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Through the Revolution

Through the Revolution

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In 5669 (1909) Rabbi Sholom Dovber became increasingly perturbed by the innovations being introduced in certain so-called Torah institutions in the land of Israel. The following are extracts from a letter which he wrote to Israel at that time:

There are an increasing number of distinctive reformers, whose only goal is to destroy the Jewish faith and deprive it of its sacred character. Shrewdly enough, they persuade fathers, and even more so mothers, who are softhearted, easily convinced and ready to fall for the lures of the new ideas, to deliver their children to certain destruction...

Experience has shown that unless we are able to implant the light of the Torah’s sanctity into the hearts of the children while they are still young and pliable, there is little hope that they will follow the path of righteousness. He who wants to make sure that his son will grow up in the true spirit of the Torah and Judaism must make certain that the child will not be exposed to the temptation of these new ideas that were foreign to our forefathers.

It is hard for anyone to remain calm in the face of such serious inroads into the very heart of Judaism. They have broken and cut into small fragments the grandiose structure of the Torah, the very Torah which is the life and soul of our nation, and for the preservation of which our ancestors were prepared to die, by the thousands, as martyrs.

It was in this spirit that Rabbi Sholom Dovber fought the forces of reform and assimilation, which had made progress within certain circles of our people.

When the Bolshevik Revolution toppled the Czarist regime in Russia, the country was proclaimed a Republic, with the slogan: “Liberty and freedom for all.” Rabbi Sholom Dovber feared that the desire to break free from all bonds and traditional ties might also invade the Jewish world and induce the Jewish masses to throw off the traditions of our faith and do as they please in the matter of religion.

He suggested that a strong non-political Jewish corps should be organized by all the faithful Jews in every city and village in Russia, and that they should work as a unified force, putting aside “selfish individual interests” to strengthen the cause of Torah and religion everywhere.

Particular attention was to be paid to encouraging the observance of the Sabbath, kosher slaughtering, family purity and other vital facets of Jewish life. He further suggested that these groups should consult each other about the problems they encountered, and plan their activities.

Rabbi Sholom Dovber was at all times conscious that the future of Judaism depended entirely upon the young, the future generation. He therefore stressed the importance of strengthening the work of learning Torah particularly for younger children.

The leadership of Rabbi Sholom Dovber, spanning as it did a period of great political upheaval in Russia and the world at large, illustrated clearly how the leaders of Chabad, each in his generation, carried on the golden chain of sacred work for Torah education and the spreading of Torah knowledge among young people wherever Jews lived.

They worked incessantly to strengthen every weakness in the fortress of the Jewish religion. They faced without fear the forces who stood in the way of their sacred work or threatened to undermine our faith.

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