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Publisher's Foreword for Second Printing

Introduction - of Rebbes and Stories

Enhancing Achievement

The Concerns of This World

Borrowed Resources

Encouraging Jewish Advancement

With Sensitivity, Purpose, and Vitality

To Be a Rebbe



A Dollar for Tzedakah - A Fountain of Blessing

A Great Treasure

The Quality of Mercy

Nerve Center for the World



To Know and To Care - Volume 1
An Anthology of Chassidic Stories
about the Lubavitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson


by Eliyahu and Malka Touger

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  Nerve Center for the WorldGlossary  

The czarist government was suspicious of many of the chassidic Rebbeim and open to hear any charges leveled against them. Thus when an accusation was leveled against R. Yisrael of Ruzhin, they promptly imprisoned him, and planned to exile him to Siberia.

Craft, boldness, and many thousands of rubles enabled R. Yisrael's chassidim to kidnap their Rebbe from his captors and have him transferred over the border to Hungary where he settled in the town of Sadiger.

His chassidim in the Ukraine were of course happy, for their Rebbe was now able to live freely, but also sad, for there were strict restrictions against crossing the border, and the chances of their ever seeing him again were few.

One chassid thought of an idea. He was a wholesale textile merchant and had business connections with dealers in many countries.

He came to the Russian government with a proposal. There was a fair in Vienna where fine fabrics that were not usually available in Russia would be sold. He would go to Vienna, purchase a large quantity of these fabrics, import them to Russia, pay full customs duty on them, and sell them to the dress-conscious Russian aristocrats.

"Everyone will profit," he explained. "The nobles will have fine clothes; you will profit from the customs duty; and there will still be enough left for me to make it worth my while."

The Russians were eager to make the money, but reluctant to relax their travel restrictions. "What is the minimum time you need for this enterprise?" they asked.

"A week," the chassid answered.

"We will grant you an exit visa for a week, but no longer," the Russians said.

Beyond the profit he could make, the chassid of course had another motive for his trip. From Vienna, he could travel to Sadiger for Shabbos.

After completing his purchases in Vienna and dispatching them to Russia, he headed to Sadiger, arriving mid-Friday afternoon. He was an experienced chassid, and knew how to appreciate a Shabbos with his Rebbe. He gratefully soaked in the davenning,[1] the tish,[2] and the teachings of the Rebbe, making sure that they remained boldly imprinted within his memory. All to soon, the Shabbos was over.

On Saturday night, before he departed, he took leave of Reb Yisrael at a private meeting. After telling the Rebbe about the chassidim in the Ukraine and asking for blessings for his own personal affairs, he made a special request.

"I don't know when, if ever, I will have the opportunity of spending another Shabbos with the Rebbe," he said. "Could the Rebbe perhaps give me something, a coin or a sacred article, share with me a teaching, or advise me to keep a practice, which will enable me to keep alive the connection between us?"

Reb Yisrael surprised the chassid with the immediacy of his response. "I have a message for you, for all my chassidim in the Ukraine, and in a larger sense, for all Jews.

"Despite the difficulties confronting the Jews at present, we have the solace that the overwhelming majority of our people hold true to our Torah heritage. This will not always be the case. An age is coming when those who observe the Torah will be in the minority, and most of our people will be unaware of their roots.

"And there will be heavenly signs which will appear to lead people away from the Torah. If the prophet Elijah would conduct his confrontation with the idolatrous prophets of the Baal[3] in that future era, the fire would descend, not on the altar built for G-d, but on the altar of the Baal.

"What will give our people the strength to endure the challenges of that era? - Coming together and exchanging stories of tzaddikim, enlightening stories of righteous men. Joining together - in their families, with their friends, and in their communities - and relating stories of tzaddikim will inspire our people and empower them to bring about the coming of Mashiach."

* * *
In one of his letters[4] the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita writes, "From the days when I first began attending cheder, and even before then, I began to picture the Future Redemption in my mind."

In the first chassidic discourse the Rebbe delivered after assuming the leadership of the Chabad movement,[5] he outlined his goals for our generation:

We are in the midst of the period called (ikvesa diMeshicha (the time when the approaching footsteps of Mashiach can be heard). Indeed, we are at the conclusion of this period. Our task is to complete the process of drawing down the Divine Presence... so that it should abide within our world.

In the talks he delivered on the same occasion,[6] the Rebbe explained that though Moshe could have constructed the entire Sanctuary himself, he refrained from doing so, in order to enable the entire Jewish people to participate in this endeavor. Similarly, the Rebbe continued, the Rebbeim of past generations did not want the campaign to bring Mashiach to be their private undertaking, but rather an effort shared by the Jewish people as a whole, and by every individual Jew.

This has been the center of Lubavitch attention throughout the four decades of the Rebbe's leadership to date, and especially so, since the eve of the 28th of Nissan, 5751. On that evening, the Rebbe turned to his followers with a cry from the heart:[7]

What more can I do to motivate the entire Jewish people to clamor and cry out, and thus actually bring about the coming of Mashiach?... All that I can possibly do is give the matter over to you. Now, do everything you can do to bring Mashiach, here and now, immediately.... I have done whatever I can; from now on you must do whatever you can.

* * *
In Lubavitch, every chassidic story has always been considered a teaching, and chassidim have always tried to pinpoint the lessons that could be derived from it. Beyond all the particular lessons that can be derived from this collection of stories of the Rebbe Shlita, it is our hope that it will motivate our readers to join in shouldering the task that the Rebbe Shlita has identified as of utmost immediate relevance - making the world conscious of Mashiach and creating an environment in which his mission can be fulfilled.[8]



  1. (Back to text) Yid.: "prayers".

  2. (Back to text) Yid.: "table"; i.e., the ceremonial Sabbath meal which a chassidic Rebbe conducts in the company of his chassidim.

  3. (Back to text) I Kings 18:17-40.

  4. (Back to text) Igros Kodesh (Letters) of the Rebbe Shlita, Vol. 12, p. 414.

  5. (Back to text) Basi LeGani 5711 (English translation; Kehot, N.Y., 1990), sec. 3.

  6. (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 501.

  7. (Back to text) Sound the Great Shofar (Kehot, N.Y., 1992), pp. 35-36.

  8. (Back to text) Ibid., p. 113.

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