Kislev 9 is both the birthday and day of passing of Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch, son of and successor to the founder of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Schneur
Zalman·of Liadi. Rabbi DovBer was known for his unique style of "broadening rivers" -- his teachings were the intellectual rivers to his father's wellspring, lending breadth and depth to the principles set down by Rabbi Schneur Zalman.
Born in Li'ozna, White Russia in 1773, Rabbi DovBer was named after Rabbi Schneur Zalman's mentor and teacher, Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch,
who had passed away on Kislev 19 of the previous year. Rabbi DovBer assumed the leadership of
Chabad upon his father's passing in 1812. In 1813 he settled in the town of
Lubavitch, which was to serve as
the movement's headquarters for the next 102 years. In 1826, he was arrested on charges that his teachings threatened the imperial authority of the Czar, but was subsequently exonerated.
Rabbi DovBer passed away on his 54th birthday in 1827, a
day before the first anniversary of his liberation (see calendar entries for
tomorrow, Kislev 10).
It is liberating, this knack we have to discover what works before understanding how.
Certainly, it is nice to know the “how.” When you know and understand, you can immerse your entire mind and heart into the matter.
But when you experience that which you do not yet understand, there is surprise and there is wonder. For that moment, you are swept away and lifted out of your
little world. You taste firsthand that, yes, there is truly a reality that
exists beyond my own mind and heart.
This is the path of wonder the Torah takes to come into our world. It is a path that
takes an open mind, one ready for truths beyond itself. As the people declared
at Sinai, “We will do, and then we will understand.”