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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

 

The Lubavitcher Rebbe Ramash ZTvK"L – Personal Glimpses



Today is the 13th yahrzeit of the seventh Rebbe of Lubavitch, Rebbe Menachem Mendel ben R. Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, ztvk"l. No one can deny that his impact on Jews throughout the world, since he assumed the mantle of leadership of the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement in 1950, was (and still is) tremendous.
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From a brief bio on the Jewish Virtual Library website:
In 1950, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak passed away. Although Rabbi Menachem Mendel was the obvious successor, he was initially reluctant to accept the mantle of leadership. A year later, he formally assumed the title of Rebbe, explaining to members of the movement that while he would be devoted to his work as leader, each man and women was ultimately responsible for his or her own actions, and for his or her pursuit of G-dliness.
The ensuing forty-four years of the Rebbe's leadership saw Lubavitch grow from a small movement nearly devastated by the Holocaust to a worldwide community of 200,000 members. The Rebbe, recognizing the unique needs of the current generation and anticipating the societal needs of the coming decades, began to establish education and outreach centers, offering social-service programs and humanitarian aid to all people, regardless of religious affiliation or background. He established a corps of Lubavitch emissaries (shluchim) and sent them out to build Chabad-Lubavitch centers worldwide, to serve the spiritual and material needs of the local communities. Today there are more than fourteen hundred Chabad-Lubavitch institutions in thirty-five countries on six continents.

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Indeed, many, many Jews, even if not counted amongst Chabad Chassidim, had their first encounters with Torah-true Judaism as a resulted of the Rebbe and his innumerable shluchim, emissaries. This includes yours truly, who was “reintroduced” to Judaism by Meir [Michel] Abehsera in Binghamton, New York [a long story, not for now]. Meir himself had just “returned” to his Jewish roots - through the Lubavitcher Rebbe - at about the same time, the early 1970s. Here is a story of one of Meir’s personal encounters with the Rebbe zt”l during that era, A Rehearsal for Redemption.

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In the J-Blogosphere and elsewhere, I’ve found the following:
Mystical Paths - Akiva’s personal encounter, The Rebbe - Face to Face.

Dreaming of MoshiachNava’s own experience
Her husband’s personal experience

When the Lubavitcher Rebbe Asked Me for 100 Million Dollars, by Gordon Zacks, a UJA official

Remembering One of the World's Greatest Jews, by Hillel Fendel, Arutz Sheva [English site]


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Finally, Reb Shlomo Carlebach was one of the first shluchim of Chabad. No, you don’t have to believe me, here are Reb Shlomo’s own words, and those of his close talmidim, to prove it!

Intro from Dovidl Staloff, a talmid of Reb Shlomo:
Everybody knows that the Lubavitch has thousands of shlichim (emissaries), everywhere in the world, whose only mission is to return Jewish souls back to Hashem. But everybody might not know that back when the last Lubavitcher Rebbe just began his humble career as Rebbe, he had but one shliach. This was Reb Shlomo.
Back then, there was no such thing as kiruv (outreach). While the Baal Shem and his disciples had connected with many a lost soul and spread the teachings of Chassidus among the faithful, there was no organization among the Chassidim, or in the entire Jewish nation, dedicated to returning these souls to the roots. The seventh Rebbe set out to change the situation. Reb Shlomo was the Rebbe's first "partner".
Reb Shlomo talks of the seventh Rebbe taking "secular" Jews under his tallis during prayer, transforming these neshamos back into G-d consciousness. Reb Shlomo talked of how sick people came to the Rebbe asking for healing. The Rebbe would ask them to swear to put on tefillin daily. Reb Shlomo talked of seeing miraculous healing taking place.
The seventh Rebbe of Lubavitch ordered his new partner, Reb Shlomo, to travel the streets, the subway, to talk to people.
AND now, on to our story:

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Reb Shlomo Carlebach [to the left of the Rebbe, who was speaking. RSC is wearing a grey hat] at 770 in 5711 / 1951

SAVED ON THE SUBWAY
I learned in Lakewood for a while. Then one day, the Rebbe told me that the world needs me to talk to Jews. The Rebbe mamash gave me a new soul. Everyone I saw, I wanted to grab and say, "Gevald! Don't you know there is a Rebbe in the world?"

I decided that whenever I should go out on the subway, I not leave until I found a Jew and taught him some Torah. Once, it was the night before Shavuos (the Feast of Receiving Torah), a Wednesday night. I just had the privilege of having Yechidus (a private audience) with the Rebbe -- it was heaven. I left the Rebbe at about four in the morning and got into the subway. Opposite me sat a young man who appeared to be Jewish, but I wasn't sure. He seemed very happy. I said, "My friend, why do you seem so happy?" He explained that although he was Jewish, he was planning on getting married that Shabbos (which would be the second day of Shavuos) to a non-Jewish girl in a church in The Bronx. "So you see", he beamed, "this is going to be a very special weekend for me." I knew it would be a very special weekend for him, but not for the reason he thought. I told him that getting married is great, but before he goes to the Chupa in the church, he should get a blessing from a very holy man. I explained to him that it just so happens that this holy man lives only a few stations behind us.

By then it was 4:30 AM. I knocked on the Rebbe's door, and he opened it. My friends, many people have had the privilege of having Yechidus with the Rebbe, but how many have had the privilege that the Rebbe should open the door for him? I had my arms around this boy and I explained to the Rebbe that this boy plans on marrying a non-Jewish girl in a church in The Bronx on Shabbos and Yom Tov. I mean, how far can you go? The Rebbe told me to wait outside and took this boy into his office. I waited outside the Rebbe's door until 7:30 saying Tehillim (Psalms). You know what the Rebbe was doing? He was washing this boy's soul out. There wasn't just a little dust on his soul. The Rebbe mamash had to do plastic surgery on his neshama. The Rebbe opened the door and the boy's eyes were red with tears. The Rebbe told me to take him to the mikva and then to put on tefillin with him. I don't have to tell you the rest of the story. He didn't go to the church in The Bronx to marry this non-Jewish girl. Instead, he spent Shavuos in "770" and had a very special weekend.

The heartbreaking thing is that we know there was not a Rebbe like this ever before and that there will never be a Rebbe like this again.
(Reprinted from Chabad Lights Winter 1995-95)

Zechuso yagein Aleinu – May his numerous merits protect us all!
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UPDATE, THURSDAY EVENING:
Some more links:

Comments:
Ramash????

Ramam, no?
 
Winky, Some Carlebachers refer to him as the Ramash, R. Menachem Schneerson. Others as the Rebbe Mamash, MM Sh. Take your pick!
 
Where can I find a a copy of the Rebbe and Reb Shlomo picture. This is a great Blog - love it!
 
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