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Why the Big Picture of the Rebbe in Your Home?

Why the Big Picture of the Rebbe in Your Home?

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Question:

Many thanks to you and your wife for Friday night dinner. We had a great time. I just had one question. I noticed you have a huge picture of your Rebbe, Rabbi Schneerson, on the wall. I don’t mean to be rude, but is this type of reverence for a human being appropriate?

Answer:

I do revere the Rebbe, but not because he was superhuman. On the contrary.

Here was a man that received up to one thousand letters a day and answered them all; advised concerned parents of unwell children and singles searching for life partners with the same love and attention as he advised presidents and prime ministers on world affairs; had the vision to set up a web of institutions around the globe in order to rebuild Judaism after the war; promoted values and morals for the non-Jewish world; was as comfortable in the sciences as he was in Torah wisdom, and found G‑d in both; healed the sick with his blessings, and answered people’s questions before they even asked them; took the responsibility of the world on his shoulders, but had time for every individual.

These are just a sample of his qualities. But above all this, why I revere him was because he was human. For a superhuman to achieve all the above is no big deal. They don’t have to work hard to become heroes. But for a human being of flesh and blood, it is nothing short of amazing.

That’s why I have a picture of the Rebbe on my wall. It always reminds me of what a human can achieve, and that I can always do more to better the world.

I saw the Rebbe only once. But it is due to his influence that I am today an active and proud Jew. His teachings inspired me to become a rabbi—otherwise, who knows? I might have been a B-grade trapeze artist or a struggling plumber’s assistant. The very fact that I am writing these words and you are reading them is thanks to the Rebbe’s vision.

From the Rebbe’s teachings I have learned what G‑d is. From his life I have learnt what humans can be.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Robert Peoee Sharon, Ma October 13, 2015

The more I read and Learn about the Rebbe, the more I admire him and like the Rabbi said... It was because he was human that he was so special. Reply

Marcia Naomi Berger San Rafael, CAl October 12, 2015

Great article, thank you. Reply

Anonymous March 16, 2015

But he wasn't the only one who did all of these things. I'm sure there are other people who are just as great as he is. Reply

Robert Pepe August 26, 2014

I have a small picture of the Rebbe on my computer at work to remind me that no matter how busy I am the Rebbe was always busier and that I can do more Reply

Robert St. Louis July 3, 2014

How many of you have photos of your parents, children, or other loved ones in your houses?

Well, some of us love the Rebbe. He touched a lot of lives. Reply

Anonymous jerusalem June 28, 2014

didn't answer the question? "is this type of reverence for a human-being appropriate?" Reply

Naomi Belize June 25, 2014

My question too... I have been wondering the same thing and your essay, Rabbi Moss, makes it more understandable to me. Thank you for the effort to help me understand. Reply

Anonymous Zion August 5, 2013

You say he was not superhuman, but he healed the sick? HE did not heal the sick, Hashem healed the sick. Just like Moses did not split the sea, Hashem split the sea. This is important to remember. Reply

Daniel Davis Chicago land January 21, 2013

The Rebbe I was fortunate to speak with the, Rebbe twice. Once when I had left the xtian messianic cult and again later when I started learning and working for Jews for Judaism. They both stand out as major events of my life. I have the Rebbe photo in my home and it reminds me how far he went and how much he believed in me. Mat his memory be for a blessing. Thanks for giving me a good way to explain why. Reply

Chaim Pinchas Chicago August 22, 2012

It is my misfortune to have missed out on meeting the Rebbe. Perhaps my life, too, would have been transformed.

However, his picture, especially those where he smiles and looks straight at the camera with those piercing eyes that seem to say, "Have you done tshuvah? What are you waiting for?" means a lot to me. I tore the cover off a magazine and stuck it in a frame and sometimes it catches my eye. I don't pray to it. It's not avodah zorah. It's just a reminder, like a sign saying, "Be the best you can be!" Or, perhaps, "You can do it!"
Posted By Mark Goodman, Omaha, Nebraska


My feelings exactly. Sometimes it's encouraging. Other times it feels more like a reproach. Either way, it's a man who has done something worthwhile who is challenging me to do something worthwhile, whether it be plumbing or whatever.

