoted to the study of the Torah, nor only on the religiously observant. For the ripples of change produced by Yud-Beis Tammuz are unbounded in scope, influencing the future of our entire people.
The all-encompassing effect of the Previous Rebbe's redemption is a direct result of his life's work. In the face of adversity, a natural impulse might be to restrict one's sphere of activity and devote oneself to a limited circle. Instead, the Previous Rebbe expanded his activities and reached out to our entire people.
This is reflected in the activities for which he was arrested. He established centers for training rabbis and communal leaders, encouraged the use of mikvaos, and strengthened the practice of ritual slaughter, circumcision, and other basic Jewish observances. Most important, he established a network of underground chadarim and schools for the continued education of Jewish children.
Instead of secluding himself with a small group of scholars and focusing on theoretical study (a course of action which the Soviet authorities might have sanctioned), the Rebbe Rayatz demonstrated concern for the future of our people as a whole; he sought to provide them with whatever would be necessary for the maintenance of their connection with their Jewish heritage.
His concern for Jewish continuity was most visible in his efforts on behalf of Jewish education, the area of activity which aroused the fiercest opposition of the Soviet authorities. In fact, the immediate cause of his arrest in 1927 was his delivery of the maamar entitled Vekibeil HaYehudim, whose central theme is Jewish education.
One might question the propriety of such a course of action. After all, Jewish education is a particularly difficult undertaking. It requires extended and continuous effort, and is not always assured of success - especially within the framework of a threatening environment. Nonetheless, despite the self-sacrifice this required, the Previous Rebbe directed his energies toward this goal. For, to borrow a proverb of our Sages, "If there are no kids, there will be no goats"; the future of our people depends on our youth.
This course of action was natural to the Previous Rebbe, because "the nasi is the entire people."
A true leader is not conscious of his individual identity; his only concern is for the people as a whole.
Leadership of this kind is characterized by a unique dimension of self-sacrifice. We are all familiar with instances of people who have been willing to sacrifice their energies, and even their lives, for an ideal. Self-sacrifice of this kind - while praiseworthy - is, however, often limited in scope. When the individual realizes that his ideal cannot be achieved, he considers refocusing his energies. The Previous Rebbe's self-sacrifice, however, was all-inclusive in nature, extending beyond the limits of reason, because it stemmed from the essence of his being. "Israel, the Torah, and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one."
This inseparable bond was the core of his being, the entire focus of his life. Therefore, when this threefold bond was threatened, he was moved to unrestricted self-sacrifice.
Ultimately, the Previous Rebbe's approach led to a redemption whose scope knew no bounds, and whose effects are still felt today. Indeed, with the annual commemoration of Yud-Beis Tammuz, these effects increase from year to year.
Our Sages state, "The body follows the head." The redemption of the Previous Rebbe, the head of the generation, enables every member of our people to experience redemption from those forces which restrict his own observance of Torah. May this personal experience of redemption spread and spiral until we merit the ultimate Redemption. May this take place in the immediate future.
- (Back to text) See Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. II, p. 80. An English translation appears in Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 90.
- (Back to text) See Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 129:1, 16, and commentaries.
- (Back to text) Despite this estrangement, the use of this name is appropriate because, as the Previous Rebbe states in the above letter, "The heart of every man of Israel - regardless of his particular level in the observance of the mitzvos - is perfectly bound with G-d and His Torah."
- (Back to text) This should not be interpreted to mean that the Previous Rebbe did not endeavor to further the study of Torah on an advanced level. Under his direction, a generation of scholars in both nigleh (the revealed dimension of Torah law) and pnimiyus HaTorah (the Torah's mystic dimension) was raised. These efforts were, however, merely one aspect of his devotion to the future of our people as a whole.
- (Back to text) Sefer HaMaamarim 5711, p. 180ff.; published in English translation by Sichos In English, 5750.
- (Back to text) The Introduction to Esther Rabbah, sec. 11, explained in the maamar cited above.
- (Back to text) Rashi on Bamidbar 21:21.
- (Back to text) In this context, see the explanation of the contrast between the self-sacrifice of Rabbi Akiva and that of Avraham, our Patriarch, in the above essay entitled, "The Seventh Day of Pesach: The Splitting of the Sea."
- (Back to text) Zohar III, 73a.
- (Back to text) Eruvin 41.