It is totally different from a shrine. And yes, I do have family photos on the wall in the same room. He, too, is "family". Reply

Jeff G. Springfield, MO/USA August 20, 2012

Plumber's assistant? Hey now, let's not knock plumbers. I'm perfectly willing to call a rabbi for a clogged leak next time but I'd much rather have someone trained at the task in question ya know. :)

I agree though there's a fine line we must be careful about when it comes to wishing to honor our fellows. It's the difference between a portrait and a shrine. And like pornography vs "art" we know it when we see it. For myself, I don't have pictures of representations of even family hanging up in my home. Just a personal thing, have no Torah to support it though the commandments not to make representations of anything on earth, in the sea, or in the heavens would seem applicable and I know the Amish don't use pictures of make representations of such things for this very reason. So maybe we outta take a lesson from those farm-folk and be more cautious about such things.

My concern is about elevating any Man, hwoever exceptional to divine status and drawing worship away from where it belongs... ;) Reply

Andy slc, ut August 24, 2010

I'm a struggling night time custodian. I'd rather be a rabbi. Reply

Ilana May 8, 2009

struggling plumber's assistant Who knows the "struggling plumber's assistant" might be doing a better job of fulfilling his divine mission in this world then the "Rabbi". Reply

Tom New York, NY December 21, 2007

Picture I personally met the Rebbe as a young teen. At the time I was young, immature and unable to translate the encounter in a real way. When I became an adult I began studying the Rebbe’s teachings which led me to start internalizing his message. This was unfortunately already after his passing.

I eventually developed those simple encounters I had with the Rebbe as a child, that they became a life altering experience. The Rebbe changed my life. Therefore I have a photo of the Rebbe on my wall; it encourages me to continue to aspire to do more and more every day in strengthening my connection to Hashem.

I study the great works of the Rambam, but I never met him personally. Reply

tova56 taylors, s.c October 29, 2007

the Rebbe I am a hasidic woman in s.c. and all I can say is that even though i never met the Rebbe through his teachings he has impacted my life as a jew and has giving me much comfort esepcially during the loss of my granddaughter in 06 people display pictures of thepope and the dhali lama etc.. the respect and revere these religious authorites so why should we not show the same affection for our late Rebbe. Reply

Rob W. Pittsburgh, PA / USA October 3, 2007

Icons, Images, and Idolatry Sometimes I worry that formal religion (even Judaism) with all its sacred objects, garments, etc. is idolatrous, but I guess it's really about uniting the physical with the spirit. As long as you keep in mind that only G-d is G-d, then it is okay to admire pious people and beautiful things. A Christian friend joked that I should put a big picture of the late Harry Browne (1996 & 2000 Libertarian U.S. Presidential Candidate) on my wall since I admire him as much as my Lubavich friends admire the Rebbe. Reply

Mark Goodman Omaha, Nebraska September 7, 2007

Pictures It is my misfortune to have missed out on meeting the Rebbe. Perhaps my life, too, would have been transformed.

However, his picture, especially those where he smiles and looks straight at the camera with those piercing eyes that seem to say, "Have you done tshuvah? What are you waiting for?" means a lot to me. I tore the cover off a magazine and stuck it in a frame and sometimes it catches my eye. I don't pray to it. It's not avodah zorah. It's just a reminder, like a sign saying, "Be the best you can be!" Or, perhaps, "You can do it!" Reply

Samy Poliwoda caracas, venezuela via chabadcostarica.com February 16, 2007

I just wannted to say to the person who made the question, the following. I thought just like you before, i asked myself the same question, i never doubted about Rebbe's wisdom and more, but my way of thinking changed very fast, just the last Tevet i went tho Crown Heights, to see how lubavitch jews lived,and i have some friends over there, so we went to theyre place. At the begining of the trip i was thinking "Why so much reverence to the Rebbe, i dont want to think bad about lubavitch jews, but this might be avoda zara, that was the first week, then i went to a yeshivah with a program and started to study the maamarim, and many books he wrote, 2 weeks later i un derstood why they have so much respect to the Rebbe, even i bought a drawing of him and all the other Rebbis. You want my recomendation: Go and have some taste of the Lubavitch life, you wont regret it!

PS: Dear reader, sorry for my bad english, its not my native language, i hope you understand. Reply

Anonymous December 28, 2006

Maimonides Actually there is a picture of Maimonides...Go to Google images and search yourself to see one. Reply

AB Gibraltar October 24, 2006

To Michael of Vancouver I have a "picture" of both the Rebbe and the Rambam (and many other tzaddikim) in my home. But since there was no photography in the Rambam's time, the picture is hardly one that moves me in the same way. I wonder if he even did look like the painting depicts (I'm sure he looked a lot more inspiring). The Rebbe's live smile and intense look in all his pictures AND him being somebody I actually met on three occasions and corresponded with on several occasions results in his picture talking to me more personally. Indeed I feel his 'absence' much more because he was here just yesterday. Reply